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Devotionals

Stock-sunset-2

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).

A PRAYER
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

SERVING IN VAIN?

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

IF GOD DID NOT HELP VISIBLY, TRUST THAT INVISIBLY HE DID

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

HOW GREAT IS OUR JOY?

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

LENT. MORE THAN SUPERFICIAL FASTING

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

INWARD PARTS

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

THE EXPIRY DATE

‘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!’”

“‘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

HITTING BRICK WALLS

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

DEVOTIONAL ART

Devotional-Art-on-Proverbs-3-CRATNAM

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

ENCOURAGEMENT

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

WHAT ARE WE BUILDING?

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

DIVIDE AND CONQUER (I Peter 5:8-9)

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

Footprints

“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

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