Matthew 26:21

by Rev Joel Yong

Matthew 26:21 states: “And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

The disciples were with Jesus for about 3 years, and they watched what He did, from the time they arose, right till before they went to bed. Yet in spite of this, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. We can be seeing, but not understanding. We can be exposed to the Truth, but never internalizing it. Let us seek God’s face as we gather to celebrate Maundy Thursday, not out of routine, but out of a desire to encounter Him.

The Finished Work of Christ

by Rev Barnabas Chong

While on the cross, at some point, Jesus said, “It is finished”, then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30). What did Jesus mean? What did He finish? Peter preached to the crowd in Acts2 and told them, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (2:21) and he also said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (2:36). In 3:19, Peter said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” and in 3:26, he said, “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Clearly, the work that Jesus finished on the cross is the work of redeeming us from our sins so that we may be saved. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul tells us, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” On the cross at Calvary, Jesus took our sins upon himself so that those who believe may become the righteousness of God. When we come before God to pray or to worship, when we come before His throne of grace, though we are sinners, the Father looks at us and sees in us the perfection and the righteousness of Christ. This is the grace of God.

Yet at the same time, God requires us to stop sinning. Paul tells us in Romans 6:1, 2 – “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” As you begin your walk with God today, give thanks for the grace of God and the righteousness of Christ. Let your gratitude move you to sin no more.

Have a great day!

Today’s Bible Text: “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)

Nehemiah 9:9

by Rev Joel Yong

Nehemiah 9:9 states: “You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea.”

The Israelite slaves were in Egypt for almost 400 years. I wonder if they doubted if God heard their prayers for freedom. But in retrospect, we now know He delivered them with great acts of miracles for He had heard their cries. God is able to save us, and willing to save us – let’s not mistake His silence for a lack of care or ability. Trust in Him.

Dealing with oppositions

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Nehemiah 3:15-5:13; Proverbs 21:5-7

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
Nehemiah 4:7-8 “But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.”

REFLECT
Nehemiah was doing a great thing in answering God’s call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. However, the enemies of God found in the persons of Sanballat, Tobiah and Gehshem opposed to such a cause.

Opposition to the work of God is not uncommon. We can find many such instances in the Bible as well as in our own lives. The main challenge is not a theological enquiry on whether we will face oppositions or even suffer for the sake of the Gospel; the main challenge is how we respond to such oppositions.

In Nehemiah, we discovered a godly response. What he did frequently and in priority was to pray and seek God’s protection and wisdom. To Nehemiah, this was not merely a ritual he learnt from young as a Hebrew; but an unyielding belief that God is much bigger and will provide the way out.

RELATE
Similar to many people, I face oppositions in the work that the Lord has given. In my younger days, I have the tendency to react defensively against such oppositions. Over time, I discovered that such oppositions could also be God’s way of telling me to that I have done wrong. Hence, I learnt (and still learning) that when faced with such oppositions, the best thing to do is as follow:

  1. Pray and ask God for discernment – if I have done wrong or could improve.
  2. If I sense with clarity that the Lord is asking me to persevere despite oppositions, then I will pray for a wise and God-glorifying way to deal with the oppositions.

REST
May I be constantly inspired by the humble and courageous heart of Nehemiah to respond to oppositions in my life in a God-glorifying manner. Amen.

Luke 23:34

by Rev Joel Yong

Luke 23:34 records this: ‘Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.”

He was stripped and then crucified on a cross, and while he hung there, dying – his persecutors gambled for his clothes. Truly, if only they knew whom they were killing – they would not react this way. They were blinded by what their limited vision could perceive. No wonder the Bible teaches us to walk by faith and not by sight.

Where are our mournings?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Ezra 10:1-44; Proverbs 21:3

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
Ezra 10:6 “Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the chamber of Jehonanan the son of Eliashib, where he spent the night, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles.”

REFLECT
Ezra is one of the characters in the Bible whom I look up to. This man loved the Lord so much that he readily confessed before the house of God and wept over the sins of Israel. Even after a covenant was made between the people and God to do something with regards to their sinfulness; Ezra continued to fast and mourn over the faithlessness of his people. I like to think that only people who love the Lord deeply can develop such great sensitivities for what grieves the heart of our Father in heaven.

RELATE
When was the last time I mourn over the sins of the church universal or even the churches in Singapore? Even as I witnessed the many transgressions of the church against the teachings of Christ; I can remain so indifferent and so uncaring. At most a prayer is uttered; but mourning over the sins of the church? Hardly.

I am reminded of a time (approximately 7-8 years ago) when I was unwell and stayed home. While at home, i grew restless and decided to watch a video where a preacher was talking about unity in the church. The preacher was preaching at a global prayer event and many leaders of churches around the world attended the event. At the end of the sermon, the preacher invited many leaders across the globe to come together to pray for unity. When that happened, I started to weep. I wept like never before. At that time, I could sense the Holy Spirit witnessing to me that it grieves the Father’s heart that so many of His children do not see eye to eye with one another. That was also the time when I was frequently praying for the Lord to reveal His heart to me. I seldom do that these days.

Today’s devotion is a sobering reminder that I need to keep in check of my intimacy with God. Serving in ministry is definitely no guarantee of my growing relationship with God. In fact, it could easily go the opposite direction.

Where is my mourning over the sins of the church universal? Where is my pain when I witness in myself and others the many transgressions we have against God? Do I love God enough to care?

REST
Lord, help me in times when I slip into indifference. Help me to constantly check my intimacy with you. Reveal to me your heart for the church and may You direct my prayers in Your mighty will. Amen.

Luke 11:9

by Rev Joel Yong

Luke 11:9 records this: “So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

We’re called to have a ‘Persevering Faith’. It’s easy to proclaim belief when life is rosy. But belief that perseveres through stormy days – that’s faith! Wherever you are, and whatever you are going through – keep asking, searching and knocking. Jesus said: But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. (Mt 24:13)