Finishing Well

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28; Proverbs 20:8-10

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
2 Chronicles 24:17-18 “Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.”

REFLECT
When the priest Jehoiada was alive, King Joash did what was pleasing in the sight of God. When Jehoiada passed on to glory, Joash turned to the evil influences of the princes of Judah and started to worship idols. What happened? One would think that the many years of Jehoiada’s mentorship and guidance would give Joash a good foundation for godly rule. Yet, this didn’t turn out to be so. Despite knowing the joy of pleasing the Lord; Joash made the choice of turning to evil. As a result, Joash was assassinated and was refused a burial in the tomb of the kings.

RELATE
When we came to know the Lord Jesus; many of us might behave like Joash in the early part of his reign. We might be full of passion and conviction to do His will. Yet, as we journey on in the faith, our commitment wax and wane. The Bible reading for today reminded me that while it is important to start off well in the faith; it is more important to finish well. Yet, how can we do so? There is simply no shortcut but to persevere in allowing the Spirit of God to work in our lives. This means a constant making of choice to nourish our soul with God’s Word, overcome evil with God’s empowerment and do what is pleasing in God’s sight.

REST
Lord Jesus, may You help us to consistently make the right choice and finish well in this running of the race of the journey of faith. Amen.

Exodus 20:6

by Rev Joel Yong

Exodus 20:6 says “But I lavish my love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

The choice to obey or rebel against God is ours. In accordance with this freewill, each choice has its consequence. To those who choose to obey, the consequence is a life that flourishes under God’s blessings – even their descendants will reap the blessings of the choice they’ve made.

Being afraid

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37; Proverbs 20:4-6

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
2 Chronicles 20:3 “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”

REFLECT
The Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites became one and came against Jehoshaphat (king of Judah). The king of Judah then became afraid. This time round, he didn’t seek alliance with evil kings like Ahab; but rally the people to seek God’s help. Even though Jehoshaphat was afraid, his faith to seek God’s help seemed to be a much better thing do; for what resulted was that God routed the enemies in complete victory (ref: 2 Chronicles 20:17-24).

RELATE
I observed that some Christians like to advice one another: “do not be afraid; but be of faith”. It seemed to them that being afraid is a sign of “weakness” or being faithless. Yet, is that really true? What if we are really afraid? Does being afraid means that we have no faith in God? Might not be.

Like Jehoshaphat, we can be afraid of the people or the circumstances around us. However, if such fear can turn us to seek God, it will still be considered as having faith. I am of the conviction that God is not seeking after “fearless” believers but rather believers who fear Him more than they fear the world.

REST
Lord our God, in times of trouble or fear, help us to seek You. Help us also to be wise in our care and words for one another. Amen.

Psalm 19:7

by Rev Joel Yong

Psalm 19:7 reminds us “The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul.”

God’s way, if obeyed, brings life, not restriction. By obeying God, we become set free. Imagine using a DVD player the wrong way for months before discovering the manual! Now with the manual, we know how it’s meant to function and enjoy it so much more! God’s Way liberates our lives!

Sovereignty of God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Romans 9:1-24; Psalm 19:1-14

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Romans 9:21 “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?”

REFLECT
Romans 9:21 speaks clearly of God’s sovereignty. It means that as God, He can do whatever He wants. In this context, it is the sovereignty of God to create men and women; some for honourable use and some for dishonourable use. The end point as said in Romans 9:23; is that God’s Name be glorified.

Yet, even as God is sovereign; He allows human beings the freedom to act. As the example of Pharaoh is used; we note that it wasn’t until the sixth plague that God actively “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart. For the first five plagues, Pharaoh was (according to Hebrew grammar) literally hardening his own heart. This interplay between God and Pharaoh on the hardening of the latter’s heart demonstrated how God’s sovereignty is dynamically linked to the human will.

RELATE
The idea of God’s sovereignty is not easy to accept. In things that are good, we often celebrate God’s sovereign hands. However, in the bad things that happened, we seldom celebrate if at all. Often, we hear testimonies that speak of victories and successes; testimonies that celebrate failures are less common. On Wednesday evening, I shared with the LCEC about how my past failure as a group leader helped me to learn more about God’s heart for leadership. On hindsight, I should have also shared that this is something to be celebrated. For God’s sovereignty has enabled something bad to be turned into something useful for His glory.

REST
Lord our God, may you help me to understand more and more about Your sovereignty in my life. You are the Potter, I am the clay. Shape me and mould me, in Your own way. Amen.

Assurance of faith

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Romans 8:9-25; Psalm 18:16-36

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

REFLECT
How does the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God?

A common understanding is that Romans 8:16 speaks of how the Holy Spirit “whisper” to our inner souls that we are “God’s child” and therefore produces the assurance of faith. However, I am not entirely sure if this verse can be interpreted in this manner; especially if the Greek is to be translated as “bears witness with our spirit” and not “bears witness to our spirit”. Moreover, we might run into problems if such an interpretation is adopted; especially in cases where Christians claim not to be able to “experience” such an assurance of salvation.

So if the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit; what does it mean? Personally, I thought Romans 8:16 can only be properly understood in context with Paul’s exhortation in verses 10-14 that as Christ dwells in us, so we are to live in the Holy Spirit. This means that we can only know the assurance of faith by actively choosing to live in the Holy Spirit, be led by the Spirit and dwelling in the hope for much better things to come. The evidence of being God’s child is that we are not merely trying to “feel” for God’s presence in our lives; but actively choosing to do God’s will through the Spirit’s guidance. Only by doing so, can the Holy Spirit witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

RELATE
Such a reflection brings to mind that the journey of faith is much about choosing to what is right with God or allowing ourselves to “fall back in fear” (v15). The power to choose is given to us through faith in Jesus Christ who atoned for our sins so that we can call God Abba Father. The struggle to choose between what is right with God or that which sin against Him is an assurance that we are God’s children. The victory of choosing what is right over what is evil is the assurance that the adopted sons of God are no longer bound by the power of sin. Hence, as His children, we want to do what is pleasing to God and not that which breaks His heart. This is what “having a relationship with God” really looks like.

REST
Thank you Abba Father for your grace in helping us to know what is good and right. Help us Abba Father to live daily in the Spirit and choose what is good and right. Amen.