I greet you in the name of Christ and bring you his peace and grace. Another week has passed and here we are again having our short time of reflection on the God’s wonderful works in our lives and be encouraged by His words. May God’s truth re-energise us to know Him deeper, love Him dearer, follow Him closer and obey him better.
Let us pray… Yesterday was our Patronal Festival so we pray,
Prayer of the Week
Peter and Paul, Apostles and Martyrs
Almighty God, whose apostles Peter and Paul glorified you in their death as in their lives: grant that your Church, inspired by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Our Bible reading today is taken from 2 Corinthians 11:22-30
Here Paul is pouring his heart out to the Corinthian Christians in admonishing them to remain true to the Gospel and not following those who claim themselves as apostles but preaching a false Gospel. He bares his life and shares his sufferings as a true apostle for the Gospel.
Paul says, “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
The Blank in My Tombstone
As I grow older, I think of life and its meaning more and more. I find myself asking these questions ….. What is life all about? What have I done with my life? What am I living for? Maybe you have also been thinking about life’s questions lately.
One day when we die, our tombstone will have two dates written on it. The date of our birth and the date of our death. In between these two dates is a hyphen. This dash is the blank in our tombstones. This blank contains all that has happened in our lives. If one could extend this dash infinitely, what would you write on it?
As I read about the life of St Paul, I often wonder why he could endure all the hardships he described in our reading just now. Paul went through tremendous sufferings and accomplish such great work for God. Compare to him, I am at playschool while he is in his post-doctorate. He is the super-giant and I am just a tiny grass hopper.
As I ponder on this, suddenly a picture came to my mind. It is a game we play when we were young. In it, one has to ride a bicycle along a half a meter-wide plank that is stretched over a body of water about twenty meters wide. Many people would try and inevitably would fall into the water as their tyre stray outside the narrow plank. Occasionally, someone would succeed in riding across the treacherously slender bridge.
I have tried doing this crossing many times and succeed only once or twice. I discovered that the times I did well were those times when I kept my concentration on the end point. As long as I can keep an undistracted focus on my destination, my steering would be true and I will not vacillate. When I am distracted, I would waver and fall into the water.
How true this is in our lives. Paul showed us in 2 Timothy that when he knew he did not have long to live, he said, “As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Paul’s eyes were totally focus on what awaits him in his eternal destination. Thus, he wqs able to go through all the hardships and sufferings as he lived for Christ. Having fought life’s good fight, having finished life’s race, having kept the faith to the end, he now looks forward for the crown of righteousness which the Lord Jesus has reserved for and will give him.
Most encouraging, Paul adds, “and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Wow, it means that you and I can also have the reward Paul is receiving if we live our lives maintaining our focus on the right destination.
When we are battered and weigh down by the storms and strains of life, it is so easy to be distracted by them and fall off the narrow path that God has set for us. Keep your focus right. Steer true to your final destination. The blank between the two dates on your tombstone will be filled with testimonies of God’s grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, love, help and comfort. It is never too late to change what will be written on it. May today be the day of refocusing on what really matters in life and claim our reward when we meet Him.
Almighty God, who caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world through the preaching of your servant Saint Paul: grant that we may follow him in bearing witness to your truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
O God who goes before you: Give you wisdom enough to live this week in places of communion with Him. Give you courage enough to follow Him into the difficult places you rather avoid. Give you love enough to bear patiently with the hurts and struggles of your friends. Give you peace enough to accept and nurture your own selves. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.
As always, it is such a joy to share this short time together with you. I pray that your focus will be true and steady in the coming days even when life’s uncertain and tough times prevails. Till we meet again next week, have Christ’s peace, rejoice always, do good. Love outrageously. Enjoy life. Praise God. Amen. Goodbye.
 2 Timothy 4:6-8