Tuesday, April 7, 2009

S.O.A.P. 4 (28/02/2009)

SOAP 2 (Galatians 1) 28-02-2009

Scripture (Gal 1:6 – 9)

 6 I am astonished

that you are so quickly

deserting the one who called you

by the grace of Christ

and are turning to a different gospel—

7 which is really no gospel at all.

Evidently some people

are throwing you into confusion

and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

8 But

even if we or an angel from heaven

should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you,

let that person be under God's curse!

9 As we have already said, so now I say again:

If anybody

is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted,

let that person be under God's curse!



Paul appears to be horrified and appalled by the apparent lack of faith demonstrated by the Galatian churches towards the gospel that he had preached to them. To him, it just does not make sense that they would turn away from the foundations of living free found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ and substitute it for a gospel that is merely a farce.  

In his letter, Paul admonishes the people for having put their trust in cleverly crafted teachings and underhanded sophistries employed by parties seeking to lead them astray and undermine their single-minded devotion towards the ways of Christ. He intransigently insists that there is only one true gospel – that is the gospel of Jesus Christ and to add to his belief in the immutable authority and authenticity of the gospel, pointedly declared that those who preached polymorphisms or overt mutations of the gospel be placed under God’s curse. In this issue, Paul is unrelenting and uncompromising. He refuses to stand by and watch while the people have their faiths diluted and dissected by the multitudes of success and prosperity gospels being propagated amongst them. In other words, he expects full and unbridled adherence and commitment to following the ways and leadership of Christ.  

Yet, surely the people are not entirely culpable for their faithlessness? It is after all, an onerous, seemingly impossible task to consistently call ourselves to respond to the call of the gospel of Jesus Christ that requires us to constantly die to ourselves. After all, it is so much easier to get things under our control if we employed methods contained in so many of the ‘gospels’ around us. And with so many people seeking their counsel, of course it’s only common sense that we adhere to the current, contemporary trends. And once we get those two in place, we will gain acceptance and all the other desires for comfort, cravings and convenience will be satisfied. So much simpler compared to persistently having to put our lives on the line for the sake of the gospel of this God who wants to have us crucified. And if it works, then why not keep it?

Therefore, it would seem that we could rightfully charge Paul with having a parochial and pedantic mindset when he claims that there is no other gospel than that of Jesus Christ. Perhaps we can even accuse him of attempting to stifle the freedom that he claims to advocate so much in his epistles.

However, upon closer examination, surely, we find that there is wisdom and profundity behind his scathing and blunt remarks, and insight and love behind his proclamation of the ultimate truth and foundation of the gospel.

The gospel, as he testifies, is the salvation of the Lord revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, for through the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. In other words, in the gospel, God reveals the standards and measure by which He will judge all humanity. This mark is not arbitrarily set to force us into obsequious submission to an uncompromising Master. Rather, the mark of what humanity is supposed to be reflects the ingredient necessary to bring about life and peace upon this earth. It is the sum of values and principles that set us apart as human beings meant to rule and reign in wisdom and justice.

History has shown us what happens when we fall short of that standard that is expected of us as human beings, beginning with the sin of Adam and Eve. Instead of being life-bringing vessels that channel the grace and freedom of God onto the earth, humanity has slowly degraded into death-bringing beasts that have ravaged and ruined the planet, and have enslaved and ensnared countless lives in a totalitarian, machine-like manner – plants, animals, other human beings alike.

Yet, God through His grace has revealed to us the standard of righteousness through the person of Jesus Christ, as one who proclaimed a kingdom not of control and convenience, but of power and purity, as one who lived and stood not by the fleshly might, but by a spirit-led stance, as one who demonstrated what it meant to be a true human being, led by the Spirit and redeeming creation from condemnation and cynicism into a purposeful and peaceful existence. Christ displayed to humanity the kind of life that it has to lead to bring fruitfulness and health onto this planet, and the kind of life that enables the full expression of freedom and individuality amongst each human being – indeed, the only way of life that brings about the fullest sense of purpose and meaning for all of creation.

And truly, we ignore the gospel of Jesus Christ at our own peril. Should we insist upon following the ways of the nations, yielding to their pretentious propaganda and allowing their insidious influences to surreptitiously infiltrate our hearts and minds, we would soon find ourselves, without fail, spinning once again in the spirals of corruption and condemnation experienced by entire civilisations from Adam to Christ. Should we reject the ways and leadership of the one true human being who has made it through death and came out victorious, we would not only be axing out one formula out of many other equally good ones, we would be severing ourselves from the only one true gospel that can save us from our sins.

Yet, despite the persistent and perspicuous clarion calls that Paul and many other apostles have resounded throughout their lives, it would seem that we, as an obstinate species still find it extremely distasteful to commit and submit our lives to the purposes and promises of the Lord, preferring instead the many other success models that are crafted by human hands.

Indeed, when will we truly learn that all these other gospels are really not gospels at all, and at what point can we truly set our eyes again towards the one true gospel that brings salvation and life to all humanity?


Today, we see a plethora of advertisements and signposts pointing to many forms of success schemes and prosperity gospels. We hear a cacophony of voices leading us to venture into all sorts of directions to seek the best and most successful way of getting things done right.

We believe we will succeed in bringing peace and prosperity to all nations and the people around us by having a better structure or perhaps having more favourable circumstances to implement our agendas. Hence, we commit most of our time trying as hard as we can to devise and contrive and draft out bigger, grander structures that appeal and appease. We do whatever it takes to tweak the circumstance, even slightly, such that it becomes supportive of our visions for a better humanity.

Yet, without the foundations of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the life-giving spirit leading us in the process of designing these structures, we often find that our intentions, as good as they might be, often end up mutating into death-bringing and enslaving machineries.

Consider for example, the vision of communism. In a communist nation, all individual properties become publicly owned and each individual is paid based on their contributions and their needs. Communist economics is centred upon the needs of the people rather than profits and productivity. In essence, communism defends the rights and livelihood of the poor by creating an environment where all resources within the state are shared as a community. However, without the spirit of grace and love that arises as the foundation of the communist structure, we often find that this form of government often degenerates into a form of dictatorship or totalitarian regime, with the whole entire power structure of the state dominated by a group of elites while the rest of the nation suffers just to obediently serve the “visions” of the leaders.

Even democracy, titled the champion of individual liberty, can often spin out into the worst forms of anarchy and disunity. If there is no spirit of unity and grace leading and flowing within the democratic government, what usually results is polarisation of people into different factions with subsequent partisan politics and unnecessary wrangling among these splintered tribes. We can readily trace the history of democratic governments down global timelines, and we observe that without the spirit of peace and unity at its core, most democratic governments disintegrate into warring tribes and revolutionist parties, even more futile attempts at creating other hybrids of governments without God at their centres.

We can thus see now the reason Paul is so deeply passionate about fixing the gospel of Jesus Christ as our core foundation in life. We can now readily see why he is so jealous with a Godly jealousy when he sees his brothers and sisters turning away from the gospel of life to follow other gods of power and productivity. It is not because he wants us to get ourselves free tickets to heaven, nor is it because he is trying to sell a product or advertise a special group that he is part of.

No, the reason for his loud and uncompromising call to return to the gospel of Christ is clear – it is the sole gospel that brings about peace and hope in any circumstances, it is the sole message that teaches us to live a life of radical abandonment, baptised and immersed into a whole new world where there is clarity of God’s grand schemes of bringing life and fruitfulness to this earth and all of humanity.

So, the big question then: Are we prepared today, to fully immerse ourselves once again in the gospel that we have or may have forgotten? Or would we continue wallowing in the marshes with the dazzling array of ‘gospels’ that deceive and detract us from the greater things that God wants to do in us and through us in all of creation?


Father Lord, thank you for revealing to us the righteousness that you desire through the person of Jesus Christ. Thank you for showing us what it truly means to live life as a true human being, uncontrolled by the flesh, unbridled by condemnations and cynicism, led by the Spirit bringing grace and love to all of creation.

Lord, we are so aware of the jealousy you have for us when we forget the gospel to which we have been called, when we choose instead to follow the other ‘gospels’ that are not gospels at all. Forgive us for our weaknesses and our lack of faith in your promises for us.

And in this place of grace and mercy Lord, continue to lead us, we pray, so that we can once again learn what it means to be proclaimers of the gospel, both in word and in deed. And in doing so, we too learn to submit ourselves to the purposes that you originally meant for us as humanity and at the same time to anticipate your works of transformation and restoration of our fallen nation to its former glory.

So let it be. Amen.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

S.O.A.P. 3 (19/07/2008)

S.O.A.P. 3 (Psalms 54, Ezekiel 34 – 39)


Ps 54:1 – 2

Save me, O God, by your name;

Vindicate me by your might.

Hear my prayer, O God;

Listen to the words of my mouth.

Eze 36:22 – 23

Therefore say to the house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.”

Eze 39:7

I will make known my name among my people of Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel.


David calls on God to save him by His name and vindicate him by His might. At the same time, David cries out to God that his prayers would be heard and his petitions be accepted by God. Throughout David’s lifetime, he faced assaults and plots against him. Before he became king of Israel, he fled from a murderous Saul, and he lived in exile in the land of others nations. After he became king, he led the nation to battle against the surrounding hostile nations, he lived in fear of the constant attempts at his life, he experienced betrayal by his most trusted circle of friends, his officials plotted and conspired against him day after day. He cried out to God. He petitioned before Him. He pleaded for deliverance and freedom from his enemies. He implored for justice and vindication against his oppressors and his conspirators. And God heard him and rescued him from his foes, those who sought his life. He delivered him from the hands of the hostile nations and upheld him with His right hand.

Despite constantly faced with dangers and perils, David broke through them all. He was Israel’s greatest king because God was with him, delivered him and glorified him. But why was that so? It was because David gave glory to the name of the Lord.

Ezekiel’s prophecy to Israel gives us a clear picture of God’s purposes for doing what He does. The Lord spoke through Ezekiel, “it is not for your sake, house of Israel…but for the sake of my holy name”. God does the things that He does so that His holy name may be praised among all the nations. The Israelites at that point of time clearly had a wrong conception of the Lord, seeing Him as one who gave them blessings because He was obliged to do so, or because they were a special people unto the Lord. The view of their status as a holy nation, set apart unto the Lord, made them arrogant and proud. There were even false prophets who lived among them, who wrongly used the Lord’s name to speak false prophecies and visions. They claimed that Jerusalem will have peace (Eze 13:10) even in light of the coming Babylonian invasion, because they were so confident of their status as a special people and that God would not allow the army of Babylon to invade and overtake them. In other words, God was obliged to keep them safe because they were special to God. But in the end, disaster engulfed them and the Israelites were either carried off to exile or killed by sword, plague or famine.

But what happened? Before this, we saw that the Lord delivered David from disasters and calamities. Why not the Israelites in Ezekiel’s day?

One of the reasons would be their failure to realise the glory of God and his name. Rather than be saved by the name of God, they relied on their own military power. They failed to realise that all the blessings that had been given to them came from the Lord for the glory of the name of God. They blasphemed the name of the Lord by speaking false visions and prophecies, and profaned His name by their idolatry and vile practices. They exalted their idolatrous ways while hanging onto the blessings of God, as though God’s blessings were given for their glory, rather than His. But the truth is, God kept the Israelites for Himself, that His name may by praised among all nations.

But still, God saved the Israelites from exile. He rebuilt the nation of Israel and resumed His blessings to them. But this was done not merely for their sake, but that His name may be exalted among all nations, that all people will know that He is the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. He restored their fortunes, brought them back to the calm pasturelands, revived their strength, and re-established them as a nation so that His name may be acknowledged by all the nations, so that people will know that the Lord is good, faithful, mighty and strong and they will all fear and revere Him.


Most often in our lives, we are like the Israelites in Ezekiel’s days. We think that all that we have achieved, our successes, our wealth, our position are given for our sake. But the truth is, God gave all of these to us for the glory of His name.

One of the most common misconceptions of Jesus’ death for our sins is that He gave it all for us. But Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1 reminds us that Jesus’ main concern was that He may give glory to the Father. The first thing that he prayed for at the Mount of Olives is that the name of God may be glorified! How often do we miss that important point!

When Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer, the first point He made was: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Even in the first line of the prayer, Jesus gave glory to the Father. He did not ask for blessings or offer up petitions before God, but he prayed that that name of the Lord may be exalted.

We are beings who like to glorify ourselves. When we achieve good grades in school or university, when we gain success in our businesses, or even when we get a pat in the back for delivering a good message or testimony in front of the congregation, we feel good about ourselves. We are tempted to think, ‘Yes! Of course this success could not have been possible without my involvement’ or ‘I deserve this, after all, I’m smart and better than all of them’ or even ‘Yea, check me out. Now that the congregation loves me, I’ll definitely have a sweet time at church’. Many times, all we think of is ourselves. We think of what the success means to us, we think of how to further our achievements, we think of ways to make other people recognise our accomplishments.

But how often do we give glory to God? How often do we think, ‘Yes God, I thank you for speaking through me. I pray that your words will convict the people that they will glorify your name.’ or perhaps ‘Thank you, Lord for giving me the H1 and H2A in my exams that all people will know that you have given me all of this and praise you for your goodness.’ How often do we take the time to reflect on how our achievements have brought glory to God’s name? Or how often do we think about how God can continue to use us despite our weaknesses to achieve something that brings praises to Him?

Even when serving in church, among God’s people, there are times when we think of how the way we play the guitar, or how our writings, or how our effective cell group leadership has enabled us to be recognised among people. But often, we do not think of how our achievements encourage or challenge the congregation that it will bring glory to God’s name. I, too, sometimes tend to ponder about how the achievements have benefitted me, and how my gifts of intelligence and writing have enabled me to be known by the people rather than praise God for my gifts and reflect on how my gifts have brought glory to His name.

But the reality of things is this. God’s gives us everything that we have so that we may bring glory to His name, not for our sakes but for the sake of His holy name. He gives us the gifts and opportunities in our lives that we may use them to bless and serve others, so that they too may praise and exalt His name. Hence, it is truly essential that we take a few moments before setting out to accomplish what we hope for, while carrying out the task that we have set out to perform and after gripping success in our hands to just ponder about how our achievements bring glory to God’s name or lead people to give praises to Him. All that we do is for His glory alone, not ours.


Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Today, I just want to lift up my praises to honour and to exalt your holy name. Let everything that I do today echo your glory. Let all my achievements and accomplishments lead others to praise you and to stand in awe of you. Let not my pride and arrogance lead me to think that my blessings are for me alone. Let not my selfish nature deify myself in the midst of others for my gifts and successes, because all of them come from you for your glory. And I commit all that I have into your hands, for the glory of your holy and mighty name. Amen.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

S.O.A.P. 2 (12/07/2008)

SOAP 2 (Psalms 52 – 53)


Ps 52:8 – 9

But I am like an olive tree

flourishing in the house of God;

I trust in God’s unfailing love

forever and ever.

For what you have done I will always praise you

in the presence of your faithful people.

And I will hope I your name,

for your name is good.

Ps 53:3

Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.


David notes that there is no one who is righteous before God. All have turned away from His commands and laws. All have sinned. There is no one who can stand justified before Him through their own strength or wisdom. No one can truly say that he is unblemished and untainted by sin and wrongdoing. David stresses that there is no one who is righteous before God. This means that even those who are considered “good” through their works fall short of the glorious standard of justice and righteousness that God desires. As Paul notes, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)

The reality is, we all are sinners. We want to do the right things, but our hearts lead us to do otherwise. The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, all these temptations dissuade us from the path of righteousness and truth that God calls us to walk in. Even Paul, arguably one of the most passionate man of God in all of Christian history, struggled with his shortcomings and weaknesses. He sighed, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15).

Even in our daily lives, we do what is wrong, either inadvertently or deliberately. An easy example, when we come across the sign ‘Do not step on the grass’, what do we do? We insist on stepping the grass! If it is easy to disobey even such a simple command, what more the “righteous requirements of God’s law” (Rom 8:4)?

Hence, it brings us to this question. If all of us are unrighteous and unworthy of standing before God’s throne, what is there left for us?

This is where God truly demonstrates His love for mankind. Knowing that He cannot forgo the judgement for our sins, He sends His Son, Jesus Christ to take all our sins upon Him and thus inflicts on Himself the punishment of death that should have been ours.

We are sinners in need of grace. And truly, God is a gracious god. After sending His Son to die for our sins, He sends His Spirit to lead us on a path of repentance. He sends His Spirit to us that we may follow the leading of His Spirit and no longer be slaves to the law of sin and death, but slaves to righteousness and life in the Spirit. And this righteousness is poured out to us through faith. It is not obtained by works or deeds, but it is by “faith from the first to the last” (Rom 1:17).

Through the life of Christ, God has demonstrated what it means to be righteous before Him. God declared before all the angels in heaven, “This is my son whom I love, and with Him I am very well pleased.” (Mat 3:17). Through His life, Jesus has demonstrated the ways of righteousness, life through the Spirit. And truly, the righteousness of God entails the life of freedom that we were originally created to live in. In His lifetime, Jesus has shown us what it is like to live in freedom, not only having life but having in to the fullest (Jn 10:10). Through His ministry, Jesus has painted a picture of what it is like to take authority in the name of God to proclaim the Kingdom of God on this earth. Through His love and compassion for the sick and those held captive by sin, Jesus has demonstrated what it is like to lay down our lives for one another.

Through faith, we are no longer bound by the law, but we now live as children of God (Gal 3:25). And this gift that God has given man is not only restricted to a particular group. As Paul stressed to the Jews in Rome, God’s promise of salvation is guaranteed to all of Abraham’s offspring, not only the Jews but the Gentiles as well (Rom 4:16). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul again made it clear that there is no distinction between the Jew and the Gentile when it came to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)


We sometimes think that we as Christians have the upper hand over the non-Christians, and that by “being on God’s side” we are somehow more superior compared to non-believers or “the others”. But the truth is, Christ never came to create schism or a rift between believers and non-believers but He came to proclaim the Kingdom of God, the salvation that belongs to God and to demonstrate the righteousness of God to all nations.

We, as Christians, need to be aware that we are as much sinners as everyone else is and that we are saved only through the grace of God so that “none may boast” (Eph 2:9). The Bible teaches us that if we are to boast, we are to boast in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Never once were we told to boast that we are better than the non-believers because we are saved. The fact is: our salvation did not come from our works, deeds, talents, abilities but from what the Lord had done for us. We are saved not because of who we are, but because of who God is – the grace, love and mercy that are His character.

Therefore, we should not and must not compare ourselves with nonbelievers, thinking that we are better than them or more righteous compared to them. We should not categorise them in a separate group, for Christ came to call everyone to Himself. Jesus did not create divisions or sects that are more righteous or more blessed compared to others. No, in God’s eyes, everyone is equal. Hence, it is really time that we rethink our faiths. Our salvation is not a tool that we use to justify ourselves against nonbelievers, but rather is a cause for which we testify of God’s goodness, mercy and love. It is the reason that we celebrate with joy in the new life that we have in Christ Jesus and the hope that we have for a better resurrection.

Therefore, when we evangelise, we are proclaiming the gospel. In Greek, the word used for gospel is euaggelion (ευαγγηλιον). The Good News, as it is also called, is a proclamation that the Kingdom of God has come, that God’s way of doing things has arrived. When we evangelise, we do not merely look to convert people into Christianity so that our churches grow bigger or to get credit for our “hard work”. No, when we evangelise, we are fulfilling the Great Commission given by the Lord Jesus before His ascension to heaven. When we evangelise, we are bringing God’s goodness, love and joy into this earth. When we evangelise, we take authority in the name of Jesus (not our own) to heal the sick, cast out the spirit of fear or guilt or shame, and set people free from the shackles of sin.

Our Christian faith is supposed to be something greater than merely keeping ourselves separate from others so that we can expect to go to heaven someday. NO! Our faith is something that brings us such a great joy, triggers such a great flame of hope that we want to share it with others.

So how should we live then as Christians? We should live with the reminder that we are all sinners in need of grace, just like everyone else. And the grace that has saved us from meaningless and purposeless living comes from God – who He is and what He has done for us. Finally, we should live by His Spirit, bringing all the goodness, love, peace, joy and grace of the Creator to everyone around us.


Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner in need of grace, a grace that you have given through your Son, Jesus Christ. I am truly grateful to you for this great gift of righteousness that you have given to all who believe in you and I want to acknowledge that this gift comes from you, not from my works or deeds but from your loving and gracious nature. So Father Lord, I pray that you will write in my heart not to patronise others or look down on nonbelievers for there is nothing I have done that merits such boasting. Lord, I just want to be filled with such joy in the salvation and hope that you have given me in Christ Jesus that I want to just step out in faith to bring your goodness, love, joy and grace to everyone around me, to bear witness to your glorious Kingdom and to proclaim your saving grace to all people, for the salvation, and the glory, and the honour, and the power belongs to you, O Lord, forever and ever. Amen.


S.O.A.P. 1 (11/07/2008)

Psalms 50, 51


Psalms 50:9 – 15

I have no need of a bull from your stall

or of goats from your pens,

For every animal of the forest is mine,

and the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know every bird in the mountains,

and the creatures of the field are mine.

If I were hungry I would not tell you,

for the world is mine, and all that is in it.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of goats?

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God,

fulfill your vows to the Most High,

And call on me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you will honour me.”

Psalms 51:16 – 17

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;

A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.


While God does not denounce the giving of sacrifices to Him, He reminds us of the kind of sacrifice that He desires. God does not merely yearn for physical and material sacrifices from us, but rather He wants us to examine our state of heart when we are giving. God does not need material sacrifices from us because He gave us everything in the first place. Therefore, presenting Him with material things without the spirit of giving accomplishes nothing.

The key sacrifice that God longs for is a spirit of brokenness and humility. God wants to hear those who yearn for more of Him cry out in desperation and repentance. God desires to be close to those who hunger for more of His word, who thirst for His grace and love. He is pleased with those who offer a heart of contrition and dependence unto Him.

Daniel, who cried out to the Lord in desperation during his time in exile and fasted in His presence, received an assurance from God and came face to face with “one like a son of man” (Dan 10:7). The Lord gave an answer to Solomon in his prayer of dedication of the newly built temple of the Lord, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Ch 7:14) It is clearly seen here that the Lord’s desired sacrifice is for people to turn away from their wicked ways in a heart of repentance and to seek the Lord with a spirit of brokenness and remorse. Another instance is where the Lord speaks to the Jews in exile, after going through 70 years of hardship in captivity, the Lord promises that they will pray to Him and He will listen (Jer 29:12). In a power example of God desiring a heart of humility, Jesus declared that the tax collector who came before God with a remorseful and humble heart “went home justified before God” (Lk 18:14).

Whereas massive offerings without the spirit of giving is meaningless and detestable (Isa 1:13) unto the Lord, a simple offering presented with faith and love can throw open the floodgates of heaven and fill our store houses until they overflow with blessings (Mal 3:10).

The kind of sacrifice that God desires is also one that honours Him, praising Him and delighting in Him. In Isa 43:23 – 24, the Lord charged the Jews for not honouring Him with their sacrifices, but instead burdened Him with their sins and transgressions. While they continued to offer sacrifices to the Lord, they did not do it in the right spirit – to honour the Lord. While they claimed to be sacrificing to the Lord, the Jews at the same time worshipped all forms of idols and all kinds of foreign gods. Hence, their sacrifices were detestable to the Lord.

While the rich poured out heaps of money into the temple coffers, a poor widow could only offer up a few copper coins (Mk 12:41 – 44). Yet, Jesus declared that the widow’s heartfelt sacrifice was greater compared to those of the rich, for she had “put in everything”. The widow not only gave material possessions, if that were so, then her sacrifice would be no different compared to those of the rich. She gave more than that. She supplemented her giving with the spirit of giving. Despite being physically poor, she desired to honour the Lord with her giving and hence, she was commended for it.


We sometimes think that offering big sacrifices to God is what He truly desires. As such, we strive hard to fashion successes in order to bring glory to God. While this in itself is not wrong, we sometimes forget that the true kind of sacrifice that God desires is for us to come before Him with a spirit of brokenness and dependence on Him. In our busyness to achieve more for God, in our ministry, in our service to the church and the community, we sometimes forget that what God truly wants is not the things that we do for Him, but it is for us to just be with Him. Therefore, we often times get burned out trying to take on more than we can handle, trying to serve God in more ways than we are capable of. What he truly yearns for is for us to present ourselves in the spirit of humility in His presence and allow Him to fill us with His grace and love. Hence, it is important that we set apart and consecrate a specific amount of time just to dwell in His presence, to allow Him to renew and refresh our contrite and repentant hearts.

Secondly, we sometimes try to craft an image of success for ourselves under the pretence of glorifying God. We push on for success under the impression of wanting to advance His Kingdom, whereas in reality, what we are really doing is to seek our own personal gain. For instance, I could compete with others to get the top position in class under the pretence of wanting to bring glory to God, but the truth is, I just want the fame and influence that comes with it. This kind of sacrifice, says the Lord, is meaningless and detestable. Therefore, it is imperative that we examine our hearts before we offer up any kind of sacrifice to the Lord, to ensure that it is presented in the right spirit, for just as faith without deeds is dead, works without faith is also worthless.

Thirdly, we sometimes feel lazy to act upon our callings to serve the Lord. We think, “The Lord does not desire material sacrifices, so we can just relax, keep holding onto our faith and just wait till He comes back.” But James warns that faith without works is dead. The way we demonstrate our faith, our desire to honour God and the display our spirit of humility is by serving others within the community. Our failure and unwillingness to respond to our calling to serve one another in the body of Christ is really a sign of stubbornness and arrogance, wanting to have things our way. Jesus warns against this, calling us to turn away from our indifference to God’s will for us, so that we will not be called “the wicked and lazy servant” and be “thrown into the outer darkness”.

In conclusion, the kind of sacrifice that God desires is for us to have a spirit of humility and the desire to honour Him through serving others and learning to lay down our lives for one another, not laziness or apathy to the plight of others, yet at the same time to have a spirit of brokenness and dependence on Him, not self-reliance or arrogant pride.


Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have wonderfully and fearfully made me in your image. I thank you that you have sustained me through your love and your grace that I may continue to live out all your goodness, purposes and promises in my life. Lord, I just want to show my gratitude to you by presenting myself as a living sacrifice to you. Lord, I know that you do not desire material offerings or physical sacrifices but you desire a heart that longs after you, a spirit of contrition and humility, a desire and longing to honour you and bring glory to your name. So, Lord, I pray that you continue to put in my heart these things, so that I may continue to dwell in your presence in brokenness and dependence on you. And I pray, Lord, that you will accept my sacrifice, no matter how small and insignificant it is, for I know that you will not reject an offering made out of love and adoration of you. Amen.



I have decided to start this new blog and dedicate it for my SOAPs.

For those who are unsure what a SOAP is, it's basically a simple sequence of steps to draw insights from the Bible.

SOAP is mnemonic for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

Scripture: Select a passage or passages of scripture which speaks to you.

Observation: Write down all your observations. This can be any kind of observation. For example, you could try to make out the meaning of the passage of scripture, or you could work out what the writer is experiencing or you can describe a fictional narrative to illustrate the essence of the scripture.

Application: Write down insights on how the passage of scripture can be applied to your life.

Prayer: Write down a prayer that can help you sum up all your observations and applications.

Basically that's it. You can do it for almost any passage of scripture in the Bible. There is no need to try to be a Bible scholar while you are doing it. Just write down how the passage of scripture speaks to you and any insights that you have gained while reflecting on it.

Here, I will list down all the SOAPs that I have written.

Have a go at doing your own SOAPs. Allow God to speak to you through His Word, but at the same time, don't let those insights slip away. Crystalise them in words.

Have fun!