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.

The Beginning of Knowledge

Bible Reading: Proverbs 1:1-7

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

These days, academia and scientific knowledge are highly regarded. However, many intellectuals have abandoned God altogether, arrogantly boasting that there is no longer any need for God with scientific knowledge. They are very mistaken for knowledge without God is futile. 

God is the creator of the universe. All knowledge stems from HIm because He designed everything. More than that, knowledge obtained from studying the natural world should point to the Designer, namely God Himself. True knowledge is a correct understanding of the world and ourselves as humans being the creatures of the loving God. This kind of knowledge is not theoretical knowledge reserved only for the mind. This kind of knowledge is an experiential knowledge of our God. It is a relational knowledge that involves our affections and ultimately changes our will. 

This kind of knowledge of God leads to wisdom which can be defined as “skill in the art of godly living”. If we have wisdom, we are very blessed, as the rest of the book of Proverbs will explain. To have wisdom is to know how to live in this world. It is to have a life that grows in holiness and walks daily with the Lord. Wisdom is not something we can attain by our own efforts. It is a gift from God. 

Both knowledge and wisdom stem from the fear of the Lord. This does not mean fear in the nuance of fearing God’s judgment and wrath (servile fear). To fear the Lord means to deeply respect Him out of awe for who He is (this is termed filial fear). Those who fear the Lord fear to hurt God’s heart by disobeying Him. Filial fear is the fear of a son to his loving father, while servile fear is the fear of a servant to his master. 

Where does the fear of the Lord begin? Let us take a look at 1 Pet 1:13-21. Here Peter calls the church to be holy because God is holy. Note that knowledge and wisdom are both at play. One who personally knows that God is holy will live holily — wisdom in action. 

v. 17-19 says, “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

The fear of the Lord comes from knowing what God has done for us through Christ. God the Father is holy and judges impartially. Sinners like you and I deserve wrath and eternal judgement. We deserve lives of futility leading to hell. Let that sink in. We do not deserve grace. Yet, in His unfathomable grace and love, He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the atonement for our sins. His precious blood was shed for our sake. If the Spirit opens the truth of such a message in our hearts, He will humble us and place awe in our hearts for our God, who is forever to be praised. 

Do we know our God? Do we fear Him? This is where knowledge and wisdom begin. This is the door to the true life God intended. It is not for us to claim, but it is a free gift of God which He offers to those who would seek, believe and repent in Christ Jesus. Seek to know Him, and you will discover the overflowing fountain of life. 

Lord, thank You for Your works on the cross. Please help us to get to know You personally. Plant the fear of the Lord in our hearts, and may You continue to cultivate the fear of the Lord as we grow in You year by year. Teach us Your ways and give us wisdom. May our one life glorify 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.

Eyewitness Accounts

Bible Reading: John 20:30-31, 1 John 1:1-4

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)

The book of John was written as an eyewitness account to the life and message of Jesus. To be precise, all four gospels were eyewitness accounts to Jesus’ gospel. Christianity is not a mythic religion compiled from legends and old fables. Nor is it merely a set of ancient sayings from wise men of the past. Christianity is more than morality or well-being measures. Christianity believes in Christ’s life and message, which has massive implications for our everyday lives. 

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17,19, “And if Christ has not been raised. your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…we are of all people most to be pitied”. Jesus claimed that He was the Son of the Living God. He claimed that He was the Truth and the source of Life (John 14:6). He claimed that He would give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) and that He would die on the cross but rise again after three days (Luke 9:22). 

The only question left to ask is, are Jesus’ claims valid? Did He do what He said He would do? Is He who He says He is? If you ask the historians, even the most secular will admit that Jesus was an actual historical figure crucified under Pontius Pilate. And if you ask them again if Jesus rose from the dead, all though there is surmounting evidence, they will hesitate and try to offer you another (quite far-fetched) explanation for the empty tomb and the many eyewitness accounts. 

Even if we assumed their theories were valid for a moment and Jesus’ body was perhaps stolen, then how do we account for the rapid growth of early Christians who even died for their faith? If they took Jesus’ body away so that outsiders would think that Jesus’ had resurrected, why were they willing to defend such a message with their lives? 

Professor C.F.D Moule of Cambridge writes, “The birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church therefore remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the Church itself.” 

John testified that He wrote His gospel which is a historical retelling of the reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection so that others would believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God so that people would have life in Him. Have we put our faith in Christ, who is the only one who can save us from our sins? Even if we have believed if this message is grounded in reality, why do we doubt sharing this witness and Truth with other people? 

May we be people who do not live by blind faith but by faith in the true person of Christ who died and rose again on the third day. 

Lord, thank You for sending Your Son into the earth to die on the cross. Thank You for Christ’s sacrifice, taking on our sins on Himself. Thank You that Your Spirit has worked in our hearts to reveal Your glorious gospel to us. Please help us to obey You, to follow You, and to get to know You more. Use us also to spread this Truth to all those around us. 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.

Life From God’s Word

Bible Reading: Psalm 119:25-32

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” (Psalm 119:25)

The only thing that will truly satisfy us and well up joy and passionate zeal within our spirit is knowing God through His Word. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The book of Revelation concludes with a promise, “And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17).

The question is, how much do we actually believe in this statement? Do we actually believe that the life of satisfaction and contentment we seek can be found by seeking God in His Word? 

Those who do cling to God’s Word for their life. They will humbly get down on their knees and acknowledge that if God does not speak His Word to them through the Bible and the Holy Spirit, they are as good as dead. What is worse than death if not abandonment from God? 

This humble longing for God pleases God. Jesus says in Matthew 5:3, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. How much of a poor spirit do we have? Are we contrite and repentant of our arrogance and sins? Do we understand that we rightfully deserve abandonment from God for our sins? Yet, do we equally understand that if God extends His mercy in Christ, there is life everlasting to be enjoyed in Him? 

This was surely the cry and prayer of the psalmist in Psalm 119. He knew his imperfections and shortcomings. He knew that he didn’t always find life in God’s Word. Yet, he humbly keeps returning to God in repentance, seeking God again, and seeking to love God’s Word, which is our source of life. 

Take time today to reflect upon the psalmist’s prayer and make his prayer our prayers also in our hearts. 

25 My soul clings to the dust;

    give me life according to your word!

26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;

    teach me your statutes!

27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,

    and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

28 My soul melts away for sorrow;

    strengthen me according to your word!

29 Put false ways far from me

    and graciously teach me your law!

30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;

    I set your rules before me.

31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;

    let me not be put to shame!

32 I will run in the way of your commandments

    when you enlarge my heart! – Psalm 119:25-32

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 Glory Of The Church

Bible Reading: Haggai 2:1-9

“For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, decares the LORD of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.” (Haggai 2:6-9)

Soon after Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls, God’s remnant returned to Israel from exile as God had promised to Jeremiah. When they had returned, God commanded them to rebuild the temple of God once more. The temple of God was God’s dwelling place on earth. There, God’s people could meet with Him and there, God revealed His glory. 

However, all the elders and those who had been around to see the previous temple before it was destroyed by the Babylonians wept. The new temple’s glory was nowhere near the old’s. However, God’s promise consoles them through the mouth of Haggai, the prophet. “Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not” (Haggai 2:4-5). 

The God who delivered His people out of Egypt was still with His people in the dawn of the post-exile times. Yet, God gave His people a vision of how He would remain faithful to the end of time. God promised that He would fill His house with glory by shaking all the nations and bringing in the best from all of them. And, the glory of God’s future temple will be much more glorious than any of the temple’s before. In this temple, there will be peace. 

What is this future temple? It is God’s church which God is preparing to present to Himself blameless and with splendour on the last day. The glory Haggai prophesied about was the glory of the church. 

What comes to mind when we think of church? Is it a weekly Sunday service that we take for granted? A place just to hang out with friends?

The church is God’s glorious masterpiece to unite people from all nations in the blood and sacrifice of Christ. It is God’s infinite wisdom to call those He loved from eternity and make a kingdom for Himself where people from all ethnicities return to serve and love their Maker with joy. Therefore, if we are part of the church, we are part of God’s plan, which He worked on from eternity. Moreover, we are part of God’s people who are being perfected to meet Christ without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless (see Ephesians 5:27). 

God’s church is glorious. So why do we neglect it? Why don’t we seriously pray for it? Why don’t we give ourselves to God’s work in and through it? God brought us into His church by His love and grace. We ought to serve Him with all our lives as a manifestation of our love for Him. 

Lord, show us the glory of Your church. Teach us to care about the local church You have placed us in. You work in and through Your church to bring glory to Yourself. Teach us the true meaning of Your church and Your eternal plans. Plant in us a burden to love and care for Your church. 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.

A Burden For God’s Kingdom

Bible Reading: Nehemiah 1:1-11

“And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire”. As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” 

When Nehemiah heard of the condition of Jerusalem, Nehemiah fell down and wept in prayer before God. Jerusalem was God’s dwelling place. But, God’s people had all been scattered in the exile, and the city and temple in Jerusalem had been left in ruins. What was to come for the future of God’s people? What was to come for God’s faithful promise of a Messiah from the root of David who would atone for the sins of the world? 

Brokenhearted, Nehemiah got down on his knees to pray. Nehemiah had a heavy burden for God’s Kingdom, which seemingly had been demolished. How much of a burden do we have for God’s Kingdom today? Thinking far and abroad, Christians are persecuted all around the world. They have been scattered into hiding. Looking closer to home, western civilisation, which used to flourish by Biblical principles, has rapidly left the church and turned to vile paganism. Is God’s kingdom going to stand in the next generation? Or are we going to be swallowed by all the evil around us?

 This is how Nehemiah starts his prayer, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Nehemiah 1:5). The first thing that Nehemiah holds on to is God’s own faithful character. He knew His God who would be faithful to His promise that He gave in Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations”. Do we know our God? Do we trust that He will be faithful towards His church until the day Christ returns? 

Nehemiah then confesses his sin and the sin of the people. “We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the states, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses” (Nehemiah 1:7). Why were the Israelites in exile? Because of their sin. So why is Christianity declining in our culture today? It is, too, because of our stubbornness and ignorance of His ways. Lord, forgive us and turn us back to Your ways!

Yet, Nehemiah remembers God’s promise of forgiveness for those who would return to God’s commandments. He remembers God’s promise, which says, “but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there” (Nehemiah 1:9). God’s promise still stands today. If God grants repentance amongst our generation, many will return to the Lord, and He will dwell amongst His people. 

Do we have a burden for God’s Kingdom? When the Lord then gave Nehemiah the opportunity to go to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls, he promptly obeyed. So may our hearts be burdened for God’s kingdom, and may our feet be ready to go swiftly where God calls us to do His work. 

Lord, please shape in us a burden for Your kingdom. Forgive us because most of the time, we only think of ourselves. Many around us need Your Word. If it is not You who work, how can anyone ever come to know You? Keep faithful to Your promises of old, Lord, and continue to raise up strong Christians in the new generation who will continue the expansion of Your Kingdom until You come again. Teach us how to pray. We need Your mercy. 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.

On Death

Bible Reading: John 17:1-5

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:1-3)

At the old age of 97, philosopher Herbert Fingarette realised death was not what he thought it was. Having written a book about death, he thought that he could rationally face death. He thought there was no rational need for fear. Yet, facing his own death, he confessed that he was afraid. After his successful career as a philosopher who pondered about the meaning of life for a living, he found himself puzzled by that exact question. If death is not rational, what is the meaning of life? Why was it that he did not want to die? 

The sad conclusion he arrived at was, life was meaningless, and even if there were meaning, there would be no way of finding it out. To be fair, we must respect the aged, for their insights regarding life are coated with experience. Unfortunately, as youth, we are often too big-headed to listen to our elders. In reality, we have little experience, and without God’s grace, we are sure to wander from Him. 

And so, the question stands. If we die, what is the meaning of life? 

The Bible gives an answer. But, the Bible’s response is not for those who will take the answer like a rational defence for their own fear alone. It is not for those who will say, ‘eureka! I have solved the problem of life’ and go on living their own self-centred lives. The Bible’s answer can only be known by the humble and meek who come to the Lord’s feet mourning for their sin. Only if God’s Spirit unveils the truth will anyone ever discover God’s real answer to such questions. 

With that said, what did Jesus really say? 

Jesus said He could give people eternal life. What does that mean? Does Jesus offer us potions of immortality? The truth is far from our misconceptions. Jesus says eternal life is to know the only true God and Christ Himself. 

To question, “what is life?” we must first ask, “what is death?”. If we look at Adam and Eve’s story, God cursed them to death when they ate the forbidden fruit. Yes, that meant that their physical bodies eventually perished. However, immediately, they were cast out of the garden, the place of God’s dwelling on earth. Death is a separation from God, who is the spring of all life. And the cause of death is sin. When we sin, we rebel against God and reject Him as the true fountain of life. God created humans to enjoy the life that He gave, to walk with Him and obey Him. We did not desire God as our ultimate good; therefore, we died. We became separated from the Holy God who can withstand no evil. 

So, what does Jesus giving eternal life really mean? 

When Jesus died on the cross, He died for our sins. That means, despite being the Author and Giver of life, Jesus was separated from life for our sake. This in itself is something we can never fully comprehend. Yet, the words of John Owen coins what happens next succinctly; the death of death in the death of Christ. On the cross, Christ overcame the power of death, making Him the Lord over all things. Because Christ defeated death, His people can be reconciled again with God. They can have true life once more, that is, to know and enjoy God.

If you believe in Jesus, repent of your sins, and give your whole heart to Him, He promises you eternal life. And, eternal life does not just begin in heaven. The moment we are born again, we are freed from the clasp of sin and death into life everlasting. You can experience the true life day. God is waiting for you to get to know Him.

If we have true life, then what about physical death? 

When we get to heaven, we will be wholly sanctified, we will see God face to face, and we will continue growing in knowing Him forever. Eternal life begins now, and it continues forever because that is what we were created for. Thus, physical death will mark the day where we gain the full inheritance God promised us when He said He would love us out of no reason but His benevolence. 

In the meantime, God calls us to know Him here and now. He has a calling and purpose for us to serve Him here on earth. Through that process, He wants us to get to know Him as He prepares us for a new life of worshipping Him in eternity. How glorious is the life that God has given to those who believe in Him. 

May all Christians herald with joy what Paul exclaims in the face of death, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

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.

There Will Be Tribulation

Bible Reading: John 15:18 – 16:33

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

If we’ve grown up in a safe Christian community for the majority of our childhood, we must know that this will not be the reality forever. Jesus straight-up tells us, “you will have tribulation”. What kind of tribulation does Jesus talk about, and how are we going to endure? 

From John 15:18, Jesus talks about the world’s hatred. The world will hate followers of Jesus. Jesus says the world will hate because they do not know Him or the Father. Jesus warns that the Christian life in this one is not meant to be relaxing or comfortable. It will be filled with pain and tribulation because of the world who will relentlessly oppose us. 

They will even hate on Christians, saying that they are following the will of God. “Indeed, the hour is coming”, Jesus says to His disciples, “when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God”. Flick through the pages of Christian history, and you will know that what Jesus said came true. 

Paul thought he was serving God when he tried to eradicate blasphemous followers of The Way. Ugly clashes between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church during the reformation led to many murders in the name of God on both sides. The Puritans were burnt at the stake because, according to the Church, they were preaching heresy. Fast forward to the present, and these words seem a little too close to home. Radical Islamists all over the world brutally torture and murder Christians because they are a defilement to Allah. 

If we talk about tribulation right where we are, they are waiting for us around the corner. Yes, even in the most developed and ‘civilised’ societies, we will be persecuted. Little do we know how those in academia and science who we adore for their mind-blowing innovations preach atheism, citing that religion is a dangerous delusion for society. In the business world, honest people like Christians will be scorned as they make no contribution to profit earned through sly methods. In politics and the media, the world fights for ‘good things that they think will advance society. They fight to give rights by legalising abortion, normalising homosexuality, and before you know it, a plethora of God-dishonouring sins will be celebrated as diversity in our culture. 

When we go out into the world, evil will try to diminish us, wherever we are. What then should we do? 

The one thing that sets Christians apart from the world is that God’s Spirit has worked in their hearts to know who Christ and the Father are. Despite all the evil, God’s Spirit, whom Jesus sent, is still actively working and guiding His people today. By the Spirit, God wants to use Christians as His servants to witness His light and truth amidst this dark world. Although it will be hard, God’s Spirit is with us. 

Above all, Jesus reminds us that joy is awaiting us at the end of the race. Jesus has overcome the world, and because of that, our sorrow will turn to joy. He has promised a joyful inheritance in heaven with Him for those who faithfully finish the race. 

As we live our Christian lives, will we be faithful to God and His ways? 

Lord, thank You that You have overcome the world. There will be tribulation for us, Lord because the world hates the light. Yet, shape us and mould us into effective tools for Your kingdom here on earth. Please help us to look to the joy that is set before us. May Your Spirit work to guide and lead us to live faithfully to the end. 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.

Zeal For Simple Obedience

Bible Reading: John 14:15-31

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15)

We must pray for a zeal to obey God in the simple things. So often, we will pray, “God, give me a zeal to spread Your Word to the nations”, or “Lord, give me a zeal for bigger ministries”. These prayers are powerful and much needed within the church today. However, do we ever pray, “Lord, give me a zeal to wake up early, read my Bible, study well, do my chores, and love my friends and family today”? 

Christ’s love will often move us to want to evangelise more and serve more in church. But, does Christ’s love move us to be responsible and obedient in seemingly mundane everyday things? 

Our faith and godliness grow from obedience. Yes, obedience is radical; it’s life-changing. But, it’s also very real and down-to-earth. For example, how are we going to use our time today? Are we going to waste the whole day on social media? Are there other things that need to be done? 

Okay, at this moment, maybe we are still wondering, “yes, I need to obey God, but what do I have to do exactly?” 

Starting from the big picture, obedience is our joyful response of love to God, who has first loved us on the cross. The only thing that will grow our obedience is if we get to know God. And so, that is where we all must start. Do we know God? Do we love Him? Do you know what He’s done for You personally? And if you do know, do you know Him, His character and why He would ever do such a thing for You?

Simple obedience starts by pleading for His mercy to reveal Himself. We will only know and grow as much as God reveals Himself to us through His Spirit. Yet, God does this through His complete Word. So, we should read it and spend lots of time in and around it. In today’s technologically advanced world, there is an abundance of Bibles, books, sermons, articles, podcasts and studies online. So, our first steps of obedience would be to actually spend some time in these for ourselves, with a heart that seeks for God to speak to us personally. 

Now, the Christian life is not a personal life. It is communal, and that means we should live it within a church community. Church gives us a context to grow. There, we find spiritual mentors who are wiser than us. They will lead us to walk in obedience in a down-to-earth way. They’ve trod the path, and so we have a lot to learn from them. In church, we also learn to serve and love others. Once we get our hands dirty, we will know that these are harder than it seems. 

From these things, we learn to be obedient to God’s calling for us in our everyday lives. For the majority of us, God has called us to be students. So, study well in your daily life. Also, God has called us to have friends and family. We are called to love those around us. This includes taking up our household responsibilities and obeying our parents. Then, God has given each of us specific talents. We are called to discover, develop and use them for God’s kingdom. In everyday life, this could look like practising an instrument, reading books on a particular subject, writing, cooking for others, refining your art skills, the list goes on. 

Lockdown has taken a toll on all of us. Sometimes we just feel like sleeping, wasting our time away on endless social media, and wishing all this was over. Yet, God has given us all a context to practice obedience in doing these little things at home. So let us ask God to refire a zeal in our hearts to obey Him in the simple things. 

Lord, please burn a zeal in my heart to obey You in the little things. Plunge me deeper into Your love and show to me more of Your wondrous grace for me. Deepen my love for You and help me to manifest this through my simple obedience. Lord, all this is impossible without Your mercy. Forgive us and have mercy on us, for we love our laziness and sinful nature all too much. In Jesus’ name, we pray, 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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