Nothing will be impossible?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-56; Psalms 35:1-16

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Luke 1:37-38 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

REFLECT
“For nothing will be impossible with God”.

This message was given by the angel Gabriel after Mary was left wondering how the miracle she just heard could be fulfilled. How will it be that the Son of God be conceive by a virgin like her? The angel Gabriel assured Mary that the Son of God will be conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit and also gave an added encouragement, that Elizabeth had been barren but was blessed with a child by the Lord. Hence, the angel Gabriel concluded “for nothing will be impossible with God”.

“Nothing will be impossible with God”.

I wonder how many of us have at some point in our lives, heard of this verse from Luke 1:37. Perhaps such a verse was given in the midst of an extremely difficult circumstance and so it served as a form of encouragement. Perhaps it was given in the midst of a heart to heart talk about a desire and so it was given as a hope. Whatever it is, I wonder if we had taken time to reflect on such a verse; for Mary’s response is to me is even more inspiring: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

It seems to me that upon hearing Gabriel’s proclamation that nothing is impossible with God; Mary did not ask for anything new or of her own desire. Instead, she obeyed the message given to her through the word of God relayed by the angel Gabriel. Mary was confident that whatever God wills, nothing will be impossible for His will to be carried through.

RELATE
“For nothing is impossible with God”.

The connective “for” is important because verse 37 was only given after Gabriel talked about the will of God for Mary. It wasn’t a “blank cheque” given to Mary that because nothing is impossible with God’ and so she can ask for anything. It was more like a solid assurance that whatever God wills, it will be done for Mary. Indeed, whatever God wills, if I receive and obey, it will not be impossible for God to fulfil because it will be His good pleasure to do so.

But what is the will of God? For Mary, the will of God for baby Jesus to be conceived through a human being was conveyed through an angel. For me, the will of God can always be found in His Word. Let me not proclaim carelessly verse 37 unless i know for certain, what God’s will is for a person under my care.

Let me pray for better discernment through Gods’ Word, obey His will through His Word and yes boldly proclaim like Mary: “Let it be to me according to Your Word”. Amen.

REST
Lord my God, thank you for the assurance given through Luke 1:37-38 that in Your will, nothing is impossible. You are an all-powerful God and nothing can stop You. So let me rest in that assurance and continue to be obedient in Your call for me to walk this journey in faith and holiness. Amen.

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Worm and Fire

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Isaiah 66; Psalm 34

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 66:24 (NKJV)
“And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

REFLECT
This is how the book of Isaiah ends – with solemn words of judgment for those who have rejected the grace of God. The picture is that of eternal damnation, where worms and fire devour those who have done evil and promoted wickedness. The Holy One of Israel cannot allow evil to go punished, for that would render Him unholy.

RELATE
Although the world has largely become more advanced and developed, there seems to be an increasing wickedness. All the education and wellbeing has not brought about a better world (cf. Christchurch massacre, Syrian war, Singapore elderly suicide rates). Why is this so? It is because we are dealing with human beings. While the facade can been upgraded, the foundation remains shaky. No wonder the building crumbles to the ground every so often. God wants to deal with the root issue, i.e. our sinful nature. If we would allow Him to save us from the inside out, then we have nothing to fear – neither worm nor fire.

REST
Save me, O Lord, from the lie that I can save myself, and the deception that hell does not exist.

Carriers of the good news

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Isaiah 51:1-53:12; Proverbs 21:11-12

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

REFLECT
The Lord announced through Isaiah that He will soon end the suffering of His people in captivity. He will come to bring them the good news. He will come to bring them the message of salvation. He will bring the good news through His people and these carriers of the good news are considered privileged to be able to do so. Indeed, the feet of those who carry the good news of hope, peace and righteousness are beautiful. For in the midst of suffering, discouragement and helplessness, their news are most welcomed.

RELATE
This passage in the book of Isaiah always brought back memories. Memories of the time when my seminary cohort were tasked to dramatize the passage at a praise festival. It was then considered apt to choose this passage because the end goal of a theological education is not to be puffed up in knowledge; but to serve and witness as a people of the Gospel. We are to prioritise on this because as verse 7 reminded “Your God reigns”.

Indeed, my God reigns and because He reigns in my life; so i should obey and carry the good news to others. I looked at my own feet and wonder from then how many times have i carried the good news to others? Not as much as i like to. I thank the Lord for His reminder that this is why He has called me to pastor in the first place. Actually not just as a pastor, but most importantly as a redeemed messenger of His peace and reconciliation; just like you and everyone of us who call upon the Lord as King.

REST
Thank you Lord for the great reminder that I am called to be Your carrier of the good news to others. No matter what form it takes, empower me and gives me the love of Christ to obey and reach out even more to the lost. Amen.

Necessary Places

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Isaiah 45:11-48:11; Proverbs 21:8-10

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 46:10 (NKJV)
Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

REFLECT
It is comforting to know that God sees all things in all time. Nothing that happens to my life is an oversight on God’s part.

That person who bullied me, God knew it would happen. That accident that I got into, God let it happen. That sin I committed, God chose not to intervene. Why? Because He wants us to grow up, and take responsibility. God has given us everything necessary (even His Spirit!) for life in this world. Yes, it is the Father’s pleasure to see His kids fight evil, and win!

RELATE
As I write this, I’m feeling quite tired. This year, I turn 50, and my body is already showing many signs of aging. Aches and pain everywhere. Low energy. Deteriorating vision. I wonder how long more do I have on earth before my journey is up. Like Apostle Peter, I feel like I am constantly being led to places I would rather not go (John 21). Necessary places. Places where I won’t feel comfortable, but challenged to the point of despair. In the light of all that I am feeling and thinking, it sure is comforting to know that God has already gone ahead to prepare the way. All I need to do, is trust.

REST
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

You are my God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Isaiah 33:10-36:22; Psalm 31:9-18

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Psalm 31:14 “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

REFLECT
While King David was struggling in deep distress (verse 9) and lamenting that his life was spent in sorrow, he still declared that he trusts God. Therefore, his trust is not dependent on whether God provided him with good things in life or shielded him from harm. His trust is dependent on the faith that no matter what happens; God is for him. Not only that, the God whom David trusts; is not a God who merely observe from a distant; but a God whom he had the privilege of calling “mine”. Such a deep sense of trust and intimacy with God the Father is rare in the Old Testament. This is why King David is regarded as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13; Acts 13).

RELATE
Having been a Christian for many years, Psalm 31 still serves as a great reminder of the intimacy that I can potentially have with God. When I came to know the Lord, one of the things I struggle with is to believe that I can have a an intimate relationship with the Great I Am. This is because like many Asian families; I come from one where parental love and concern are not clearly verbalised or even demonstrated.

Yet, the Bible constantly reminded that I now have the privilege of calling God, “my God”. Through my life journey, He had also shown me how much He cared for me and loved me. He had also blessed me with people in my life whom I can share spiritual intimacy with. So while God is apart from creation (for He created everything); He is never too far away from His creation. In fact, I believe He is always seeking to get close to His creation. We are the ones who shunned Him. So through Christ who bought me with His blood, I can now enjoy an intimate relationship with my Father in heaven. I can tell Him all things and I can knowingly anticipate that He is always listening. How great and liberating that knowledge is; for now I have a Father in heaven, the One and Only whom I have the privilege of calling “mine”.

REST
My God, thank you for your love for me. Help me to trust that I can be even closer to You as You desired. Amen.

Marvel Hero

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Isaiah 28-30; Ps 31

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 29:14
Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.”

REFLECT
Amidst the judgment facing Israel, there is hope. For God is not one who enjoys disciplining others, but one who does marvels and wonders. The leaders of Israel have relied on their own knowledge and intelligence, rather than follow God in obedience. But God will show them that His weakness is stronger than their strength, and His foolishness their wisdom (cf. 1 Cor 1).

RELATE
Recent years have seen the resurgence of Marvel comic heroes, like Spider-Man, Captain America, Ironman and so on. We love such heroes, because they make us marvel and wonder … and fill our deeper longings for a greater and glorious life. Even evolutionists must marvel at the beauty of creation and the creativity of humans. The next time you watch a Marvel movie, remember to praise the Lord during the credits.

REST
Lord, thank you for making such a beautiful and marvelous world. Grant me wisdom and grace to see Your glory in the created.

Joy in salvation

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Isaiah 12:1-14:32, Proverbs 20:26-27

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

REFLECT
In chapters 11-12, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that even as Judah and Jerusalem will be destroyed by their enemies; God will preserve a remnant and be their salvation. God will save them and even round them up for assembly. Hence, those who were saved shall celebrate in the joy of their salvation. They shall sing praises and give thanks to God, who have saved them once again. Indeed, salvation is supposed to be joyful. Yet, we know that after the initial years of coming to know Christ; we might be struggling to find joy even in God’s gift of salvation. We might be so tired with the rigour of life (and even ministry) that we found ourselves unable to even draw from the wells of salvation with joy.

RELATE
There was a time when I struggled with finding joy in the gift of salvation that God has given to me in Jesus Christ. That was the time when my family and I were going through a period of deep disappointment with people serving in ministry. At that time, the Lord reminded me that even as I struggle with the people in ministry, I can still rejoice in Him. I can still rejoice in Him because what He had done for us on the Cross is eternal and unfailing; while what is here on earth, even of the church and ministry is fallible. Even with that powerful reminder, it was a tough struggle. It took me some time to walk out of the valley and find joy again in Him. I am thankful that by God’s grace, I had not gone the other way.

In reflection, I discovered that being able to draw from the wells of salvation with joy has a lot to do with gratefulness and faith. “Gratefulness” because I need to consistently remember how God saved me; not from an already righteous heart; but from a dark and depraved self. Salvation in Jesus is therefore a gift that nothing on earth can compare with; for it makes me righteous and grants eternal life. It gives me the gift to be able to live a life of holiness here on earth while waiting for the Lord’s return in His full glory. I am therefore so privileged to be called a child of God. With that, I should celebrate and rejoice!

“Faith” because if I want to draw from the wells of salvation in joy; I have to first be faithful in going to the wells of my salvation. I must not be distracted by other things in life (even if these are “good” things”) to neglect spending time with the Lord of my salvation. So even in the midst of difficulties, I must not give up meeting up with God and with people in my life whom I can share my soul with. I believe that if I do so consistently, I will be able to draw from my well of salvation in joy. I will be able to rejoice and be at peace; even if mighty storms should be hitting me from all sides. All because I serve a mighty God who saves.

REST
Lord of my salvation, help me in times of disappointment and distress to look to you and rejoice. For your salvation is precious and is to be regarded with great joy. Amen.