November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
There is a very important reason why the baptismal font has a central place in the sanctuary. It signifies that we simultaneously died with Christ and live with Christ. Paul makes a simple argument in Romans 6:1-11. Since we were baptized into Christ’s death (6:3), we are also raised with Christ to live a new life (6:4). Therefore, as a people who are united with God through Christ’s transformative death and resurrection (6:5), we can count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:11). If we look at the evidence of sin in our lives, there is no hope. Yet, if we look at our lives with eyes of faith, we will see the hopeful signs of Christ’s transformative work. You and I have no excuse to sin anymore. Let us claim our baptismal identity by embracing Christ’s transformation in our lives today!
November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
Hope is to know that help sometimes come in ways that we could not foresee or cannot explain afterwards. It is when the odds are stacked against us from all human perspectives that we can see God’s help most clearly. The poet of Psalm 124 speaks from an apparent desperate situation (124:1-5) to praise God as the Helper responsible for an escape from this situation (124:6-8). He had a real experience of “our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (124:8). Can you tell similar stories? Are their currently anything in your life that requires the desperate intervention of God in the midst of a seemingly impossible situation? Pray today in the name of the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, to come to your rescue.
November 27, 2010 § 1 Comment
We know very well that we are not living in a trustworthy world. The signs of a lack of peace and security are overwhelming. That is why we always pray with Psalm 122, “may there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels” (122:7). We dare praying such a prayer because we know we have a trustworthy God with the ability to recreate a trustworthy world. Our hope is rooted in God’s ability to turn things around when they get stuck, and therefore, we never give up on situations in which there are an apparent lack of peace and security. Can you see God’s vision for peace and security in a particular situation, whether it be in relationships between people or somewhere in the world? If you can see it, you can pray with Psalm 122, “peace be within you” (122:8).
November 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
The morning has broken in Christ! Therefore, says Romans 13:11-14, “wake up from your slumber” (13:11). God’s future arose on us, and we are called to participate in the rising light of the resurrected Christ. To do that, “let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light” so that we are clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ (13:12, 14). We have hope… not only because the light of the resurrected Jesus always shine on us from the future, but also because that light enable us to replace “the desires of the sinful nature” with decent behavior that fits life in the daytime (13:13-14). Is there a specific change of lifestyle required for you to participate in God’s new morning?
November 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
Matthew 24:36-44 may seem like an odd text for Thanksgiving Day. But it really takes us to the heart of the Christian posture of thanksgiving. It is only when we give up our tendency to want to control the future, and fully rely on God to bring about God’s future among us, that our lives can move beyond anxiety and concern to thanksgiving for the gifts that we are about to receive from God. This is not only a thanksgiving for what we have already received in the past, but a thanksgiving of trust that God will continue to surprise us with blessings in the future. This coming Sunday is also the beginning of the new church year with the start of the Advent season. Advent is a season of anticipation during which we learn to wait on God to show up from God’s future. It is a season of hope that is fully rooted in God’s faithfulness to control the future.
November 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
It is Thanksgiving eve. We count our many blessings and give thanks for them. Psalm 24 suggests that for God’s people thanksgiving starts with the acknowledgement that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (24:1). If we truly acknowledge that, we learn to seek the Lord in every aspect of our lives, because everything belongs to Him anyway. Then we reject the ability of any other “idols” to give blessings (24:4). Thanksgiving is a time to be honest about naming the “contemporary idols” (especially the consumerist and material ones) that create the illusion that we are dependent on them for the blessings in our lives. Those who are able to shift the focus of their lives from these other idols to the one and only true God “will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Saviour” (24:5).
November 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
Here is that strong biblical message again… do not fear! Jeremiah draws a pretty ugly picture of a world under God’s judgment in chapter 46. And yet, he suddenly changes the tone in the last two verses of the chapter. “Do not fear… do not be dismayed… I will surely save you” (46:27). God’s people are promised peace and security in the midst of life’s messiness and the world’s self destructiveness. How is it possible not to fear, and why is the promise of peace and security one to take serious? Because “I am with you,” declares the Lord (46:28). Since He is Immanuel – God with us – in Jeremiah’s ugly picture, we will not be completely destroyed (46:28). The One who promises all this is indeed the only One to trust!