Day 290

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Corinthians 16:10-11
When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am. So let no one despise him. Help him on his way in peace, that he may return to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers.

Paul was concerned that some would despise Timothy because of his youth.
So he made sure he gave prior instructions to the church to welcome him and support him.

It is true that age based discrimination can occur as we may view that a young minister may not be able to be as good as an older one.

I chuckle when I remember that when i first started ministry- people commented on how young I was.

Now I am due for my 2nd long service award and people still say I look young!

More stories for chuckles – I have officiated at weddings whereby the anxious parents of the bride have been concerned upon seeing what I look like – and worried as to whether such a young pastor would fumble at the proceedings! They would ask for my credentials and how many weddings I have officiated previously!

But we can thank God that He does not look at your age or your background or your abilities when He calls you to His work.

Check out what He said to Moses the self-confessed stutterer-

Exodus 4:10-12
But Moses said to the Lord, Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue. Then the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.

Say it with me.
“It’s not about the form or shape of the tool. It’s what the Master can do as His hands pick up the tool that matters.”

Stop looking at yourself or the weaknesses that are abound in an individual and begin doubting.
Rather look past that and look at what God can do in spite of all these flaws and shortcomings.

Live by faith and not by sight.

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Day 289

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Corinthians 12:7
The evidence of the Spirit’s presence is given to each person for the common good of everyone.

The manifestation of the Spirit is not like a magic trick meant to astound and leave the audience in awe of the performer.

No. It is for the good of all who are witnesses to it.

The ASV translation records it this way-

1 Corinthians 12:7
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal.

Everyone profits. When the Spirit manifests in itself through various gifts given to God’s Church. It builds up the faith of the community of believers. Like a signpost – the Spirit points us to God and not a mere mortal.

There are some, however, who like the magician Simon- seek to gain such spiritual gifts for their own purposes and glory. They seek to impress so their names might be lifted high.

Acts 8:18-23 records it this way-

    18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!” 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

Let us serve God and be good stewards of the manifold gifts of the Spirit He has given to us in the Church.

Being faithful stewards- may these all point people to Jesus and lead them to glorify Him!

Doing others a favour

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Acts 25:1-27; Proverbs 10:18

READ (Verse chosen for meditation)
Acts 25:9 “But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?”

REFLECT
Reading Acts 25:9 reminded me of Acts 24:27 where Felix, the previous governor also desired to “do the Jews a favor”. Why were both governors Festus and Felix eager to “do the Jews a favor”? For Felix, it was a political move in the attempt to clear off some complaints the Jews had against him for cruelty and greed. For Festus, it was also a political move to restore the peace that was disrupted by the previous governor Felix. While both governors had their reasons for wanting to “do the Jews a favor”; they did it at the cost of the apostle Paul. After having heard from the Jews and Paul, both governors could not find any reason for the apostle to be punished or tried further. However, in order to grant favours to the Jews, they did not grant freedom to Paul; even though it was in their powers to do so. They did not do what was right; but made use of Paul to further their self-interests.

RELATE
Most of us might not be in positions similar to Felix or Festus; but we do grant favours to different groups of people. For example, the favour to run errands for a friend or someone who is physically unable to do so. The favour to purchase items for friends or colleagues when we are overseas. The favour to introduce work for a friend’s son or daughter. The favour granted to someone who requested to serve in a particular ministry. Nothing wrong with these favours per se; but we need to reflect on our true motives. Are we granting these with pure motives? At what costs are we granting these favours? When we grant these favours, are we doing them at the expense of others? Are we granting these favours in alignment with what the Bible is saying? The irony of Acts 24-25 is that while Paul stood fully for righteousness; the authorities around him abused their positions for unrighteousness by granting unjust favours to the Jews. Yet, all these could not overthrow God’s plan for Paul to proclaim God’s righteousness in Rome. God and His justice always win; even if it seemed that wickedness should thrive but only for a short while.

REST
Lord my God, help me to serve with pure motives, truth and righteousness. This is so that others know what You truly stand for. Amen.

Day 288

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Corinthians 10:6
These things have become examples for us so that we won’t desire what is evil, as they did.

Paul warns the church to not follow the example of Israel as it rebelled against God in the wilderness.

We can learn either by –

  1. Watching and avoiding their mistakes.
  2. Following their foolishness and reaping the consequences for ourselves.

The people of Israel did not remember what God had done for them.
When they were free, they forgot about the 10 plagues He rained upon Egypt to save them.
When they had crossed the Red Sea, they forgot about how He parted the seas and complained about thirst and hunger …
When He gave them water from a rock, and manna from the heavens, they forgot about that and complained about how boring the food was … and how they wanted variety …

See how evil they were?
What if we repeated their evil?
What would it look like today?

Would it look like a person God healed from an illness years ago, who is complaining about how boring church service was on Sunday?
Or a person God blessed with wealth, and complains about how the last business deal fell through and cost him a portion of that still enormous wealth in the family?
Or a person who has been forgiven who now bears a grudge against another-and like Jonah, sits and watches awaiting doom to come for another?

What do you think?

Day 287

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Corinthians 7:26-28
I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.

Paul writes about those “free from a wife”.
Who is he referring to?

Other translations say “divorced from your wife.”
It is possible he was referring to the divorced or those yet to marry.

1 Corinthians 7:32-34
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.

Paul was of the opinion that they should not actively pursue marriage as there are complexities that come with marriage, and he would rather, the people keep their focus upon the Lord.
Yet Paul says it’s not a sin to be married, it’s just more complicated and has more distractions as we have to be concerned about our spouses.

So dear friends, if you are married, do your part and tend to your marriage and to your spouse, but do not allow it to wrestle all attention away from matters of the Lord.
Marriage is after all, a union of 2 persons, made with commitments to care for one another through good times and through tough times. We all know people are imperfect and when put in close proximity, it’s inevitable that we test each other’s patience through friction that comes about now and then!

I repeat, it’s not a bad thing to be married, Paul is clear about it. But he is equally clear about how we ought to be mindful to stay focused on the work of the Lord, for he feels time is short.

Paul continues, writing these words:

1 Corinthians 7:29-31
This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Common grace

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Acts 23:11-35; Proverbs 10:17

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Acts 23:29
I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.

REFLECT
The above words were spoken by a Roman commander, who felt that Paul should not be handed to his Jewish enemies. Whatever we might say about the Roman empire, there was a basic justice system that punished evil and protected the innocent. This is evidence that even those who do not know God were guided by their conscience, and benefited from a general revelation of justice. Let us not be too quick to dismiss everything that do not fit into our religious systems (or laws).

RELATE
The Christian church is often guilty of not recognizing the goodness of God in places that don’t look “Christian”. For example, we criticize our “secular” government for their mistakes, but fail to give thanks for the many things they do right. Or we would judge non-Christians for their bad habits (like smoking), without affirming their filial piety and good work ethic. This is a reflection of our own narrow mindedness, which in turn reveals a lack of biblical understanding. No wonder so many people are not attracted to our faith! 😦

REST
Lord, open our eyes, that we might see Your image in all that You have created. Grant us compassion to love those who don’t look or sound like us.

Day 286

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Corinthians 4:14-21
I’m not writing this to make you feel ashamed but to instruct you as my dear children. You may have countless Christian guardians, but you don’t have many spiritual fathers. I became your father in the Christian life by telling you the Good News about Christ Jesus. So I encourage you to imitate me. That’s why I’ve sent Timothy to you to help you remember my Christian way of life as I teach it everywhere in every church. Timothy is my dear child, and he faithfully does the Lord’s work. Some of you have become arrogant because you think I won’t pay you a visit. If it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll visit you soon. Then I’ll know what these arrogant people are saying and what power they have. God’s kingdom is not just talk, it is power. When I come to visit you, would you prefer that I punish you or show you love and a gentle spirit?

Spiritual parenting.
Do you have spiritual children? People whom you preached the gospel to and led them to Christ and the ministry continued on – nurturing them towards maturity in Christ.

That is what Paul is talking about.
As their spiritual father, he speaks to them- warning them not to grow conceited or mistakenly think that he will be soft on them if they wander from the path.

His advice to his spiritual children- is that they are to imitate him.
It’s simple but it’s clear – they are to follow Jesus’ ways by watching their spiritual father.

Who did you lead to Christ?
How is their walk with Christ now?
Are you still checking in on them?
What about your own journey- is it a good example for others to imitate?