JESUS’ PASSION WEEK DEVOTION – DAY 6/6 – The Resurrection

This week’s devotion of the Passion Week from Jesus’ Perspective. The devotions are written as first person, from Jesus’ perspective, like His personal journal of his thoughts and words gathered through Scriptures as the scenes of the Passion Week unfolds.

There are a number of references to the Song of Songs to get a peep into Jesus’ love for His people. As there are many symbolism used in Song of Songs, the list below helps to explain some of them that are found in the verses quotation in this week’s devotions.

  • Shulamite symbolizes Israel and the Church
  • The Beloved symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom King
  • Spikenard symbolizes worship
  • Myrrh symbolizes death

This devotion emphasizes more on the heart and the spirit, rather than knowledge.

  • Take time to read the devotion slowly to allow the scriptures and events to go deep into you, beyond your mind.
  • It helps to read it several times, asking the Holy Spirit to bring you deeper.
  • Highlight the portions that jump out at you and write down your thoughts under “Personal Reflection” and also put into writing the response or even commitment that you want to make before God.

Day 6 – The Resurrection

Read Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-25

The ladies come to my tomb early on Sunday morning. I have descended to the lowest and gained victory over death! This temple I have rebuilt in three days. Here is Mary Magdalene weeping, the least of the women that many looked down but the one who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). Mary! Now that you have recognised me, do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’ (John 20:17).

Who is she who looks forth as the morning,
Fair as the moon, clear as the sun,
Awesome as an army with banners?” – SOS 6:10

My disciples you have assembled behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. Your hearts are hardened and do not believe the testimonies of those who saw me at the tomb (Mark 16:14). I have to come to you this every night for I love you and you mistaken me as a spirit. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts (Luke 24:38)? Peace be with you. You recognise my pierced hands and side. I eat a piece of broiled fish that you provide as a proof that I am not a spirit but body. You have seen the resurrection of Lazarus. I AM the way, the truth and the life. Blessed are they who do not see my resurrected body, and yet believe. Remember, PEACE be with you.

My breath is the Holy Spirit. Receive my breath of life. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. Your mind is now opened to understand the Scriptures. All things written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. I am the Christ. I will suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and this repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in my name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.
– Song of Songs 8:6

It is time for me to return to my Abba, to sit on His right hand and intercede for you. I bless you my beloved and I will return for you. Wait, wait in the city of Jerusalem for the outpouring of power from heaven. I know you are going to be empowered to do greater things than me on earth.

JESUS’ PASSION WEEK DEVOTION – DAY 5/6 – The Cross

This week’s devotion of the Passion Week from Jesus’ Perspective. The devotions are written as first person, from Jesus’ perspective, like His personal journal of his thoughts and words gathered through Scriptures as the scenes of the Passion Week unfolds.

There are a number of references to the Song of Songs to get a peep into Jesus’ love for His people. As there are many symbolism used in Song of Songs, the list below helps to explain some of them that are found in the verses quotation in this week’s devotions.

  • Shulamite symbolizes Israel and the Church
  • The Beloved symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom King
  • Spikenard symbolizes worship
  • Myrrh symbolizes death

This devotion emphasizes more on the heart and the spirit, rather than knowledge.

  • Take time to read the devotion slowly to allow the scriptures and events to go deep into you, beyond your mind.
  • It helps to read it several times, asking the Holy Spirit to bring you deeper.
  • Highlight the portions that jump out at you and write down your thoughts under “Personal Reflection” and also put into writing the response or even commitment that you want to make before God.

Day 5 – The Cross

Read Luke 22:54-23:56; John 18:12-19:37

The high priest and council of elders of Israel cannot find any false witnesses against me. Even the two false witnesses speak correctly that I am going to tear down the temple of God and rebuild it within three days. You do not believe me when I confess that I am Christ, the Son of God, the King of the Jews and call it blasphemy. I feel your spat on my face and the pain of you hitting me with your hands. I know each one of you for I created you. The trial has found me guiltless and you want me to take the place of Barabbas. Yes, I will take the place of Barabbas on the cross. I will take the place of you. It is for this reason that I have come.

O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah,
Lovely as Jerusalem,
Awesome as an army with banners! – Song of Songs 6:4

The cross is heavy for my broken body. Bless you Simon of Cyrene for carrying the cross and walking with me. O daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children for greater evil will fall upon them (Luke 23:28-31).

I can feel the nails going through my hands and feet. The weight of the world is felt on my physical shoulders when the weight of my body is on the nails as they hoist my cross up. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). All the reviling, the blasphemy and jeering I put aside for my mind is set on doing Abba’s will. Some women were crying and amongst them, Mary my mother. My beloved disciple John is with her. I know John will take good care of her. Each breath I take is filled with excruciating pain but I know the end of this. “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). I have allowed this temple of my body to be destroyed in a day and I will rebuild it in three days. I will go down to the lowest place for the keys of hades and death so that they will have no hold over my people!

After three hours of darkness, the ninth hour has come. Darkness looms so heavily upon me. All that I need to do on earth is done. Now the weight of the world has come upon my spirit. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?) Abba, into Your hands I commit my spirit.

It is finished.

JESUS’ PASSION WEEK DEVOTION – DAY 4/6 – The Garden of Gethsemane

This week’s devotion of the Passion Week from Jesus’ Perspective. The devotions are written as first person, from Jesus’ perspective, like His personal journal of his thoughts and words gathered through Scriptures as the scenes of the Passion Week unfolds.

There are a number of references to the Song of Songs to get a peep into Jesus’ love for His people. As there are many symbolism used in Song of Songs, the list below helps to explain some of them that are found in the verses quotation in this week’s devotions.

  • Shulamite symbolizes Israel and the Church
  • The Beloved symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom King
  • Spikenard symbolizes worship
  • Myrrh symbolizes death

This devotion emphasizes more on the heart and the spirit, rather than knowledge.

  • Take time to read the devotion slowly to allow the scriptures and events to go deep into you, beyond your mind.
  • It helps to read it several times, asking the Holy Spirit to bring you deeper.
  • Highlight the portions that jump out at you and write down your thoughts under “Personal Reflection” and also put into writing the response or even commitment that you want to make before God.

Day 4 – The Garden of Gethsemane

Read Luke 22:39-53 & John 18:1-11.

Gethsemane, another familiar place that feels so different today. I need time alone with my Abba. My beloved disciples sit and wait while I go further. Peter, James and John, stay nearer and watch with me for my soul is extremely sorrowful, to the point of death. Abba! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine. My heart is even heavier when I find the three sleeping when I ask them to keep watch and stay vigilent for just an hour. Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak! Back to Abba I go. Abba, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done. Sweat like blood flows down as I agonize before my Abba. Once again, when I step out, my three are sleeping after my chiding just a while ago! Abba, for the third time I come to you with the same prayer. I submit for these people need me. Seal it and bring it to pass. For the third time, Peter, James and John, you are still sleeping and resting. It is time.

Shulamite
I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one;
For my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.”
– SOS 5:2b

Judas is among the crowd coming towards us with their clubs and swords. Judas, O Judas, you call me rabbi and give me a kiss. My friend, why do you come to me with a kiss of betrayal? My invitation to you is not just to my kingship, but also to my death and sacrifice. Instead of being with me in my death, you have chosen to be on the other side. The crowd takes me like a prisoner, a convict. Peter, I have allowed them to take me and this is the cup from Abba that I have to drink, so keep your sword. I love the high priest servant, Malchus, and your cutting of his ear is not going to change what is to come. I heal Malchus so that he can know me.

Shulamite
I arose to open for my beloved,
And my hands dripped with myrrh,
My fingers with liquid myrrh,
On the handles of the lock. – SOS 5:5

Abba, my diciples are safe as written in Your Word that none that You give me will be lost, except for the betrayer. They have all run away and hide. They are fearful.

Christmas in Changsha and New Year in Guang Zhou

Christmas is not a public holiday in China as it is in Singapore and many parts of the world. Although New Year is a public holiday, it is not as important as Lunar New Year. So both days are subculture holidays.

There were 3 adults (Nic & wife, Hillary and myself) and an almost 2-year-old baby (Maranatha) on this trip. Our luggage weighed 75kg because we hand carried a brand new set of electronic drums for HBI (Hunan Bible Institute) for use of their weekends outreach trips to the various churches outside of the city. We nearly missed our high-speed train from Guangzhou to Changsha. In our mad rush, one of our luggages (thank God it is not the one with the drums) tumbled down the long escalator. The long escalator was completely empty as ALL passengers were already on board the train! We made it in the nick of time. Once we stepped into the train, the doors were locked and it started moving. Phew! Thank God for his protection as Hillary is 5months pregnant carrying the 2 year old Maranatha in the rush, and Nic was carrying the electronic drums (weighing almost 40kg).

CHANGSHA

Christmas in Changsha was a very different experience. First thing was the weather! Temperature was around 0 degrees. Although there was no snow, but the wind was bone-piercing cold and extremely dry. I completely lost my voice on 27 Dec!

The students of HBI put up an amazing evangelistic Christmas Concert on Christmas Eve. With little resources of time, manpower and finances, the concert was extremely good and makes me wonder if we in Singapore are able to match up to them if given the same amount of limitations. The hall was packed to the brim with many squished at the doorway throughout the evening. I didn’t keep my seat and was standing all the way taking photos and videos using my iPhone (eventually ran out of memory)! I was actually too excited to sit and just so very very proud of each of them! I am so blown away by the demonstration of their love for God through the hard work they put in to perfect their presentations that evening. I was told they only had about a month or so to prepare for this concert. About 30 people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour that evening. Praise the Lord!! You can see snippets of their performances in the video.

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A group photo with HBI students after the Christmas Eve Concert. The atmosphere was super joyous!!

Part of the plan of our trip is to track down Hudson Taylor’s mission work in China. Quite a large portion of his work was in Changsha, the inland, which is why his ministry was first names, Inland China Mission. To our surprise, on 23 Dec we were told that Nantang Church (南堂), which was the church planted by Hudson Taylor and is the appointed custodian of Hudson Taylor’s archives in Changsha, invited us to lead worship on 25 Dec evening during their Christmas concert. The church leaders never met us before. Blown away by the grace of God we gladly rushed through the preparation. We are so thankful for the full support by HBI. With the limited resources, and students all spread out to various churches/events doing various work, HBI staff and students brought sound board, cables, instruments, and the basic necessary equipment to support the 30min worship. The team went to the church at 12pm to assess what was needed and brought in the equipment past busy and jammed traffic on taxis. Contemporary praise and worship is very new to this church. I salute the whole team in tearing down all the equipment within 10min immediately after the worship to clear the stage area for the Christmas program after, also HBI needed the equipment for other events that same night! We praise God that the church’s ministry worker Mr Jiang was so appreciative of the session. Last minute I was roped in to play the piano for a solo item by their choir master who is about 70 years old who initially was going to sing acapella. A little fearful but am glad I can serve the Lord in this small way. 

Playing the Piano at Nantang Church for the Choir Master’s Solo
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Photo taken after the Christmas concert at Nantang. On the extreme right is Nantang staff worker Mr Jiang. In the middle is Esther who runs a travel agency that focuses on trips to Israel. Extreme left is a 2nd-year student at HBI and Nic, second from the left.

We also visited another key city church Changsha, Beitang (北堂) Church. The Taoist architect of the church building is a very good example of missions that is sensitive to the local culture and arts. Possibly a heritage left by Hudson Taylor, a missionary who ate local, dressed local, spoke local and even behaved local.  Praise God for a good relationship built after a nice long chat with their senior pastor (although I didn’t have any voice to speak!).

This is the side of the church building. I would not be able to tell that it is a church if I was not informed.
This is the side of Beitang church building. I would not be able to tell that it is a church if I was not informed.

We did a very short teaching on 27 Dec morning in HBI. The students were all tired from the Christmas events and also needing to prepare for their exams in January 2014. We spent more time fellowshipping over meals with a few of the teachers, students and friends, which we did not manage to do this September due to the packed teaching schedule. I am filled by the time in Changsha, overflowing with God’s love and grace! What an awesome way to spend my Christmas.

GUANGZHOU

We took the high-speed train to Guangzhou with a lot less luggage and without rush on 29 Dec. Guangzhou was intended to be a vacation stop and to meet with a few friends there. One of them was a graduate from HBI, Pastor Ou. We also met a lovely musician couple, Gong Zheng and wife. Gong Zheng is a flutist who plays not only the mainstream Chinese wind instruments but also some of the almost lost indigenous instruments from Yunan. You can enjoy a musical piece by Gong Zheng at the end of the video.

New Year Eve was spent having hotpot at a friend’s place, Canto-style. It was a good time of making new friends too! I will say that it was a quiet crossing into the New Year from a position of rest. I was still fighting an inflamed throat at that point so we basically rested, walked around the city and ate. Such a blessing! What more can I ask! =)

Till Death Do Us Part…

Last Friday was the marriage reaffirmation of two couples whose lives have blessed me tremendously by being Godly examples. The first couple, Uncle Seah and Aunty Madeline have been married for 56 blissful years. I am just amazed by how their love for each other grows deeper as the years go by. Just the way Uncle Seah looks at Aunty Madeline, everyone around can tell the depth of his love for his bride and the amount of attention he gives to her is unparallel! Even the zeal and zest of young men wooing their love is not as strong as the love and attention that flows out of Uncle Seah so naturally. The second couple, Tardas and Lenny, is married for 23 years. Although they do not have their own natural children, they have given their lives to so many young people who are now their spiritual children. Their one heart in serving The Lord, even if it means sacrificing their own comforts, blesses me so much. These two couples are godly examples for me of a Christ-centred, loving relationship that cannot but bless the people around them.

I volunteered to help them with their flowers and deco for this special day to celebrate and renew their love for each other. Flowers never fail to cheer me up! So the trips to the nursery and being in the big cold fridge full of all kinds of fresh flowers are already the perk!!! So I made 2 hand bouquets and a table centrepiece, hoping to bring some beauty into the cozy function room. Aunty Madeline requested for red roses and I made a hand bouquet for her with a single cream rose, signifying that she is Uncle Seah’s one and only. Aunty Lenny chose pink carnations but the pink hydrangea looked too good to be missed and it turned out really sweet and matching to what she was wearing!

I had a great time with Christina who was my co-“wedding” planner and we ran around getting all the stuff needed to make the evening special and pretty and also coordinating the logistics. It was a very touching evening especially when they exchanged their vows with words from the bottom of their hearts, and not the usual scripted ones we hear at weddings. It shows that in the increasing rates of divorces and broken marriages in the world, marriages that are genuinely built in Christ and modeled after Christ’s love can still exist and it is a possible reality of faithfulness when couples vow “till death do us part”.

Here are some of the photos for you to share the joy!!!

Christina on the Mac doing up the slideshow of photo montage with oldies in the 50s and 60s!!
Christina on the Mac doing up the slideshow of photo montage with music from the 50s and 60s!!
The cut out glittery foam of the 2 couples' names...
The cut out glittery foam of the 2 couples’ names…
Uncle  Seah and Aunty Madeline pouring out the wine for the toast
Uncle Seah and Aunty Madeline pouring out the wine for the toast
Tardas and Lenny pouring out wine for the toast
Tardas and Lenny pouring out wine for the toast
Pastor Jimmy, Pastor Michael and the 2 couples giving a toast
Pastor Jimmy, Pastor Michael and the 2 couples giving a toast
Rose Hand Bouquet
Red Rose Hand Bouquet with 1 Cream Rose signifying the only love
Hydrangea Hand Bouquet
Pink Hydrangea Hand Bouquet
centrepiece
Red and Cream Roses Table Centerpiece