The year 2020 began with anxiety for me as a volcano erupted in the Philippines which disrupted our plans for a mission trip in February. By the time we gathered for the Chinese New Year reunion dinner, it was sad news all around as friends in China shared the news of the spread of the coronavirus from Wuhan city. All our plans for travels and projects were shelved as we watched the pandemic grow into a global crisis, from medical to economic and humanitarian crises.
1 Kings 18:20-40 showcases the greatest Bible showdown between the prophets of Baal and God’s prophet, Elijah. The fiery encounter saw a spectacular, supernatural victory that led to national revival. Disappointment with God leads us, like Elijah, to hide in our cave, isolate and stay distanced from others. It is understandable to feel down, discouraged and depressed as we close a difficult year.
The world sometimes seems like such a messy place. Our era is marked by division, derision and discontent. With so many claims to truth in opposition to one another, even amongst those of the faith – what are we to do? How do we stand firm and cling to the God who is the Way, the Truth and the abundant Life in the midst of the chaos and brokenness?
The passage in Luke 5: 1-11 is about Jesus’ visitation to Simon Peter and his friends after a night of futile fishing. Jesus then called them to launch out again and there was a great catch. If you have been giving it all in your occupation and yet have encountered futility, get ready for a great catch (fruitfulness), as never before when Jesus comes on the scene.
I wonder if you can think back to your journey with God and how He has made known to you the paths of life and led you as your Shepherd to enjoy His presence and the eternal pleasures at His right hand, where Christ is seated. I had often wondered about Psalm 16:11 and recalled how Christ was making “known to me the paths of life” by bringing that truth to me not only in a very personal way but also in a contextual way, within the worldview and life style I was brought up in. It was so unique to me.
On Christmas Day, most of us would have sung the hymn written by Charles Wesley, “Hark! the Harald Angels Sing”. The mission of God, the newborn King, was to be born that man no more may die. Christ Jesus came on a mission that first Christmas. In that very first act of worship recorded in the Scriptures, we read of the Magi coming and bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. It was an act of devotion, as the Magi responded to God’s mission, by offering their best to Him.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The night of 24th December 2002, Christmas Eve, at Mt Elizabeth Hospital, the whole family gathered around my mother, who was breathing her last. We spent the final moments praying, speaking to her and committing her into the loving hands of our Lord God.
On this Christmas Eve some 2000 years back, something was brewing in the cosmos. The Infinite WORD was about to become … flesh. The word flesh (σάρξ; sarx) describes the condition of human existence and the nature of the relation between the living being and the world. It denotes how being is dependent on the created order, for example, how human life is dependent on air and the specific composition of gases. Life on earth is subject to certain conditions and has its limitations.
Being on fire for God will lead one to places less travelled, to where only God our Shepherd has trodden and scouted out before us. To be on fire for God is to rely on God’s pillar of fire, to be comfortable with the tiny light from the lamp unto our feet. If you are, like me, on a road less travelled, I hope this meditation will be of comfort to you.
If God is with us, why? Gideon was one of many biblical figures to ask this question – and with good reason! Israel in Judges 6 was in a state of terror and humiliation – suffering Midianite invasions, hunger and despair. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, and called him a mighty warrior.