Friday, July 27, 2012

God's Favour

When Jesus came out of the water at his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on him and the voice of God proclaimed “you are my Son whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). That was a sign of God’s favour being on him on him. The Psalmist in 84:11 also says “The Lord bestows favour and honour”. What is the meaning of ‘God bestowing his favour’? Most times, we tend to equate God’s favour with material possession and privilege. I believe that is a wrong understanding. God’s plan is unique for each one of us. That is why some of us are millionaires and some are not. So are the non-millionaires non-recipients of God’s favour? The psalmist’s reply will definitely be no! Look at Ps 84:10 “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” That’s a powerful image of godly contentment.

What he is saying is “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God (and have ‘nothing’) than dwell in the tents of the wicked (and have ‘everything’).” He knows what God’s favour is. Doorkeeper? That’s fine! After all, it’s from God so it must be good. He is content with what God has given him and where God has brought him. Will that sound good to us? If God is our everything, we will also know the same satisfaction and contentment with where God brings us.

In Psalm 84:8-12, we can see some common elements that identify what God’s favour really is.

Purpose – v9, “Look with favor on your anointed one.” The Hebrew word for “anointed one” is mashiach, a word that is often used to refer to Jesus – the Messiah, Anointed or Chosen One. We too are God’s anointed ones, chosen as instruments in the redemption of the lost. The glorious truth is that we are not just taking up space here on earth. There is a point to our lives. We have an anointing from the King of Kings. I recall back to the time when I wanted to commit suicide. I wrote a goodbye note to my mum saying, “Just cremate me and throw the ashes down the toilet. There is no purpose to my life.” Now I know there is a point in living. God has chosen me and given me a purpose to live.

Protection – v11. The beginning of verse 11 states, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield.” Two interesting terms—sun and shield. ‘Sun’ reminds us that God is our light and illumination. Therefore, the darkness of this life, the devil, discouragement, etc. cannot overcome us. Instead, as our shield, God guarantees us victory over sin and death.

Provision – v11. The psalmist continues, “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” God is a generous, gracious God who provides his children every good thing! Does that mean that God will give us a fancy condo, an exotic car, lots of cash? Those are the good things of the world. What are the good things of God’s Kingdom then? Let us look at our Lord Jesus himself. Jesus came to establish a relationship with us. The story of Martha and Mary reminds us it is a good relationship to be treasured above all else. Jesus also established a good, blameless reputation for himself, his accusers could find nothing wrong with him and even Pilate called him an innocent man. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men,” (Luke 2:52). More than that, Jesus left a lasting legacy for all to follow – his disciples who would be known by their love for fallen man. These are the real blessing of life as God’s favour rests on us - things like good relationships, good reputation, a good legacy to leave behind. That is a guaranteed provision because we enjoy his favour.

Don’t be fooled. Never exchange blessings of eternal value with things of temporal value.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Meaning of Life

Allow me to share some personal reflections on the real meaning of life. Amidst the pressures of studies, physiological changes, relationships, etc., many young people ask themselves, “What does life really mean to me?” Many of my friends and I too asked and looked for it. Some of us found it in the wrong places.

God has already told us the meaning of life. In Eph 1:4-5, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” So what is the point of life? What is God's purpose in creating you? It says here that you were made to be loved by God.

Even more, God has made you part of the story of the universe. Most of you know the Star Wars story. On one side, there was Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo and the Jedi Knights. On the other were the forces of Darth Vader and the Sith Lords. It was a classic story of good versus evil. If the Jedi Knights lost, the universe was plunged into fear and darkness. The movies were very inspiring and I remember being thrilled by the trilogy. Don’t you want your life to be part of a good story?  The good news is that your life is just that - a story of good versus evil. It is a story where God has given you a part to redeem his creation. You are part of history yet to be written.

In catechism class, you learn that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Forever! That sounds great does it not? History is moving forward. You have an appointed future and you are moving toward an appointed destiny. Life is not a cycle. It is not a treadmill where you keep running and running but yet fail to move forward. You had a beginning and now a destiny awaits you. Life is a road that leads you to blessing in an eternal relationship with God.

In conclusion, your life now is preparation for eternity. That is why Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has set eternity in the hearts of men." You were made to last forever. That means every situation in your life is preparing you for eternity. Life is a prep school, a trial run, a dress rehearsal for the future. So it is not just here and now that matters. What you are doing now is preparation for the future. That is why you need to study hard now. Wherever you are now, God wants you to do your best now so that he can use your life as part of his story. He does not want you to just drift along because then you will not develop character and you miss out on playing a part in His story. You may not be a straight A student. That’s not the end of your world. What is more important is to do your best in your studies now. Not being as gifted as others does not mean God does not accept you. However, whatever you do, you need to give of your best because God is preparing you for his story – one that has cosmic implications. It is playing a useful part in that story that ultimately gives meaning to your life.