Monday, April 27, 2009


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Friday, April 17, 2009

The best is yet to come… (Hebrews 9:11-14) 170409

I like to have dinner at home, especially my mother’s home cooked food. She is really a great cook, and as a typical Cantonese, our meal is not complete without a good soup. And a good soup is not the soup itself only; it is the ingredients found at bottom of the soup pot. That’s the real good stuffs; that’s what I have been taught. I will always, almost without fail, tuck in some of the soup’s ingredients, and I feel good. And of course, my figure (if there is any) is the best outward manifestation of those inward ingredients. To me, the best part of the meal at home is the soup and its ingredients.

The author of Hebrews has just described to his readers about the Tabernacle and the Temple, and tells them that these are not the real things; the best is yet to come, in the previous section. And now, he introduces or rather explains clearly why Jesus is ‘the best’ that is yet to come?

In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews paints a very mystical and beautiful picture of how the actual Holy Place is supposed to be like. Actually, he also doesn’t really know how it looks like; but he know for sure that it will be 1) a greater and more perfect, 2) not made with hands, and 3) not of this creation (v11).

I cannot get beyond this description of the new Holy Place. Maybe I shouldn’t say it is new, because this Holy Place could be already existed all these while. Anyway, the Holy Place where Jesus will enter as the High Priest through His own blood to obtain eternal redemption (v12), is greater and more perfect, not made with hands and not of this creation. I can imagine something which is greater and more perfect than the earthly Tabernacle and the Temple; but how will it looks like if it is not made with hands and not of this creation?

I wait for the Holy Spirit to show me how it will look like. Then I realize that I am already in this Holy Place. Now I understand what it means that I am the temple of the Holy Spirit. I am the Holy Place where Jesus enters so that I can have the eternal redemption. I am not made with hands, neither am I of this creation; I am a citizen of heaven, and I am a spiritual being as well.

But meanwhile, I am still living on this planet earth. The time will come for me to experience and enjoy the greater and more perfect Holy Place. The best is yet to come. Now I can have the foretaste of such Holy Place, where I can find the Presence of God because my sins have been forgiven.

Today is Friday; weekends are just round the corner. I think it will be good for us to prepare our hearts to meet God on Sunday together with other people. I believe you have your own encounter with God in your personal time with Him, but it will be awesome to stand in the presence of God together. You devotion is good for you, but the best is yet to come.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Until a time… (Hebrews 9:1-10) 160409

My daughter likes to go into the kitchen and opens up the doors of my kitchen cabinets and pulls out drawers. We keep telling her not to do so, but she keeps doing it. She will happily walk into the kitchen and put her little hand on the handle of the door of my kitchen cabinet or a drawer and she will look around to see if anyone is watching her. Then she will open the door or pull the drawer and peep inside until we discover her doing that, we will tell her: No, No! She will turn around and shakes her hand and head and says: No, No! Then she will go out, and come back later to do it all over again!

I don’t know what so attractive about my kitchen cabinet and drawers, but I think it is because we keep telling her: No, No; she might be wonder what is inside the cabinets and drawers. The furniture and layout of the Tabernacle and the Temple was also a mystery to many. Though now we almost can reconstruct the entire Tabernacle or the Temple, but the readers of Hebrews might only have some faint idea of these structures. All they know for sure is that these were holy places whereby only the priests and the high priest can enter. I can imagine when the author of Hebrews delivers his sermon up to this point, his audiences must be suddenly sit up straight and become very attentive. He has successfully drawn the attention of his audience by using the Tabernacle and the Temple as illustration. And he brings up a mystery, and keeps the audience in suspense and curious and then says: but of these things we cannot now speak in detail (v5). George H. Guthrie comments that:

The author ends his description of the tabernacle tersely with the statement, “But we cannot discuss these things in detail now,” indicating a reticence to get sidetracked on matters outside his current focus. Rather, he wishes to move to the more significant issue of how this structure provided a context for the priests’ ministry.

Then the author carries on commenting on the priestly ministry of the Tabernacle and the Temple. At this point, he bridges into his current context, which he concludes that whatever that the Tabernacle and the Temple provides together with the priestly ministry, cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience (v9).

We can easily tell where is the author of Hebrews is leading his reader on by now, we can more or less guess that he is going to bring out the completeness of Christ’s priestly ministry as the perfect High Priest and the perfect Sacrifice. But the audience needs to know that it is until a time of reformation (v10). In other words, there is an appointed time for the perfect High Priest and Sacrifice to come, and it has come in the person of Jesus Christ.

The readers are living in a time where they only understand the priestly ministry of the Temple, they need a radical paradigm shift to accept that Jesus Christ has come to replace. Jesus is the ‘until a time’ fulfillment.

There are many things we cannot understand, but until a time will come we will understand. The problem is that, I don’t know when that time is, maybe when we see our Lord face to face. But the Lord will know the best time for us to understand the suffering we have gone through, the sickness we have suffered, the relationship that has turned bad, the examination which we have failed, the job which we have lost and the people whom have hurt us.

I will still not allow my daughter to open my kitchen cabinet’s doors and drawers, until a time.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No more… (Hebrews 8:7-13) 150409

Yesterday, I went to renew my road tax for my new second hand motorbike. It was only after an inspection of my motorbike, and then I was allowed to renew my road tax for one more year. After I renewed the road tax, my old road tax became obsolete. In other words, I will have to remove my old road tax certification and put on the new one. If I continue to displace my old road tax certification, I will be caught and fined.

This is the kind of illustration and commentary the author of Hebrews uses to explain Jeremiah 31:31-34 in today’s passage. According to many commentators, this Old Testament (OT) quotation is the longest in the whole letter of Hebrews, and the commentary or explanation given by the author is only a very short one, found in verse 13. This is how George H. Guthrie explains:

After such a long quote — indeed, the longest quote in the New Testament — one would expect extensive commentary. However, the author surprises with a brief comment on one word from Jeremiah: the word “new” (kainos).

But of course, as we continue to read Hebrews 9 through 10, we should bear this OT quotation and significance in mind, just like the author probably has it in mind as he writes this section of Hebrews.

Remember that the book of Hebrews is a book of ‘better’ ( In other words, are we as New Testament (NT) Christians totally ignore the OT? Why do we still bother to keep the OT in our Bible? Isn’t having NT is sufficient? I think the point here is that the author of Hebrews wants his readers to understand and appreciate the work and effect of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, in the context of OT. He wants them to see the continuity of OT to NT, seeing how is it that Jesus is better than all that is mentioned in the OT. N.T. Wright phrases it this way:

What we have is good, but God is doing something better. What we have is true, but it isn’t the whole truth. What we know at the moment is important, but the most important thing we know is God is planning to do something more. And the whole letter is written in order to say: the ‘something more’, the ‘whole truth’, the ‘better thing’, has now arrived in Jesus; so whatever you do, don’t go back to the old things.

Do not go back to the old things, because the old things cannot give us what we can get from Jesus. And as I meditate upon this idea, I am drawn to verse 12 and the phrase: And I will remember their sins no more. God will remember my sins no more! This is it! No more. God doesn’t remember my sins; it is me who keep remembering my own sins. God has remembered your sins no more, and you also do not have to remember your own sins. And Leon Morris’ comment on verse 12 is that:

"For" shows the important point that it is God's forgiveness that is the basis of what has gone before. It is because sins are really dealt with that the blessings enumerated earlier become possible. And those sins really are dealt with. God's wrath no longer rests on the sinner and God does not bear his sins in mind. They are completely forgotten. We might get some of the force of all this by reflecting that the men of Qumran saw themselves as the men of the new covenant.

The problem with us is that, we believe and know that God remembers our sins no more, but because we remember our sins, either because of our good memory or some other people good memories, we think that God still remembers our sins. This is a lie. God has chosen not to remember our sins, so that He will not hold us guilty for our sins. God has only chosen to forgive all of our sins. This is the only reason for Jesus to be on the Cross.

Therefore, no more.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Copy… (Hebrews 8:1-7) 130409

The author of Hebrews is going to present to his readers the ‘main point’ of his sermon in verse 1 of chapter 8. Though the original Greek word of it can also mean ‘summary’ or ‘to sum up’, I think he is really wanting only to highlight the ‘main point’. And as a preacher myself, I have learned that, in preaching, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. So, the main point here is to keep the main point the main point! So, what the main point? Jesus, the better high priest has something better to offer (v3).

As I read on today’s passage, I am puzzled by the ‘something’ which Jesus can offer better. What is this ‘something’? Then, I am being drawn to the word ‘copy’ in verse 5. Jesus is a not a copy, He is the real thing! But verses 4 and 5 inform us that what Jesus is doing in heaven can be seen also on earth. The author of Hebrews has a very clear picture of heaven reality being acted out on earth. Perhaps, this is what some commentators call it: Platonic idea. I think Leon Morris commentary on verse 5 will give us a good understanding:

The earthly priests serve in a sanctuary they value highly, though it is no more than "a copy and shadow of what is in heaven." There has been much discussion as to how "Platonic" this idea is. Some remind us that Plato thought of heavenly "ideas" as the archetypes of all things earthly. They think that the author has used the thought of an earthly sanctuary as no more than the imperfect actualization of a Platonic heavenly sanctuary. Others point out that the idea of heavenly counterparts of earthly objects was widespread. For example, we read of the heavenly temple in the Testament of Levi (T Levi 5:1) and in Wisdom 9:8, which says, "Thou hast given command to build a temple on thy holy mountain, and an altar in the city of thy habitation, a copy of the holy tent which thou didst prepare from the beginning."

There can be no question but that there is enough of the heavenly counterpart concept in Jewish sources for us to maintain that the author need not have been dependent on Plato. However, he does not say that the earthly was an exact copy of the heavenly, as the rabbis apparently did. There is a good deal to be said for the idea that his language is that of the Alexandrian modification of Platonism. This does not mean that he is using the distinction out of strong philosophic views but that he is using popular terminology with such associations. His main thought accords with the OT model, though he adds the idea that the earthly is but imperfect. It is the heavenly that is real. Inevitably the ministry of the Levitical priests was defective; they could serve only the "copy and shadow." So we are reminded of the Lord's words to Moses that he must make everything "according to the pattern shown [him] on the mountain" (Exod 25:40). The rabbis often appealed to the Mosaic example (see SBK pp. 702-4). For example, they said, "An ark of fire and a table of fire and a candlestick of fire came down from heaven; and these Moses saw and reproduced" (Tal Menahoth 29a; the passage goes on to affirm that Moses did this "after their pattern" and not merely "according to the fashion thereof").

But whatever it is, Jesus is the real thing; His ministry is more excellent (v6). And whatever we have in the past (referring to the Old Testament’s covenants, tabernacle and even high priest) are merely a copy of the real thing, Jesus who has come and done.

The copy can only give us a fore-taste of the real thing. I have some miniature kitchen set at home for my little girl to play with. She will pretend to cook, using a spoon to do some stir frying in a pan then she will bring the pan together with the spoon and give me to eat. For a long time, I am puzzle where she learns stir frying from? She does get into the kitchen when her grandmother is cooking. After awhile, I realize she is not mimicking stir frying; she is mimicking the way we bring out her porridge to feed her. We will stir the porridge to cool it, and then bring it to her to feed her. This is the real thing she is copying!

When we look at the copy, we may not fully understand the real thing; but now, we have the real thing! And yesterday, as we celebrated Easter Sunday, I was reminded of the real thing. I was reminded the real High Priest, I was reminded of the real Sacrifice on the Cross, and I was reminded of the real promise of God; that is the real deal! Do you copy that?


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Once for all… (Hebrews 7:26-28) 090409

Jesus is our High Priest! He is the One who will be presenting the sacrificial offering to God on our behalf. Jesus is also the Sacrificial Offering. He is the offering being sacrificed on the Cross by Himself the High Priest so that we are forgiven, once and for all.

The passage today is similar to the Hebrews 5:1-3, they are almost parallel in some sense. The author of Hebrews once again highlights the quality of Jesus as the High Priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens (v26, NASB). When I read through these qualities of Jesus, I have a problem: Jesus is not really separated from sinners, wasn’t He among the sinners?

When I check the NIV Bible, the translation there is ‘set apart from sinners’. A commentator, F. F. Bruce, commented that:

Although he came to earth “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” lived among sinners, received sinners, ate with sinners, was known as the friend of sinners, yet he is set apart from sinners, “in a different class from sinful men”; and is now exalted above all the heavens to share the throne of God.

The original Greek word will suggest ‘separated’ rather than ‘set apart’. But the context and the grammar of this sentence will give us a different understanding, because it has to be understood together with ‘exalted above the heaven’. In other words, the separation is not literal separation from sinners, but rather separation in accordance to Levitical ritual set apart for religious duty, which requires him to be purer and exalted above the rest. This is how Leon Morris explains,

There is probably another contrast in the words "set apart from sinners," for the Levitical high priest was required to leave his home seven days before the Day of Atonement and live in such a manner as to ensure that he avoided ritual defilement (M Yoma 1.1). But Jesus' separation was not ritual. Some think the words refer to his spotless character and think he is being contrasted with sinful men. It is more likely that we should take the words closely with the following. His work on earth is done. He has accomplished his sacrifice. He has been "exalted above the heavens." This makes him the perfect intercessor.

Therefore, Jesus is still able to sympathize and identify with us, the sinners. And because of He is holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; the effect of His sacrifice is once for all (v27), and once and for all. In other words, the work of Christ is for all men across all times.

When I think of this, especially during this season of Lent, I have the confident that my sins of the past are forgiven, once for all. My sins of today are also forgiven, once for all. My sins in the future will surely be forgiven too. Do you also have such confidence too?

There is great implication, if we really believe that our sins are forgiven once for all because of the effect of the High Priest and the Sacrifice, then why are we still live in guilt? I am not saying that we can continue to sin because our sins will be forgiven anyway, but I am saying that when we sinned and having confessed to God of our sinful act, we do not need to live in guilty and condemnation. Feeling guilty and condemn is the lie of Devil.

When you sin, all you need is to confess, agreeing with God that what you have done is not pleasing in His sight, and you are forgiven. You may have committed adultery; you may have lied to your supervisor; you may have cheated in an examination; you may have even being gossiping and betrayed someone you love for sake of a promotion. But if you have confessed them to God, you are forgiven.

You are forgiven; once for all.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 43: Exhausted… (Luke 22:45-46) 08 Apr 09

Jesus is exhausted from sorrow (v45), but His disciples are exhausted for trying to stay awake. They are exhausted for having traveled with Jesus for such a long time and such a long distance. The journey to the Cross is a long 40 over days; I am also exhausted following through it. Are you also exhausted too?

Some of us are exhausted because of the weight of the message of the Cross; some of us are exhausted because of the things Christ has revealed to you; and some of us are exhausted because we simply need to rest. We can be exhausted for many different reasons. The question we have to ask ourselves is: what are we exactly exhausted from?

For me, it is the weight of the message of the Cross. The more I get closer to the Cross, the heavier my heart becomes. I can almost literally feel it coming on me. I feel the grace and love of the Cross coming on me, and there is no way to escape from them. I know this journey is coming to an end in a few days time, but it is only the beginning of another new journey. This time, I will not be looking forward to the Cross, but carrying my cross to follow Him. This time, the cross will no longer be burdensome, but it will be light and delight. This time, I will not be exhausted because I have learned to rest when I need to, so that I can allow the message of the Cross to recharge and refresh me.

Are you still exhausted? Go to the Cross, and go beyond the Cross. The new journey is about to begin.


Better… (Hebrews 7:11-25) 080409

I was taught in Bible College that the book of Hebrews is also known the book of the better. It is because the author of Hebrews presents the idea of ‘better’ 13 times:

1) Much better than the angels (1:4),
2) confident of better things in your case (6:9),
3) a better hope (7:19),
4) guarantee of a better covenant (7:22),
5) Mediator of a better covenant (8:6),
6) founded on better promises (8:6),
7) with better sacrifices (9:23),
8) better and lasting possessions (10:34),
9) Abel offered God a better sacrifice (11:4),
10) desire a better country (11:16),
11) better resurrection (11:35),
12) planned something better for us (11:40), and
13) speaks a better word (12:24).

From this quick survey, I gather that the author of Hebrews is trying to bring across to his readers a very simple and yet powerful message: whatever Jesus has done for us on the Cross is better than whatever we have tried to do in the past. When I read through today passage, I come across two ‘better’ verses in verses 19 and 22. The former informs me that there is a better hope for the future and a better covenant from the past because of who Jesus is and what He has done.

What does this imply to me? For me, the implication is simple but powerful. I am better today than yesterday, and my tomorrow will be better than today because of Christ. In other words, I have something positives to look forward to, because of Christ work on the Cross in the past.

Sometimes we don’t understand the implication of Jesus being the better High Priest, offering a better sacrifice and giving us a better hope. This means that the work of Christ is completed, once and for all, and there is no need for us to seek for another high priest, another sacrifice or another hope, because Christ is sufficient. And this means that we better recognize and remember our identity: we are the better children of God.

In the past, the children of God (as in Israelites) have to have their high priest to come into the sanctuary of God to make a sacrifice for their sins and ask for forgiveness. But now, we as the children of God have Jesus as our High Priest and Sacrifice, and all our sins have been forgiven since the day He died on the Cross. And today, we are better than the Israelites because we are forgiven children of God.

I am forgiven on the day I receive Jesus as my Savior, I am forgiven today, and I am forgiven tomorrow. Therefore, my tomorrow will be better. There is no need for me to keep asking for forgiveness, because forgiveness has been given to me. Though I still have to confess my sins, agreeing with God about what He thinks of me, and His willingness to forgive because I am His child. No matter what I have done can change my identity. I am a better child of God. All I need to do is to receive His forgiveness which has been given when He died on the Cross 2000 years ago.

Are you better?


Day 42: Supper Time… (Luke 22:15-16) 07 Apr 09

I know this blog is posted a day late. I was having a good supper with the Lord yesterday. The passage tells us that Jesus speaks of His earnest and eager desire to eat the Passover meal with His disciples again. The author of the article also explains the significant of Passover meal to the Jews. It is God’s fulfillment of His salvation plan to deliver His people from the power of darkness. In Moses’ time, it was delivering them out of Egypt in the Promise land.

Today, Christians no longer celebrate the Passover meals as it was celebrated only once a year, but we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as often as we meet, supposedly. The Lord’s Supper is a mean of grace; it is a demonstration of God’s love reaching out to His people. During the Lord’s Supper, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. During the Lord’s Supper, Judas went out to betray Jesus. During the Lord’s Supper, we remember that the body of Christ was broken and His blood was shed for us, today.

Jesus eagerly desires to eat with us. Jesus eagerly desires to be in fellowship with us. Jesus cannot bear to leave us and separate from us. This is the extent of His love and grace for us. Whenever I come before the table to receive the bread and the wine, I come in amazement, because I come as a sinner. I can’t remember a single time whereby I come before table finding myself completely sinless.

Yesterday, I was suffering from serious nose block until I have difficulty breathing. And because of that, I was lack of oxygen and I felt so tired the whole day (and it was my off day) which I cannot do anything much. I even felt weak to go out for lunch. I couldn’t sleep as I have to gasp for air from time to time and there was a renovation in one of the units in my neighborhood. But I took some bread (Bonjour 12 grains bread) and a cup of coffee and have communion with the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. I thank Him for His grace and sustaining my life, and ask Him to breathe in me once again. Yes, that was my supper time with the Jesus.

We are not ordain ministers or church leaders, we cannot serve communion to others, but we can serve communion to ourselves from time to time, so that we can enjoy the suppertime with Jesus. By the way, my suppertime was about 2pm in the afternoon. What time will be your suppertime?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 41: Weeping Jesus… (Luke 19:37-44)

There is a myth that says: men don’t cry; but that’s not true, because real man cries. I am a real man, and I cry. I remember when I lost my first baby at its early stage of my wife’s pregnancy, I comforted my wife at hospital, swallowed all me tears; but I reached home, I just knelt before the Lord at my bedside, and cried. I cried till I have no more energy, I cried till I have no more tears, and I cried till I fell asleep. I have never cried so badly before, but I cried.

I have learned a very precious lesson when I went through my season of darkness, it is alright to cry. Crying is not a sign of weakness, but it is an outflow of trapped emotions. Crying is a release of hurts, disappointments, discouragement, and even anger. Recently, I again learn from my daughter’s Barney show that crying is a way to express our sad emotion; it’s healthy to cry when one needs to.

When Jesus wept, He must be very sad, because He knows that in 40 years time this city, Jerusalem will be almost completely destroyed. Jesus feels sad to see the spiritual condition of these people. Sometimes, when I look into my spiritual condition, I feel sad too. Sometimes, I cry for the sins I have committed. I feel that I have disappointed Jesus. But I also feel a sense of joy after my confession, because I know that Jesus will forgive me and help me to move on.

Jesus comes to Jerusalem not to simply weep, but to the Cross, so that though we are hopeless in our sins, He provides us with the hope at the Cross. Jesus wept, Jesus died, so that we can live. When was the last time you have wept for the sins you have committed? When was the last time you have wept because you are being confronted by your disobedience to the Word of God? When was the last time you wept for the Cross of Jesus that will bring you hopes at the cost of His life?

Take a few moments to ponder and reflect, if it is necessary, weep.


King-Priest-Messiah… (Hebrews 7:1-10) 060409

I always have problem coming to understand and explain Melchizedek. I even have problem pronouncing this name. This name is mentioned only twice in the Old Testament, in Genesis 14 and Psalms 110. But the Jewish readers of Hebrews will have all sort of ideas and even theologies formed about Melchizedek; and Scripturally, he is only who he is described in Genesis 14, Psalms 110 and Hebrews. His appearance in Genesis 14 serves as foreshadow of a type of Christ even before Moses and greater than Abraham. In Psalms 110, King David uses this typology to indicate and foretell the coming a greater King-Priest-Christ.

N.T. Wright explains how the author of Hebrews comes to his translation of Melchizedek in verse 2:

Melech in Hebrew means ‘king’; zedek in Hebrew means ‘righteousness’ or ‘justice’. Well then, he is ‘king of righteousness’; and since he’s ‘king of Salem’ (that is, Jerusalem), and since shalom means ‘peace’, he is also ‘king of peace’.

Wright also says that ‘this is really just toying with possibilities. The real point is yet to come.’ So, what is the real point of mentioning Melchizedek here by the author of Hebrews?

Anyone who s familiar with Hebrew narrative, he will notice that the account recorded in Genesis 14:17-20 about Melchizedek has some major problem. The author of Hebrews points it out blankly here in verse 3: ‘Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.’

How can it be that someone who has a status of a King and role of a Priest not properly introduces with genealogy or mentions something about his birth or death? Furthermore, he is given the impression that he is even greater than Abraham. Any Jewish reader will understand it’s significant. Melchizedek a type of King-Priest-Messiah. And if Jesus follows the order of Melchizedek (6:20), Jesus is the King-Priest-Messiah!

I am imagining if I am one of the original readers of Hebrews, what does it mean to me? I can have the assurance that Jesus will do what Melchizedek does: a priest perpetually (v3). But even greater that being a priest perpetually, Jesus offers a sacrifice which has a perpetual effect; that is, the forgiveness of sins.

Melchizedek receives from Abraham to offer a sacrifice, but Jesus offers Himself as the sacrifice. Melchizedek continues to be a priest, but Jesus completes His duty as priest (so to speak) with an eternal effect. Melchizedek is a priest to the Most High God, but Jesus is the Most High God who is also the priest. Such is the comfort for me to realize that I have Jesus who is my Priest, my King and my Christ. I can be sure that as I come before Jesus to confess my sins, He can take it all and forgive; because He has the compassion of a Priest, the authority of a King and the mission of Christ.

Let’s approach Jesus as your King-Priest-Messiah.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day 40: No longer I… (Galatians 2:20) 05 Apr 09

There are times that I just feel like giving this. Day after day, I am writing, and not sure if anyone is really reading (I know you are reading). It can be so tiresome and cumbersome and troublesome, except being handsome (you can see that I am writing nonsense already). I feel like I am hitting a wall at this point. I think Jesus is also hitting a wall when He enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Though people are welcoming Him, He knows that this will be the exact group of people who will be calling out: Crucify Him! No wonder He wept (Luke 19:41). But Christ continues His journey to the Cross. He continues what He has been called to accomplish. He continues on, He presses on, and He does not give up; because in His heart, it is not His will be done, by the Father’s will be done.

As I feel like giving up, because I am writing this almost close to the midnight and having nose block; I know that God is confronting me with my ‘I’ issue. I think that I have the right to give up, because I think that writing devotional blog is mine project. But writing blog is for God and a call from God, therefore I should not stop unless God says stop. Not my devotions being written, but my Father’s will be written in my devotional blogs.

It is no longer my devotional blog; this is God’s devotional blog. Are you going through some situation whereby you feel like giving it up? Maybe that situation is not yours, its God’s will for you to accomplish. It is no longer your situation, its God’s situation you are to live in and grow in. Don’t give up, just keep moving forward with what God has given you to do.

Remember: it’s no longer I.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day 39: Q&A… (Luke 18:35-43) 04 Apr 09

Someone said: all questions have an answer. Even when we don’t have a good answer, it is an answer itself. The beggar appeals to Jesus, and Jesus gives him a question: What do you want Me to do for you?

The beggar has an answer: he wants to see. Do you also want to see? Of course, but the question is: what do you want to see? Or what do you really want to see? Do you want to see Jesus? Or are you seeking to see the work of Jesus? Or do you want to see what Jesus wants you to see?

Today, I survive three hours of hiking with some boys and a good friend. I am still sick and nose still running, but I survive. I think that today will be a good day for me, as everything go according to what I have planned. But just before I want to go home after dismissing the boys in school, I discover that I lost my motorbike keys! I am so disappointed with my carelessness. I pray that God will show me where I have lost it, and He did; but it will be impossible for me to retrieve it back. In other words, I will have to leave my motorbike in the school and take public transport home. I have spared keys at home.

I pray a prayer for God to show me where my keys are, but I don’t like the answer. Do you have such experience too? But this is what Jesus wants me to see; He wants me to take public transport today. And as I am on my way home, I meet a cousin of my wife, and I help her with her direction and get to know her better. Such is a divine appointment. This is what Jesus wants me to see, lost soul who is closed to us whom I am not reaching out to.

Today, when you ask Jesus to give you sight to see, spiritual insight to understand the Scripture as you read, are you ready to see what He wants you to see? What is your answer? Is that your final answer?


Day 38: Don’t you understand??? (Luke 18:31-34) 03 Apr 09

Why? Why? Why? This is the most common question asked when one is going through suffering. Single word, mono-syllabus; but it speaks of the deepest and most profound emotions of the sufferer. And often, in fact most of the time, we have no answer. Though we try to come out with a reasonable reason, the truth is that we are not really satisfied with our answer. We are merely satisfying our intellect, but there is still a void in our emotion.

Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem, He once again tells His disciples about His sufferings, but they cannot understand. Luke commented that they were prevented from understanding, and as Luke writes this, he and those disciples probably knows what has happened, and understand by then. It is on the hind sight they understand. It is also on the hind sight that we have a glimpse of understanding why we suffer at times.

This weekend is going to be busy for me. Friday, I have a combined meeting of the small groups designated under my care; Saturday, I have to bring a small group of boys for a hike at Bukit Timah Hill; but I am sick. I started to fall sick on Wednesday evening, having some irritation in the throat; by Thursday after I checked out the place for hiking, my voice get hoarse and nose get stuffy; and Friday, my nose just started to run and I started coughing. Now as I am writing, my nose still stuffy and throat still irritating. I still need to lead the boys to the top of the Hill later.

I ask God, why doesn’t He heal me now? I need to experience that power. It is suffering for me to keep clearing my nose as I hike. I still need to work on Sunday; I am on standby for my colleague. Why? Why? Why?

Of course my suffering here is small compared to many others, but the point is I questioned God for His purpose and His goodness, I questioned His character! I don’t understand Him now. I cannot comprehend what He is doing to me now! Though I can rationalize, theologicalize and even spiritualize my experience, but in reality I don’t understand fully what is happening here.

I just have to be patience and wait. I just have to believe that God is sure and stedfast, even though I don’t understand. It’s complicated right? I also don’t seem to have any answer here today. Are you confused of what I am writing?

It’s mystery. Don’t you understand?


Friday, April 3, 2009

Sure and Stedfast… (Hebrews 6:13-20) 030409

I do not spell Stedfast incorrectly; this is simply some strange old English spelling, which the Boys’ Brigade uses in its motto: Sure and Stedfast. The author of Hebrews paints a picture of an anchor which is widely used in the ancient writing to bring out the idea of sureness and steadiness. And this is how George H. Guthrie puts it:

The word “anchor” (ankyra), used three times in Acts 27 of a literal anchor, here represents the idea of stability. Such a metaphorical use of this nautical image occurs broadly in ancient literature; authors such as Plato, Plutarch, and Lucian write of various institutions or faculties that give life steadiness.

But we also have to bear in mind that “while the metaphor of the anchor is widely used in antiquity, it occurs only here in the NT” (Leon Morris).

I have been asked many times, why the Boys’ Brigade uses an anchor to be its emblem? I have no idea. Is the founder of Boys’ Brigade a navy officer? But I think it have to do with Hebrews chapter 6, verse 19. I believe that as Boys’ Brigade seeks to instill good Christian values to the boys, it also wants to assure them that as Christ being our Captain of life, we can be very sure and stedfast in the hope of His promises to our soul. These are the two unchangeable things mentioned in verse 18: promise and oath.

I am reminded of my calling recently, and the promise God has given to me. I have almost given it up as I am currently led to this ministry. But God has never forgotten the passion and compassion He has placed within me when He first called me. He is now merely taking me through another route to have me better equip and to be more intimate with Him. I really don’t know how long will it takes for God to bring about the promise He has for me to come to pass, but surely it will as God is sure and stedfast of His promise and His word.

Have you lost hope of what God has laid upon your heart in the past? Do you still remember the calling or the promise God has made with you? What is the passion and compassion that God has put with you? Have you forgotten about them? Don’t lose hope, for the promise of God is like an anchor, sure and stedfast.

I am very encouraged by the example of Abraham, he waited for many years before he had his son Isaac, but he still clung on to the promise of God that he will surely be multiplied. I can imagine how hopeless he can feel when he had only Isaac when he was in his old age and was even ask to sacrifice him on Moriah (Gen 22). But he obeyed and still believed in the promise of God. And the author of Hebrews says that he, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise (v15).

I think the key is patient. As we are living in such a high speed society, we have lost the art of waiting patiently. We will complain and grumble if the checkout counter is too slow and the counter lady is chatting with the customer. But as long as you patiently wait, your turn will come to checkout your items, the supermarket will not let you leave without paying them!

If you have any promise yet to be fulfilled, wait patiently, He is sure and stedfast to fulfill what He has promised. This is the hope.

By the way, God has promised me that the BBGB ministry will be able to raise more than $15000 this year. I am now patiently waiting for you to donate.

Sure and Stedfast.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 37: One or many… (Luke 18:18-27) 02 Apr 09

We have journeyed so far together till this point in this season of Lent, and we have reached a point whereby we are confronted with the choice: one or many? The rich young ruler has many things, in fact the author of the article says that he has many good things; but he lacks one thing. This ‘one thing’ phrase sound familiar? Yes, Jesus says to Martha in chapter 10.

But Jesus does not ask this rich young ruler to sell away that ‘one thing’, but He asks him to sell away everything to give them to the poor. That’s too many to exchange for that ‘one thing’. But this is what exactly Jesus wants from the rich young ruler, Martha, His disciples and us. So, what is the one thing?
I have many things in my life that is not pleasing to God. I have many things that hold me back from loving God and serving Him wholeheartedly. But God is not bothered by all these other things; He is only concerned about the ‘one thing’. So what is the ‘one thing’?

It is not my addiction to writing devotional blogs, it is also not your career, neither is it your family and other hobbies. It is to have faith in Christ. It is to accept the grace of God. It is to yield yourself to the Holy Spirit. Though it seems that there are three things, but they are all actually the same ‘one thing’. I don’t know how phrase it better. It is not about us following Christ as His disciple, it is also not about us serving Him like a servant, it is definitely not seeking after the miracles and healing by the Holy Spirit. It is about God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I am not too sure if I am clear about this, it is not about what we can give to God. It is about my obedience to God and gives whatever God asks. Many people give a lot to building funds and other ministry related funds, because they are being blessed by God with a big fat bonus. But seldom people will give in their poverty because they are obeying what God wants from them. It is easy to give what is not yours and what you have excess, but it is not easy to give when you don’t have, and God wants it. You need faith, you need grace and you need a miracle. This is the one thing.

Are you giving God that ‘one thing’, before it become too many to handle?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day 36: Children… (Luke 18:9-17) 01 Apr 09

Warning: The content of this devotion may cause some of us feel uncomfortable and may be even feel guilty or condemn. This is not targeted at anyone. If you feel that I am speaking about you, it’s only purely coincident. And if you feel guilty or angry after reading this, I am sorry. Maybe the Holy Spirit is saying something to you.

As I meditate upon today Scripture, I cannot help but being drawn to the phrase: for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these (referring to the children) (v16). I think God is reminding me of an incident which upset me. The incident took place at special meeting a church held recently because of a special speaker who is supposed to be specially anointed with the Holy Spirit. I have no issue with the speaker, though I think she can do a better job in preaching and teaching; after all that’s not her gifting, her gifting is prophesying and healing. I was upset because I witnessed an unfriendly instruction to some children (really very young children between the ages of 2 to 4) to leave the place of meeting to another place to play, for he was concerned that these little children were disturbing others by their noise.

Of course I have to fair by stating that he was actually ushering them to another level of the meeting place whereby there is facility for children to play, but separated from the main congregation. I am sure that he was not intentional to be seemed unfriendly, but he had placed his concern for the congregation of adults who understand the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit and theologies over these little children who know nothing more than Jesus loves them. I know it is not you who did that, because you won’t mind children to be among you in a fellowship. I know you understand what it means by the kingdom of God belongs to the little children.

Maybe it is time for us to reflect the way we treat our little children in our church, do we allow them to join us in our main worship service, allow them to worship God together with us in the presence of God? Maybe it is time to allow some crying and laughter of our little children to accompany the almost perfect music and song. Maybe it is time to listen to these little children, for the Holy Spirit may speak to us through them.

I know you may think that I am writing about this because I have little girl too. But I can be fully honest that I write this out of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, just like that special speaker.

I am sorry if I have offended you, for I am but a little child too.


Day 35: Who’s Ruling??? (Luke 17:20-25) 31 Mar 09

I didn’t write this devotion on 31st Mar, which is yesterday. I am simply too lazy to do so. I was having my off day, I brought my sick daughter to see a doctor, I played with her, I had my lunch, I watched Second World War documentaries by BBC, I slept, I played with Alethea, I had my dinner, I watched TV programs, I did some house chores, I put Alethea to bed together with my wife and I also slept. So I didn’t do my devotion. I felt uneasy, a sense of guilt, but I told myself: it’s my off day after all; I deserved to take a break. I decided what I should do, rather than seeking God for His direction.

As I read this devotion article, I know God is speaking to me about who is ruling in me; self or Christ? This is a constant struggle for many Christians, including myself. We claim to be Christian and claim that Christ lives and reigns in us; but in reality, we decide the area whereby Christ can rule and where He cannot. We choose the Scripture which we want to believe and reject those teachings which are simply not suitable to our personality. But aren’t we supposed to be ruled by Christ completely?

As a Presbyterian, our view of eschatology (the study of the end times) has to do with our view of when and where is the Kingdom of God. There are basically three views: Pre-millennium, Post-millennium, and A-millennium. I don’t think I want to explain this in detail, because it can be very complicated. The Presbyterian understanding will be a reformed one, that is generally going for A-millennium, which actually means the millennium rule of Christ is symbolic and as long we are called Christians, we are that Kingdom of God as He rules in us. In other words, the symbolic millennium rule of Christ is already now in us but not yet in its fullness.

I am to be ruled by Christ. I am a subject to Him. This is easier to say than done. Try to live a day asking God for everything He wants you to do, and submits to Him. It is not easy. It is easier for us to rule our lives and He rules our ‘spiritual’ lives.

As we look to the Cross, we realize that He has the right to rule in us. We have to deny and die to our ‘self’. If our ‘self’ is died, someone has to be ruling in us, and it has to be Christ. Are you ruled by Christ or by your died self? Maybe, today is a good day to do a simple self-check: Who’s ruling?