The sin of Hitler

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Isaiah 8-9; Proverbs 20:24-25

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV)
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

REFLECT
These verses have always inspired me. They paint a picture of humans living in misery and darkness, and suddenly a bright light shines upon them. When they see the light, their eyes are opened and their hearts lifted – yes, there is hope in life after all. Yet, for the Israelites, God’s mercy for the Gentiles remained a mystery. They had always thought that Yahweh only loved the Jews.

RELATE
One of the “dangers” of being too long a Christian is to somehow develop the idea that we deserve salvation more than the unsaved. We who were Gentiles now treat others as Gentiles. We make the same mistake as the Jews in Jesus’ days, shunning the unclean and avoiding the unworthy. Would this explain apartheid and racism, even in our enlightened times? Every time we look at someone and think that we deserve more than them, we have committed the sin of Hitler.

REST
O Lord, keep my heart always tender. Remind me that I am dust and my life is but a breath. May I never look down on a fellow human. Instead, let me honor him or her as Your precious handiwork.

Advertisements

Returning to our own vomit

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Peter 2:1-22; Psalms 26:1-12

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
2 Peter 2:22 “What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

REFLECT
From 2 Peter 2, Peter had a harsh string of words for false teachers who led believers astray with their greed and sensuality. He also warned the believers, not to follow these teachers, for on the surface these leaders might be promising freedom but in truth, they are leading believers into deeper spiritual slavery. So believers who were undiscerning and follow such false teachers, were liken to dogs who return to their own vomit.

RELATE
What Peter warned of is highly applicable to today’s context. Believers in this country are facing much temptation from false teachers. These teachers often misuse the Word of God to preach half-truths and lure believers into spiritual slavery. What these false teachers want are no different from the world and could even be worse. They crave and lust for human recognition, power and wealth. They make use of the vulnerabilities and greed of some believers into the false thinking that the Gospel is about getting things for ourselves; when the opposite is true.

Much can be said of these false teachers; yet i am encouraged that Peter did not stop there. He warned that those who choose to abide with these false teachings are like dogs returning to our vomit; because we are basically returning to our old ways or worse.

Peter treated this subject matter with such depth and intensity because it threatens the very core of who we choose to follow. Therefore he was harsh against himself and others, when it comes to false teachings. Today, this is what many people would call “tough love”; but to me it is simply true love.

As believers, i believe we can all ask ourselves: do we really care enough for the souls of our friends that we are willing to speak up against false teachings? Even if this means that we become “unpopular”; do we care and love enough to do so? Do we care enough for our family’s and our own soul that we choose to read God’s Word carefully and discern deeply into what is really the truth? As churches in Singapore, i believe we need to wake up and be watchful. We should never take false teachings lightly because i know that the wolves among us are serious about chewing us up with their heresies.

REST
Help us Lord that as believers, we do not to return to our own vomit. Give us insights and courage to know Your truth and speak against false teachers who peddle half-truths for their own ungodly desires. Amen.

Mushy God?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Zephaniah 1-3; Psalm 25

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)
The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

REFLECT
The first part of this verse is easy for most to accept, i.e. that God would save His people. But how about God rejoicing over us, singing over us, and cuddling us to sleep with His love?! Can I imagine the God of the Universe as an intimate Father (or Mother) who delights in His child, and who can’t wait to kiss me? Yes, it sounds mushy and mind boggling, but that’s Gospel truth!!

RELATE
Honestly, it is tough to relate with God like this. Much of the Bible seems to portray a God who is tough on sin and always ready to discipline His son. Maybe the best way for me to understand this is to think about how I treat my daughters. I’m always ready to hug them and show my affection in various ways. But if they start to harm themselves, or others, that’s when I need to do something. And that something would seem harsh and even cruel to an outsider. But only a true parent would understand that when God punishes his child, the pain is felt ultimately in His holy heart.

REST
“Rejoice over me, dear Father, and let Your holy arms surround Your beloved child! Let me hear Your heart sing!!”

Ransomed

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 1 Peter 1:13-2:10; Proverbs 20:12

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
1 Peter 1:17-19 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

REFLECT
For those who believe, we are ransomed from our old ways not by silver or gold, but by the very blood of Christ. Peter used the word “ransom” to describe a situation where we were trapped by our sins. In that situation, we were helpless and have only one destination: i.e. eternal damnation. However, Christ in obedience of the Father chose to ransom us from the deadly trap of sin. He chose to ransom us not only for the sake of pulling us from the eternal fires of hell; but to give the new life in the Spirit. Yet, for that greatest wonder of all wonders, the ransom did not come cheap. The ransom cannot be paid in gold, silver or even good works; but only through the death of God’s Son. Our sins are so wicked and depraved that we can only “get out” by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

RELATE
Are we living as those ransomed by the blood of Christ? If we are, then we will cherish the new life given to us. If we are, then we will always be grateful to God for the tremendous price He paid at the Cross to get us out of our hopeless situation. If we are, then we will be delighted to share the Gospel with others and help those in need.

Yet it is easy to forget and I acknowledge that I am a forgetful person. Such a forgetfulness is not just a matter of memory; but of the heart and soul. When things go well, I tend to forget that I was ransomed. I tend to forget of the price paid in order that I can even now converse with my Abba Father in heaven. Such a forgetfulness goes in line with the people of the Old Testament who were being ungrateful and grumbled. Such a forgetfulness will do me no good for it will create ungratefulness and even a sense of dependency on my own strength to live in this depraved world.

REST
Help me dear Lord, to remember that I am a ransomed child of Yours. This is so that I can live a life that is truly pleasing to you. Amen.

Shut up

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Job 39-42; Proverbs 20:11

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Job 42:8 (NKJV)
Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.”

REFLECT
As I read what the 3 friends of Job said, I really don’t find anything wrong with the content. In fact, most if not all of what was said was theologically sound, and said in support of God Himself. Why then did God say that they have “not spoken of Me what is right”? What was the “folly” they committed? I suspect that they committed at least two errors. One is to say what was right in the wrong context. Second is to speak on God’s behalf when God did not require of it. In both cases, they wronged God by wronging their brother. Rather than speak foolishly, they should have just shut up.

RELATE
As a pastor, I receive many well meaning words from members, and often they claim to speak on God’s behalf. My attitude is to treat all words with respect, and to be open to God’s voice through His people. But there are many times, regretfully, that what was declared were neither true nor edifying. I am especially troubled when such words end up bringing grief and hurt to suffering people, like Job. I pray that those among us who are like Job’s friends will be convicted to practice the discipline of silence.

REST
Lord, may the utterance of my mouth always be acceptable to You, and a blessing to those who receive it.

Worship God as who He is

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Job 23:1-27:23; Psalm 21:1-13

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Job 27:6 “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.”

REFLECT
The things that Job went through were extraordinary. His servants and children were killed, his finances reduced to near bankruptcy and he was struck with loathsome sores on his body. Perhaps no other mortal man on earth had went through similar tragedies, at least not in the records of the Bible; not in the records of history. Yet, Job was able to speak of holding fast to righteousness so that his heart will not be brought into reproach.

Indeed, much as the book of Job is often referred to as a book about “suffering”; it speaks more into the question: “Even if God should allow us to suffer even through no fault of our own, will we still worship Him?” Job knew that he was innocent of the wrath that was brought to him and yet he worshipped the One who allowed it. Why? Because Job knew who God is and he worshipped God as who He is; and not who he wanted God to be.

RELATE
Quite often, the extent of our worship is dependent on our knowledge of who God is as well as the depth of our journey with Him. If we keep thinking that God is One who only give us “good things” and keep us from all kinds of suffering; then when tragedy struck, we might stop worshipping Him quite quickly. However, if our idea of God is that He knows best, and that He is sovereign, and even through our suffering He can accomplish His purposes; then how we respond to suffering maybe very different. We can then suffer in the flesh, but rejoice in the Spirit because we trust of the heart of the Father. We can be struck but not dead because we know that someday, we will be vindicated. There is always hope because Christ has already won. So will we still worship God even if we should suffer as innocent victims of evil? That will be the question each of us must respond to in the light of Job’s example to have trust and awe in God no matter the circumstances.

REST
Lord my God, help me to learn from Job, even if just a speck of his faith to trust in you no matter what happens. Help me to rejoice in You even through times of suffering for the sake of Christ. Amen.

Life after death?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Job 16-19; Psalm 20

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Job 19:25-26 (NKJV)
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,

REFLECT
For the past few chapters, Job seemed to be wondering if there was indeed life after death (cf. 14:14, 16:22). If this life was all there was, then he would have died without hope of vindication. But if there was life after death, then he would rather die now because of his suffering, and wait for the “next” life to settle scores with God. In today’s passage, Job seemed to have decided that there was indeed an afterlife, and God will redeem him from all his sufferings.

RELATE
How do we know for sure that we shall resurrect after we die? The truth is, we can never know for sure. When Christians say we are “sure”, we say it by faith, not sight. For none of us have seen the resurrected Jesus, or have met someone who was raised to life and never died again. Does this uncertainty make us fearful of the future? Well, it should not. For our faith is not something that we conjure up in our minds – but an assurance worked into us by the Holy Spirit. Feeling afraid of death and the future? Ask the Spirit to fill you with faith, hope, and above all, His divine love.

REST
Lord, this world is not my home. Help me to pray with Paul, that for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain! (Philippians 1:21)