Introduction

Jesus once said

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the
  gate and broad is the way that leads to
  destruction, and there are many who go
  in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and
  difficult is the way which leads to life,
  and there are few who find it.” – Jesus (Matt 7:13-14)

Verse 13 talks about the way of the world. It is a way that leads to destruction. It is broad,wide and easy to tread on. That is a way that is sensual where one can do whatever his heart desires.

We have taken a look at that path  last week. Let us take a look at the way of the Lord.

The Way Of The Lord

Let us take a closer a look at the words of Christ

“Because narrow is the gate and
  difficult is the way which leads to life,
  and there are few who find it.”

That is the way that God wants,  it is a small and difficult path that leads to life. So how does one enter this path. Let us take a look at what Jesus said.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the
  door of the sheep….. I am the door.
  If anyone enters by Me, he will be
  saved, and will go in and out and find
  pasture….I have come that they may
   have life, and that they may have it
  more abundantly.” – Jesus (Jn 10:7.9.10)

Jesus is a good shepherd and the the sheep is his church. Jesus is the door of the sheep. In order to walk on this path, you must seek Jesus in order to enter it. Only by going through the door can you find salvation within the Lord.

God once spoke through prophet Isaiah

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
  Nor are your ways My ways,
  For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
  So are My ways higher than your ways,
  And My thoughts than your thoughts.”- YHWH (Is 55:8-9)

That is the thought and the ways of God. Gods thought and ways are different from us. When we encounter problems in life and we pray to him for help. but sometimes Gods answer may be different, for ways and thoughts are different from us.

Let us consider the characteristic of Gods way?

The Path Of God Need Not Be Straight

Most people tend to think that if their choices are smooth and it met with no opposition that must be the way of God. But let us consider the words of King Solomon.

“Consider the work of God;
  For who can make straight
  what He has made crooked?

  In the day of prosperity be joyful,
  But in the day of adversity consider:
  Surely God has appointed the one as
  well as the other,So that man can
  find out nothing that will come after
  him.” – Solomon (Eccl 7:13-14)

Solomon was talking about the encounters in life. It reminds us that we need to mediate on the words of God.We need to find out of the way God prepared. This verse reminds us that when we encounter suffering, we need to consider. Sometimes the path of the Lord may be curved, at that time, we should not try to go against the will of God.  Perhaps God meant it to be difficult

The Way Of The Philistines Vs The Way Of The Wilderness

Sometimes God may not lead us  on a the straight path . This can be seen in the book of exodus.

 So God led the people around by way
  of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And
  the children of Israel went up in
  orderly ranks out of the land
  of Egypt.” – Moses (Ex 13:18)

Here it talks about how God led Israel. I have found an article that featured a map for your reference

 

When God led Israel out of Egypt, it was through the way of the wilderness. The wilderness journey is hard.. Israel took 40 years to travel the wilderness. Israel spent about 2 years travelling to Kadesh. However just before they enter the land, they lost their faith and have to travel another 38 years in the wilderness. (CF: Deut 2:14)

The truth is that if one takes the way of the Philistines, it only takes 3 month to reach the promise land. In the eyes of man it is unwise and inefficient to travel like this. However, in the eyes of God it is a wise move.

The Wisdom Behinds God’s Choice

Sometimes we wonder why did God choose to lead Israel through the troublesome wilderness . God gave a reason behind his choice

“Lest perhaps the people
  change their minds when
  they see war, and return
  to Egypt.”-YHWH (Ex 13:17)

The way of the Philistines is known as the Via Maris (the way of the sea) and it is a well known trade route. The route is heavily fortified by the Egyptians. There are also the Philistines which are a fierce tribe.

The Israelites  are slaves who just left Egypt, although God has plans that they would fight the Canaanites in the future, but right now the faith of the Israelites are still weak. When Israelites were travelling in the wilderness, they were without food and water. God helped them them by providing manna and water from the rock. When the Israelites faced the Amalekites in the battle of Rephidim, they learnt to fight with God.

God train them to rely on him by giving them miracles and helping them in battle. The result of Gods wisdom can clearly be seen when Joshua led Israel  and started his campaign to conquer Canaan .

Learning From The Experience Of Joseph

That is how the will of God works. In our lives of faith we may encounter difficulties and it is actually the wisdom of God. Sadly many of the Israelites cant understand this as the result many of them fell in the wilderness.

Sometimes we wonder why is it that we encounter no success, why we fall sick and was not healed. Sometimes we study hard and yet we fail in our examinations. We need to understand how God works and why we encounter such problems.

Now let us consider the example of Joseph.

“But as for you, you meant evil against me;
  but God meant it for good, in order to bring
  it about as it is this day, to save many people
  alive.” – Joseph (Gen 50:20)

Those are the words of Joseph at old age. God trained Joseph throughout his life, God allowed Joseph to encounter so many difficulties. Joseph had a tribulation life

This verse tells us how God trained Joseph. God allowed Joseph to encounter a lot of tribulation. He lead a difficult life from 17 , he worked as a slave in the house of Potiphar. When things started to go smoothly for him, the wife of Potiphar seduced him and for doing the right thing, he was thrown into the prison.

He did not murmur against God for he know that it was the will of God behind it. Even though life was full of difficulties and he had face them willingly. He must have question why at times, but eventually he overcome the world.

Even though sometimes we do not understand why we are suffering, but often we will only see after the end of the journey. Sometimes it is only through the rough edges of life can one learn and discern with wisdom.

Learning From The Experience Of Moses

“When Pharaoh heard of this matter,
  he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled
  from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in
  the land of Midian; and he sat down by
  a well.” – Moses (Ex 2:15)

This is a record of the time where Pharaoh heard the of Moses killing the Egyptian. He wanted to kill Moses and Moses had to flee to Midian. This is an example of a difficult path given by God.

When Moses was a child, he was almost killed by Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh ordered to kill every male Israelite child. But God preserved his life and he arranged for Moses to be rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter. The bible records that Moses is learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptian.

Moses thought of visiting his brethren for he knows that God wanted him to save the Israelites. But then he was young and quick tempered, when he saw an Egyptian bullying a Israelites, he fought and killed the Egyptian. As the result, he had to flee to the wilderness.

Eventually God approached Moses saying to him

“I will certainly be with you. And this shall
  be
a sign to you that I have sent you:
  When you have brought the people out of
  Egypt, you shall serve God on this
  mountain.”- YHWH (Ex 3:12)

Even though Exodus 3 is only one chapter away, But the timeframe is very far. Moses stayed 40 years in the wilderness of Midian (CF Acts 7:22-23,30) . He was 40 when he killed the Egyptian, and when God appeared to him in Exodus 3 he was 80 years old.

When Moses first learnt the knowledge of the Egyptian, he was confident that he had the advantage over others. But in the end he killed a Egyptian and he had to go to Midian to bury himself away. He led a lonely and simple life. This training destroyed his pride and temper.

The Moses at the age of 40 is like a prickly durian, the 40 years in the wilderness allowed God to remove all his spikes and self confidence. When God approached Moses at the age of 80, Moses was a changed man. He felt that he had no power and he is not strong enough.

Moses once said in his Psalm

“The days of our lives are seventy years;
  And if by reason of strength they are
  eighty years,” – Moses (Ps 90:10)

It seems that Moses had given up on himself at 80, he felt that his life was maxed out. He changed from a good and simple life to rock bottom. He became a commoner, and he feels that it is impossible to do the will of God. Moses feel that he cannot do it because he is slow of speech and tongues. From here we can see that he had lost his pride and Gods training for him in Midian and it had developed him spiritually. It turn Moses into the most humble man on earth.

The result of this training is seen in the book of Numbers

“(Now the man Moses was very humble,
  more than all men who were on the face
  of the earth.)” – Num 12:3)

This was Gods comment about his 40 years in the wilderness. If we make a comparison of Moses between Ex 2 and Num 12)  In Ex 2 he killed a Egyptian in his anger and now he is the most humble man on earth. This difference is a result of God’s training.

Without that training, he will not be able to handle 3-4 million people travelling in the wilderness. They often complain to him about having no food and water, he had to endure the heat of the day and the cold at night. He had to hear their problems and solve them  .

I believe if Moses was the leader of the Israelites at 40, perhaps many Israelites would have been executed for causing trouble.

Conclusion

From here we can see that God had different way for different people. Some Christians are put in the palace while some had to endure the heat and cold in the wilderness.

So when we encounter troubles in life, do we see it as God torturing us or do we see it as God will?

We need to know that Gods way is not necessary all smooth sailing, we must consider the work of God and that all things works for the good of those who love God. For Jesus tell us that the way to heaven is narrow and difficult. That is the way of God.

Today i have heard an interesting sharing regarding the two ways that every man must take. We would examine one of the two ways today.

Introduction

Our lives on earth is just like living in a wilderness, the wilderness is a vast place and it is hard to see a direction. Sometimes as we tread on it. Sometimes we wonder which is the right way to take. If we choose wrongly, it will take our lives into darkness.

But the bible tells us that if we follow God, our future will be bright.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide
  is the gate and broad is the way that
  leads to destruction, and there are
  many who go in by it.   Because narrow
  is the gate and difficult is the way
  which leads to life, and there are few
  who find it”- Jesus (Matt 7:13-14)

Matthew Chapter 5-7 contains the famous sermon on the mount by Jesus. They contains many teachings about Christian living. Here it mentioned that there are 2 pathways a man can take. That idea of that inspires us, reminding us that there are only 2 path a man can take.

Though the eyes of man it appears as if life had many choices and possibilities. But in the eyes of God there are only 2 outcome for he life of men. One path leads to destruction, and one leads to everlasting life.

Today we will focus on the path of destruction. It is also known as the path of the world.

What Is The Path Like?

It is a path that leads to hell and destruction.  Jesus describes the path that its gates are wide and the road is broad. It is very easy for one to walk and enter. Jesus said that many will go in by it. For it is the ways of the people of the world. Paul describes that path further.

“in which you once walked according
  to the course of this world, according 
  to the prince of the power of the air,
  the spirit who now works in the sons
  of disobedience,  among whom also
  we all once conducted ourselves in the
  lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires
  of the flesh and of the mind, and were
  by nature children of wrath, just as
  the others.”- Paul (Eph 2:2-3)

That was the path that we once took. It is currently the way our world operates. It is according to the prince of the power of the air. The path is easy for it allow us to follow our desires, we can do whatever we like. The modern world describes that life as freedom. But Jesus calls it the wide and broad way that leads to destruction.

The People Of The World Today

The bible describes the people on that path as the sons of disobedience and these people who walk on the path will eventually be judged for their disobedience to God. Paul continue to talk about these people

“having their understanding darkened,
  being alienated from the life of God,
  because of the ignorance that is in them,
  because of the blindness of their heart;
 
who, being past feeling, have given
  themselves over to lewdness, to work all
  uncleanness with greediness” – Paul (Eph 4:18-19)

Paul said that those who took this easy ways do not know God. They did not believe in him out of ignorance, that is why they do not fear him and they had no fear of judgement

That is why our world today is so complicated. There is always a thick grey line between right and wrong. Sometimes we wonder why is everyone so corrupt and evil, and that question lead to us doubting the existence of God as well as judgement.

At times, we wonder why is our world in such a mess. It is because of the fact that human beings have departed from the true source of life. They think that he doesn’t exist because they cannot see him.

But yet there was an old Chinese saying that says “头顶三尺有神明,不畏人知畏己知"

It means that “There are deities three feet above your head , even if others are not aware , yet you should know” It appears that all cultures acknowledge that even if you cant see God doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

The societies of the past are more aware of this than our modern world. But today we often asked “Why Is It That We Cannot See God?”

The Earthworm At Kremlin

During the 1960s during the cold war sparked a space race between the communist Russia and the America , at the initial part of the race, it was the Russian who were the first to send an cosmonaut into space.

During a speech made by the Russian Premiere Nikita Khrushchev he said “"Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any god there."

A week later, there was a comic strip that appeared in the US, in that strip there was a Earth worm who managed to go through the ground, and he pop his head up at the Kremlin in Russia. He looked around and he returned back to the ground. He told his friends that  Khrushchev doesn’t exist. For he had been to the Kremlin and could not see him.

The strip is drawn to poke fun at the Russian Premiere for he is just like an earth on the earth. Just because you did not see him doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

The  same goes for God. For God is spirit, even if you were to enter into space, you will not be able to find him. But sadly, man in his ignorance was not able to see that. As the result their heart is blind and they lose direction in their life. They became unafraid of judgement and they just do whatever their heart desires.

This is the reason why many on earth dare to do evil. They did it out of a ignorance, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

They claimed that religion was an invention of the weak to protect themselves.

The Generation Of Noah

This situation we see today reminds us of the time of Noah. During that time, God destroyed the world for they do not know him and their mind were evil continually. During that time, God saw the violence that is happening and saw that the ways of men were corrupt.

That is why he told Noah to build an ark, and through the ark, 8 people were saved.

In the past, there are many Countries that base their standard using the words of God. But today, they no longer believe in God. There are many in the western world that are atheist and they no longer had any concept of God. It seems that many had put aside their bible, and yet God was blamed for every problem that comes after that.

There was once a pastor when confronted with the question why had God left us and why did the 9-11 incident happened gave a very interesting answer. It is we who had drove God away from us. We have expelled God away from us. Even though there are many countries who are called “Christian country”, but the truth is that they had took out the 10 commandments and took away the rights of many who wanted to worship God.

They stand under the guise of multi-culturism and that there are some who are atheist and out of respect for them there should be no religion in schools.  The result of those policy steer people to think that they are the greatest.

Freedom without the knowledge of God.

This becomes the way of the world., where one can choose to believe if God exist or not.

People who subscribe to that belief, will eventually focus only on enjoyment in the flesh. For they feel that they have the freedom to do whatever they like regardless of each other.

Freedom devoid of the knowledge of God is mere indulgence. Since there is no one who dare to say that adultery and stealing are evil, one would slowly become ignorant of God. That is the reason why many expelled Jesus from their heart and would rather devote our time doing anything else except to pray to him.

We spend all our times on the internet, doing the other things we enjoy, putting God in the side lines.

What Is a Life Without God Be Like?

The book of Genesis gave us some insight into the generation before the flood. “

“And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain,
  an instructor of every craftsman in bronze
  and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

   Then Lamech said to his wives:

  “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
    Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech!
    For I have killed a man for wounding me,
   Even a young man for hurting me.””-Moses (Gen 4:22-23)

Over here talks about a Lamech and his wife Zillah, Zillah gave birth to Tubal Cain who is able to work with Iron and Bronze. After Cain left the presence of God, his descendent knew how to work with bronze and iron. In the song of Lamech, he talks about how he killed a man for wounding him.

It is likely that the world in the pre-flood era had already entered the Iron age and Lamech knew how to use bronze and iron to make weapons. These weapons are used to defend as well as to kill others.

It is like the law of the jungle where the winners takes it all.

This is similar to the world we live in today, sometimes people kill without thinking and we wonder why is humanity so cruel now. It looks as if violence is just growing all over the world. We see fanaticism happening and the society is moving towards two extremes

One side is gearing towards over conservatism where certain groups of people cannot tolerate the existence of others, if you do not follow his ideology or belief, he will kill you without any hesitation.

Yet we also see the other side where one ignores all belief and just focus on a indulgent life.  In the verse we read earlier, Lamech had 2 wives , the descendent that came from Cain changed the Gods  original institution of marriage.  God intended for one man and one wife, but Lamech here took 2 wives

The Time Of Noah And Our Time

God once said that the time of his second coming is just like the time of Noah. It is a time where mankind will follow their own way and they will not put God as the centre of their lives. The society that they create is one that is full of themselves where their enjoyment comes before anything else.

Even though we are  in  a country monogamy is practiced,where is illegal to practice bigamy. We can still see many couples not being able to stay together, they had affairs outside marriage and the worst part is that many Christian group choose to go against the command of God. (CF Mk 10:1-2)

In order the please the crowd, they allow Christians to divorce and when they remarry, they can be blessed by the pastor once again.

The result of that action allow many to lose faith in the institution of marriage. Couples would rather co-habit than to be legally married, any unwanted children created in the process is given away for adoption. Sometimes allowing children to grow up in strange families and it affect their own perspective of life.

Such action leads to the destruction in the morals of the next generation of children.

This is how our world has become closer and closer  to the time of Noah and Cain. The bible remain silent about the descendent of Cain after Genesis Chapter 4. There are some who feels that the daughters of man in Gen 6:2 refers to the descendent of Cain

But during that period of time, the sin of man had reach onto heaven and God commanded Noah to build the ark. After the flood, the descendent of Cain were destroyed and they cease to exist in the world

Conclusion

As Christians had been talking about this for 2000 years, there are many who scoff and laugh at the message. Elder Peter once said this

knowing this first: that scoffers will come in t
  he last days, walking according to their own lusts,

   and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? 
   For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue
   as they were from the beginning of creation” “-Peter (2 Pet 3:3-4)

In fact their scoffing is not new. For even at the time of Peter everyone had been talking about the second coming of Christ.  Truth is that Jesus was gone for 2000 years and many wonder when will he come again.

Elder Peter continues

“For this they willfully forget: that by
  the word of God the heavens were of old,
  and the earth standing out of water and
   in the water, by which the world that
  then existed perished, being flooded
  with water.  But the heavens and the
  earth which are now preserved by the
  same word, are reserved for fire until
  the day of judgment and perdition of
  ungodly men.”- Peter (2 Pet 3:5-7)

If we take a close look at our world, and we find our way to be the same as the wide way that leads to destruction. If we find our path easy to go to, and easy to walk. Let us consider if we are on the right way.

For during the time of Noah, many walk on that way and were destroyed by the flood

Let us ponder over the path we are taking and the direction we ought to be heading to.

We learnt about the first weapon of Apostle Peter, he was armed with mind to suffer for Christ. Now lets take a look at his second weapon

Weapon No 2: A Strong Faith To Resist The Devil

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary
  the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking
  whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the
  faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by
  your brotherhood in the world.” – Peter (1 Pet 5:8-9)

A roaring lion may appear to be majestic looking. However, the devil is also a roaring lion, and the thought of that frightened us. How can we resist him? Peter here tells us that a steadfast faith could resist the devil.

Indeed, even though the devil may be frightening, always lurking around us, even though his roars frightened us. A Christian could resist him with a steadfast faith. It is a type of faith that is strong.

We all have some degree of faith, that is why we come to church. But the question is, is our faith steadfast and strong? Sometimes our faith may appear strong and steadfast, it is just like Peter when he said that he is willing to die with Jesus.

I am sure Peter was sincere and was not telling a lie, but the problem is that his faith is not as strong as he think. Sometimes faith can be shaken in face of calamity. That is when we find our faith melting like wax, as the fire burns at us. 

Sometimes we find our faith like clay, it becomes hard and strong through the fire, a good potter knows that by burning wet clay, he could produce a good piece of pottery. We are all clay, for we are made of dust. God prepare us in this life by testing us with fire. As the result we eventually become good and strong vessels, fit for the use of God.

Peter is a fine example of that testing. That is why we need a steadfast faith. God is ever willing to help us, but we must use our faith to resist the devil. We need to endure to the end as well.

Enduring To the End

Sometimes when trouble comes knocking on our door, we may be able to deal with it initially. But as months and years goes by, are we still able to endure it?  Often we find a short trial easier to bear compared to a trial that goes on for years.

That is why many Christians give up their faith in face of long suffering. The devil eventually overcame them. That is why elder James remind us that we need to have long suffering in order to be victorious.

For if we do not endure to the end, we will lose this battle of faith. 

Being steadfast in the midst of a changing world 

Jesus once prophesized about the last days, he said

“as lawlessness increase, love will go cold”

There are many things that stumble the faith of a Christian. We need to ask ourselves are we able to hold on to our zeal and faith as this is happening? 

We see some giving up saying they do not want to believe in Christ anymore, but yet there are many will continue to fight on. For they remembered the words of Jesus

“he who endures to the end will be saved” – Jesus

Throughout our walk of faith, we have come across  many zealous Christians. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they serve the church all the time. But some of them ended up leaving the faith. That is because they are unable to endure and they fall from faith one after the other.

At the same time we witness common believers who do not perform great works. But yet they remain faithful they kept their faith all the way to their deathbed. Perhaps all they could do is to pray to God, and they remain faithful to the end. These Christian are indeed victorious.

Strengthening Our Faith

Perhaps we were once believers full of zeal and now we are cold in our faith. Perhaps we may be lukewarm believers who are neither hot nor cold. No matter what,we all need God  strengthen our own faith.

I am sure we all know that ancient formula to pray and to ask God for help. But is there something else we can do besides that?

Paul once taught us saying

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus
  the Lord, so walk in Him,  rooted and built up
  in Him and established in the faith, as you have
  been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Paul (Col 2:6-7)

He talks about 2 points on how to strength our faith.

Be Rooted In Jesus

He teaches us to have our faith rooted in Jesus and we need to build up our faith with the right roots.

Many of us come to church due to various reasons, perhaps we felt the love among brethren’s, and perhaps we are moved by certain actions by the church. But we need to recognized the fact that one day, the person we respect may fall from faith and leave the church.  

We need to root  our faith in the right foundation. For if we build our foundation upon the people we respect, our faith will waver when these people grow weary and have a change of heart. But if we build our faith on Jesus, he will never change and we will never be moved.

At the same time we need to consider, where will our foundation of faith be? 

A house build on sand cannot withstand the winds and waves. When they start hitting the house, it will collapse. Similarly if we come to church because of others, or we come to church purely because we wanted peace. Our faith can waver if those things are taken away from us. 

Those who listen to the words of God are people who have built upon the rock. It is unmoved by wind and waves, for he remain anchored onto the rock.

A faith can be strong only if it is built upon Christ. Such faith cannot be moved by others easily.

The reason behind the failure in faith for many Christians is because they had allowed themselves to be moved by deceitful words.  They follow blindly and does not discern between the teaching of God and the commandments of man.  

One who is established in Christ will do according to what Jesus commanded. He will ignore the words that are not in accordance to the teaching of Jesus.

Be  Established In the Words of God 

That is why Paul reminds us to be vigilant so that others will not deceive us with empty philosophy and the traditions of man.  It serves to remind us that a strong and steadfast faith can only be established upon the words of God.

We need to build our faith needs upon Christ and the words of God. We need to use the bible as our standard, and we need to compare what we hear with the words of the bible.

We need to be sure that what we believe is according to the teaching of Christ

A faith that discerns is a steadfast faith. Only a steadfast faith can allow us to overcome the devil and fight a good fight.

Let us learn from the weapons of Peter and used them in our lives

Today during a sharing, there was a interesting topic shared. Usually I would help to interprete it to English, but since I do not have the chance today, I would write it on my blog for my English speaking friends.

Introduction

In the book of revelations, Elder John saw a vision

“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem,
  coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as
  a bride adorned for her husband. 
   And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold,
  the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell
  with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself
  will be with them and be their God.”- John (Rev 21:2-3

This vision tells us that in the last days, the tabernacle of the Lord will appear, John saw this new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. This tabernacle is none other than church of God.

Prophet Isaiah also saw this tabernacle in his vision

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
  That the mountain of the Lord’s house
  Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
  And shall be exalted above the hills;
  And all nations shall flow to it.
  Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   To the house of the God of Jacob;
   He will teach us His ways,
   And we shall walk in His paths.”
  For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
  And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”- Isaiah (Is 2:2-3)

Over here Prophet Isaiah saw the church in the last days.  He called it the mountain of the Lords house, Jerusalem. This is why the fact that Christians could go to church is a blessing from God . It is the way to heaven, and God has created this path for everyone who desire to be saved by the Lord.

Sadly, many modern Christians regard the church as unimportant, they claim that as long as one believes in God, he would be saved. Back in my own church, we place emphasis on the importance of  coming to  church, as it is the starting point for one to begin walking on the heavenly path.

King David once wrote this in his Psalms

“ I was glad when they said to me,
  “Let us go into the house of the
   Lord.””- David (Ps 122:1)

This is the song of Ascents. It is one of the  hymn sang by Israelites when they come up to Jerusalem for the feast.  God required the Israelites to come up 3 times to Jerusalem to appear before God. As the Pilgrims are on their way up the mountain of Jerusalem, they will sing these song of Ascents. Each of these hymns carries a teaching, and something for us to learn. Ps 122 tells us that David is joyful whenever he come up to Jerusalem

Let us first consider “Why must Christians be joyful when they come to church?”

The Church Is The Dwelling Place Of God

There are many Christians who regards coming to church as a waste of time. But they forgot the fact that we are his people  and we go to church because it is a command from God.  So let us consider why is Israel joyful whenever they go to worship God in Jerusalem?

The answer is found in another hymn in the Songs of Ascent

“ For the Lord has chosen Zion;
  He has desired it for His dwelling place:
   “This is My resting place forever;
  Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.”- Psalmist (Ps 132:13-14)

From this verse, it tells us why the Pilgrims came willingly, for they knew that techy are coming to the dwelling place of God. The mount Zion referred in verse 13 refers to the modern day church. For God has chosen his dwelling in the church. The Church is made up of people who worship him . He will abide with them forever till the end of time.

God has a reason to choose us to form his temple , his church let us be willing to go to church. Let us not just go there for the sake of fellowship but most importantly to worship him.

In order for us to come before God ,we need to pay attention in how we prepare to meet God in this temple.  Ps 23:3-6 gives us a few pointers in how one should prepare before going to the temple. Let us pay attention to Verse 4 –5

“He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
  Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
  Nor sworn deceitfully.
  He shall receive blessing from the Lord,” – Psalmist (Ps 24:4-5)

These verses remind us that in order to receive blessing, we need to have clean hands and pure hearts. These are things we need to take note whenever we come before God.

The Church is established with the hand of God

Let us consider another reason why the Israelites are glad when they come to Jerusalem. they came because it is a place to seek the words of God. The church is established by God. Just as what we read earlier in Rev 2:2. The New jerusalem came from God and is from heaven.

The church is not just an institution of man, it is build by God and it belongs to Jesus. Jesus established the church to give salvation to mankind, therefore we must be willing to go to it.

“Jerusalem is built
As a city that is compact together,” –David (Ps 122:3)

Over here it tell us that it is God who established Jerusalem, it is a city compact together. This means that it cannot be attacked easily. Jerusalem is a city that is surrounded by a wall, compact together. It prevents enemies from comming into the city.

Similarly, the church today is built by JEsus, and it is compacted together as well. Jesus himself is the wall that protects his church so that no enemies could penetrate it. Whenever we gather together within the church there is a sense of peace and security. IT allow our souls to be protected from external pressures which saps the life out of us.

Is 2:3 tells us what we ought to do when we are in his temple

“Many people shall come and say,
  “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    To the house of the God of Jacob;
    He will teach us His ways,
    And we shall walk in His paths.”
  For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
  And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” –Isaiah (Is 2:3)

Whenever we gather in church we ought to receive the words of God. For she will teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his path. We know that the word of GOd is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path.

In fact Paul also says that the word of God can bring spiritual wisdom to man. It can teach us the truth and the way to salvation. Therefore it is important for us to put in effort to listen and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in the way of the Lord. Only than can the words of God edify us.

LEt us consider another reason why it is joyful to go up to Jerusalem

The Church Is Where Everyone Goes To Give Thanks To God”

“Where the tribes go up,
  The tribes of the Lord,
  To the Testimony of Israel,
  To give thanks to the name of the Lord.”- David (Ps 122:4)

Over here we know that there are many tribes who would come up to Jerusalem to worship God.  Even though they are different, but they all came to Jerusalem because of God. That is why they came to Jerusalem with joy, for they are gathered like a spiritual family.

Today in church it is just the same, today even though there are so many different races and people within the church, they are all one big family. They are purchased by the same blood and they are all the same in the eyes of God.

Through our fellowship within the church we care of each otehr, and give each other edification and encouragement, we are like one family, and that is why it brings us Joy to come together.

However, in Ps 122:2 it reminds us that our feet have to be within the gates of Jerusalem. The gate acts as a border and a separation between what is in the city and what is out of the city.

What should one do as he enter into this city of God?

There are 3 aspects that we ought to consider

Pursuing Holiness To Draw Near To God

Today in the church, there must be this separation between Holy and Unholy. It is important for us to stand within the gates of Jerusalem. For whenever we enter Jerusalem, we have come to a holy place.

That is why the Author of Hebrew reminds us

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness,
  without which no one will see the Lord: “ –Author Of Hebrews (Heb 12:14)

Over here it reminds us to pursue  holiness, for it can enable us to enter into Jerusalem and come before the Lord. In order to come into the temple, one must be cleanse and be Holy. Most importantly, we must be holy int he heart

Something things in the world can easily defile us, it often defile us by allowing us to stumble in keeping the words of God. The things we read the things we see, sometimes affect our perception and resolve in following the owrds of God.

that is why we need to be vigilant as we conduct our lives on earth, let us not do things that will affect our relationship with God. If we manage to hold on to his words, God will always be ready to bless us.

To Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.

  Peace be within your walls,
  Prosperity within your palaces.””- David Ps 122:6

Over here it reminds us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We need to pray for our church to flourish and prosper. We need to pray to the Lord to guide the church, to guide the leaders through the Holy Sprit so that God will to save mankind would be accomplish.

Then the church will always prosper, like sheep with a shepherd.

To Love Jerusalem

Psalmist also describes their joy of comming to Jerusalem.

“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
  Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” –Sons of Korah (Ps 84:10)

Their words contains a teaching that all Christian ought to remember. A Day in the courts of God is better than 1000 days outside. This is true because withint he chruch one can build spiritual life and behold the glory of God. If we strive to enter it, God will give us his promise and he will abide with us, and he will take care of us forever, till the day we return back to heaven.

Conclusion

So far we have discussed 2 aspects of coming to church.

We discussed the question “Why is the Israelites Joyful when they come into Jerusalem?” This question is important as we need to know why we must be joyful as we come to church.

So far we know that

1. The church is where God chose to be his dwelling place

2. The church is built by the hands of God

3. The church is where we have fellowship and to build up and edify each other

Coming to church can help us to learn the ways of God and to walk wisely in the path of salvation. We can get the truth there and it can lead us all the way till we return to heaven.

At the same time, we talk about what we ought to do when we enter into the church.

We ought to

1. Pursue Holiness to be close to God

2. To pray for the peace and prosperity of Jeruslaem

3. To Love the church , for a day in it is better than a thousand outside

May we all be able to hold on to our faith till we reach the gates of heaven.

Introduction

Today in a meeting, when I entered into, I saw the topic written on the wall. In fact this topic had always been on my mind, which is why I named my blog “The Hesitant Prize Fighter”. I believe that we all want to get a better value in life.  Generally there are 2 type of ways one could get a better value in life.

One way, is to gain experience through life experience, people who take this path dislike advice from others. They wanted to experience everything by themselves. Some of them may end up with a smooth sailing life, but it is no doubt the blessing of God. But there are also some who only learn regret upon meeting with accidents. That is the time when one realise that some lessons require a price that they are unable to pay. They end up regretting only when they know it is too late for turning back.

On the other hand, there are also people who are willing to follow the advice of their elders and to consider the words of God. A Person who takes this path, will lead a life in the protection of God. Such people found more value in life then the former.

In fact, the secret of finding values in life  depends on our attitude to life. Let us consider the following questions

Is Wealth As A Better Value?

In the eyes of most people, they will tend to think that the riches add values to a person life. For with riches comes great enjoyments and a higher quality of life. But wealth doesn’t always guaranty joy in life.

Let us consider the experience of King Solomon, we all know how wealthy he is and how much enjoyments he had within his life

“So I became great and excelled more than all
  who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my
  wisdom remained with me.

  Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
  I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
  For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
  And this was my reward from all my labor.

   Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
  And on the labor in which I had toiled;
  And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
  There was no profit under the sun.” – Solomon (Eccl 2:9-11)

Indeed, Solomon would have been the envy of most people in the world, for he is a man who gain everything and he is able to do everything his heart desires. But his conclusion is that all the things he did are vanity.

Can Wealth Provide Security?

There are also some who regard wealth as a form of security. It is human nature to plan for the future and to save as much money as one could. For we know everything in the world requires money. We worry from children’s education funds to our own medical bills. That is why wealth is often regard as a form of security.

Yet Solomon says something to share about that

“There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
  Riches kept for their owner to his hurt.
   But those riches perish through misfortune;
  When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.
   As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return,
  To go as he came;
  And he shall take nothing from his labor
  Which he may carry away in his hand.”- Solomon (Ecc 5:13-16)

Indeed wealth does not always bring security. In a poor country, the rich often fear being kidnapped or robbed. That is when riches are kept for their owners to his hurt. Sometimes the rich may encounter misfortune and lose their riches. That is wealth provided no security but in fact became a problem that makes him feel unsafe.

Can Wealth Provide Satisfaction?

There are also some who regards wealth to provide satisfaction in life. For with wealth, you can get good enjoyment and luxurious living. Indeed they give satisfaction, but not forever. Just as King Solomon mentioned in his book of Ecclesiastes

“All things are full of labor;
  Man cannot express it.
  The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
  Nor the ear filled with hearing.

  That which has been is what will be,
  That which is done is what will be done,
  And there is nothing new under the sun.” – Solomon (Eccl 1:8-9)

Perhaps wealth can get us into a high class concert hall for a performance, we may find the experience fulfilling, but after a while, we will feel that it is nothing new. Wealth could get us luxurious food but if one were to eat it on a regular basis, it would no longer remain satisfying. That is why King Solomon describes that experience to be “ The eye is not satisfied with seeing,  Nor the ear filled with hearing”

The Simple Fact About Accumulating Wealth

There are also people in the world that feels that wealth could help them resolve problems in life. That is why we often envy businessman who is able to think about the present and envisioned the future. We wish to be able to be like them, but often we tend to forget this simple truth from Solomon

“For there is a man whose labor is
  with wisdom, knowledge, and skill;

  yet he must leave his heritage to a man
  who has not labored for it. This also is vanity
  and a great evil.

   For what has man for all his labor, and for the
  striving of his heart with which he has toiled
  under the sun?

  For all his days are sorrowful, and his work
  burdensome; even in the night his heart takes
  no rest. This also is vanity.”- Solomon (Eccl 2:21-23)

Let us consider a simple fact, a worker just need to work and at the end of the day he could rest from his labours. But this is different from a life of a businessman, he may need to plan ahead for tomorrow and to prepare work schedules and plans to expand his business.  At the very end of the day what did he gain?

Indeed one need to work hard and smart in order to accumulate wealth. He often works hard only to find that he is unable to enjoy the fruits of his lab or at the end of his life. That is why King Solomon describes it within his book

“Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled
  under the sun, because I must leave it to the man
  who will come after me.

   And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?
   Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled
  and in which I have shown myself wise under the
  sun. This also is vanity. “ – Solomon (Eccl 2:18-19)

In fact one would never be able to bring his wealth to him to his grave

To Labour For The Food That Endures

Of course I am not saying that it is unnecessary to work hard and to get money. But we ought to ponder about these question as we pursue the worldly wealth

Indeed we require money if we want to survive in t his world, but how often did we spend too much time pursuing after it? Those who relentlessly pursue wealth usually fails to consider where would he go after he leave the world.  That is why he spend all his time toiling in his life.

Jesus once reminded us

Do not labor for the food which perishes,
  but for the food which endures to
  everlasting life,”- Jesus (Jn 6:27)

The food that he refers to is the words of God. For without it, one would lose eternal life. Indeed many people are becoming more affluent in their lives, and they enjoy their lives more than the people of the past.  However, such life also takes away our sensitivity to the words of God and the vigilance in our faith.

The Warning From The Generation Of Noah

When Jesus liken the end times to the times of Noah (Matt 24:36-39). He tells us that during those days everyone is leading a typical life. they are eating , drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. They are leading secure lives and they lose their vigilance. They were unprepared when the flood hit them. The same thing can happen to us today if we live a complacent life and we over indulge in this colourful world.

Paul once gave warning to the church in Thessalonica

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren,
  you have no need that I should write to you.  For you
  yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so
  comes as a thief in the night.

   For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden
  destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a
  pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”- Paul (1 Thess 5:1-3)

Disasters usually strike when it was least expected. Those who are unprepared are often affected by it. People who live within turmoil’s are usually prepared when disasters strike. When one is in tribulation, he is often able to draw near to God and to read the bible. Ironically we tend to lose interest in times of peace. This is the reason why Christians regard troubles as good things at times. It help us lead a life of vigilance. Just as King Solomon once said

“In the day of prosperity be joyful,
  But in the day of adversity consider:
  Surely God has appointed the one as
  well as the other,  So that man can find
  out nothing that will come after him.”- Solomon (Eccl 7:14)

We must be joyful in prosperity and consider in times of adversity. Both came from God and sometimes God give us trials in time of peace for our good.

The Right Attitude In Times Of Joy

When God allow us to live in days of prosperity, let us learn to have self control in joy. As the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
  And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
  Walk in the ways of your heart,
  And in the sight of your eyes;
  But know that for all these
  God will bring you into judgment.” – Solomon (Eccl 11:9)

Indeed as we enjoy and are joyful, let us remind ourselves that God is watching and we need to have self control. Without self control, one could easily find themselves in sin by accident. That is why Job often offer sacrifices for his children as he is afraid that they may offend God as they are enjoying themselves.

Let us learn to have self control, so we would not fall in our faith. Let us also consider the lives we lead.

2 Things That Add Values In Life : To Fear God

Let us learn to fear God, one who fears God would be able to add value to his life. He would give his best to Jesus. Just like Mary who broke her flask of spikenard to anoint the feet of Jesus.  She offered something that is most valuable and Jesus remembered her offering.

“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this
  gospel is preached in the whole world,
  what this woman has done will also be
  told as a memorial to her.”- Jesus

The life of Mary is one that is filled with the fear and the love for God. People who lead such a life will become a beautiful testimony for the Lord. Just like how God testify about Job before the devil

“Have you considered My servant Job,
  that there is none like him on the earth,
  a blameless and upright man, one who
  fears God and shuns evil? And still he
  holds fast to his integrity, although you
  incited Me against him, to destroy him
  without cause.” – YHWH (Job 2:3)

God could testify of Job being God fearing before the Satan, and a God fearing man will always have a good testimony before God.

2 Things That Add Values In Life : To Serve God

The second thing  one could do to add value to live is to serve God in our youth. Just as what King Solomon shared

“Remember now your Creator 
  in the days of your youth,
  Before the difficult days come,
  And the years draw near when you say,
  “I have no pleasure in them”:”- Solomon (Eccl 12:1)

It is hard for one to serve God when he is old, that is why it is called the difficult days. For we would lose our strength and are unable to serve  Solomon continue to remind us to seize hold of all opportunity to serve God

“In the morning sow your seed,
  And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
  For you do not know which will prosper,
  Either this or that,
  Or whether both alike will be good.”- Solomon (Ecc 11:6)

a farmer will seize every opportunity to sow his seed, for one can never tell which one will prosper. In the same way, let us size the chance to serve God when we have the chance. For only  by serving him can we find a life that is full of value. As we have read earlier, everything that we do for the Lord will become a memorial to him. Just as we have read the examples of Mary and Job.

Those who serve God will bring value, as their works will follow them.

Conclusion

We have examine the things that the people in the world regard as valuable. We know that people in the world can only see what lies ahead of them and many of the things they pursue after are in vain.

Even though we need wealth to survive in the world, but we as children of God must peruse a life that brings more values to us. We need to fear God, and to serve him. Even though the things of the world do contain a value, but if we want more values in our life, we need to make sacrifices. We need to spend less time on the things of the world.

Only then can we find more time to pursue after things that are of greater values. May God help all of us to make the right choice

“Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges
  who delivered them out of the hand of
  those who plundered them.” – Author of Judges (Judge 2:16)

Judges are people used by the Lord to save the Israelites from their oppressors. They exist between the period after Joshua’s death until the time of Eli the Priest /King Saul. There were a total of 12 judges, did we see the weapons that they were using?

Each of the judges were given different gifts, hence their weapons are different, but yet with Gods help, these weapons became effective weapons to accomplish Gods salvation.

Likewise  today in our spiritual battle, we too have spiritual weapons.  We had studied the weapons of Peter and Paul, let us consider the weapon of the judges.

The Flesh Jawbone used by Samson

Let us begin the journey by considering the weapons used by Samson. Many would reckon that Samson himself is already a weapon and would not imagine him needing  any other weapon

But over at Judg 15:16 Records of a weapon used by Samson

“With the jawbone of a donkey,
  Heaps upon heaps,
  With the jawbone of a donkey 
   I have slain a thousand
   men!”  – Samson (Judg 15:16)

A Jawbone is usually not considered as a weapon, but with the help of Gods spirit, it became an effective weapon. What does the jawbone of Samson represent?

The Importance Of A Steadfast and Strong Faith

The jawbone is a representative of a steadfast and strong faith. During war time, people with a strong and steadfast spirit tends to win, for without it, soldiers would lose their courage fighting.

1 Sam 17:10-11 records of a  battle at the valley of Elah where Saul and his armies are dismayed and frightened. In fact we know that Saul and his troops are not cowards and they have won many battles before.

But this time, the situation is different, the enemies is strong and tall. Therefore they grew weak before the fight event started. When Goliath challenged “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”  Everyone was afraid to respond to that challenge.

When the time is ripe, David entered the valley of Elah, he came to visit his brothers in the battle field. What did he say when he heard the giants mocking Israel?

“What shall be done for the man who kills
  this Philistine and takes away the reproach
  from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised
  Philistine, that he should defy the armies of
  the living God?” David (1 Sam 17:26)

They are indeed words of courage, but at the same time it draws much disdain from the audience. One example was the elder brother of David (1 Sam 17:28-29). He feel that David was proud, for its easy to say “Go and Fight, be strong and courageous”  but must people who said that just did it so that they could watch the fight.

But David was far from that, he was being misunderstood. So David replied “What have I done? Is there not a cause?” . David didn’t care what others think, he knew what he wanted to do all along. David did not visit the valley of Elah to play hero, he knew the necessity to fight and he know Israel will prevail.

Why was David so confident and where did he gather his faith? This is something we need to examine in detail.  For many had lost their faith in the valley of Elah and they are unable to fight even if they have a whole armoury to draw their weapons from.

A Faith As Hard As A Jawbone

David’s faith is as hard as a jawbone of the donkey. That is why he is able to say his famous words in 1 Sam 17:45.

Initially when Goliath saw David, he look down on him saying “Am I a dog that you come with me with sticks?”

David said

“Then all this assembly shall know that
  the Lord does not save with sword and
  spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and
  He will give you into our hands.”- David (1 Sam 17:45)

These words can be easily spoken with our mouth. But the question is, are we able to say it when we are facing our own Goliath?   Sometimes we only know who we are fighting when we stepped into the battlefield. That is when we grow faint and wonder “How did I lose that faith?”

The Need To Build Faith

David’s faith is establish as he progress with life.  Sometimes we are all fired up after listening to a sermon, we seem to be full of faith before God. But often that faith was never tested, nor was it put to use often.

But if one nurtures his faith and use them often, , he will have the faith to face calamities when it comes. Therefore it is important for faith to be nurtured. But often we have faith but we do not use it, we spend it merely listening to sermons.

Let us look at how the faith of David is nurtured. David spoke about it here

“Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep,
  and when a lion or a bear came and took a
  lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and
  struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth;
  and when it arose against me, I caught it by its
  beard, and struck and killed it.

When Saul claimed that David was a youth and cannot go to war. David disagreed and he bore testimony about how he killed Lions and Bears. I am sure most of us have the courage to kill foxes and wolves, but do we dare fight a lion and a bear?

Usually we will calculate our odds and when we realise the odds stacked against us. That is when we value our lives more than the lives of the sheep. But David is different, he fought the lion and the bear. How is that possible?

He relied on God, he wanted to save his sheep, he believes God is his shepherd. That is not a mere poetic description of God, it was his declaration of faith. He must have fought many lions and bears, and as the result, his faith became stronger. That is when he is made to fight Goliath the giant.

 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and
  this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of
  them, seeing he has defied the armies of the
  living God.” -David (1 Sam 17:36)

He did not enter the battlefield relying on his skill with the sling, but his faith can clearly be seen in the next verse

“The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the
   lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver
   me from the hand of this Philistine.”-David (1 Sam 17:37)

As the result, Saul agreed and said “Go, and the Lord be with you”. We all know the outcome of that battle.

We know that the weapon we need in this spiritual battle is persistent faith. This faith is build up over time and require us to cultivate it in our daily lives. How do we cultivate it?

We will discuss these questions on the next post.

This is a song dedicated to my wife.. I first heard it as her ring tone and I liked the song always. Today is a special day and it is our 3rd month staying together. I hope this song will always be featured here.

Title: Love Paradise
Artist : Kelly Chen

You’re always on my mind
All day just all the time
You’re everything to me
Brightest star to let me see
You touch me in my dreams
We kiss in every scene
I pray to be with you through rain and shiny days

(Chorus)
I’ll love you till I die
Deep as sea
Wide as sky
The beauty of our love paints rainbows
Everywhere we go
Need you all my life
You’re my hope
You’re my pride
In your arms I find my heaven
In your eyes my sea and sky
May life our love paradise

You’re always on my mind
All day just all the time
You’re everything to me
Brightest star to let me see
You touch me in my dreams
We kiss in every scene
I pray to be with you through rain and shiny days

(Repeat Chorus X2 )

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