Are you a wise judge?

Question: When you see a wrong, how do you respond? Do you say something, do something to right the wrong? Or do you maintain status quo, or mind your own business?

It depends. Whenever I see people not queuing properly, my conscience urged me to point out the wrong. There’s the end of the line.

When friends share with me their struggles or candidly tell of their stories, I sometimes need to control myself from speaking out and remind myself not to judge even when instinctively I think something’s not right. I confess that it can be tricky – when to right a wrong or point out a mistake; when to speak the truth or when to stay silent. It takes both discernment and courage to make the right choice.

To judge or not to judge?

Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 7:1-3
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

The principle behind this teaching is not to measure others by another yardstick with which I use for myself. When I am critical of other people, I need to examine myself whether I am doing the same. This principle applies to the family of faith – fellow Christians – believers and followers of Jesus.

What about the outsiders – those who do not know Jesus? Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5 an important principle.

12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

The background on this teaching was that there was someone sleeping with his father’s wife in the church. Paul rebuked them for condoning immorality in the church. (vv.1-2)
Paul’s response: He condemned the sinner for his adultery. (vv. 3-5)
Paul taught a parable on the leaven and unleavened dough. (vv. 6-8) Leaven is a substance like the yeast that makes the dough rise. As a verb, it is to cause (dough or bread) to ferment and rise by adding leaven. “leavened breads are forbidden during Passover” Paul pointed out the importance not to let sin influence the whole church. Instead, the sinner should be reprimanded and taken out.

Do we associate with immoral people or not? No and yes. Read vv. 9-11.
When Paul said not to associate with immoral people, he did not mean sinful people of the world. Why? Because that is not possible – because to do so, one has to be a hermit. v.10
But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. v.11

When we maintain status quo, when we turn a blind eye to sin, when we do not speak the truth and point out the wrong, when we continue to befriend a sinner, we are allowing the person to continue in his sin.

To ponder:
When I am critical of fellow Christians, let me check myself… What would I do if I were in the same situation? Would I do the same? Is there perhaps something I am not aware of? What would it be like to be in his/her shoes?

On the other hand, why am I keeping quiet? Is it time to speak the truth? What are the consequences of my silence? Is my indifference and apathy a cause for others to continue in sin? How does it affect fellow believers when I keep quiet?

Lord, help me to be wise – to judge or not to judge, May your Spirit teach and guide me to search inward and look upward so that I can be light and salt in the world.

Of Hand-Washing and Heart-Warming

It is a good habit to wash our hands before eating. But in the days of Jesus, the Pharisees strictly observed their tradition of washing their hands, their utensils etc before the meal. And they questioned and criticised Jesus and his disciples how come they did not observe this tradition. How did Jesus respond?

Matthew 15
3 And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’

Jesus criticized the Pharisees for outward observance of tradition without really obeying God’s commandment. They gave diligently to tithes to the temple and would use this as an excuse to withhold giving to their parents.

Jesus further said:
And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you?
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’”
10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”


God is more concerned with the condition of my heart – what I do and what motivates my action is much more important that what I say.

Let me beware of putting too much emphasis on outward appearances – following traditions, the customary way of worship – the form without the essence.

When I sing songs during worship service, do I mean what I sing? When I give tithes, is it from a heart of gratitude and response to God’s goodness? Do I go to church as a matter of habit? Is my ministry out of expectations put on me by friends, pastors, church leaders?

Jesus explained the parable to Peter:

17 Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

But what comes out of my mouth proceeds from the condition of my heart. Are my thoughts pleasing to God? Is my motive pure? Do I really love God with actions? How do I treat our neighbours? Actions speak louder than words. But even actions ultimately result from the heart. How is my heart? When I honour God with my lips, is my heart near to God? Do I worship God in vain because of shallow observance of tradition?

Let me beware and remember: Things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart. How is my heart?

Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me to sustain me. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen

Of Pride and Humility

Stories of King Hezekiah and King Manasseh (2 Chronicles 29-33)

2 Chron. 29:1-2
Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years… He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done.

2 Chron. 32:1
After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.

What did Hezekiah do so faithfully?
Chapter 29: Opened/Repaired the temple
Chapter 30: Celebrated Passover
Chapter 31. Led the people to give to the Lord

After all Hezekiah did, God allowed the Assyrian king to invade his land and instill fear in the people. Hezekiah hanged on in faith and prayers to the Lord. God delivered them from the hands of their enemies. (32:1-23)

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah… But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. (vv. 24-26, 31).

Hezekiah began well. In 29 years of reign, he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. There were so many things (more than 3 chapters) written in details of his good deeds. Sadly, when all went well, his pride became his downfall. He showed off… he displayed all his treasures to Babylonian envoys who came to inquire of his miraculous healing. He did not give credit to his kind God who answered his prayers. Hezekiah repented and God relented (v. 26).

2 Chron. 33:1-2
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.

The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God (33:10-13).

Manasseh, king for 55 years, started bad. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. 10 short verses described how bad he was leading his people “to do more evil than all the nations God destroyed before them.” When Manasseh became a humiliated prisoner (33:11), he humbly prayed to the Lord. Four short verses described his changed heart (33:14-17). And the Lord was ‘moved’ by his plea for mercy (v.13).

A person’s character is revealed by his choices – how he responds to the ups and downs of life. Pride or humility directs man’s choices. God uses all things (good and bad) to test our hearts, humble or proud. His grace and mercy is always in the midst of it all!

When all is well, beware of pride. When all is bad, be aware that God still reigns. How do I respond – humble or proud? Self-sufficient or God-reliant?

The If’s and When’s of Life

The If’s and when’s of life…

What if I get sick… what if I fail the exam… what if I don’t get the job… what to do when there’s not enough money to pay bills… where to turn when relationships break down… how to cope when death knocks at the door?

The Bible does not have a clear-cut answer for each ‘if’ and ‘when’ of life. One thing it tells us – Do not worry about all these things. (See Matthew 6). Instead pray. Oh, but many of us pray. When? When life is hard and problems come, we get on our knees, we ask for prayers.

King Solomon said a prayer for all the ‘ifs’ and ‘whens’ he could ever imagine in his time. Read 1 Kings 8 and see how he prayed for the ‘If’ and ‘When’: all the ‘bad and sad’ harsh realities in life: sin (v.31,46), wars, conflicts (v.33), natural calamities (v.35), sickness (v.37) etc. Was he not the richest, wisest, most glorious king in the history of Israel? The Bible says there was peace and great prosperity during his reign. (1 King 4, 5:4) Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple he built for God. His prayer was not the typical ‘celebrative’ prayer.

Why ‘if’ and when ‘when’? ‘If’ means something ‘might’ or ‘might not’ happen. When is a matter of time – ‘when’ things happen. Regardless, Solomon prayed because he wanted God to be ‘present’ in his temple. He acknowledged that God is awesome, loving and kind; too big to be in the house he built (v.23,28). Solomon knew the realities of life and living life… of man’s sinful nature. He understood how nature works: drought, famine, sickness are part of life. Solomon realized man can only live and overcome these challenges by the hand of God. He grasped the importance of having God ‘hear from heaven‘ (vv.30,32,34,36,39,43,45), ‘forgive‘ (vv.30,34,36,39,50) and ‘maintain the cause‘ (v.45,49) of the ‘pray-er’.

Today, we can pray like Solomon. We pray for the ‘ifs’ and ‘whens’ – for the not so good even in the midst of prosperity and blessings. It is not being pessimistic or fatalistic. We pray because we want God to be with us whatever we’re going thru. We pray because we need his forgiveness if and when we sin, when we make him sad, when we offend our neighbors. We pray because God alone can maintain our cause. He alone makes the impossible, possible.

We pray each of us knowing the affliction (sin) of our hearts:
God, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all our ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men, that we may fear You all the days of our life. (vv.39-40)

Lord, hear in heaven, make me Your dwelling place in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name. (v.43)

Defeated? Not Really…

Joshua, successor of Moses, led the Israelites into the Promise Land with a successful conquest of Jericho. It was their first battle won with the Lord in command. They brought down the walls of the city not with canyon but trumpets; not with soldiers but priests. Read about it in Joshua 6.

Ai was their next target. It was a small city with few people. So they thought they could win with just a small army. But they were defeated. The reason was because Achan, disobeyed God’s command to destroy everything in Jericho. He coveted n kept some plunder from the battle. Joshua did not know of Achan’s actions. Hence, this is the context/background of Joshua’s actions and prayer:

Joshua 7:6-9
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.

Joshua and the leaders mourned their defeat. They could not understand how they lost the battle of Ai after winning Jericho.

And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!

Joshua did not ask to go back to Egypt. He wished they had just stayed on the other side of Jordan – pre-war days where everything safe and peaceful. He forgot their victory in Jericho and focused on the present defeat.

Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

Yet, Joshua’s heart was for the great name of the Lord. He was more concerned of what people, those who in Canaan and nearby places might say about God… that He had allowed His people to be wiped out by their enemies. He asked ‘What then will you do for your great name?’ It is the Lord who will be doing – not him. It is for the Lord’s great name – not his.

Bottom line: It’s all about God and not about me. Whatever that is happening to me, am I thinking about God’s great name? How do I respond to crisis? Do I blame God? Do I remember His goodness in the past and treasure His presence at present?

Do I trust Him to do whatever it takes for His great name? Will I obey Him for the sake of His great name?

Dear Lord, thank you that you are able to accomplish everything for your great name. Empower me to trust and obey you always. Amen.

Of Lion’s Head and a Mouse’s Tail… Pride and Prejudice?

2 Chronicles 29
1 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.

32:24 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. 25 But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.

2 Chron. 33
1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.

12 In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.

I’ve been reading the stories of good kings and bad kings in the OT – 1 Kings; 2 Kings; 1 Chronicles; 2 Chronicles. Each account started with the same phrases -his age when he became king, length of reign, whether the king did what was right or evil ‘in the eyes of the Lord’.

So with Hezekiah and Manasseh:
1) Hezekiah started at 25 and reigned 29 years. Manasseh started at 12 and reigned 55 years. H did right and M did evil.
2) There are 4 long chapters written of the many accomplishments of Hezekiah in his 29 years of reign. There are only 20 short verses summarising Manasseh’s 55 years as king.
3) How did they end? They both died. Yet one great difference is that the good king turned proud (32:25) and the bad king humbled himself. (33:12).
4) In both, God had a response. When Hezekiah had pride in his heart and did not acknowledge the kindness God shown him, God’s wrath was on him. When Manasseh humbled himself, God was ‘moved’ by his entreaty. He listened to M’s plea. When Hezekiah repented of his pride, God’s wrath did not come on them during his days. Question: does it mean it came in the days after his reign? Implication: our pride has consequences.

1) When all is well and we have so many accomplishments under our belt – even those of purifying the temple (ch.29), leading the people in worship in the Passover (ch.30), raising funds (ch.31), winning battles (ch.32), beware of pride. What a good capable person I am! I did it all – I am a good king, I did great things for my people and for God.

So with us Christians, even the things that seemingly to be of the Lord, for the Lord, to the Lord – these doing and giving and being, successful things can become our idols. These idols make us proud and forgetful. We forget that all good things come from the Lord – even the heart for doing right and being right in the eyes of the Lord. All by grace and mercy of God!

2) When all is not well, when we did badly, when we are hopelessly in the deep dark pit of evil and sin, there is hope. God listens to the humble heart – to the entreaty and plea of even the most evil king – reigning badly for 55 years. God is moved (33:13a). He brings us back to him – He restores us to knowing that the Lord is God. v.13b

Beware of pride and prejudice. Repent and be restored. Let me not forget.

A Heart for God

King Saul did not follow instructions. God wanted him to kill King Agag and all the Amalekites. Saul excused himself saying he offered the best of the bounty from the war to sacrifice to the Lord. What was Samuel’s reply to Saul’s excuse?

1 Samuel 15:22-23
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

God only wanted complete obedience. To disobey God is to rebel against Him and disrespect him. To rebel against God is basically a sin of arrogance – the evil of idolatry. Idolatry is worship of anything else above God. Arrogance is worship of the ego – thinking that oneself is better than God.

God does not want my offerings and sacrifices given with a proud heart. He wants an obedient heart – a humble heart willing to listen to His instructions and follow through in complete submission.

David was called a man after God’s own heart. Acts 13:22a. What does a man after God’s own heart do? He will do everything God wants him to do. 13:22b

David and Goliath is a familiar story. This story reminds us of David’s wholehearted devotion to God. He asked 2 questions when he heard Goliath’s insults and taunts. 1 Sam 17:26

“What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? This question is not so much about the rewards for killing Goliath but more about the act of removing disgrace from Israel.

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Here lies the important issue of identities. The uncircumcised Philistine insulted the Living God.

When Saul questioned his ability to fight Goliath, David again pointed to God. God enabled him to kill lion and bear to protect his sheep. David believed that God would help him to defeat Goliath.17:34-37

David was just a shepherd boy sent on an errand to bring food to his brothers at war. He did not expect to kill a giant. He was no soldier. But he had a heart for God – a brave one. He was brave because he experienced God’s presence in whatever he’s been tasked to do whether as a shepherd, an errand boy or an avenger for God.

Today, whatever I do, whether to care for my family, cooking, cleaning, washing, mopping, praying, or to extend a helping hand to someone in need, to listen, to hug, to encourage, to comfort, to celebrate or to grieve, to be present with an open palm of generosity… do I do all these with a heart for God?

God said “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7

How is my heart?

Seeing Truly

In John 9:1-23, Jesus healed a man born blind. This miracle story is not only about physical healing to see but also an eyeopener; the spiritual lens and insights on life and living.

John recorded many “signs” that Jesus did in his presentation of the ‘good news.’ This particular sign was narrated in much details – from the ‘perspectives’ of the different people who witnessed or heard of the miracle.

I remember our seminary professor had our class role-play this story in groups: disciples (v. 2), neighbours (v. 8), Pharisees (v.13), Jews (religious leaders) and the man’s parents (v. 18).

I realised that our professor wanted us to present the story through the ‘eyes’ of each group of people.

1) The disciples were interested in the why. They asked Jesus, why the man was born blind, was it because of his sin or his parents’? Their question implied their understanding of suffering and sin. The man was born blind because he was being punished for his sin or because his parents sinned.

Today, many believe the same. It is sad to hear people telling friends who are suffering or sick to repent and be healed. While it is true that sin has disastrous consequences, not all deformities, diseases or sufferings are God’s means to punish sinners. God ‘allows’ sufferings to transform his children to be more and more like Jesus. Sufferings are God’s means of ‘sanctification’ in his children for his glory.

Jesus answered his disciples: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (vv. 3-5). Jesus gave lessons to gain from the man’s blindness – for God’s works to be revealed – so that people would see and gain spiritual inSights. Jesus is the light of the world – those who know him will see clearly.

2) The neighbours focused on how. How was it possible that this blind man got healed? Is this really the blind man? How was he healed? “How were your eyes opened?” (v.10) Their question showed that their focus was on the physiological – what is doable, how things are done. They were like reporters seeking to find out the truth – the veracity of the miracle.

3) The man was brought (he did not voluntarily go) to the Pharisees. (v. 13) The Pharisees’ concern was the legality of the act of healing. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. It was illegal to work on that day. v. 16 This man is not from God because he violated the law of the Sabbath. The debate came out of it: How can a sinner do such signs? The blind man said: He is a prophet.

4) The Jews (v.18 – referring to the Jewish religious leaders) called the man’s parents to verify that the man was really born blind. The reason was because they did not believe the miracle happened. The parents’ answers tell us that their concern was being put out of the synagogue if they were to admit their belief in Jesus as the Christ. (v. 22)

Unbelief: that is the cause on all the issues raised by these people… neighbours, Pharisees, Jews. They did not know Jesus. They could not accept and did not believe He could heal because they could not see Him for who He is.

How we live life and how we overcome challenges we face each day are affected by our perspectives: a point of view. What you choose to focus on determines how you respond and solve a problem.

Pastor Johann Lai once preached about perspective on suffering in life. Many pondered on ‘WHY’ God allows sufferings to come into their lives. Why Lord am I sick with cancer? Why Lord do I have to bear the abuse? Why me? The important take-away I got from that sermon is: Instead of asking why, ask ‘HOW?’ How, Lord? Help me to go through this suffering. How can I grow from this trial? How will I surpass this crisis? “How” directs our focus to the source of our strength and wisdom – the Creator who made us in His own image… we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

It is not easy when we cannot see the future. It is also not easy even when we do see the present. But when we look back to HOW God see us through all the challenges of the past, then we can move forward in trust and hope.

HIndsight: understanding of a situation after it happened… synonym is wisdom learning from the past.
Foresight: ability to judge correctly what will happen in the future… synonym is wisdom planning for the future.

The Holy Spirit gives wisdom when we ask. James 1:5 says
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Today is another new day to ‘see’ better. We don’t know what’s for tomorrow. We can ask God for wisdom to live wisely. The Holy Spirit is our guide and counsellor. We pray that the Spirit grant us discerning eyes to see clearly – to focus on the important things – things that matter to God.

Dear Lord, all-wise loving Father, I praise you for you are gracious and merciful. Enable me today to see what you see so I may live wisely. Amen.

Lead us not into Temptation

Luke 22:31-34
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[a] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

[a] Luke 22:31 The Greek word for you (twice in this verse) is plural; in verse 32, all four instances are singular.

This footnote explained that ‘you’ in v. 31 refers to disciples as a whole.

Clearly in this case Satan had asked God’s permission to test Peter and the other disciples. (taken from

Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. And Jesus warned him and prayed for him. How? “but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus taught his disciples to pray “Lead us not into temptation” – this does not mean that Christians will not be tempted. It only teaches us that we have the power and privilege to pray that ‘our faith may not fail’ but if we do, we will ‘turn again to strengthen others’. This gives us encouragement and hope to get up from our failures, turn around and help others.

As Jesus admonished his disciples, let us also be reminded: Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.

Lord, lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil. I pray that my faith may not fail. But if I fail, help me to turn around, so I can strengthen my brothers. Amen.

Lessons from the pit and prison of life…

From the pit to the prison to the palace… that about summed up the life of Joseph! Is that it? Nope… not quite…

He was 17 tending his father’s flock and sent to look on his brothers when he was thrown in the pit then sold to be a slave.

He was sent to prison because he was falsely accused for sexual harrassment.

He regained his freedom at the age of 30 to be the 2nd in command of all of Egypt in the palace of Pharaoh. There was none like him – he had position and power, wisdom and wealth, fame and family.

At that point in time, we see how he felt when he named his sons: Gen 41:51-52 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
He saw God whether he was glad or sad; in both suffering and blessings.

It was said that life begins at 40! Joseph at 39, finally found peace and reconciliation with his brothers. He wept so loud everyone outside the palace heard him. It was such an emotional reunion. How did he feel to finally see the people his own blood, the very ones who sold him into slavery? How could he still hug and kiss them? How could he forgave them for all they’ve done? Because at the end of it all, Joseph sees God’s hand in everything. Joseph said to his brothers:

Genesis 45
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

An abundant life does not consist of roses without thorns, smooth highways without valleys. Even a thorny life is beautiful and deep valleys are not total darkness when see behind the lens of a loving God.

Joseph at 40 saw and lived life as more than just places of pit, prison and palace. He lived his life in the presence of a loving God. He saw God’s hand moving and guiding. He witnessed God’s presence and share this presence with the people around him. He acknowledged God both in the good and the bad.

Where are you now in life? In a deep dark pit? Lonely, afraid, worried? Or perhaps in prison? Enslaved by pursuits of things that bring temporal satisfaction? Or maybe in a palace of the good life? In spite and despite every circumstance or whatever you are going through right now? Are you at peace? Shalom – the ultimate word for well-being.

Shalom is more then just simply peace; it is a complete peace. It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being and harmony.

According to Strong’s Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew the obviously related word Shelem means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.

Jesus fully paid the price for peace – peace with God and peace with man. As Joseph lived a life of peace, let us live shalom because Emmanuel, God is with us… even in such a time as this.

Peace be with you, my friend.