16 November 2019

Rejoice in the Lord Always

God is eternally blessed, and he is pleased to share his happiness with his people. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). We who belong to him have every reason to be joyful.

We rejoice, first of all, in God’s amazing grace to us, undeserving sinners. He sent his Son Jesus to die in our place to free us from our sin. He called us by the gospel and gave us a new heart. We are now justified by faith and at peace with God. Even more, he has adopted us as his sons and daughters, and we can now call him our Father.

Moreover, God has come to reside in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. He works through his word to transform us into the likeness of Christ. Even as the Lord loves us, we have discovered the joy of being kind and generous to others. It is not always easy to do good, but by the Spirit’s help, we are willing to suffer for doing God’s will, even when others mistreat us. It is our greatest honour to suffer for his name’s sake.

During our short pilgrimage on earth, we are learning to rejoice in all circumstances. We rejoice in health and prosperity, grateful for God’s generosity. We also rejoice in hardships and sorrows, knowing that our sovereign God is in perfect control even of the tiny details of our lives. God has promised that all things work together for our good, including disappointments, trials and sickness. Even death is our gain.

God has promised to be with us his children always, in the green meadows and in the dark valleys. He has pledged to bring us safely to our heavenly home. There we shall see him face to face.

Ultimately we rejoice in him. We appreciate his gifts for they are tokens of his love, but our hearts yearn after him. We love our Saviour. Like a bride rejoicing in her husband, the church finds her greatest joy in communion with her Beloved. From the bottom of our heart, we cry out to him, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).

1 November 2019

The True Treasure of the Church

One of Martin Luther's 95 theses that he posted to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517, read, “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

Yet the church at that time was contented with many other treasures! It had wealth, lands, gold, palaces, statues, rituals, churches and cathedrals. The pope, the cardinals and the clergy enjoyed immense power and prestige. The church had spiritual and temporal dominion over the European continent. At her disposal, the church had the treasury of the merits of Christ, Mary and the Saints, and the authority to distribute indulgences to the faithful in their efforts to obtain salvation and to avoid the horrors of purgatory.

1 October 2019

The Dwelling Place of God

Whenever I travel to a European city, whether it is Rome, Paris or Vienna, I make it a point to visit the cathedral and some other churches. Recently I told my son, as we sat quietly together in the pew of a church in Barcelona, gazing at the magnificent architecture, ‘John, whatever else we may think about this place, it is a tribute to the zeal and devotion of Catholic people to God. They built this wonderful church because they believe that Jesus dwells in the place.’

King David expressed similar feelings as he prepared for the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. He said, ‘The house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands’ (1 Chronicles 22:5). David loved the Lord and he wanted to honour him by building a beautiful dwelling place for him.

1 September 2019

Seize the Day

'You only live once! Enjoy the moment and do not worry about the future,' people say.

The Apostle Paul argues that if death is the end of everything, if there is no such thing as a resurrection, the sensible thing to do in life is to enjoy ourselves to the full while it lasts. He writes, 'If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'' (1 Cor. 15:32).

Is this not the outlook of many people in our day? They do not believe that Jesus was resurrected or that the dead will be raised to life on the last day. But if this is so, how should we live?

1 August 2019

Full of Grace

Grace is the brilliant theme of the gospel message. We receive God’s amazing blessings from His gracious, merciful and generous heart, and not because we deserve them.

Mary was bewildered when the angel greeted her with the words, “Hail, favoured one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). Why was she so favoured? What was the special grace that God was pleased to give her? Gabriel explained that she found grace before God because she was to give birth to a child, who is God’s Son, the Messiah.

1 July 2019

What will you ask Jesus?

Two men had indulged in evil all their lives. They had now come to the end. In a short time, they will appear before their Creator for judgment.

This was their last opportunity to speak to Jesus and request whatever they desired.

The first man was not sorry for the evil deeds he had done. He had no interest in Jesus; he only asked him to spare him from death. He desired to return to his former manner of life and continue to enjoy the pleasures this world can offer. Jesus did not answer him. The man died and he was eternally lost.