The Importance Of Prayer

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayer, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” (1 Timothy 2:1)

Paul’s first exhortation to Timothy is to pray for all kinds of people, including the king, those in high positions, and those around him as well. So why was prayer Paul’s first advice? 

His answer is in the following verses, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

We must pray before any kind of ministry to anyone because salvation is found only through Jesus Christ. There is no other alternative. Other gods from other nations or religions cannot save. The naturalist worldview offered by science cannot save. Only because of Christ’s ransom, a person can be forgiven of their sins and reconciled with God. 

To be able to believe in God is a gift from God. There will be no fruit if God’s Spirit does not work through the words we say or the gospel we share. God is the one who builds His kingdom; we are only His tools. Therefore, we must pray for God to work in and through us. More precisely, we must plead for the grace to be included in God’s wondrous works because God could accomplish His work without us. Therefore, we must ask for the privilege to partake in His work. 

In addition to this, Paul mentions how God desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. This does not mean that all people will be saved, as later in the same epistle, Paul clearly refutes this idea (see 1 Timothy 4:1). However, Paul says this to proclaim that the gospel is not only restricted to the Jews or a specific people group. It does not matter how sinful you are or how broken you are. God’s salvation applies to you if you would believe in Him. 

Comparing with 2 Timothy 2:25, we find that God may “perhaps” grant repentance. God has no prejudice, but those who receive mercy and those who don’t are concealed in His eternal goodness and wisdom. 

And so, before any sort of ministry, we should pray that God has mercy on those we minister to and that God would show His favour to give them mercy to repent. In the end, all is in God’s hands — perhaps He might grant them repentance. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. Because of this, God calls us to pray, to learn to rely on Him, and grow in trusting Him. 

Lord, please teach us how to pray. Teach us that apart from You, we cannot do anything. You desire all people to be saved. You have a plan to restore Your kingdom and bring people back from all nations. Please have mercy on us and use us to be Your instruments in a little section of Your grand plan. Give us an evangelical spirit and a burden to pray for lost souls. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Obeying Our Parents

Bible Reading: Ephesians 5:1-21, 6:1-4

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

After unpacking the glorious graces of our election as children of God, who God loves from eternity, Paul turns to the practical application of loving others. Because Christ loves us unconditionally, we are called to love those around us. However, an aspect of such love that we often miss is submission to others, as Ephesians 5:21 highlights, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”. 

Paul then lists three areas where a Christian should submit; a wife to her husband, a child to their parents, and a slave to their master. How much thought have we put into submitting to our parents out of reverence to Christ? 

Here we are faced with some tough questions. How do I submit to my parents when they don’t seem godly like Christ? How do I submit to flawed parents who have done more harm than good to my childhood? How do I obey when my parents don’t understand me and make absurd rules? 

Yes, our parents are imperfect. However, the bitterness stored up in our hearts is a problem we need to resolve within ourselves. Previously, Ephesians 4:31-32 said, “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.” 

When we received Christ, we received forgiveness for our sins. God did not show us our retribution towards us. He did not punish us as we deserved. Instead, God led our ignorant and brutish life to a point where we finally realised that we were sinful and in need of a saviour. His love for us is unfathomable. 

Because God first loved us, we ought to love others. And love means forgiveness. However hard it is, if we know the love of Christ, we will be compelled to love those who have hurt us, including our parents. We can love them and honour them because we love God and are willing to submit ourselves to His ways. 

One of the hardest yet simplest things to do is to pray about these things to God. Confess to God all our pain and bitterness and ask Him to forgive us and wash us clean. Be sure that God knows what we are going through. On the cross, Christ was mocked and humiliated by those who He came to save. After that, we ought to also pray for our imperfect parents. If God has given us the grace to know Him and grow in Him, don’t we want our parents to receive the same? 

Lastly, we ought to pray for the strength to honour our parents. Family relationships are often the toughest. Joseph was betrayed by his ten brothers, who threw him in a well and sold him as a slave just to get rid of him. However, when he met his brothers again after many years in Egypt, he did not rage with revenge as he could have rightfully done. Instead, he says, “​​I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:4-5). 

Joseph knew that God had a plan for his life despite the evil his family caused him. Joseph did not deny his family food when the famine struck. Instead, he welcomed and forgave them. Is God calling you to be His light and witness within your imperfect family? 

Lord, thank You that You are the true loving Father and that we are Your children. Please forgive us for all the bitterness stored in our hearts towards our earthly families. Help us to honour our parents and love our families. You have placed us in them for a reason. Please help our parents get to know You more and grow in the grace You have shown to me. Help us also as children to honour our parents and be a testimony of Your love and grace in our homes. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

In Need Of Divine Intervention

Bible Reading: John 3:1-21

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6)

God promised back in Ezekiel 36:25-27 that He “will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” 

Now, Jesus tells Nicodemus that apart from such heavenly intervention, no one can enter the kingdom of God. Jesus makes it plain that for us to be partakers of God’s kingdom where we can be reconciled with God to live in a loving relationship serving Him, we need the Spirit to intervene in our lives. Without God’s active work in our lives, there is no way we can know God or be born again. 

Like Nicodemus and the Jewish rulers, we often think that we can get to know God and be “good” Christians all by ourselves. We think it is plain and pragmatic — go to church, study the Bible, participate in ministry and church events, learn Theology to deepen our understanding and so on and so forth. We live by the principle of “squeezism”, a term coined by Rev. Dr Stephen Tong encouraging us to squeeze every moment for its eternal value. We do not waste our time with vain worldly things. Instead, our schedule is packed with ministry, extra Christian books, Bible study, the list goes on. 

Yet, in all our busyness, we forget the reality that all these things are in vain if the Holy Spirit does not work through these means of grace to draw us into the light. Despite knowing the Scriptures inside out, the Jewish rulers remained in the dark towards Christ, eventually crucifying Him on the cross. Similarly, however well-learned we are as Christians, we will always be in the dark to God’s spiritual reality unless, by some divine mercy, God’s Spirit melts our sinful and stubborn hearts and gives us hearts of flesh. 

Don’t be quick to say, “I know God. I’m a good Christian”. As humans, we are nothing, and such pride will only work to destroy us at the right moment. Instead, we ought to be humble and broken before the Lord. We are indeed nothing in God’s eyes. We are sinful and rebellious people who do not deserve His grace. We are or were dead men, lost in the darkness and depravity of our iniquities. Our only hope for any light is if God, in His good will, is pleased to work within us personally and change our hearts. This takes a miracle, and the most we can do is beg for it. 

May we have hearts like the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30 who begged Jesus to have mercy on her despite acknowledging her unworthiness. 

Lord, we cannot do anything unless You send Your Spirit to change our hearts. Lord, You promised that You would do so for Your people. Have mercy on us and change our hearts. Give us life in Your ways. Turn our hearts to delight in You and Your ways. Forgive us, for we think that we are well off without You. We deceive ourselves in thinking that we are spiritually fine when in reality, only Your mercy sustained us. Give us Your mercy once again that our faith may grow, and we can grow to glorify You as Your humble servants. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

God Unchanging

Bible Reading: Psalm 93

“Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting” (Psalm 93:2).

A lot of the time, we find reading the Bible quite unrelatable to our everyday lives. As a result, we often neglect this spiritual discipline which we know is essential. What are we to do about this? 

J.I. Packer’s Knowing God highlights how the Bible is, in fact, related to us in every aspect because the God it speaks about is unchanging. 

A common presupposition that we bring when reading the Bible is that it should be a self-help manual that will give us steps to overcome our problems and live happy lives. God’s Word will indeed lead to sanctified holy lives where we can enjoy the true life of fellowship with God. However, God does not only reveal Himself to solve our problems.

If we only seek answers to our problems, we are like those who followed Jesus because He gave them free bread. We seek God’s blessing and not God Himself. God wants us to get to know Him. God wants us to love Him. God wants us to taste the goodness of His glory. This is far more superior than satisfying ourselves with God’s blessings. 

Because of this, God’s Word is full of stories and sayings and letters testifying to who God is, made manifest ultimately through Christ on the cross. Christ is the crux of the whole Bible. All the stories in the Old Testament and all the letters in the New Testament point to Christ, where God manifests the unfathomable depths of His wisdom and the unsearchable riches of His grace.

This said, once again, the God of the Bible does not change. The God that was revealed in ages past is still the same God today. The Jesus who is mighty to save still calls those who would return and believe in Him today. The God of Exodus 34:6, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation”, is still the God of today. 

As such, we can get to know our God when we read His Word. We can have a relationship with Him because He wants to speak to us through His Word. He is tenderly waiting for you to come to Him. Will you listen to His call? 

Lord, thank You that You are the holy yet merciful God. Thank You for the mercy You have given to us so that we can get to know You. Please help us to get to know You even more through Your Word. Give us the burden and desire to long for You. Turn our eyes away from treasuring Your blessings more than You Yourself. Show us little by little Your unsearchable wisdom and grace that we may bring glory to You. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Passing On The Baton

Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also, Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus”. (2 Timothy 2:1-3)

God’s History of Salvation continues until this day. The gospel of Christ is passed down from one generation to another as God continues to work through His church to gather His chosen people into His kingdom. As time passes, generations pass. But, God’s work never stops. God will accomplish it, and in the end, God’s kingdom will be fully established. 

Do we realise that our time is soon? Those above us are growing old, and soon we will be adults of the church. We will be handed down the baton of the gospel. What are we going to do with this baton in our hands? What is more, how are we going to prepare to receive it? 

We must pray for a serious understanding of what is taking place. Unless God reveals to us His will, we will surely go astray. We need a burden to understand God’s mission. We need a burden to be the answer to the line in the Lord’s prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. Moreover, we need to see God’s glory and unbound wisdom so that we may rejoice in the privilege He has given us to partake in His glorious works. 

How much do we actually know God? How big of a burden do we have for lost souls? How much do we love God’s church? These things are only gifts of grace from God. We cannot attain them ourselves. Yet, according to God’s many promises in the Bible, He will raise His servants in every age, and God will prepare His servants to serve Him in every way. 

The question is, are we going to be used as God’s chosen servants in the next generation? We are unworthy because of sin, and so the default answer should be no. However, God gives mercy to whom He will give mercy. To be used by God on earth is what will make our lives meaningful. To be used by God on earth will be the greatest joy and fulfilment of our lives. God promised that He saved us for good works (see Ephesians 2:10). We must beg that God show His ways in our lives and that our lives are used for Him for His works. 

Lord, please do not pass us by. We are your people, and we want to be used by You. We know that we are unworthy; forgive us for all our sins that are many and always surround us. You can use the most wretched of sinners. Please sanctify us and use us as Your instruments in the generation to come. Prepare us, Lord, for Your works. Bring us into a closer relationship with You and plant Your love deeper into our souls. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Remembering God’s History Of Salvation

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 9

“You are the LORD, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before you, and made with him the covenant to give to his offspring the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite. And you have kept your promise, for you are righteous.” (Nehemiah 9:7-8)

Have you ever read through the stories of the Old Testament? What do you think you are supposed to learn from it? 

One of the things that God wants His church to remember continually is His story of salvation. From reading the many stories in the Old Testament, God wants us to learn how He is faithful to His people. God wants to bring us to trust in Him that He will continue to be faithful in the future as He has already promised. 

Nehemiah had just been appointed the governor of the rebuilt Jerusalem. The exiles had just returned from Babylon. A fact to notice is that these people who had returned quite possibly had never lived in Israel before. They were second-generation exiles who were born in foreign lands. So for them, this was the first time coming to their homeland. 

A lot of us can probably relate to their experiences as third-culture kids. Their identity was Jewish. Yet, they grew up speaking Babylonian; they grew up playing and learning with Babylonian children. Thus, the culture and Jewish way of life would have been foreign to them, despite their parents’ efforts to teach them their identity. 

So, at the beginning of their return, the new Israelites discovered many new things about who they were as they read the Law. They recalled once again their history. God had called Abraham to the Promised Land and promised that God would make a nation and people of His own from Abraham’s offspring. From Abraham was born Isaac, and from Isaac was born Jacob. Then, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and from Israel came Joseph. Joseph was sent as a slave to Egypt. However, in God’s providence, this turned out for the good of Israel’s family when famine struck. Then, they all moved into Egypt. Over time, the Pharaoh turned evil, and the Israelites became enslaved. It wasn’t until Moses that God freed them from captivity, remembering His promise of the Promised Land. 

They then remembered how God had led the Israelites through the wilderness and how God still led despite the Israelites moaning to return to Egypt and worshipping golden calves. Finally, God led the Israelites to victory over the nations living in the Promised Land, and God gave the land over to His people as He had promised. However, over time, the people forgot about God, and despite multiple reminders by prophets to turn back to God, they still refused to obey. As a result, they were exiled to Babylon. 

Then all the new Israelites fell down and repented before their God, who had once again given them mercy to repent and return to Him from the exile. They learnt how God was faithful and compassionate, slow to anger and always forgiving. They knew they did not deserve a chance to return to Him after what their forefathers had done. 

God’s History of Salvation does not stop here. Eventually, the story reaches the Offspring, who is Christ. Christ died on the cross so that people from all nations who believe in Him would be forgiven and welcomed into God’s church, His true people. Until today, God is still working to expand His church from the commission He first gave to His disciples (see Matthew 28:16-20). First, Jesus’ disciples spread the gospel to many nations. From there, more people spread the gospel to more places until it eventually reached us in this place. 

God has been working from the beginning of the world to bring people into His Kingdom. God is always faithful and will continue working until He returns and all His children are saved. How good is it to believe in such a God? If God has been faithful according to His promises over thousands of years, will He not keep His promises again in the future? Therefore, let us trust in Him. 

Lord, thank You because You are a faithful God. Thank You because You are a sovereign God. You are in control of all things. May Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Please help us understand Your history of salvation and use us also as instruments in Your grand story. May Your name be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Who Can Understand God’s Love?

Bible Reading: Lamentations 3

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

This verse in Lamentations is undoubtedly familiar to the majority of us. We endlessly quote and sing these words. Nonetheless, we can only catch a glimmer of its profundity when we read it in context. The writer of Lamentations says, “[God] has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked” (Lamentations 3:7-9). 

In a time of exile, there was no hope to be found. The reason for exile was the people’s disobedience to God. When God is against you, there is no more comfort to be found. You are in the dark, and there is no light to hold on to. This was what it was like for those in exile. It marked the epitome of the darkest human experiences. There was nothing more evil one could experience. 

Yet, in the deepest hole, the writer recalls one truth — God’s steadfast love. What is God’s steadfast love? It is unfathomable. It is too far and wide and deep for anyone to acknowledge. What does it mean to be recipients of God’s promise in Romans 8:35-37, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, 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”?

The following verses in Romans confirm, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-38). 

Nothing separates God from those whom He chose to love. Yet, we were not worthy of His love. We were not worthy of getting to know Him. He is holy, and we are not. He is perfectly good, yet we are rebelliously and ignorantly sinful. And yet, He loves us. 

He loved us to the point of sending His own Son for us on the cross. Christ died for our sins so that we would be justified before God, accepted by God in Christ’s righteousness. Christ suffered the darkest experience for our sake — he took upon the Father’s wrath, which we deserved. In God’s wrath, there is no hope. There is only pure judgement from God’s holiness. Yet, Christ took this on for us because of love. 

Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are safe in His arms forever. Nothing can separate us from Him. The darkest moments of our lives will always be for good. God will always be faithful even when we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. What did we ever do to deserve this? Why would God choose to love us? 

Yet, He does, and He loves all His children. He loves all those who would repent and believe in Him. He calls His flock to listen to Him. He gives the open invitation to those weary and burdened to come to Him and find rest. Have you put your whole trust in Him? Because He loves His children. 

Lord, who can understand Your love and the hope You give to those who would trust in You? Who can fathom Your eternal wisdom and plan for salvation? Lord, thank You for Your love. Thank You that You care for wretched sinners like me. Thank You that You have forgiven me in Christ, and You promise to be faithful as You always have been. Teach me to trust You more, to love You more, to get to know You more. May Your name alone be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

The Guilty Remnant

Bible Reading: Ezra 9-10

“And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape?” (Ezra 9:13-14)

If a judge granted undeserved mercy to a criminal and let him walk free, the last thing you would expect would be for this criminal to go out and mug yet another old lady. The mercy he received out to have made him realise the evil he had committed and the goodness the judge had given him. In awe and respect to the judge, doing another crime should not have crossed his mind again. 

This is what you would have expected from the remnant of Israel. Because of their idolatry and worship of foreign gods, God destroyed their cities and sent all of them into exile. When you are exiled, you are stripped from human dignity. You become an inferior slave, a prisoner of war. You have no right except to obey your new masters or be killed. God was letting His people know how serious their crime was. 

Fast forward to Ezra’s time, and God has mercy to return the remnants of His people to Israel. You would expect that the Israelites would have learnt their lesson — do not serve other gods. Yet, as soon as they returned to their ruined homelands, they intermarried with foreign nations and implicitly welcomed the worship of foreign idols into their homes. So, you might ask, what is wrong with these people? 

However, if you pry a little further, God put stories like these in the Bible because they are stories about us, Christians. We all have gone after idols. We have rejected to serve the One True God. We serve ourselves, wealth, pleasure, fame, acceptance, the list goes on. God’s wrath is what we deserve. We were separated from a relationship with the living God. We were cursed with death. Our sin is serious. 

Yet, God chose to love us from eternity. Because of that, He sent His only Son to die for our sins on the cross. He bore our punishment on Himself and clothed us in His perfect righteousness. At the right time, His Spirit opened our hearts to this message and gave us the gift of faith. We were regenerated, and we believed and returned to our God — something we definitely do not deserve.

We ought to run away from our sins, turn away from all our idols. But what do we do? We run straight back to our idols. Though we are Christians, we often still turn to serve our pride, love for money, desire to be accepted and selfish ambitions. We so often forget about the love of Christ that has redeemed us. 

What should we do? Ezra serves as an example for us. He got on his knees and begged for mercy. We cannot overcome the monsters of sin within ourselves. We need God’s mercy (see 1 John 1:9). Then, Ezra bought all the Israelites together in an urgent meeting. Together, they decided to repent and put away all the intermarriage they had committed. They took a serious act of repentance. They put to death the sin that had invaded them. So too, we are called to put to death the sin in our lives (see Romans 6:12-14). 

May God continue to sanctify us and help us live more holily day by day. 

Lord, please forgive us because we often stray away from You. Even though You have given us the greatest gift of a new life in Christ, we often forget and think other idols will satisfy us more than You. Please have mercy on us. Help us overcome our sins and help us turn to You. Change our hearts and give us a heart that loves You more. Help us put our sin to death and live holy lives, set apart for Your good works. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Looking Upon The Lord

Bible Reading: Psalm 123

“To you I lift up my eyes,

    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

 Behold, as the eyes of servants

    look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maidservant

    to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to the Lord our God,

    till he has mercy upon us.” (Psalm 123:1-2)

Wherever we are now in our walk of faith, what is our prayer? Whether we are jubilant with praise or wandering through the darkest valley of our lives, what should be our prayer? For those of you who doubt, who are weary, who feel stuck in your faith, who are bearing heavy burdens, who are sick of this God-thing because it just never seems to work, what is your prayer? 

There is only one thing a man can do; beg for God’s mercy. We are sinful, broken human beings. We have no good in us. Everything we do deserves eternal damnation. Our lives are futile, filled with emptiness and death because we have rebelled against the Holy God. Even if we wanted to fix the problem, we can’t. No matter how hard we try to do good works and make up for our past mistakes, we will never return to a state of holiness. God cannot accept a single blemish, and yet, when we think of ourselves as capable of reaching God with our good works, we usurp God’s position as God, making ourselves yet again be flawed. If you strive for perfection, you will never get there. If you strive for heaven by your own works, you will never get there. 

There is only one thing a man can do; beg for God’s mercy. Get on your knees, weep, confess to God as you are. Accept the fact that you are dirty, filthy, and sinful before God no matter what others would think of you, no matter if you are the pastor’s kid, no matter if you’ve appeared to be a saint in church all your life. And fall on your knees not only once, but continuously for without God, we are nothing. 

Without God, we would never be able to comprehend the message of the cross. Without God, we could never believe in Him and accept salvation. Without God, we would never be able to grow in faith. Without God, we would never be able to endure hardship. Without God, we would never have peace and joy in knowing Him. Without God, we are left to rot in our sins, making ourselves all the more ready to be thrown in hell. 

I need God’s mercy. You need God’s mercy. Wherever we are in our walk of life, whoever we are, we need God’s mercy. The psalmist understood this, for he begged, “Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us”. Have we begged before God in such a manner before? 

The mysterious thing is that God is faithful to those who He loves. He answers the prayers of the weak and lowly and those who earnestly seek Him. Hold to the promises God gives in Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:7, Psalm 9:10 and the list goes on. Seek the mercy of the Lord.

Lord, have mercy on me. You know my innermost struggle. I have no idea how to deal with it, Lord. Please forgive me for my sins and have mercy on me. Remember me in Your love and sacrifice on the cross. Remember also all the promises You have made for those who seek You. Lord, I don’t know how to seek You. I don’t know where I can find You. Nonetheless, have mercy on me and bring me into Your light. Please do not leave me, do not forsake me. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Trusting In God, Not In Man

Bible Reading: Ezra 8:21-36

“The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.” (Ezra 8:22b)

In God’s awe-striking mercy and sovereign providence, Artaxerxes, king of Persia, finally issued a decree for Ezra to reinhabit Jerusalem and God’s temple with its wealth and people. Thus, after years of exile and oppression, the people were finally given room for freedom. It was indeed an exciting time. However, it was also a moment for fearing God’s goodness and benevolent faithfulness to His people. 

After harking the good news to Israelite leaders in the diaspora, Ezra camped at the Ahava river with all these leaders and all the gold and silver king Artaxerxes had returned for God’s temple. There was one final stretch to Jerusalem. But, it would be a dangerous one. 

Ezra’s camp of newly released exiles was weaponless and weak. On top of that, they carried with them an exceedingly large amount of treasures for God’s temple. The 650 talents of silver they carried equate to about 22 metric tons of silver in today’s units of measurement. Ezra and his crew were walking through the middle of nowhere. They were an easy target for enemies and anyone who would be interested in plundering them. 

Now, Ezra had a choice. His party actually had political support behind them. The royal infantry was presently at his disposal. It simply took a messenger to King Artaxerxes, and mighty horses and elite warriors would have galloped to their rescue. It would have been pretty neat. It’s not every day that you have the nation’s military power in your hands. 

However, this was not Ezra’s response. Ezra did not want to trust in the power of men. Previously, Ezra had testified to the king that the God of Israel was a good God who would protect those who sought Him. Asking for military support would have only shown Ezra to be a hypocrite, one who did not trust his own God. 

However, in the hard and seemingly impossible circumstance of unarmed ex-exiles surviving some army’s attack, Ezra brought the people to humble themselves and plead for God’s mercy. Ezra knew that his God had opened the doors for the temple to be rebuilt. Ezra knew that he was doing God’s will. And so, he put his full trust in the God who he knew was faithful. He brought all his people to humble themselves, pray and seek God’s mercy. Ezra knew he and the Israelites were sinful. Being decimated by some foreign army would not have come close to God’s wrath they knew they deserved. So they fasted, pleading that God would have mercy and lead their journey that God’s temple would be finished and God’s will be done. Surely enough, God was faithful, and He listened to their entreaty. 

Do we put our trust in God or man? When God has set before us His plan, will we trust that He will be faithful in accomplishing it no matter the odds? Will we decide to choose the path of faith over the path of human help? 

In his old age, Rev. Dr Stephen Tong unveiled that his gravestone should be engraved with the epitaph, “A man who never asked for money from any rich man”. Rev. Tong served his whole life by this principle laid out by Ezra. He turned to prayer rather than man. He pleaded for God’s mercy instead of fundraising wealth. And surely, God’s good hand faithfully guided Rev. Tong through all His ministries. The same God is waiting for us to seek Him and see how He will fulfil all things in His time. 

Lord, these life principles are foreign to us. We are apt to worry and think about the matters revolving around our own life, and little, if any, do we think about Your works. Give us a burden to serve You. Moreover, give us context to seek You and trust in You. Only then will we learn who You are, the faithful and living God. As You have guided Your servants in the past, in Your mercy, raise us up as well as Your servants in the coming generation. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (17) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

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