The Joy of the Lord is my Strength

This verse, “the joy of the Lord is my strength” is found in Nehemiah 8:10. The descendants of the Israelites had returned to Jerusalem from the exile in Babylon. Ezra, the servant of God, read the law of the Lord to them. They were overcome with grief and they wept. They realised how they far they had drifted away from God. But God was merciful and loving. Through the grace of God, He reconciled us to Himself.

“The joy of the Lord is our strength”. This strength means God’s grace. In times when we are weak and frail, God’s grace will strengthen us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38). When we first and foremost put God first in our life, and love Him, we will experience radiating joy that comes only from Him.   

As children of God, we have the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit is the Giver of Joy. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Even in trying and difficult times, we can experience the joy of God because of His grace and His love that never leaves us or forsake us. God’s grace and love give us strength to face the day.   

Maundy Thursday: Jesus came to serve and love

Today is Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin of Jesus’s words when He gives his disciples a “new commandment” (mandatum novu) to love one another (John 13:34). The last words of someone about to die are very precious and important. Jesus knew that He would be heading towards the Cross very soon. It was His final night with His disciples on earth. He wanted His disciples to carry out this Commandment: to love one another. Love is the hallmark as His disciples.

From this passage, there are 3 things that we as the disciples of Jesus should do:

(1) Serve one another

Half-way during the meal, Jesus got up, took off the outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist, kneeled down before His disciples and washed the feet of His disciples one by one, drying the feet with the towel around his waist.

This was not what a king should be doing. What type of king would serve His servants? It is the servants who are at the king’s commands to serve Him.

What Master would serve his disciples? Washing the feet of the disciples is not one of the things the Master should do. The disciples were shocked. What type of a Master is this?  

Footwashing was something that the lowest of servants would do. The servant would draw the water, wash the feet and dispose of the water. In those days, footwashing was a synonym for slavery. Those who received footwashing were superiors to the servant who washed the feet.

That was what Jesus did. No servant is greater than the Master. Yet, Jesus humbled Himself to show us an example of love and humility.  

Jesus, after taking off his garment, was most probably in a tunic, which was something like an undershirt. This garment was what the servants in those days would wear to serve a meal. Jesus, the Master of His disciples, dressed like a servant as He washed His disciples’ feet.

Paul later wrote to the Philippians that Jesus made Himself nothing by taking the form of a servant. The Prince of Heaven took on the form of a servant.

Paul would later write to the Philippians that Jesus, the Son of God, made himself nothing by taking the very form of a servant.

“Who, being in very nature a God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature b of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:6-8

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who had authority above all things, came from Heaven to Earth as a man like us. He stooped down to wash His disciples’ feet to show us how to love.

In our culture today, we do not have foot-washing. What Jesus showed us was not the act of foot-washing itself, but it is about humbling ourselves to serve others. It is about serving others with humility and love. It is His humility and His love that enabled Him to stoop down and take the role of a lowly servant, and washed His disciples feet.

Jesus Christ never came to this earth to boast or to boss us around. He came to serve. He came to love.

What does it mean for us today? How does serving look like? Who can you serve? How can you make a difference in someone’s life, starting with your family? Who can you serve in your family? How can we serve?  

Many of us worry that we can’t do much. But serving does not need to be a grand thing. A tiny act of kindness and goodness will have a ripple effect. Like a pebble thrown into the pond, there is a spreading effect. A tiny act of kindness will spread from one person to another. The effect will impact many others.

May God enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our friends, to love our neighbours and even to love our enemies.

Who can you serve today?

2. Love one another

The acts of Jesus in the upper room must have impacted His Disciples. One of them, John, wrote,

“Beloved, let us love one another. For love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

We love because love comes from God. Those who love have God in their lives.

Jesus gave the Commandment to love one another. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Love is the hallmark of being the disciples of Jesus.

Jesus introduced the Last Supper to His disciples, teaching them the significance of the bread and the cup. 2000 years later, we celebrate Holy Communion in remembrance of what Jesus did for us. We remember the love of Jesus for us that bring Him to the Cross. Because He loves us, He was willing to head to the Cross, although He was scared too.

When we partake the Holy Communion, let’s be reminded that we share the one loaf of bread and the same cup. Let us not ignore or dismiss any of God’s people. We partake from the same loaf and cup. We are one in the Body of Christ, although we have different backgrounds, occupations and even skin colours, we are all same in the eyes of God. We are not any better because we are all sinners deserving death but we are saved by the mercy of God. 

Jesus came for all of us. He died so that we will know what love is. Jesus loves us and He wants us to love one another.

3. Forgive one another

On that night in the upper room, as Jesus was holding the bread in His hands, He knew what was waiting for Him. He understood that this bread in His hands symbolised His body.

In a few hours’ time, His body would be crushed and broken —crushed for the sins of mankind. The entire weight of the sin of humanity was upon Him. He would be nailed on the Cross.

As Jesus was holding the cup, He would see the glistening red wine which was a symbol of His blood. In a few hours’ time, His body would be bloody from the merciless whipping. His would wear a crown of thorns which pierced His head. His blood was shed for us so that all of us who believe can be free from the snare of sin and death. Jesus shared the Cup with His disciples, reminding them that His blood would be poured out for the forgiveness of sins.

Later that night, Jesus said one of the 12 of them would betray Him. The disciples looked at each other. Who could it be?

Then, Judas, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples betrayed Him and sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

I am sure Jesus did certainly forgive Judas for betraying Him. There were no one so bad that Jesus could not forgive. No one so evil that Jesus did not came to save.

In 1988, a famous novelist was on a tv interview, she said, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.” Why? Why was there no one offering her forgiveness? Why is it she has not forgiven herself when she knows that she will receive forgiveness if only she takes a step to embrace the forgiveness of Jesus? May be she has not fully understood that Jesus offers forgiveness to anyone who would come to Him.

Jesus has offered forgiveness to everyone but it is not received by all. Why?

Forgiveness is hard to give but why is it even harder to receive?

How should we Christians tell others of the forgiveness we have in Christ? How should we live our lives as testimonies that we have been freed from our sin and guilt? There should be forgiveness in us because of the forgiveness that Jesus had given to us.

May we be reminded that Jesus came to serve, to love, to forgive. Let us also serve one another, love one another and forgive one another.

Life is a Gift (Ecclesiastes 3)

Human beings are always searching for meanings in life. The Teacher came up with 3 observations about life and death:

  1. Life is a gift from God (verses 9-10)

The Preacher noticed something in the pattern of mankind.

“9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race” (verses 9-10)

All of us are carrying burdens. There are financial burdens and worries. We are carrying our loads as parents who provide for our children. Or we are caregivers to our elderly parents. If you are a young adult, you face the pressure of balancing work and family life.  

If we see life as a gift from God, we have a better attitude and outlook in life. Even if we are going through difficulties times or are carrying burdens, we can still give thanks to God for the gift of life.

If we treasure life as a gift, every breath that we take is a gift. Life becomes meaningful because it is a gift.

If we see our life as a burden, we will miss the gift of life God has for us. We will not see the blessings from God, but all we can see are problems, pain and difficulties. This will make us angry people, bitter people, people who hold on to grudges, people who are always blaming others for their unhappiness.

The way we look at our lives is important. How we view our life will determine how we live our lives. How we live our lives will most likely determine how we leave this world.

2. Our life is linked to eternity (verse 11)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (verse 11)

Mankind is created in the image of God. When God created mankind, God placed “eternity in the human heart” (verse 11). God put eternity in our hearts, we were meant to last forever until sin came into the world and separate us from God. In our attempts to find God, we tried many ways to fill in this emptiness. 

The Teacher searched for fulfilment in life. He searched for it in entertainment. He could not find it. He searched for it in wealth and could not find it. He was not satisfied. Without God, there is emptiness.

How does knowing that you have been created for eternity affect the way you live your everyday life?

God accomplish His purposes in His time, and we may not understand His plan because He sees it from the eternity point of view. God is all knowing, all seeing, almighty, ever present. God is eternal. He sees the whole picture. He makes everything beautiful in His time, and we can fully trust in Him though we may not understand it all. But it is not for us to worry about. We just need to trust in God and live by faith.  

3.Our life is enjoyable— now (vv 12-14)

“12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.” (verses 12-14)

Yes, each of us is carrying our own load of burdens. But the Teacher tells us to enjoy what we have right now. Appreciate what we have now. Some are caught up dreaming of some possible future thinking that we can only enjoy life when we have a car or a house or be married or have kids or retired, or have more money in the bank. Some are dwelling in the past, lamenting about that the good days were gone.

We can appreciate our live right now and live in the moment, not dreaming about the future or dwelling in the past.  

Ecclesiastes seems to talk a lot about “meaningless, meaningless” because this is what it is without God, meaningless. But another theme of Ecclesiastes we do not hear a lot is “enjoy life”. We can see this theme being repeated from chapter 3-10.

Life is difficult. Still, we are to treasure each day, and be thankful for what we have. Everything that we have comes from God. God gives us the strength, ability and talents for work and to make a livelihood.

God gives us rest from our labour.

No matter what comes our way, as people who love the Lord, learn not to complain but to give thanks for all that we have with all that we have.

When we are mindful that life is a gift from God, life is more meaningful and manageable. We can rest in God and find satisfaction in our daily toil.    

Jesus Christ as Our Greatest Delight

What brings you the greatest delight? It may be entertainment, your family, your children or pets or your hobbies. We are living in a time in human history where we the most self-sufficient due to the advancement of technology. We can easily get the things we want on the internet and have it delivered to us. If we want to see the world, we can purchase air tickets online and hop on the plane, and find and book accommodation through the apps on our phones. If we are bored, we can entertain ourselves, keep ourselves happy and occupied. We can do everything on our own. But do these activities give us lasting joy?

The Bible is very specific that God alone is our greatest joy and delight. The psalmist says in Psalm 16:11, “in Your presence, there is fullness of joy”. In God’s presence, there is joy so deep and so satisfying that we can not find anywhere else. In the psalm that follows, Psalm 17, the psalmist wrote, “because I am righteous, I will see You. When I awake, I will see You face to face and be satisfied” (Psalm 17:15). God is near to the righteous.

God chose a man named Saul to be Israel’s first king. However, instead of obeying God’s commandments, Saul was relying on his logic. Because of his disobedience, God removed him from the kingship and gave it to a man whom God said had a heart like His own— King David. King David adored Jesus Christ as his greatest satisfaction, joy and delight. 

Our Human Heart

In the medical world, our heart is “the muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body.” It pumps blood into every area of our bodies. In Biblical terms, however, our heart is more than a muscle; it is who we really are. Our heart is the wellspring of our life. 

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Our heart is the place where you connect with God and connect with other people. Everything we want to achieve in life: our desires, our passions, our dreams, flow from our heart. Everything we are: the words we say, our thoughts, and the things we do when we are alone, all these come from the heart.

How can we have a healthy heart?

(1)Deep repentance

Let’s look at this list: brother, son, musician, worship leader, warrior, general, king, poet, outlaw, adulterer, murderer, shepherd, husband, father, leader, hero, ancestor of Jesus Christ…this list is about a man. He is a powerful man, a man gifted in music and battle but at the same time, he was also an adulterer and a murderer.

David realised how serious his sin was. He was filled with lust, anger and jealousy. David repented and asked God to cleanse his heart.

David specifically prayed in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (vv 2-4). Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow (verse 7). Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (verse 10)”

The reason he has a heart after God’s is because he genuinely repented of his sins. Every one of us had committed sins. We are not perfect. Some of us may be still holding on to our sins. Let us remember that our sins do not define us. We need to face the consequences of our sins, like David did but we also can receive forgiveness from God like David did.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9, NLT). If we are truly repentant, God will forgive us and cleanse us from our sins.

When we are so broken by sin, we will realise we have nothing apart from God.  We can’t even save ourselves. We are helpless. When we acknowledge we have nothing, and put our trust in Jesus, Jesus will be our greatest delight. He forgives us and helps us to start all over again.

(2) Delight in the Lord

The second thing we can pray for our hearts is that it will seek God as the greatest joy and delight in our hearts.

George Müller (27 September 1805 – 10 March 1898) was a Christian evangelist and the director of the Ashley Down orphanage in England. During his life time, he cared for 10,024 orphans and provided educational opportunities for the orphans. He established 117 schools that offered Christian education to more than 120,000 children, many of whom were orphans.

Despite being busy running orphanages and caring for these children, he said, the first and most important duty of his day was to get his heart happy in God—-through reading the Bible and praying. His first priority was not to make them the teachers or the orphans happy. His first priority was to make his heart happy in God first, before he could face the challenges of the day.

King David’s heart was happy in the Lord. Even when he faced challenges and his enemies were trying to kill him, he found his greatest joy and satisfaction not on his circumstances but in the Lord.  In difficult and dangerous circumstances, he could still sing praises to God.

Many of these psalms reveal to us his heart, which is him delighting in God’s Law. God’s Word encouraged him through the toughest times. He held on to the unchanging, unfailing promises of God. He meditated and thought about God’s Word, and his heart was happy in the Lord because of these.

“Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.” (Psalm 112:1 NLT).

Sometimes we make our problems so big that it is like a tsunami crashing down on us. When our problems is too big, we see God as too small.

Making God our delight need not have to be dependent on our situations. How many of us think our day is ruin by some careless words someone said to us or angry emails from colleagues? Our circumstances in life do not determine our joy. Our level of joy does not depend on how others treat us. Do we say that if we have a better job, we will be happy? People and circumstances do not determine how happy we should be. Make our heart happy in God because the joy of the Lord is our strength.

The Psalmist of Psalm 43 was in a time of darkness. His soul was downcast. He had been crying out to God, waiting for him to rescue him from wicked people. He was waiting for God to answer his prayers and even felt that God was not answering his prayers.

Instead of getting angry at God or throwing a pity-party for himself, the psalmist he picked up his harp and sang to the Lord, “You are my joy and my delight” (Psalm 43:4)

He sang to God, “You are my joy and my delight” even at a time when he was oppressed by wicked people and felt rejected by God.

Our circumstances do not dictate our joy. But we will be happy when we secure ourselves with God’s Word. God loves us. Nothing can ever separate His love from us. He is with us. He watches over us.

We can delight in the Lord by doing these things:

  • Pray and Praise God
    • To remind us Who God is
  • Gratitude
    • David is grateful for what God has done. Again and again in different psalms, he thanked God for what He had done. Keep track of all the answered prayers and the blessings we have receive from God and the things that we are grateful for  
  • Honour the Lord’s Day
    • Worshipping God on Sundays  
    • Come to God with a heart of expectancy. Expect that God will speak and reveal Himself to us through His Word, worship songs and worship services.  
  • Recognise Jesus as your greatest treasure
    • Nothing in the world lasts or stands the test of time but in Jesus, we will be satisfied

(3) Dependency upon God 

In Psalm 18:2, David said of the Lord, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”

Throughout his life, David depends fully in the Lord. When he was a young boy, he depended on God for victory against his fight with Goliath, the Philistine army whom the Israelites were frightened of.

Later on in his life, David also depended on God. Psalm 25 showed us his dependence upon God in the midst of all of his own sins; when his heart ached and the consequences he had to face; the conflict, the sin, the unbelief all around him; the unjust attacks upon him and upon the name of God. Everything happened to him all at once but he depended on God.

Corrie ten Boom is a hero to people who grew up after World War II. She and her family helped Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. And they saved about 800 lives. Her life was a legacy of godliness and wisdom. She had been arrested and sent to the concentration camp. And she survived to tell her story of dependence on God during those years of suffering. In 1971, she wrote the book, “The Hiding Place” which talked about her experiences.

Corrie once said, “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.”

Throughout her life, Corrie experienced losses: she lost her family, her sister who was arrested and was sent to concentration camp with her died in the camp, she lost her possessions and lost years of her life. Yet, she learned to keep the best things in life: things that were gained spiritually and emotionally by putting everything in the hands of her Heavenly Father.   What should we place in God’s hand? Your family? Your future? Everything?

Depend on God, we will not lack or be in want as He has promised us in His Word. Pray that God will help us to depend on Him, for our daily provision, for wisdom in our daily living, and to depend on Him as the supreme joy in our lives.

David makes mistakes too but he sincerely wanted to follow God’s commandments and live a life pleasing to Him. Only God can fill the hole in our hearts. If we look for fulfilment elsewhere apart from God, we will not be satisfied for very long. To make Jesus as our greatest delight, (1) repent deeply for the sins of our lives, (2) make our hearts happy in the Lord, (3) make our heart the dwelling place and depend on God for everything in our lives. 

Romans 8

Why is Romans 8 the most beautiful and important chapter in the Bible

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

Many people considered Romans 8 as the greatest chapter in the Bible. Someone said that if the Bible is a ring, then the book of Romans is the diamond, and chapter 8 is the apex of the cut on that diamond.

Romans 8 verse 1 begins with “no condemnation” for those in Christ Jesus and it ends with verse 39 which tells us that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In between verse 1 and 39, we see the connection of a believer in Jesus (verse 1), the freedom in Christ (verse 2), the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us (verse 9), life in the Spirit (verses 10-11, 13), adoption by God to be His children (verse 15), assurance of salvation (verse 16), inheritance we have with Christ (Verse 17), future glory (verse 18), intercession of the Holy Spirit (verse 26-27), the goodness of God (verse 28), foreknowledge of God (verse 29), predestination (verses 29-30), victorious living in Christ (verses 35-39).

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

“Therefore”, meaning Apostle Paul summarized the truths he mentioned in chapters 1-7. Romans 8:1 is the conclusion of all that Paul has written from chapter 1-7. In Romans 6, Apostle Paul talks about our union with Jesus Christ. Romans 7 is about our ongoing struggle with sin. Romans 8 is about the ongoing victory we have in the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (verse 1). In Greek manuscript, the first word of the sentence starts with “no”, meaning that the primary emphasis is placed upon “no.”

In Greek, the word for “condemnation” (which is ‘katakrima’), is a strong word that means ‘death sentence’, or ‘eternal death’.  During the Old Testament times, the law condemned those who break the law by giving it a guilty verdict to sinners. Since the law could not save us or free us from condemnation, God has to send His One and only Son Jesus to be our substitute and die for us (Romans 3:21).

We die with Christ. In union with Christ’s death, the power of sin over us is broken. The law of sin and death no longer has any hold over us since we have died to the law in Christ Jesus. By the resurrection of Jesus, we too, are raised with Him, in newness of life, in His Spirit. God’s wrath which was upon us was poured out on His Son, so those who believe will be free from condemnation through faith. Those who believe is guilty no more before God.

We are not found guilty anymore. Until we meet Jesus face to face, the devil may try to accuse us and put guilt and shame in us, but remember, 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was condemned on our behalf and He had already paid the price for our sin. The verdict is that we are not guilty.

3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.

When Jesus Christ was here on earth 2000 years ago, He was fully man. He faced challenges we faced. He faced temptations, like we do, yet without sins. Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Galatians 4:4-5). He was born under the law and therefore He could save us from the power of sin in our life.

Jesus was also fully God. Because He was God and He was without sin, only He could take all our sins upon Himself and died for us.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

While we were yet sinners, Christ has died for us—once and for all for all humanity.  There is no eternal death sentence for those who believe. We have been made righteous in Jesus Christ.

This is not applicable for everyone, only to those who are in Christ Jesus. There are some people who will reject Jesus and they are not in Christ. They are those who are separated from Christ Jesus (Romans 9:3). For people who are not in Jesus but are separated from Him, they can not say that they are free from God’s wrath. Jesus Christ came to die for humanity but a person needs to come to Jesus by faith and accept the free gift of eternal life which only Jesus Christ offers. The free gift of eternal life is free for everyone but a person has to make a choice to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36)

There is no half-half in accepting Jesus. We either are in Him, or we are not. Have you accepted the free gift of eternal life? Do you have the assurance that you are not living in condemnation anymore? You are not condemned when you feel like a failure. You are not condemned when you realised you had made a few bad choices in your life.

This is the Gospel in the nutshell: God is loving, holy and righteous. We are all sinners in this world. God loves us but because of our sins, He has to punish us, like any loving parent would if their child misbehaves. In our sins, we face the wrath of God. Only God alone can save us from sins, and He had provided this solution, that is, through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is perfect. Jesus is holy. There is no sin in Him and therefore, He is able to take all our sins upon Himself and took our punishment on our behalf. Jesus Christ died for us on the Cross, the punishment which was supposed to be ours. His blood shed on the Cross cleanse us from our sins. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead after 3 days. Those who believe in Him will be saved. The great news is that there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans chapter 8 also talked about the Holy Spirit in our life as Christians. We do not live our Christian life in our own strength. Without Him, we can not go very far. We live day by day in the power of the Holy Spirit who helps us to live a life that is pleasing to God.  

In Romans chapter 8, the Holy Spirit was mentioned 19 times in the first 27 verses. What are the functions of the Holy Spirit according to this chapter? The Holy Spirit:

  • Gives us life (verse 2)
  • Sets us free from the law of sin and death (verse 2)
  • Help us to walk in righteousness (verse 4)
  • Testifies in our spirit that we are God’s children (verses 15-16)
  • Gives us the assurance of our salvation (verses 15-16)
  • Intercedes for us and prays for us according to our weaknesses (Verse 26-27)

With the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, we are to:

  • walk according to the Spirit (verse 4)
  • set our minds to the things of the Spirit (verse 5)
  • The Spirit of God lives in us (Verse 9, 11)
  • Put away our evil desires (verse 13)
  • Pursue holiness (verse 14).    

Verse 4 tells us, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

“in order that” the law might be fulfilled in us. It means yes, although Jesus died for us and we are not condemned in our sins anymore, we still have to live our lives obeying God’s commandments and walk in holiness. What is the greatest commandment?  

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

In the past, we walked “according to the flesh”, we did what we like because we were in our sinful nature. We had no fear for God because this is our human condition since birth —our minds are set to satisfy the cravings of our flesh. That was why we got into unnecessary troubles. Verse 7 tells us, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so”. We were enemies of God.

Now, we walk “according to the Spirit”, we live by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we are spiritually minded, we have life and peace (verse 6).

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

For those who belong to Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit makes His home in us. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we are able to be obedient to what God requires of us. Our mindset too, is changed. We no longer think of things that only benefits us. Our time, our money— all these are not our possessions but we recognised them as gifts entrusted to us by God.   

In our daily living, let us be intentional followers of Jesus. When we are faced with many temptations, let us choose to walk according to the Holy Spirit. Let us guard our speech, action and thoughts in the workplace, in our dealing with others, at home with our family or alone with our entertainment. Let us depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit daily to choose things that are pleasing to God.

During the 19th century, Ireland was stricken by a potato famine. Many of the Irish people immigrated to America. A young Irish boy stowed away on a ship bound for America. At seas, unfortunately, the ship struck an iceberg and began to sink. As people scrambled frantically for the lifeboats, the captain was the last to leave the sinking ship. When he looked back at the ship, he saw the young stowaway coming out of hiding. The captain ordered his lifeboat back to the sinking ship. He climbed aboard and rescued the boy, putting him in the only vacate seat in the lifeboat, which was the captain’s. As the lifeboat slowly pulled away from the sinking ship, the captain yelled out to the boy, “Boy, never forget what has been done for you today!”

This is grace. I am sure the boy treasured his life from that day on, don’t you? He was almost gone but the captain saw him, rescued him, and exchanged places with him. The captain gave him his seat on the lifeboat. All that the captain asked in return was that the boy not to forget what had been done for him that day.

How often do we think about the sacrifices of Jesus Christ for us? We don’t really think about it. We should live our lives in remembrance of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He died to give us life. He rose again from the dead to give us hope and a future. Come to Jesus, He cares for you.    

Rejoice in the Lord always

Philippians 4:4-8

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

When Apostle Paul was writing this, he was writing to the Philippians not to let selfish ambitions or quarrels to destroy the church life. Apostle Paul reminded them to turn to God and think of things that are of God, and not on earthly things. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

This is the 3rd and 4th times that Paul wrote in this letter to remind the Philippians to rejoice (the other times he commanded them to rejoice was in Philippians 2:18; 3:1). Rejoice means “to be glad”. They are to rejoice—to find joy in God because of what God has done. .

Joy is not head knowledge. Our joy is not about seeking a spiritual experience. Some people are always looking for spiritual highs or the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Joy is more than just eating ice cream on a hot day. Joy is not dependence on your circumstances. Our joy does not come from other people or how they treat us. Our joy doesn’t come from how much we earn.

Rejoicing in the Lord is not something that we do “when we feel like it”. We are told to rejoice in the Lord always. It should be our lifestyle as followers of Jesus Christ. Our joy is in the Lord. We rejoice in God our Creator.

Joy comes from God. Joy is knowing that God sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins, the Holy Spirit is with us and we have eternal life with God. It is something that can not be taken away from us. Jesus said His joy is in us and that our joy will be full (John 15:11).    

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (verse 5)

We can not rejoice in the Lord if we are full of bitterness, anger, and a quarrelsome attitude. We can not rejoice in God if there is unforgiveness in us. May be one of the reasons someone is going through a dark spiritual time is because of bitterness and unforgiveness.

Bitterness is a root that will manifest itself one way or another in our bodies or in our relationships with others, and the choice of words we use in our conversations.

In the original context, there was a conflict between Euodia and Syntyche. Instead of continuing with this conflict, Apostle Paul asked them to be gentle instead. Instead of asserting their power and rights, be gentle. Don’t hold on to a grudge even if you were wronged. It takes courage to ask for forgiveness and to forgive someone but that is how you are set free from the bondage of grudge and bitterness. Take this matter before the Lord. Don’t let unforgiveness destroy your soul.   

Apostle Paul went on to say, “The Lord is near”. Jesus Christ is coming back very soon. It is not time for disunity, for quarrels in the church. It is time to shine for Jesus and to share His love with the people around us.

How do we have joy in God when there is no joy in us? There are times when God is like the sun, hidden by clouds. We can’t see Him. Martin Luther had such an encounter and described that God was hidden like the sun behind the clouds.

Our Christian life is a journey. There will be ups and downs. None of the ups or the downs will be a permanent state. Just as there are different sceneries at different part of a journey, sometimes there are breath-taking views, there are times when it is just a piece of dry land, there will be times when we are in a dry or dark season in our walk with the Lord.

King David recorded moments when he was experiencing spiritual lows in his life.  

Psalm 40:1-3

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear the Lord

and put their trust in him.

King David, used these words “slimy pit” to describe his spiritual condition. He felt he had fallen into a deep and dark well and was stuck deep in the mud.

We could sense his helplessness and desperation. Helplessness is: the mother overwhelmed with taking care of young children, the stress of the youths studying online, the loneliness of elderly people who has been at home most of the time and missing their friends, those who read the news and feel a sense of hopelessness, those struggling with an illness. At times, we feel hopeless and helpless.

What did King David who was in the pit of destruction and in the miry bog do? He cried out to God, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.…” He cried out because he had confidence that his cries would not fall upon deaf ears. God is a God who listens to prayers. When was the last time you cried out to God when you were in a desperate situation? King David cried a lot. The psalms recorded his songs of tears and weeping. God cares for you and you are not struggling on your own.

After calling out to God, David waited patiently for God to do something. He had confidence that God who hears his cries is able to deliver him out of his situations. Remember, God is a faithful God. We are able to trust in God’s faithfulness because time and time again, God has proven to be a faithful God to us. Our human faithfulness can be flickle at times. It ebbs and flows based on our circumstances and surroundings. There are times our faith is so small and tiny but Jesus said the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains. Trust that even at times when our faith is so small, God still holding us and calling us to Himself.  

And sure enough, God lifted him out of the pit and set him on a solid place where he could stand again. God’s deliverance brought great rejoicing to David. And David could rejoice again. He sang songs of praises to God again. And this had become David’s testimony.

David said, “Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”

Whatever you are going through will be a testimony for others to see God at work. People will see how God works and put their trust in Him. From disbelief to believing. If you are in the pit of destruction, continue to cry out to God and wait for His deliverance. The song of praise you will sing and your testimony will be an encouragement to those around you.

2 Tim. 2:19, Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,”

1 Cor 1:9, God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

These are God’s promises to us. Even when we are in the dark, hold on to God’s promises. His promises never fail. His Word will not fall unproductively to the ground. Remember that you are his child. Cry out to God in our helplessness and hopelessness. But let us also wait patiently for him. We do not know how long we must wait before God comes to our rescue, but He will rescue us and deliver us. He makes no mistake. God is a faithful God. His timing is perfect. In our moments of darkness or helplessness, cry out to God, hold on to His hand and wait for His deliverance. Don’t let go of His hand. He certainly won’t let go of us!    

Great men and women of God had moments when they did not experience God.

When Martin Luther wrote the hymn “a mighty fortress is our God”, with Psalm 46 as his reference, it was believed that he was going through a dark and challenging time. In 1529, it was published as “A Hymn of Comfort.”  

Mother Teresa too, experienced a time when God was eclipsed in her life. She wrote to Rev Michael van der Peet in September 1979, “Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” It was said that for 60 years, Mother Teresa did not experience God but she carried on serving God. 

What do these people have in common in their experience with God? They never gave up on God. They trust that even in their darkness, God was with them.  Even at times they did not see God or experience Him, they knew that God is with them.

What shall we do when we feel helpless, hopeless and so far away from God?

Continue to seek the Lord and wait upon Him. Shift our mind set. And not to set our eyes on our circumstances.

Apostle Paul went on to address the anxiety issue.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (verse 6)

What are you worried about? Family, health, job, money, future, the list goes on…

Apostle Paul urged us not to be anxious or worried but to commit everything to God in prayers. Like King David, we have to trust that God will pull us out from the pit of destruction and place us on solid ground. Tell God what is on your mind. Tell God your desperate situation. God wants to hear from you. He cares for you. He knows what is in your mind but He wants you to tell Him. That is how you build a relationship with God. You pour your heart to Him and you listen to Him and read His Word for instructions.

When we make our needs and requests known before God in prayers, we are to give thanks to God. “Thanksgiving” (eucharistia in Greek) is the expression of gratitude, of giving thanks. 

It means, when we pray, we are to offer our prayers to God with the attitude of remembering His faithfulness, love and mercies in our lives. And we expect that He will do something about our current situation.

When we are discouraged or in the dark, give thanks to God. Think of how God has been with you in the past. He is with you now. Also, it is equally important to guard our minds.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (verse 7)

Peace is a state of well-being. In the Old Testament, the word “Shalom” in Hebrew means: harmony, wholeness, completeness, health, tranquillity, safety, rest, peace with God, and these are permanent state.  

When we pray with thanksgiving, God’s peace will guard our heart and mind. He will guard and protect our heart and mind from worries and anxieties. God’s peace is beyond our understanding. Wait upon God. Rest in God and rest in His promises.

Lastly, we have to make efforts to guard our heart and mind.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (verse 8)

We talked about being gentle, not holding on to grudges, be at peace with other. It is about training our mind to think of things other than our rights, taking revenge, paying someone back. “Think of these things”. In Greek, the verb for think is “logizomai”, a term for accounting and mathematics. It involves the cognitive process. It means, “to consider, to give careful thought, to consider dwelling your minds on these things. We can control what we think, with God’s help.

Think of these things:

“True”: being truthful and honest, righteous.

“Noble”: honorable, above reproach.

“Right: fair, just.

 “Pure”: holy, clean

“Lovely”: pleasing, amiable.

“Admirable”: praiseworthy, commendable

“Excellent”: excellence within a social context  e.g. excellence of character, giving someone the benefit of a doubt.

“Praiseworthy”” praise

Think of these things. It is not our human nature to think these things so Apostle Paul asks us to put into practice.

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (verse 9)

Apostle Paul asks the Philippians to learn from his example. For us today, in our Christian community, think of those that you can learn from. You can even ask to be mentored.

Something that we should put into practice:

(i) Prayers

What should you be praying about? When we do not feel God or His presence, continue to pray. His peace will guard our hearts and minds in Him.

(ii) Read God’s Word

When the great men and women of faith felt that God was faraway, they held on to God’s Word. The Bible is God’s Word that is a light unto our path. It leads us to the path of righteousness and wisdom. We should read it, meditate on it and apply it in our lives. St John of the Cross (1542-91), a Spanish Catholic priest, who wrote “the dark night of the soul” said that when we read God’s Word, the new life of Christ gets brighter and brighter in us.

(iii) Submit to God

In our daily activities, work, relationships, ministry, St John urges us to pray, “Lord, your will, your way, and your time.” So much of our self-imposed stress and anxieties will be removed when we commit them to God’s will, way and time.

Conclusion:

God is with us when we are in the pit. God is with us when we are on mountain tops. 

The times when we feel God is so far away is only temporary. Repent of our sins, receive His forgiveness, move on, read God’s Word and pray. God will not hide His face from us forever. We are His children. He is faithful. Let’s rejoice in the Lord always.  

What Are The Characteristics of A Righteous Person in the Book of Job, in Times of Adversity? (Part 2 of 2)

When wicked people suffer, most people would be thrilled because they deserved it. However, when righteous people are suffering, one would wonder: Why would a sovereign and a lovely God allow His beloved to undergo suffering and pain?

What were Job’s characteristics in adversity?

  1. Reverent awe before God

In the prologue, after losing his wealth and all of his children, Job “did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22). He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). Job understood that everything he had come from God alone and God rightly had every right to remove them from him as He saw fit. Job also understood that he could not take his riches with him when he dies.  

God was pleased and boasted to the Accuser that Job “still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason” (Job 2:3). In his loss, Job maintained his reverent awe and fear before God. 

He was confident in who God was—that God was faithful and righteous in all His ways. When Job was struck with the next disaster, painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head, he cursed God not. He rebuked his wife, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). Job “did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10). In the prologue, Job did not do or say anything that jeopardised his relationship with God.

2.Wondered if God loved Him

Job’s 3 friends came and they sat with him. They then accused Job and said the reason Job was suffering was that he had sinned.

Job defended himself by saying that he was righteous. God could not possibly punish a righteous man. Job defended that he did not deserve these ‘punishments’ he was inflicted with, which should have been reserved for the unrighteous.

Job accused that God had shattering their relationship by tormenting him. He wondered if God loved him anymore. He accused God of waging a battle against him (Job 3:23), gnashing his teeth at him (Job 16:9). He said God has turned him over to the ungodly and thrown him into the clutches of the wicked (Job 16:11). God had crushed him (Job 16:12). He felt God was like an archer who was using him as target practice; or a warrior that has slashed open Job’s kidneys and spilt his gall on the ground (Job 16:12-13).

Isn’t it us today too? When something unexpectedly happened to us, we think that God does not love us anymore. We accused God of not loving, and that He is far away. But God is always near, as we see from the book of Job.

3. Lament but faithful

Job lamented. His relatives and closest friends had forsaken him (19:14). His guests and servants considered him as a foreigner (19:15). His own family too, turned away from him: his wife found him repulsive, his family loathed him and young children despised him (19:17-18). Those he loved had turned from him (19:19). But still, he had faith in who God was. He said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (19:25-26). Though his loved ones left him, he remained steadfast and full of faith in God. He said, “I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:27). He held on to God although he did not understand God’s purpose for him.

In his adversity, he still remembered who he was. He did not ask for his wealth to be restored, or threatened God to give him another 10 children. He only asked that God would remember him (14:13). There was nothing he wanted more than being in a restored relationship with God once again. Despite losing everything, the righteous would not demand God for their properties to be restored but they would yield themselves to God in humble submission. 

Above all else, he longed to restore his relationship with God.   In his pain and suffering, Job did not forsake God. He wanted to be in a relationship with God again.

4. Teachable

Finally, when God spoke to Job in the whirlwind, Job realised that he had a narrow view of God and believed that God functioned in a way that rewarded the righteous and punished the wicked. He finally understood that God’s purposes for this world (and even universe) are far bigger than just punishing wicked and blessing the righteous. God as the sovereign Creator had a purpose for all of His created beings which we human beings are incapable of understanding (Job 39). 

The book of Job is not about suffering. It is about God—His character, sovereignty, justice, faithfulness, goodness and love. There is always a bigger picture which is the perfect plan of the Almighty God. After God had spoken to Job, Job realised who he was—a created being who had no right to question his Creator. Instead of demanding answers from God for his pain, Job’s response was to humble himself before God (Job 28), acknowledging that there was so much that he did not know and understand. “The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).

In times of adversity, the righteous person showed us that we should not act as though we could run the world better than God, because we as created beings never will. We are horrified by the helplessness of humanity in the face of natural disasters or outraged by the ruthless exploitation of the weak, or hopeless with the choice of the national leaders that we think we will do a better job than God in running the universe.

God’s ways are higher than our ways and He rules the universe with wisdom. Job realised that. He sets an example for us to remain humble before our Creator. Out of his suffering, he met God in a fresh way and re-established the Creator-created relationship. Suffering does not necessarily mean punishment from God but one thing for certain that God is with us every day. Let us remain steadfast in our faith, trust and love to our God like Job did. 

May the Lord be praised!

What are the characteristics of a righteous person in the book of Job, in situations prosperity? (Part 1 of 2)

The book of Job begins by telling us who Job was. He was described as a man of “righteousness” — he was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (1:1, NIV). Even prophet Ezekiel described Job as a wise and godly man (Ezekiel 14:14, 20).

The concept of righteousness in the book of Job is introduced in the prologue (1:1-2:13) and once again in the epilogue — the final chapter of the book (42:7-17). In the prologue, Job was ‘blameless and upright’ who loved the Lord and feared the Lord.

In the epilogue, when God had spoken to him, he humbled himself before God and worshipped Him, confessing that he had sinned against God. And in the chapters in between, Job demonstrated faith in God despite not understanding why he was inflicted with such sufferings.  

Job lived in the land of Uz. He was not an Israelite and therefore, his faith in God was purely based on his human faith, and not bounded by God’s covenantal relationship with the Israelites. God was so confident in Job’s righteous character that He boasted to the Accuser that there was no one as righteous as he (Job 1:8). The Accuser challenged God that perhaps his righteousness was because God had been blessing him. If family and wealth were removed from him, would Job still remain righteous? (Job 1:9-11). “Is Job righteous because he is blessed or is he blessed because he is righteous?” the Accuser asked. To prove that He was right, God allowed Job to be tested, including taking away from him all the things that the Accuser thought characterised his righteousness: his wealth, his family and his health.

Gladly do right

Righteousness in the Old Testament

Righteousness is being in a right relationship with God

In the Old Testament, righteousness has a relational concept. God was the One who initiate this love relationship with mankind when He created Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:4-3:24). When they disobeyed God, God provided a way: He said an offspring from the woman would crush the head of the evil one (Genesis 3:15), that was, referring to Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, we have a clearer picture of God establishing a relationship with us through the salvation offered by His Son, Jesus Christ.  

A righteous man is in a right relationship with God. A righteous person would know what are the things that displeased God and avoid doing them, for example, the righteous person would love holiness, help those in need and hate corruption, abuse and injustice. 

Righteousness are actions that pleases God 

Both the Old and New Testaments describe a righteous person as one who trusts in God (Psalm 31:17-19; 33:18; Micah 7:7-9), humbles himself in the presence of God and His judgement (Psalm 143:1,2), repents of his sins and asks God for forgiveness as well as expecting deliverance (Psalm 32; 103:10-13; 118:18-21). A righteous person acts in accordance to what he says.

Some Old Testament passages which connect righteous behaviour with actions:

  1. Deuteronomy 6:25, “and if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
  2. Ezekiel 3:20 connects a righteous person with righteous actions.
  3. Isaiah 64:5 says that the righteous are those who “gladly do right”.
  4. Habakkuk says that “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (Habakkuk 2:4).

In short, righteousness is actions that pleases God and living by faith (Romans 1:17).

Righteousness as communal

In the prophetic and psalmic literature, righteousness and justice are often paired together. It is a communal thing. It involves the community. Righteousness involves ethical relations between an individual and the community (e.g. Isaiah 1:21). The righteous person shows loyalty to the community.    


Job was the greatest man among all the people of the East (Job 1:3b). Yet, he kept himself morally pure. He kept himself pure from the effects of power, wealth and fame. Job lived with a clean conscience before God and before others in his community. He blessed others with loving deeds and is blessed in return with the respect and honour in the community from the young to the old.

1. Righteous

A righteous person does not mean he is without sins. Rather, righteousness means that a person’s heart is honest and his intentions are pure. Job, although he was a righteous man, admitted to sinning (Job 6:24; 10:14, 7:20,21; 14:4; 14:16,17; 21:16). He knew it would be impossible not to sin before God (Job 14:4) but he was righteous because he confessed his sins and repented before the Lord. 

2. Righteousness in the family

Job functioned as a priest for his family which was a typical role in the patriarchal days. Not only did he embody righteousness, his whole household too, were moving in the same direction towards righteousness. Job had rituals to purify his 10 children, lest they had inadvertently sinned and cursed God in their hearts (Job 1:5).

He was righteous not only in the society, but also in his family as well. We can be busy with the things in the community and in the workplace but let us not forget to teach our children and lead them to the path of righteousness.

3. A heart of Thankfulness

With the abundance of wealth and all that he had, and then they were suddenly gone, Job still acknowledged that these blessings came from God. They were God’s goodness and grace in his life. Job said of God, “You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit” (Job 10:12). This is something remarkable for someone to say in the midst of utmost suffering and pain.

4. Communal 

Despite having his abundance, Job lived righteously in the society and the community commended him for his righteous living. 

“11 When the ear heard, it commended me, and when the eye saw, it approved; 12 because I delivered the poor who cried, and the orphan who had no helper. 13 The blessing of the wretched came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. 14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger” (Job 29:11-16, NRSV)

In his wealth, he remained humble. He had compassion for the weak in the society and extended his helping hand to them.

Job lived in a right way with other people and it was not because he was required to follow certain laws or keep certain commandments in the Torah. He lived in a patriarchal age[2], which was a long time before Moses receiving the 10 Commandments from God at Mount Sinai. Job must not have been taught the Torah.

Righteousness and justice were so important to Job that he clothed himself with them.  Job’s righteous can be seen in his behaviour towards those who were oppressed in the society. He fought against social injustice. He came to the help of the poor who were crying for help, extended his hand to the orphans, blessed the widows, cared for those in need and defended the weak. Job did not close his eyes to the needy or shut his heart to the cries of the oppressed. Rather, he reaches out to the underprivileged and strived to improve the quality of their lives and livelihood.  He defended the weak. He despised and wrestled with unrighteousness, He said of himself, “I broke the fangs of the unrighteous, and made them drop their prey from their teeth.” (Job 29:17, NRSV).

5. Respectable

Job was a respectable man. He kept his eyes pure, and made a covenant with his eyes not to lust after a young woman (31:1). He was faithful in marriage and guarded his heart so that he would not be enticed by another woman (31:9). He knew God was watching his every step so he was careful not to do wrong (31:2-4).

His heart too, was pure towards God. He did not practice falsehood or deceit (31:5), nor did he commit crimes or corruption or practise bribery (31:7).

His hands too, were pure towards God. He treated his servants well, knowing that they were created by the same Creator (31:13, 15). Job shared his food with the poor (31:16-17), helped the needy (31:18) and clothed the poor (31:19).

He put his trust in God, and not in his wealth, knowing that his wealth was from God, not just from his work (Job 31:24). He did not worship other idols but his heart was set on God (31:26-28). He walked in humility by not allowing himself to rejoice over his enemy’s misfortune or let his mouth sin (31:29-30).  

God noticed how rare this righteous person was and said to the Accuser, “There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.”  (Job 1:8).


Job showed us the example of living a life of righteousness during times of prosperity. Let us not forget God when we are enjoying good times.

Desire God

When bad things happen to bad people, most of us think they deserve it. It is their punishment for what they have done. But what if punishment happened to the righteous people who did not deserve it?

The book of Job begins by telling us who Job was. Job was depicted as embodying “righteousness” — he was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (1:1, NIV). Even Ezekiel described him (Ezekiel 14:14, 20) as a wise and godly man. This showed that Job was well known at that time for his righteousness and for his wisdom.

Job adored God and trembled with awe at His holiness. He did not participate or commit evil things. He lived a respectable life and was honoured by the old and the young within his community. He provided care to the needy and helped the poor.

Job lived in the land of Uz. He was not an Israelite so he was not bounded by the covenantal relationship the Israelites had with God. Job had 7 sons, 7 being the perfect number and 3 daughters. A total of 10 children. In Hebrew, the number 10 means wholeness. God had blessed Job with a good family. His children were in good relationships with one another. Whenever the sons had birthday parties, they would invite their sisters to join them. The family lived in harmony.

Apart from enjoying a wonderful family, Job had great wealth. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. That meant a lot of money. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East (Job 1:2–3).

The land of Uz was known for its wisdom. Referring to Job as the greatest man may not only include his great wealth, this might also portray him as having great wisdom. He could be the wisest man in the East.

Job, being an upright and blameless man, found favour with God. God was so confident of Job’s righteous character that He boasted to the Accuser that there was no one on earth as righteous as he (Job 1:8). The Accuser then said to God: perhaps he was righteous because God had been blessing him; if family and wealth were removed from him, would he still remain righteous? (Job 1:9-11).

To prove that He was right, God allowed Job to be tested, including taking away from him his wealth and his family.

Then, it happened. His wealth was taken from him. But he did not sin against God by cursing God. Next, all of his 10 children were killed at a birthday party. Again, Job did not sin against God. He remained righteous and blameless before God.

Reverent awe before God

Instead, he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). As the greatest man in the East, Job understood one thing —everything that he had came from God alone. His wisdom came from God. His wealth came from God. His children came from God. These were blessings from God. Therefore, Job believed that God had every right to remove them from him as He saw fit.  

Job also understood that he could not take his riches with him when he died. We came into this world with nothing, and when we leave this earth, we can not take anything physical with us. The thing that we can live behind is the memories others have of us and the legacy we leave behind.

What legacy are we leaving behind? Let us leave an example for them by showing our children what it means to be disciples of Christ in this world. May your example give them the courage to persevere in their faith journey with Jesus.

For Job, the most important Person was God. He was the greatest man in the East for his wealth and for his wisdom. Yet, he did not put his hope in his wisdom. He did not put his trust in his wealth.

God was so pleased with Job that He boasted to the Accuser that Job “still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason” (Job 2:3). In his great loss, Job maintained his reverent awe before God. 

He was confident in who God was—that God was faithful and righteous in all His ways. Can we say the same when we are facing struggles in our lives. Will we still trust God if we experience great loss?

God is still a faithful God. Ask God for eyes of faith to trust Him even when we are in difficult circumstances. The pandemic take things away from us: freedom to travel, freedom to see our family and friends, and it also strike us economically. We have been hit economically, emotionally and mentally. Let us not let it take away our faith in God.

Job remained faithful to God despite losing his wealth and children. God then allowed the Accuser to afflict Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. They were so painful, that he had to scrap them with a piece of broken pottery. His skin split open because of the boils. Maggots were crawling around his wounds. Pus and blood oozed out from his wounds. He was so afflicted that he couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep well and his breath stunk.

Yet, he did not curse God. He maintained his reverence for God. He rebuked his wife, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). Job “did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10).

In his affliction, Job maintained a thankful attitude towards God. He remembered that everything he had were God’s providence to him. He said of God, “You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit” (Job 10:12). He remembered God was the one who gave him his life, showed him kindness and provided for him.

For us today, it is easy to succumb to the temptation that we do not need God—we can manage our lives. Well, isn’t it the human condition since Adam and Eve?

But Job showed us what it meant to put our trust in God. Even when all that he had was gone, he could still praise God. If all that we have is gone, and all that we consider as precious, such as our children, are gone, can we still say that God is good? Can we still worship God and say He is good? 

There are things in our lives that we will never understand why they happened. Job never did understand why these calamities happened to him.

Job’s lament

 Job lamented. He lamented that God had shattered their relationship by tormenting him. He wondered if God loved him anymore. He felt as if God was waging a battle against him (Job 3:23), gnashing his teeth at him (Job 16:9). He said God has turned him over to the ungodly and thrown him into the clutches of the wicked (Job 16:11). God had crushed him (Job 16:12). He felt God was like an archer who was using him as target practice; or a warrior that has slashed open Job’s kidneys and spilt his gall on the ground (Job 16:12-13).

Job lamented over the loss of relationships. His relatives and closest friends had forsaken him (19:14). His guests and servants considered him as a foreigner (19:15). His own family too, turned away from him: his wife found him repulsive, his family loathed him and young children despised him (19:17-18). Those he loved had turned from him (19:19).

Desire God

Yes, Job was lamenting but in his lament he had faith in God. He said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (19:25-26). He knew that things on this earth are fleeting, but Someone remained unchanging, that is, God.

In his great loss and suffering, he yearned for God. He said, “I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:27).

He did not understand God’s plan for him yet he held on to God. He yearned for his relationship with God to be restored. He yearned that God would remember him (Job 14:3), “If only you would hide me in the grave, and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!”

Imagine that. In the midst of his great loss and deep suffering, as the greatest man in the East, he did not ask for everything to be restored to him. He did not ask for his wealth to be restored. He did not threaten God to bring back his 10 children to him or to give him another 10 children. All he really wanted was that God would remember him. Job wanted God Himself. That was the only greatest desire of his heart. He knew that his wealth, his servants, his children, would not match with what God meant to him. He wanted more than anything to be in a restored relationship with God once again. In his pain and suffering, he never gave up on God.   

This is such an important lesson for us today. Will we really acknowledge that God is our all?

Yes, we all need to work for food on our table. We need to feed our family. We need pay for our children’s education or to think about our retirement. Especially in this pandemic, there may be more expenses for gadgets, and internet connection and so on. But let us not forget God.

Thomas Merton, a Catholic writer, once told a story. A person was climbing on the ladder of success, each rung brought him closer to the top but once he reached the top, he realised the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall. He had been climbing on the wrong ladder.

“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” 

Thomas Merton

May the ladder that we are climbing be the ladder that brings us closer to God.

God’s Purpose

God finally spoke to Job but in the whirlwind. When God questioned Job and showed him His sovereignty, Job realised that he had a narrow view of God. In the past, Job thought God functioned in a way that He rewarded the righteous and punished the wicked. But when God showed Job His Creation, Job finally understood that God’s purposes for this world (and even universe) are far bigger than just punishing the wicked and blessing the righteous. God as the sovereign Creator had a purpose for all of His created beings which we human beings are incapable of understanding (Job 39). 

The book of Job is not about suffering.  It is about God—His character, sovereignty, justice, faithfulness, goodness and love. Our lives are not solely about us. God’s plan is for the humanity and the universe.

We see the pains and the sufferings of this world. We are helpless when natural disasters strike or we feel hopeless with the choice of the world leaders. We think that we would do a better job at running the world than God. God’s ways are higher than our ways. There will always be issues that we will not fully understand from the limited perspective that we have.

Let us learn from Job. Instead of demanding answers from God for his pain, he humbled himself before God (Job 28), acknowledging that there was so much that he did not know and understand. “The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).

Job never got answers for his suffering. But from his suffering, he experienced God in a fresh way and re-established the Creator-created relationship. Suffering does not necessarily mean punishment from God. One thing for certain that God is with us every day. He is the Creator, and He is love. The world is God’s — it is His property and it is in His hands .

The book of Job ended with God restoring all that Job had lost. He had 10 more children, his daughters were the most beautiful in the land and he received double the wealth than before.

Job never let God go. Let us not be so carried away with ourselves that we forget the sovereignty of God. He had a wonderful plan for us. He sent His One and only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for us.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Nothing puts life into men like a dying Savior.”

We have a new life and new meaning to life because of Jesus Christ.

 We live a reasonably comfortable life. Do we desire God? Do we yearn for Him? May our hearts not get so crowded that it crowd God from the centre of our lives.

Job never got the answer to why he suffered. He did not know the contest between God and the evil one. But what was more important to him was that his relationship with God was restored. He got a clearer sense of who God is.

Job humbled himself before God and worshipped him.  

There are so many things in this life that we will not understand. There are questions in our head that will not be answered. Job persisted to live a meaningful life, because God is the Creator. Let us remain steadfast in our faith, trust and love to our God like Job did.