Christian Lifestyle

To me, Hebrews is just like a military book: you have to get going, there is no time to waste. Hebrews 13 is the last chapter of Hebrews. In it are the instructions on how we should live: as brothers and sisters in Christ — the fellowship we have should be bound by love. How our marriage should look like as Christians, the use of money and to persevere in our spiritual walk.   

Love and Fellowship (vv1-6)

The Hebrews to whom this letter was written for had no doubt been rejected by their families and friends for being followers of Jesus Christ. But the love that Christians shared was different because it was from God and empowered by God. The love of God had enabled them to love one another.

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters” (verse 1). That is what makes us different from social clubs and other hobby groups. We are a family in Christ. There should be no distinctions or discriminations.   

  • “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)
  • “Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” (1 Thess 4:9)
  • “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)

Love and Hospitality (v 2)

Where there is Christian love, there is hospitality. Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, theologian and writer, wrote:

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. . . . The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adore the lifestyle of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own.”

In short, hospitality is the free and safe space for strangers to enter and discover the meaning of life and purposes.

Hospitality is an important ministry in the early church. Because of persecution, many believers were kicked out of their homes by their families. Not only that, there were traveling ministers who needed places to stay (3 John 5-8). If you remember, the story of prophet Elisha in the Old Testament. He often traveled from place to place. A Shunammite woman would prepare a room for him to rest when he was passing by. Because of their hospitality, her husband and her were blessed with a son. 

How should we show hospitality to strangers in our church and strangers in our lives? In this pandemic, all the more we need to extend our warmth to people who need it. It has been a rough year. All the more we need to show that we care. May you be God’s agents of love and hope this Christmas season. 

It is interesting because if we show hospitality, we are entertaining angels. Verse 2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it”.

In Genesis 18, Abraham welcomed strangers and gave them food to eat. He was actually entertaining Jesus and His two angels. It was only later that he realised it was Jesus and his angels. You and I may not be entertaining angels in disguise but each guest that we welcome are agents of blessings to us. May we too, be refreshed when we show hospitality to others.  

When we show hospitality, let us not forget those Christians who are persecuted.

Verse 3 reminds us, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Let us not get so comfortable with our lives that we forget our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for the Gospel. I have seminary classmates who were ministering in places where they were beaten and put to jail because they were Christians and were proclaiming the Good News. Remembering and praying for Christians who are persecuted is one way to show that we care as the Body of Christ. It is also pleasing to the Lord.  

Love in the Christian Home (v4)

The home is the ground where we practice love (Hebrews 13:4).  A Christian home is made up of a Christian marriage. There is no place for the marriage bed for a third person. As Christians, the marriage bed is only for the married couple. God is the judge and any misconducts will be judged by Him.

King David committed adultery. When he repented, God forgave him but he still had the bear the consequences of his adultery.

The media, the movies that we watch, the songs that we listen to, have catchy tunes but most of them promote pre-marital sex. It seems everyone is doing it. It seems right but it is not right in God’s eyes. Not that God is old fashioned but God was the one who designed sex. And He meant for it as a wonderful gift for the husband and the wife. If we remember we are children of God, we will not want to do it. It is not for entertainment or for experiment as the media is portraying it. Let us ask for God’s strength and wisdom to stay away from these activities that are not beneficial for us and will do damage to our souls.

Love the Lord (verse 5)

Most of the pastors entered into the ministry not because of money or its benefits but because we are curtained that God has called us into serving Him full time. And none of us are in lack or in want. God’s blessings are beyond our imaginations.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (v5)

The love of God helps us to use our money wisely. Jesus also reminds us not to love money so much that we forsake our own souls.

There is a quote that John Wesley said but it had been under debate because he might not have said it. It is “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can”. It has been at the back of my mind all these years. Nonetheless, we can learn from it.

“Earn all you can.” We work diligently through participating in God’s healing and creative work in the world. We don’t exploit other people or get income from the sufferings of others but earn all that we can in a righteous way. 

“Save all you can.” Wesley supposedly was talking about a simplified lifestyle, a warning against extravagance, and self-gratification. May be in this pandemic, we realise what we really need in life. We are just grateful to be alive and what we need is actually the basic things in life. It is a good time to really think about what we really need and what makes our life meaningful.

“Give all you can.” For Wesley, giving is rooted in the very nature and activity of God, whose nature is love, which is the emptying of oneself on behalf of others, the giving of life, abundant and full life. When we love God, we will give to others, especially those in need.

Love your leaders (v 7)

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (v 7).

The leaders are to give an account before God someday. Therefore, we are to respect and honour them. Leaders are humans after all. They make mistakes too. It is important to cover them with our prayers so that they will make wise and godly decisions in their daily lives.  

The heart of Hebrews is to pursue holiness. May you continue to love one another, be faithful in your marriage, love God and find contentment in Him and honour your leaders.   


I am in the midst of packing to move. As Methodist pastors, we get transferred to different congregations every now and then.

I am amazed at the things I could hold in this small apartment! Packing is a stressful thing and unpacking is another tiresome chore.

I hope to make it my goal next year to declutter my living space. A clean physical space is not only good for the soul but it is also a good exercise for my soul to depend less on material things but to be free to enjoy experiences of life.  

Charles Spurgeon said, “You must keep all earthly treasures out of your heart, and let Christ be your treasure, and let Him have your heart”.

May it be that I will not forget to declutter my life. If my heart is crowded with many things, I can not hear the voice of God accurately.

“Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9, NIV)

Wait for the Hope

Luke 2:22-35

Jesus Presented in the Temple

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

    you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.

30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,

31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Have you waited for something? Waiting is so hard a thing to do. Waiting can be stressful. Let’s learn from Simeon, who spent a long, long time waiting for something very, very important, or rather, someone very important.

Simeon was a righteous man who loved the Lord. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he had seen the Saviour—the Messiah of Israel. He waited and hung on to this promise.  

One day, Simeon was moved by the Spirit to see what he had been waiting for—that is the Messiah. He came as a baby.

Can you imagine his joy? He must have been so moved with gratitude that God had done what He said He would do. After years and years of waiting, he finally saw the Messiah with his own eyes. Gently and joyfully, he carried baby Jesus in his arms. The years of waiting has ended! The Savior of the world had come into the world. The Saviour of the world was born. The hope of the world had come! The light of the world was shining in the darkness! 

The joyful Simeon burst into a song. It consists of a few elements: worship, victory, missional, prophecy. 

It is a worship song because He praised and blessed God for keeping His promise and sending the Messiah to us. He praised God for giving him the privilege to see Jesus Christ with his own eyes.

It is a song of victory because he said he had seen the salvation of the Lord (Luke 2:30). He was ready to die because what he had been waiting for had finally come. It is a song of victory because death is not scary for us Christian. We have victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ. Death is only the entry into eternal life with Jesus Christ forever in His Kingdom that never ends.

 Simeon’s song is a missional song because he already could see salvation going out to the Gentiles. Jesus the Messiah did not come just for the Jews but He came for the peoples of the world—regardless of races, nationalities and cultures. Jesus brought light to the Gentiles so that all who believed will be saved (Luke 2:10). If you read through the Gospel of Luke, who was written by Luke, a Gentile, you will see the missional heart of Jesus Christ. His salvation is to the whole world.

After that, this song turns into a prophecy (Luke 2:34-35). He used 3 images in his prophecy: the stone, the sign and the sword.

(a)          The stone

In the OT, the stone is an important image of God (Gen 49:24; Psalm 18:2; 71:3; Deut 32:31). The Messiah would be a “rejected cornerstone” (Ps. 118:22; Luke 20:17-18; Acts 4:11) and the nation Israel would stumble over Him (Isa 8:14; Romans 9:32). Because of Jesus, many in Israel would believe in Him, yet there are those who do not understand that Jesus Christ is their Rock (1 Peter 2:1-6).

Jesus is also the “touchstone” that exposes the hearts of people. The Pharisees, the teachers of the law, would not believe Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 22:42).  

(b)          The sign

Jesus, was the sign that God is with us. He was a miracle for us. Unfortunately, people attacked Him. He performed miracles and yet people accused Him of doing that in the power of Satan. People criticised Jesus for having character problems by befriending sinners. People did not believe He is the Son of God. He was ridiculed, beaten and mocked on His way to death for us. After His death, His own disciples did not believe He had risen from the dead. Today, people too did not believe Him or doubted His second coming.

(c)           The sword

The imagery of the sword was more for Mary, the mother of Jesus. It referred to the suffering and sorrow she would have as the mother of Jesus, the Messiah. The Greek word for this term used for this word was a large sword, such as the one used by the giant Goliath (1 Sam 17:51) and this sword would not only pierce Mary once, but would “constantly pierce” her.

We see this prophecy when Mary stood by the cross when Jesus Christ was nailed on the Cross for our sins. It pierced her when she saw Him suffering and dying (John 19:25-27).

After Simeon’s song, Mary stored up all these things and pondered them (Luke 2:19, 51). I am not sure how much Joseph and Mary understood what would be happening. When Jesus was growing up, there were times she had misunderstood Him (Mark 3:31-35) but after His death, she was praying in the upper room with the other believers (Acts 1:14). That was the last time Mary was mentioned in the Bible. 

The imagery used to describe Jesus was not how we usually describe Jesus. We all know Him as the Good shepherd, the Saviour of the world and so on. May this Christmas season, allow us to experience more of Him and to know Him at a deeper level. He is our Rock, He is God’s greatest miracle and love for us.

Jesus is worth the wait. He is coming back for us. When He returns again, may be too, find us faithful.

The Reason You Believe

During this Christmas season, we have heard the narrations of the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Saviour of this world. He came to save us from sin and death.

Let us also give thanks to God for the Good News on the birth of the Saviour of this world which had been proclaimed to the shepherds in the field 2,000 years ago and to the wise men in the East is available to us today through the Holy Bible. Through the Bible, we could also rejoice together with the army of the angelic host who proclaimed, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests (Luke 2:13-14).

The Gospel of Luke was written by Luke, a physician. He was a Gentile and yet his work was included in the Bible. Luke was a close companion of Apostle Paul and had joined him on his missionary journey. Luke remained by Paul’s side when Demas left them because there were things in his life which he could not let go of.

The Gospel of Luke was written because a Roman friend of Luke, named Theophilus (‘lover of God’), see Luke 1:1-4 wanted to know about the life and account of Jesus Christ. Luke wrote this Gospel, stressing that Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world. He saves, regardless of their background, gender, nationality or ethnicity. Luke also wrote a second book to Theophilus about the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:1-2).

Theophilus had never met Jesus Christ. He had not touched Him or been in His company or even heard about Jesus. Surprisingly, neither had Luke. Luke never lived with Jesus as did His disciples. He did not hear the teachings of Jesus or see the miracles with his own eyes. Yet, Luke believed. Luke had got his source from the other eyewitnesses and particularly information from the gospel written by Mark. He believed “just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (Luke 1:2, NIV).   

He told Theophilus, “With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3-4, NIV)

Luke had carefully investigated everything. It was his hunger for the truth that led him to the Truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Luke wrote this gospel so that his friend Theophilus will be even more certain of God’s love and His plan in saving humanity.

For us today, we are living in the times where information is at our fingertips. Yet, we want to live as the wise. We should not accept everything which we see or read but are required to investigate carefully. We are living in the end times. There are false prophets who seem to be telling the truth but they are not God’s messengers. We need to be in love with Jesus that we make it our duty to defend the Truth, and to live it out so that people will experience the love and work of God through us. 

We too, are the witnesses of the Gospel that had been preached to us. Do our lifestyles bring people to God? This Christmas season, let us bring the hope, peace, love and joy of Christmas to the people around us, so that they too, will be convicted that there is a God who loves and cares for them.