24 Oct 2021

When God Unmasks Us

These days there is much talk revolving around facial masks. We ask whether we should or should not wear a mask. We also ask when we should use them, what type and its availability and so on. We find some people wearing plain and simple masks and others prefer fashionable designs that match their clothes. We also check on the quality of the masks. The purpose of the mask is to protect others from infection from us and vice versa.

This reflection is not about the physical masks. It is about another type – a façade that prevents God (do we really think so?) and people from knowing our true self. So we use behaviour, speech and body language to try to hide our true self. Why do we mask ourselves? Here are some possible reasons.

I want to be accepted by others.
Simon Peter, the disciple of Christ, denied Christ not once but three times. He was amidst the accusers of Christ. The fear of repercussions by the Christ’s accusers caused him to want to blend in and be “one of them”. Within each denial there was perhaps also a desire to be accepted, respected and loved. So we behave in a way that makes us acceptable to others. Eventually, like Peter, we try to hide the truth.

I don’t want old wounds to be exposed.
Many people carry emotional baggages. A common one are the emotional hurts that people carry. This could have been the consequence of painful experiences in the family, school, marriage and workplace. We do not want old wounds to be opened. The pain is just too much. So we avoid talking about them.

Hiding from God and His Mission.
Jonah was instructed by God to go to Nineveh and speak to the people of their evil. Instead, he fled to Tarshish from the presence of God. Jonah did not want to do this because he knew that God was a gracious and merciful God and that God would forgive them [Jonah 4:5].

When God unmasks us.
God meets us in our everyday life. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve both violated God’s instruction. When they heard God walking in the garden, they hid themselves [self-masking]. God unmasked both of them. To Adam He asked, “Where are you?’ Genesis 3:9. To Eve He asked, ” What is this that you have done?”. Genesis 3:13.

Simon Peter’s hypocrisy of commitment to Christ as a disciple was exposed soon after he denied Christ three times. And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:59-62

Accusation, denial, unmasking and conviction. All it took was when Christ looked at him. It revealed to Peter as to who he really was in his relationship to Christ. Peter learnt from this bitter experience which subsequently made him a stronger disciple.

While the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a storm arose. This caused the disciples to panic. They cried out “Master, Master, we are perishing. “ Luke 8:24. They feared that a tragic death would come upon them. Christ unmasked them and asked them “Where is your faith?” That was the underlying issue in this crises.

A rich young man came to Christ asking what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Christ reminded him of some of the Ten Commandments. He replied that he had obeyed them from his youth. Jesus Christ loved him and said “You lack one thing; go sell all that you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” Mark 10:20. Here was the unmasking.

The Pharisee, Nicodemus, came to Jesus at night. Christ spoke to him about a spiritual rebirth to enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus could only understand a physical birth. Christ unmasked Nicodemus by asking him “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” John 3:10. Nicodemus learnt from this incident. He became a follower of Christ.

Jesus met a man in the synagogue who had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched to see whether Jesus would heal on a Sabbath say. Jesus asked the Pharisees “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. Mark 3:4

Jesus proceeded to heal the man. Instead of learning from this unmasking event, the Pharisees hardened their hearts and “…the Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.” Mark 3:6

Jesus Christ exposed their misconceived priority that the law was above the welfare of a person who had been created in the image of God. Unlike the others mentioned above, instead of learning from this incident, the Pharisees were too proud and arrogant. This set the stage for them to plot to kill Jesus Christ. “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. ” John 3:19-20

When God unmasks us, it His way of discipling us in the long journey of holiness. He humbles us but does not humiliate us. He uses various methods. His Word and Spirit perform spiritual surgery into our inner selves. He also uses others to counsel each of us. A person can respond by rejecting and being reinforced in one’s sin. Spiritual pride does this. On the other hand, a humble person can accept His unmasking and correction.


What am I hiding about myself from God and others?
1. Can I ever hide from God?
2. When God unmasks me what is He revealing to me about myself?
3. Am I prepared to allow God to unmask me and to work in my inner life?
4. When God unmasks me, He does it out of love for me so that I will grow more in commitment to Him. Do we believe this?

Father God, the universe and its stars, the earth and its wonders, and the sea and its treasures barely reveal to us the expanse of Your creations. They do not hide from You for they worship You in the splendour of the majesty You created in them. How, then, can we, creations You personally made in Your image, hide from you? It is futile. Have mercy on us oh LORD for our iniquity, pride, anxiety, pettiness and hatefulness. Instil in our hearts a longing for all that is You. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

– Devotional by Samuel Ratnam

18 Jul 2021

Listening to Sermons

In my conversations with Christians about sermons, I observe that most people have expectations of the role and responsibility of a preacher and the message. There is a wide spectrum of expectations.

They revolve around the length of the sermon, its relevance, applicability, whether it is attention grabbing, and its biblical accuracy. Then there are those who want an emotional uplift only. Then others look for more information and knowledge about God. Others want a pep talk on the power of positive thinking.

Hardly have I come across a person who expresses the responsibility of a listener. It is always the preacher’s responsibility.

For a sermon to be effective, the message together with the messenger and the listener have to each be responsible. In this article, the focus will be on the listener’s role and responsibility.

God’s story to us, unfolded in the bible, speaks on the role and responsibility of both. In Genesis, God gave a perfect set of instruction to Adam and Eve. They chose to violate it.

Later, we read about how In spite of relays of prophets warning Israel, the nation slides into idolatry. They come under the judgement of God and are exiled for 70 years.

Christ taught His disciples about the parable of the Sower. He spoke of the various types of soil ie ‘listener’. Finally in Revelation the message to each of the 7 churches ends with these words: “He who has ears, let them hear what the Spirit is speaking.” – Revelation 2:7,11,17,29;3:6,13,22;

How, then, should we listen to a sermon?

The sermon is only part of a worship service. The other key components are the confession, praise and worship, the reading of the Word, intercession, sermon, the sacraments of the Holy Communion and the dismissal.

Each section of the service serves a purpose. As the service progresses each section builds upon the other. Each section dovetails the other, building it to a climax. The whole service is a an act of worship. It is an expression of one’s devotion to God. The sermon forms an integral part of the service.

Listen to the full sermon. It is not possible to appreciate a novel or a movie by listening to portions of it. The parts of a sermon are not stand alone points. They are interconnected and dovetail each other to arrive at a key lesson. The full impact comes when one listens in completeness.

Listen to the preacher and also check the message with the bible. The people in Berea were described by Luke as, ”Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness examining the scriptures daily to see these things were so Acts 17:12. This exercise will prevent you from accepting heresy.

Do we pray for the people who will be leading in the various parts of the service? Is this role only for the officiating minister, worship team, preacher and celebrant? Should not each of us be praying for them? We should be praying for the Lord’s anointing upon them.

We pray that they will lead holy lives, hear from the Lord and minister in the strength of the Lord. Consider praying for them during the course of the week.

Beware of being a “know all” person. Have a teachable spirit. This makes us a fertile soil for His Word. We are humbled by the presence of God. We have a limitation of intellect and spirit. He has been around a long long time. He created the “beginning of time”. We do not know everything about Him and including the present and future. He has the first Word and the last Word in life.

He is holy. We are only in the process of being made holy. Hence listen with faith. This sets the right spiritual climate and good soil for the seed of the word of God to fall on good soil. “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty. He who has ears, let him hear”. Matthew 13:23,24

Listen with the intention of obeying God. Are we listening to know more information or knowledge about God only. This should only be a means to an end. The purpose of a sermon is to know God personally and to obey Him. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”. James 1:22.

Even the devil knows God’s Word. In this age when people are chasing information, the mere accumulation of information about God is not the purpose of a sermon. It only serves to puff us up. As we listen and obey cumulatively over the weeks, months and years, we will grow in faith.

1. Will I be willing to repent of my carelessness in listening and obeying His Word?
2. Will I be committed to praying for the those who are responsible for the service each week?
3. Will I be willing to set the right spiritual posture to be the humble responsible listener and to be obedient to Him?

Our dear heavenly Father,I repent of the way that I have responded to your Word. I have been casual,careless and critical of your Word that has been preached. Forgive me for my lack of conviction and unbelief. I pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit, I will have a fresh way of taking heed to your Word. I pray for those whose responsibility is to preach and lead in other sections,may your anointing be upon them. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

– Devotional by Samuel Ratnam

27 Mar 2021

Good Friday Devotional

Following Christ…….but from a distance

“But this is your hour – when darkness reigns. Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.
– (Luke 22:54)

Where is God in our lives ? Is He at the centre or somewhere or nowhere?

Peter met Christ along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. In a night of crises and frustration he and his fellow fishermen failed to catch fish. Called by Christ, Peter followed Him. He was soon in the inner circle of the Lord’s disciples.

At the Last Supper, Christ prophesied that Satan would sift Peter like wheat. Peter proclaimed “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33)

When Christ was arrested, Peter, “who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John18:10-11)

Why do we follow Christ so closely and then follow Him at a distance? How does one slip to this point? Very often, external circumstances impact us internally. Events we experience dampen our love for Christ. What are some of them?

Peter’s path to denying Christ began with the poverty of a prayerful life. In the Garden of Gethsemane, together with the other disciples, Peter fell asleep. (Luke 22:45-46)

Then, with the arrest, the other disciples fled. Peter followed from a distance. This was followed with the denial of Christ, not once but three times. (Luke 22:56-62)

What distracts us from following Christ closely? The lustful attractions of the opposites gender. King Solomon started off well with committing his life to God. As he journeyed along life’s path “Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines” (1 King 11:2-3) . When he was old these wives “turned his heart after other gods”. (1 King 11:4)

Paul draws Timothy’s attention to sinful trends in the last days. The root of it is that people will be ”lovers of self”. (2 Timothy 3:2) rather than loving God. It is about self-advancement, self-satisfaction and being self-opinionated. Others include experiencing disappointments. We can be disappointed with church leaders, family and work . The list can go on.

Peter experienced grace when he returned to Christ. It was a return to first principles. Christ asked him, “Do you love Me” (John 21:15-19).

The Christian community has an important role to restore the one who has drifted away (Galatians 6:1). “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore in a spirit of gentleness”. There is a place for God’s law and God’s grace.

What steps can we take to prevent us from “following Christ from a distance”?

It is back to the basics. The daily joy of meeting our Lord through His Word, prayer, worship and obedience. These routines serve to be a reality check on our spiritual life. Having brothers and sisters who care for us and to correct us. On our part, we must have the humility to be corrected.

1. What areas of life am I walking closely with God. What areas am I “walking from a distance”?
2. Do I want to close the “gaps” of this relationship?
3. If so, what steps do I need to take to be closer to Him?

Dear heavenly Father, you have been loving and gracious to me all these years. You know when my relationship from you is strained. I repent of my weakness. I ask you, gracious Father, to work in my life and heart in those areas that are displeasing to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

– A Devotional by Sam Ratnam

9 Jan 2021

A Family United

2021 Chinese Lunar New Year Devotional
The family reunion is a very vital facet of the Chinese Lunar New Year spring tradition.

Ideally, the family will come together on New Year’s Eve for a meal together, and also on the first day of the 15-day festival.

Many families would once have conscientiously followed this time-honoured custom.

But in the haste and stress of our modern lives, some families have begun to disregard this.

Sadly, an increasing number see Chinese New Year as a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a holiday getaway – away from their relatives and friends!

This escape from the most basic and important of Chinese New Year tradition steals from the essence of our annual spring celebration – a happy reunion of family members, those close and far and those long lost or estranged, to remind us that love and respect bind and unite a family and make it strong.

But it is more than about the family, because a strong family makes for a strong community, and a strong community makes for a strong nation.

Family unity is also celebrated in our Bible. It starts with honouring one’s elders.

The first commandments in the Bible instruct us to honour our one and only God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Next comes the command in Exodus 20:10, “Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

To honour is to love and respect. There is no higher calling than these in any family in which the LORD our God is the head of the house.

In Psalm 133: 1, the LORD assures us that unity in the family brings peace and happiness: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

This is easier said than done when families are adrift, dysfunctional and unable to come together.

Yet, it is an outcome that we have to strive to accomplish. With lots of love and perseverance.

When a 95-year-old mother passed on a week ago, her estranged son of 30 years finally returned home to pay his respects to her and “reunited” with the family.

His siblings had continued to leave loving messages for him over the years even though he had not responded, until this one last time.

“It is a miracle,” his sister said.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Clearly, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the answer for a united family for all time. Not just for Chinese New Year.

1. Do you celebrate Chinese New Year with the family?
2. Will you resolve to reconcile with members of your family who may have hurt you?

We thank you, LORD, for the year just passed – for keeping our family intact, for reminding me how important it is to keep You at the centre of our family life, and for giving me the courage to take the first step to heal the hurts in our family. We pray for Your continued guidance and protection, LORD. In Jesus’s most precious name. Amen.

– Devotional by Colin Chee

29 Nov 2020

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Based on Psalm 19
I enjoy looking out my windows
Because God gives a kaleidoscope in the sky.
In the distant horizon, dazzling skyscrapers, man’s imagination.
More magnificent still, the clouds, His creation.

Days are when they are just wispy smoke, insubstantial,
Almost disappearing against an expanse of azure blue.
Other times, looming, angry, dark and scolding,
Or are happy, pretty, fluffy cotton balls floating by.

Sunsets are glorious, setting clouds on fire;
At times, tinged with brooding red, heralding rain.
My windows do not face the East,
Or else I’ll see His glory at morn as well.

On clear nights, one is tempted to count the stars.
If you can, and at the end, you see their Creator.
He brings them forth one by one and He calls them each by name,
And none is missing because of His great power and incomparable strength.

O unbeliever, why do you say, where is God?
Or, my ways are hidden from the Lord!
Alas, foolish one, you have eyes that do not see.
Please open our eyes, Lord, that we may see.

The psalmist says the heavens declare the glory of God.
The skies proclaim the work of His hands
Without words or speech or sound.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, to the ends of the world.

Indeed, the fear of the Lord endures forever.
Wherefore, let the words of my mouth and meditation
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

1. Have you paused to marvel at nature and wondered whether these are random entities or creations by a Being beyond anything we know?
2. Have you wondered whether randomness is possible when we consider the wonders of the world and the science our own physical being?

Thank you Father for the beautiful and marvellous creations of wonders around us. Give us the humility and wisdom to know and accept simply that you are our Creator and giver of breath. In Jesus name. Amen.

– Devotional by SC Chak

1 Nov 2020

Learning Fruitfulness from the Old Testament

There are many passages in the New Testament to learn about being fruitful for God.

What does being fruitful for God mean?

One of these verses is John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

What about in the Old Testament (OT)? Jesus had not yet incarnated as human and died on the cross for us. So, what does being spiritually fruitful or productive mean in OT times? An examination of Deuteronomy 8 can reveal much.

Reading the passage carefully, we will note there appears to be three key operational words:

  • Remember – verses 2 and 18
  • Forget – as in don’t forget – verses 11, 14, and 19
  • Keep – as in ‘observe’- verses 1 and 6

The Israelites were to “remember”, that the LORD, their God, had led them out of Egypt, where they were slaves, and then through the terrible wilderness for 40 years.

They witnessed many miracles under life and death circumstances and situations.
Part of God’s purpose in the 40 years of wilderness was to humble their hearts that God might know if the Israelites were loyal to Him as Lord and Saviour.

Forget is the opposite of remember. Why does God emphasize “forget” three times in the passage.

It is because not remembering would lead not only to forgetfulness, but there is a more pernicious effect. There would be a slow eating away of their remembrance and faith that would eventually lead the Israelites down the path of evil.

“Forgetfulness” also has a tendency of lifting up our hearts in pride – “we did it with our own strength” (verse 17).

This hardening of their hearts towards God made the Israelites turn away to worship other gods, which are not gods. The consequence of this disloyalty toward God is non-fruitfulness, failure and death (verse 20).

In fact, this actually happened to the Israelites in their history as a nation. In the end, they failed to be a witness for God to the gentile nations (no spiritual fruit).

They were exiled and ceased to be a nation after AD 70 when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the Israelites were scattered all over the world for nearly 2,000 years – until 1948.

So, how to remember and not forget? Simple. God says, “keep” my commandments. Obeying God’s commandments would help Israelites remember from one generation to another.

And what would be the result of keeping God’s commandments? They would be a fruitful and productive people, materially and spiritually.

God would multiply and prosper them beyond their expectations (verse 1 6-10) and they would bless God and fulfil His destiny for them as a nation, to be a light to the gentile world (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6).

Even today, we can learn from the OT. To be spiritually productive, one must remember, don’t forget, and obey.

Remember who you were in God’s sight before you were saved; how you lived your life then, and what was going to be your final destiny before you knew and followed Christ.

We must not forget what God has done for us. Not only in assuring us of heaven after we die physically, but transforming us and continuing to sanctify us to be more and more like His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, while we live this earthly life.

Read the Word, spend time with Jesus. Be guided by the Spirit, and obey Him. God will make you spiritually fruitful and productive beyond what you can ask or imagine (John 10:10; Ephesians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 2:9).

May God help us to be hearers and doers of His word. James 1:22. Amen in Jesus’ name.

1. Have you forgotten to spend time on God’s Word?
2. Have you set aside quiet time in your day to reflect on our LORD and His teachings?
3. Are your resolved to obey His commands in your daily life?

Father God. We thank You for the grace that You have showered on us that we may be saved from an eternity of separation from You. Thank You also for the love and guidance that You continue to provide us, even as it seems so natural for us to stray from You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

– Devotional By C S Chak

9 Oct 2020

The Holy Spirit, a Neglected Source of Teaching and Counselling

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:26-27

Recently I have been reflecting on the Holy Spirit as a Teacher.

Over the years, in my conversation with believers, I realised that this Teacher has been neglected. But this Teacher is also known as the Helper and Counsellor in the New Testament.

When Christ spoke to His disciples about this Teacher, it was in the context of His impending departure from earth [John14:1-27]. He said He would not leave them as spiritual orphans [14:18]. The Holy Spirit would be sent to live within them.

Why is the Holy Spirit neglected as a Teacher? We neglect what we are ignorant about.

We could have missed or ignored such passages in the Bible. It could also be that it has not been highlighted and taught. Or it could have been taught but it never registered in our minds and spirit.

Today we are flooded with several sources of bible teachings that are useful and some not so useful. They are accessible through the click of our finger. Technology has opened the floodgates of teaching materials. We can listen to a buffet spread of services and teachings that are on websites. We can also physically be present on site for church services and teachings.

All these sources are external to us.

But the Holy Spirit as a Teacher is special. This Person lives within us.

Sadly, we tend to ignore what we do not see or hear.

The Holy Spirit is invisible, and inaudible. This Teacher speaks in a gentle voice and is refreshing as the dew that falls.

The Holy Spirit prompts, whispers and counsels us not as in a crowd but to us as individuals. This Person is personal to us. He knows how we are wired up.

Unlike our relationship with Him, our relationships in this world are largely impersonal.

What else Did Christ say to His disciples about this Teacher?

The Holy Spirit is not sent by a religious leader of the day but sent by the Father in the name of Christ[14:26].

We, like His disciples, are unworthy to receive the Holy Spirit into our unholy lives. Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, we are made worthy to receive the Holy Spirit. As we live a life of love and obedience, the Father and the Son will continuously fill us with the Holy Spirit. [14:15 -16].

Hence we witness the fullness of the Trinity at work ie, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Together their roles function in unity to bless not just some believers but all believers. All means all ie, irrespective of age, intelligence, socio-economic class, nationality, denomination or the designation we hold in church.

The unbeliever cannot receive this because the unbeliever does not know Him [14:16].

The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth. [14:17]. He comes to the believer who daily experiences falsehood. His function is to teach. This is not just imparting spiritual information. He also reveals, enlightens and convicts the believer so that the believer’s life is not just changed but transformed.

Furthermore the Holy Spirit prompts the believer to recall what has been taught [14:26]. Having problems with your memory? The Holy Spirit overcomes this.

As we experience this Teacher, we experience peace [14:27]. This is the peace with God, from God and of God that passes all understanding. Isn’t this peace that individuals, families and nations find so elusive?

Finally unlike many relationships, this Teacher is with us forever [14:15].

How do we hear from this Teacher? Here are some practical steps that I have discovered.

  • Am I a humble and a teachable person?
  • I ask the Lord to fill me with the fullness of the Holy Spirit
  • I ask the Lord to teach me
  • I remain quiet, still, and meditate and remain reflective on His Word
  • I remain patient. Musicians over a period of time are able to tune their ears to a right note. Similarly it takes time to “tune” in to the counsel of the Holy Spirit.

Sometime last year I was asked by a missionary that the pre-believers he witnesses to commented about his faith in Christ with these words: “Your God is a foreign God. We have our own.” How does one respond?

I too was stumped by this observation. I asked some theologically trained teachers to enlighten me. None gave a satisfactory reply. I prayed and asked the Lord for His wisdom.

A day later in a quiet way, He opened my eyes. He reminded me that we tend to categorize people according to their nationality, race, gender occupation and other labels. God, being God, transcends all these categories. He is Spirit. So we do not view God according to nationality or race etc. Therefore, God is not “foreign”. However, God wanted to reveal more of Himself to us. The Father did this through Christ who took on a human form. So Christ had to have a race and be born at a particular time and place ie, as a Jew, about 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.

All this suddenly made sense to me. I conveyed this to my friend so that he knew how to respond.

1. Have you before paused in your busyness to seek the LORD and listen for His voice?
2. Do you feel the need to?
3. Do you seek the Holy Spirit continually for guidance as you live your life?

Our dear Heavenly Father I repent of my pride. I pray that I will be a teachable person. Please fill me with the Holy Spirit. As Teacher and Counsellor, enlighten me as I listen and read your Word that I may be transformed and bless others. In Jesus name. Amen.

– Devotional by Samuel Ratnam

19 Jul 2020

A Walk by the Sea in East Coast with the Lord

I walked East Coast Park at evening time
The sea, the clouds, the trees and grass so pretty
I talked to them and their Creator replied
What joy I felt He made them mine

Slowly the sun sank into brooding sea
Twilight quickly diminished the gold to gloom
The trees lost their shape, the grass a dark mass
Ships at sea became pin pricks of light bobbing free

Mine old eyes make things so much darker; aging palls
Dismay descended upon me with the enveloping dusk
Then came the refrain
All people are like grass and all their glory like flowers of the field
The grass withers and the flowers fall

But the word of the Lord endures forever
For this is the word preached to us
For you have been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible
Through the word of God which lives and abides forever

A time will come when there is no need for sun or moon to shine
The glorious Son will rise and in His precious light I will walk
These eyes of mine will be made new and sharply see
God will make beautiful everything in its time

I praise the Lord with all my being. Maranatha!
I praise the Lord with all my being. Maranatha!

1. Have you set aside quiet time to listen to the soft voice of our LORD?
2. Do you see and feel around you His presence and the Holy Spirit?

Thank you Father for the unconditional love you have always showered on us. Open our hearts and our minds that we can hear Your voice not just in the Word but in all creation that You have given us. In Jesus’s name. Amen!

– Devotional by SC Chak

19 Apr 2020

Easter Reflection During COVID-19, April 2020

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
– Matthew 28:8
‘They’ were Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James, and Mary Salome, who were the first to come to look for Jesus’ body in the tomb assigned to him. An angel of the Lord with a countenance like lightning and clothes as white as snow had descended from heaven and rolled back the heavy stone from the door of the tomb.

The guards had fallen down in great terror, as though dead. But the angel comforted the women, “…do not be afraid…” and gave them an instruction.  Fear and joy gripped them as they left the tomb.
Fear and joy are an unusual combination, though understandable in their context.  ‘Joy’ was because the angel had told them Jesus had arisen.  ‘Fear’ because of their encounter with the shining and glorious angel. Also, it was the fear and uncertainty of the times they were in.

The One whom they had looked to as their Messiah had been cruelly tortured and crucified, and persecution of his followers were imminent by the High Priest and his cohorts.  Doubt, uncertainty and fear were in the air for the followers of Jesus. The disciples had scattered and ‘quarantined’ themselves behind closed doors. The three Marys who went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’s body were perhaps the exception.

There is a seeming parallel to this Easter that we are celebrating during the current COVID-19 situation.  There is a pervasive climate of fear as governments in countries around the world announce statistics of rapidly increasing infection and mounting death rates.

We are also shut up behind closed doors in our own homes by government order except to go out for essential services.  Even in going out, we cannot gather, not even in twos, and must meticulously practise social distancing, or we face legal prosecution.

We too are afraid of COVID-19 infection and its consequences.  But as good Christian citizens we should obey the government’s lockdown rules and maintain personal hygiene. To do otherwise would be presumptuous faith.

One discerning believer gives a timely reminder: “For Christians, death is not an accident but an appointment ordained by God to call us home to glory”.  What a glorious truth!
Therefore, we must transcend the irrational fear that demoralises and paralyzes, which much of the world is especially now experiencing.  Because we are a people who have HOPE, embodied in our Risen Saviour, Jesus Christ.

We can rejoice this Easter regardless.  Even as He allows the coronavirus to shake the world, we know He has a redemptive purpose for the world, and for us, his Church.
Hear what the angel of the Lord said to the three Marys: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you”, Matthew 28:6-7

Hallelujah! He is risen, indeed.  We have hope and joy.  And “behold”, as the above passage implies, we have a duty as well – a duty of love. It is an admonishment to encourage one another to have faith and rejoice in our Risen Lord, and to tell other pre-believers the good news of Christ Jesus, the Saviour.

1. How prepared are we to receive the Risen Christ? Are we still in doubt that He existed at all? That He rose on the third day? Or that He then showed Himself to His disciples before He ascended to His Father, after commissioning them to tell the world the Good News?
2. How close are we to eternity or to mere dust? Where do you stand?

Father, even in this time of uncertainty and darkness, we are determined to rejoice this Easter, remembering that Jesus died for us and rose again. Strengthen us that we will not succumb to irrational fear but rise up to shine forth your light.  We proclaim your word and promise into the spiritual realm: “The people who walk in darkness shall see a great Light—a Light that will shine on all those who live in the land of the shadow of death”, Isaiah 9:2.  Amen.  Lord Jesus, intercede for us. Your name is Salvation.

9 Apr 2020

CORVID 19 and the CROSS

It is amazing how  micro-organisms have created such a macro impact.

Since January 2020 much has been said about this pandemic. People from various backgrounds have expressed their findings and views. These include politicians, socio-economists, medical and religious groups.

As we are in the midst of Lent and approaching Good Friday and the Day of Resurrection, let us look at the pandemic through the lenses of the cross. Let me take you back to Calvary and to the foot of the cross. We witness contrasting behaviours converging on the cross.

Selfishness and Selflessness
This is another season where we observe behaviour motivated by self-existence, self-centredness, self-preservation and survival of the fittest. It expresses itself in panic buying, hoarding, violation of guidelines regarding community responsibility and other  forms of unhelpful behaviour. Even politicians and nations start finger-pointing at one another.

What do we see about Christ on the cross? Amidst the excruciating physical  pain and curses, He blesses the people. He asks His Father to forgive them  “Father forgive them for they know not they are doing.- Luke 23:34. He takes our sin upon Himself creating a spiritual gulf with Him and the Father, “My God , My God why has thou forsaken me.” – Luke 27:46.

He promises eternal life to the thief next him “Truly I say to you  today you will be with Me in Paradise. – Luke 23 :43. Bearing the sins of the world, forgiveness and pronouncing eternal life are the apex of selfless giving. Are not these enough to transform our hearts?

Hope and hopelessness:
In life we experience several crises. They  include sickness, financial crises, rejection, war etc. All these can be  overcome. But in death there is a finality, it is  terminal.

The resurrection of Christ demonstrated that Christ was victorious over the last frontier that defeats man ie, death. So if Christ has defeated death, will He not and can He not  deliver us from the incubation, mutation and spread of this virus?

The various measures by the governments are useful. As believers, our ultimate deliverer is Christ. Whilst we apply the various measures in our everyday lives, let’s stay focussed on Christ amidst the storm. He is our ultimate hope.

O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain. – 1 Cor 15:55-58

Life and death
Disease and death are  the daily messages that flood our hearing and heart. As at today, we have about 1.33 million COVID infections  and  73,866 deaths. The mortality rate is about 2%-3% with Spain at about 12%. Not all will die. The pandemic has drawn  so much of attention and responses. Nations have in place medical, legal, financial and social programmes. Leaders of nations have taken the lead to stop this episode.
Yet there is another virus that existed since the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This sickness of our sin afflicts our soul and spirit. The mortality rate is 100%.

The sickness of the soul leads to death. The wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23. The world responds by mocking at or remains indifferent to this. What will it take for people to wake up to the reality of this spiritual pandemic?

 The resurrection of Christ promises us eternal life. World views, philosophies and ethics seek to make people good but the death and  resurrection make dead people come alive. What will you do about this good news to a dying world? Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. – John 11:25

Membership or Discipleship
Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw   each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.            – 1 Cor 3:12-15

What is it that has kept our churches going over the years? Sunday after Sunday, believers flock to churches to worship. Some of the churches’ architecture are amazing.

Our media uses  the state of the art technology. We roll out programs for every age group and need. We keep ourselves busy with the sheer momentum of church activities. We feel pressured to manufacture a Sunday worship service that is not boring. We have better organized ourselves with structures, system, compliance, and systems. Buildings, premises, technology, services and management are important for the operation of a church. The pandemic has removed many features of the familiar church from us.

Yet the apostle Paul warns us that our work will be tested.

How will we come out from this episode? Have our lives been built on God’s Word, worship, prayer, fellowship and serving others? At this time of Lent, have we digested the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection? Will we prove that we have been members of a spiritual organization or disciples of Christ?

Each day we are flooded with sights and sounds of how we should view life. At this time of Lent I urge to continue  look at events around us through the lenses of Christ’s death and resurrection. Shalom.

1. How are you, as a follower of Christ, reflecting His love in our behaviour during this season of fear, anxiety, selfishness and grief?
2. How do we want to emerge from this time of gloom and self-centeredness?

Father, may we be fired during this season of adversity to be a better person for You and Jesus Christ, our Saviour! Stay with us and guide us. May we always walk in Your light and be guided by Your Word. In Jesus’s name. Amen!

– Devotional by Samuel Ratnam
Lent 2020

21 Mar 2020

Covid-19, Fear or Fear Not?

The medical staff and people serving in the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis are displaying great personal courage. But there is still a spirit of fear lurking beneath the surface. How do we balance duty and fear (a God-given emotion) in risky situations?

In a Christian frontline group sharing I attended, many thought of 1 Peter 2:7 as a good response, “ … for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love but a sound mind and self-control …”. This means we serve where God has placed us, even in performing ‘risky’ tasks. At the same time, we should take the necessary precautions and be safe.

In addition, the Holy Spirit gave the group three more encouraging thoughts from the scriptures: Fear not … put on … let peace …

Fear not, I will be your shield. The bible mentions “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” multiple times.  The first time is in Genesis 15:1, “Fear not, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward”, God said to Abram.  In context, the latter had just rescued his nephew, Lot, and his family from the army of the five kings of five tribes in the land of Canaan. After the battle, Abram gave the booty to the King of Sodom.  Abram took great risks in rescuing Lot, got nothing for it other than saving Lot, and now had to worry about possible revenge from the five kings.  But God reassured him. Abram believed God and God rewarded Abram for his righteousness.

Genesis 15 is a tremendous story of God’s faithfulness and protection, and of faith on Abram’s part.  Although fear is a God-given emotion to protect us from heading into known danger, when God places us in a risky situation, like serving in the frontline of C-19 situation, He promises to be our shield.  Let us emulate Abraham and have faith in God to protect us in the present C-19 health crisis.

Put on Christ. The bible admonishes to put on the whole armour or God in Ephesians 6:11 in the spiritual war. All the pieces of the armour, the belt, the breastplate, shoes, helmet, the shield, and finally the sword, all symbolically represent Christ.  When we put on the armour, we are in effect putting on Christ, whose Holy Spirit lives in us, His temple.  So, spiritually, we are in the place of the Psalmist in Psalm 91, dwelling in the ‘secret place’ of the Most High and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty … “You will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”  God has given us a divine armour, put it on.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful. Colossians 3:15. Not being fearful in the face of stark danger requires a supernatural peace in the spirit as mentioned in Philippians 4:17. Sometimes, I think of such a peace in the words of Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table (of feasting) before me in the presence of my enemies”. Wow, this blows my mind – having the calmness and composure to enjoy a nice meal with danger staring in your face – surely, a peace that passes all understanding.  (Also notice in Colossians 3:15, being “in the body” and being thankful are important)

To sum it all, as Christians, we are not exempted from dangers and the evils of the world. But we can pray, we can ask, and God says He will listen and act.  Our Lord Jesus says it this way: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid “(John 14:27) … “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Amen! Thank you, Lord Jesus.

1. How often during this on-going crisis have we doubted God’s ability to stop it?
2. Have we paused in our fear and anxiety to pick up the Lord’s shield, put on His armour and to pray for His peace in our hearts?

Thank you, LORD, that only in You can we find peace in our hearts and courage in our faith to face the enemy. Let us be one body as we worship You and pray for Your protection and strength. Watch jealously over our frontline brothers and sisters in Christ and embrace us all with all Your love and with all Your strength. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen!

– Devotional by S C Chak

1 Mar 2020


In a recent conversation, a friend commented that we seem to be more impacted by the current Corvid – 19 virus than SARS.

What has caused this phenomenon? This time round the social media has so much more information. Add to this the speed and wide distribution of information through the handphone. Tony Reinke wrote a book titled “12 ways your phone is changing you”. I share some of his thoughts below.

Like all gadgets, handphones have their uses and abuses. We are very well aware of their usefulness but not so its negative impact on us. Let me identify some downside of this social media. We have become addicted to distraction. Digital distraction attracts us because it is a way of escape from the unpleasant challengers of work ie, deadlines, anxieties, fears, conflicts, boredom of the routine etc. Instead of God refreshing us, handphones have become a therapy for us. The psalmist reminds us, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Handphones also keep people away from us. When we are frequently busy on the handphone, people avoid us out of politeness. Have you noticed how families behave when they are having “family time” in a restaurant ? Each one becomes engaged with the handphone. It has replaced verbal conversation around the table. So much for family bonding! Have you noticed the viral anger that is expressed through our phones. People whom we dare not speak or confront directly on an issue, we now find the cowardly way out by pouring out resentment through sarcasm and toxic words through text messages. What we dare not do face to face, we resort to the use of handphone as the intermediary. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

Worst still is that thoughts of eternity and God become crowded out. What consumes us is the here and now. But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42. The good portion was communion with Christ.

Our handphone has also come to define our identity or who we are. The philosopher Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am”. This has been replaced with “I connect, therefore I am”. “I am liked, therefore I am”. The number of connections and “likes” has become an indicator of how people rate us. We crave for immediate approval of people. Our self-image and self-worth should ultimately come from God. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image.” “ Genesis 1:26

We are exposed to and later become addicted to secret vices especially pornography. It makes us think that we can indulge in anonymous vices without being affected. Digital vices are toxic for the spirit, soul, mind and emotions. It distances us from Godly and legitimate relationships. “The heart is deceitful above all things.” Jeremiah 17:9 and “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart”. Psalm 51:6

Then there is the FOMO syndrome [fear of losing out]. So we must be on top of the latest breaking news of a military conflict, political gossip, disaster and latest gadget. We are driven to know, see and Tweet the latest development. If you don’t, you are perceived as “blur’, slow and not with it. Ecclesiastes 1:8 warns us, “All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” We need to refocus from just pursuing the latest to setting our eyes on the eternal risen Christ.

Bad news seems to be the daily news diet. We end up starved of good news. Any wonder why we have become pessimistic? “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Finally, have we lost the ability to discern and distinguish information that is true and false? Why do we receive forwarded information from senders who subsequently apologise for sending fake news? What has happened to the God-given ability to spot, pause and question? What has happened to our spiritual compass point that navigates us away from fake news to news that is true and edifying. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

1. Can we resolve to not be distracted when we are worshipping the Lord and listening to His word?
2. Can we resolve to set aside our handphones during family time at meals, or when we have simple conversations?

We thank you Father for the many conveniences that You have given to us. But we also pray, LORD, for the discipline and wisdom to use them for our personal betterment and the well-being of our fellowmen. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

– Devotional by Samuel Ratnam

29 Dec 2019

A Thanksgiving: Psalm of Praise.

As we reflect on 2019, I give thanks to God our Father for His unfailing love. There were moments of joy, challenge, pain, sadness, worries, frustration. Through them all He never let go of our hands although at times we felt He was not with us.  And we can only say and exclaim Hallelujah! praising and singing:

You are forever in my life
You see me through the sessions
covering me with Your hand and
leading me in Your righteousness.

We look to You and we wait on You.
For You carry us in Your everlasting arm and will never let us go.

In whatever situation and circumstance, we are encouraged is that Only in Christ alone is there contentment.  As I end my annual reading of Psalms, Psalm 147 is one of the concluding Doxology.  It sets forth the praise of God in the following three parts:

Praise the Lord: How delightful! How fitting!
– We praise God for his work of restoration.  He restores broken hearts, broken bodies and broken relationships. He always shows up in our lives. He stands at our door waiting to receive us in His embrace. He wants to restore us to the well-being that he created us to live in.  He showed up in Jesus who took and bore our iniquities and transgressions; removing our “pains”. We exclaim Hallelujah!
There is no more grief as when I surrendered all to him.  There is no injustice when I was reconciled to Him. He who bought Peace into our Hearts and Minds.

– We praise God for His creation.   God our Father knows us intimately. His understanding is beyond our comprehension.  He knows us in our sadness, our worries, our pains, our cry, our joy – waiting to receive us.
He fixed me my brokenness and all I needed was to cry out “Abba Father”.

– We praise God for His support. God supports the defenceless and frustrates the wicked.  God supports the afflicted and humbles the wicked.  The Lord supports those who live in keeping with his ways.
He supported me when I turned to Him with a contrite heart, seeking him in humility and willingness to be discipled.  He is a compassionate God! An important life principle: it is all about God dealing with me not about God dealing with others.

Praise the Lord: The imperatives – Zamar!
– We praise God for his provision.  He created the world, nature and everything.  If He provides for the livestock and vegetation what is it that He cannot provide us? Only if we are willing to accept and give Praise and thanks.
God does not short-change us even when we give less. He continues to give because He sees the condition of the heart.  Because of God’s abundant provision, our hearts are not full of anxiety, but our mouths are filled with Praise to exclaim Hallelujah!
He has provided and continues to provide us be it at home, work or ministry.  I continue to drink from his brook of abundance.

– We praise God for how he delights in us.  Each of us are different in our own ways. God does not despise us. Nor is He biased.  He delights in each of us – in our strength, in our weakness and in our development. As we live in keeping with his ways and depend on His unfailing love, God truly delights in us – everything about us.  We exclaim Hallelujah!
God strengthens us through our weaknesses.  He leads, disciplines (rebukes), and encourages us with His Words.

Praise the Lord: Shout to give Glory – Shabaka!
– We praise God for his bounty.  His bounty brings peace and well-being. Through his generosity we exclaim Hallelujah!

– We praise God for his governance. He governs with His powerful Words. We live and rest securely in the knowledge that our lives are governed by the Word of God whose unfailing love offers these Words so unconditionally.

– We praise God for his guidance. His Word (the light for our feet and a light for our path) is our GPS, directs us where he leads.  Are we aligned? Are we “calibrated”?  We come to rest in his Presence and wait in His time to reveal the Word which gives the guidance we need.
As we read, / meditate on His Words and resolve to live them out. Many a time it is never easy but God only asks us to be willing. We experience success and well-being in almost everything. His intervention will be pleasing to us.

And because of all these, we exclaim “Hallelujah”! We Praise God for 2019 for better or worse. He knows and will lead us into 2020 with confidence and certainty.  In Christ alone, all is sufficient.

1. Have we ever felt let down by God?
2. Upon reflection of whichever such situation, have we recovered and thanked Him for His saving grace and love for us?

Thank you, Father God, for accepting me as I am. I am not worthy of Your love and still You reached out to me. Teach me LORD to know Your better and to walk Your straight path. Guide me back when I stray; light up my heart when I feel dark inside; give me the Love that you say I must share with others. In Jesus’s previous name. Amen!

– Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

22 Dec 2019

Advent Devotion Week 4

The Great Gathering At Dawn

Ezekiel 37:1-10; Matthew 4:12-17; Revelation 7:1-17

The holiday itinerary was set and the guide was sure, but we still had to constantly ask these questions, ‘What’s next?’, ‘Where are we driving to next?’, and ‘What are we eating next?’.

At some point, I wondered whether our guide got frustrated and secretly imagined a scenario where she retorted, “Why don’t you just refer to the Excel sheet that everyone has access to?!”.

And truly, why do we crave such certainty, even with written proof of the plan? Maybe we were just too lazy to check it ourselves or that we didn’t have faith in the ever-changing weather. Even with a good record of smart decisions by our guide, we were still unsure of our destinations.

Similarly, I imagine that God knows how fragile our faith is and how reluctant we are to depend on His Word. That is why in Ezekiel 37, God shows us a great army being raised out of dry bones (darkness), representing a great spiritual revival. And Revelation 7 shows us a great multitude of people risen from tribulation, dressed in white robes, worshipping King Jesus in joyous praise. It is God Himself who placed the seals on the foreheads of His people, to be forever protected so that they are able to stand before the Lamb, worshipping and praising Him.

Have you ever wondered if you would stand amongst the great white gathering, enjoying the unescapable presence of God Almighty? Our place, together with the great gathering at dawn on the day of Jesus’ second coming, is assured simply by our repentance and acknowledgment of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. He is the light who has dawned on us in the darkness, that we may now live in the light (Matthew 4).

Therefore, instead of asking ourselves, “Would I be part of the great multitude in Revelation 7?”, may I propose that we first ask ourselves, “Do I truly believe that Jesus is my only Saviour and God whom I worship?” and “Does my life reflect that belief?”.

For it is clear that what’s next for all of us is the consequence of our choices today, and the most significant choice with eternal impact is our repentance and belief in Jesus today, for “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:10).

During this advent season, let’s look forward to what’s next together, and may that be the choice to know, love and serve the God who ‘will be (our) shepherd… , who will lead (us) to springs of living water…., and wipe away every tear from (our) eyes.’(Revelation 7:17b), for we have been saved to stand in confidence as a people called from darkness into His marvellous light, today and forevermore.

1. Take time to reflect on how God had lifted you out of the darkness of your sins, past and present. Give Him thanks and praise in your own way.
2. What are the areas of uncertainty you face regarding your faith in Jesus? When and how will you seek clarification in order to walk more confidently with Him?

Dear Lord Jesus, despite everything I have done to ignore or run from you, you simply long to gather me to you, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Thank you for your great love, sacrifice and saving grace upon me. I seek your forgiveness and renewal of heart. Through the struggles in this life, help me look forward in confidence to the great calling when we shall finally meet face to face. All these I ask in your mighty name. Amen.

– Devotional by Michelle Ng

15 Dec 2019

Advent Devotion Week 3

The Cry of the Faithful: Maranatha

Isaiah 10:20-23; Matthew 24:29-35; Revelation 6:1-17

We read in Isaiah 10:20-23 that the “remnant of Israel” had for a time relied on “him who struck them down”, referring to the Assyrians. In chapter 7, Isaiah told King Ahaz that God had promised that He will deliver Judah from an attack from Syria and Israel. Instead of trusting in God, King Ahaz chose to rely on the Assyrians for help by trying to buy aid from them with silver and gold from the Temple. While God did use Assyria to defeat Syria and Israel, He also used them to judge Judah. Coming back to Isaiah 10, God assures that not all of Judah will be destroyed. There will be the remnant of Israel who would once again learn to trust and rely on Him.

From this episode, we see two persons responding differently to difficult situations. We have King Ahaz who used his human wisdom and decided that the best way out of his predicament would be to turn to another world power of his time. We also see Isaiah, who had an impossible mission as a prophet, for God’s people would reject him and God’s message to them. It would have been easy for Isaiah to look at his “failed” ministry and give up or give in. Yet he continued to serve God steadfastly in his ministry. He looked beyond his disappointing and frustrating circumstances, he obeyed God, and chose to serve Him faithfully. Isaiah was able to do so because he knew and believed that God would keep His promise and come through for them.

We live in a time where we are tempted to put our faith and trust in technology, our careers, wealth, status, popularity, and a host of other things that may bring us temporary security, fulfilment and happiness. In the busyness of our lives, we can quite easily allow ourselves to become lulled into focusing on the things of this world and lose sight of the eternal. Or, like King Ahaz, we may be proud, trusting in our own strength rather than in God to meet the challenges in our lives.

Let us be reminded this advent that in times of darkness, be it a difficult period, when we are feeling far away from God, or pulled down by the weight of the world, we know who we can turn to. We can cry out to God. It is how we can exercise our faith in God, as we trust in His goodness and power to act on our behalf. As we remember and celebrate His coming 2,000 years ago, we also look forward to the coming of His kingdom when He returns for us! Truly, maranatha! The Lord is come!

1. How can you be faithful to our faithful God in your daily life?
2. Christ is coming again! Pray for someone you know who has yet to receive Christ as their personal saviour, that they may come to know Him.

Dear Lord Jesus, You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even when we are faithless, You are still faithful. Help us Lord to unconditionally surrender our lives to You, and to remain steadfast in our faith, to serve and trust You in our daily lives, as we look forward to Your coming, for You will indeed come again. In Your name we pray, Amen.

– Devotional by Desmond Koh

8 Dec 2019

Advent Devotion Week 2

The Lamb Overcomes Darkness

Isaiah 9:1-5, John 1:1-9, Revelation 5:1-14

My mother-in-law (MIL) was recently admitted to hospital and I shared this with my mom. Despite Mom’s own health issues, she chose to lift MIL in prayer, and also got others in the praying group to pray for MIL. Instead of focusing on her own health problems and allowing them to overcome her, Mom allowed the light of Christ to shine into the circumstances.

In this season of Advent, what are we focused on? Are we overcome by the darkness that is in this world? Or are we, like Mom, focused on Christ the Lamb, who brings true light into the darkness?

Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, and the Lamb that was slain, is the only one worthy to open the seals of the scroll (Rev 5) and the only one worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise. He is the one who brings the true light into our world of darkness.

All too often, we dwell on our circumstances, spiralling into distress and despair, and we forget that we have already seen the Light of Christ, and that He has increased our joy and that we can rejoice before the Lord, for His light dispels the darkness and gloom – if we allow it.

Meditating on the identity of Christ overwhelms me with the awe and wonder of who Christ is. The Word, God, the One who was with God in the beginning, through Whom all things were made. It is beyond my comprehension how Christ, in all His grandeur and awesomeness, could come to us lowly humans as a baby in human form. His presence and power put our circumstances into perspective… His Light overcomes all the darkness that exists in and around us. We must remember to let His light shine and cut through whatever difficulties we may be experiencing, for He has overcome the things of this world.

1. As we meditate on today’s readings, how can we allow the Light of Christ to overcome the darkness that may be in our lives? Have we allowed His light to dispel our distress? How can we continue to guard against hoarding the darkness, to always open up our circumstances to the Lord’s light?

2. Is there anyone in your life who needs the light of Christ? How can we share Christ’s light with others so that their darkness may be dispelled as well? Are we reflecting the light of Christ into the lives of others? What can we do so that we can better reflect Christ’s light?

In this Advent season, let us choose to focus on the Light of the Lamb, and reflect that Light that others may see Him too.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Jesus Christ, the Lamb that overcomes darkness. We pray that we will always allow Your light to shine through in our circumstances so that we can better reflect Your victory in our lives. Help us to see the different ways we can reflect the light of Christ into the lives of others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

– Devotional by Danny Koh

1 Dec 2019

Advent Devotion Week 1

Out of Darkness

Genesis 1:1-5; John 3:19-21; Revelation 4:1-11

I was on holiday in Australia earlier this year. One night, I woke up at 4am and could not get back to sleep. I felt the Lord nudge me to spend some time with Him on the balcony of the apartment. I dressed up, as warm as I could, and stepped out onto the balcony. It was cold and very dark, so I wasn’t sure why the Lord wanted me out there. But I sat and waited, worshiped and waited some more.

Lamentations 3:22-23 came to me –

22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

As I meditated on His faithfulness and goodness to me, I became more aware of why I was called out into the cold and darkness. It was the dawn of day and I had seen the darkness turn to light and felt the air get warmer as more light came through. I saw that His unfailing compassion for us is shown by the fact that every morning, the sun will come up, bringing light and warmth! I was experiencing, there and then, His compassion and faithfulness – that no matter how dark the skies are, no matter how cold the air is, He will bring the light and the warmth. The wait was uncomfortable, and I might not have known why or what I was waiting for, but in the waiting, His light and warmth came through. This is His promise! No wonder Jeremiah, the author of the book of Lamentations responded with “Therefore, I will wait for Him.” (Lamentations 3:24)

2000 years ago, the nation of Israel also waited in the coldness and darkness of their time for the arrival of their promised Messiah. And He arrived in the form of a baby, Jesus Christ. He brought light into the world; He is the Light of the world (John 3:19; John 8:12). The amazing thing is, He not only brought the nation of Israel out of darkness, but also you and me!

Today, darkness prevails for the world is still a sinful place. We might not even realise it, but our inability to recognise the darkness we are in, because Singapore is such a safe and prosperous city, puts us in even greater danger. For we have become dependent on other forms of light to lead us (because we have options) when we ought to be following the Light of the world. We get so distracted by the glitz and glamour of what we think we ought to pursue in our lives, that we have taken our eyes off the true Light. When we are discouraged by the challenging seasons that we might be going through, we are easily tempted to give up waiting for the Light to come through again in our lives.

In this season of Advent, let us fix our eyes solely on the true Light, and trust that He will lead us out of the darkness, for His promise for us still stands.

1. Pause and allow the Lord to show you if you have taken your eyes off the Light of the world. Pray and ask that He will help you walk in the light.
2. Take time out to pray for the persecuted church.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that Jesus, the Light of the world came to us 2000 years ago and brought us out of darkness. We ask that You continue to remind us of the true Light that is with us and leads us when we experience times of darkness. Help us to wait with joy patiently for You, trusting in You, our sun and shield. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

– Devotional by Wendy Yong

3 Nov 2019

The Still Small Voice of God

“Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he …….”  I Kings 19:11-13a

Sometimes I get envious of people God speaks to in a ‘loud voice’ and in miraculous ways.  It could be during great healings, provisions, or clear and positive changes in life’s circumstances, or glowing prophetic words from ‘a man of God’, for instance. I wish God would speak to me more often like this, as I have in the few occasions when I was very conscious of God protecting and saving me from potentially serious or possibly fatal accidents.  “I am watching over you, my son”, He said in my spirit.  I heard Him clearly.

But I am not so sure I have ever heard “His still small voice” in all the times when I needed it.
Look at the example of Elijah, the great prophet of God. Heeding God’s voice and commands, Elijah stopped the rain in Israel for three years, kept himself alive in the famine by God’s miraculous provision, prayed a dead boy back to life, called down fire from heaven, confronted and slayed 400 Baal priests, and released the rain from heaven to stop the drought and famine.  Wow, God certainly spoke to Elijah!

Yet after he slayed the 400 Baal priests,  Elijah fled with apparent terror at the mere threat of a woman, Queen Jezebel!  I often wondered why Elijah’s faith suddenly crashed, not just fleeing from a threat but becoming suicidal.  “I am the only one left who is zealous for You; I want to die; LORD, take my life”.  How could this happen – from hero to zero, as it were.  WHY?

One school of thought suggests that Elijah was basically disappointed with God in a moment of “trial by faith”, which led to his faith crashing, which led to his self-pity and becoming suicidal.  Elijah had expected God to convert the largely idolatrous nation of Israel, and perhaps even King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, after slaying the Baal priests. But God did not do anything of the sort.  Instead, the queen threatened Elijah’s life.  “God is so disappointing. why didn’t He take any action” Elijah must have thought. Or, even, “God has a limit to His powers.”
I too have been disappointed by God at times when I needed to hear from Him in times of trial or in critical situations when I needed advice. But He was silent. My faith stumbled in those moments.  I suspected God has ‘disappointed’ many Christians.
Then, God answered Elijah. He showed Elijah His miraculous power in a roaring windstorm, a violent earthquake, and a great fire.  But God’s voice (instruction) was not in those physical shows of force.  Instead God spoke in a still small voice to Elijah: “Go back the way you came.”  He then gave Elijah instructions to follow.

What about us?  Sure, we can hear God’s voice, when He speaks loudly, in dramatic, miraculous ways in His power, but can we hear Him, when He speaks to us softly and in the stillness of our spirit.  Many cannot, because we want to put God in a box, and expect Him to answer us in a certain way we want or expect, and because we are not still in our spirit.  God’s answer is: Go back to the way of faith as from the beginning, My children.

1. Am I putting God in a box?
2. How do I nurture and deepen my faith that it may not crash in a trial?

Father God, help me to understand that Your thoughts are not my thoughts, and Your Ways are immeasurably higher than mine. Help me to build up my faith by a closer, daily walk and relationship with my Lord Jesus that I may hear Your still small voice and my faith may stand firm on the Rock of Jesus Christ, no matter what the circumstances after my prayers.  I asked it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

– Devotional by SC Chak

15 Sep 2019

The Parable of the Chicken’s Egg

A farmer and his wife lived simple lives in a rural farm. They raised crops of rice, vegetables and an assortment of fruit trees. It was a difficult life. They had to deal with excessive water and sometimes drought. There were pests and diseases. There was a lack of nutrients in the soil. The harvest was always minimal. Yes, they became down cast.

Then came an expert in poultry farming. He advised them to buy some chickens that would lay eggs. These would not be so subject to the adversities that crop farming experience. On the advice of the expert,  they purchased five special breed chickens. They were fed well with an expensive diet specially for poultry. With all these the farmer and his wife had their expectations raised. But they soon discovered that day by day the eggs that were laid were empty on the inside!

There was a “wise” king who was also “rich”. He extended the boundaries of his country. He was an amazing economist. He amassed wealth for the nation. He built impressive facilities for his people. People sought his wisdom. It was a ”model” nation to emulate. He married 700 wives and had 300 concubines. He also worshipped several gods. The end was prophesied “And this house will become a heap of ruins.” 1 King 9:8. That was the legacy of the ”empty egg” of King Solomon.

There was a ”loyal”  follower of Christ. He was chosen by Christ. He listened to the teachings of Christ. He also witnessed various miracles. This included the turning of water to wine, stilling of the storm and miracle healings. He was trusted with the funds of the group. Hence he was appointed the treasurer. Finally what did he have to show for? “….And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:5. This was the “empty egg” that Judas left.

There was this church that was greatly admired because it had a reputation of being  “alive”. It had programs, activities, structure and high attendance. In the eyes of God, it was the “dead” church of Sardis. Revelation 3:1. This too was an  “empty egg”.

Then we have a carpenter. At about 33 years of age, he was falsely accused, deserted by His closest followers, battered and butchered He died to rise after 3 days. In Him was Life and the light of men John 1:4
An egg gives life because of the nutrients. Christ came to give us Life.

1. Who are we following whole heartedly?
2. Will we leave behind a legacy of an ”empty” or “full egg”?

Thank You, Father, for the many reminders not to blindly follow empty dreams. They are like chaff that spike the air during the harvest. Instead, guide and teach us to follow and abide by what is real and meaningful, that we will not lose our way. In Jesus’s name. Amen

– Devotional by Samuel Ratnam

18 Aug 2019

Righteousness, Christ or the Law?

“Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Romans 10:4

Upon close examination, this is a stunning and somewhat bewildering statement.

It seems to suggest Christ has brought an end to the Law (given to Moses) that we might have righteousness (with God) and eternal life, if we believe in Christ Jesus.  Seemingly, ‘belief‘ (in Jesus) is the primary key, not ‘obedience’ (to the Law).

Yet, to be good disciples, we are commanded to follow Christ and obey His commandments. So, here, we are back to ‘obedience’.  Is this inconsistent?

Another question: are the Law and Christ’s commandments the same?

Regarding the first question – I have been a Christian for 30 years but have struggled and failed to obey Jesus on many occasions.  Maybe presumptuously, I truly believe I am still a disciple of Christ, albeit a very imperfect one.  I have gained righteousness simply because I believe that Christ Jesus died for my sins and I have repented of them when I first believed Christ.  The Living Bible puts it this way: “They (the scribes and the Pharisees) do not understand that Christ gives to those who trust in him everything they are trying to get by keeping his laws. He ends all of that”.

Regarding the second question – the answer is, basically, yes. Christ’s commandments are derived from the Law; after all the Law was given by God to Moses.  Furthermore, Christ Himself declared: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them”  (Matthew 5:17).  The point is that the Law shows God’s standard of righteousness, but it does not have the power to help us achieve that. On the other hand, Christ gives us grace, an unmerited favour, in exchanging His righteousness for sin, through our faith.

The real question, then, is not how much we have done, or not done, to obey Christ’s commands as His disciples. Rather, it is in the context of our ultimate salvation in eternal life, whether we have placed our faith in Christ, who died for our sins and, in its place, reckons righteousness to us.

This is not to say we can take lightly the temptation to sin – for we continue to live with a sinful nature, even after we have believed – lest our hearts become hardened and we turn away from believing in Christ, our Saviour and Righteousness.

Therefore, my friends, believe (in our faith) and continue to believe, for God’s Word says, “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when Christ appears, we may be confident and unashamed before Him at his coming”. 1 John 2:28

A godly man, Selwyn Hughes, admonishes us, don’t struggle to gain favour or righteousness, but surrender for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. Romans 10:13

1. How can we continue to stay constant in our relationship with Christ?
2. How can we stay focussed on a life that is faithful to Jesus when the world around us seems to beckon to us without fail every minute of the day?

Father God, thank you for your great grace, in giving us your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins.  Help me to abide in Christ.  Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and giving me your Holy Spirit to help me overcome temptations and the power of sin.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, I do not want to struggle but simply surrender to You, my Counsellor, my Comforter and my Guide. I want to be a good disciple of Jesus Christ with and in your help. Amen.

– Devotional by S.C. Chak

12 May 2019

Trust And Obey, A Journey Deep and Wide

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalms 27:14

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. – Psalms 28:7

More than 10 years ago, I read the Prayer of Jabez (1 Ch 4:10). I prayed the same prayer by Jabez and my life changed.

Bible Study Foundation (BSF) developed my love for God’s words. I grew on it spiritually, supplemented by the excellent and profound works of authors like Timothy Keller, Henri Nouwen, Peter Scazzero, John Stott and many others.

After completing BSF, the Lord impressed upon to pick up my pen and journal my thoughts and learning with the help of our greatest author and His Word.

While reading and reflecting on the story of Joseph, I developed 5 “Ps” – Power, Purpose, Peace, Presence, and Perspective.

Joseph experienced God’s intervening Power; he obeyed and waited, trusting that God had a Purpose for him. While in jail, he received Peace, obviously even though conditions were harsh. God’s Presence must have been revealed to him. And in interpreting the Pharoah’s dreams, obeying God, and seeing things from God’s Perspective, Joseph played a key role in fulfilling God’s plan for His people.

My journey over the past decade with the Lord has been one that enabled me to add more Powerful Ps to my list.

When Problems and challenges plague us,
Accept that there is a Purpose to all this and that our character may be developed and mature in Him.
Commit and surrender to the Lord, receiving His Peace.
Be Patient, knowing that in His time, you will experience His intervening Power, and encounter His Presence.
Respond when the Lord requires us to examine ourselves.
Be humble and allow Him to cleanse us of all unrighteousness and remove our Pride.
Persevere in all suffering, hardship and challenges and be Persistent in Prayer that the Lord will journey with us and see us through.
Through His Son, He has revealed his Perspective and Plans for us.
Be assured of His Promise. He is the Provider and Perfecter of ALL things.
Praise Him forever and ever Amen.

1. Can we honestly say we trust and obey the LORD, in good times and bad?
2. Would we really persevere for the LORD during times when all seems lost and wait patiently for His plans to be revealed to us?

Teach us Father God to be like Joseph who persevered hardships throughout his early life in the wilderness. He had his ups and downs and yet he never gave up hope. He somehow knew You were there for him. May we be like Joseph, Father, trusting You in complete obedience even when the world seems to be crumbling on us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

– Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

14 Apr 2019

The Lord Jesus Christ is risen.

Reflections on its significance.
As Christians, we celebrate important events in our lives. These include birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmas and other days of significance. The most important event should be the resurrection of Christ. I share below my reflections on the significance of this day for our lives.

The unreliability of man’s word and the reliability of God’s Word
A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public. They thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it. The acclaim was even greater . The theatre was burnt down with several casualties.

In a world of falsehood, unreliability and pretence, it has become increasingly difficult to determine truth and falsehood.

Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31

Words reflect the character, trustworthiness, reliability and truth of a person. Christ prophesied about His suffering, death and resurrection. These were fulfilled. Will we then place our trust on His Word.

The Resurrection proved that Christ was human and divine. Christ suffered, died and was buried. He understands our suffering. As He suffered, He uttered several significant statements. All these reflecting that Jesus Christ was human. Jesus proved that He was God by fulfilling the prophecies of His death and by His return from the grave. The bible declares that “by being raised from the dead [Christ] was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God Himself” (Romans 1:4,).

Satan was defeated. Good triumphed over evil.
The presence of evil is not imaginary. Just as there is God and goodness there is the evil one and evil. The evil one opposes all that is good. Throughout the life of Christ satan tried various ways to destroy Him. At His birth, satan used King Herod to kill Him. When Christ commenced His ministry, satan tried to tempt Him.. The Pharisees tried to trick Jesus with several questions. Peter tried to persuade Christ from being crucified. Judas betrayed him. In spite of all this, Christ went to the cross for us, died and rose.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 Jn 3:8

We have LIFE because He is ALIVE
Because Christ lives, we have life in Him. You cannot receive spiritual life from a dead person. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
Jn 15:4-5

Christ’s counsel was to remind us that we are to abide in Christ. This means to be joined and flowing. The spiritual life is from Him. Do not just be in contact with Christ but in communion with Him

We have Eternal Life in Him
What do we mean by eternal life? It is twofold. It starts with this life. This is about having a meaningful, purposeful life in Christ. It is also about life after death.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.Jn 3:16

The resurrection revealed Christ’s power over death. His Word says, “Christ rose from the dead and will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him” (Romans 6:9). The Resurrection secured our victory over death as well and “lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, where we sit with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6).

The Resurrection Prepares us for the Return of Christ.
The first coming of Christ was as a baby. Christ said that He will return. This was spoken before the ascension.

And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11

We can trust His words because He prophesied of the resurrection and it turned out to be true. He has the capacity to return. Don’t just look at the disappointments of your past but to your destiny in Christ when He returns.

Death is the Final Assault in Life.
In life we experience several crises. They include sickness, finance, rejection, war etc. All these can be overcome. But in death there is a finality, it is terminal. The resurrection of Christ demonstrated that Christ was victorious over the last frontier that defeats man. So if Christ has defeated death, can He not take care of your problems?

1. How ready are we to accept the notion that Jesus Christ died on the cross for us?
2. Do we truly believe He rose from the dead so that we may be saved?

Dear Christ Jesus, thank You for the gift of everlasting life. For the assurance and comfort of knowing that You have gone before us to prepare a place for us in Your Father’s house. We pray, Lord, that we will be always faithful and grateful for what You have done for.

3 Feb 2019

Facing the Impossible: Faith and Hope for Today

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the Father of many nations, just as it had been said to him ‘So shall your offspring be’. Without weakening in his faith. He faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God but was strengthened…” Rom 4: 18-20.

Abraham met the impossible situation he was facing with faith – this is a deep assurance in God’s word. He also had hope. Hope transforms your life based on your strong faith – it brings the future into the present.

So, how did Abraham, the 100-year old, face the impossible prospect of getting a son at his age and to become the father of the nations? He used a 3-fold strategy:

1. He admitted his doubts

Abraham realised this was a hopeless and impossible situation. He faced the facts realistically. Like the men of old in the Gospels, Abraham must have expressed this thought: “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

2. He aligned himself to God’s Word and Character

He saw his situation with stark reality, but he did not waver in unbelief regarding what God told him. He anchored his faith on the bare word of God. God repeated His promise to Abraham at least 5 times in Genesis chapters 12, 13, 15, 17 and 21. As Stoekhard said: “The longer and more persevering we bury heart, senses and thoughts in God’s Word and promise…the more we become strengthened in faith”. It is not without reason that God also progressively revealed himself to Abraham as Yahweh (God’s divine salvation); as El Elyon (the most-high God); as El Shaddai (the God almighty).

3. He abandoned himself to God’s hands

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…”. The first hope refers to a ‘human’ hope—in-built in us — there is a survival mechanism that hopes for the best. But the second word ‘hope’ is the spiritual hope which arises out of faith in God –a gift of God. Against all ordinary, human hope, Abraham shifted and placed his life in God’s hands. He abandoned human hope for the great hope of God.
The result was Abraham’s hope was made sure by his faith. Isaac, his much longed-for son was born. It stabilised Abraham, God was glorified, and Abraham passed on this great hope to generations yet unborn.

Your life can become a gift of hope to the world as you trust in the LORD (regardless of your doubts), believe in His promises and abandon your life into his hands.

1. What are the impossible situations that I am currently facing ?
2. What do I think and feel about these situations?
3. Besides the thoughts mentioned in the devotion, are there other biblical  ways that faith and hope can be built ?

Father God, we thank You for the hope You have given us. May we always be faithful to You and turn to You in times of our anxieties and distress, knowing You will only care for us, and do what is best for us. Teach us, LORD, to trust You completely and in Your goodness. In the name of Christ Jesus, Your Son our Saviour! Amen!

  • Devotional by Jonathan D James, International Director
    Asia Evangelistic Fellowship International
    (Devotional courtesy from AEFI)

23 Dec 2018

Advent Devotion Week 4

“Rejoicing in God”

Luke 1:46-55; Micah 5:2-5a

What does one think of immediately after a question like, “What’s your reason for thanking God?” This was posed to my children and husband during a family devotion a few nights ago. Without much hesitation, they cited how God had helped and provided for them in work, health, home and even choice of schools!

When Mary was greeted by Elizabeth with confirmation that the child she would bear was the Messiah ( Luke 1:41-45), she broke out in a praise song with many reasons to rejoice over. She started with the Lord’s personal and eternal impact on her (Luke 1:46-49),:

‘for He has been mindful of His humble servant…’
‘for the Mighty One has done great things for me…’

And moved on to the wonders of His Ways and impact on her forefathers (Luke 1:50-55):

‘He has performed mighty deeds…’
‘He has brought down rulers … and has lifted up the humble.’
‘He has filled the hungry with good things…’
‘He has helped his servant Israel…’

She rejoiced in the greatness of God by praising His merciful and just nature. This was in spite of the oppression during the Roman regime when the Jews were nothing more than second-class citizens. Even within her own community, Mary had faced possible ridicule and suspicion surrounding her pregnancy. Nevertheless, she held onto the testimonies of her forefathers and declared (in present tense) that God’s continuing ‘mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation.’

As prophesied in Micah 5:4, through the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, God’s people will experience peace and security, as Jesus ‘will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God’.

Today, all who receive this amazing gift of salvation can confidently and joyfully declare that we will always enjoy the presence, love and peace of God Almighty, no matter the earthly circumstances we face.

So, in actuality, we only need one reason to rejoice, not 10,000 reasons. And the reason is that God has lovingly offered us an everlasting way to enjoy His presence, through the birth and death of His Son Jesus Christ.

No matter the uncertainty we may face personally, like Mary, may we remember and rejoice over the wonders of His love and presence in our lives, as well as the Hope He offers.

a) When was the last time you rejoiced for simply being a child of God, even when things were not going smooth in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you receive God’s peace and hope.
b) How will you share this joy of Christmas to others this season?

Dear Heavenly Father, You are worthy of all praise because You are the source of true joy. Everything we are and have belong to You. Help us, by Your Holy Spirit, to rejoice not only in the fellowship of family and friends this season, but more reflectively, in the wonders of Your salvation plan and great love. May Your Name be forever praised, through our words and deeds. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

– Devotion by Michelle Wong

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16 Dec 2018

Advent Devotion Week 3

“Wonder at God”

Luke 2:8-20; Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Of all the people that God could have sent his angel to announce the birth of Jesus, He chose a group of humble, lowly shepherds. The message was welcoming, the announcement of the birth of the Messiah, and a declaration, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill toward men.” It’s a message that should mean as much to us today as it did to the shepherds. The Prince of Peace had come to reconcile man with God.

I love how the shepherds responded. The Bible tells us that after their encounter with the angel and the heavenly host, they hurried off to find baby Jesus. And when they did, again they did not hesitate to spread the word about all that they had witnessed, praising and glorifying God as they did so. And those who received their message were amazed!

Have you ever found yourself over-thinking how you were going to share Christ to someone? I have. I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about how to “package” God so that I could get the best possible response from the person I had hoped to share with. And all while trying to muster the courage to do so, worried about having the right answer to every possible question.

At times like these, I remind myself of who He is – Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. The wonder and greatness of our God is sufficient. He does not need my help to “sell” Him, but only to share. And we have the promise that the Holy Spirit is there helping us to communicate and work in the hearts of those with whom we are sharing (Luke 12:12).

The shepherds were filled with such joy and gladness, so much so that they immediately told everyone about the arrival of baby Jesus. May it be our prayer that we who live in the knowledge of Christ’s death and resurrection, should also be filled with the same fervor to share Christ’s message of salvation.

a) If you were to make a list of truths about God, His majesty, holiness, love, faithfulness, and so on, how long would your list be?
b) Who in your life needs to hear these truths about our Lord Jesus today?

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for coming into our world to bring peace and reconciliation between man and God. Like the shepherds, fill our hearts with wonder and amazement. And like them, give us the zeal to bring your message to all who need to hear it today.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

– Desmond Koh

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9 Dec 2018

Advent Devotion Week 2

“Seeking God”

Matthew 2:1-12, Isaiah 55:1-7

When I was asked to write this devotion on seeking God, I was like “me?… you want me to write about seeking God?” I felt that I was the poorest at seeking – always getting distracted, lazy, or that I only sought God when I needed something – like when I am preparing songs for worship, or leading bible study, or when I was in pain.

As I read about the wise men again, I could not help but let out a “Wow!!” Here were real seekers – so wise to seek the One who mattered the most. I wondered how far they travelled from the East? How dangerous were their travels as they followed the star to Jerusalem? Why would they go to worship a foreign King? How did they know which star to follow and when? Who told them?

Even though the answers were not specifically stated, I could only conclude that it was God who was seeking these true worshippers. I saw God again, directing the wise men through His Word when they arrived in Jerusalem to where His son was, in Bethlehem of Judea. I was in wonder at how God used King Herod, who after consulting with the chief priest and scribes, pointed the way for the wise men.

God called and gave this privilege of worshipping His son to Gentiles. As a Christian I do feel that many times I am like the Jewish chief priests and scribes who have the Word of God, but yet are not seeking God. However, even as I read the passage in Isaiah, I was comforted that God is still seeking me to come and worship Him.

He provides the Way for us to seek Him – His Son Jesus. To the thirsty He is the living water. To those who have nothing, He is Jehovah Jireh, our provider who meets our needs. Most of all He calls us to seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. We can only do this when we turn from our wicked ways and our unrighteous thoughts and come back to God who is merciful and lavishly forgives.

My prayer this Advent season is for Lord to help each one of us to seek Him more and more. Come and worship! Come and worship! Worship Christ the new born King!

a) Take time and reflect on how God had sought you and is still seeking you today. Praise Him for He is faithful!
b) What are the things that have hindered you from seeking the Lord with all your heart? Surrender them to the Lord and allow Him to draw you back to Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your faithfulness. Because of You and the birth of our Lord Jesus, we are able to draw close to You daily. We repent of our ways, and of the things that we have held on to that have distracted us from You. Help us Lord to continually seek You that we may live according to Your will so that the world will see, through us, that You are truly the King. In Jesus’ name we pray

– Devotion by Danny Koh

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2 Dec 2018

Advent Devotion Week 1

“Waiting For God”

Luke 2:22-38; Titus 2:11-14

I really dislike waiting and I mean all kinds of waiting. I dislike having to wait for the bus or the train or my taxi to arrive. I also dislike going to the bank because there’s always a queue. I get quite frustrated when I have an appointment at the doctor’s but I’m still made to wait! What a waste of time in my opinion. Yet, waiting seems to be the way of the Lord.

Abraham and Sarah waited for a long time to have Isaac. Joseph waited years before he was released from prison to become the second man in charge of Egypt. The nation of Israel waited for 40 years, wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. King David waited for years after the prophecy that he would be king, for King Saul to be removed, then take his place as Israel’s king. Judah spent 70 years in exile in Babylon until the Lord brought them back to Jerusalem. I can go on but you get my point.

In today’s reading in the Gospel of  Luke, we read that the nation of Israel had waited for a long time for the Messiah to come. Simeon and Anna in particular have been mentioned in Scripture of their devotion and patience in waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. They recognised their need for a Saviour and looked forward to his arrival. Having met the baby Jesus, they rejoiced and praised the Lord! Anna was so delighted that she “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). Sadly, not everyone who heard or who saw Jesus recognised the Messiah when he arrived.

Have you been in a season of waiting? What are you waiting for today? A spouse? A child? A job? A promotion? Healing of your sickness? Relief from the hurts and pains you have gone through in life? God’s vindication? Waiting can be difficult and discouraging. During the time of waiting, we may lose sight of God’s goodness and faithfulness. But today’s reading reminds us that our Messiah, our Provider had already arrived some 2000 years ago when Jesus was born! Do you recognise what He has done and is doing in your life? Take heart that our God is our good Father who knows and loves us. He is with us every step of the way and will provide for us. However, just like Simeon and Anna, who were waiting for the arrival of the Messiah to rescue Israel, we are also waiting for Jesus Christ’s triumphant return! Let us not be so burdened or distracted waiting for what we so desire that we forget that Jesus, our blessed hope, will come again to rule and to reign.

a) Take time, pause and consider if you have been waiting for God or His direction in your life but did not recognise Him or His leading because you have focused on the wrong things?
b) Take stock of how your year has been with the Lord and receive the real, redeemed and eternal life that He has promised you.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for the arrival of our King Jesus 2000 years ago and the promise of His second coming. Help us to fix our eyes on Him and Him alone for He will come again. As we wait patiently, guard our hearts that we may find joy and satisfaction in You, our Hope and Provider. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

– Wendy Yong

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30 Sep 2018

The Root of Bitterness

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15

Very few of us can claim we have never had any bitter experiences in our lives. I am not one of them for I have had my fair share.

The seed of bitterness is usually planted from the hurts we received from someone, or from disappointments, shame and failures.  If we do not deal with them quickly, they can grow deep bitter roots into our psyches and spiritual lives.
We will become hard and cynical, overly sensitive, critical, fault-finding and subject to mood swings.  Hebrews 12:15 says such a person will no longer be able to walk in God’s grace, robbed of the joy of the Lord.

Sometimes, we may deny there is any bitterness in us.  Or, we may not even be aware there is bitterness in our lives because it has become too deeply buried in our psyche. Jeremiah 17:9 says: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Some people may acknowledge bitterness, but will say, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget”.  What does it mean?  Hearing their tone and seeing the look in their eyes, most times, it means: “I cannot forgive completely.  Or, I’ll never talk or relate to that person again.”  In doing so, they retain a remnant of bitterness which may take root again and grow.

Some wise person says, “Ask God to reveal the bitter root; let Grace heal it; let Good replace it (by keeping on doing good).  Wise indeed but, for emphasis, I would add, surrender and forget it.

Surrender the hurt or disappointment to God and ask God to give you the “forgetfulness” that only He can give.  “Forget” does not mean it is wiped off from our memory but that, having surrendered it to God, we no longer dwell on it and let it take root again in our lives.  It is just like when we received Jesus into our lives, God says He will remember our sins no more.  Hebrews 10:17, Micah 7:19.

In Genesis, Joseph, son of Jacob, was nearly murdered by his brothers, and was eventually sold into slavery in Egypt and went through great suffering.  Yet he was able not only to forgive his brothers but to also forget the bitterness they had caused him.

He named his first son, Manasseh. “For, he said, God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (his brothers’ actions), Genesis 41:49-52.   So, we too should proclaim: “Manasseh”.

Please reflect on these questions
1. Be honest to yourself and to God: Do you harbor any hate or deep dislike of a brother and sister who you believe or perceive to have hurt you?
2. Can you bring yourself to forgive this person or these people who have caused you suffering and distress, in the way that Jesus Christ has shown us grace and forgiven us despite our hurting Him?

A Prayer
Dear Father God, reveal any bitter root that is in me.  Give me the grace to forgive and forget for I do not want to walk in my unforgiveness or the disappointments of my life.  Instead, I want to walk in the destiny that you have set for me (Jeremiah 29:11).  I want to proclaim “Ephraim” (the second son of Joseph) for God has made me fruitful.  I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, my Saviour. Amen.

– A Devotional by SC Chak

19 Aug 2018

Meditate On The Lord Day And Night

“Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters living here?” And so, they rejected him.”  Mark 6:3
God has given us the greatest unimaginable treasure – in jars of clay. (2Cor 4:7).  After His resurrection from this earth, Jesus did not leave us as ‘orphans’ but asked the Father to give us His Holy Spirit and the Word.  We are encouraged to feed daily on the Word (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:97) that we might grow and mature into His image and likeness.

Yet many of us are prone to neglect this encouragement and can lapse in our daily reading and meditation of the Word, accompanied by prayer, sometimes for periods of days.  What are the reasons?  “Oh, the bible is always around, I can read it anytime”.  Or, God’s Word has become too familiar, and we take it for granted, just as the people rejected Jesus because he was part of a very familiar scene in their villages. “Oh, he is only the village carpenter, the son of Mary”.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…..” Matthew 5:6
We can even feel bored listening to the Word being preached on Sundays because we have lost the ‘appetite’ for spiritual food.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit …… “ Matthew 5:1
Or, worse, if it is t symptomatic of a deeper malaise.  “We are doing ok. Just about everything in our lives is going as well as can be. We are involved in the church’s ministries.   God is blessing us.  What need is there to read the bible so often?”.  We have become lukewarm.  (Revelation 3:15-17).

“Oh, that you had listened to my commandments; then your peace would be like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”  Isaiah 48:18
How we would grow in Christ, if only we would awaken again to the realization how vital the Word is to our spiritual life and growth (Deuteronomy 8:3, Luke 4:4), with the Holy Spirit illuminating the Word for us;  if only we would awaken to the understanding that the Logos turns to Rhema  as the Holy Spirit takes the Word from our head and puts it into our heart for application in our lives (Gen 1:2-3, Romans 10:7, 1 Cor 2:10-16); if only we would awaken to the awareness that once God’s revelation and rhema start, the tiny stream of God’s revelation will flow continuously and become a mighty river of revelation, if we don’t stop reading and meditating. We wade into the river, each day going a little farther and deeper, until we are fully immersed in the living water of the Word of God (Ezekiel 47:3-6), and see our lives transformed, walking in His light, doing His will, and showing the way to those behind us.

It is no wonder that the psalmist exuberantly proclaims:  My heart stands in awe of thy Word (Psalm 119: 116).  O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all day long (v.97) …. For with them, thou have quickened me (v.93).

Please reflect on these questions
1. Do you set aside time every day to meditate on the Lord’s Word?
2. Do you feel His joy and peace when you read and sup on His Word?

A Prayer
Father God, grant us your grace that we may abide in your Word for your Word is life and spirit.  Amen in Jesus’ name.

– Devotional by S.C.Chak

5 Aug 2018

Citizens of God’s Kingdom

On National Day evening, from a friend’s penthouse 24-storeys up, I watched our helicopters and jets circling our western sky, as the sun set slowly beyond the horizon.

They were waiting their turn to fly over the Marina Bay parade grounds.

This sight alone, accompanied by the low loud rumbling of our jets above the clouds, would have made anyone proud as a citizen. “Stand Up For Singapore” as the refrain of our popular National Day song goes.

As Singaporeans, we also know our Pledge:
We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.

And who among us can forget our national anthem “Majullah Singapura”?

We are also proud that our little red passports are among the most recognized and well-accepted by immigration officials all over the world.

These are what we call our outward identifiers. They tell us and others who we are.

As Christians, we are also citizens of a different sovereignty – the Kingdom of God.

In a way, one could say, we also live by a set of rules. This famous encounter between the Pharisees and Jesus, recorded in Matthew 22:16-21, says a lot about this.
They (the Pharisees) sent their disciples to him (Jesus Christ) along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax. ”They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

In this way, our Lord Jesus has made a clear distinction between the life to be lived on earth and the one that is to be lived for God.

On the one hand, as citizens of Singapore, we abide by the laws that govern us, we hold true the values and norms that mark us as Singaporeans, and we go about our lives as ordinary, patriotic citizens of our country.

On the other hand, as citizens of God’s kingdom, we are not necessarily to lead vastly different lives from our fellow Singaporeans or fellow human beings, but we are to more diligently pursue lives based on the golden rule set out in Matthew 7:12, “… in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

This may be a starting point for all of us because it is a simple and practical truth.

But being a follower of Christ Jesus, being a citizen of His kingdom, entails more than this.

John 3:3-5 makes no bones about it:
“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again…no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

We have to first confess and repent of our sins and be transformed as in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!

In his letter to the Christians living in Philippi, evangelist Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.

How good it is to feel we are indeed saved by the grace of God, and that our lives, transformed, enjoy assurance of everlasting salvation!

Please reflect on these questions
1. Are we leading lives that are different from what one would expect of believers?
2. Are we truly Christians or believers who merely want an insurance policy to Heaven?

A Prayer
Father God, teach me Your ways. For they are good for me and will not harm me. Be a light to my path that I may not stray. In Jesus name! Amen.

– Devotion by Colin Chee

29 Jul 2018

The Perfect Church

There are many believers who church-hop for the perfect church – one, that they feel, suits them and fits like a glove. Many pre-believers do the same.

They move from one church to the next, testing each out, before finally settling down, and then maybe move on again.

Does the church have air-conditioning? Is it close to home? Is the car park always full and I need to park elsewhere? Is it close to a bus stop or MRT station?

Do my friends and family worship there? Is the congregation friendly? Are there Christians there who are simply obnoxious? Are there “funny” people in the church?

Is the clergy nice and caring? Do I sleep during sermons?

There are a thousand and one questions that we ask before coming to a decision about which church to attend. And if each criterion receives a tick, and there are many, then we have found our perfect church.

Yet, is there ever going to be a perfect church? One that we simply cannot fault?

A key question we sometimes forget to ask ourselves is this: Did Christ Jesus intend His church to be perfect?

In Mathew 9:2, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

He meant His church to be a sanctuary for all the broken lives who have nowhere else to go but to those who believe in Him.

Who are we to turn away from those we deem to be less than “perfect”. We are each imperfect in our own ways.

This cannot be made clearer than in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

The Lord’s message to Paul applies in equal measure to all of us. We should realise that we are each as weak as Paul was.

In 2 Corinthians 13:11 Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.”

The emphasis is on the phrase “Strive for full restoration…”. When we have to strive for full restoration, it presupposes that we are imperfect.

And this striving is made easier if we focus our eyes, our minds and our hearts on Jesus. Rather than on the imperfections of our church members, church guests, clergy, pastoral staff, the sanctuary we worship in, the availability of parking lots, and distance of the church from our homes.

In Jeremiah 29:13, we read this verse: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

It is so easy to be distracted by the world around us. To treat our church like a retail item – which we can pick up, see if it smells nice, is unblemished, nice to the eye, sweet smelling. If we forget to pause and listen to the Lord’s heartbeat, we will be easily carried off in many of life’s meaningless tsunamis.

But if the church will, together, set its eyes and heart on Jesus Christ in its walk of life, it will surely come closer to perfection.

Please reflect on these questions
1. Do I often complain about my fellow church members and clergy, and find fault about our church buildings, facilities and premises?
2.  Do I believe that by focusing on Jesus, I will become a better Christian and a better person?

A Prayer
Thank you, Father God, for Your mercy and love for me. Thank you for loving me despite my many imperfections. May I lead my life in ways that will delight You, and in doing so, quietly glorify Your name to others. In Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.

– Devotion by Colin Chee

1 Jul 2018

I Am Not Ready Yet

We have heard this refrain many times from those we invite to serve in church ministries: “Please give me time. I am not ready yet.”

In our worldly reckoning, it is a very natural and reasonable response. Who in his right mind will say “Yes”, when he is not prepared for a task. We all want to do our best. We all want the best planned outcomes. But for ourselves, isn’t it? We are concerned what others may think of us if we fail. We want others to know we are the best at what we do. Isn’t it?

Why can’t we be like the prophet Isaiah? In Isaiah 6:8, he recounted these famous lines:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

This was Isaiah’s commission. He was then a young man. He was inexperienced in the ways of the world, having been raised in the temple all of his young life. He had no inkling what God was going to ask him to do. He was only ready to serve God.

Our commission, on the other hand, is rooted from the days soon after Christ was crucified. In Matthew 28:18-20, Christ had instructed His eleven disciples to meet Him at Galilee. When He appeared to them, He gave them the Great Commission:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Were any of the disciples prepared for what our Lord Jesus had commissioned them to do? They were not.

In fact, in verse 17 of the same passage we read this:

“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

Even some of the eleven disciples doubted whether the Jesus they saw was real. How can it be? He was crucified, nailed to the cross, and pierced in His side on that hill called Golgotha.

But they must all eventually have been be so infilled with the Holy Spirit they trusted the Lord to lead them to wherever He wanted them. And also to speak to whoever he wanted them to. And He spoke through them.

Christian tradition has it that, with the possible exception of John, all suffered and died cruel deaths for their conviction to this great commission.

And we say we are not ready.

When the Lord called the first four of his disciples to follow him, they dropped their fishing nets and did just that. No questions asked. But they became the early church leaders over time. In a way, they learned on the job. More so after Jesus died and reappeared to them and then left them to do what He had tasked them to do.

Can we be like these early disciples and the many church helpers, teachers, workers, clergy and missionaries who came after them, right up till today?

Can we be like the disciple Paul who says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 :

“But he (the Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Are we even ready to do the small little things for the Lord?

Please reflect on these questions
1. Is it possible for me to simply trust the Lord to lead me to where He wants me?
2. Do I really want to do what He wants me to do?
3. Will you be prepared to pray to the Lord for His guidance in this and to really listen to him?

A Prayer
Dear Lord. Thank You for the life that You have given me. Thank You that You cared enough and loved me enough to suffer and die for me that I may have eternal salvation. Make me a humble servant to You and Your church to glorify Your name. Amen.

– Devotional by Colin Chee

1 Apr 2018

The Hope of Easter

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction, which makes it so difficult to believe some of the things one hears or reads.

And what could be stranger, and more unlikely, than about someone rising from the dead, conquering death, no less? Yet, this is the entire Easter message, which I have been drawn to, and have based my beliefs on.

Resurrection as Reality
The news the women brought back that first fateful Easter morning, some two thousand years ago, that the tomb was empty, that Jesus is risen and is alive, is just too unbelievable, for our human mind and reasoning, with all its limitations, to take in.

As with all news, not everyone believes, even though many do. In the process, this news of the first Easter has changed the lives of literally billions of people through two millennia.

It has in fact become the lynchpin of the Christian Faith, for upon this reality of the Resurrection, Christianity stands or falls.

Speaking for myself, the Resurrection of Jesus must be a literal, historical event which took place in the very way as the bible records it.

Its intended message is to spell out the truth (if one would accept it as such) that, contrary to all our reasoning, experience and persuasion, death and oblivion will not have the last word on us. After all, we have each, within our lifetimes, experienced goodness, joy, beauty, important relationships with family and friends, and come to realize that each of these qualities have a certain enduring, indeed, eternal element to them.

They are meaningful only within the ambit of life, and only if there is life after death. In fact, we feel and understand this truth quite intuitively for, we are told, “God has set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Resurrection as Our Hope
But this Resurrection, the rising of One from the dead is so incredible, some have tried to explain it away as something that just cannot be taken literally.

Resurrection cannot be a physical phenomenon but merely figurative, they say. Perhaps it refers only to changed lives— in hearts and minds, attitudes and behaviour- changed as it were, by the teachings of Jesus.

But, Easter is Hope of continuing Life—real and physical, not figurative or metaphorical. Little else in the teachings of the Faith, exhorting me to live an exemplary life would have any importance, if this were not so.

The Apostle Paul cuts it to the chase, saying “Now if there is no resurrection…. What have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”” (1 Corinthians 15:29,32).

Living Out the Resurrection
True, this ‘Hope’ is often difficult to grasp and comprehend.

Taught as a concept, it seldom sits well and encounters far more resistance than reception. So, how can we, who profess to this Hope, hold it out effectively to others?

Clearly, it must begin with an honest reappraisal of our life’s ‘inventory’, so to speak, to better distinguish between what is truly lasting and what does not, between the eternal and the temporal.

And then, to hold on fast to the first, and much more loosely, to the second. What a difference we would truly make, I’m sure, to our community! A Blessed Easter Holiday!

A Prayer
Thank You, Father God, for the life of Your son, Jesus Christ, that our sins are now redeemed for eternity. Teach us the Truth and strengthen and convict us to do what is right in Your eyes, and may we bring Your Word to the ends of the earth! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

(This article recently appeared in the “On Good Soil” column of Far East Organization and is reproduced here with kind permission of the author, David Chan Chee Chong, E1, St Hilda’s Church)

18 Mar 2018

A Time of Refreshing

In a few more weeks we will be celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Typically, Easter services are among the most well attended services in any year.

We sometimes describe, disparagingly, some of our fellow believers as Easter Christians. They are our fellow believers who only attend church on Easter. And, sometimes, Christmas as well. To be sure, these are the two major Christian celebrations worldwide.

Easter celebrates Christ’s ascendance to be with His Father in heaven after his crucifixion on earth to cleanse us of our sins. Christmas is supposedly the birth date of Jesus Christ, the babe in the manger.

Between the two events, many will agree that Easter Sunday, together with Good Friday, is the more important. This is because Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection three days later, are core to the Christian belief of salvation.

In Adam, humanity died to sin. But God so loved us, He met us through His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, that humanity may be cleansed from its own sins through Jesus’ blood and be prepared to be with God for eternity.

In Adam, we were cut off from God because of sin. In Christ, we are able to return to God, because our sins have been redeemed with Christ dying on the cross.

Most importantly, Jesus’ resurrection establishes Him as the Son of God and gives us assurance that God will judge the world in righteousness.

Paul says in 1 Corithians 15:17-19 that without the resurrection of Christ our faith is futile:
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

However, in our consumerist world, we can get lost in Easter celebrations. Like Christmas, Easter has become more and more about Easter bunnies and Easter eggs than about our salvation through God’s grace.

Somehow, over time, these once fertility symbols have bound themselves to our Easter celebrations.

But, as believers, we should therefore continue to be mindful about what Easter is really all about. To me, John 3:16 best captures the spirit of the true meaning of Easter:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Perhaps, during this period of Lent, we may want to reflect a little more deeply what we, as individual believers, can do to refresh ourselves for the LORD, our God. How can we build up our personal relationship with Him, our Father?

Perhaps we should let our hearts pause and dwell on Psalm 139:23-24 as part of this refreshing:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Please reflect on these questions:
1. Do we wish to build on our personal relationship with God?
2. How can we achieve this?
3. Can we resolve to refresh our love for Him, make time to listen to Him, to worship Him, and to serve Him?

A Prayer
Thank You, Father God, for loving me, that even when I was still far off, You came to meet me, in the person of Jesus Christ, Your Son. Thank You for welcoming me back into Your fold. Help me, LORD, to refresh my whole being for You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

4 Mar 2018

Denying Oneself

This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations held mixed sensations for me.

On Wednesday 14 February, one day before Chinese New Year’s Eve, someone reminded me of Ash Wednesday service in church that evening. She asked whether I would be attending, as Linda and I usually did.

In recent years we had made it a point to anticipate and prepare for Lent. But this year, I was barely recovering from three weeks of a nasty bout of flu, then. I was also pumped up with antibiotics and steroids and had hardly enjoyed any healthy time to prepare for CNY, let alone Lent!

It suddenly struck me that the 40-day Lent and the 15 days of CNY were running neck-to-neck in a race for our time this year!

Lent is a Christian religious observance that starts on Ash Wednesday and is only over on Easter Sunday, after 40 days of quiet reflection, solemnity and fasting. It represents the 40 days our Saviour, Jesus Christ, spent in the desert and tempted by Satan.

Chinese New Year, on the other hand, is a time of family reunion, honouring one’s elders and ancestors, and welcoming Spring, amidst rousing celebrations and unremitting feasting.

The two observances are the exact opposite of each other. How do you choose one and not neglect the other? Thankfully, CNY celebrations can be enjoyed for only so long. We are now back into Lent.

Last Sunday (4 March), our Vicar Wong Tak Meng talked about carrying the cross for Christ, and what that might mean to each of us. The previous Sunday, Pastor Martin Jungnickle spoke on humility in love.

In my reflections, and I am sure it is not unique to me, I feel there is another important aspect of Lent that we should not overlook: It is about denying oneself, for Christ.

The story of ultimate self-denial told In Matthew 26:39, must be the most poignant ever.

In a moment of human frailty and apprehension over his impending crucifixion on the Roman cross, Jesus “fell on his face and prayed, saying: ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…’ ” For that one split moment, the overwhelming enormity and unadulterated pain of crucifixion must have swamped Jesus as He prayed.

But, almost as immediately, the Son of Man summoned that incredible love for humanity, enough to add, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” For He knew that He had to suffer betrayal, lies, injustice, pain, mockery, shame, and a father’s rejection, and death to fulfil His Father’s plans to bring us sinners home.

There are several other stories of self-denial in the Bible.

In the Old testament, there is the story of the prophet Elijah and the widow at Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:7-16. She had enough flour and oil to bake a last loaf of bread for herself and son before they died of starvation. Elijah told her to bake the bread for him instead. She denied herself and lived.

In Mark 12: 42-44, we have the story of the poor widow who gave two small copper coins to the LORD at the temple in Jerusalem and Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” She had denied herself.

In Mark 4:18-20, Jesus called two brothers, Simon (later known as Peter) and Andrew, as they cast their nets into the Sea of Galilee, to follow Him and become “fishers of men”. “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” They denied themselves.

Similarly, our clergy, pastoral staff, and even administrative staff have denied themselves to serve the Lord.

Those who serve in a church ministry, and many others who serve in multiple ministries, have also denied themselves to serve the Lord in their own individual ways, with the unique giftings the LORD has given each of them. Even those who do not serve in any ministry, but serve the LORD quietly, unknown to others, in personal time, funds and other ways, deny themselves.

I am also reminded of those times in the Car Park Marshall Ministry, when members volunteer to “cover” for others who are rostered but are unable to perform duty because of emergencies or prior engagements, or when unrostered marshalls quickly respond to help those on duty when situations in the church car parks become intense and stressful. They deny themselves even in these situations.

In denying oneself to serve the LORD, there is always a personal cost. But there is also something beautiful about it.

This is because, at the heart of it all, it is love that underpins such self-denials. All of this is an enactment of Jesus’ command in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Please reflect on these questions
Are we Sunday Christians, or do we love God enough to want to give up a part of us to serve Him? How can I serve Him in the way He wants me to? Is there someone with whom we need to reconcile? If the answer is yes, please do so, now.

A Prayer
I thank You, Almighty Father, for meeting me half-way and making it easy for me to receive Your forgiveness of my sins. Help me, LORD, to deny myself, that I may be of service to You.

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

4 Feb 2018

Is Money The Root Of All Evil?

“Gong Xi Fa Cai! Ang Pau Nah Lai !!”

I am sure many of you, who are young parents now, or maybe not-so-young parents also, will remember this delightful pidgin Mandarin chant.

Your parents might have eagerly taught you to use this cute greeting every Chinese New Year. It was to coax your aunties, uncles and other adults to part with their little red packets of money gifts.

For many of us, as children then, this would be our first encounter with fairly large sums of money – and ALL belonging to us. (Never mind that our parents had to “pay” something up front as well.)

The money felt so good in our little hands, then. It still does, now. I am sure you will agree.

But it is often said that money is the root of all evil. It sows discord and destroys relationships. It easily becomes an obsession. And it draws you away from God and your faith in Him to provide for you.

In the 1987 movie, Wall Street, the main protagonist declared: ”Greed is …good.”

Strikingly, that same greed stoked the Stock Market Crash in the same year the movie was screened, the Asia Crisis in 1997, and the Global Financial Crisis in 2007.

Naturally, almost everyone started anticipating another supernova crash in 2017, last year. But the Big One did not come visiting. The year passed with barely a financial whimper.

Will the Big One ever happen, then? Of course, it will. There will always be one, around the corner!

And when it does come and cause havoc, mayhem and pain in our lives, people will knowingly say, “Didn’t the Bible say all along that money is the root of all evil?”

Yet, if truth be told, the Bible never said this.

The Bible clearly states in 1 Timothy 6:10: “…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

It is not money itself which is at the root of all evil. It is the love of money.

Being rich in itself is not bad. Is it not possible for us to consider that money and wealth are also blessings from the Lord to help us provide for ourselves, our families, and the less fortunate?

He has also blessed us that we may give to His Church. The New Testament tells of wealthy believers who provided for Jesus and his disciples during and after the Lord’s ministry.

God does not condemn the rich. He made several men wealthy in the Old Testament: Abraham, Job, Joseph, King David, King Solomon, among others.

But He knows the rich are also vulnerable to many temptations and going astray. Being very practical and merciful, He gives them a way out too, while speaking a language they can understand, as in I Timothy 6:17-19:

“…for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

I like 1 Timothy 6 because it also tells us not-so-rich people how to live life for the future, in verses 11-16. We have not been left out:

“…as for you, O man of God…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called …. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus… to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Most importantly, let us always hold close and dear to our hearts Jesus’ reminder to us in Luke 10:27 – “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”

Therefore, if I may prayerfully and humbly suggest to my fellow parents and grandparents, it might be a good idea to encourage your charges to say, from this year, a different CNY greeting: Gong Xi Fa Cai! The Lord bless you and keep you and give you good health and His peace!

This way, at least we will not start seeding in the formative minds of our little ones that money is everything, but that God is!

A Very Blessed New Year to each and every one of you. God Bless!

Please reflect on these questions
(1) Is a man or woman rich only as measured by the size of his/her bank account, or can a man or woman be rich in the way he/she lives his/her life as a follower of Christ?
(2) How can you live your life that would be pleasing to the Lord?

A Prayer
I thank you, Father God, for this life that You have given me. When I am well, and life is good, I know it is easy to know You are the source of it. But when I am seriously unwell, please, LORD, help me to understand, and strengthen my faith in You, that You are still by my side helping me along. I praise You, LORD, for the blessings You have poured on me, and I pray I can be a blessing to You too. In Your son’s most precious name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

21 Jan 2018

Expect the Unexpected.

As we enter the season of Ephipany, we celebrate Jesus being revealed to the world. With His death that redeemed us, it is also a time to reflect and redefine a purpose-driven life that will make us worthy servants in God’s Kingdom.

Timely as it is, I reflected on 1 Peter 2:1-17 in which John Stott articulated:

– We are like a newborn. Our baptism and new birth means a call to establish a deep, inward, radical change led by the Holy Spirit. Like a baby relying on his parents, we rely on God’s Word which is our indispensable spiritual milk.

– We are like living stones. Christ is our foundation and cornerstone. We are a chosen people to worship and serve, as one body and in constant fellowship with Christ and his people.

– We are like Priests. We are “being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” I remember Vicar Tak Meng’s exhortation that we are like the Levites, with a special role chosen to serve God. Cross reference this with Colin Chee’s devotional entitled God Chose Us And He Alone Shall Dismiss Us.

– We are called to be humble servants. We serve the Lord “with fear and rejoice with trembling.” Ps 2:11. We need to have an attitude like Isaiah – to unconditionally offer ourselves to God and going along by faith.

John Stott echoed King George V saying to the Prince of Wales: “My dear child, you must always remember who you are, for if you remember your identity you would behave accordingly. “

Likewise, I am reminded that I am chosen by God. I must set aside time to worship and serve him, and I ought to be mindful of my actions, conduct, communications and attitude.

Our individual discipleship (personhood) equips us to be part of the living stones that can positively contribute to the community with Christ as its foundation. It transforms and readies us to serve fearfully and joyously. More importantly, we can be readied to expect the unexpected.

Looking back, 2017 was challenging for me. But God continued to be faithful in my despair, walking alongside me, ministering to me, and fulfilling my needs. Though in 2018 I carry forward a number of challenges in addition to new ones, He has helped me to remain faithful with a sense of joy that God our Father is watching over me and I am not alone even though I am “suffering”.

May this new year bring joy and much excitement for you and your family as we journey together, as one body, seeking to be inspired by His love, renewed in the spirit and ultimately building a deepened relationship with God our Father.

Please reflect on these questions
(1) In our walk through life, are we truly reliant on our Father God and therefore set aside time to talk and listen to him?
(2) If not, can we start doing that?

A Prayer
Father God, we pray with rejoicing, celebrating your goodness, and remember that Christ’s birth held the greater purpose to redeem us. Indeed, it is a privilege to be chosen by you and to be a part of the living stone. May we live a disciplined life and to testify to your Love. What that is to come in 2018 may be challenging, but let us remain focussed on the Cross, and may we truly deny ourselves by pick up our cross and follow you. May 2018 be a transformational and exciting journey so that we may be ready to expect the unexpected. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

31 December 2017

The LORD Chose Us, And He Alone Shall Dismiss Us

(This Devotion applies to everyone, whether he or she serves the Lord through a ministry or on their own)

My dear brother and sister Marshalls.

For the past several weeks, I was asking myself what to write to you for the New Year. Wrecking my head and not getting any wiser as the deadline drew near, I asked God.

At first, He did not answer me at all.

Then He must have planted this thought in my head: Write about the challenges of keeping the ministry together as a loving and united team, but also deal with the question, “What drives us?”

It was a good theme, but I did not quite understand the need or relevance of the follow-up question.

Then I heard Rev Stephen Lim’s sermon on Sunday (December 31, 2017) and a verse that sister Tina Kong shared the next day (January 1, 2018) with members of the prayer group, FISH.

The pieces in God’s puzzle suddenly came together.

For nearly four years, we have been busy trying to build a cohesive ministry. But Sunday in and Sunday out we keep doing the same thing. Then what?

Routine will set in. Meaninglessness will begin to settle like sediment in a stagnant pool. Edges will fray as irritation begins to grate human relationships. We will each begin to wonder what to do with ourselves and about our own place in the ministry, and even in church.

Should I leave? Should I stay? For how long should I be active in this ministry? Where else can I serve God? Why should I care when there are Christian brothers and sisters who behave like hypocrites?

I am sure there are times we have felt this way. I have even asked myself often enough: When is the right time to step down and have someone else lead our ministry?

The message from the pulpit last Sunday could not have been clearer.

It is not for us to dismiss ourselves; that is our Father’s prerogative. Even though, in His love for us, He has given us the free will to do as we wish.

Rev Stephen was preaching on Luke 2:22-32 last Sunday –

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord …. Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon uttered a key phrase here – “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word…” – suggesting he subjected himself entirely and wholly to the LORD.

Simeon did not beat his chest and say: “It’s time to die,” as if he could decide that for himself. Instead, Simeon waited on the LORD to dismiss him and he obeyed Him fully.

I am not suggesting here that we should be fatalistic about such things.

What I am getting to is that I am certain the LORD has led each of us to this ministry, and other members to other ministries, to serve Him, for a purpose, with the talents and resources that He has given to each of us.

Just as He had also assigned Simeon the task of proclaiming to all present in Jerusalem’s temple, then, that Jesus is our Saviour.

The purpose that the LORD has set for each of us may not be as momentous as Simeon’s. But it will be to benefit us: perhaps for character development; refinement of our spiritual growth; and for any other reason He feels will benefit us and our church family.

Many of us have been led by the Holy Spirit to serve in this ministry, just as many other members have been led to serve in other ministries.

This is when the verse Tina shared with the FISH prayer group struck me. Verse John 15:17 says:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

The LORD has given to each of us talents and resources that He wants to use in service to Him and also to help in our own realisation of self. Therefore, we should simply trust Him to do the right thing for us, and to ask Him to lead and guide us. He is our driver. He will not let us down.

Thank you, Marshalls, from my heart, for your service to the Lord and St Hilda’s Church these past years. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine on you, and may He be gracious to you and your loved ones in this new year. Go forth and shine for Him and Him alone. And thank You, Father God, for this band of brothers and sisters. Amen.

Please reflect on these questions.
(1) Do we always ask our Father God to advise us on what He wants us to do, instead of us making decisions leaning just on our understanding?
(2) Do we pray to our Father for the strength and wisdom to carry on whenever we face a challenge and to follow through on whatever tasks He has assigned us?

A Prayer
Thank you, Father God, for choosing us to serve you. We are not worthy of You and yet You chose to overlook all our shortcomings and sinful nature and to trust us with tasks that are both challenging and simple. Give us the wisdom, strength and perseverance to do the best job for You. With Your help, Father, we know we can accomplish any challenge set before us. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

– A Devotion by Colin Chee

24 December 2017

In God We Trust

The year has passed us by so quickly. In a matter of days, we will touch 2018.

You may be asking yourself: Have I done anything significant this year? Anything historic? Anything that has put me in the forefront of the day’s news? Have I grown richer? Was I promoted?

For many of us, we think we are simply minions – unimportant people. Therefore, there is little we can do but to eat plain rice, live through each day, stay out of trouble, keep to ourselves, stay low in order not to be seen. Try to get to church on time. Every Sunday. Try not to nod off during sermon. Nor to text on our mobiles. Do not get involved in ministry.

Yet we are all so wrong in our expectations of ourselves. Which is perhaps why we feel so bad about ourselves. And feeling guilty at the end of each year. Thinking we have not achieved anything. That we are irrelevant; and it does not matter.

Our parents, teachers and even friends have drilled into us: Aim high and you will achieve more than expected. Aim low and you will get nowhere!

Our God knows this.

Long before we were born. He had this to say in Ecclesiastes 1:14 –

“I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.”

The LORD’s wisdom shines through brilliantly. He knows us. It is so true, is it not?

We are troubled because we are vain and forever chasing after loose ends. We set our expectations so high, and whether we achieve them or not, we end up somehow unhappy, dissatisfied, and then think badly of ourselves.

For those in my generation of the 50s, 60s and 70s, do you remember chasing desperately after those defeated kites floating away after a fight in the sky with others and hoping to nab them by the tail end of their strings? We would fly across open fields, below trees and sometimes climb up them, jump over drains and bushes, and run across roads just to catch the loose ends of those dancing strings, that were still attached to those free-for-all kites, with our bare hands or with all manner of poles fashioned out of anything! Do you remember?

We would almost always end up deflated, frustrated and exhausted. We would almost always try to do it again anyway because we had little pocket money to buy a new kite. Yes, sometimes we would laugh and have fun chasing after them. But, most of the time, the chase was earnest and we would end up unhappy and tired. Do you remember?

What is new today when, as adults, we run the rat race?

Yet God has given us something to do. In Psalm 37:4, the psalmist says:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

He reminds us in Proverbs 27:1 –
“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

And then again in James 4:14 –
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

But God is also not telling us to be fatalistic about our lives; to resign ourselves to whatever comes our way.

He is simply saying: Set your focus right, and all will be well. He has asked us to delight ourselves in Him!

God does not simply say “Focus on Me!” He understands our impulses. So, He says in Jeremiah 29:11 –
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Hope. The lodestar in the vast expanse of the darkest of skies. Hope. The singular thing that gives us light in a world dark with uncertainties, wars, hurts, vengeance, cunning, pain, misunderstanding, and broken relationships. Hope. The promise of the peace to come.

More than 2,000 years ago, God gave us a hope for salvation as in Luke 2:8-14 –
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

How great is our God! How complete is His love for us! Hallelujah!

Please reflect on these questions.
(1) Do we thank God enough for what He has done for us?
(2) Can we trust Him enough to focus our lives on Him and to delight in Him?

A Prayer
Thank You, Father God, for never giving up on me. Thank You for loving me and always looking out for me. Thank You for giving me an alternative life. One that rests in You and which will give me peace. Thank You for Your Son, Christ Jesus, who is my salvation. In His most precious name, we sing glory to You. Amen.

– Devotional by Colin Chee

3 December 2017

Discard Your Transactional Life

In economic theory, commercial “transactions” as we know it today began when specialization of production, based on proprietary skills and environmental advantages, evolved.

Accompanying this development were market places which formed to enable exchanges of goods and services among those who needed the goods and services and those who provided.

It all started with the simple barter trade among producers of different products and services. Then the exchanges got monetised.

Soon, traders started coming into the picture and, not long after, the middlemen, and then the financiers.

Initially, every transaction was based on a mutual exchange of goods and services. I give you this for that which you have, which I need or want. Later, as forms of universally-accepted money appeared, barter was done away with. You could buy and sell with cowry shells and metal coins.

Are the prosperity messages preached by some of our churches today any different from these? Give, and you will prosper, so the refrain goes! Give to receive!

Is it possible that prosperity can be bought from God? Will He strike such a bargain with us? Let me win this week’s 4D, LORD, and half of the winnings are Yours! Even in the corridors of our churches we sometimes hear this: “Give, lah, and you will surely prosper.”

After all, Proverbs 3:9-10, seems to say this clearly:
“Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.”

Yet, if you read carefully, this verse is not worded as a transaction. The emphasis is about honouring God first. It is to be your only motivation. It is not to honour Him in order to gain a reward. It is about honouring Him wholly. The rewards are a consequence.

It is not: If you want to prosper, then honour the LORD with your wealth.

It is this: Honour God. When you do so you please Him and He will bless you in return.

It is very much like our relationship with our loved ones, is it not? When our child does something that is pleasing to us, we would usually bless him or her with something in return. Not that our child has asked for that blessing as a condition to pleasing us.

It is not a transaction like: If you score over 80% in your Mandarin test, I will buy you a bicycle!

Or like this: Mummy, if I scored 90% in Math will you buy me this new mobile game?

But transactional relationships are usually the norm, is it not? Our relationships are almost always an exchange. We have been raised in this world to be transactional. This is because our earthly motivations tend to be way stronger than our spiritual. And they usually get in the way of our relationship with God. Most of the time.

Yet God sees His relationship with us from a different perspective. It has always been one based on giving, with the ultimate gift of life. Because it is based on unconditional love.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17

Are we ready for such a relationship with God – a non-transactional one simply based on loving Him wholly and unconditionally? How can we achieve this? One way perhaps is to live a life like Christ Jesus, as in 1 Peter 2:19-25:

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Perhaps we can start by living our lives these Advent weeks in ways that will show the world our Father’s light. We are called Christians. The world is looking at us. Can we be a pleasing praise to Him?

Please reflect on these questions.
(1) Do we sincerely wish to please our Father God?
(2) Can we commit to doing one thing good that will please Him each day, every day?

A Prayer
Thank You, Jesus, for bearing all my sins and hurts on the cross, so that I can be freed from them, in order to face You. Give me the wisdom, strength and perseverance, Lord, to live a life that will please You and Your Father. Gird me with the Holy Spirit, that You may always be with me, to lead me and to guide me. Amen.

– Devotional by Colin Chee

19 November 2017


Let me share the following thoughts as we celebrate our 83rd anniversary. Our vision is that through Christ we serve the COMMUNITY as a beacon of FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE. This vision is still unfolding. We have not yet arrived. How do we continue to be true to this vision ?

We recount with gratefulness our past heritage. We thank God for sowing into the heart of Archdeacon Graham White that SHC will be a place for worship, church and education.

Amidst limited resources and war, the premises gave rise to buildings that were used for these purposes. It was not the physical building that was the substance of the work. It was the countless number of children, teenagers and adults who heard the gospel and received an education. These people cut across socio-economic backgrounds, race and religion. We thank God for the many workers, both laity and clergy, who served.

Today we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Paul reminds us to ”Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7

Let us keep on track with the work that has been started. How do we do it?

“Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-17

It is a call to guard our hearts. This is to first love God with all our heart, mind and soul. It is about believing God’s Word and then to follow them.

When our heart is right with God, we experience the joy of doing His work. SHC is especially engaged in providing medical and educational assistance both in Singapore and overseas. This is an integral part of the gospel but not the essence.

The essence of the gospel is still bringing the message of God’s love, repentance and salvation through Christ, and to prepare for His return. Let us never lose sight of these.

Finally let us not date our anniversary by the past. We date our birthdays and wedding anniversaries historically. There is another way that we should date events.

This is by looking forward to the return of Christ. God has created us with a pair of eyes that is not at the back of our heads but in front of us! We do not know when He will return. We know that as each day goes by, it is a day closer to His return.

Are we, as a church, living our lives in preparation for His return ?

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. He rejoiced because he heard of “…… you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead– Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

May God give the increase to all the labour of love to build his kingdom. Shalom

Please reflect on these questions.

  1. Is our heart right with God?
  2. Are we already with a home cell? If not, please join one.
  3. Will we make time to serve Him in any of SHC’s ministries?

A Prayer

Father Almighty, thank You for meeting me when I was still far off. If it had not been so, I would have lost my way even more. Thank You for the times You have delivered me from my wayward ways. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Show me the way, LORD, that I may be pleasing in Your sight. In the name of Christ Jesus, amen.

– Devotion by Samuel Ratnam

8 November 2017

Communing With God

Last Friday evening, our home cell leader, Mun Seng, gently reminded us to spend time daily with God. He suggested we do it first thing in the morning; or for us to set aside another time of the day when nothing else can take precedence over it, and then to stick to it.

Some may describe it as a discipline. But that is what it is, at the heart of it – a discipline of love.

When he asked how many of us have reserved time every day for Him, there were sheepish grins all around.

I am sure there were a few of us in the cell that evening who, like Mun Seng, make it a daily habit to commune with God; but they were too kind to the rest of us to say so.

For many of us, I am certain, meeting God – whether through prayer, or deeds of grace, or reading the bible – has become an entirely random experience.

Reflecting on this, I asked myself: “Why should this be? Why am I able to so happily spend hours on Facebook and WhatsApp communicating with friends, hours watching YouTube documentaries or shopping on-line, hours gossiping, and yet am unable to set aside just 15 minutes to commune with God, who is my friend (actually more than that – He is also my Creator and my Redeemer)?”

Honestly, it is simply because all seems to be going well in my life and God seems far away. Is this the same for you too – that our invisible God is far away and out of sight – and life is good?

Yet Revelation 3:20 reminds us He is nearer than we think: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Our Lord is waiting to commune with us. He is waiting out there, this very moment, for us to open our door to let Him in and for Him to commune with us.

For the longest time, He has been trying to communicate with us. And it has almost always been a case of us rejecting Him.

God loves His creations. We are His. This is why he wants us to be with Him.

He spoke with Adam in the Garden of Eden for him to know not to eat the fruits of a certain tree. In Genesis 2:15-17: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

When Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil and ate the forbidden fruit, they hid from God. Yet He walked around the garden looking for them and calling out to them.

In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, God walked the hills and valleys of Judea, then a tiny part of the Roman Empire.

Jesus tried many times to tell His followers that he was God. He out-argued and outwitted the most learned Pharisees. He performed many impossible miracles. Among these, He even raised the dead to life! Yet His apostles never quite grasped His true identity. Somehow, during those precious years when Jesus was ministering to the Jews and others, before His crucifixion, His disciples never quite got it.

Now that Jesus has died for us, by paying with His life for our sins, and we acknowledge that, and we are now able to commune with our God Almighty because our sins which are abominable to Him are atoned for, should we not be grabbing this opportunity and holding on to it for dear life?

The answer has to be a simple “Yes. Yes. Yes!”

Psalm 119:9 says: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word.

Set, then, your priorities right. For it is said in Matthew 6:31-33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Therefore, set aside your time for God. He is waiting at the door of your heart.

Please reflect on these questions

  • Do you now feel and believe that it will be good for your soul to spend daily time with God?
  • Will you give Him priority over everything else to reflect on His love for you and on His Word which will help you to live a life that is pleasing to Him?

A Prayer
We thank you, Father God, for loving us and being gentle with us. We thank you for making it possible for us to commune with you. Dear LORD, please give us the strength to resist the temptations of the world. Give us the wisdom and strength to abide with You. In the name of Christ Jesus, Amen!

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

18 September 2017

Light of The World

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
– (Matthew 5:14-16)

The new education centre under construction in Svay Prahoot, Cambodia, is almost complete. It is three storeys high with a flat roof at the fourth level, and towers over all the village houses, many on stilts, that surround it.

The centre stands out from the vast flatness of the emerald green rice fields soon to be harvested. It can be seen almost all around from a radius of 2 km at least. It is painted white. When the sunlight falls on the building, it glows like a lodestar.

For four days every September, the children and youth from surrounding villages walk to the centre in slippers or are barefoot or they ride on bicycles or two-stroke motorbikes. We run two-day “summer” camps for these children and youth during their month-long September school holidays. They enjoy the camps.

We see them grow up. Every year, some grow taller; some don’t seem to. Every year, they seem to come better dressed; but some don’t seem to. Every year, many look better fed; but they all still savour every bite of the fried chicken we serve them, together with copious amounts of white rice, and pork bone soup veggies. It is amusing, but still sad, for us to see them take several hand scoops of white rice with each small precious piece of chicken.

We all pray that the church and education centre will become a beacon of faith, hope and love for all the villagers in Svay Prahoot and beyond.

We pray to be the light to the people and authorities of Svay Prahoot. “You are the light of the world…” the Holy Bible says. In so doing, we try very hard to remember to lean not on our own understanding, but always humbly seeking our Lord Christ Jesus and trusting that He will shine His light on us and through us for all to see and follow.

The children look up to us; the youth too. Perhaps it is because we are as old as their parents and even grandparents. Perhaps, too, we are seen as teachers from a country that has experienced success and by being supervised by us, perhaps they can learn something.

Perhaps, more importantly, we are always being scrutinised as God’s ambassadors, and we have passed.

How we love them; how we behave towards all and sundry; how we carry ourselves; how we interact with one another as a Singapore team; how we treat the less fortunate – tell them whether we are light or darkness.

And it is always so uplifting to know that somehow we seem to have done the right things. In the children’s testimonies, year after year, they talk of the love and care shown by the teachers from Singapore, besides other blessings.

Praise the Lord, to be thrust with the knowledge that we have been obedient to Him:

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

How have we been able to do this, year after year? Sometimes we ask ourselves: how can this effort be sustained? We then try our utmost to think out ways to achieve this outcome.

Yet we often arrive at the realisation that it is not us who will accomplish this outcome. As someone once said: “All we have to do is get out of the way and let God do it.”

We must simply keep still, listen to the Lord’s heartbeat, and follow His leading.

Please reflect on these questions

  • How often do we really stand aside to listen to the LORD’s promptings in everything that we do?
  • How can we give up control of each of our personal situations, and simply surrender our circumstances to our LORD, and trust that He will find a solution for us in His time?

A Prayer
Father God, teach us always to remember to lean on You every time and with every breath. Let us not block our way with our vanities, but to stand aside to let Your light shine through. For without You we are lost. Without You, darkness will surely overwhelm us. We pray this in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

23 August 2017

From Mourning to Dancing (Psalm 30:11)

The Book of Psalms records both the joyous as well as the sorrowful emotions of the Psalmist. It records the author crying out to God to sustain him during difficult and troubled times. The Palmist expresses moments when pain and suffering are intolerable, God seems distant, and, seems to have turned His back on him.

Going through these Psalms, I feel empathy for the Psalmist.

There was a period when I was plagued with numerous challenges at work: from delays in projects to shouldering blame for mistakes committed by others. These ultimately cast deep personal doubts about my own abilities. The struggles became intense as each day went by.

But, fortunately, I soon realised that God had allowed this and had mercifully journeyed with me. He called me repeatedly to trust him, Psalm 62:7-8. I then went into a period of silence and solitude, which I learned during a Silent Retreat at Trinity Theological College. God’s peace and refining power offered conviction, redemption and comfort. During this period, I took to reading Henri Nouwen’s Turn My Mourning Into Dancing.

Coupled with the Word and Henri’s writing, I journeyed through those tough times.

I recounted how the Bible recorded the plights of others: from Job to David, and Jeremiah to the Apostles. And also Jesus Christ, who “on the cross he experienced isolation and desolation beyond human comprehension that we might know the indescribable satisfaction that awaits us at the end of our search for God’s presence in our lives – his power, glory, love and help.”

God sometimes permits trouble to manifest in our lives so that we can learn and grow deeper in Him. What are the invaluable lessons that I have learned?

  • Appreciate kairos which God has allowed, which represents moments that seem “ripe” for their intended purposes. As Henri wrote, “a view of time as kairos helps us to be patient in believing” and to look at all events, expected or unexpected, as holding a promise.
  • Call to examine ourselves in order to be rid of that “idol in our heart”. Enabling the Holy Spirit to take over the helm.
  • To expect and accept God’s silence despite our repeated pleas, understanding His desire to train us to be patient and wait on him.
  • Know that God understands us. He knows our circumstances – the inner turmoil from within and without. He will come to our rescue. Through moments observing silence and solitude we can experience God’s intimate love and embrace.
  • Through it all, I discovered God had purposed these circumstances to allow Him to work in me to build upon a healthier emotion spirituality as well as to develop the fruit of spirits (Gal 5:22-23).

Please reflect on these questions

  • Have you experienced difficult situations when everything seems to go the opposite way?
  • Pain and trouble can be ever so frustrating. Do you believe God knows and that he can replace pain with prosperity, misery with gladness, mourning to dancing?

A Prayer

Father God. Sometimes it is so hard to believe that You are always walking right beside us. Especially when the pressures are overwhelming, and the feeling of defeat and misery threaten to drown us in many ways. Help me, LORD, to know that You will always fight for us and with us, and that all we need to do is only to be still (Ex 14:14). I claim Your promise, LORD, that You will “guard my course and protect my way” (Prov 2:8). In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen!

– A Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

30 Jul 2017

Celebrating our 52nd National Day, 9th August 2017

We are like those who dream. Our mouths are filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. It is said among the nations; the LORD has done great things for them.
– Psalm 126:1-2

In a few days’ time, we celebrate Singapore’s 52nd National Day. It is a time of festivities, feasting, songs, dances, plays and joy.

But 52 years ago, when we first became independent, the mood was somber. We were in desperate straits – economically, socially and in terms of national security. We were a little red dot on the map, with no natural resources, no armed forces, and only a small population of just over a million people. In short, the problems we faced were existential.

That we did survive reminds me of the protection of another small group of people facing extreme odds and challenges at their start. Deuteronomy 10:32; He found him in a desert land, in the waste howling wilderness. He surrounded him. He cared for him. He kept him as the apple of his eye.

Seeing and experiencing how as a country and nation we have survived, transformed and prospered over the past 60 years, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving to God.

It is nothing short of a miracle that we are now a first world city-state of some international significance. The psalmist gives an apt description of the state of our joy in Psalm 126:1-2 “We are like those who dream. Our mouths are filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. It is said among the nations; the LORD has done great things for them.”

We are greatly blessed by God with a patriotic founding father and late first Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, and his team which cared for the people and laid the foundations of a compassionate and incorruptible government, like a good shepherd who tends his flock (Romans 13:1).

We thank God for all the upright ministers who have served in the various cabinets, past and present, the civil servants, the business people and ordinary men and women who have contributed to the development of our nation in the different fields of government, the economy, civil society and in the public square.

Most of all, we thank God for His church in Singapore, faithful men and women in worship, prayer and missions. His church has been a beacon of light and truth in this nation and in countries around us. The church has stood strong and steadfast in its faith in God.

Nevertheless, it is not the work of their hands that has achieved this. It is all about God’s favour. No wonder, the psalmist says: Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, and the people He has chosen for His own inheritance …… Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy ……. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield, for our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name (Psalm 33).

Father, our hearts are filled with gratitude for what you have done for our nation and for us as Your church. Forgive us our iniquities, transgressions and sins in the things we have done, or omitted to do, that have displeased or dishonored you. Let Your mercy be upon us. In Jesus’ name, we ask it. Amen.

– Devotional by Chak Siew Cheun

18 July 2017


When we do work for the Lord, it is never in vain. Even if it seems we are going nowhere. Even if it seems, despite all the good we think we are doing, the job is thankless. Even if it seems He has let us down. Even if it seems we have lost our way. Even if it seems He has turned His face away from us.

For those of us in ministry, is it not true there are times when we have felt this way?

It is that awful feeling that God has abandoned us, sometimes even after calling us to give up everything to walk the unknown path for Him.

Brother Stefan Ong shared one such story. The story of David and Svea Flood, and their daughter, Aggie, is worth retelling. You need to google for the full story, though.

The short one is that in 1921 Scandinavian missionaries David and Svea Flood went into deep Africa to preach the word of God. The tribes there rejected them.

But Svea managed to convert a little African boy through love and deeds. He was the only one in that remote African area who experienced the love of Christ. She soon died after giving birth to a little girl.

Feeling bitter against God about this, an angry and broken David Flood left for home. The baby girl Aggie was given to another Scandinavian missionary couple in Africa. When they died, the baby girl was given to an American missionary couple. They raised Aggie in America.

Happily married and with children of her own, one day, in 1963, Aggie received a magazine in Scandinavian. She saw in the magazine a photo of a cross on a grave. Aggie’s mother’s name was on it.

She asked someone to translate the story. It told about a little African boy who had grown to become head of a Pentacostal church in Zaire with 110,000 members and how he had come to the Lord through a Scandinavian missionary couple in a remote African village.

An anniversary present allowed Aggie and her husband to visit Scandinavia to meet her father and his second family. David Flood never recovered from his bitterness. He became an alcoholic, still railing against God for destroying his life. Aggie turned him back to God, after her reassurances of what had happened to her and the little boy in Africa. Soon after she returned to the US, David went home to the Lord.

A few years later, Aggie and her husband attended an evangelistic conference in London. There, they heard a report by the Superintendant of the National Church in Zaire. Aggie approached him after the talk, and they discovered each other. The Superintendant was that little African boy Aggie’s mother converted.

How wonderful is the LORD our God! Aggie’s parents’ work was not done in vain after all. Through one little seed, tens of thousands in Zaire came to the Lord. But it took a second generation to discover what God’s plans for David and Svea Flood were.

This story brings to mind John 12:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

I am sure in many ways we in ministry would have discovered this to be true – that the Lord does eventually show His hand. For us, I believe, we have been fortunate not having to wait for another generation to discover what impacts on other people’s lives the Lord has been using us for.

The same can be said of the biblical Joseph, who lived through many incredible phases of life to fulfill God’s plan for the Jews – from favourite son, to slave boy, to key advisor in an Egyptian home, to prisoner, to being the second most important man after the Pharaoh in Egypt, to the man who saved the Jews from extreme famine.

It must be just fascinating that when we look back into our own lives or our involvement in ministry, little patchworks of seemingly isolated experiences slowly come together to form a beautiful tapestry.

Our brother Samuel Ratnam said of brother David Chan, when David became the first corporate Chaplain in Singapore, “It must be that all your life experiences and training was leading to this appointment!”

We then realize our life experiences cannot then count as coincidences; that an invisible hand may in fact have been moving things along in rather random fashion, or so it would seem to us, until now.

Knowing this, what then should we, as followers of Christ, expect to do?

If we believe in Proverbs 16:3-4 which says, “Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose….”, then it becomes crystal clear.

We are not our own person, as liberal philosophers of the day want to have us believe. We belong to God. We should therefore learn to lean on Him, serve Him faithfully, give all glory to Him, even in times of trouble and despair and not understanding, and please Him in our daily walk with Him.

Please reflect on these questions.

  • Do we truly believe God is always with us in ministry in good times and bad?
  • A Prayer

Father Almighty, thank you for the opportunities to be called to ministry to serve You. Give me obedience and the wisdom, LORD, to lift all my anxieties to You and to give all glory to You. Remind me, LORD, show me that even in bad times You are always with me. Teach me humility, that I may lean on You ever more. In the name of Jesus, Amen!

– Devotion by Colin Chee

6 July 2017

Trust In The Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
– Proverbs 3:5

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
– Jeremiah 29:11

For those who have children, do you worry about which primary school your child will go to, and six years later, which secondary school, then four or five years later, which JC or polytechnic, or university?

Having four boys, I get caught up in that too.

For a start, how do we get our children into the best school for their primary education? For primary school, that could include moving to a place within one or two km of the primary school of our choice, spending hundreds to thousands of dollars joining the alumni association of our alma mater, joining a particular church to get in through church affiliation, chalking up hours as a grassroots volunteer or school volunteer.

Through the years, God has shown me in more ways than one what it means to trust Him and trust in His plans for my children.

For my eldest child, I did the best in my human efforts, to increase his chances of getting into the school of our choice. As it turned out, it was not even necessary for me to do anything, because the house that we were living in was within two km from the school, and, in that year, ALL applicants who lived within two km from the school got in!

When my eldest son was in Primary 5, and second boy in Primary 3, we moved from west to east, and looking for a good school was again, one of my biggest concerns.

One night, I had a dream. God impressed on me that getting a school would be an easy thing. Again, I did not really understand what it meant to trust God. Instead, I did everything I could. I had TWO people help me to ask to get into ONE of the better-known schools in the east – my sister-in-law, who was a teacher there, and my friend, a school principal, who knew the principal of that school in the east. – that principal came back with the reply that they had no vacancies. Not many schools would risk taking a student in the middle of Primary 5, as it is so close to the crucial Primary School Leaving Exams (PSLE).

Then one day, out of the blue, we received a call from the principal of St Hilda’s Primary School. One of her foreign students in Primary 5 had returned home in the middle of the school year, and she was considering whether to open up that vacancy to another child. Finally, she decided to offer this place to my eldest boy, for the second semester of Primary 5! So it was as easy as that, and entirely not by my human effort. I now had for my son a place in a well-regarded Christian primary school in the east, where parents fight to get their child in for Primary 1. And because of this opening, his brothers got to study there too.

When my three older boys reached PSLE, we were concerned about where they would go too. Lots of money was spent on tuition, efforts were made in the area of DSA (Direct School Admission), but their PSLE results were all different, and their various aggregates opened doors to where God wanted them to be, and where they could learn and grow.

Do we trust the Lord to open doors and lead where He knows is best for our children, or do we struggle with our best human efforts to get them where we think is best for them? Is our heart laden with anxiety or is it resting in the knowledge that God has plans for them, to give them a future and a hope?
When my eldest son was doing his GCE ‘A’ levels last year, he contracted hand, foot and mouth disease. It led to one complication after another – stiff neck, conjunctivitis, vertigo. By this time, we knew that Father knows best and told our son, when the results were released, to trust God.

God blessed him with results that were even better than he had expected, and he was able to get into the university and major he desired.

What a good God we serve! Will you put your trust in Him, and rest in the fact that Father knows best, better than what we can ever do or arrange for our children?

Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God (John 14:1). In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:6).

Please reflect on these questions:

  • Just as we often tell our children, “Trust me – I just want the best for you”, do we trust that God indeed has the best plans for our children, better than what we, as well-meaning parents, have in mind for them?
  • Do we worry for our children or are our hearts at peace, resting in God’s love and provision?

A Prayer

Heavenly Father, we commit our children in your hands, and trust that you have the best plans for them, to give them a future and a hope. We trust in your provision in every area of their lives and give you thanks and praise for the work that you are doing in their lives. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

– Devotion by Lim Meng Choo

20 June 2017


At the end of May, Linda and I spent some precious time at a retreat in Germany. It encompasses a beautiful 25-acre garden called Kanaan.

It was built lovingly in faith by pioneers of the Lutheran-based Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. It is located in the outskirts of Darmstadt, which is 30 km from Frankfurt city.

The first morning we were there, a member of the sisterhood came to us and said: “Come and join us for lunch. Someone donated delicious pasta yesterday.” Another day she said: “ Today’s lunch is pizza which is also donated.” Another day we were told there would not be bread for breakfast the next day. The bakery had unexpectedly run out of bread over the long weekend.

We were told many other stories. There was a time when they did not have eggs. They prayed for eggs. Then one day a van drove into Kanaan with a supply of eggs that took weeks to finish! Then there was the milk, the medicines, the building materials, the kitchen utensils, the printing machines.

The sisterhood has been living by faith through prayer day-to-day for all their needs since it was formed in 1947 after the end of the Second World War.

Those were the years when Germany suffered the realities of defeat and Darmstadt was almost fully destroyed by allied blanket bombing. Several of the sisterhood’s pioneers still live in Kanaan, cared for by the younger ones, in the motherhouse which they built with bricks from Darmstadt’s bombed-out buildings.

We were in Kanaan in 1998. The number of sisters has been perceptibly reduced since then. But there is a lift in their voices when they say: “We have been praying for a regeneration of our sisterhood. The Lord has answered to say we should wait. The sisterhood will grow again.”

The sisters believe it will. The verse that was given to them so long ago, in the early years, still inspires and reassures them:
“Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
– Psalms 124:8

As we arrive at Kanaan, a banner proclaims confidently: ”Built alone with the help of the LORD, who made heaven and earth – by faith in Jesus Christ.”

The principle founder of the sisterhood is the late Mother Basilea. She was steeped in this faith. She has shared many of her thoughts about this special faith which she lived by.

“If God did not help visibly, trust that invisibly He did send help and was at work.”

“Do not try to understand God’s ways – just follow them, trusting in His love.”

What manner of faith is this, which is so God-centred? Is our faith as strong as this? Can we trust the LORD to be at our side if we let go and give up control of all that rule our lives?

I have been asking myself these difficult guilt-inducing questions for a long time. And being confronted with such love for and faith in the LORD, I feel even more uncomfortable and somehow faithless.

Yet I know that our LORD always is and will always be for us. John 3:16 assures me of that hope.

During our recent month-long self-drive tour of Southern Spain, Germany and Switzerland, we would lift each day up to Him. We asked, in the name of Jesus Christ, for our LORD to protect us, to surround us with His angels, to show us His wonders.

He never left us. Just outside Barcelona one day, as we drove to Valencia, a car drifted off the highway three car lengths ahead of us, revved up the divider, overturned and rolled in slow motion across the three lane highway in front of us, missing us and other cars, to the side of the highway. Several drivers in the front cars went to their aid and we prayed for no injuries to the car’s driver and passengers.

In the high hills of the old city of Granada, the LORD sent an angel to help us maneuver through its very narrow streets. I thought I was driving through gullies where the walls of the buildings on either side sometimes edged the tips of our rented Volkswagen Touran’s side mirrors. Or the time when I had to take a short drive on a road one half the width of Joo Chiat Road with a steep wall on one side and a 6-storey drop on the other!

Our trust in Him held firm, and was affirmed and reaffirmed many times over.

This morning, in my quiet time, I prayed in faith that the LORD will continue to make me stronger in Him, to give me a simple faith – that of a child’s, and to help me live by it.

Please reflect on these questions.

  • Am I ready to trust the Lord with the faith of a child, and to leave our day-to-day needs with Him?
  • A Prayer

Dear Father Almighty, please do not turn Your face away from me even if I turn away from you again and again. Please give me the conviction of faith that You are always by my side waiting for me to knock on Your door to ask for Your mercy and guidance. I pray this in the name of Your most precious son, Jesus Christ! Amen.

– Devotional by Colin Chee

30 April 2017


Whenever I reflect on biblical joy, I cannot help but visualize the ebullient and joyous dance of King David as he brought God’s ark from Obed-edom through the winding streets of Jerusalem.

“….David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.” – 2 Samuel 6:14

How he must have jumped and leaped up, legs kicking high, arms and hands outstretched and swaying, head arched backwards, sweating in the desert heat – and all this in his near-nakedness. He must have looked like a madman.

But King David was simply overcome with joy. Finally, he was able to bring the LORD’s ark home among His chosen people. And God must have been pleased with the king.

We have just passed the second Sunday after Easter on 16 April 2017. Do we feel in our hearts the kind of overwhelming joy King David must have felt when he brought God home?

The thing is, shouldn’t our joy be even greater than King David’s? After all, in the case of King David, he danced with great joy when he brought home the ark of God. In our case, God has brought us home to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross as a redemption of our sins.

In Psalm 95:1-7, we can hear the thumping beat of David’s heart

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.”

Are our hearts as joyous for the special favour that our LORD has gifted us, despite our imperfections and transgressions?

Often I do not feel I deserve God’s abiding love. We are so insignificant, imperfect and sinful. Every time we return to Him, we fall back again to our sinful ways. We are so undeserving of our LORD!

Yet our God makes sure His grace is always there for us to save us from everlasting Hell, as long as, with a pure heart, we want to return to His ever-ready embrace!

The words of John Newton, in his song Amazing Grace, are so appropriate at a time like this:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

In the end, Easter must mean to us a special relationship with God through knowing Jesus Christ. It is from this intimate relationship, then, that our joy springs eternal. It is a joy that will fill us to overflowing, even as the world around us sometimes seems too oppressive.

Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 2:22-23:
“…. the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”

Even the apostle Paul felt the joy of Christ in his desolate Roman prison cell. He expressed it in many of his famous epistles to the churches in Asia Minor and his friends.

His joy issues from knowing deeply that, despite his dire circumstances, God was with him and that Christ was with him.

Like Paul, may we all, during this period of waiting upon the Lord, be deeply reverential and joyful knowing we are also saved in God’s boundless love for us. Amen.

– Devotional by Colin Chee

13 April 2017

Lent – About An Overwhelming Love

This recent fortnight, Singaporeans, not just fellow Christians, have been gripped by an unfolding drama. It is still unravelling itself.

The Singapore Court of Appeal reduced the sentences of City Harvest Church’s founder, Pastor Kong Hee, and his associates.

Shortly after, on April 10, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said it was taking the case, which involves the misappropriation of millions of dollars of church funds, back to the Court of Appeal on questions of law.

This case, first brought to court in 2013, has been a legal marathon.

It has also become a point of animated, contentious, if not frenzied discussion both in the mainstream papers, and more so on social media and in kopitiams.

How many of us feel genuinely disturbed by Pastor Kong Hee’s behaviour? How many of us feel righteously wronged by it? How many of us, as fellow Christians, feel aggrieved and condemn the pastor’s actions?

Suddenly, we have donned the robes of judges on the sidelines of life. We criticize. Then we condemn. We judge. Which lead us to the question: Should we therefore be judge and jury on such matters?

It is important for us as Christians to be discerning and wise. We should see this unfortunate situation from two perspectives.

As citizens of Singapore, we should respect the law and the courts.

As believers of Christ, we should also emphasise a different perspective, especially as we tread prayerfully the final hours of Lent.

For a start, let us bring to mind the following verse:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:16-18

It is clear from John 3:16-18 that Lent is about our Almighty God’s overwhelming and unconditional love for us.

Out of this Love flows our Father’s grace and willingness to forgive us despite our disobedience and defiant unbelief.

Love is therefore the glue that binds Grace and Forgiveness.

Grace is about our Father’s preparedness to bless us rather than curse us into condemnation, even when we do not deserve it in our sin. He does this so that, despite ourselves, we are able to establish a saving relationship with Him, if we believe and accept Him!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:4-8

This is what Grace is about.

We then focus on forgiveness. In the hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, urged on by the Pharisees and Jews, the Roman Prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, condemned Him to death.

Yet, in His pain and dying on the Roman cross, our Lord Jesus uttered these words:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34

So great is His love for us, so unfathomable His mercy, that we should remain loveable in His gaze, even in His pain and rejection by us!

Unlike Jesus, often, in judging and condemning others, we forget the plank in our eyes. Can we therefore forgive each other not because but as God has forgiven us? Can we simply forgive, which is an essential part of our Christian doctrine?

It is worth bearing in mind this exhortation:

“…bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

– Colossians 3:13

Brothers and sisters in Christ, especially during this Lent, in perhaps several of our very own broken relationships, can we forgive and exercise the grace as God has in His abiding love for us?

It is an act of love and choice we have to make as Christians.

– Devotional by Colin Chee

12 March 2017

Lent. Why Have You Forsaken Me, O God?

When I was little and about 5 years old, I would have a recurring nightmare.

We used to live in a rented SIT (Singapore Investment Trust) flat in Princess Elizabeth Estate. It was located in the largely kampung Hillview neighbourhood of Upper Bukit Timah Road, at the foot of Bukit Gombak, now home to our Ministry of Defence.

About once a month, my mum would drag me along with her to do her marketing of special condiments and spices at Tekka market. That was about an hour’s Green Bus Company ride from where we lived.

My dream would start with me happily accompanying my mum to market and enjoying the passing vistas from the bus as it traversed the north-south Bukit Timah Road.

But my nightmare would always begin with me stepping off the bus alone at the wrong bus stop when nearing Tekka market. My mum would continue on her way in the bus, perfectly oblivious to the fact that I was now stranded.

I would shout and cry for mum to hear me and for the bus to stop. But nothing of the sort would happen. The bus would quickly become smaller and smaller as I chased after it, with me running, shouting and tripping on the road that ran alongside the then black smelly putrid canal.

Every time I had this nightmare I would wake up sweaty, utterly afraid, bereft of all trust, emptily desperate and yearning assurance.

As we focus on Jesus Christ this Lent we may want to reflect on how He felt when, on the cross, he cried out in a loud voice “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mathew 27:46).

My nightmare situation may not be anywhere as near to Our Lord’s cry of utter and complete physical and spiritual abandonment. But we can just sense how He felt.

Just imagine. He was hung to die slowly on the cross – in excruciating physical pain after a Roman flogging for the condemned, then having to carry the final instrument of His execution – a 45kg crossbeam – to Golgotha, then being nailed down to the cross and raised up between two criminals, and all the while hearing the rejection, jeers and abuse by those who condemned Him and for whose sins He came to atone – fully on His own.

Did our Lord’s Father God abandon Him?

We can never definitely know. But we do know our Lord Jesus was carrying on His whole being all the sins of the world, in absolute obedience to His Father. Yet sin is abominable to our Holy Father. For those few moments, maybe, when all our sins rested on the Son, Jesus may have felt a momentary yet interminable separation from His Father.

The experiences of people’s abandonment or rejection may seem similar to Christ’s. However, there are fundamental differences:

  • Jesus Christ was willing to die and experience this loneliness. “Father, if you are will take this cup from me; yet not my will….” (Luke 22:42). Human victims of rejection are generally never willing participants. Nor for a higher cause.
  • Christ’s experience was planned and given a purpose ages ago. It was a divine rescue mission. On the other hand, the people who reject others tend to act out their own fallen passions and nature. “…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23).
  • Our Father God who allowed the Son to be wounded and abandoned was also the One who vindicated Him after three days. The abandonment was temporary. When the purpose was served, the Son was delivered from death and was resurrected. Human victims of rejection are not saved by their perpetrators.

Because Jesus has experienced abandonment, He understands those who feel abandoned. We cannot tell Jesus that He does not know how we feel. Hence we come with confidence to One who has walked the difficult road.

PRAYER: Dear Father God, we thank you for the life of Your Son, our Saviour, whom you sent to down to earth to suffer pain and death in order to save us for eternity. Thank you for not rejecting us despite our iniquities and imperfections. May we live our lives in praise of You and be a living light to others who have yet to come to You. In the name of our Lord Jesus, Amen!

– Devotional by Colin Chee with Samuel Ratnam

26 February 2017


The season of Lent starts this year on Ash Wednesday, March 1. It will end on Thursday April 13.

It should be a period of spiritual reflection on the overwhelming goodness of our LORD God and His unconditional love for us.

From the beginning God loved us. This love was first manifested in His concern for Adam, the first man.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” – Genesis 2:18

God did not say, “I love you, Adam” to indicate His love for the man. Instead, He showed His love by making for Adam “a helper fit for him.” God loved and cared for Adam.

In our traditional Asian families, how often do our fathers say, “I love you” to their sons and daughters, let alone hug them?

They are more likely to manifest their love for their children by making sure all their needs are met.

My late father-in-law was one such father. He was wont to show his love to his children by buying them things they asked for – more than they asked or needed and the best. He was prepared to inconvenience himself for them.

I know of grandpas and grandmas in St Hilda’s who are doing this for their grandchildren. “What to do?” they say, obviously enjoying their time with the grandkids.

Our God’s love is like this. It is not showy. It is given unasked. It is unconditional.

I am not saying God has never declared His love for us. In Jeremiah 31:3 He declared to His people Israel:

“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you…”

During Lent, we bring to mind this kind of love. It is a love so giving and pure that God gave us His one and only Son to die a cruel death on a Roman cross to redeem our sins that we may be able to come close to Him, even though we never asked for it!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Often, Lent is also a time to show our penance through fasting and sacrifice of favourite things. Some of us may skip our favorite foods and snacks like chocolates and cakes. Some of us may temporarily become vegetarian and stop eating meat for a period. But this is superficial fasting.

Perhaps the better thing to do is to take the cue from this verse in the Gospel of First John:

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:9-11

Our Lord Jesus Christ died so that we may, in Him, love one another. It cannot be clearer than this:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Each of us is broken in some way. Is there someone who you feel has betrayed you and who is therefore unlovable? Is there someone you envy and therefore is someone you are unable to love? Is there someone you had a bitter exchange with who you cannot forgive or love? Is there someone who treated you badly and still does and you find that person unlovable? The list goes on.

Whatever the circumstance, we must pray for our Lord’s healing and for His strength of forgiveness.

Hate and unforgiveness are abominable in His sight. But His love for us is so deep and so strong that when we ask He will lift us out from the dark depths of servitude to sin into the joyous freedom of His light.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Prayer: Father God, please forgive me my sins. I am weak in my sins. Give me Your strength and Your grace that You may help me to overcome my sinful nature and forgive (name of person to be forgiven) for what he/she has done to me. Soften my heart and open my eyes to all that stand in the way of my understanding and forgiveness. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour. Amen!

– Devotional by Colin Chee

22 January 2017

God Is Not In A Hurry

Barcelona’s renowned Sagrada Familia was always surrounded by controversy. English writer George Orwell described it as hideous. The famed late Spanish artist Dali said it was a terrifying and edible beauty. Art critic Rainer Zerbst said it was probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art.

Linda and I were in Barcelona in 2010. We spent two hours exploring its then partly completed rooftops and spires. We thought it was and we still think it is a wonderfully surreal and intensely personal architectural hymn to our LORD.

Sagrada Familia, or Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, has been under continuous construction since 1882. Its end is nowhere clearly in sight.

Its brilliant conceptual designer was the deeply devout Roman catholic architect Antoni Gaudi. His vision was for the church to be built with only private donations from ordinary members of the public. He forsook funds from the government or large organizations to hasten the church’s completion.

His reason: “My client (God) is in no hurry.” Gaudi wanted it to be a house built by ordinary people for God. He did not care how long or unpredictable this would take.

In a curious way, Gaudi might have gotten it right. He must have had a deep sense of what God’s timing means.

For us, the concept of time must fit perfectly into a neat little box. To achieve this, we assiduously make adjustments here and there for leap years to take care of ticking variations caused by irregularities in the earth’s rate of rotation. But for God there is only eternity. He is not limited by physical laws like we are.

He is above it all. Psalm 102:24-27 describes this perfectly and beautifully:

“O my God,” I say, “take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!”
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Man’s concept of time is spatial and measurable. But God’s timing is not the here and now, or ten years down the road, or a hundred. He is timeless.

This draws me to the two strong traits that I think one can see in Gaudi’s unyielding belief in God’s timelessness and therefore adherence to the principle that only funds from the masses should be used to build this “Cathedral for the Poor”.

The first trait must be Patience.

Despite many requests to use government funds and corporate donations to complete “his” project, Gaudi insistently said “No”. Which is incomprehensible. He was already famous, but the early completion of a prestigious building such as the Sagrada Familia could only have crowned that reputation. Who could possibly have resisted this opportunity? A very obstinate Gaudi! Perhaps in a show of disdain, he devoted the last 10 years of his life supervising the construction of the Roman Catholic church and living on the worksite almost like a pauper. In fact, when he was knocked down by a city-tram near the worksite, not knowing who he was, well-meaning pedestrians sent Gaudi to the hospital for the poor where he died.

If I, and I am certain you as well, were Gaudi, we would surely want to claim that fame as quickly as possible. In today’s world of instant gratification, it is difficult to understand Gaudi’s thinking and behaviour. But Gaudi seems to have understood what the bible has to say about this in Psalm 37:7: “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…”

Indeed, Gaudi got it right, as I articulated earlier. Lamentations 3:25 reminds us: “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Despite not completing the Sagrada Familia in his lifetime, and perhaps because of it, Gaudi’s reputation today borders on the mythical!A visit to Barcelona is not complete without a visit to his still unfinished church. And a visit to the still incomplete church will leave you breathless with awe and wonder.

In all that we do, can we be still at the feet of our LORD to listen patiently and expectantly for that quiet voice of advice and direction?

The second trait must be Trust in the LORD.

In our dog-eat- dog world of today, we require personal control over our affairs to feel comfortable and assured. How then do we bring ourselves to surrender everything to the LORD?

In a way, this was what Gaudi did. He decided the Sagrada Familia was going to be his last building. He decided it was going to be built with funds from the masses, even if this meant he didn’t know when his masterpiece would be completed. Or that it would definitely not be in his lifetime.

He simply believed God would wait for its completion and that it would be finally built.

He could have had Proverbs 3:5-6 in mind:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Gaudi could also have been guided by Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the LORD, plans for welfare and
not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Will we be inspired as Gaudi could have been inspired by the Word?
Will we wait on the LORD? Will we be patient without any concern for time?
Will we truly lift up our lives to the LORD and trust Him to do right by us or better yet to accept whatever is His will? When things get rough for us, or when we are near death and in pain, can we believe that God is right next to us, ministering to us, and that He will not let us down?

LORD, please make us in Your inner image that we may be more like You. Give us patience, courage and the wisdom to recognize and to accept Your plans for us, come what may. Amen!

– Devotional by Colin Chee

1 January 2017

Simply Serving God

(Reflections On Servanthood)

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” – Galations 5:13

In the November just passed, calls to ministry descended on St Hilda’s Church. Did they awaken in us a spirit of servanthood?

I was writing a devotion to our Car Park Marshalls recently to wrap up the year.

It occurred to me then that serving the Lord in any ministry is not easy. There are of course, across the ministries, varying degrees of difficulties and inconveniences.

It could mean doing a thankless task week in and week out. It might mean, as one of our marshalls put it, having to extend “grace upon grace upon grace” when the same church members insist on parking their way even while knowing their way inconvenience other drivers. It would mean having to bear the pain of being belittled by jibes like “you are just a car park attendant” – although, yes, in many ways marshalls are car park attendants but only with the tender authority of God’s grace. It might mean preparing and reflecting on the Word to teach every week at home cell – which can become a chore if one’s spirit wanes. It might mean no one seems to know what we are doing. It might mean having to hear members discouraging other members from joining your ministry. It might mean….the list goes on.

Yet our Lord’s urging to serve is as clear as a clarion call: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1Peter 4:10)

I am convinced each of us has been called by Him to serve in His ministries, for reasons only known to Him. Some will come willingly. Some others, like me, may have to be “dragged” to serve! But we will one way or the other serve the Lord.

As a church elder explained to me when I reflected how difficult being a marshall can sometimes be: ”You marshalls perform tasks that are humble and shunned. For this reason I believe our people volunteer as marshalls because they are truly moved by the Spirit of God.”

He added: “Many of you display amazing cheerful dispositions in whatever weather. This is your transformation. But your transformation also has the power to be transformative. The rest of the church, by your example as well as others in other ministries, is also transformed in its perception of what is true service to God.”

But serving God is not about not having “fun”. There is the fulfilment of knowing we are meeting a need that God has identified for us often for our own benefit. There is the closeness of brothers and sisters in Christ to share our griefs and our joys, and who sincerely care for one another. We become a church family with God as our head. What else can be better than this?

There are many in St Hilda’s who serve God faithfully for years, humbly, and in obedience. They simply serve Him, uncomplainingly. They do not serve to please themselves nor others, but to please God. These are our unsung Dorcas and Epaphroditus. They are each called by God to meet a need that He knows will complete the body of His church.

I would like to quote what another of our marshalls reflected on: “As we continue to humble and surrender ourselves to His will and in deepening our relationship with Him each day, He will never fail to embrace us with unending love and grace for our every need. Above all, He is faithful even when we are faithless!”

Remember Hebrews 6:10: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

As we move into the New Year together, may God our Father continue to bless us all and our loved ones. May He keep us safe in His love, lead us, and provide for us. May He continue to refine each of us according to His plans for each of us, and may He prosper this unity in our Church! In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

– Devotional by Colin Chee
(Further Readings: Philippians 2:25-30 and Acts 36-42).

22 December 2016

The Visitors on Christmas

(Read Mathew 2:1-12)

Christ had several visitors when He was born and including His early childhood. There were the shepherds, the wise men and most likely others. We do not know exactly know where the wise men came from. We know they were from the east. Most people say they were three men. This is based on the gifts presented. This devotional reflects on the worship life of the wise men.

· Wise people worship God. A wise person in God’s eyes is not one who is a walking Wikipedia, nor one who possesses up to date professional skill sets, or is an experienced person. Important as they are the wise person is clearly defined as one to whom “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” Proverbs 1:7. The wise men did not worship the stars or their intelligence nor themselves but Christ. They were clear about their purpose.

· Worship is costly. The wise men travelled long distances. It would have taken them time and they would have faced danger. Where, when and how we worship Christ is not because it is according to our taste and convenience. To the wise men, it involved sacrifice and inconvenience.

· Unity is essential in worshipping together. The wise men did not act as individuals with their own plans. They travelled together and were clear about their objective. There was team work and agreement, and they resonated with each other so that their objective was fulfilled.

· Worship involves our total being. As wise men, they recognised there was One who was the Wisest. Their worship involved their total being. Their minds understood and their spirits were convinced about Christ. They also experienced joy. Worshipping Christ is not about being entertained, having fun, or just being happy. The wise men experienced joy. The combined experiences of their minds, spirits and emotions were expressed in their posture “they fell down and worshipped Him.” Matthew 2:11

· Worship motivates the believer to give. We resist in giving not because we face a deficit in our resources but because there is a deficit in our worship. When the wise men saw Christ they worshipped Him. They, ”opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh..” Mathew 2:11. Giving to Christ is not just about money. It is about our time and talents and most of all dedicating ourselves to Christ. We give not out of compulsion, for the Lord loves a cheerful giver.

· There is a spiritual warfare in worship. Whilst the wise men came to worship Christ, King Herod felt threatened by the birth of the King of the Jews. He worshipped himself. He saw himself as the epicentre of authority. Hence he sought to kill all babies. This was not just a conflict at a human level but was spiritual. Like the wise men, we need to be discerning and not cooperate with evil. Many Christians today are persecuted. Let’s uphold them in prayer

· The congregation worshipping Christ is multiplying. It was not only the Jews who worshipped Christ. The wise men were non-Jews, they were gentiles. Today we witness several ethnic groups worshipping Christ in their own style and language. This is a foreshadowing of that glorious congregation, “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10. Nothing can stop the expansion of the Kingdom of God ! Let’s take heart. Amen!
A blessed Christmas in the Lord!

– Devotional by Samuel Ratnam
Christmas 2016

14 December 2016

An Unconditional Love

A dear friend told us this story. A divorced lawyer had told her two grown-up sons to have a weekly meal with her, or forfeit their inheritance. The lawyer said it worked. Now they dutifully have dinner with her.

I do not know if this story will end well. It depends on one’s expectations.

If the lawyer aspired to only having regular weekly meals with her sons, you would agree that she has succeeded immensely.

On the other hand, if the lawyer had expected their love and respect, then the arrangement may have gone dreadfully wrong from the very start.

All that may have been achieved is perhaps the sons’ presence – a grudging, or worse, resentful presence – and not their love and respect. This is because the mother-child relationship has been debased into something transactional. It has been cheapened. It has been given a price tag.

Even the Beatles’ had something to say about love in their hit song:

Can’t buy me love, everybody tells me so
Can’t buy me love, no, no, no

This is reinforced in one of the most touching quotes from the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens’ book A Tale of Two Cities:

“Think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you.”

The quotation is taken from a scene in Charles Dickens’ novel, when our drunken hero chose to sacrifice himself during the French Revolution in the place of the man loved by the woman he himself loved. Such was his deep and sadly unrequited love.

Yet pre-dating this sentiment is a command in our Bible’s John 15:12-13:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

As we approach the day when our Lord Jesus Christ was born, this theme of unconditional love will be played and sung over and over again. What is the Christian’s perspective of “unconditional love”?

It is one in which we Christians believe that God sent His own son down to live among us, to be like us, to teach us, and to die on the Roman cross to cleanse us of all our sins in order that we may live in eternity with Him.

Humanity had sinned when Adam and Eve disobeyed Him and was from then on permanently separated from our perfect God, to whom sin was an abomination.

But because His nature is love, he was determined to save us, without us asking for it, as in Romans 5:6

“For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”

And John 3:16-18

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Love is God’s power message in the New Testament. It is something that is given at an extreme price without it being asked for. This is what makes it unconditional.

God has given it freely to us sinners at great personal cost and sacrifice. It is now for us to accept it or to reject it, to be saved or to remain condemned in our sins.

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

1 December 2016

A Refining Fire

I will not forget your precepts.
– Psalm 119:45

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
– Psalm 121:1-2

I derived much joy while driving in New Zealand. I marvelled at the transforming vistas which were clearly the works of our mighty God.

When I visited Mount John Observatory, within the world-renowned Dark Night Reserve, I realised how insignificant earth is – just one of the billions of stars God had created. My eyes strained to see. There were a few million stars. However, when I looked through the observatory’s powerful research telescope, I beheld millions upon millions more stars thousands of light years away.

I thought humbly to myself: God had created a universe beyond measure, yet God knows me. I am far more important to Him than anything else.

Starting this vacation had been extremely trying and difficult with so much work on hand. I wondered how I was going to find rest in the next two weeks, much less to enjoy this holiday? I knew I needed to rest and to take a break. But I was also overwhelmed and “afflicted” by the continuous challenges at work that needed my instant and constant attention.

But the little hope that I had left in me did not disappoint as my family and I came together to submit the situation to God.  I turned to the Lord asking for wisdom to help me find rest and allow me to enjoy my holiday, to leave “the burden of work” at His doorstep, and to be assured that He would be in control when I returned to work.

So I started my holiday in a land I was not familiar with and turned to God’s favour wherever we went.

Truly God is faithful and just. Though He allowed rain, wherever I visited, God ensured He brought the best of nature before my eyes with either good weather, good visibility and even through rain. I did not know what to expect but I just planned and knew that God would lead me to see what he wanted me to see.

Significant experiences were visits to Tunnel Beach in Dunedin, tramping in Milford Sound, short treks in Franz Josef glacier as well as the glacier lake in Tasman Valley.

On these trips, we encountered the very wonders of God’s creation. To get to these places required us to walk a fair distance – traversing steep ascending and descending paths, crossing little rivers, and passing numerous danger signs. However, when we reached our destinations, the views were breathtaking.

As I recall and reflect on these experiences, I realize that when life is a difficult journey, I turn up better. Likewise, I shall expect to face challenges when I work on my projects back in the office.

I am reminded of the words in Psalms 119 of God’s promises and his unfailing love for me and the affirming call for me to continue to obey His precepts and His decrees. Through it, God will bring comfort, grant knowledge, and offer good judgment guided by the Holy Spirit.

Through further afflictions, testing, trials, and a grieving soul, my faith will be tested and I will be called to be confident in Him who will lead me in His righteousness and I will rise to Him.

Clinging on to these hopes, which He has promised, has never failed me. I am encouraged and confident to return to work to face the challenges. For His Words will be a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

I am reminded that God has the power to deliver and not let me suffer beyond what I can bear. I will understand his Purpose and be at Peace knowing his Presence is with me. And I shall claim his Promise as His face shines on me as I cling on to His goodness.

– Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

9 November 2016

Abiding In Christ

We note in Ephesians 1:20-21 “… which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”

Ephesians 2:6 follows up by stating that we too will be seated together in the heavenly places.

Have you ever received a promise that is too good to be true? I don’t know about you, but, yes, I remember they were mostly too good to be true, until I became a born-again Christian.

During the first few years of my Christian life, I cannot say that I quite realized the implications of the tremendous promise in Ephesian 2:6, although I was on fire for Jesus. I even boasted to myself I would die for my Lord. Over the years, however, that fire has waned for various reasons – the cares of life, taking the Word of God for granted, and just being complacent in my spiritual and devotional life.

No wonder, every now and again, instead of walking in God’s destiny, I walked in my own disappointments and defeats on those occasions when I felt overwhelmed with the problems and difficulties of life. Did I feel I was seated in Christ far above all principalities and power and might and dominion? No, sir, I did not.

Recently, however, when I read the verse again – for the umpteenth time – I was suddenly struck by the glory of its promise. How could I have missed something so unbelievably precious – that I am actually seated up there in heaven with the Father.

But is this a “conditional” promise? I believe it is. The condition is “in Christ”. This means it is only when I am “in union” with Christ spiritually or as I abide in Christ can I have this positional victory over the principalities and powers and over the difficult circumstances of life.

This brings to mind the Lord Jesus’ teaching in John 15:5, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing”. And further in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you”

Without abiding in the Vine, we cannot draw on the life of Jesus into ourselves. I realize now, more than ever before, that my devotional life matters, including my quiet time with Him, prayer and meditation on the Word. It matters greatly, this “abiding”.

Father God, thank you for your precious Word and the many promises in it. I believe. Help my unbelief. Strengthen my devotional life. For Jesus’ sake, amen.

– Devotional by Chak Siew Cheun

25 October 2016

Prayer – A Conversation With God

For as long as I can remember I never took prayer seriously.

It was something I did when I followed my late mum to Novena as she prayed for me to pass my Primary 6 exams. I prayed the Hail Mary when I attended mass in St Joseph’s Church in the company of my childhood kampung Roman Catholic buddy. I prayed because everyone else did, when I was active in Youth For Christ on Yarwood Avenue during secondary school.

I never quite understood the significance of prayer, then. It was something required of me. God was still remote. The nearest I got to Him were those times when I felt a fleeting warm body rush as I sang hymns to Him.

In my late teens, I went to university and studied philosophy in my first semester. I stopped praying altogether. “Was there really a God?” I had asked, fashionably.

It was this way for a long time after graduation. God was out of my mind. If at all, during this fallow period of almost 20 years, He was at best in my life’s backseat. I was later to find out from Aunty Lily, my late mum’s fourth sister, that mum had been praying unceasingly at St Andrew’s Cathedral for me to return to God. After all, I was baptized there as a child.

In a way, without my realizing it, I had prayers chasing after me all those years.

I returned to faith gradually through my then agnostic wife. We started going to St Andrew’s Cathedral only when Linda was shaken by high-level corporate politics. That was when I resumed praying, with her. You pray when you feel desperate for someone you love.

The experience led her to the Lord when, at dusk one evening, alone in our son’s darkening bedroom where she was praying and resting, an inexplicable tingling shot through her body from head to toe. She thought she was going to die.

Instead, after that electric bout, she felt an overwhelming peace that enveloped her mind and body, and an overarching forgiveness even of those corporate protagonists who were trying to do her in, ironically including a believer who was a church elder.

Those days, prayers were like David’s pleading psalms for the Lord’s hand of protection and rescue. Not quite as lyrical. Not quite as epic. Not quite as devotional. Yet they worked. Best of all, they brought us to God.

Jesus understands prayer. He prayed incessantly. It was His only human connection with His father, our Father God Almighty.

In the last days before His crucifixion, in the fragility of His human form, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was not ashamed to ask for what He wanted. But He also obediently submitted to His Father’s will:

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
– Matthew 26:36-39 (ESV)

In the face of knowing death, He prayed. His surrender was perfect.

Many of us start out often by saying, “I don’t know how to pray.” The danger here is that it becomes an excuse not to pray.

Or when asked to be part of a corporate prayer group, or at cell, we feel overwhelmed by the seemingly more powerful and eloquent prayers of our friends, relatives and strangers. We feel intimidated by these clever prayers. We then tell ourselves sheepishly, “How can my simplistic prayers match theirs!” and we choose to remain silent, and worse, decide not be part of this fellowship.

Yet the best prayer in the world is the Lord’s Prayer in all its sparkling simplicity and heart-felt reverence for the Lord.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
– Matthew 6:10-13 (ESV)

In the same Bible passage, Jesus’ disciples asked him how they should pray. He told them to pray simply, to speak from the heart, to not pray to show off, for our Father knows what we need before we ask him.

You see, God loves us so much and wants to hear from us and to converse with us that He has made it easy for us to speak with Him – to share with Him our innermost feelings, thoughts and concerns.

At the time of Christ’s last breath on Golgotha the veil of His temple in Jersusalem was split in two, so that we need no longer be separated from Him. Our Father demolished all barriers to communication between Him and us. He is not expecting anything elaborate, anything clever, anything high sounding. All He asks is a simple prayer anywhere anytime, heart-felt, and through our Lord Jesus Christ as our intermediary.

Such is His love for us. Indeed, to Him be the glory alone! And our thanks for His faithfulness and love!

Devotional by Colin Chee

12 October 2016

Joy of the Lord

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

These are the opening lines of that inspirational hymn “All Is Well With My Soul”.

The very successful American lawyer Horatio Spafford penned these uplifting words after a succession of personal tragedies. He and his wife had lost their only son in 1871, including the loss of their real estate investments during the Great Chicago Fire, and later the loss of their remaining four daughters during a ship collision in 1873.

Horatio, a devout Christian, continued in the second stanza:

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. ”

He held tightly to the joy and hope of everlasting life, whatever was his lot. In a sense, he was like Job. Through incomprehensible suffering and loss, Job remained faithful to our Creator and continued to submit to our Father’s will.

I am sure many of us know of people who have suffered multiple personal tragedies, and yet have emerged stronger in their love for God.

The late Elizabeth Choy, who died in 2006, would be one such person. An Anglican, she was imprisoned and tortured by the Japanese during World War II. Yet she emerged from it all with an inner peace and quiet joy, “Through God’s loving power, peace and harmony will reign on earth, bringing happiness and joy to mankind.”

So, what is this feeling called joy? Is it akin to happiness? One dictionary describes it as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”. Yet somehow this description does not seem adequate.

Often, the feelings of pleasure and happiness are, to me, fleeting and impermanent. They are more rooted to the material. When I finally decided two years ago to acquire a professional German camera that I had been hankering after for years, I felt a great sense of satisfaction, pleasure and happiness. But it did not take long before I started hankering for an upgraded version of the German camera and another Japanese camera! Have you not experienced the same transient and unsatisfying state of happiness?

The late Freddy Mercury of the great British rock band said: “You can have everything in life and still be the loneliest man. And this is a kind of bitter loneliness.” He was describing a terrible personal emptiness that seems unfillable, despite all that he is able to have at the snap of his fingers.

Contrast all this to Paul the apostle who, despite being shackled in a cold dank Roman prison, is able to write about his special kind of joy and inner peace in his letter to the Philippians:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…..The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practise these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

It is this joy of the Lord that will complete you. You suddenly lose all hunger for the material, the empty show of success, the things that the world holds dear. Your mind and soul are suddenly transformed and transfixed to something higher and purer when you rejoice in the Lord.

Do you have an emptiness inside of you that you are unable to wish away? Are you still hankering for that next big thing that will complete your life? Are you still searching for something, you don’t exactly know what, that will quench this terrible thirst you have?

Perhaps all that you need is the fulfillment that the first four lines of Psalm 23 promise to you:

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.”

Devotional by Colin Chee

21 September 2016

The Body of Christ

I have a dear friend who did not seem to be lucky in marriage. Her first marriage with her childhood sweetheart broke down early. A second marriage also ended before its time.

But she was not bitter. If she had reservations about marriage then, they did not show. She had hope. She picked herself up, went on with life, and one day was introduced to her dream man.

They have been happily married for more than 20 years now. They have three lovely children, and she recently became a doting grandma.

I am sure there are among us many broken relationships and badly hurt souls. We may feel the despair of unfair or failed relationships. We may feel deeply hurt to be at the losing end. We may feel frustrated, even infuriated, at how badly we may have been treated.

How many of us have been able to put all these feelings aside and look to the dark horizon for a new dawn?

As children of God, can we not hold on to the promise of 2 Corinthians 4:16 -18 (NIV)?

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

This is a promise given us when we accepted our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into our lives. It is the hope of a different kind of life that is beautiful, happy and eternal.

There is also our heavenly Father’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ “

These verses tell us that events that occur in our lives are not necessarily a matter of luck or random choices and that they may have a purpose.

There are many loving and inclusive relationships in this transient world, as there are bad and hurting ones. They are all part of this pungent and heady stew of human connections in this transient world in which we live, for we are not perfect and our nature is both sinful and good.

But God in his saving and sanctifying grace has lifted us to a higher plane of living, if we allow Him. In His mercy, He has given us that free will to make the choice to stay as we are in this world or to move on and go higher as we call on Him and let Him lead us.

To go through our troubles alone is a heavy burden. It can be unbearable.

And even as we turn to God, it is sometimes never enough that we keep this relationship with God exclusive to ourselves as individuals. It may not be sustainable.

But if we become part of the larger body of Christ, together with other like-hearted believers, as with the early churches, we will more likely grow stronger in the Lord. We will have a strong spiritual net that will easily catch and hold us up when we feel down.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
– Hebrews 10: 24-25 (NIV)

Like a field of sunflowers, with our spirits turning together upward to heaven, we will burst with His light and bring forth glory to Him. As individuals, we are but singular candles glowing in the dark. How much better if we can as one body be on fire for Him.

Devotional by Colin Chee

24 August 2016

Serving God – Love Your Parents

There is an old couple in their seventies who have not seen or spoken to their favourite elder son for 11 years.

Each family seems to have its own problems. This family is lower middle-income. Uncle worked as a supervisor in a family-owned rubber estate. Auntie helped to care for children in the day to make ends meet. They saved and scrimped to put their two boys to school in Johor Bahru. They worked even harder to put the older boy, who was smart, through university in Singapore. He graduated, got married to a Singapore girl, found a job here, and then the altercation happened.

This son had asked his mother to help look after her soon-to-be born grandson in Singapore. Auntie happily agreed. But she fell and broke her leg. While she was still recovering, the child was born. She asked if grandpa could come and help too as her leg was still mending. The son and daughter-in-law took issue.

Whatever happened at this point of the story is unclear. But it led to the son not visiting nor calling his parents in Johor Bahru. Several attempts were made at reconciliation. These were short-lived. Since then, the younger son, his wife and two young daughters, have been taking care of them in their old age.

Who is right and who is wrong?

As believers, we simply look to the Word of God, which takes a very clear stand on this.

In the Fifth Commandment, right after the first four commandments which reference God Himself, we are commanded to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12).

This commandment is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:16, in the New Testament’s Ephesians 6:1-2, and 1 Timothy 5:8.

Then, in Proverbs 20:20, He says: “If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.”

The verb “honour” here means to hold in high esteem, to respect, to obey, to treasure.

The first part of the Lord’s commandment has no caveat or precondition. It simply instructs us to honour our parents, with no pre-conditions.

Yes, it would be easier for us to honour our parents if they had taken good care of us and raised us lovingly. But we are also expected to still honour them even if our young lives with them had been subject to abuse, violence, neglect, pain, unkindness, indifference and even dishonour.

Why can’t God make it easier for us to follow His commands?

We could of course wreak vengeance on our ageing parents for not loving us or abusing us when we were young. Or even simply cutting them off, as what appears to have been done in the real life story just told. We could also take the transactional attitude of caring for our unlovable parents because of God’s promise of a good long life as reflected in the second half of the same fifth commandment. But this would be grudging care and care that comes with a selfish motive. Would God be blind to this?

God would not have any of these ways. He has simply one command: Honour your parents. Of course, the only line He would draw here, to my mind, is if our parents were to instruct us to go against Him or against any of His commandments.

What then should we do?

As followers of Christ, we must want and decide to follow His Father’s commands. We can then focus on our relationship with Him for healing of our spirit and strength to do what we must do – to forgive and show grace.

I am sure there are many of us who feel deeply hurt and are even, perhaps, unable to bring ourselves to love and care for our unlovable parents.

We are torn between our love for Christ and His teachings of love and grace, and the very real pull of our scarred nature to get even with our parents for past wrongs that they have inflicted on us.

It is a spiritual as well as an emotional struggle. But it is a struggle which we must surmount to experience the deep inner peace and true unshackled freedom that only God can give us. Our Lord did so when He died on the cross for us and uttered: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

We can’t do it alone. We need divine help. Our Lord Jesus was hurt badly. He was unjustly accused, he was threatened, he was rejected, and subjected to taunts and hate. He was, in Isaiah 53:3, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief..” Yet, He rose above it all, that we might be saved!

All we have to do is ask our Lord Jesus unashamedly, in faith, to heal our brokenness, to reach out to our hearts, and set us free. When He does, our wound would be healed, and, though we remember, we will not feel the pain.

Fortunately, there is also a bright side to the story. Praise the Lord! In St Hilda’s Church every Sunday, and I am sure every day of the week, I see this honoring of not just parents but also grandparents played out many times. Children and grandchildren taking loving care of their parents and grandparents who may be ill, invalid, suffering from dementia, or who are frail and have difficulty walking. I see adult children who return home from wherever they are overseas to care for their ageing parents. There are so many edifying examples among us.

By so doing, these brothers and sisters in Christ are also honoring and serving God! We are obeying and loving Him. And we shall surely be blessed!

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

8 August 2016

How Do We Treat Our Domestic Helpers Or Maids?

One Saturday morning Linda and I decided to breakfast at Beach Road Prawn Noodle Soup on East Coast Road. At 9.00 am the place was filled with noisy and appreciative customers.

As we looked for a table, something caught our eye. An elderly couple was busy wolfing down their fare of noodles and ngoh hiang. Seated next to them was quite clearly the old man’s caregiver. She was gazing at what they were eating. She did not have anything on her side of the table.

How often do we come across such a scene? It gets replayed every now and again, and again. Or, maybe, are we also a part of it?

Why do we behave this way? To put the maid in her place? To let her know we are the boss? So as not to spoil her? To punish her? Or are we merely acting out our meanness towards someone “lesser” than ourselves?

God created each and every one of us in His image. Out of this rich tapestry of humanity – wealthy or poor; more talented and less talented; fortunate or unfortunate; good-looking or less so; smart or stupid – He wants to see emerging a united family of Christ, steeped in the Lord’s ethos.

One guiding rule for weaving this tapestry together would be, “… as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31)

Yet another must be, “Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1)

Would we want to be treated the way the maid in the story is treated? How would we want to be treated by our Master?

There are many biblical verses that also tell us to love one another and be kind to one another. There are also many others that tell us not to treat the poor badly.

Proverbs 14:31 teaches us a simple truth: how we treat others, especially the poor and needy, reflects on our relationship with God.

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.”

The word “oppress” means “to keep someone in subjection and hardship, especially by the unjust exercise of authority” and “to cause anxiety and distress”. Its synonyms are “ill-treat, treat harshly, exploit, bully, abuse, brutalise, exploit” and many more.

Our domestic helpers come to Singapore to do what they do because they need money to feed a family back home. At least most of them do. They usually come from poorer backgrounds. They arrive here cut off from family, friends and a world far different from ours in language, social norms, and social practices. They are almost totally at our mercy.

Yet the newspapers and our lunchtime conversations are replete with anecdotes of employers starving, bullying and brutalising their domestic helpers.

I remember once a neighbour who badly treated her maids. There was never enough to eat for them. They had to rely on the generosity of other maids who would sneak food to them over the fence with their employers’ permission. This particular employer would count the number of bananas and eggs in the kitchen before leaving for work and again on returning home. Any shortfall and the maid would be abused. Never mind if one of her children had taken them.

This neighbour was eventually reported, jailed and banned from having domestic helpers again.

In Matthew 25:41-46, our Lord Jesus Christ has this to say, lest we forget:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

What can we do as followers of Christ if we are guilty, knowingly or unknowingly, of mistreating our helpers? Are we then condemned to eternal punishment?

Our God hears even the whispers of a truly repentant heart.

Be quick to recognize and admit our wrongdoing. Ask the Holy Spirit to reshape the way we look at our helper and all helpers, and intentionally decide to change the way we treat them. Then act on this decision.

Finally, ask the Holy Spirit to quicken our conscience immediately whenever we mistreat our domestic helpers. This will surely lead to immediate correction and apology.

– A Devotional by Colin Chee

24 July 2016

Be Kind To One Another

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
– Ephesians 4:31-32

I am often amazed by my discoveries in the Lord’s Word. Incredibly, the Bible has an answer to most, and if we look hard enough, to all of our earthly concerns and anguish.

Ephesians Chapter 4 Verses 31 to 32, are classics. They address situations we face every day of our lives. They sound logical and simple enough to follow. Yet they are not.

Because they go against the grain of our most basic instinct don’t they? If someone hits me, I will hit him back surely. It is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – and why not more, for good measure? Why should I be nice to someone when he hurts me first? Why should I not be angry? Why must I love him and forgive him and be kind to him, for all the hurts he has heaped on me? Why should I take abuse sitting down, so to speak?

During these times we struggle with our inner demons. It is so easy to lose our own humanity when we have to wrestle with some perceived injustice, some perceived slight, unfair treatment, some “unholy” behaviour of a family member or members, a stab in the back by a boss or colleague, a slanderous remark, a hurtful action by a friend, a spit on our name, honour and integrity.

Yet the Lord is clear about what we need to do: put away our anger, our spite, our bitterness, our clamour, and our malice. Instead, be kind, be tender-hearted, and be forgiving.

Our Lord Jesus Christ set the ultimate example. Hanging from the cross in excruciating pain after being wholly abused and rejected by His own people, he gasped aloud: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:33)

After all the bruising insults, the lies, the murderous hate, the cruelty, the single-minded condemnation, the absolute rejection, the blasphemies hurled at Him, our Lord could still reach deep down into His being to ask His Father to forgive His accusers and killers.

He put away all wrath, all anger, all malice. He washed His pain and hurts with forgiveness and love for those who went all out to bring Him down.

How often do you see close friends and relatives age tragically before your eyes as they allow bitterness, anger and vengeance to eat them from inside out? How many of them fall seriously ill as a result? How many become different and worse human beings as stress takes an inner toll of their physiology and mindset?

I remember a dear older friend who taught me a beautiful life lesson. For as long as my friend could remember he never felt loved by his father. He was scolded, insulted, beaten and chased out of the family home more times than he could remember.

Yet in his father’s sickly old age, my friend went to great lengths to care for his father and to show him love. I asked him why after his father passed on. He said simply: “He was my father after all. I feel better doing what I did. Now I have no regrets.”

Have we ever made decisions that we regret afterwards? Our Lord Jesus died in a manner that the Romans themselves banned much later, yet He had no regrets. He was able to give us sinners a second chance at eternity.

As His followers, can we love and forgive our erring and abusive family members, friends, neighbours, even enemies, as would the Lord?

Devotional by Colin Chee

26 June 2016

The First Shall Be Last, and the Last, First.

I once heard someone say that we should be motivated to do good
works because we are really doing it for ourselves,
as we will get our just rewards in heaven.
On first reading, it does seem justified.

After all, did not Jesus say that at the judgement seat of Christ each of us shall receive whatever we each deserve for the good or bad things we each have done (2 Corinthians 5:10)?

The apostle Peter also once said, “We have left everything to follow you. Therefore, what shall we get?”

But, somehow, I felt uncomfortable at the cold, calculating way this person said it. To my mind, that assertion of giving something with a view to receiving something in return, represents the World view, something very transactional. The Kingdom view, on the other hand, is giving out of love and grace.

Our Lord Jesus’ reply to Peter’s question “..what shall we get?” was that they – the apostles – would receive a hundredfold in heaven. But he added a puzzling statement, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first”, (Matthew 19:27-30).

Something, suddenly, is amiss. What did the Lord mean?

Jesus then explained it in the Parable of the Vineyard Workers in Matthew 20. In this parable, workers who worked in a vineyard for 12 hours, 9 hours, 6 hours and 1 hour for the day were all given the same wage of one denarius by the vineyard owner. The one who worked 12 hours got what he agreed beforehand with the owner. The rest did not bargain and left it to the owner and eventually got the same wage as the 12-hour worker.
Not surprisingly, the 12-hour worker asked: “Why?”. The owner’s reply was: “Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?”

So the last will be first, and the first, last.

This astonishing statement is very rich in interpretation. In the context of our discussion, Jesus is teaching us that we should not do righteous or good works from a self-centered perspective of thinking only of what we shall receive in heaven.

Because we have been saved by grace. We get to do good works by grace because God has arranged in advance the good works for us to do, (Ephesians 2:10); the talents we use to do these good works are given us by God as gifts for His glory (1 Corinthians 4:7); and the rewards that we get from God is also by grace because strictly speaking even if we do good, it is our duty to do them as “unprofitable servants”, (Luke 17:7-10), remembering the divine command, love your neighbor as yourself.

Do good but please do not have a self-centered, transactional, bargaining attitude. Such was Peter’s (when he was still immature), because every good thing that we do or get, is by grace.

If we think we are ‘first’ (prideful) in anything, be careful, we might become last in God’s eyes.

Father God, teach us to understand your grace which we have received so much of, and often take for granted. Take away from us the temptation to even think that we deserve it. Please teach us and forgive us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Devotional by Chak Siew Cheun

12 June 2016

His very presence saves.

Isaiah 63:9 (NRSV)

It was no messenger or angel
but his presence that saved them;
in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

In his book entitled Prayer, Timothy Keller mentioned about John Owen’s writing on beatific vision. The term described the direct sight of the glory of God. This is what the redeemed will have in heaven fully, by sight, and what believers have now on earth partially, by faith and not yet with our literal eyes. (Keller, pg176-177)

As Psalmist David (Ps 27:8) says, “Your face will I seek”, yes we will behold the glory of God here and now too, with our spiritual eyes by faith and by His grace. And we behold His glory through His presence revealed to us all. This is not just for the elite spiritual few but it is a promise and blessing to all who believe. (Eph 3:16-19)

To behold the glory of Jesus means that we begin to find Christ beautiful for who He is in Himself. (Tim Keller)

The mere thoughts of Christ bring pleasure and smile to one who is in love with Him. Maybe it is liken to a teenager who is secretly infatuated with his or her idol. The mere thought of the idol will cause a wide smile to spread across the face of the one in love. Just the mere thought of the idol, not what the idol did, but the very thought of the idol is good enough to bring pleasure.

As we behold His glory in His presence, His beauty and splendour permeates every corner of our soul and our world, everything will be strangely dim in the light of His presence. There is no place for darkness or pain in His presence.
All these will disperse.
The grip of evil will loosen.
Whatever that has been holding us back, will have to but release us to Him.

I find it so interesting that NRSV translates this portion of verse as – his presence that saved them.

Are you saddened or burdened by a situation? Are you dampened in your spirit on how things have turned out? Are you hurt by the ones your trusted and loved? Are you in tight situation? Not able to move forward or backward, there seems no relief in sight and no justice to avail? Is your spirit broken? Or is life simply mundane, routine and little to look forward to …

He saves. He is more than able to save.

Turn to God, seek His presence in reading of the Scripture and in prayer.
Let His glorious and mighty presence save you.

Let’s stop frantically trying to find a solution or try to understand why?
Let’s turn to Him in worship – seek His face as Psalmist says, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:19)

His very presence saves.

(Written by a member of St Hilda’s Church)

22 May 2016

See His Glory

Needless to say, many if not all of us would have one time or another, stepped into the church for service with a heavy and a broken heart.
That’s real life.

Real life is not having a bed of roses along our way
Real life is not sunshine everyday
Real life is does not ring with laughter day after day

Real life is sometimes about letting go and leaving behind
Real life is sometimes about unspoken love
Real life is being deeply hurt, badly wounded

Real life is discovering that God is real – so beautifully real
Real life is discovering the God of wonder and splendour.

Is there something so broken that He cannot mend?
Is there something so painful that He cannot heal?
Is there something so lost that He cannot find?

We know the answer … but our hearts struggle and strive.
Let the truth set us fee: He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.

I am one of the many who is living in such “real” life.
I am the one who walked into the church for service so broken in every way.
I am one of the many who cannot even lift our heads anymore to face this real life.

Then, lo and behold – God shows me what and who is real.

The first song I heard as the service started in E1 was See His Glory. Immediately this “reality” broke down. I saw and heard in my spirit what is REAL.

My God is real. His glory. His Holiness. His Truth. His Power and His Might.

May I invite you to take some time to dwell on this song.
Let God reveal Himself to you. Let Him fill you with what is real – GOD.

See His Glory
by Chris Bowater

See His glory, see His glory
See His glory now appear
See His glory, see His glory
See His glory now appear
God of light
Holiness and truth, power and might
See His glory, see it now appear

Now we declare our God is good
And His mercies endure forever
Now we declare our God is good
And His mercies endure forever

(Written by a member of St Hilda’s Church)

8 May 2016

Led by love

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

God has a different path for each of us.
My prayer for you is that you would be faithful to your own path.

Living in this modern and busy world, effectiveness and productivity are the tag lines in our lives. I will find the shortest and fastest way to get to church. No way that I will spend 20 minutes to wait for a bus. I have chosen my path to take to arrive church in the shortest and fastest time.

And sometimes in my life, I chose likewise.
The fastest and most productive way.
The easiest and most convenient way to me.
The way that brings me much joy and laughter.
I do not wish to waste my time. I want every minute of my life counts.

What if God has a different path for you?
A longer, slower and more difficult path to your destination?

Whichever path you chose to take; consider this – God is love. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Choose the path that considers love; not ease or convenient.

Question to consider:
What might is look like for God’s love to invade and fill you, guiding you to what you “must do”?

(Reflection on devotional from Daily Office, Peter Scazzero)

24 April 2016

The Watchman

“I will stand upon my watch.”
– Habakuk 2 v 1
During Habakkuk’s time, watchmen on the wall had to watch for four things: (a) fires from brush areas reaching the city, (b) wild animals that lived along the Jordan River that would stealthily approach inhabited areas when driven out of their natural habitats by flood, (c) invading armies which sometimes crawled into position under cover of darkness, and (d) the dawn.

According to W E Vine in An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, “watch” comes from the Greek word “phulake”. This is used with the meaning “a watch”, actively, “a guarding”; and also “the time during which guard was kept at night, a watch of the night“.

Among the Jews the night was divided into three “watches” (See e.g. Exodus 14 v 24; Judges 7 v 19). This continued on through Roman times. In fact, the Romans divided the night into four “watches”. This was recognised even among the Jews (see Mark 13 v 35).

The watchmen’s duties ceased only when the sun rose.
For Habakkuk, he was faithful during his watch: “I will stand upon my watch. I will wait and see.” He was waiting to watch the Lord answer his prayers.

In today’s context, a watchman has to watch for people who may try to gain unauthorised entry to a place where they do not live or reside in, or work in. The watchman also has to be aware of neighbouring buildings or surroundings. That is because would-be intruders can try to scale the walls of those buildings to gain access into the building being guarded.
Even with the advent of CCTV, there are limitations if lighting in the surrounding areas is poor. The watchman still has to rely on his sight, experience and instincts.

This has real life applications for us, as we are called to be spiritual watchmen for God in our families, oiur workplace, our communities, and our country.

God is in need of spiritual watchmen today. Are we prepared and willing to take our positions for Him?

Devotional by Patricia Chew

27 March 2016

Praying for God’s Will

In a recent sermon, we learnt that God our Father is the Builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4) and our lives. Christ is our foundation and the Holy Spirit is our counsellor.

But how often, do we fail to realize that God has been equipping us with the means to deal with circumstances? Instead, we usually feel God is far away. We question and doubt if God is there and really cares for us? And when called to taste the cup of affliction, it is certainly less desirable to rejoice as Paul does in Colossians 1:24.

In Jesus’s prayer to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, He sought permission from the Father for the cup to be taken from him yet not as He wills but as the Father wills. As Jesus returned to pray for the second time, He surrendered Himself in obedience so that God’s will may be done. Reflecting on this, writer Peter Scazzero also challenges us not to “stop praying for God to bless our goals but to start to pray for His will to be done.”

Shortly after I started praying for His will in my life, I was quite quickly put to test having to face a daunting challenge at work.

I repeatedly prayed and asked God for miracles so that this “cup be taken from me”. Knowing well that it would not be possible to escape from it, and recalling Christ’s prayer at Gethsemane as well as Peter Scarzzero’s challenge, I surrendered the situation unto God and faced the events that eventually happened.

Though unpleasant, I sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence and intervention constantly, and the issues were amicably resolved. As with Vicar Wong Tak Meng’s sermon: though we walk the narrow gate facing challenges and having to drink the cup of affliction, behold the Holy Spirit is constantly with us and He intervenes and all we need is to surrender and “cast our anxiety on him” (1 Peter 5:7).

May we proclaim the testimony about God and spread his Gospel testifying the Spirit’s power so that our faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:4).

Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

28 March 2016

Choosing to love: Following Jesus’ Example.

Jesus chose to love: to love the Father and obey Him to the point of death. Jesus chose to love the world, even when the world rejected Him, lorded over Him and showed the full ugliness of sin that offends a holy God.

Yes love is a choice, an act of will. It is God’s will that we love. It is not a feeling that we indulge when we feel joy. We love to be joyful, we don’t wait to be joyful to love.

The truth is, by exercising the choice to love, we choose to be humble.

Love humbles you, there are no two ways about it.

Philippians 2:3 ‭tells us: Humility is when you esteem others better than yourself. They are worthy of your service. Only divine love sustains such an act. Jesus loved His Father and the broken world, so he humbled himself to wash His disciples’ feet, endured flogging and hung on the ultimate curse of death on the cross.

Yet love glorifies! We read in Revelation how our Lord Jesus is glorified because of what He did out of love. He overcame the curse of death, He is the firstborn of the dead, and won eternal life for me, and all of you who believe. He is worthy to open the scroll, because He is the Paschal Lamb of God.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ demands a choice.

You and I cannot sit on the fence. We can choose to follow Christ even at great cost and sacrifice. Or we can choose not to repent and face His blazing eyes and double edged sword.

One way I choose to love is by serving in areas He has placed me, no matter how tough it gets. I pray for God’s strength for me and for you, to choose to love in truth and follow Him, at all cost. Let us magnify God and mature together.

At our Good Friday’s service, I learned a new word: Tetelestai.

When Jesus cried out “It is finished”, the Greek word is Tetelestai. I learned that one of its definitions is what a servant reported to the master when his work assignment is complete.

I desire to persevere now and be like Jesus when I am in heaven, to cry “Tetelestai, Master !”

Devotional by Wai Fung Cranfield

18 March 2016


I did not think much of the minor mishap I had at the Changi airport car park one Saturday evening. Coming out of the lift, I was bumped from behind by my mother’s wheelchair pushed by my husband. I managed to break my fall though my sandal strap came off.

The following day, I had spasms on my left thigh. The sensation went down to my leg and at times reached my toes. I resolved that I would see a doctor if this spasmodic twitching occurred a dozen times. I lost count of my involuntary jerking. It even disrupted my sleep.

It was providential that the orthopaedic surgeon from my church was willing to see me that Monday. His clinic was closed and he was due to travel the next day. He ordered a full body X-ray for me. The high tech machine immediately showed the full picture of my ‘inward parts’ in the computer.

I felt like a suitcase being scanned, exposing all the contents. The doctor explained that there was no fracture but my lower back was swollen. My scoliosis was touching my nerves!

The technology was incredible but I was reflective of what the picture did not show. It did not pinpoint my annoyance that my misadventure could have been prevented if my husband was not in a hurry (knowing that I walk at a slower pace). It did not spot my fears of a worse-case scenario (like motor-neuron disease). As the main care-giver to my 93 year old mother, I was anxious I might be on the receiving end of supervision.

The X-ray machine is a superb diagnostic tool but incapable of revealing the subject’s moral imperfections.

The Bible tells of a hyper-seeing God. Isaiah 55:8 says ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD’.
No one can fathom my pride and lamentations but all these are not unknown to God. I am good at taming my tongue but I am still unable to distract my judgmental spirit. My religious exterior and expressed values can even camouflage my coldness towards God.

But God, who has formed me and who has known me even when I was still in my mother’s womb, can discern all about my inward parts and more. He cares for me in greater measure than I do for myself! He is my Shepherd, Redeemer, Friend, Provider, Healer and therefore my Peace. Though momentarily, I forget the riches of His grace, His Word and Spirit remind me in creative ways how much He cares for me. The Word of God is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12-13). Reflecting on how God has seen me through this episode made me resolve to pray constantly:
See You more clearly; Love You more dearly; Follow You more nearly…day by day!

One big blessing, as I do exercises to build up strength in my legs, is that my husband accompanies me to the market and when I do my sundry shopping. We do this about twice a week before he goes for meetings or to his office.

– Devotional by Priscilla Tay

3 March 2016

A Soldier of Christ Jesus (Part 3)

2 Tim 2: 3, 4: Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

2 Tim 4: 7: I have fought the good fight

Characteristics of a soldier:

Recognition of the power of authority: Centurion (Luke 7) and Cornelius (Acts 10):
Both the centurion in Luke 7 and Cornelius (Acts 10) exhibited exemplary characteristics: not only were they leaders of the gentile Roman troops, they were highly respected men by the community (including the Jews).

They were known for their kind deeds (“he gave generously to those in need”; “he loves our nation and has built our synagogue”). They were both sincerely selfless in their respective encounter with God: the centurion in Luke 7 sought Jesus for the healing of his slave while Cornelius’s “prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God” (verse 4).

Both recognised the power of God’s authority.

The centurion in Luke 7 sent some elders of the Jews to Jesus, asking him to come and heal his servant. He explained that he felt he was not worthy (as a gentile) to make the request himself (verse 7).

Just as Jesus was not far from his house, the centurion sends his friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof”. Again, his humility showed that he understood his position – my house would not be clean enough for the holy man of God.

Then, drawing from his experience as a leader, he demonstrates his understanding of the power of authority: “I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (verse 8). As the centurion is given authority from above to command those under him, so the implication is that he has confidence that Jesus has an authority from God that he can enact by simply saying the word (even from a distance).

Jesus responds in amazement at the centurion’s confidence in God’s authority: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (7:9).

Following a vision that he saw, Cornelius sends a delegation to Joppa (30 miles south) “to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter”. It was an act of confidence as Peter may object to travelling 30 miles (a whole day’s journey), let alone (being a Jew) entering the unclean home of a gentile (“You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile”).

So confident was he that Peter would come to his home, that Cornelius even called together a large gathering of his relatives and close friends, with great expectations: “Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything (all) the Lord has commanded you to tell us”.

What then, does this mean for the Christian soldier? How do we emulate the confidence of the centurion and Cornelius in the power of the authority of the LORD? What are the implications for our obedience? This, I feel, is captured eloquently by the following hymn written by Charles Wesley (sung to the tune of “Crown Him with Many Crowns”).

Soldiers of Christ, arise,
And put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Through His eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts,
And in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might,
With all His strength endued,
And take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God;
That, having all things done,
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone
And stand entire at last.

Devotional by Christina Ratnam

A Soldier of Christ Jesus (Part 2)

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
– 2 Tim 2: 3 – 4

I have fought the good fight
– 2 Tim 4: 7

Loyalty is a trait of a good soldier that is found in the biblical character of Naamen (2 Kings 5). Naaman is another foreigner (like Uriah the Hittite), a particularly powerful foreigner, commanding the army of Israel’s enemy, Aram.

We know how the story goes: the slave girl suggests that Naaman calls on a Jewish prophet to heal his leprosy; Elisha prescribes seven washes in the Jordan, which Naaman initially scoffs at because of its simplicity; but he obeys and is healed.

I have often focused on this part of the story and only skimmed through the ending. It was on closer study of Naaman’s response to his healing that I learnt another characteristic of a soldier: his pledge of allegiance is akin to worship.

After his healing, Naaman confesses, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel…” He then asks for two things: (1) two mule loads of earth from Israel so that he can worship the Lord when he gets home, and (2) that he be pardoned when he necessarily (because of his position in Aram) bows down with the King of Aram in the temple of Rimmon, the chief god of Aram.

In his gratitude to God for healing him, Naaman recognises that the God of Israel is the one true God, worthy of his allegiance and therefore his worship: “your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord”. Though pagan in his roots, Naaman understands that once he pledges his allegiance to the God of Israel, he is to be set apart for God alone, and should not enter the place of worship of another god, let alone bow down before the idol. Paul emphasises this in 1 Corinthians 10: 18-22:
Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Naaman earlier stated his sole devotion to the Lord, yet what is he to do in this situation? Elisha answers “Go in peace.” He does not prohibit or regulate or condemn. He bids him to go in peace. The foreigner, healed from leprosy, has come to know the Lord is the only God. He has pledged his devotion to the Lord. And, in the face of a pressing dilemma, the prophet does not forbid and perhaps blesses Naaman in his position as commander of the army of the king of Aram with all that this entails.

Why is the soldier’s pledge of allegiance so important? It is the one critical factor that distinguishes a soldier from a mercenary. It is the one reason that motivates the soldier to put his life on the line in the battlefield for his king. It is what sustains the soldier. If it is only to earn medals or praise or even riches, surely one’s life is too costly a price to pay for these fleeting rewards. It is only worth it if the cause is worthy enough. No wonder Naaman’s pledge of allegiance goes hand in hand with worship.

What is worship? It is to have such intense love and admiration for God to the extent of giving praise, adoration and reverence of God, both in public and private. It is a celebration of the worthiness of God, by which honour is given to his name.

Several commentators have pointed out the naivety of Naaman’s first request: The concept of the God of heaven being connected and somehow limited to the land of a particular territory—if such was his thinking—was not accurate. In taking back earth from Israel Naaman acknowledged that the Lord is the God of Israel (literally, the land). It may even be that Naaman viewed the dirt as merely symbolizing his newfound connection with God and God’s special land. In any case, the taking of dirt was certainly unnecessary. It is likely that, being new to God’s truth, his understanding of God’s requirements was rather incomplete.

In fact, if Naaman continued in this train of thought, it could lead to superstitious practices of worship (e.g. worshipping the soil taken from Israel as “holy”). This is similar to what the Samaritan woman at the well asked Jesus: Where should we worship? “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem”(John 4: 20).

We all know Jesus’s reply: “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth”. True worship requires total commitment of our body, mind and spirit. It’s about having an intimate and profound relationship with God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through our everyday lives.

So, being a soldier of Christ means pledging our allegiance and worshipping Him and Him alone. It means honouring and glorifying God. It means a total commitment and submission to the will of God.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His name?
In the name of Christ the King,
Who hath purchased life for me,
Thro’ grace I’ll win the promised crown,
Whate’er my cross may be.

Devotional by Christina Ratnam

23 January 2016


‘As you know, everything has an expiry date’ my mother’s cardiologist uttered confidently. He told us a little while before this statement that considering all factors, my 92 year old mother’s fasting blood test result was good.

To assure the doctor that we understood what he was conveying, I told him that I just came back from my uncle’s funeral in Sydney. The family there was busy preparing for his 97th birthday party. No one guessed that his ‘expiry date’ was to be six days short of the celebration. Being a Saturday, the family took turns talking to him that afternoon. They were around when my uncle’s heart stopped. His actual 97th birthday turned out to be the viewing day, wake service and dinner reception.

In his poetry, the wise man Solomon wrote (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11) that for everything there is a season. Life continues to march on through a series of transitions. For man, each day that passes is ‘the first day of the rest of his life’. Verse 11 states that ‘He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.’
Man can trust God and entrust to Him everything that happens now and in eternity.

Death is the great equaliser. Everyone has to go through it. Our expiry date is not written anywhere except in God’s ‘book of life’.

The topic is taboo for some and a welcome thought to those living their ‘winter years’ and are ‘tired of life’.

Some people look near it as they have the ‘visible signs’. The young dismiss the thought while others consciously prepare for it. There are those who hope against hope to postpone it indefinitely with all their regimen of preventive measures. Inevitably, each one must pass through the ‘departure lounge’.
Eternity may sound remote and far-flung but every day brings each one closer to it. The important consideration is: Where will you spend eternity? Do you have the blessed assurance that you will spend it with God or have the grim prospect of facing eternity without God? There is no neutral ground!

Life is an imperceptible gift from God. It is like a loan or a trust which man can have for a short period of time. Job 1:21 says ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ Definitely, we cannot see life, feel it or bargain with it. It is here today but may be gone tomorrow. It is best to choose to do that which will have eternal importance.

Life is a moment of time in which we can spend preparing for eternity. Our circumstances may differ but our values define us.

Our vertical relationship (with God) is the most important area to sort out. On the horizontal level, we can be more involved with family and friends, making sure that there is no hidden resentment which may cause guilt and pain. We can direct or redirect the things that drive or control us like our personal ambitions and devotion to persons or causes – in anticipation of our inevitable ‘expiry date’. As Jesus promised a place for God’s children in heaven, we can also prepare ourselves in anticipation of the abiding place for our soul.

Jim Elliot, a missionary whose life was abruptly ended when he was killed by those who opposed his preaching of the gospel in their tribe aptly stated beforehand: ‘Only one life will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last.’

A Devotional by Priscilla Tay

25 December 2015

A Wonderful Reminder

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.”
– Psalm 139: 1-2

Christmas in 2015 was going to be a difficult Christmas for mum and I.

I was anticipating this because Dad had passed away 11 months ago and as Christmas is traditionally a time for families to gather together, I thought the memories of Christmases past might trigger moments of anguish for mum.

I was also feeling emotional about not having Dad around, especially when their wedding anniversary falls on the 20th of December.

My feelings and thoughts were not unnoticed. Although I kept them hidden in my heart, I could not hide them from a God who knows my thoughts even before I utter them.

I tried to spend as much time with mum closer to Christmas, just to ensure that loneliness and sadness would not preoccupy her mind.

Then one Sunday morning, Iris Chua approached me and asked if it was alright for mum to receive a card from Vicar. I thought, “Why not?” and thought it was a beautiful gesture.

Little did I know the mystery of a Gracious Father was at work.

I did not think about the card until my Mother called excitedly to me. I was anticipating her to be upset about dad’s passing as she remembered their anniversary, but she was waving a lovely card in her hands, with tears in her eyes. “Pastor Tak Meng wrote to me! He remembers me!” she exclaimed excitedly.

What a wonderful lesson from our Father in Heaven! God moved Iris to ask and Pastor Tak Meng to write and send these cards to the home bound and those whom we had not seen in Church. It was God’s way of reminding mum and I that we are never forgotten, never forsaken by our Father in Heaven, or by our earthly family of St Hilda’s Church!

Thank you Lord for Your wonderful reminder and assurance!

A Devotional by Ian Poulier

17 December 2015

“She forgot to say ‘Goodbye!’”


“‘She left without saying ‘Goodbye!’“ sobbed my brother-in-law when I arrived at the church where the wake of his wife of 59 years (my step-sister) was held. I flew to Manila from Singapore that Sunday to be with the family. At 85, my sister had no health issues.

A very active member and mentor of her church, she was revising one of the many linguistic books she wrote. Early Wednesday morning, she complained of a headache. She managed to dress up to seek a medical check-up. On the way to the hospital, she had aneurism of the brain, followed by a heart attack. The doctors managed to revive the heart but the bleeding in her right lobe was extensive. Her daughter and son-in-law who are both medical doctors hurriedly flew in from Maryland to help assess the situation. They just arrived when the fatal heart seizure occurred.

I was requested to speak at the funeral service. I reminded relatives and friends that just like my sister our father also left us without saying goodbye. He was nearly 81, had a very sharp mind but his body weakened from lack of exercise. He used to walk six kilometres a day but due to the increasing pollution in Manila, late onset of asthma forced him to stay indoors. One Wednesday evening in December 1977, he had dinner and was watching TV with my sister’s daughter who stayed over for the night. My mother noticed his drooling. The melted after dinner chocolate dripped to his shirt. His chest was not moving. He was confirmed dead by a doctor in the neighbourhood.

Sudden death is usually a shocking family transition. Such jolts are however mitigated for those who have a blessed assurance of life after physical death. A person who mourns the loss of a loved one can honestly say ‘Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly.’ (Ephesians 1:3) This is an invitation to praise God for all kinds of spiritual blessings. Death of a loved one is a time for:

1. Thanksgiving – My sister was a sickly child but lived to past 85, survived a potentially deadly vehicular accident, married for 59 years, had three grown up children, earned her PhD in linguistics, and wrote around 18 language books. She was born again at the age of 21 when an American missionary neighbour recited to her, in a strong accent, John 14:6. Though she laughed inwardly at the delivery of the message, the Holy Spirit explained in her heart and mind that ‘Jesus is the way, the truth and the life…no one comes to the Father except though Jesus’. After tossing all night, she knelt and prayed for salvation. My father was given a copy of the Bible when he was in his twenties. A voracious reader, he knew his Saviour when he finished reading the book!

The death of a saint is a time to give thanks because Jesus has ‘prepared a place for our loved ones in His Father’s house.’ On a personal level, I give thanks because the Lord prepared me for this eventuality. In December 1977, my husband and I were at a church camp in a borrowed army chapel in Changi. I was awakened at two in the morning by a booming voice calling ‘Leon! Leon!’ I woke up, sat down and saw a bright light and the silhouette of my father’s face. After a few seconds, the vision disappeared. I just prayed as I knew it was about my father. His name was Leon. There was no telephone booth around and the rest of the campers were fast asleep on the floor. Our pastor who visited my parents in our home in Quezon City a week before assured me they were very well. That night, during our evening prayer time, my mother-in-law arrived at the church to tell me that my father just died – 17 hours after the early morning vision of my father’s homecoming.

The Lord also prompted my spirit when I prayed for my sister that she was ‘on her way home’. I saw a bouquet of roses (her name was Rosa) which became embossed in a tomb stone slab. The phone call next day did not come as a complete surprise.

2. Treasuring our loved ones – Family members are God’s gift to one another. God’s word exhorts each one ‘not to withhold good to those to whom it is due when it is in our power to do it’ (Proverbs 3:27) When care-giving becomes difficult, God’s grace is sufficient. Just be resolved to do it as unto the Lord.

3. Think about our destiny – If we are born only once (physically), the Bible speaks of dying twice (physically and eternally). If we are born twice (physically and into the family of God), we will face only one death (physical). We have a choice as to which welcoming party will greet us when we close our eyes forever.
We have only one life to offer. Only one life will soon be past. Only what is done for Christ will last. Man is mere dust… yet has breath of God within. There is a role for us to play in God’s story.

A Devotional by Priscilla Tay

24 November 2015

A Soldier of Christ Jesus

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. – 2 Tim 2: 3 – 4

I have fought the good fight. – 2 Tim 4: 7

As I was filing the music scores for E1 service, I noticed one significant difference between the songs we had filed as “hymns” and those filed under “contemporary choruses”: there were more hymns referring to the word, “soldier” than in the choruses. Examples are: “Soldiers of Christ arise”, “Soldier, soldier fighting in the world’s great strife”, “Soldiers who are Christ’s below”, and the most familiar of them all, “Onward Christian Soldier”. So, I decided to study the concept of the Christian soldier. Here are some insights that I gleaned:

There are 90 occurrences of the word “soldier” in the Bible: 54 in the Old Testament; 36 in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, the first references to “soldiers” are found in Numbers – all six references are in chapter 31 alone, beginning at verse 21 when Eleazar the priest reminded the soldiers, who had gone into battle, about the Law of Moses regarding cleansing themselves, and what they should give to the Lord. The rest of the verses in the Old Testament refer to the battles Israel engaged in, from the time of Joshua to the Kings. Famous leaders of soldiers mentioned in the Old Testament are: Uriah (husband of Bathsheba), and Naaman.

In the New Testament, some noteworthy references are the three centurions: in Matthew 8 and Luke 7, there is the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant; in Luke 23, the centurion at Golgatha, who recognized that Jesus was a righteous man; and in Acts 10, Cornelius, a centurion who was sent to visit Peter. During his imprisonments, Paul was heavily guarded by at least two soldiers at any time. No wonder several references in the New Testament to “soldiers” were written by Paul, in observation of characteristics of a good soldier.

We also learn from 2 Samuel 11 that integrity is an important characteristic of a good soldier. In the narrative of 2 Samuel 11, Uriah is a foil to David. His function is to form a contrast to David, to reveal the true nature of David’s sin. David began with Plan A, urging Uriah to “go down to your house …”. Why he wanted Uriah to do so is not stated explicitly, but hinted at. David was hoping that Uriah would sleep with Bathsheba (so the child could be Uriah’s).
But David was told that Uriah “did not go down to his house”. Uriah explained that his colleagues were in danger in foreign parts; in these circumstances how could he possibly sleep with Bathsheba?

So David had to move on to Plan B. At a palace reception he got Uriah drunk – surely alcohol would remove the man’s principles. But once again, Uriah “did not go down to his house”. The repetition sets up this disturbing contrast: Uriah, drunk, was more principled than David, sober.

We all know that David eventually put in action Plan C in which Uriah was positioned in battle to be killed.

What can we learn about the qualities of being a soldier from Uriah? The answer would be integrity: “a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, or incorruptibility; incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted.” Each time Uriah refused to “go down to his house”, he stuck by his principle of doing what was right: when my mates are sacrificing their lives out in the battlefield, how can I enjoy myself? Here is what one commentator notes of Uriah:

Uriah stands head and shoulders above David as a person of integrity. In a story full of careful contrasts, a frequent suggestion is that immoral David contrasts with Uriah the man of faith. While Uriah certainly has integrity, to claim he has faith in God goes beyond the narrative. He mentions neither God nor the law. His refusal to “go down to his house” appeals to a commonly held ancient code of military honour, not to specifically biblical ethics. The insistence of the narrator in calling him Uriah the Hittite, in light of the above, suggests that while Uriah might fight in Israel’s army, and has adopted an Israelite name, he is not necessarily a follower of Israel’s God. If so, then Uriah might be an early, but certainly not the last, example of a person outside the community of faith who witnesses to those inside.

But Uriah’s integrity is flawed because it is based on his commitment to Man (“my commander Joab and my lord’s men”- verse 11), rather than to a greater and more perfect Good. Sooner or later, the frailty of mankind would disappoint and fail him – the king whom he served so unswervingly plans for his murder, and his commander, Joab, carries out the act.

Picture this: Uriah returns to the battlefield and is given, unknown to him, his death sentence from his commander from his king. On Joab’s command, Uriah and his men boldly march out to fight in front “where the fighting is fiercest”.

If this were a Hollywood movie, you can even imagine Joab giving Uriah and his men the prep talk for their suicide mission: “This is the place where the enemy is strongest – we need you to break through to open a path for reinforcements to capture the city. The success of our mission depends on you!”

You can imagine the pride that would have swelled up in Uriah – his troops have been singled out for this honour. In Hollywood fashion, Uriah and his men charge into the enemy’s ranks though they are outnumbered, pushing the enemy back against the city gates. Then the camera pans to the enemy archers on the city walls – Uriah and his men will be sitting ducks ready for the picking. As their arrows fly, Uriah’s men drop like flies – and as Uriah turns to look for the reinforcements, can you imagine his bewilderment to see his beloved commander Joab order the troops to withdraw!

Jesus, our captain, is the perfect example of a man of integrity. After He was baptized, He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights, during which time Satan came to Him at His weakest to try to break His integrity and corrupt Him. He was tempted in every way as a man would be, yet he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15); that is the definition of integrity. He is the only one who was ever without blemish, perfect, completely truthful, and always showing a pattern of good works.

As sinful human beings, our integrity is flawed, but Jesus’ integrity is perfect. When we are “in Christ,” we partake of His divine nature, having been given new natures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that new nature is one of integrity because it is His nature. It is impossible to have real integrity without Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus also gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit who assists us in developing our incorruptible integrity. May the Lord give us strong integrity that becomes incorruptible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is what the following hymn exhorts us:
Soldiers, who are Christ’s below,
Strong in faith resist the foe:
Boundless is the pledged reward
Unto them who serve the Lord.
Passing soon and little worth
Are the things that tempt on earth;
Heavenward lift thy soul’s regard;
God Himself is thy reward.

– A Devotional by Christine Ratnam

1 Nov 2015

Humility and Faith

As we read the Book of Job, with sympathy and trepidation, without a doubt we will pray that we will not end up like Job. Will we ever be able to bear the huge burden and scale of suffering that Job encountered?

However, Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that in our life there is a “time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

When we fast-forward the story of Job, we see him emerge from his suffering a transformed man. With great humility and obedience, he turned what seemed bleak or a “better off to curse God and die” situation into a blessing. Despite the difficult circumstances, he climbed the ladder of humility. As Peter Scazzero wrote, “as Job followed the difficult path of allowing his losses to enlarge his soul for God, God blessed him super abundantly.” Not only was Job transformed spiritually, the Lord eventually made him even more prosperous than he ever was.

I saw this in my own life recently. Firstly, God has been gracious to help me in a timely manner. I affirm the promise that God our Jehovah Jireh provided and gave me more solutions than I needed. Secondly, through these many solutions, God in his timeliness allowed me to learn humility that I could then apply in my decision-making process. Thirdly, He humbled and reconciled me to Him. This allowed me to be shaped according to He desires. I learnt to wait patiently on Him and for him to unfold His plans for me.

Critically, as His plans for me began to unfold, I was more prepared and ready to accept whatever outcomes He presented to me regardless of my preferences. In this waiting process, I truly experienced the 5 Ps.

I discovered that God is all Power – that He is in control of all things and that I just have to trust Him. In everything God has a Purpose for me, which is to be fulfilled in my life. This has built up my faith in Him knowing that He is ever Present with me. And in His very Presence, His Holy Spirit has given me comfort and a sense of His direction to me. With a submissive heart, I am able to see things in His Perspective. These are lessons that I will not forget.

Are you facing challenges and difficult choices? Be certain that God works in His mysterious ways and know that He is in control. With a contrite and submissive heart, surrender your circumstance to God, trustingly and with “prayer rooted in a faith deeper than reasons” (Psalm 44), and God’s rescue will come in His time.

A Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

28 October 2015

One Thought – A Devotional

He Gives us Grace and Power in our Weakness

During one of my daily devotions, I discovered that Paul had encountered several difficulties. He felt weak in struggling with them (2 Corinthians 11:21-30).

But he overcame his weakness by realizing that the source of his strength was not from within him but from God. In so doing, one would see the glory of God. Paul wrote what God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Like Jeremiah, we sometimes question God: “Why does the way of the wicked prosper”? (Jeremiah 12:1). But God only forewarned Jeremiah that he would meet with even more opposition, including treachery from his own brothers.

We reflect how God is in His holy temple and we know that nothing can ever stop Him from fulfilling His plans.

In this regard, we know He will bring judgment on those who are violent and wicked because the Lord loves righteousness just as He is righteous (Psalm 11:4-6).

I also reflect on how we should live a life in reflection of God’s righteous character so that we will rely on His grace and power that are made sufficient for us to help us struggle well through our weaknesses just as Jeremiah and Paul did.

Let us pray daily for God’s unfailing grace and power, and for the Holy Spirit to be our constant companion, as we struggle in our weakness against all earthly and spiritual odds, and learn to grow reliant on Him!

A Devotional by Jeremy Koh

15 September 2015


In his book, Emotional Healthy Spirituality, author Peter Scazzero illustrated Christian life as a journey that captures all our experiences in following Christ. This journey determines our posture of worship, which shapes our identity, our character and confidence.

We are guided by the Holy Spirit, who helps us lay our foundation and critically builds our faith which is anchored in Christ. The foundation we establish will inevitably be subjected to tests through challenges, trials, temptations and persecutions. This will be like hitting “brick walls” or obstacles as we move forward in our journey.

When we encounter these walls, we may begin to stagnate and stop short of our goal of coming closer to God. With a weakened faith, at times, we will question God, blame God and, at its worst, stop trusting God altogether. We “turn inward into ourselves. Our soil, ever so slowly, becomes hard.” This only strengthens those walls that frustrate, hamper and stop us. This is where God’s intervention is needed to help us get over these brick walls.

But in such times of despair when all seems bleak, there is hope; all that is needed is a little faith as small as a mustard seed. With a willing heart, we must turn to God our Father with a contrite heart.

God’s refining fire will remove those deadly imperfections including pride, avarice, luxury, wrath, self-pity, wrath, lust, spiritual gluttony, spiritual envy, and sloth. When these impurities are removed, we will be purified with the balm provided by our Counsellor. We will then begin to see things from His perspective. We will then better see our brokenness and how much we need Him. When humbled, we will be able to overcome the walls of oppression around us and to journey on with confidence, having been transformed by His love.

Are you faced with a wall or multiple walls ahead of you? Boldly surrender your all unto our Lord Jesus who freely imparts His love to us. Allow Him to “insert something of himself into our character that will mark the rest of our journey into His Heart”

Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

26 September 2015



According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a ‘devotional’ is a ‘short worship service’; and ‘worship’ is the ‘expression of reverence and adoration’. So, I thought I would try my hand at ‘doing’ a devotional using a less frequently used medium of expression – visual art. This art work was the outcome of my devotional that stretched approximately eight hours over two days (four hours each day). The four hours each day flew by so quickly, I had to be reminded to go to sleep (I started on a Saturday night at 8 pm). The entire piece is built upon various translations of Proverbs 3:1-18.
In what way is this a devotional? The exhortation in verse 3 is to “write them (love and faithfulness) on the tablet of your heart” (NIV), or in the TLB (The Living Bible) version, to “write them deep within your heart”, or in The Voice version, “stay focused; do not lose sight of mercy and truth; engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck; meditate on them so they are written upon your heart”. As can be seen, each translation sheds new light, enhancing our understanding of a word or a phrase. For this art work, I looked up five translations of the Bible: The New International Version (NIV); The Living Bible (TLB); The American Standard Version; The Voice; and The Message (by Eugene Peterson). What I did was to copy the different versions of Proverbs 3: 1-18 onto various segments of the paper. I also wrote the lyrics of one of my favourite songs, “Speak O Lord” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, as I felt it was an appropriate response to Proverbs 3:1-18, which starts with “My son, always remember what I have taught you; keep my instructions dear to your heart. If you do, they will be your guide to a long, healthy, prosperous life” (The Voice). And in The Message: “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track”.

About the repeated patterns: The motif of nature brings out the metaphor of Wisdom as the “Very Tree of Life” (The Message) as seen in verse 18: “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who eat her fruit; happy is the man who keeps on eating it” (TLB). The repeated patterns are an easy way to create art. One does not need to be a Rembrandt or Picasso to do this, and I am willing to share how to do this with anyone who would like to try your hand at it.

By Christine Ratnam

26 August 2015


GOD came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. ……….Meanwhile two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in the camp. They were listed as leaders but they didn’t leave camp to go to the Tent. Still, the Spirit also rested on them and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!” Joshua, son of Nun, who had been Moses’ right-hand man since his youth, said, “Moses, master! Stop them!” But Moses said, “Are you jealous for me? Would that all GOD’s people were prophets. Would that GOD would put his Spirit on all of them.”- Numbers 11:25-29
When I first became a Christian, and for a long time after that, I did not really know the meaning of body life and how to love, honour, appreciate and encourage others in their work or ministries. The little understanding I had of body life was mainly in the head.

It was still mainly “my” ministry, my team or group, my co-workers and so on. The competitive spirit which I learned in the world and in working life was still very much in me.

In the context of the above verses, two of the 70 elders, Eldad and Medad, for some reason, did not gather together with Moses outside the Tent of Meeting as God had instructed. Nevertheless, the spirit of prophesying was poured out on them.

Young Joshua was jealous and asked Moses to stop their prophesying. Moses’ reply was: “Would that God would put His Spirit on all the Lord’s people.”

Exactly so. We should rejoice to see others prospering and succeeding in the work of God and for God to bless them mightily, through our appreciation and encouragement. Indeed, the Bible repeatedly admonishes us: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11; also 3:2; 4:18; Romans 15:5; Hebrews 10:25; Proverbs 10:11; Acts 15:32; Luke 9:54-56).

Words of encouragement change people; encouraging words make a difference.
We should make it a habit to encourage others, especially in ministries. It costs so little to say: “Thank you for serving the Lord, brother.” Or, “Well done, sister, praise the Lord.”
Thank God, I notice a greater and increasing sense of appreciation and encouraging one another in St Hilda’s Church. This has resulted in new ministries, like the Car Park Marshalls, the SHC 80th anniversary celebrations and anniversary book, Alpha, and more volunteers in Victory Kids, Kids For Christ, Friends, and in our various other ministries.
In parallel, let us also accept that God has made us different. Therefore we should appreciate that others may do things in different ways or formats that might not exactly correspond with the way we would do them.
Or, if they are struggling, or doing poorly, all the more we should encourage them, like Barnabas did for Saul (Paul) and Mark, among others. Or, if they are really going in the wrong direction, we should correct them gently in humility and love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Thank you, Father, for giving us your Spirit of Life to dwell in us, and to continuously transform us, even to loving, honouring and encouraging one another. Continue to stir up the gifts in us, as you have distributed them amongst us. Above all, continue to unite us in love in SHC, so that the world can see that we are truly the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen in Jesus’ name.

By Chak Siew Cheun

6 August 2015


National Day is here again. It is not just another day. It is our 50th anniversary of independence. What is God speaking to us in Singapore at this time of our history? What is in God’s heart for Singapore? As Christians what does it mean to us?

God created time and space. As people created in His image, we live within this framework. As citizens or permanent residents, we decided to live in this place. But it is not just our decision. We may not realize this, but God had a hand in placing us here in this particular time. This could have been through birth or migration. So it is not an accident! Are we taking seriously our responsibility as citizens or as permanent residents.

Since independence in 1965 we have experienced peace, improvements to our livelihood, educational, social and improved facilities. Good leadership together with a responsible citizenry have been important ingredients in achieving much progress. But these alone are not sufficient reasons. Many things could have gone wrong in the process of nation building. We were spared several traumas which many developing countries are going through. What others call ”luck”, our God reminds us that His hand is over this nation. The psalmist says “He grants peace within your borders; He fills you with the finest of wheat.” Psalm 147:14

Having achieved much progress, it grieves God to hear, see and feel the downside of life around us. The rising divorce rates, abortions, sexual revolution – all of these displease God. Within our borders there are still many who do not know the love and salvation of Christ. How do we tell them our God is a God of hope and grace? Our response could be as follows – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

The nation celebrates its 50th year of founding. However much we love and are loyal to this city, God tells us that it is only temporary. ”For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.” Hebrews 13:14.

We date important events from the past such as birthdays and weddings. Let me suggest that we should not just date events from the past but also in terms of the future. Let uss date it in terms of the return of Christ and the new city. We do not know when He will return but we know that it is for certain. As each year passes by, we know that we are closer to the return of Christ. Are we preparing ourselves and the nation for His return? Will Christ find the church faithful and fruitful on His return?

Let us remind ourselves: And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. Acts 1:10- 11

A Devotional by Samuel Ratnam.

28 July 2015


Window seat is always my choice. I was disappointed the last time I flew that I was not able opt for one. A Caucasian man was seated on my right. Thankfully, he was glued to his manual. So I managed to look out of the window intermittently.

Suddenly, I saw at a distance a flock of countless white birds flying in circular motion – like a big ball. It was surrounded by equally numerous black birds circling around the white bird formation. I blinked my eyes a few times. The display was ongoing.

I knew it was a vision because there were no big flocks of birds over Peninsular Malaysia, above Malacca air space! As I pondered what this ‘visual aid’ could be, I knew for one that there is safety in numbers. It was a case of unity in motion. Though I saw about two white birds straying (or sucked in) into the black bird territory, conscious coordination repelled the threats. I wondered if this was a parable of community in fellowship, displaying accountability to one another.

When I arrived back home in Singapore, I chanced upon a nature program on TV narrated by David Attenborough.

It was the migration episode of the snow geese. I could not believe my eyes when it featured a flock of these white birds in massive formation searching for food but chased after by a troop of the cunning black eagles, pursuing them as food! As if it was a replay of the vision I saw while on the plane two days before. It was a predator-prey story! The narrator emphasised that the bald eagle’s tactic was ‘divide and conquer’. In a big group, the black ones try to break up the white ball formation to confuse them.

God’s word warns us (I Peter 5:8-9) ‘Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…’

Personally and corporately, we are accountable to God and to one another.

A Devotional by Priscilla Tay

14 July 2015

“What must I do …?”

(Luke 18: 18-30)

In the familiar incident recorded both in Luke 18: 18-30 and Mark 10: 17-31, I have often focused on the rich ruler’s wealth that seemed to be the hindrance in his entering the kingdom of God.

On closer reading, I realize it was not just wealth that the rich ruler could not let go, and lest I sound judgmental of the young man, I must confess that his plight resonates with me. For what we both have in common is a mindset of achieving (“What must I do?”) rather than receiving (“like a child”).

Interestingly, just before the rich young ruler approached Christ, Jesus had told his disciples, “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Luke 18: 17).

What is the difference between the rich young ruler and the children Christ was referring to? What have we lost along the way in “growing up”? What have we become, that makes it so difficult to “receive the kingdom of God like a child”?

We can gain some insights of our mindset from the rich young ruler’s question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

a) What is our idea of “goodness”? Is it something we can “become” or “attain”? But Jesus explained that “No one is good – except God alone” (v. 19) – there is nothing we can do to make ourselves “good”.
b) Why do we want to seek “goodness”? Is it so that others can be impressed with us? All the more, then, with such a motive, we can never “attain” goodness, for it will be tainted with self-pride.

c) What is the driving force behind the question, “What must I do?”? Does it not imply that the person (“I”) is in control (“must … do”)? Have we become proud of our abilities and achievements? Have we become reliant on our own selves? In our spiritual lives, do we boast, “All these (commandments) I have kept since I was a boy” (v. 21) so that others may admire our faith, our commitment, our dedication?
What always touches my heart is Mark 10: 21, “Jesus looked at him and loved him”. Despite the ulterior motives of our hearts, Jesus still loves us and points the way for us: let go (“sell everything you have”) and trust Him (“follow me”).

Only when we empty ourselves (letting go), can God fill us so that He can work in us and through us. So that it is no longer me that people see, but Jesus living in me (Galatians 2:20).

When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters:
Did I do my best to live for Truth – Did I live my life for you?
When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward will stand the test of time.
– Jim Cowan

A Devotional by Christina Ratnam

23 June 2015

When Things are Shaken, Only the Unshakable Remains

Over the past several months earthquakes shook up several countries in the Pacific and in Asia. A Singaporean pastor, Luke Gaijin Thurai, on sabbatical in New Zealand, mentioned on Facebook that he was safe even though tremors could be felt in Queenstown.

Later, another friend who was in Nepal, helping victims of the earthquake there, showed horrific images on Facebook of survivors he encountered.

Both these stories brought to my mind the following scripture.

Hebrews 12:26-27 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.

The Greek word for shake is “saleuo” which means “to agitate, shake”, and is used primarily to describe the action of stormy winds. Metaphorically, “shaking” also means “to make insecure”.

We can conclude that when we go through a shaking, whether it is physical, financial or spiritual, we are going to be insecure. Some people I know are experiencing marital breakdowns, or rebellious children, and loss of jobs. These have caused them to be shaken.

However Hebrews 12:27 also states that through the shaking, only the unshakeable will remain.

This begs the question: ” What is unshakeable?” The answer is simply, “It has to be our faith.”

Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

A former clergy of our church, Pastor Christopher Tan used to explain faith like this. He said, “If I have a chair there, and I cover it with a piece of cloth, the chair is still there, even if I cannot see it. Faith is like that. We can’t see it. But it does not stop us from hoping.”

Another example can be seen from nature. Aerodynamically speaking, a bumblebee seems designed not to fly as it does, because its body is too large for its wings. However, I do not think the bumblebee does not think that it cannot fly. The bee simply does it anyway.

Through these examples, we can see that whatever shaking we are facing or will be facing, it is our faith that will pull us through.

A Devotional by Patricia Chew

Count Your Blessings

Growing up in the church, I remember a familiar hymn that was always sung with gusto, ‘Count Your Blessings’:

“Count your blessings/name them one by one; count your blessings / see what God has done; count your blessings/name them one by one; count your many blessings / see what God has done”

As a young boy, I had always tried to figure out how to count these blessings. I would start with the first, thanking God for my parents, then move on to number two, then ease into number three, but by the time I got to number five, I would have run dry of blessings. I used to get frustrated with myself and feel guilty that I could not go further than that!

Then I remember reading Ephesians 1:3.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

It dawned on me that having a blessing was not merely something big and tangible, but it was every small gift that God had given and continues to give in our lives.

When I thought of that, suddenly a flood of things came to mind, even the simplest and most inconspicuous things we might take for granted.

Are you just looking for the ‘big’ blessings in your life? It’s easy to be drawn to these momentous occasions.

Maybe it is time for us to consider ‘every spiritual blessing’ that God has brought into our lives. Events, situations that make a difference in your life.

Then, we can break out in song together!

14 May 2015

You shall have no other gods before Me.

In general, when we think of “gods” we tend to have in mind “gods” in the form of statues, statuettes, or graven images. However, the first commandment in our Bible clearly sets the meaning of “other gods” as anything and everything that is deemed to be more important and precious, or having higher priority and significance for us than our Heavenly Father, the Creator God Himself.

The only way for God to take precedence over everything else is to “Love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30). Loving the Lord our God requires our total being: heart, soul, mind and strength.

We must stay rooted in the truth that everything in existence is created by God Himself. Our existence and our redemption from eternal condemnation are initiated by God, not by self-existence nor by self-merit. With this truth, we can confidently surrender and submit ourselves to Him, putting our faith, trust and hope completely in the hands of our Almighty God whose love is unchanging and irrevocable.

Regardless of life’s circumstances, allow nothing else to be before God in our lives. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Devotional By David Tow

1 May 2015

Call on Him. The Calls are Free

We simply cannot do without our smart phones these days can we? They have become such an integral part of not just business but of personal life as well.

Once we leave it at home, or worse still leave it, we fumble through the day. Still, there’s nothing worse than having your smart phone and not being able to use it because of poor receptivity. We feel so lost and disconnected from the rest of the world when we are in such a situation.

Thankfully, Heaven does not require a 4G plan or booster reception! God’s ability to hear us when we call is perfect. Best part is, we do not have to depend on a smart phone to call on Him.

In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears (Psalm 18:3).

God hears our loudest and softest voices. He doesn’t just hear the boomers, but the whisperers as well. All we have got to do is call on Him.

Yet often, we only do so in challenging and perplexing times. It should be frequent, daily calls to our Father in Heaven. He loves to have a conversation with his beloved.

Make time today to call on Him. Tell Him about your day ahead, or what you did or might be doing in the course of the day. Tell Him how much He means to you; how much you treasure being called a son or a daughter.

Calls to our Lord are free, and there are no reception issues as well! Go on!

A Devotional by Ian Poulier

16 April 2015

Unbelieving Prayers

When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, ‘You are beside yourself!’ Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, ‘It is his angel.’ “ Acts 12

I read this with a smug smile on my face. Ha! Ha! These guys do not even believe in their prayers. You see, in the immediate context, the disciples were praying fervently for Peter’s release from King Herod’s prison.

Yet, when God sent an angel to free Peter in answer to their prayers, they were incredulous and were simply unwilling or unable to believe what had just happened. But my smile quickly fades as I remember how often I have myself prayed unbelieving prayers.

The point is not whether we have a “Peter knocking on our door” after we have prayed. The issue is: do we believe in prayer, and does God hear and answer prayers? Consistently throughout the Bible, we are encouraged, nay, commanded, to pray, which is one of our greatest sources of spiritual power. Philippians 4:6 clearly instructs us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.”

So, why is it we often pray unbelieving prayers? There may be many reasons, but I believe a basic one is that we have experiences when nothing happens after we prayed, or, even worse, the situation seemingly deteriorates further.

We are disappointed because John 14:13-14 says: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

Yeah, but it didn’t happen. Perhaps God thinks I am not anyone significant in His eyes. Or, maybe my request is not important enough for Him to consider or answer. Or, maybe my limited vocabulary limits what I pray for while others can pray so beautifully which may be why God listens to them only!

We wallow in self-pity, self-doubt and resentment! But have we considered that we may have asked with the wrong motives (James 4:3); or, we harbour sin or unforgiveness in our hearts (Matthew 6:15); or things that cause God not to hear our prayers. Or, have we considered that perhaps He wants us to go through a particular trial to build up our spiritual maturity.

Let God answer in His own way and in His own time. Have faith that God, our Father, definitely hears and answers prayers if we pray righteously. For He says: My righteous one shall live by faith.

Father, grant us the grace and faith, with patience and endurance, not to look at the troubles we can see now. Rather, help us to fix our gaze on things that are unseen and eternal. Amen.

Prayer is still a mystery to me in many of its aspects and I am very much a rookie in both the knowledge and practice of prayer. Sometimes I feel some anointing when praying. At other times, I feel flat; like speaking to the air. But we are not supposed to depend on feelings or emotions. Not that there is anything wrong with feelings or emotions, but the Bible says they are undependable. With God nothing is impossible.

God is sovereign in all matters including how He answers prayer (Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 46:10). There may a bigger plan or purpose than we will ever know which He will reveal to us in His time. This is in sync with Isaiah 46:10.

But to honour God, we should stand on the Bible’s promises and teachings. Let us continue to ask, seek and knock and plead: “Lord, if you will, you can heal me”. Finally, we ask Jesus to give us faith in all circumstances even as He admonishes: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8.)

A Devotional by Chak Siew Cheun

1 April 2015

Nothing in This World Can Separate Us From the Love of God

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 8:35, 37 to 39)

The Love of Christ is unchanging and irrevocable. Jesus died to sin once and for all that we will be alive to God in Him. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Living a new life in Christ will not keep us from encountering and experiencing life’s challenges or struggles – be they in relationships, emotional struggles, financial uncertainties, health issues, and death. Inevitably, these experiences will cause us great anguish.

In extreme situations and through long suffering, will our faith melt away? Will we continue to trust God even if He remains silent?

The Bible assures us that in the midst of despair and grief with no relief, we are not abandoned nor forsaken. Jesus stands as the perfect Saviour who suffered beyond our understanding. He has assured us that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord Himself!

This assurance is so evident in the fact that God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (truly undeserving), Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

While storms may rage in this life journey or in the future, nothing in this world can separate us from God. His love assures us of His steadfast faithfulness. We can definitely keep on believing and trusting in this loving God.

A Devotional by David Tow

20 March 2015

Reflections on the Resurrection for Everyday Living

Good Friday will be approaching and will be followed by Easter. Like the rhythm of the tide and sunrise and sunset, the event will come and go. Ecclesiastes 1:5 observes this rhythm ”The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises”.

Will Good Friday and Easter be merely events in the calendar of the church and our individual lives? Will they be just two of so many routines for Christians that eventually fade away? How is the resurrection relevant for us today? How can these one-off events have their relevance for us more than 2000 years later ?

Here are some reflections…

Don’t just come to Jesus. Touch Him.
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:27-28

Despite the testimonies of his fellow disciples about the risen Christ, Thomas doubted. He had to see the nail marks on His hands and place his hand into His side. So Christ invited Thomas to touch Him. Jesus invites us to ”touch” Him daily. How can we do this today as He is not physically with us. We ”touch” the risen Christ when we worship, pray, digest His Word and love others. Do not just make contact with Him, or communicate with him but commune with him. Enter into His presence and ”touch Him”. You will experience the communion. Christ is not just an idea, concept or doctrine. He is a person to be experienced.

Don’t just remain fearful but receive His peace
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
– John 20:19

The disciples were fearful of the authorities. They witnessed what happened to Christ. Would they be next? Christ appeared before them and assured them by showing His hands and side. Then the disciples were ”glad”. Their circumstances remained unchanged, yet they were glad. He who demonstrated His authority over death can surely deal with your circumstances. “Peace be with you”. Today be at peace with God, receive the peace from God, and experience the peace of God which passes all understanding. The peace of the world is the absence of conflict. God goes beyond this – the peace of God passes all understanding.

Don’t doubt but believe His Words
Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again. Then they remembered his words. – Luke 24:6-8

The disciples never understood. They could not get their heads around Christ’s teaching to them about His arrest, death and resurrection. Therefore they did not expect the resurrection. Because they did not believe His promise, the disciples merely filed away Christ’s words into their memories. Human promises are unreliable. Is it because of this that we find it difficult to accept His promises too? Christ invites us to come out of the dark dungeon of doubt, skepticism and cynicism and into the light of freedom by believing and having faith in Him.

Don’t remain silent. Tell others about Him
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” – John 20:22

Having touched Him, experienced His peace, and believed His Words the disciples received the Christ’s commission to be His witnesses in Jerusalem and elsewhere. The good news of the resurrection cannot continue to be a well-kept secret across nations. If you had the cure for cancer what would you do about it? When was the last time you spoke to someone about Christ?

A Devotional by Sam Ratnam

25 February 2015

A Wet Sponge

I love the feel of squeezing a wet sponge full of lather as it lavishly oozes out
the fluid and fragrance of the washing gel in my hand. On the other hand, a dried up sponge is hard, crinkly and scratches your palm when you press it. Nothing flows from it and it does not serve its purpose.

In a spiritual sense, we may ask: What flows out of our lives when we are squeezed?

Romans 5:5 says, “Because the Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us”, do we allow the Holy Spirit to flood our lives with God’s love until we overflow with it?

I sometimes think we are more used to the thought of God’s discipline than that He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10).

I know that when I stop the Holy Spirit and the love of God’s from flowing into
my life, when I meet up with difficult situations, I become dry and I scratch with my words and actions all those who come near me. How do we get rid of personal biases, unkind thoughts and words, and anger and rage?

We must allow ourselves to be soaked in that lavish love of God like a wet sponge taking it all in thirstily. Let us spend time in His loving presence. This will allow the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing. We can then spread this divine love to others around us.

Let us pause and take some time today to soak in His Fountain of Love that is more than enough always for all of us and to share with those in need of His touch.

A Devotional by Iris Chua

12 February 2015

Let No Suffering Separate Us From God

“Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.”
Psalm 44:23

We are often perplexed when faced with unpleasant or difficult situations. Vexed, we ask: “Why is this happening to me?”

We should expect difficulties and challenges. The Lord pointed me intentionally to Psalm 44 which sets expectations and offers answers and encouragement.

Today, doing business is no longer easy. Other challenges include job loss, sudden ailments or terminal illness. We often witness fellow Christians who suffer physically and emotionally in spite of their faithfulness. And we often ask: “Why? Where are you, God?”

Despite such difficulties, be it personal or watching how fellow Christians struggle with challenges, Verse 23 suggests that the faith of the Psalmist is not compromised. His unceasing prayers and calling on the name of God simply suggest that he trusts and knows that God will come to his rescue.

It paints a picture of hope crying out to God to “awake” and not reject. One commentary states that “prayer rooted in a faith deeper than reason” will help us to persevere in prayer and to seek God and wait on Him.

We ought not be overwhelmed by circumstance and be quick to despair thinking that God has forsaken us or is ignoring us.

Deny the devil’s ploy and know that no suffering can ever separate us from God’s unfailing love.

So when we experience challenges, failures, and suffering in our lives, let us remember we can “freely and honestly cry out to God”, sharing our perplexity, lamenting our situation, and, most importantly, never giving up but praying unceasingly and patiently waiting on Him.

by Khoo See Kiang

29 January 2015

We Love Because He First Loved Us

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:20-21)

Hate is an attitude or a feeling to dislike intensely, causing one to avoid or keep away from the individual.

Love is a deep liking or a feeling of affection and care towards another person.

In God’s eyes, hate is sin and love is holiness. Hate and love cannot co-exist. One can only be present with the complete absence of the other.

God demonstrated His love when He gave His only Son, though sinless, to die for the sins of mankind. It is the physical expression of His love – in action.

As God’s redeemed children, we are commanded to love our brother and sister and not to love selectively. When we profess our love for God and yet love selectively, we are liars.

When we prepare ourselves for the observance of Good Friday and Easter, let us all choose to forgive and to seek forgiveness. At the foot of the cross, we embrace Christ’s love by loving others unconditionally.

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

By David Tow

The Story of Alphonso’s Pie

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6: 26- 30

(Ian Poulier’s father, Gerald Hilary Lancelot Poulier, went home to the Lord on 6 January 2015, not long after this devotional was written on 26 December 2014 after his father was discharged from hospital.)

Every Christmas, for the past six years, my ex-teacher Alphonso would drop by our home with his fabulous chicken pie. Alphonso used to teach in St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) with my late brother, Roger.

Even after leaving SJI, Roger and Alphonso kept in touch via the latter’s Christmas Chicken Pie. It was an interesting mode of communication indeed.

Every year, on Christmas Day, Alphonso and his wife would call out to one of us at the gate and produce this lovely chicken pie for us to devour.

Even after Roger’s death in 2012, Alphonso still faithfully and lovingly came by with his chicken pie. December 25 came and went last year, but Alphonso did not turn up. Maybe he was not in town? Maybe he did not cook his Chicken Pie last year? Mum and I were left wondering, “Where is Alphonso this year? Why didn’t he come by?”

Today, Dad was discharged from hospital at 3pm from CGH. We got a call from the ward saying that he was to be discharged. Transport was arranged and I went down later at 1 pm to do the necessary paper work and get the medicines. My helper, who had gone in the morning, remained behind to accompany dad back home in the ambulance.

It was raining cats and dogs. Mum was sitting nervously at home worrying if dad would get wet, if I would get wet, and hoping our maid wouldn’t get wet. She said she would pray and I couldn’t agree more with the idea!

I was exhausted by this time and I needed strength for the rest of the day! Thankfully, God answered her prayers and the rain abated, and dad got home dry and was soon in his room.

Then we looked at each other- we hadn’t thought of dinner! Just as we were sorting out payment to the ambulance men and sorting out the medicines, a grinning face stood in our doorway. “Is that the doctor? From the hospital?” My mum asked.

I don’t remember a doctor in the ambulance. “Hi Ian and Mrs Poulier, Merry Christmas!” called out a familiar voice. It was Alphonso with…yes, his chicken pie! Just in time for dinner too!

God knows our every need and His timing then was perfect! What a wonderful Father we have!

by Ian Poulier

2 January 2015

A Painful Test of Faith

“Your loving kindness is better than life….”, wrote the Psalmist (Psalm 63:3).

How on earth can this be? Having thought through this verse, that was thrown at me just before the passing of my late mother-in-law in 2002, I came to the conclusion that sometimes God takes one home to cut short earthly suffering. Mum was dying of stomach or colon cancer and she went home quietly to Him without too much suffering.

And then there are seemingly needless deaths and destruction! A sudden and tragic end to life is the cruellest cut, as in the Airasia QZ8501 disaster.

A ladies’ prayer group I am in was praying and a sister posed this question:
Why do so many (including) Christians die?

Very honestly we do not know.

But we do know though that:
– Every life is precious to God. (Many of AirAsia QZ8501’s passengers were pre-believers; they too are very precious to God!!)
– In life or in death we all belong to Him. He gave us life and for eternity too, not just on earth.
– My guess is: He does not reckon life and death like we do.
– We do know that He is sovereign, good all the time and loving.
– We are taught that He has a plan for each one of us, and that it is a good plan!! (That should include an early recall to Heaven)

All the above will not go down well with pre-believers and perhaps even some believers. But deep grief is a painful test of faith!!

So what do we do?

We listen to their pain, pray that our loving Lord soothes them with His balm. We hold them, hear them, hug them. We may not need to talk or even reply to them. We continue hold them, even long after their tears dry up!!

Dear Lord, hold them hug them soothe them release them from their pain! In Jesus’ loving name we ask, Amen.

by Chan Sam Neo

Hope for the Seasons of Our Lives

A very close friend of mine sent me an urgent message one day, asking for prayers. Her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. The news had shaken my friend to the core in several ways. She was terrified at the prospect of losing the person who was closest to her. She also did not know how to break the news to her mother, though she was pressed by the doctors to do so soonest possible so that her mother would be mentally and emotionally prepared for any course of treatment.

In an attempt to help her accept the inevitability of death, someone had told my friend, “accept it – this is a part of life”. True words, but if that is all to it, then our lives are stripped of meaning and hope, as the philosopher wrote in Ecclesiastes, “Everything is meaningless” (1: 2)… “generations come and generations go” (1: 4).

In Chapter 3, the philosopher reminds us of the inevitably of the seasons of life: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die”.

There is more beyond this stark reality.

We have to look at who created us and why He made us in the first place. Our hope lies in our trust in the wisdom of our creator. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3: 11).

This is captured beautifully in a song, A Hymn of Promise, by Natalie Allyn Wakeley Sleeth.

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Natalie Sleeth wrote the words and music of this hymn in February 1985, while pondering the death of a friend. It is based on a phrase from a poem by T.S. Eliot: “In our end is our beginning”. As in Eliot’s poem, the Hymn of Promise uses seemingly contradictory ‘pairs’: in death, there is life (resurrection); after the winter, there is spring; after the night, morning shall come.

During the harshest of winters, when we have had enough of the snow and ice and slush, would we long for and look forward to the warmth of spring and summer? In the darkest place, even the smallest spark would shine most brilliantly.

Herein lies the message of hope: in God’s wisdom, out of one will come the other. In fact, in the passage through what seems to be the negative, comes the positive. Christ exemplified it in his own sacrifice: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).

The writer asked to remain anonymous.

19 December 2014

The Greatest Christmas Present Ever Received

Luke 15:11-32

“She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
(Luke 2:7)

Just over two thousand years ago the world received a Christmas present that has never been surpassed. In an act of grace beyond human understanding, God sent his only son to be our saviour.

As Christmas 2014 approaches, will our hearts be filled with Jesus, or the commercialism, which the ‘festive season’ seems to have become in many countries?

Will we be celebrating the Messiah’s birthday or a jolly old man sliding down a chimney?

A few years ago I approached a colleague at work wanting to encourage him to send his five-year old daughter to St. Hilda’s for Sunday School. It was a few weeks before Christmas and the colleague seemed pleased at the suggestion.

But his response was not what I expected. He said, “That will be very good; Natasha (the daughter) will learn all about Santa Claus and where the reindeer come from.”

I tried not to let my surprise be too obvious and quickly moved on to talk about hearing the bible stories and learning some Christmas carols.

Amid the busyness of buying presents, ordering food, meeting up with friends and family, has jolly Santa Claus pushed Jesus out of our hearts?

Do our children know more about the bright lights on Orchard Road than the story of Joseph and Mary at Bethlehem?

“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2)

This Christmas, let’s be like the Magi who came to worship the King. Let us make it all about Jesus.

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

A Devotional by Mark Cranfield. 2014

19 December 2014

The Fourth Devotional for Advent

It is time ….

Luke 15:11-32

How great is the Father’s love for us? This has been ringing in my spirit this whole advent season as we wrote these devotions. There was nothing stopping God to remain in His heavenly realm except for the love for His creation.

It was and is a love that is overpowering that refused to listen to the reasoning of the younger son to work in the kitchen. His hugs and kisses smothered the son, all of his sin, the rebellion, all forgiven. No amount of social decorum could stop the father from dashing across the plains to embrace the returning son.

The sinner son was restored to full sonship. This sonship was thrown away when he walked away from the household, his identity no longer a part of the family or community, he struck out in independence. The community also reviled against him. I can imagine the whispers against him and the shouts he had thrown upon him as he left the community. But it didn’t matter, because he was so confident of being his own man, no longer did he need to be in his brother’s and father’s shadow.

But now in the sun of the noonday, the only sound he heard was the father mumbling and shouting and whispering, “I missed you so much, I was so worried, you look so thin, what happened to your eye, no matter, we will have that looked at. Oh I am so glad you are home, we can go camel watching again and sit by the oasis and play music together, do you still have that flute I gave you? Doesn’t matter we can make a new one… I love you so much…” and on and on and on the father kept heaping his love upon the wayward son, not holding his sin against him at all.

He called for the robe, ring and sandals to be placed upon him, his son that everyone in the natural regarded as dead was now his son again, alive and well. He didn’t care what society’s law said, he would fight the elders later on, for now, a celebration would begin, a feast would start.

The love of the father is something that everyone should experience. We have a world of friends and loved ones who are on a trajectory towards an eternity without any hope, and it is our responsibility to do something, to stop them in their tracks and to turn them towards the love of the father. It is the father’s desire to place the robe, ring and sandals of sonship upon everyone, to give all a new identity, a renewed purpose and a glorious destiny with him in his household.

In a few days, the first of many opportunities presents itself.

Has the Lord placed a name on your heart?

He partners us to preach the good news of great joy. Our Christ is here, lets see the sons return home.

A Devotional by Pastor Calvin Tan. 2014

7 December 2014

The Third Devotional for Advent

Who Gets The Bacon?

Where do you think the money for the best robe, ring and sandal came from? Somebody had to work hard for the money. Where do you think the fattened calf came from? Somebody had to break his back working on the farm. When somebody took his share of inheritance and split; somebody had to remain behind to work for the father.

So the older son did just that, he worked hard and remained with his father. That was commendable. In fact, that was needful.

It was such a delight one day when the older son heard music and there was dancing in the house. Finally, he thought, his father recognised who had been the one working hard and had helped to build his business all these years. This was the moment he had been waiting for.

Then the servant said: Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf.

You worked hard. You gave your best shot. You invested years of youth to it. But what if the fattened calf was not meant for you? What if the best robe, ring and sandal were not meant to put on you? If you had known, would you have served Him for nothing?

The older son was angry: ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

The father loved him and pleaded with the older son to come in. He said: Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.

Was that enough for the older son – to know that the father was always with him?

He did serve faithfully. He did work hard. He did spend years building his father’s business. He was more talented than his brother. He was wise enough to choose good works than to enjoy himself in reckless living.

But something was amiss.

I matter to Him.

Our Beloved Father waits longingly for us to come home to His heart – into His arms. He and His servants are all ready for your Homecoming celebration. The party is waiting for us. He invites us, His gentle hands reaching out to us and His tender voice calling us, ‘Rise up, my love. Come with me, my beautiful one.’ (Song of Songs 2:10,NIRV)

Today, let us harken unto Him. Today. Not tomorrow. But at this hour and this minute. Leave the world that entices, leave the road that entangles, and leave the life of darkness. Because we are made for glory – for His glory and pleasure alone. We are made for good and not evil. He has intended for us to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9, ESV).

I imagined the journey home for the younger son was not an easy road to thread. He was cheated, shamed and broken. He failed in many and every way. He was washed out and emptied out. Nothing to show and nothing to boast. I supposed it must be tough to realise and to admit his mistakes, poverty and need. He was wrong after all. He should not have left home. I imagined a million voices in him screaming condemnation and accusations. I imagined his soul in pain and in turmoil. I imagined him to be very heavy laden.

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28, ESV)

Our Father invites us to feast with Him once again. To sit at His banqueting table. Not only to sit at His table, but also to sit with Him. To dwell in His presence. To relish His love. To be enamoured by Him, “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4, ESV)

Return to the Father’s heart. Step into His marvellous light. Feast in His presence! Celebrate our Homecoming and let the party begin!

A Devotional by Pastor Amy Ong

30 November 2014

The Second Devotional for Advent

Let’s Party!

Luke 15:11-24, Song of Solomon 2:4-10

I was aloof. I was not interested. I was lonely. I seek to be understood but I found none here. I know there is a better world somewhere out there -something or someone that will stir my heart and make my spirit fly! But here, with all its laughter and jest, I can only hear the silence of emptiness and loneliness. I was restless.

Is this life? We study hard. We work hard. We hope to be happy. Then we grow old and someday it will all be over?

Maybe he was bored and aimless at home. There was no thrill and no fun hanging out with his dad and older brother. There has to be a great party out there somewhere! So the younger son took all and took off. And we know the drill: the world out there took all from him. And even the pigs were better fed than him! All this time, the father was waiting for him to come home, with the best robe, ring and shoes ready. And a fattened calf to top the party!

God our Father is waiting for us. The party is ready for us. He is saying; “Let us eat and celebrate!” Tony Campolo wrote a book titled: The Kingdom of God is a Party. The title of this book itself changed the angle of my perspective about God and His Kingdom! I don’t have to seek, search and fight for happiness or significance. I don’t have to wait for something or someone to have a reason to celebrate. I don’t have to wait anymore … for He has been waiting for me for the past 2000 years.

I matter to Him.

Our Beloved Father waits longingly for us to come home to His heart – into His arms. He and His servants are all ready for your Homecoming celebration. The party is waiting for us. He invites us, His gentle hands reaching out to us and His tender voice calling us, ‘Rise up, my love. Come with me, my beautiful one.’ (Song of Songs 2:10,NIRV)

Today, let us harken unto Him. Today. Not tomorrow. But at this hour and this minute. Leave the world that entices, leave the road that entangles, and leave the life of darkness. Because we are made for glory – for His glory and pleasure alone. We are made for good and not evil. He has intended for us to be a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9, ESV).

I imagined the journey home for the younger son was not an easy road to thread. He was cheated, shamed and broken. He failed in many and every way. He was washed out and emptied out. Nothing to show and nothing to boast. I supposed it must be tough to realise and to admit his mistakes, poverty and need. He was wrong after all. He should not have left home. I imagined a million voices in him screaming condemnation and accusations. I imagined his soul in pain and in turmoil. I imagined him to be very heavy laden.

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28, ESV)

Our Father invites us to feast with Him once again. To sit at His banqueting table. Not only to sit at His table, but also to sit with Him. To dwell in His presence. To relish His love. To be enamoured by Him, “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4, ESV)

Return to the Father’s heart. Step into His marvellous light. Feast in His presence! Celebrate our Homecoming and let the party begin!

A Devotional by Pastor Amy Ong

28 November 2014

Advent Devotion Week 1

The Amazing Love of the Father

Luke 15:11-24, Rom 8:38-39, 1 John 3:1

I scanned the horizon every day, hoping beyond hope, praying and crying. How I missed him. I missed the smell of his unkempt hair, the sound of his laughter, and even the slurps and burps at the dining table. I was beside myself with sorrow. I really missed him.

Then one morning about noon, I was at the lookout point as usual, still hopeful, and I saw a speck. It was too small a speck to see for my old eyes, but I could recognise the gait anywhere, the way his arms would swing, the way his hair would blow in the wind. It was my son. I wasted no time. Instead of getting the servants to bring him in, I ran to him.

Now, you may say that a man of my position shouldn’t be flailing around like how I did, but I could not risk him changing his mind. He was coming home, don’t you see, he was coming home. I was out of breath when I reached him, and I just hugged him and held him and we both fell to the ground crying. He was crying out, “Father! Father!” or something, but all I could do was hold him. How I missed him. He had a hard time getting the words out because I was smothering him with kisses. My son was home.

The servants ran up to me eventually, equally as winded. I shouted to them to take him into the tents, clean him up and clothe him. People had to see that the one whom everyone thought was gone for good, was now home.

The father in our story represents our heavenly Father, God. It is His loving heart that came out in this story. Just as the father forgave and restored his lost son, so too God is the one who desires to forgive and restore anyone who is far away from Him and therefore lost.

The coming of Christ was the first advent 2000 plus years ago. It was the purpose of the Father to seek us out and to bring us home.

No matter how far we have wandered, not matter what sins we have committed, all that our Father desires is for us to come home. It is the love of the Father that we celebrate, who sent our Saviour, born of a virgin, who lived without sin, and shed His life for our unrighteousness.

In this season of Advent, we will look at the love and restoration that God has for everyone as we journey through the parable of the lost son.

Do you know of someone who needs the loving welcome and embrace of the Father. May we encourage you to pray, in this Christmas season, that our loved ones may experience for themselves a homecoming. And what a glorious homecoming it will be, a great sound of rejoicing in all of heaven, as they return home to the arms of our heavenly Father.

A Devotional by Pastor Calvin Tan

Vicar’s Anniversary Devotion

On St Hilda’s Day, 17 November 2014

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him…Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isa 64:4,8)

Today, Monday 17 November 2014, is St Hilda’s Day, a day we remember and draw inspiration from the life, faith and legacy of Abbess Hilda of Whitby.

Over the weekend, St Hilda’s Church, Katong, Singapore, celebrated the 80th Anniversary of our founding, together with St Hilda’s Primary and Secondary Schools which have moved to Tampines New Town in the 1980s.

As I read Isaiah chapter 64 today, I am humbled by the fact that we are here today because of God’s hand working on our behalf, through our forefathers over the past 80 years. As the Apostle John wrote, “…from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16 ESV). Praise be to our gracious God.

How then, should we move forward into the future, towards our Centenary in twenty years’ time?

Isaiah 64 suggests three keys as we move forward as St Hilda’s Family.

First is waiting: basking in the glorious and loving presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, worshiping and enjoying Him, drinking from the “wells of salvation”, finding security and belonging in His love, not anxious over what we are supposed to do, or how we are supposed to do it. Mission flows from worship.

Second is yielding: letting God, the Potter, shape us like soft clay into the vessel of His design, fired in the furnace to acquire the strength and the sheen that will reflect His glory, and set apart in holiness for His purpose. Mission is enabled by discipleship.

Third is humbling: recognizing it is God who is working through each member of His Body, that we are only vessels and instruments; patiently and lovingly making room for one another, seeking not our own desires but the needs and destiny of the whole Kingdom of God; not pushing a timetable but listening together and following our Shepherd’s leading, for “he has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Mission is advanced in humility.

Let us move forward together! Blessed St Hilda’s Day!

Anniversary Devotional by Rev Tak Meng

One Thought – Anniversary Devotional

09 Nov 2014


“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 3:10-11

This devotion is about ”Footprints”? Why? The East Cost Park is close to my home. It has been my habit on some mornings to jog on the sandy beach, not on the footpath. I also jog bare footed.

The problem is that the beach is sometimes strewn with debris. I therefore risk hurting myself. So, when I jog, I try to follow the footprints left behind by a previous jogger. These footprints assure me of safety.

Footprints also serve another purpose. When one is lost, they give direction. These footprints are the spiritual life-giving principles and values which our predecessors have left for us, and which we, in turn, should leave for the generations to come.

Joshua, the incredible servant-leader of God, in his last days summoned his leaders to deliver to them a final message. There were two parts to his message. Firstly, ”Long time ago” (Joshua 24:2) and secondly ”Now therefore” (Joshua 24:14).

Amidst our 80th anniversary celebrations, let’s reflect on St Hilda’s community’s “long time ago” and “now therefore”.

In the age of mega resources and organizations, it’s useful to note that St Hilda’s Church was birthed in a small way a “Long time ago”. God used a visionary, Archdeacon Graham White, to start His work in Katong. With limited resources but an unlimited God, a nucleus of a congregation and school were started in 1934. God’s work often begins with one man. This is the power of ”one”. This is our “long time ago.”

The church is now 80 years old. It provides facilities both for worship and education. However, it is not the facilities but the relay of people who came before us and who have since passed on that matter to God.

The building of the Church was not so much of structures, systems and strategies. It was the building of lives with the foundation based on His Word.

The cornerstone of our church must be Christ, His obedience to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Over the years we experienced seasons of stagnation but also growth. Each time as the congregations returned to the foundation of His Word and Christ as our cornerstone, we would grow in numbers and in depth of faith.

Having recalled the past, Joshua then says “Now therefore” (Joshua 24:14). I want to resist the temptation of speculating about the future. Instead I want to leave two questions for our consideration.

What kind of legacy or footprints will we as individuals, families, congregations and parish leave behind for our next generation and for generations to come?

Will they be of a transient nature or will they count for eternity?

A Devotional by Sam Ratnam

One Thought – A Devotional

02 Nov 2014

New Wine and New Wineskins

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9: 16-17

We believe in Jesus and are born again. We become a new creation in Christ. We know that in our heads and sing it in church, at home, in cell groups. It’s as simple as that, right?
So what does Jesus mean here in Matt 9:16-17?

When we allow Jesus to make us new, we are wholly new, the old is gone. We are not stitched up with little patches of new. We don’t hold on to “less sinful” things: our old thinking, old practices, old pride, old prejudices and cover up other little holes that are “more sinful” with little bits of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us it doesn’t work like that.

We have to give up our old selves completely. Let God put His new spirit in us completely. Give us a new heart and take away completely the old leprous heart ever so prone to sin.

With Christ in us, we are not a patchwork. Jesus warns us here that if we hold on to our old habits and try to put on the Holy Spirit’s work where it suits us, it is ineffective. The wine of the Holy Spirit will not be poured into this patchwork for God knows that it will not hold and the patchwork will be ruined.

No, we need to be a completely new wineskin. God lovingly invites us to ditch that leprous sinful heart and receive gratefully the new heart He has for us. A heart that is prayerfully dependent on Jesus alone, and actively obedient to His word. It delights our God who gladly pours forth His precious Spirit into the new wineskin that holds together. And the only thing that will burst is the perfect joy that will spring forth from our hearts.

A Devotional by Wai Fung Cranfield

22 Oct 2014

Lean on the Lord; Trust Him

Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere …. like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt ….. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward.
Genesis 13:10-11

Lot chose what looked pleasant to the eye when Abraham, his uncle, offered him to choose first as the land they were dwelling in could not sustain their combined flocks of livestock in the same spot.

Who could blame Lot! All the greenery and lush grass is good for the sheep and goats. It simply makes sense to the natural mind, and, after all, seeing is believing.

How many times I, and perhaps quite many of us, have made decisions in life relying on our own logic, wisdom and personal experience, all confirmed by ‘appearance’. Surely one can’t go wrong doing this, we reason. Lot did, and tragically so. Looking back, I have many regrets as well.
Our fleshly, natural thinking is not only faulty but can be selfish, deceitful and wicked. (Jeremiah 17.9, Ephesians 4:22, etc.) As for experience, the philosopher Immanuel Kant once said that experience can be helpful as far as natural laws are concerned but it can be the mother of illusions in respect of moral laws. Fear for our own interests is another factor that undermines our thinking righteously. Finally, in God’s eyes, even when the outcome is good, it can be the “good” substituting God’s “best” for us.

Not that we should not use our minds to make decisions as our minds too are gifts of God.

But scriptures repeatedly admonish us to think biblically, leaning not on our own understanding but instead trusting in the Lord with all our hearts. In other words, in prayer and meditation on His word, we must first submit our thoughts to God, and then continue checking with Him, in the person of the Holy Spirit, as we think things out and decide.

A Devotional by Chak Siew Cheun

08 Oct 2014

Complementing One Another

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Romans 12:3-5

To think of yourself with sober judgment, one must possess the quality of having a limited and not overly high opinion of oneself and one’s abilities.

Combining this attribute with humility, and having a clear understanding of the truth that God has set securely in our hearts as His redeemed people, we will more readily discard our egos.

Then, we will not only recognise the importance of others, but also willingly accept the distinct difference of each individual we meet or know.

Since we are members of the body of Christ, with Christ Himself at the head of the Church, we too belong to one another.

With our different talents and abilities, we can complement one another and build strength as one body, instead of competing against each other. When we come together as a single body of Christ, unity will prevail and be the firm foundation we build on for His honour and glory.

A Devotional by David Tow

18 Sept 2014

From Water To Wine

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.”
John 2:3

The first miracle of Jesus – turning water into wine – can seem so unimportant. After all, this miracle does not resolve any life-or-death, even major crisis. Not surprisingly, then, I have always been puzzled over what is its possible true significance. Is it really just about wine, offered at a simple village wedding?

Today, being much older, things have taken a somewhat different perspective. Like a wedding celebration that has dragged on, when energy levels have dropped somewhat, one also feels to be running low on wine, so to speak. My efforts show less sparkle, and more and more resemble plain water.

Under such circumstances, Jesus’ ‘simple’ miracle of turning water into wine takes on another possible and powerful significance.

Based on that first miracle, I know I can depend upon Him to take the ‘water’ in my life and, in His Faithfulness, turn it into ‘wine’ of the rarest vintage, so that others, tasting of His extraordinary Goodness, would say in surprise and delight, “Wow, He’s certainly left the best for last!”

Not such a ‘simple’ miracle after all, but truly, the Work of an awesome God!

A Devotional by David Chan

14 August 2014

To Be The Least

He who is least among you all, he is the greatest. – Luke 9:48

During my recent trip to Beijing, I met a long-time friend. He is volunteering in a local Church mentoring younger Christians. Over dinner he shared how God repeatedly reminded him “to be the least” when serving others.

On my flight back to Singapore, I started to read my regular devotional scripture and lo and behold, Luke 9:48 stared me in the face. What did this mean? Sunday’s scripture repeated the same message from Matthew Chapter 20:27, shouting at me “whoever wants to be first must be your slave”. Prior to scripture reading during Praise & Worship, we sang how God would strengthen us and how God would fill our cup with his grace and mercy. Then during sermon our attention was drawn to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed. Three times Jesus inquired of His Father if His cup could be taken away. “Yet not as I will but as You will”, and later, “…may Your will be done”.

What was God trying to minister to me?

We are called to be the least. However, many a time we desire to be seated at the right hand of God the Father. Often, we strive to be “great” but along the way we forsake or forget the Lord’s call to servanthood. It is only when we learn to be humble, that we will come to realise that we need God and be dependent on his Grace and Mercy. It is only then that we discover how feeble we are!

The story of Gethsemane teaches us that part of God’s plan requires us to face challenges, trials, and temptations. We are often ruined by our very thoughts, words, deeds and sense of self-importance. But behold, it is when we have failed and sinned that God meets us when we are most ready to embrace His mercy and grace. Only when we experience this intimate fellowship with God do we know that God is there always here for us and that we don’t have to be right up there with Him to be close to Him. He will always be in us and with us.

Are you ready to be the least?

A Devotional by Khoo See Kiang

30 July 2014

Let Our Words Edify

Thoughts for Singapore’s National Day

National Day is here again. I hope that we do not see it as just another public holiday to sleep in longer or to catch up with those chores left undone. What should it mean to us as Christians?

God created time and space. As people created in His image, we live within this framework. As citizens or permanent residents we live in this place which we call “Home”. It is not just our decision. We may not realize this – but God put us here, in this particular time and place, for a purpose. This could have been through birth or migration. But it is not an accident! Hence, we should take our citizenship seriously.

In the rough and tumble of life we become engrossed in survival. What matters most to us is “my family and I”. Yes, God calls us to be responsible for ourselves and for our families. From cradle to grave there will always be our family.

However, the call of citizenship goes beyond this very narrow confine. For a start, we are called to pray for our nation. In particular:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1Timothy 2:1-2)

History has shown that nations do not crumble only because of wrong political and socio-economic programmes. They also crumble because a nation’s spiritual and moral fabric is allowed to degenerate. Let us pray that truth, honesty and justice will prevail in our corridors of power.

There are no perfect nations. We will always find flaws in our structures, policies, programmes and leaders. Yes, we have a responsibility to articulate our concerns. But bad mouthing is not the way of Christ’s Spirit. Instead, let our words edify rather than destroy the good foundational values which God has laid in Singapore since 49 years ago:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

Finally, remember that our life in this city is only temporary. We are in transit as citizens of Singapore. It is just a preparation for us, as believers, to enter into that heavenly city:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

by Samuel Ratnam

23 July 2014

Equipping for God’s Work

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

If all Scripture is God-breathed, then the entire Bible – 66 books, 1,189 chapters, and 31,102 verses – must be accepted unconditionally as the Word of God. If that is so, then the application of God’s Word must be the sole authority governing the church, its leadership, its families and the friendships that form.

The usefulness of God’s Word is for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Why righteousness? Because it encompasses such qualities as uprightness, holiness, godliness, equity, justice, rightfulness, integrity, honesty and faithfulness. These qualities are not physical. They are a genuine reflection of the inner man. Therefore, a true born-again believer must always be receptive to teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. This positive attitude will allow one to continuously be a “work-in-progress” in the hands of our Master Creator, God Himself.

A “work-in-progress” is only possible when one recognises and readily accepts the handy work of our Master. With this clear understanding, one will be able to gladly embrace servanthood and not leadership recognition. Only with genuine humility to serve, will the true servant of God be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

What is ‘every good work’? It is all that one labours for that is useful, beneficial and worthwhile, and caring for the welfare and success of others. Only when one is thoroughly equipped with a deep understanding of servanthood, then the giving and serving will be done willingly, wholeheartedly, and with honest intent – with motives that are right with God and man.

by David Tow

9 July 2014

Training for God’s Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
Hebrews 12:11, 12

In our earthly race, being recognised for excellence requires hard work, perseverance and determination. We would sacrifice and ignore all distractions to achieve success. Should we expect any less in God’s training in the Christian race?

God’s call introduces conflicts to our worldly nature. The tussle requires expunging worldly wisdom and filling ourselves with kingdom values. When things do not go your way, how do we endure? Do we trust that God has a better plan and thank Him? Do we practise meekness when we are passed over for recognition? Are we a peacemaker in conflicts or do we aim to get even?

Kingdom living is counter culture. It makes us ‘strange’ in the eyes of our colleagues, friends or pre-believers. Let the Holy Spirit guide us in sacrificing unto the Lord and accepting God’s discipline. Life in the Spirit is made abundant by amazing possibilities and experiences that He alone can design.

There was an athlete who chose to forego his trophy race despite tremendous pressure. He ran and felt the pleasure of God. When the 1924 Paris Olympics heats for his favourite 100m event fell on a Sunday, he gave it up as he rested on Sundays to honour God. Triumphantly, God honoured Eric Liddell with an Olympic 400m championship that he was not favoured to win. His 400m timing shattered the European record and stood for 12 years. Eric’s story was inspiringly told in the award winning movie Chariots of Fire.

God has a race for each of us. With God’s training and discipline comes God’s immense reward. Sometimes, it takes God’s gentle rebuke to raise our faith in Him. Yet, our loving Father provides the strength and blesses us with victory. Let us embrace His training and build our spiritual muscles for His glory. He is worth it.

by Wai Fung Cranfield

8 June 2014

Jesus Gives Us Peace

Jesus says, ”Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.”
John 14:27

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, peace is freedom from disturbance; tranquility. It is also freedom from the cessation of war. Amid the bombardment of life in the 21st century information age, who but Jesus can truly give us peace?

Jesus is available to counsel or comfort us at any time of day or night; we don’t need an appointment. He says, “I do not give to you as the world gives.”

There are no monetary payments. His arms are wide open and welcoming. He wants us to draw closer, to experience the tranquility that is only available in a relationship with the Son of God.

Travelling in Singapore on the MRT one may notice how many people are tuned in to some kind of mobile device. Some are watching a video, some listening to music or surfing the internet and some writing a message into a smart phone. One way or another they are seeking comfort in their environment.

Whichever the diversion, it can only be temporary. When it is time to get off the train we are thrown back into the cacophony of the world.

Yet, Jesus will journey with us wherever we go, far beyond the end of the train line. Our relationship with Jesus is unshakable and steadfast as He faithfully receives us in any location, at any time of day or night.

Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Go to Jesus and experience a peace that transcends all understanding.

by Mark Cranfield