Weekly Reflection (5 October 2020)
A very good spring morning to you. I hope you have been able to go out to appreciate ever variety and lovely flowers and new shoots everywhere. It is such a treat to be able to enjoy the wonderful creation of God.
I pray that you have been keeping well and safe. Do look after yourself physically, spiritually and emotionally. It is such a great privilege and delight to share this short Monday Reflection with you.
As with the past few Mondays, I will today share with you the marvellous grace of God in my life. My purpose is that you may be encouraged to reflect God’s blessings and grace in your own life. This is all the more important in this restrictive and depressing time.
Today, I am going to share about the reaches of God love in my life.
Before that, let us come to our loving Father in prayer
Let us pray:
O Lord God, I praise and magnify You because you have set Your seal on my innermost being, not leaving me to my own sinful nature and carnal desires, but that Your lavish grace called me to be an heir of Your eternal kingdom. I bless You for your gracious hand in my life, and for the sure knowledge that however I may falter and fail, undergirding me is Your everlasting protective arms. I pray this through the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.[i]
The Prayer of the Week
Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Generous God, whose hand is open to fill all things living with plenteousness: make us ever thankful for your goodness, and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This morning, our Bible Reading is taken from the fifteenth Chapter of the Gospel of Luke verses 1 to 10. Here Jesus tells us two familiar parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. They share one theme. It is about the owner who searches diligently and did not give up till what was lost was found and safe.
Let us now hear the Bible reading …
1 All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” 3 So He told them this parable: 4 “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open fieldand go after the lost one until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, 6 and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbours together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’ 7 I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance. 8 “Or what woman who has 10 silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she finds it, she calls her women friends and neighbours together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found the silver coin I lost!’ 10 I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”
The Reaches of God’s Love
Last week, I shared with you how I made the personal decision to accept and believe Jesus as my Lord and Saviour in a Diocesan Youth Camp. Today I will be sharing with you the reaches of God’s searching love that ushered me home again.
My high school days back in Sabah was a happy blur of studies, scouting experiences, school activities and of course Church life. Distractions and entertainments were rare to none existent in those days.
My weekends were occupied by Church events. Friday night was Youth Fellowship, Saturday was for cleaning the Church and Sunday was serving in the Church Service as choir member of Server.
Unconsciously, my Christian life evolved into on a cruise mode. Spiritually, I was on automatic-pilot. My spiritual compass was set in the direction of heaven and I was getting very comfortable with my Christian activities. There was no spiritual challenge and I was slowly drifting away from God. I sank into spiritual apathy. My spiritual life was defined by Christian activities that starved my relationship with God. Outwardly, I was doing all the right Christian things. Inwardly my spiritual life was like a dry desert. God was too distant in my life to bother me. I was ready to leave him behind.
After high school, my parents decided to send me to study in our Capitol city Kuala Lumpur, with the hope of sending me abroad for my tertiary education. They enrolled in into Taylor’s college – in the seventies was the only College to go to as a stepping stone for overseas tertiary studies. I was enrolled into our Victorian matriculation.
I then only 17, that was the first time in my life I had left home and I found myself all alone in a big city which is 1,625 kilometres away from home. Alone in a hotel in a strange city of a different culture, facing an uncertain future, I was scared. My idealistic plans of physical and spiritual independence took a huge blow.
The College in their enrolment letter promised to find a room for me to stay. As I fronted the reception about this, they only gave me three addresses to phone. Back in my hotel room, I called the first one but there was no answer. I called the second and was told that the room was no longer available.
Down to my last address, I was desperate. I had no one I to turn to for help – except God. I prayed and told him that if He would lead me to a place to stay, I will once again go to Church and rebuild my relationship with Him.
With trepidation, I called the last number on the list and to my relief, they have a room to let for me. That was a great relief. I moved in immediately. Though it was a bit far from my College and I had to take a 40-minute bus ride to get there, I was glad that at least I can have a place to stay.
Soon, I conveniently forgot about my promise to God. Though I walk past a Lutheran Church on my way to the bus station to get to College, I never thought of entering it. A few weeks into my studies, I was again taking my daily walk to the bus station and lo and behold, I met my former High School’s lab-assistant walking towards the Church. She was as surprised to see me as I was her. Who would have though that in this big bustling city, I would meet a familiar face on my way to take a bus!
She explained that she was there for her theological studies and going to the Lutheran Church for her student-placement experience. Knowing that I was a Christian, she asked if I was going to Church. My silence told her the answer. She encouraged me to go to the Lutheran Church on Sunday.
God is good. In this Church was a bible-loving God-honouring Student Fellowship run by students themselves. They invited me to join their Saturday meetings. I did, and for two years, I my spiritual life grew and my relationship with God was strengthened.
God’s love reached me when I went astray and was ready to leave him completely. How wonderful that He not only arranged the room for me to rent, He also directed the remarkable meeting with my former High School’s lab-assistant and how He graciously led me to a Church that enabled me to grow spiritually.
I often wondered where and who I would be if God did not pull me back from the brink of spiritual suicide. One thing for sure, I would be a dreadful human being in an appalling state.
Out of 45 members in that one Student Fellowship of that Lutheran Church. More than 10 of us were called by God to enter into full time ministry. I am but the least of them all.
I can wholeheartedly echo the words of the Hymn “I stand amazed in the presence”. I shall try to sing it to you now.
I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.
How marvellous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvellous! How wonderful!
Is my Saviour’s love for me![ii]
To God be all the glory.
The Morning Collect
Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen.[iii]
Thank you for your company. May I encourage you to look back at your life to see the times that God’s love touched, blessed or rescued you. He is a marvellous and awesome God isn’t He.
Till next Monday, rejoice often. Do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. God bless you and be His blessings to all you come across this week.
[i] John Baillie, Fourth Day: Morning “A Diary of Private Prayer” , Oxford University Press 1968. p.21
[ii] Charles Hutchinson Gabriel
[iii] Numbers 6.24–26