27. “If they keep quiet, the stones will.”
In the Bible stones are interestingly used. In Ezekiel 36:26, the heart is referred as a heart of stones. Too hard to be changed or break. Will not take anything. Will not listen to anything. So the people of Israel during those time has a heart of stones. They will not listen to any advice at all. To make matters worst, they not only will not listen, they will not response, just like any stone!
But, the verse above is on the contrary. If the disciples do not cry out with joy, the stones will. Even the stones will cry out. Why will the stones cry out in such circumstances? I believe, God is telling us, when Jesus enters our hearts, there is this exceeding joy of praise and worship that we could not contain. We need to understand what will happen to any Christian who receive Jesus into his or her heart. He will not be ashamed to praise God, even infront of the assembly. But the teachers of the law were ashamed. They asked Jesus to advice his disciples not to make so much noise. To the teachers of the law, they prioritized disciplines and orderliness. There is nothing wrong with that but a person with full of love will not break the law. If the disciples do not cry out, even the stones will cry out. Stones are just stones! If somebody says you have a stone face, your face has not expression at all. If such a expressionless object will shout for joy, what will that mean to us who show no joy or any expression at all in worship. To some lifting of hand is too holy. Others refer to dancing with joy as very offensive, and thought that such expression is for the night clubs. Some people say that we must have discipline in worship, and what is discipline in worship? When King David danced with joy, his wife was not happy. She was punished for rebuking David. She became unfruitful.
So when Jesus said that the stones will, I believe, all creation should worship God freely as he or she feels as the joy of heaven shakes their lives. We should not stop people from expressing themselves because they have chosen to worship God and not people. When the wind blows, the trees will sway and the waves will roar. There appear life and movement or reponse unlike the stones which are unmoved or very still. However if the stones do shout, then it would mean, a heart that offer no expression of worship is even harder than the stones themselves.
Let no one stop others from worshipping God with joy.
26. Heart of Gold.
2 Samuel 9:1-10
David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
I like the song, “Heart of Gold” by one singer who says he is searching for a heart of gold. He said he wanted to live, he wanted to give. That, according to him is one expression that he have yet to do- giving.
When I read this verse, I could figure out in my mind, what David’s intention was. He had been thinking of blessing somebody, someone from the house of Saul. Saul had been trying to kill David before Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in battle with the Philistines. King David wanted to bless somebody from his former enemy’s household. How many of us are thinking of blessing others and showing kindness to others? Many will only think of doing bad to others or trying to manipulate others to gain something for themselves. Now David was seeking to be kind to others. And when Ziba told him about Mephibosheth, who was a crippled, he was asked to get him. Ziba thought that David will not take him if he knew that Jonathan’s son will not be of benefit to him. But Ziba was wrong. King David reinstated all that belong to Saul and gave them to that crippled man. He also took him to eat at the king’s table, as one of the princes. David manifested grace upon someone who will not be able to repay him. That is the heart of gold. How many of us are looking around for a needy to help? As the customs of that day, Mephibosheth deserved death.
When Saul was king, Mephibosheth was a small boy full of life and potential. But when the king and his own father were killed in the battle, everything collapsed. In her hurry to flee, the maid carrying the little boy slipped causing the legs of the little boy to break and became crippled. They hid him far away, living in fear and poverty. We all are like that. Crippled by sins and nothing we can do to help ourselves. Only God, out of love and mercy, send His son to seek and save us. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. Only by the grace of God.
As Christians, is our mind thinking of blessing someone’s life? Somebody who could not repay us. Are we thinking of doing good or are we thinking otherwise, seeking the destruction of others?
David, the man after God heart has this special heart, he has the heart of gold. We too have this heart of gold but the gold is still in us and we have yet to share it. God’s love is generous and extravagant. We need to seek the needy upon which we can pass God’s blessing to the others who have yet to receive this grace.
25. Marriage of Cana. (John 2: 1-11)
The marriage of Cana is very significant. Here we were told that Jesus was invited and at the most important stage, the wine was about to finish. Wine during those days, especially during marriage, makes the celebration complete. It is also family honour and joy to serve people with the best wine. People will be happy and the marriage blessed by those who come. Nobody want to face shortage of wine during the feast. It would be embarassing to the couple and the family. When the wine was about to finish, somebody was asked to tell Jesus about it. Why tell Jesus? They knew, He has the answer. Yes, true he had the answer. But to ensure that the answer materialize, it must be done. The person was told to follow whatever Jesus asked him to do. Just do what he asked.
The servant was asked to put water in the jars. Just water! If you tell people nowadays to put water instead of wine, they will tell you that you are crazy. He was asked to ” just follow!”. He just followed and what happened, that water had turned into the best wine. Obedience resulted in reward.
What do we learn from this?
1. Marriage will turn dry but we need new wine to bring the love and joy back to our marriage.
2. Only Jesus is the answer. We all know that.
3. But things don’t just happen without obedience to the will of God.
4. Any marriage must have Jesus as the centre. Only He can calm the storms of marriage because He instituted marriage.
How to save our marriage? How to ensure that the best wine remain? Only Jesus and obedience to His command can do that. Just do what he asked you to do.
24. LORD REMEMBER ME.( Luke 23: 42)
That was the request of a dying man, a thief who was hanged with Jesus during the crufixion. He asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus come into His kingdom. Jesus immediately answered, ” Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” I would like to touch on some points here:
1. The love of God is full of mercy. This poor man did not deserve to go to heaven. All his life, he was against what was good. He robbed or steal. If he is facing a world court today, he will not go unpunished. There will be alot of rules or obstacles in his way to be free. God’s mercies endures forever.
2. The love of God is ever forgiving. When we are merciful, we will surely forgive. This does not separate. They go hand in hand. A forgiving person wants to help the person by freeing him from guilt and shame. Once a person find forgiveness, he finds peace. If God does not forgive, we will never enter His rest.
3. The love of God is full of Lovingkindness. Loving and kind does not separate too. If we love a person, sure, we will give the person what he needs. That poor thief need salvation, so Jesus gave it to him and that allowed him into paradise.
The phrase ” Lord remember me,” is not found in this verse only. There are also used by David and some prophets too. Its a powerful request that will unlock God’s attention to the person who asks.
What happened on the cross tells us many things too. If golden deeds are a condition to get our salvation, the poor man would not be permitted. If lofty prayers is a must to enter, this man would not be able to enter. If spiritual gifts are the condition, this person had none, and would not be able to be saved too.
God’s love is greater far. God’s love is greater far.
23. JUDGE NOT, lest ye be judged for the judgement that you judge, ye shall be judge; and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is…( Mat 7: 1-4 )
This verses had been quoted by many people and pastors or those who share this portion of Scripture are often worried when they chose to rebuke someone of wrong doing. There are some important message here:
1. God wants us to be sincere ( to be truthful ).
Before we choose to rebuke or tell someone of his mistakes, are we qualified to do so? If we do the same mistakes, we are not qualified so its better to rectify our problem first. Normally a person will comply if they find we are blameless. Many people want to take the leadership role or want to be in power so that they have such power to rebuke others. But if we cannot tackle such problem in our life, why must we demand such position as a judge or someone in authority. Jesus wants us to humble ourselves and do things in love. To be patient prevents us from making mistakes when dealing with people.
2. God wants us to be merciful and kind.
The position of a judge is to find who is guilty and met out punishment. Normally this is done infront of others. People will know. It is not a good thing to be told that you are wrong, in front of witnesses or infront of a crowd. If we purposely do such action upon others’ life with the intention of hurting and shaming, it will return to us. It is not wrong to rebuke a person of wrong doing but according to Paul, talk to the person personally, not in a meeting or infront of many people. If we do this infront of a crowd, then many people will judge us. It is adviseable to get someone who are better than us to advise the person concern then to do it ourselves. Slow to speak or be kind to people in our words will prevent ourselves from becoming a judge. Knowing that we are sinners to will make us merciful in the words we use.
3. God wants us to Live in peace with others.
To be judgemental in our attitude or thoughts will have a negative influence in our life. More often than not, our relationship is affected if we think negatively about other people. We will treat them badly, look down on or we will dislike them etc. The reason why some people do not approach other people is due to a judgemental attitude. When we accept others as they are, we are beginning to exercise what true love is. Judgemental attitude is a lot to do with personal pride. Sometimes we want to put ourselves better than the others by doing some comparasion. To improve our inner being, avoid life of comparasion. We can only live in peace when we are able to be at peace with others.
So brothers and sisters, these verses are not meant to scare us and make us not willing to help others but rather God wants us to reflect on our own life so that we will be more affective in helping others and ourselves.
22. LOVING GOD ( ACT OF LOVING GOD”( Deuteronomy 6:5)
The greatest commandment is ” Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and strength.” How do we love God? What is the characteristic of a person who love God. How do we know that we really love God? The characteristic of a person who love God is the person has love. God is love and those who has no love has no knowledge of God. The Epistles of John stressed this. The love that I mention is the love that Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Not the type of love this world is. A person who loves God will do these:-
1. Seeking Him to know and understand God.
We must know God if we have to start loving Him. We can’t love some one if we do not know the person. To know a person, we need to meet the person, talk and have conversation and eventually we will understand one another. Eventually trust and love will emerge. Similarly, we must know God first, understand Him and know what He desires and what God doesn’t like. Seek God and He is found. Seek me with all your heart and you will find Me, God says in Jeremiah. Know and understand God so that whatever God loves, we also love. Whatever God hates, we also hate. Whatever God is concern of, we also so concern; then we are loving God.
2. Shepherd( feed, take care, protect, lead etc) the Sheep.
In John 21: 15-17, Jesus asked Peter whether he truly loves Him or not. Three times He asked Peter, and every time peter answered ” yes”, Jesus instructed him. First Jesus said, ” Tend my lambs.” Second Jesus said, ” Shepherd my sheep.” And finally, Jesus said, ” Tend or feed my sheep. So loving God is to take care, to feed, to protect, to look after and to sacrifice even your life for the safety of the flock.
3. Help the needy.
“What we do to any one of these, you do to Me” which are feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty etc. We help those in need, we are loving God.
4. Do good and be rich in good deeds.
Paul commanded Timothy to remind the Christians to do good and to be rich in good deeds. To support those who preach the good news, for they deserved their wages. Remember that only good deeds will follow us, not our worldy wealth. So when we do good, we are helping to get rid of evil. It is war between good and evil. When we do God, we are supporting God’s battle against evil. So on which side are we? If we say we love God, we should be fight against evil.
5. Support the ministry.
Those who labor in the Word, the pastors or who preach the word deserve their financial support. The tithes and offering are for them and the needy.
6. King David was a man after God’s heart. What did he do? He was a good repentant. He meditates upon God’s word day and night. He praise and honor God. He longs to dwell in the house of the Lord. He was full of thanksgiving. Just to know what he did will help us to know what we need to do to show that we love God.
So all these efforts point to the fact that we love God.
21. Planning to build bigger barns ( Luke 12: 18)
” I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones and there I will store my surplus grain.”
Myself in particular, I want to do something like that. I want to have the highest earning job, buy me a great car, a big house and have all the things that can supply me all the things that I would need. Or some will aim to be a millionare before they reach 30 years old. Tell me, who has no such thoughts? Everyone has.
When Jesus mentioned these words, He appeared to warn us on a number of things. The first thing is, such things could lead us into worries and troubles. Do we really need so much since God will provide just enough for us? The sparrows are taken care of by God. We are always thinking and going for the extras. The second thing is, we are going towards selfcenteredness. Soon we will think that everything that we have is due to our own effort. Pride is coming in. Ego is setting in. When all these things come in, we will not even think of God. Why? Because think we have everything. The third thing of course is we will want to stay put. What do I mean by this. If you have so much property, do you think you would want to leave them behind? Paul reminded us to always look up and look forward to heaven. When we have our sights upwards, we will not be tempted to stay put in this world. The book of proverbs reminds us that when we die, our material wealth will not follow us.
However, for those of us who dream big, why not we build bigger barns so that we can share to more people? So that we can feed the hungry and help the sick?
20. Dreams and Visions ( Job 33: 14-18 )
Not many people ever pay much attention to dreams. After a nightmare, when a person woke up, he will say, “Thank God it is just a nightmare!”
The Bible is full of dreams and visions. God speaks to man in dreams or visions. He spoke to the Prophets and many others in the Bible. He speaks to believers and non believers a like. He spoke to Abimelech in a dream so that he does not take Sarah. He spoke to Nebuchadnezzar and the Pharoah.
There are 3 types of dreams; 1. Spiritual dreams or visions from God. 2. Our own natural soulful dreams from our daily activities. 3. From an evil heart or the devil, where the heart is full of deceit and wickedness.
The main functions of dreams or visions are mentioned in Job 33. To instruct man and to prevent man from being destroyed by his own sins. There are plenty of that in the Bible where God instruct people to do this or that or go here or there. God instruct Joseph to take Mary as his wife and also to go to Egypt with the baby Jesus. God convicts us in our dreams because of our pride of not listening to others. He convicts us and not condemning us. He tells us our wrong first. This shows how merciful God is.God uses dreams and vision to tell what is going to happen in the future. The Book of Daneil and Revelation are some examples. We cannot see the spiritual realms but God will reveal to us, especially in spiritual warfare.
Sometimes God uses symbols and we have to interpret based on Biblical principles, for instant, King Nebucharnezzar dreamed of a huge tree which was being chopped down. It was about himself of being removed. House or tent represent ourselves. Fish is people or ministry. Driving in a vehicle or flying means we are in a ministry. Snake or serpent represent the devil. Storms or floods? Remember the foolish man who build his house upon the sand?
Dreams or visions are mainly about ourselves, unless there are instruction from God. It can reveal our character or sins in our lives. We have to be careful not to always think that it is a revelation about others. If we see someone, perhaps our character is like him. It can reveal dangers or difficulty.
Paul saw a man from Macedonia in a dream. So he started his ministry there. A couple had a bad quarrel and the man was chased away from the house by his wife. Attempt to reconcile them by the church leaders were futile. But I saw something in a vision. I went to the house and prayed to get rid of the serpent there. We called the couple, held both hands and I prayed for them. They were restored to each other. Without the vision, I would not have known what to do next.
Dreams and visions reveal the activities of the Holy Spirit( Joel 2: 28 /Acts 2:17) so it is not something that we can ignore.
We have to interpret by asking God to help us. All dreams must be interpreted based on Biblical principles. God sometimes give an answer in dreams or visions. So don’t ignore dreams that make an impression. We can write it down, pray about it so that God will tell us what to do next.
19. Fishers of Man. ( Mark 1: 16-18)
“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of man.’
I love fishing, since I was a small boy. Basically I know how to fish. Most of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen. When Jesus asked them to follow Him and become fishers of men, it was not difficult for them to understand. He understood what they we had been doing and they too will understand what it means by fishers of man.
Fishing is to catch a fish. We can use all kinds of methods to catch a fish. The important thing is, to lay our hands on a fish and thats it. It is not easy to catch a fish with our bare hands. Some of the fish are slippery or dangerous even. Some we can catch with our hand but some are not. Like wise, it is not easy to fish men for the Kingdom of God too. Some would be easy but some are not.
The problem is most of us want to catch fish on our own. Its not easy. Jesus said, just follow Him and He will help us catch men. What He meant was, He will help us, because we cannot catch men on our own. I remembered my dreams many years ago. I was standing by a dark river and all of a sudden, a fish jumped out of the dark water and landed into my left hands. A fish is quite slippery but it got stuck in my hands. Few days later, I was the word of God and at the end of the sermon an individual came to me to confess his sin and to be prayed for. The Holy Spirit touched him and brought him to see me. All I need to do was to God’s word and God will be the One who will persuade the heart of men. Many people use all kinds to trick to catch men. Many people are discouraged because they cannot catch any fish in their ministry.
If you can remember, Jesus told Peter to throw the net again, and he followed his instruction. 153 fish were caught. Letting God to help us is all that matter when we bring the Gospel of truth to people. We the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. We just be obedient to His calling or His Word.
When we do not catch any fish, it is because we are depending on our own effort. Perhaps we take all the credit for ourselves! We think that it is due to our ability that people come to God. Remember God gives us gifts which can be used to catch people for God. The special gift does not belong to us. When God gives us the gift of healing, people are caught because of the healing- but that gift of healing is from God and not ourselves. A generous Christian can make a lot of catch through his giving. When we share what we have with the needy, the person at the hand of such kindness will be caught. Many people accept Christ because of the love that they received for Christians. So, not necessary we must go to Bible school first. Any Christians can be fishers of men.
So there are many ways to be fishers of men. Let God gives us the ability and we will be fishers of men.
18. The most humble man on earth ( Numbers 12:3)
What do we learn from Moses? We know he did not take pride in being brought up in the Palace. In fact he left it. He told God that he could not speak like his brother, but nevertherless he complied and did what God wanted him to do. He did what God asked him to do.
Basically, he was humble because of obedience. He was like any other in many ways but he did what God asked of him. He also listened to his father-in-law to reorganize and empower other people. Frankly speaking, obedience is a barometer for humility. We who refused to do something when asked by our superior is because of resentment. We did not want others to have a better of us. It is also disagreement, because we think that our ideas are better. We do not follow the directive because the person who asked us to do so is a person we did not acknowledge as our boss.
It is personal pride that prevents us from doing what others want us to do. The heart of man actually want to be better than others. He wants fame, wealth and position. These will make him refuse to submit to anyone. It is personal pride also to refuse duties or reponsibility. Why is this so? Because we do not want to have anything to do with other people. Because we want to be free and not be subject to the will of men. We want to avoid criticism because we do not want to be seen as faulty or failure. We do not want others to make negative comments so as to shame us. The only way is not to accept responsibility. This is pride, not humility. Some people said that they cannot do it saying they are not good enough. We think that that is humility, but actually he is trying to avoid responsibility.
But the heart of man will change if God’s love dwells in him and change him. If the Spirit of God dwells in us, we will know what true love is. True love brings humility in our heart. Have you ever felt jealous when someone else did something better than you? Or have you ever felt being happy for someone who did something good? Jealousy is part of pride; we do not want others to be better than us. When we want others to be better than us, love is evident. Submission to the will of God, whom we cannot see is humility.
Learn to love so that we will experience humility.
17. The Miraculous Catch of fish ( John 21)
Many of us love fishing. When I was younger, I love to catch fish, using fishing nets, fishing hooks, basket etc. When I was a primary school student, i remembered having fished many catfish from a small stream that was rising due to heavy rain. I caught the same spesis of fish. They came out of their holes as the waters were rising. I was there at the right time. The catch really surprised me. And mind you, the circumstance was not the same. It was raining, the water of the small stream was rising steadily resulting in the fish coming out from their hiding places. Before the rain, you will not believe that there were fish that many there.
Simon Peter and his friends casted the nets many times but to no avail. Not even a fish was caught. Not until some one called him from the shore to cast the net again. When he did just that, there were many fish. In all, 153 in number. Peter told Him he had cast the net before but there were no fish. Since you asked, I will do it. Many at times, we want things to be done just like before. We are used to do things that we are used to. We prefer to repeat the same thing over and over hoping to get something different. One reason why we refuse something different is we are happy with what we have and knew. We do want something different but we do not want to change.
The problem with us is we do not want to try new ways, new situation or new development. We just want to do something that are familiar and repeated because we already can anticipate the outcome.
I caught a lot of fish in a different setting where I have to stand in the rain. Peter obeyed Jesus even though, earlier, he casted the net but there was no fish. He just did what Jesus asked. He was astonished at the catch. Our spiritual life is like that too. In the ministry, we had become unfruitful- no one received Christ and even our spiritual life is no longer moving forward. If this happen, it is because we just do not want to move into something that we are not familiar with. Most of the time, we have been used to do something that we are used to doing, example our experience. We say we have done these and that before, so we refuse new ideas or new ways. Perhaps, if we set aside our ego or pride and listen to others, perhaps we will experience new things again.
16. Walking in love. (Ephesians 5: 2)
We Christians are thinking of performing sign and wonders, ministering to thousands of people and being invited everywhere to share the Word of God, which of course are good. However, not many will be given such opportunity by God. The problem is, when we want to expect ourselves to do have ” power gifts” as some call them, we tend to wait and wait and do nothing. When we do nothing, nothing is done.
When we talk about walking in love as what Paul meant, he is telling us to live it everyday and not to wait for the big Bang! Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13, where he says that the greatest is love. True, the greatest is love- that is why Jesus came to die for us. All because of God’s love. When Christ came, there were many things that he was willing to sacrifice. First, He was willing to forgive us inspite of what we have done. How many of us have forgiven those who hurt us right now? Some Christians could not see eye to eye with one another because they are not willing to forgive others. Some keep grudge or keep the wrong of others so much so that hatred prevail. But the moment we forgive others, many good things happen. Secondly God is patient with us. He is still knocking on our doors. How patient are we with others. Thirdly, Jesus went about doing good. He healed the broken hearted, he healed the sick, he cast out demons and He fed the hungry. Fourthly, he came to save others. But here we are, those not with us are being driven away. To many of us, our ministry for God is to lead comfortable life isn’t it. How many of us are willing to give a glass of cold water to the needy? But we are used to give something but not to the needy, but to those who came pay us back.
Giving a glass of cold water to the needy, God says, is giving a glass of cold water to God. To many, this act is the least but to God nothing is not important in His eyes. Every little effort that we do for God is not in vain. Some of us do not want to do this because we regard it as unimportant. But this act of love is far greater than what we read in the first 4 verses of 1 Corinthians 13.
How do we walk in love? Immitate Christ and we will not go wrong.
15. A tree and its fruit. ( Luke 6:43-44)
” For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its fruit.”
I have a fruit garden. In it, I grew different kinds of fruit trees. We have durian, rambutans etc. Because I love durian, i planted durian trees so that I would have durian fruits. The verse above is about fruits. A good person of course will bear good fruits. Good things will come out of that person. Likewise, a bad person will not do good things too. Just like a durian tree cannot bear other types of fruit except durian fruits. Until the tree produce fruit, we won’t know whether it will bear fruit until you see the flowers and fruits.
People are like a tree. We can hide what is in us but eventually people will be able to see our deeds and conduct. These are the ones that will tell who we really are. The same to the different faiths or religions of the world. How do we know they are true or fake? By the fruits. What do the believers do? Good or bad? We will be able to know by their deeds. We can always ask those people about why they say their faith is good but the fruits are bad? A friend of mine confronted a hindu and a muslim. He asked them, what did their religion changed in their life? Did their religion brought good change in them or not. One admitted no and the other just walk away. Jesus Christ is the truth and anyone who find and believe in Jesus will know what is the truth and will live in the truth. One of the changes Jesus bring is speaking the truth. We can also know whether a person is truly saved or not.
This verse is telling to check our own self. If we keep on bearing bad fruits, it is because we haven’t changed yet. So it is self evaluation also.
I believe that what the verse tells us is to be careful in our choice of faiths or friends and also to check ourselves because we do not want to be stopped at the gate of heaven after thinking that we expected to get through. We should be able to know about something without getting a second opinion. We must be able to discern so that we are not easily be misled. The Bible has all the answers, so we need to read and understand more.
14. JUDGMENT ( Ezekiel 24:14d)
” YOU WILL BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO YOUR CONDUCT AND YOUR ACTION” declares the Lord.
Many years ago, i dreamed that my hair had turned white. I was wondering why, on that occasion, my hair had turned white, in that dreamed. Then a few days later, i realized that I had made one of the most important spiritual decision ever. God had indicated that He had given me wisdom for that particular time. In fact, when i was young I wonder why British judges wear white wigs on their head when they execute judgment.
We will be judge according to our conduct and action. When? When we die because our spirit and soul will meet with God. If we are permited into the City of God, meaning we are forgiven and not condemned. Our conduct is our attitude, our response and our thoughts. In fact, our conduct portrays what we have decided in our hearts. Are we supportive of God’s ministries or not. Are we showing negative conducts that will discourage others? What did we say to others today? We will also be judged according to our actions. Our actions refer to our deeds or what we do. In Revelation, God says, ” Their deeds will follow them.” Why are their deeds following them when they die? Our earthly wealth will not follow us but our deeds that made us acquire such wealth will follow us. Because we are going to face the Ultimate Judge- God Himself. That will be terrible, isn’t it. How can escape from God? The soul that sins will die.
What is the punishment? Second death in the lake of fire, with the devil and all those who reject Jesus.
We must be wondering why Jesus was hanged. He was hanged so that all the punishment that we are supposed to receive at judgment day is put upon Him, on our behalf. Those who believe and received Him will be forgiven of their sinful actions and deeds. There will be no condemnation for those who believe and receive Jesus as Lord and saviour. That is God’s promise. Jesus is our lawyer acceptable to God the Father. Take Jesus as our lawyer and Savior. There is no other.
We can only be saved from the coming wrath if Jesus is our advocate.
13. Living Water ( Rev 22:1-3)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life…
No one can live without water. Water is a necessity of life. Go without water and we will die. The above verse tells us about the Spirit who gives life to all those who receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Jesus said that those who believes in Him, streams of living water will flow from within him, meaning the Holy Spirit. That is why every believer is given a new life which is eternal life. And what else will happen to the believer? The river of life flow bringing healing to him in the inside. When it overflows, we bring healing to the others.
Jesus invites us to drink water that will quench our thirst. What is this water? The psalmist says in chapter 1 verses 1-3, that whosoever read and meditate upon the Word of God day and night is like a tree planted by the water, where it will bear fruits and will not wilther but will prosper. So reading the Word of God is drinking from the Holy Spirit. Having fellowship with God. Namaan was asked to dip 7 times in the Jordan, not once, in order to be healed. So we need to read the Bible and meditate upon it many times to reach the depth.
The crystal clear water tells us the purity and righteous nature of God that can transform us. Where this river flows everything lives. What is so free than water?
12. LIGHT OF THE WORLD (5:14-16)
” You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone. In the same way, let your light shine before others; that they may see your good deeds and glorify the Father in heaven.”
Jesus is the light of the world. When he came down, there were a number of things he did. He went about preaching the word and healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. He did many things for the people, before he was crucified and died. Then He rose again. Likewise, we are now the light of the world. How? First, we have been forgiven, cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb and destined to do good works, just like what Jesus did. If we are a lamp, then there must be something to be done first.
First: It has to have an oil.
Second: It must be lighted to produce light
Thirdly: It must be placed where there is darkness
Fourth: It must sustain.
To shine, we must have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in us. He is the One who will transmit His light in us. Without Him we are nothing. Once we have accepted Christ, He is in us, and we need to obey Him and follow His leading. We need to be annointed and sent. That is we are being lighted for service. The only thing a lighted lamp is of use is during night time or when it is dark. In other words, we must bring it to where it is difficult to see. That is, we must put it where there is darkness. Where the gospel is yet to be heard, that is where we put the light. We need to go out to places where the gospel is yet heard. We need to go where the people have yet to know about God. To sustain, we need to be refilled with the Word of God. We need to have a deep relationship with God and we need others to encourage and help us.
What makes us shine? Righteousness needs to increase, because righteousness leads us to do good work or deeds. Only good can produce the good. Only an apple tree will produce apple. A bad thing cannot bear good thing. Those who are increased in righteousness will shine like stars. Our good deeds are the light. Good deeds only point to something. When some one does good, it points to something that has transformed a person. Man cannot change himself without God. So when we do good, it speaks louder than words. It points to God as the cause of the transformation. It glorifies God when we do good deeds or work. Why, because only God is good. When we live in the truth, speak the truth and do what is truthful and right, everyone will know. In fact, the reason we do good is because of Love.Love is the fuel that cause us to serve others and do good things. Love is of God and God is love. When we practice love, that is when we shine.
We bring others to Christ without speaking to convince people. Our good works attract others to the kingdom. So do we need to be eloquent? Famous? or wealthy? No!
11. THE STORM (Mark 4: 35-41)
The story of Jesus calming a storm is a very familiar story in the three Gospels. Jesus had been teaching the crowd and when evening came, Jesus decided to go to the other side of the lake with his disciples. They boarded a boat and left the crowd. On the way, a storm appeared while Jesus was sleeping and the frightened disciples woke up Jesus. Jesus commanded the storm to stop and it stopped. The diciples were astonished. Even the storm obeyed Jesus.
Life is a journey towards a destination. Life on earth begins at birth and ends with death of the physical body. The spiritual body or spirit enters either heaven of hell. These are the two destinations that we are heading towards. Heaven is on the other side. Our life is like a ship or a boat. The ship must move towards that destination, that is heaven. AS LIKE any ship that cross the ocean or sea towards a destination, is our life also heading towards death and our final destination. Is there any sea without storms or calm? Is there any seas without waves? Is there any seas without hidden menace? The same to life. In this life, according to Scriptures, there will be trials and difficulties. There will be troubles. There will be tribulations, but there is also peace. There will be a period of calm but there is also a period of roughness.
Looking at a ship, the success is reaching the destination without sinking. The ship might be badly bruised, battered but that does not matter. What matters is it reaches its destination. Our life will be wounded, bruised and badly damaged but the spirit does not waver. It is steadfast in the faith. There will be great difficulties but the trust and faith in Jesus Christ remain strong and steadfast until the end. What is important is to finish the race, to reach heaven. If we look at sailing ship in the past, they depend on the wind, especially strong winds to push the sail. We also need storms to ensure our faith in Jesus is tested and strong. So without srong winds or storms, the ship is not tested.
To reach the pearly shores of heaven, we need Jesus to be in our boat or ship. If Jesus is in our boat, we need not fear. That depend on us to receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. We need to welcome him in our heart. We must restore the temple of God in us so that there is life of worship in our life. We need Jesus in our life to enable us to withstand the test of time. Is Jesus in your life now?
Reading (Hebrews 9:27 – just as a man is destined to die once and after that face judgement.)
I remembered many years ago, when my friends in Limbang was told that I had died due to sickness. In fact, my family went back home for a two week holiday. When we returned to Limbang, where i worked, some of the people saw me and was shocked because a few days earlier, someone told that i had died. My church members also told us what they had heard. Based on our tradition, i will have a long life.
Death will eventualy come to everyone and people will talk about us when we die. Death will come and we cannot deny it or avoid it. So rather than avoid it, we better face the reality. The Prophet Isaiah told King Hezekiah to ” Put your house in order because surely you will die soon.” God wants us to prepare to die because when we are prepared to die, only then are we prepared to live.
What to prepare? We must know that there is judgement waiting for everyone of us. God will judge us based on how we live while on earth. The Word of God teaches us to receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Then we will not perish but have everlasting life( John 3:16). There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. So this we must put right.
We must be an overcomer, as in the book of Revelation. We must seek righteousness and not live in sins. Only those who had his robes washed clean will enter heaven. Do not deceive ourselves thinking that what we think and not what God think is okay. We must not take for granted that everything is fine, when in fact we have not really given our lives to God.
Finishing strong or finishing the fight is what Paul mentioned. Life is like a race, to be won. We might have started wrongly but we must end correctly. What matters is the end, not the beginning. Do not dwell in the past glories. Remember what counts is what happens at the finishing line.
Whatever we tie on earth is tied in heaven. Forgive others and do not keep grudge against others. Jesus ask us to ask for the forgiveness of those we had sins. We aslo need to forgive those who sins against us. We must make every effort to be at peace with all men. Our sins will find us and testify against us on the last day if we do not untie every cords of sins in us.
So do not deny death or try to avoid this subject. We must face it and get it right because after we have died, we cannot relive another life on earth.
9. Storms of life.
Reading ( Ruth 1, Job 1 )
Naomi lost her husband and eventually her two sons. He would have lost her properties had not God allowed her daughter-in-law, Ruth to marry Boaz, who eventually redeemed them. Naomi said to her people, I went away full but came back empty. God had allowed affliction upon her life. Job was even worst, he lost everything he as except his wife. He lost 10 children. All because God allowed satan to torment him.
Naomi and Job had terrible storms of life. These are troubles that we will face in our life journey. The Bible says that we will have trouble but I have overcome, said Jesus. The apostles had all kinds of trouble and dangers and some died at the hands of wicked men. Jesus also suffered. From our reading, God knows what we are going through and He allowed them- to refine us, to test us, to rid evil in our hearts, to prune us, to get us back to Him. That is what a loving father will do to his children.
God gives us the storm so that we will know that only He is the shelter. The reason why many people cannot accept what happened to them is because of their self-centeredness. I was like that in the beginning. Refuse to admit my weakness, thinking that i should not be done like this! because i don’t deserve it. That is what we always think. We always think that others should be the one not us. That is what our self is. We want to be better, we want to be the best, we want to be praised, we don’t want to be seen as weak, or poor. That is our real self. That is what God wants us to be rid off so that we will be teachable, humble and respectful. We need to acknowledge that God is sovreign and we are nothing at all, nor can we deserve anything. When we do this, the pain is lifted from our heart.
Inspite of that, he will bandage or heal us. He will comfort us as the Scriptures promised. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our means. He allowed the storms of life to come so that we will not perish. He also wants us to be refined so that we will be able to serve Him better. He wants us to bear more fruits. He does not want any of us to be lost.
As our ship sails through the dark seas to the pearly heavenly shores. Our sails might be battered, but Jesus will be with us. after all, He is in us. He will not let us sink to the bottom of the dark seas. Jesus is our anchor. He is the anchor of our souls.
8. Bearing fruits.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindess, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control( Galatians 5:22-23)
I have a garden- fruit garden. I have planted many types of fruits. When I first bought the piece of land from someone, my intention was to plant some fruit trees so that in over ten years, I will eat the fruits of my labour. So I got the land, and planted some seedlings of fruit trees. After more than 10 years, most bore fruits accordingly and as expected. But I have a few trees that had dried and died and one or two who have yet to bear fruits after 10 years. Though some died on their own, the trees that did not bear was bordering me. They are taking the space which are getting limited. I am thinking of cutting such trees and plant with a new one. When we become a Christian, God wants us to bear fruits. There are so many out there who needs our help, assistance and support. There are people who need all kinds of help, be it spiritual or physical. God wants us to reach out. Our good deeds will bring people to Christ and will be good for the Kingdom of God. We must be rich in good deeds. So each and everyone has a God given purpose, the same to me when i planted the fruit trees. When we bear fruits, naturally it will attract people. When the Holy Spirit is in us, the 9 attributes of God should make us be fruitful. We have to make the choice to do good. It is not an option because God is very clear. He will cut the branch that will not bear fruit. However, if we bear fruit, God will prune us once in a while because He wants us to bear more fruits. Pruning means cutting away parts that are not good. Yes we might go through some pains or sorrows but God intention is to make us strong and to refresh us for service. So we must know that God has plans for us. Besides, we are the light of the world- our good deeds will the the shining example of Christ likeness in us. Our good deeds will heal those who need our support or help. We are fragrance of Christ. Our good deeds attract others to Christ. And remember, in Revelation, God says, ” their deeds will follow them when they die.”
7. John the Baptist.
” He must increase and I must decrease.”
If you read about John the Baptist in the Gospels, you will see that he was the first person to baptize anyone. He became so popular that everyone went to hear him and repented. Those who repented were then baptized. Eventually, he has disciples. John knew and testified that he was sent a head of Jesus to prepare the way. In our time, such popularity would have made us proud, wealth and happy. But John was not. He sticked to what God had planned for him. He shun the worldy life, he just live a simple life in the wilderness, living on honey and wearing animal skin. He rebuked and many were baptized. Then Jesus came. He baptized Jesus and told his own disciples that Jesus is the Messiah, and not him.
SOON Jesus’s asked His disciples to baptize people. When John’s disciples to him that the people are flocking towards Jesus, John told them that he must decrease but Jesus must increase. He knew where he was. In our days, we would have been dissapointed, envious or angry when someone are doing better than us, or attracting more attention than us. We would have given up and even leave the ministry. We would not like other people to be more successful. But John told his disciple to follow Jesus and not him. John did not prevent them. He had to disappear from the scene. He had done his part and he recognized that even before he started his ministry.
What about us? When we received Jesus as our Lord and saviour, God lives in us. But do we let God increase in our life or are we trying to increase ourselves more? Are we trying to take what we know belongs to God, especially the glory and honour? Do we acknowledge God’s power and grace in our lives or are we claiming all the glory to ourselves? Sometimes we attribute what we have , our resourcefulness and wealth to ourselves. We say that all are due to our effort. That is increasing ourself and not God. We boast of what we achieve and we become proud. The Bible tells us that whatever belongs to us is from God. We need to glorify God more and more and not be silent about it, but rather to be thankful to God for His providence and grace.
6. BE JOYFUL ALWAYS. ( 1 Thess 4: 16 )
What is joy? Joy means being in the state of being very happy. A joyful person portrays a lively positive character. The person smiles or even laugh easily. It is easy to dectect a joyful person. He or she is cheerful. There is reasons for people to be joyful. Most likely someone gave something that he or she likes. May be the person had found friendship, promotion, wealth etc. When a person is joyful, there is normally a good reason behind it. When Jesus spoke about true happiness and joy, He was refering to the person having known and received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. True happiness is from deep within us, where God will communicate within us of His love and peace. When we know that God loves us, and we are forgiven and given eternal life, we have real joy in us. Here God says that real joy is in Christ Jesus. Not in material possessions, beautiful spouses etc but in Jesus Christ. World wealth, promotion, friendship do make us happy but, unfortunately these are temporary and does not satisfy us like Jesus.
Why must we be joyful? If Christ is in us, we should be joyful because what we ever need is in Jesus Christ! We need to know that we are bound for eternal life. We have privileges as children of God. When a person is joyful, his joy will transmit to the others. Joy is contagious. It brings life to an otherwise gloomy situations. It is a testimony of finding freedom in Christ where our worries and anxieties of life are no more because we have put our trust in God. What will a joyful person do? He or she will easily be brought to sing praises unto God. A joyful person can easily sing. When a person is sad, he or she is most likely not willing to sing.
A person full of joy is very generous. That is why the Holy Scriptures asks us to give cheerfully. A cheerful giver gives freely. It is the joy that enables him to give without being force to. Joyful people is ever willing to help others. They sometimes volunteer to do something. It is not difficult to ask people who are joyful to do some kind of work. They are very willing to help. That is why Paul ask the Thessalonians to be joyful always. If you are in the company of joyful people, it is a wonderful experience. Everything is positive.
A joyful person is very open to others. He or she easily accepts teaching or rebuke. That is why a joyful person does not harbour grudges. Normally what makes a person angry, gloomy or passive is due to the person keeping the wrong of others and not wanting to forgive others for their wrong. These makes us unhappy or what some people called in”bad mood.” Our outer character is influenced by what is inside us.
No one wants to sit with an angry person, a gloomy character or a bad character. These does not give a good picture of a true Christian. If we are to shine for Christ, it is our character- love, joy and peace that will draw others to God. If we ever want to draw others for Christ, we must have the character of Christ in us.
The Bible says, “but the fruit of the Spirit is love joy and peace.” If the Spirit of God is truly in us, we should have love peace and joy. These and some others make up the true love that only God gives.
As a conclusion, joy is part of the true Christian character. Joy emits love, peace and generousity. It welcomes others and is willing to be of service to others. When we have joy of heaven in us, we have everything. Be joyful always.
5. SOWING AND REAPING.
” Do not be decieved; God cannot be mocked, a man reaps what he sows.( Galatians 6:7)
A farmer sowed a basket of padi grains, he harvested about a hundred bags from it at the end of the year. Another sowed 2 baskets of padi grains and he harvested 200 bags of padi at the end of the year. So it depends on the amount or the number of what we sow or plant. If we do not plant, we do not harvest. If we do not sow anything, don’t expect anything coming to us. You ask a farmer, he will agree. Its about willingness to sow more to get more harvest. Jesus gave an illustration about the trees and its fruits. If we plant a durian tree, you will expect to eat a durian fruit from it. Not an apple from a durian tree. This principle applies to our life. We do good things, we get good things. Be kind with your neighbour, he will be kind to you. You scream at your neighbour, he will do the same too. Talk bad about somebody, someone will do the same to us. How do we harvest righteousness? Sowing truth in our life. The tragedy taught me a lot. We received so much from people we do not know and people we know. I had never thought that people will be touched by simple kindess that we gave a a teacher. If you are a teacher, you are going to help people change their life for the better. Sometimes, you buy this and that for your students out of your own pocket. During your difficult times, those you had helped will not forget you. God cannot be mocked. God had already set this principle. It depends on us. We do good, we receive what is good. Do not expect blessings if you do not bless. Do not think of receiving much we we do not give much. Did anyone showed dislike to us? What’s the reason? Many people, including myself want more and more, and some are so angry if they are not given…but do we ever think, why do we demand more when we refuse to give? As a head teacher, we handle many cases of indiscipline. Fights do happen. It begins doing something bad to somebody. It will end in quarrel and eventually fights. We do something bad to somebody, somebody will retaliate! The principle applies to our life. We don’t expect to have peaceful life if we live a wild kind of life. We smoke, we ourselves will reap the side effect of smoking. We teach ourselves to dislike other people, it will grow into fruition- hatred. I told my students and congregation that many people wnat to get the best in life but they never do good things. Only good things come from good deeds. Don’t expect good things from the bad things that we do. God cannot be decieved. We start bad, we will reap what is bad. Bad fruits come from bad trees.
So what must we do with our lives to gain good harvests? Its that easy if we follow the principle of reaping what we sow. Change our mind set by doing what is good and we will get what is good.
” A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”( Proverbs 11: 25)
As my family walk through one our city’s street, we saw a sickly indivdual by the pavement, seeking for monetory assistance. He appeared to be a beggar. I gave some money to one of my children to be put into a small container belonging to the person. Then I told my toddlers that we must always help those who needs our help, even if we don’t have much. Of course I was also teaching my children to be kind and generous. If you read the verse above, a generous man will prosper. The word generous means kind. Generosity here refers to an act which has no hidden agenda. Politician love to be in the papers for any act of giving. Any act of giving doesn’t means generous. When a person is kind, his main motive is to help a needy person without asking for anything back, including blessings. He did not even though of any reward when he gives. This is generosity triggered by the very LOVE of God in a person’s heart. If God is in our heart, that is a natural thing to do. If we give some money to a rich individual, your motive is obvious. The Scriptures says that ” when we give, give to somebody who would not be able to repay us.” The verse above tells us that such giving will :-
1. Invite blessings upon us. Have you ever been bless by your parents? Our culture seems to make us not willing to bless others. Isaac blessed his children. Are we doing the same? But if we ever give something to someone that will help that person, do you thing he or she will curse you? It also makes us prosperous in many ways. Our act infact make us friends with those whom we had help. They would surely pray for us. They could bless us. An act of giving will always be remembered for life. A very wealthy man was asked by my brother, how he could have so much wealth. And he said, ” I provide work and opportunity for people to help themselves, and they in turn will help me. I had helped them, that is why they are looking after the business well.
2. Our giving refreshes others. It makes people happy. It motivates people to help others. When we give, somebody will benefit. For instance, a kind word will encourage others. If we give in kinds, it will of benificial in many ways. The person will be even more thankful to us because we are giving him options. They will surely help you if they have the opportunity, but we are not looking at that.
3. The Bible reminds us that, when we are generous for God, we are storing treasures in heaven. In other words, we created for ourselves a heavenly account. There is a person who went to heaven, but was asked to go back because,