Tag Archives: vigilance

27 March, Wednesday – Keep Watch

27 March 2019

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Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9

Moses said to the people:

‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you.

‘See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?

‘But take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children.’

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Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

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But take care what you do and be on your guard

Last week, our centre hosted two visiting exorcists from the Phillipines. We anticipated an ‘overflow’ crowd but never had I seen so many flock to CSC on a Friday evening. By 7.30 pm when P&W started, we had to activate our overflow areas outside the hall. It was interesting what a friend I bumped into said to me, “You get more people coming to hear a talk about the devil, than to hear about God.” I laughed it off but couldn’t help wondering about the truth of his statement as I drove home.

After a tragic week of mourning in Christchurch and reading some of the posts supporting the country’s prime minister and her stand about never ever speaking the name of the perpetrator of that horrific attack that killed 50 innocent Muslims, I fear for our young generation. With social media so pervasive these days, our children are open to all forms of attacks from the evil one – games that feature murder and mayhem, even occult practices that call on spirits unknowingly.

The two priests spoke about how we could open up doors for the devil to attack our families even through these seemingly harmless activities. One even spoke about how he had to exorcise a boy who was addicted to a particular game that involved invoking certain spirits. In the end, the addiction led to oppression and the boy almost had to enter a mental institution. However, when he was prayed over, the priest knew that the boy had Jesus in his heart because of the tears that flowed from his eyes during the healing session. It is true, he said, that when children pray, they pray from the heart and it well pleases God because they have deep faith and are truly sincere. In the end, the boy was healed of his addiction and managed to go back to school and live a normal life.

Brothers and sisters, we must not take what we do each day lightly, especially those of us who have children or godchildren. We must put Jesus at the centre of our lives and not consign Him to just one area that we focus on when we are in distress. In our pursuit of happiness in our lives, we must realise that it is only in Jesus that we can find true happiness. If we believe fully in Him and in His Word, He will bless us with the things that will make us truly happy. Those of us who have been successful in life, by whatever measure, must realise that our riches and happiness have not come purely by our own works. God has blessed us for a reason and we must discern it in order to spread the love to others.

So take care and be on your guard, because we need to be proper stewards of our God-given wealth, so that He can reward us with even more

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Father, help us to realise that only by putting you in the centre of our lives will be rewarded with true happiness and true riches. That all we have now is only temporal and it is our eternal reward that we should be focusing on.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for all that you have given to us and our loved ones. It is truly by your grace that we have our happiness and success and we give all glory to you.

1 September, Friday – Oil in the Lamp

1 Sept 2017

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1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

What God wants is for you all to be holy. He wants you to keep away from fornication, and each one of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always punishes sins of that sort, as we told you before and assured you. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral; in other words, anyone who objects is not objecting to a human authority, but to God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

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Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

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You do not know either the day or the hour

Whenever I read these passages about being prepared for Jesus’ second coming, I would sometimes wonder about why it is so challenging to do so. If people can save up money to support their children in college, or buy a car, or an apartment, then why not work on the spiritual life? Is it because the entry into heaven is often seen as something in the distant and unforeseeable future that also has to do with a refusal to face up to one’s mortality, versus more concrete events that are within our control? Is it something that, to put it bluntly, can be “postponed” to old age, assuming we get there?

I think I can safely say that almost everyone I know is caught up in a rat race. The situation is very pronounced in a country like Singapore, where the young study endlessly and the older ones work relentlessly. It is easy to lose direction while trying to keep up with expectations and responsibilities. This in turn encourages the prioritisation of work above other things. Often, God, the gentle voice, is either not heard or ignored in the loudness of the demands of everyday life.

In the film Hacksaw Ridge, we see a dramatic real-life example of a rather unusual person who placed his faith in God above all else. I say unusual, as he refused to bear arms in a war where everyone else fought to kill the enemy. Without any weapon to defend himself, the staunchly religious medic single-handedly saved 50 to 100 lives of his fellow soldiers in battle, each time praying to God to help him save one more. Although not all of us are called to such acts of valour, his courage and conviction to hold firm to his beliefs even in the face of extreme opposition is greatly inspiring.

Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh

Prayer: We pray that we can each find our own way of putting God first in our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for daily reminders of God’s grace.

Sunday, 29 Jun – Where is Your Finishing Line?

29 Jun – Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Peter (c.1–64) was a professional fisherman. He was the brother of St. Andrew the Apostle, the man who led him to Christ. Given the name Simon, he was renamed “Peter” (rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built. He later became a bishop and was the first pope. He was also a miracle worker.

Paul (c.3–c.65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted the Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to arrest another group of faithful, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting him, causing his conversion to Christianity.

He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling, preaching, and teaching. His letters to the churches he help found form a large percentage of the New Testament. He knew and worked with many of the earliest saints and Fathers of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.

– Patron Saint Index

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Acts 12:1-11

King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’ Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. ‘The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’

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2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.
The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

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I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith.

Years ago, I took part in various organised races. The category I usually participated in was the 10-kilometre run. One year, I decided to challenge myself and try for the 21-kilometre. This particular morning, I was plugged into my iPod and took up the new route with my race tag pinned to my jersey. Everything went smoothly and I was keeping good time as we approached a fork in the route where race marshals conducted runners either to the left or right. I caught sight and paid closer attention to their directions – following other runners along one diverged path. Before long, I saw the unmistakable banners at the finish line and triumphantly completed my first 21-kilometre race! Or so I thought.

Something was undeniably amiss for me. I was incredibly fast for my virgin 21-kilometre race; I wasn’t as exhausted as I thought I should have been; and before long as I loitered at the finishing zone, I realised that none of my friends had finished! A sneaking suspicion crept up on me when I saw the first of my friends coming in, and it dawned on me that I actually “Did-Not-Finish”. As we spoke, I realised that my laziness and complacency of not removing my earphones to listen carefully to instructions, not double-checking the colour of my own race tag, and blindly trailing other racers caused me to follow the wrong pack on the wrong route. Though I completed at the same Finish Line, I had not actually run the right race. What hilarity for my friends. What a huge boo-boo for me! But within this comical incident was one of the most humbling lessons I now carry with me through these years.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul today, we honour two great men of differing characters – yet bound by their same deep and consuming love for the One God through His Beloved Son Jesus Christ. Peter had lived and walked with Christ in his earthly ministry; yet Paul only knew Christ through a mystical vision and was converted on the road to Damascus, after Christ had died. Jesus first called Peter to follow him to be a fisher of men from the boat they both stood in, and went forth to preach amongst his Jewish brethren; whilst Paul was commissioned to spread the Gospel amongst the Gentiles. Though each had different charisms and began their journey from vastly unique starting points, we are witness today to the fact that Peter and Paul had run their race in life faithful and fervent to the Lord’s call, to build up His Church – both ended their lives as martyrs for our God.

“I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.” We hear Paul preaching this so passionately in the Gospel today.

“To long for” is to always be on the lookout for; to keep vigil and to be ever aware of. Through my fateful experience running that unfinished race, and by these words of St Paul, I am reminded that the Christian life is to be lived passionately, faithfully, in humility, but most important of all – vigilantly! Every one of us will reach the Finish Line in this life – it is the great equalizer. However, it is “where” and “how” we finish that truly matters for us Christians. I desire to finish my race in the Kingdom of Heaven. And I long for the sight of familiar and loved ones when I am there.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
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Thanksgiving:  We praise you Lord for your endless mercy through which we can “Start Again” each time we falter. Help us to be vigilant in our Life’s race.

Prayer: We pray for each other, that we all heed God’s call to our individual sanctity, and live out our potential for Sainthood – so that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.