Weekly Reflection (26 October 2020)
A very good morning to you. How are we today? This is the day that the Lord has made (The Lord has done it this very day); let us rejoice and be glad in it.[i]
It is a delight to be with you again today. For us in Melbourne, the COVID-19 news has been progressively better as our infection cases has been declining. Let us pray that this trend will continue as we each do our part to contain the spread of this virus.
While we enjoy greater freedom, we remember that there are many countries, they are actually experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. USA, India and Europe are three good examples. Please continue to remember them in your prayers.
While many of us are getting tired of the restrictions that we had to endure the past months, we are actually the blessed ones. Many millions are facing far worse conditions of infections, starvation, poverty, separations, violence, exploitation, no sanitation, meagre health facilities, displacement and many other adverse conditions.
This is why it important to rejoice and be glad for this is the day that the Lord has made. For His lavish grace and blessings on us this very day. He is our most wonderful God.
Let us now pray for our world struggling to find its feet under the onslaught of the coronavirus.
Lord Jesus Christ, healer and friend, come and care for all of us through the danger and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic.
We thank you for your protection and healing upon us in Victoria. We are grateful that our cases of infection have gone down tremendously. However, we remember before you the millions in this world that still suffer in this pandemic.
To the more than 42 million people who are sick, bring healing. To the families and loved ones of the more than 1.1 million who have died, bring comfort. To people who are displaced, isolated, or cut off from family, friends or work, bring companionship. Work with medical staff as they care for the sick, and protect them from harm.
Give skill and fruitful research to scientists as they search for treatments, prevention and a cure. To public health authorities, give wisdom to decide the best ways to manage both this crisis and our anxieties. When communities are fearful, give a calm spirit, and kindness to neighbours and strangers.
Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Through this testing time, and through all the risks we face together, teach us once again how we can love one another as you have loved us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Prayer of the Week
Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
Almighty and everlasting God, give to us the increase of faith, hope and love; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us to love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This morning, our Bible Reading is taken from the book of 1 Kings 17:7-16.
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” 12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
One Way Ticket
Last week, I shared with you about how my calling into the ministry was tested. Today I want to share with you one of the ways that God tested my trust in His providence.
Two months after my 19th birthday, I took a 2 ½ hour flight to Singapore for a four-year Bachelor of Theology course. Singapore Bible College back in 1977 had about 150 students mostly drawn from Malaysia and Singapore. Most students were in their early twenties. We had an English and a Chinese stream. I was in the English stream.
Its financial principle was modelled after the Overseas Missionary Fellowship principle of existing by faith. They believe that if God wanted them to continue to train future ministers, God will supply their needs. Thus, they wholly depend on monetary givings from local Churches to exist.
Students had to maintain the cleanliness of all the buildings and the compound, organise the marketing and a raft of other duties to sustain the running of the College. As students, we lived a frugal life. We paid $20 a month for our food while tuition and lodging were free.
Most of us only had $10 of pocket money a month. Some Churches do give us an honorarium of $10 to $20 a month to cover our bus fare as their theological placement student or student minister.
On Sundays, the College did not provide lunch and dinner because every student would be out in Churches as placement students. We had to eat out with whatever meagre pocket money we had.
It was on one of the Sundays that I discovered that I had only enough money for a one-way bus fare to my placement Church. I had a big struggle to decide whether I would go to Church that Sunday. Sunday placement then was two morning Services and Youth Fellowship in the afternoon.
I could skip Church, use that money to buy lunch and go hungry for dinner. Or I could go to Church, which means skipping lunch, walk the 12 kilometres back to College and skip dinner…
I prayed to God but there was only silence. I decided to take the step of faith to honour God and go to Church. I wanted to trust in God who will look after me as He is a faithful God. If I have to walk back and skip my lunch and dinner for that day, so be it. God knows what he is doing.
Fearfully, I waited for the bus and boarded it. I paid the fare and found a seat. As I sat down, I felt something in the back pocket of my trousers. I reached into it and to my amazement discovered that had a note and some coins. It was just the exact amount of money for my bus fare home!!!! You can imagine the excitement and smile on my face.
From my youngest day, I have never put money in my back pocket. I always put it in my front pocket. I have kept this habit is till today. How the money got into my back pocket still remains a mystery to me.
That Sunday was my happiest Sunday at Church. I came back to College that late afternoon feeling famished. Went into the kitchen to scrounge for any food to eat. Amazingly, there were some leftover breakfast – boiled eggs and bread. It was a feast I enjoyed unlike any other.
God provided for my need like He did for Elijah. That lesson of His providence stood me in good stead in my many years to come in the ministry. I can recount several times we needed to completely depended on Him to supply our family’s or Church’s daily manna.
Are you facing a need or a test to trust God today? May I encourage you to come to our faithful and loving Father and to trust his providence.
Below are two verses that had been a great encouragement me:
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. [ii]
Philippians 4:19 and my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.[iii]
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.[iv]
It has been a pleasure sharing with you about our gracious God’s provision in my life. My prayer is that you can also reflect on God’s provisions in your life – start counting it every day to thank and praise Him for them. It will open a whole new perspective in your walk with God.
Till next Monday then, rejoice often. Do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.
[i] Psalm 118:24
[ii] Proverbs 3:5-6
[iii] Philippians 4:19
[iv] Numbers 6.24–26