Tag Archives: trusting in God

26 March, Thursday – Self-Quarantine

26 March

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Exodus 32:7-14

The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Why let the Egyptians say, “Ah, it was in treachery that he brought them out, to do them to death in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth”? Leave your burning wrath; relent and do not bring this disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.’

So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

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John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:

‘Were I to testify on my own behalf,
my testimony would not be valid;
but there is another witness who can speak on my behalf,
and I know that his testimony is valid.
You sent messengers to John,
and he gave his testimony to the truth:
not that I depend on human testimony;
no, it is for your salvation that I speak of this.
John was a lamp alight and shining
and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.
But my testimony is greater than John’s:
the works my Father has given me to carry out,
these same works of mine testify
that the Father has sent me.
Besides, the Father who sent me
bears witness to me himself.
You have never heard his voice,
you have never seen his shape,
and his word finds no home in you
because you do not believe in the one he has sent.

‘You study the scriptures,
believing that in them you have eternal life;
now these same scriptures testify to me,
and yet you refuse to come to me for life!
As for human approval, this means nothing to me.
Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you.
I have come in the name of my Father
and you refuse to accept me;
if someone else comes in his own name
you will accept him.
How can you believe,
since you look to one another for approval
and are not concerned
with the approval that comes from the one God?
Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father:
you place your hopes on Moses,
and Moses will be your accuser.
If you really believed him
you would believe me too,
since it was I that he was writing about;
but if you refuse to believe what he wrote,
how can you believe what I say?’

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They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them

Week 1 of California’s coronavirus ‘self-quarantine’ measures has been a complete joke. For one, there’s been a near-apocalyptic rush for groceries. Makes you wonder why we’re bothering with the travel bans. All you have to do to catch the virus is go to Costco. Hordes of people queue to get in at dawn. They queue for trolleys. They queue to check out. No one is respecting the 6ft rule. People are pushing and shoving to clear products from aisles. Even during the worst days of the Great Financial Crisis in 2008, we never fought over milk and eggs. We are now.

On some level, this rabid behavior is about maintaining control. When you obsessively hoard toilet paper, face masks, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, what you’re really doing is trying to ‘control’ your life. And perhaps that’s what the Hebrews were doing with their golden calf — trying to preserve a way of life. We’ve all grown accustomed to the years of peace and plenty. We’re now being forced to reckon with what may be years of famine. It will be a shock to a lot of us. Just like the Hebrews in the desert, we’re not ready to give up the lives we led. All that wining, dining, latte drinking, online shopping; we can’t fathom it. I can’t fathom it.

It’s probably no coincidence that all this is happening during the holy season of Lent. As we face the loneliness and isolation of self-quarantine, maybe now is a good time to give up this need for control and hand the reins back to God. What else are we going to do? Lent is a time of repentance, of quiet prayer, of reflection, of conversion. Lent is also a time of self awareness. Did we go too far? Did we become distracted and lose our way?

I haven’t been to confession in a long while. I don’t even know if they’re doing them anymore with all these church closures and bans on public gatherings. I’d really like to tell God, “Wow, I really screwed up this time. I got distracted, forgot Your priorities, forgot your blessings. I lost my way. I’m done with all that noise now. Please find me here. Please.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We ask for God’s forgiveness for our arrogance and complacency during the years of peace and plenty. We pray for His mercy and His guidance during these uncertain times.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our families and loved ones. We give thanks for God’s protection of them and His love for us, even while we are difficult to love.

25 February, Tuesday – Daddy! Daddy!

25 February

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James 4:1-10

Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force. Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it; when you do pray and don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires.
You are as unfaithful as adulterous wives; don’t you realise that making the world your friend is making God your enemy?

Anyone who chooses the world for his friend turns himself into God’s enemy. Surely you don’t think scripture is wrong when it says: the spirit which he sent to live in us wants us for himself alone? But he has been even more generous to us, as scripture says: God opposes the proud but he gives generously to the humble. Give in to God, then; resist the devil, and he will run away from you. The nearer you go to God, the nearer he will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. Look at your wretched condition, and weep for it in misery; be miserable instead of laughing, gloomy instead of happy. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.

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Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.

They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

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“Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me”

 A friend of mine from junior college once asked me if I would continue to be a Christian if my life was really difficult. It was his view that I was happy and prayed only because my life was smooth-sailing.

I took some time to think about it; then confidently, I said “Yes”.

That took place about ten years ago. Since that question was asked me, I had left a job which I had stopped enjoying. Overnight, I experienced such a major change to my self-image. I struggled with sadness, and ultimately, depression.

The best thing for me, though, was that this time gave me an  opportunity to spend time both by myself, with my family, but also to spend time with God. Despite all the challenges I was facing, I found comfort in spending time with Him. I had never previously had a personal ‘God’ experience, and this was the first time that I really did.

I am familiar with the Gospel of today, but until then, had never really understood it; it was only when “we let go, and let God” that we begin to grow. When we let go of the adult in us, we are free to become little children. It is when we let go, that our hands are free to know God.

Let us continue to reach out to God like the children that we are.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We ask You Father, to teach us to remain as little children in Your eyes. Help us to always reach out to You.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for Your teachings. We are grateful for Your eternal and unconditional love for us.

18 December, Tuesday – Plugging In

18 December

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Jeremiah 23:5-8

See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
The-Lord-our-integrity.

So, then, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when people will no longer say, “As the Lord lives who brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt!” but, “As the Lord lives who led back and brought home the descendants of the House of Israel out of the land of the North and from all the countries to which he had dispersed them, to live on their own soil.”

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Matthew 1:18-24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

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“… it is the Lord who speaks…”

The gift I have been praying to receive for the longest time is the gift of Wisdom. I would like to be able to discern if the actions and thoughts I undertake are within God’s plan.

In my (former) corporate career, I was praying hard for career progression and was glad that my prayers were answered. I had been on a holiday when I had been inspired to pray for this. When I returned to the office after that, I was told that I would be heading one of the existing sales teams. Announcements to this effect were made and I was to assume this new role within a few weeks.

I was upset, therefore, when I heard that this promotion was to be put off, due in part to politics (the existing team members did not like me owing to some previous misunderstanding). Given such strong objections to my new appointment, my supervisor had wanted to put off my promotion till a later date.

I was frustrated and considered resigning. I lost sleep and life became unbearable.

I felt I was ‘wise’, and was able to discern the plans that the Lord had for me, and then it hit me; I had been trying to do this on my own strength. It was then that I returned to praying, lifting all to the Lord. I prayed that whatever the outcome, I would lift all I had to Him and I had faith that everything that happened would be as He desired.

What happened was that my manager ended up creating a new team for me to manage. With the lack of emotional/political baggage, this new team managed to outperform the existing sales teams. Because of this, I ended up being promoted again within seven months to head the whole department.  Imagine if I had relied on my own understanding, wrongly believing this to be the message God wanted me to hear? This would have been ironic, given that I had not lifted these concerns to Him, instead choosing to play the various scenarios in my own mind.

In today’s Gospel, we read about how Joseph had wanted to divorce Mary, and yet decided otherwise, after he was prompted by the angel Gabriel to continue with their marriage. He did not depend on his own knowledge or thoughts. Instead, he trusted in his relationship with God.

So must it be with us. Like electrical appliances, we can only tap our God-given talents when we continue to draw on His power.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Help us to continually turn to you to draw strength and knowledge, Father. We pray that we may always pay heed to the Holy Spirit that continues to whisper to us.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for blessing us with Your Holy Spirit, for sending us an Advocate to whom we can always turn to.

26 June, Tuesday – Unfailing Faith

26 June

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2 Kings 19:9-11,14-21,31-36

Sennacherib, King of the Assyrians, sent messengers to Hezekiah saying, ‘Tell this to Hezekiah king of Judah, “Do not let your God on whom you are relying deceive you, when he says: Jerusalem shall not fall into the power of the king of Assyria. You have learnt by now what the kings of Assyria have done to every country, putting them all under the ban. Are you likely to be spared?’

Hezekiah took the letter from the hands of the messenger and read it; he then went up to the Temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. Hezekiah said this prayer in the presence of the Lord, ‘O Lord of Hosts, God of Israel, enthroned on the cherubs, you alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth, you have made heaven and earth.

‘Give ear, Lord, and listen.
Open your eyes, Lord, and see.
Hear the words of Sennacherib
who has sent to insult the living God.

‘It is true, O Lord, that the kings of Assyria have exterminated all the nations, they have thrown their gods on the fire, for these were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, and hence they have destroyed them. But now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, I pray you, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that you alone are God, the Lord.’

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah. ‘The Lord, the God of Israel,’ he said, ‘says this, “I have heard the prayer you have addressed to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria.” Here is the oracle that the Lord has pronounced against him:

“She despises you, she scorns you,
the virgin, daughter of Zion;
she tosses her head behind you,
the daughter of Jerusalem.”
‘This, then, is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:
“He will not enter this city,
he will let fly no arrow against it,
confront it with no shield                                                                                                                      throw up no earthwork against it.
By the road that he came on he will return;
he shall not enter this city. It is the Lord who speaks.
I will protect this city and save it
for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”‘
“He will not enter this city,
he will let fly no arrow against it,
confront it with no shield

That same night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. Sennacherib struck camp and left; he returned home and stayed in Nineveh.

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Matthew 7:6,12-14

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.

‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.

‘Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’

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“Give ear, Lord, and listen. Open Your eyes, Lord, and see.”

One of the toughest periods in my life took place in 2006, after I had been working in my company for about 2 years. Soon after I joined the bank, a misunderstanding took place and the environment became hostile between some colleagues and myself. Things came to a head when I was due to be promoted, ironically to manage the same team which I was having the misunderstanding with.

At the point when the difficulties at work arose, I had been very active in church, my cell group as well as a church ministry. I was frustrated, and felt that God had abandoned me. I wondered why God had allowed me to go through these difficulties.

The main way I handled this was to pray even harder, reflecting on the possible reasons behind the whole dismal chain of events. Finally, unable to come up with an answer, I ended up just lifting it all to Him, and praying for understanding and deliverance.

Ultimately, it turned out that the whole series of events, while painful to go through, was important for me. The whole experience, ultimately, turned out positive for me.

In the first reading of today, Hezekiah, king of Judah, experienced doubt, fear and confrontation with the Assyrian king Sennacherib. The latter derided and attempted to cast doubt on God. Rather than lamenting and worrying, Hezakiah instead brought this difficulty up to God, praying and asking for deliverance, and asking for victory. The Assyrians were ultimately defeated when the Lord struck down one hundred and eighty five thousand men from the Assyrian camp in one night.

Let us learn to be like Hezekiah, to lift all our challenges to our Lord, no matter how daunting and difficult these challenges are.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, please give us strength to meet all our challenges in our lives and to have unfailing faith in You.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for always knowing what is best for us and for loving us.