Introduction
So far We had studied the choices made by different characters in the bible. In this study we studied the following characters so Far

1. Choice Of Oprah And Ruth
2. The choice Of Mary And Martha
3. The Choice Of Abraham And Lot

Now let us consider the choice of Joshua

The Choice Of Joshua

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord,
  choose for yourselves this day whom you will
  serve, whether the gods which your fathers
  served that were on the other side of the River,
  or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you
  dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve
  the Lord.”- Joshua (Jos 24:15)

That is the choice of Joshua with regards to his faith. He is sure of his choice for he said “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”. Joshua knew that he was to depart from the world soon and he wanted to do one more thing for the Lord. One that he regarded as the most important Israel. He wanted them to confirm their choice to follow God. As he had declared on the verse above.

Today there are some Christians who thinks serving Jesus is not something good. Even though God had great power but he refuse to help them with their problem.  They claimed that even though God is rich in heaven, yet he allowed many Christians to remain in poverty.

Today if we think that it is not good to serve the Lord, let us choose who we should serve today.  There should not be a compulsion in faith, for God would not force us to worship him. For faith that arise from compulsion is not true faith, for true faith comes from within our hearts. We must be willing to believe in Jesus.

Perhaps we all have different experiences on how we came to believe in Jesus. God uses different ways and method to lead us to him. But regardless of what that our experiences may be, God require us to be serious in our faith since we have chosen to believe in him. 

Joshua understood that the strength and might of Israel lies not in her army and wealth. but in their faith in God. Therefore he gathered everyone to reaffirm their faith once more before he dies.

The Importance Of Reaffirming our faith

These people are not gathered before the face of Joshua. Joshua wanted to lead them before the Lord so that they would make their choice. If Israel feel that it is no good to serve the Lord. They must make a choice to choose whom they will serve from now on. As far as Joshua and his house are concern, they chose to serve the Lord. That was the last deed Joshua did for the people of Israel. That is something that he regard as important.

Likewise it is important for us to reaffirm our faith. There are times we need to make our choice once again. Especially when we are faced with difficulties that make us murmur against God. . When these difficulties make us wonder whether we should continue with our faith. When these difficulties creates doubts within us and make ask ask “Have we chosen to follow God correctly? Can our faith really save us?”

There are times when everyone else is attacking the faith that we hold dearly. Are we able to continue to have faith in God? There are many things that can make us doubt, especially when we see the weakness and imperfection within the church, when we encounter troubles and set back in life, when we are maligned and slandered by others within the church.

Sometimes events like this make us feel weak and cause us to murmur against the Lord. We asked  Where are you God? Why cant you see my suffering?”. Even though we sing hymns like “Thou Thinkest Lord of me” we wonder if God really saw our suffering and if he really thinks of us often.

Can we still persist in our faith and to move ahead? If we cannot do so, we will eventually stop praying and stop coming to church. Initially our conscience may compel us to come a few more time, but that pricking will eventually be quenched.

That is why there is a need to re-affirm our faith. It is important when we encounter events that sadden us and make it hard for us continue in our faith. That is when we need to re-examine ourselves to see if our faith is true. If we feel that God is unworthy of our worship, we better make that choice once again. 

Joshua chose to serve the Lord always, what will our choice be?

The Need To Re-Affirm Our Faith

Today as we travel on this path to heaven,  here are bound to be much troubles. These mishaps and problems robs us of our happiness, sometimes they hurt our family and sometimes they hurt the church as well.

In the face of all these troubles, the author of Hebrews encourage us. 

Therefore strengthen the
  hands which hang down,
  and the feeble knees,” –Author Of Hebrews (Heb 12:12)

There are many things in life that tires us, it hangs our hands down, and it makes our knees feeble. During those times, we may not have the strength to continue in faith, to worship and pray to God. 

So how can we strengthen our hands and legs?

That is when we need to reaffirm our faith and make that choice to follow God once again. We need to ask ourselves “Are we willing to believe in him and continue?”

There was a Scottish evangelist called David Livingstone, he served, preached and died in Africa. He is a a missionary that won the respect of all denominations. For he had given up his life to preach the gospel of Christ.

The Africa we see today is not too different from the Africa in his days, there are wars, battle, under development.  Yet he found courage to go into Africa, his love moved many to respect him.

But why was he able to be that strong? Have he ever regretted his decision to serve in Africa? Had he ever thought of returning home? Indeed there are times where he regretted, there are times he wanted to return home. But whenever he had such thoughts he wrote “My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All, I again dedicate my whole self to Thee”

David Livingstone died of Malaria in Africa and he left behind a diary. That phrase appeared many times in his diary.  So whenever we feel tired, our hands droop and our knees became weak. But we need to make our choice once again.

We need to choose if we will still believe in Jesus and to follow him to the end. By choosing again, we will find the courage to continue walking. We will not focus on the suffering before us, for we know t

By making that  choice once again , we will find the courage to continue walking. We will not just focus on the suffering that is before us. For we know that Christ had suffered for our sake. Indeed he was afraid of the death on the cross and he did not want to drink that bitter cup. But Jesus  did it for the sake of all of us. The salvation which we received is the result of that sacrifice. That salvation  allow us to be reconciled with God today.

Re-Affirm Faith By Counting Our Blessing

Is there other ways to re-affirm our faith with Christ?  Joshua had left us a great example. Before he made Israel choose, he reminded them to take a look at their history. He told them to consider how the Lord have love and protected them.

Jos 24:3-14 records of Joshua talking about the grace of God. If we can count our blessing, it can help us reaffirm our faith. These blessings remind us of the love of God. Sadly, we often count our troubles and not our blessing, that is why we ask God “Why did you not grant us peace?”

So are we counting our blessings or listing our troubles? Often we murmur against God because we did not get our request from the Lord. Other times we choose to focus our sights on what other receives

Lets consider these two scenarios

If one were to receive an apple, he would be happy, but if he were to focus on the bag of apples from the giver. He would find it hard to be thankful. He may even think to himself “Why is he so stingy to give me one apple only?”

There was a man who was too poor to buy shoes and he came before God murmuring “Why am i not blessed with shoes?”  There was another man who was a distance away and he said “Lord I thank you for all that you have done.”

Initially the first man thought that the second man was thanking God for the shoes he had, but as he look towards him, he saw a man on a wheel chair, he had lost both his legs in an accident.

At that point, the man on the wheelchair was praying “Lord I thank you for allowing me to live. Even though I lost both my legs, but I thank God for the wheelchair as well as for those men who had came to help me.

Many a times we lose our hearts of thanksgiving when we fail to see what we received from the Lord. We tend to think of only the things we do not have. We received an apple but we are jealous when others had a bag of apple.

If we want a heart of thanksgiving, we need to change our mind-sets. We need to rely on God and praise him with all our hearts. That is why Joshua reminded the people of the grace they receive from God.

Let us examine the sermon of Joshua in greater details. 

Pt 1:  It Is a Blessing To Be Able To Know and Worship God 

“Your fathers, including Terah, the father
  of Abraham and the father of Nahor,
  dwelt on the other side of the River
 
in old times; and they served other gods.
 
Then I took your father Abraham from
  the other side of the River, led him
  throughout all the land of Canaan, and
  multiplied his descendants and gave him
  Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau.
  To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir to
  possess, but Jacob and his children went
  down to Egypt.” –YHWH (Jos 24:2-4)

If Abraham had not crossed the river Euphrates, Israel would not have existed. Abraham and his families were idol worshippers in the land Of Ur Of the Chaldeans. Over here God told Israel that it was he who had took Abraham and allowed him to know God.

Why did God chose Abraham?

There was some old Jewish tradition talking about the life of Abraham in Ur. Even though no one can confirm the authenticity of the source. but these stories gave an insight to why God had chosen Abraham.

One such story tells us that Abraham and his father are idol worshippers who made idols for a living. Once when Abraham and Terah were cutting a tree, Abraham remarked 

“Isn’t it strange that half the wood were used to make idols and the half of it was used for our chair?  If these idols are God then we should not be doing this” 

Terah rebuked him for making such remarks.

One day when Terah left the house for a journey, he placed the shop under the care of Abraham. When Terah returns it looks as if war had broken out and all the idols were smashed. The largest Idol was holding a stick in his hand.

When Terah asked about what happened, Abraham replied

“There was a fight among the Idols, the biggest idol destroyed the rest of the idols. I was afraid so I hid myself while they are fighting”

Terah replied “I am sure you are the one responsible, how could wooden idols fight?” 

Abraham said “Now you said it yourself, you know that they are not Gods. These idols are not God and they were made by man, they are false gods. For the True God is one who created man, why then do we deceive others? We must worship the true God who created man. Even though I do not know him now, but i must seek him for he had created our world.”

Therefore God was pleased with Abraham and he chose to appear to him.

The God we worship today is the creator who had chosen Abraham. He had likewise chosen us and allow us to know him. As the result we are now blessed. That God came to us as man, even though we did not see him with our eyes, but we know him through the bible.

He had given us his Holy Spirit and  that is a proof that he is alive.

Isn’t this a great blessing from God? Isn’t this faith something we should spend our time pursuing? 

Pt 2: It is a Blessing To Be Free From Bondage

“Also I sent Moses and Aaron, and
  I plagued Egypt, according to what
  I did among them. Afterward I
  brought you out.

  Then I brought your fathers out of
  Egypt, and you came to the sea; and
  the Egyptians pursued your fathers
  with chariots and horsemen to the
  Red Sea.  So they cried out to the Lord;
   and He put darkness between you and
  the Egyptians, brought the sea upon
  them, and covered them. And your
  eyes saw what I did in Egypt. Then you
  dwelt in the wilderness a long time.” – YHWH (Jos 24:5-7)

For a while the Israelites moved into Egypt by the grace of God. God had made Joseph premier of Egypt in order  to save his family. There was a famine in the land for 7 years, and God sent Joseph into Egypt to save them.

After the death of Joseph, a new King arose and who did not know the Lord as well as Joseph. The Israelites became slaves in Egypt, under the bondage of the Egyptians. God saved them through Moses and Israel left Egypt as free people. They journeyed in the wilderness and they worshipped God. These people are no longer slaves and it is their God who saved them.

When the Pharaoh did not let Israel go, God sent 10 plagues into Egypt. Eventually as they cross the red sea, they cheer and praised God. For they are no longer slaves in Egypt.

Today we have freedom to become the child of God and to worship him. For Jesus had died for our sins and have forgiven them. As the result we are reconciled with God and we can face the judgement of God with no fear.

This is indeed a blessing to be the child of God. Even though we cannot see God but we know he will come and judge us one day. We may or may not see the last days, but we will definitely face death.

But Jesus had prepared a place for us where we can have eternal peace. He had given us the Holy Spirit as a proof and all believers will know it is true. Whenever we partake of the Holy Communion we are reminded of his death and his salvation. For we know that he died for our sins.

That is why we need to re-affirm this faith , and we need to be truthful before the Lord. We need to know if we would still continue to follow him.

Our Response To Blessings And Grace From God

“Now therefore, fear the Lord,
   serve Him in sincerity and in truth,
   and put away the gods which your
   fathers served on the other side of
   the River and in Egypt. Serve the
   Lord! “ – Joshua (Jos 24:14)

We need to fear God and serve him with sincerity and in truth. Since we had chosen to serve him, we need to do it with sincerity and truth. In another words our faith must be true and that is important.

For there are many who are not true in their faith, and there are many who claims to follow Jesus. But people are unable to see his faith through his action. It appears as if their faith is mere speech. A faith that is mere speech cannot save a person.

Jesus once told us that a time will come when believers ought to worship God in spirit and in truth. We need to worship God with our true self. Our faith should not be a show for others to watch. For Jesus once rebuke the Pharisees

“These people draw near
  to Me with their mouth,
  And honor Me with their lips,
  But their heart is far from Me.
   And in vain they worship Me,
  Teaching as doctrines the
  commandments of men.” – Jesus (Matt 15:8-9)

Jesus called them hypocrites who honour God only with their lips, but their hearts were far away from God. These men knew the teaching of God but they followed the instruction of man.Jesus said that they worshiped in vain.

It will be pity if our worship of God is in vain. Therefore we need to re-examine our faith to see if we truly worship God with a true heart. We are the children of God but do we have the same heart of God?

Will our actions bring anxiety to God and make him indignant? Are we glorifying God or are we bringing shame to his name?

Conclusion

Jesus can see the heart of the people when they come to worship. Therefore he reminds us to worship God in spirit and in truth. For it is the worship that God loves. God does not look at external appearances, but he looks into our heart.

Since we have made our resolve to follow him, let us worship him fully. Let us repent and be serious as we listen to his words. Let us not allow our faith and our worship to be in vain.

Let us constantly re-affirm our faith , by asking ourselves

1. “Do we truly believe Jesus as our saviour?”
2. “If we believe, How Should I Be worshipping him?”
3. “How should I follow and Obey The Words Of Jesus?”

May God help us and may we reaffirm our faith always

Introduction

When a person life is approaching death, that is when he realise his time is short. So therefore he will put in a lot of effort to do things that matters most to him. If they had not drawn up a will, they will put in the effort to write one. Sometimes they may even leave behind important notes and instructions to their family member.

1 Kings 2:1 reads

“Now the days of David drew near
  that he should die, and he charged
  Solomon his son, saying”- 1 Kings 2:1

As David is drawing close to the end of his life, he left his will for Solomon, they contained many of his unfulfilled wishes and instruction. If one were to read this on the surface, it will appear as if it contains many of his personal grudge against people.

But the truth is that the contents of his will concern the kingdom of God. He made them so that both the kingdom and the king would have security.

In the kingdom of God, words of God is used as a standard for right and wrong, those who keep the commandments of God receive the bless while those who went against God will be met with judgement.

These blessings and judgement can be seen clearly in the will of David.

Let us learn from the will and see what lessons can we get out of there.

The 1st Will : To Keep The Commandments Of God

“I go the way of all the earth; be strong,
  therefore, and prove yourself a man. 
  And keep the charge of the Lord your God:

  to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes,
  His commandments, His judgments, and
  His testimonies, as it is written in the Law
  of Moses, that you may prosper in all that
  you do and wherever you turn;  

   that the Lord may fulfill His word which
  He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your
  sons take heed to their way, to walk before
  Me in truth with all their heart and with
  all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack
  a man on the throne of Israel.’- David (1 Kings 2:2-24)

The first will of David is perhaps the longest part of the will, over here he instructed Solomon to prove himself a man. Every dad hopes that his children will be strong and courageous, that is why they trained them to be like this since young.

But have we ever wonder “Why is there a need to be strong and courageous?”

In life we encounter many people, some may be good while some bad. In the face of enemies if we appear weak and fearful, we would be bullied and manipulated by others. It is true that we must be strong and courageous when facing problems in life.

Being Strong And Courageous Before God

But David is not referring to Solomon facing his problems in life. He wanted Solomon to be a man and be strong in the words of the Lord. this is far more important.

Today we had many men who are hard and strong when it comes to dealing with issues of the world, these man appear fearless, and courageous in face of problems in life. But they are small and weak before the words of God. They are afraid of facing God and are unable to stand before the judgment seat of God. 

It is good to be strong and courageous in the world, for it will bring benefits and riches. But one would stand to lose if he appears weak and small before God. This is why David reminded Solomon to keep the words of God, for there are consequences for not following the commandments of the Lord. 

One would prosper if he keep the commands of God and God promised that David will never lack a man on the throne of Israel if his children were to walk with God wholeheartedly.

David knew that  the safety of the king and his kingdom depends on the faithfulness of the king before the Lord.

In order to be faithful to the Lord, Solomon needs to keep the word of God fully. He must never subtract or transgress against it. For if he went against God, he will bring disasters to himself, his family as well as his kingdom.

David had such experience when he went against the commandment of the Lord. The bible records of 2 of such incidents. They serve as a warning to everyone who reads it. Let us consider these 2 incidents.

David’s sin of Adultery And Murder

The first time he committed sin was when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Uriah was a warrior of David and he was fighting in the frontlines when it happened.

David first broke the 7th Commandment by committing Adultery with Bathsheba. When he discovered that Bathsheba was pregnant, he tried hard to cover the sin. He summoned Uriah to the palace. He was hoping that he will go home and stay with Bathsheba. By so doing there will be no suspicion when they found Bathsheba pregnant

The plan failed, then David proceeded to break the 6th commandment, he ordered Joab to get Uriah killed in battle. Joab must sent Uriah to the battle front and withdraw. That will allow Uriah to be killed on the battlefield. It will appear as if the enemies killed him

Finally he broke the 10th commandments when he took Bathsheba the widow as his own wife. Even though the actions of David appeared legal in the eyes of the Law (all he did was to marry the widow Bathsheba), but God looked beyond his physical action.  

The sin of David brought disaster onto his family as well as his kingdom.

His son Ammon rape and committed incest with Tamar his sister. Ammon was eventually killed by Absalom. Later on Absalom rebelled against King David and he tried to take his fathers throne. His rebellion led to a civil war within Israel

David’s sin of Numbering Israel

David once commanded Joab to number the kingdom of Israel. This was recorded in 1 Chron 21:1-4. Usually it is common for a country to take censes of the people to gather the statistics. For the country needed to know its population, and how large their army is. That statistic is often used as a sign of the glory of the nation. It is also the glory of the ruler.

But this is not the same in the case of ancient Israel. She is the nation belonging to God. All her glory must be given to God. That is why the King is not allowed to number the people. Numbering of Israel is only permitted if God commands so. God had commanded Moses to number the people when they left Egypt, they had a similar census carried out just before crossing the Jordan.

But the king should not number the people for his glory. Even though he may be tempted to see how powerful and glorious he is, but he must restraint himself not to number the people.

That is the reason why Joab said that it is against the will of God. He said to King David

“May the Lord make His people a
  hundred times more than they
  are. But, my lord the king, are
  they not all my lord’s servants? 
  Why then does my lord require
  this thing? Why should he be a
  cause of guilt in Israel?”- Joab (1 Chron 21 :3)

Sadly, David ignored his advice, and Joab had no choice but to carry out the work. the action of David displeased god greatly.

“And God was displeased with this thing;
  therefore He struck Israel.
   So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and
  seventy thousand men of Israel fell.” – 1 Chron 21:7,14)

On the surface, this will appear as if God was unfair, for David had acknowledge his sin

“I have sinned greatly, because I
  have done this thing; but now,
  I pray, take away the iniquity of
  Your servant, for I have done
  very foolishly.” – David(1 Chron 21: 8)

Why then did God kill 70 thousand Israelites? This punishment seem so unfair that David pleaded with the Lord again

“Was it not I who commanded the
  people to be numbered? I am the
  one who has sinned and done evil
  indeed; but these sheep, what have
  they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O
  Lord my God, be against me and my
  father’s house, but not against Your
  people that they should be plagued.”- David (1 Chron 21:17)

David knew that he must face up to the judgment of God, but he did not expect the punishment to be so severe. But was God being unrighteous when he killed those men?

No, for God does not judge wrongly. If we were to look at this on the surface, it will appear as if God is being unfair. But if we consider the full truth then we would refrain from commenting.

Let us examine this closely.

The Question Regarding The Fairness Of God

it is true that King David issued the command to number Israel. But it is also noted that many of the leaders of Israel wanted it to be done as well. Even though all could  understand that it is wrong to number Israel but yet they did not object to it.

Everyone had heard the order of King David, but only Joab spoke out against it.

Today when we see a man on the verge of committing sin, will we take the effort to stop him?

Joab is not the only person who heard the order, the other elders must have heard it as well. But none of them tried to stop King David. If all were to oppose him, King David may not have proceeded to number the people.

Sadly, only Joab spoke against David, while everyone else kept quiet. As they have chosen to remain silent they too have a part in the sins of David. Therefore they must face the judgement of God. If they are willing to repent, they may not have to go through judgment and die.

This can be seen in the fact that God had spared Joab for conducting the censes.

Lets consider this, Joab was the man who physically conducted the censes yet why did God no punish him?  It is most likely because Joab had already spoken out against the King and he already said that it was a sin.

There are further example of Joab making the point.

But he did not count Levi and
  Benjamin among them, for the
  king’s word was abominable to Joab.” – (1 Chron 21:6 )

Over here the tribes of Levi and Benjamin are not numbered, for Joab found the command of David abominable. Joab did not agree with David and he openly show his displeasure for the kings command.  That is why God was gracious and did not charge Joab for numbering Israel. He was merely a soldier following an order from the King 

Lesson For Us Today

We need to obey the commands of the Lord for it is our duty to do so. But if we were to see someone transgressing the word of God. We need to be like Joab and advice him against it. For if we remain silent, we will have a part in his sin.

So Paul reminds us not to be a part of the sin of others.

“I charge you before God and the
  Lord Jesus Christ and the elect
  angels that you observe these
  things without prejudice, doing
  nothing with partiality.  Do not
  lay hands on anyone hastily, nor
  share in other people’s sins; keep
  yourself pure.” – Paul (1 Tim 5:20-22)

Paul is talking about the authority to church.   The church had the right to pass judgement,  but her judgment must be based on the word of God. The church must maintain order  based on the word of God. They need to continue to warn and execute judgement when necessary.

On the most severe cases, she may even need to excommunicate people. But the duty to  judge must be exercised with care. Just like the way Paul instructed Timothy. 

“Do not receive an accusation
  against an elder except from
  two or three witnesses.  
 
Those who are sinning rebuke
  in the presence of all, that the
  rest also may fear.” – Paul (1 Tim 5:19-20)

Paul reminded Timothy to be careful when accepting a charge against an elder. He is only to accept the charge when there are 2-3 witness. This is ensure that the complaint is not a personal grudge.

If anyone have a personal grudge against an elder, they ought to resolve it among themselves. However if the complaint concern the well-being in the church, 2-3 witnesses are needed.  If the complaint is true, and the actions of the elder brings harm to the church, necessary actions must be taken to address the issue.

The church must be cautious  when dealing with an accusation against the elder. At the same time the church must not intrude into the privacy of her members. The church needs to rebuke openly when necessary. So that everyone who heard it will be careful and be watchful.  

Paul reminds Timothy to observe these words and they are important points about church management. Paul told him not to be hasty in laying hand on others, for if he does that he will have a part in his sin.

Conclusion So Far

The bible teaches us to obey the commandments and not to transgress against them. But if we see someone sinning, it is our duty to warn and advise him against it. IF we fail to do so, we will share in his sin

Joab had did well and he had left  a good example for us to learn.

Through the experience of David, we can know the safety of both the king and his kingdom depended on his faithfulness to the law of God

Therefore David instructed Solomon to obey the commandments of God. For if he observe the commands of God, God will abide with him. When God abides with us, we receive blessings and not punishment

Introduction

“And truly Jesus did many other signs
  in the presence of His disciples, which
  are not written in this book;  but these
  are written that you may believe that
  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and
  that believing you may have life
  in His name.”- John (Jn 20:30-31)

John tells us that there are many miracles performed by Jesus which were not recorded in the gospel. But He had specially chosen 7 for us to read. He did that so that we can believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ and we can have life through his name.

So far we have taken a look at his first miracle

1. Jesus turning water into wine (Part 1, Part 2)
2. Jesus Healing The Nobleman’s son (Part 3, Part 4)
3. Jesus Healing By The Pool Of Bethesda (Part 5, Part 6)
4. Jesus feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 Fishes (Part 7 , Part 8)

Lets now take a look at the fifth miracle

Jesus Walking On Water

https://i0.wp.com/www.wga.hu/art/b/bruegel/jan_e/2/galilee.jpg

“So when they had rowed about three or four miles,
 
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing
  near the boat; and they were afraid.” – John (Jn 6:19)

The disciples saw Jesus walking to them, and they were afraid. Matthew gave the reason behind their fear.

And when the disciples saw Him 
  walking on the sea, they were
  troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!”
  And they cried out for fear.”- Matthew  (Matt 14:26)

These disciples mistook Jesus as a ghost as no man could walk on water. Man may have the ability to swim, but not the ability to walk to water. This is is why they were afraid. But Jesus called out to hem saying “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

Jesus wanted to clear their doubt immediately for he did not want his disciples to continue being afraid and doubtful. For there are some doubts which are not good, and need to be cleared immediately.  I am sure at the end of the day, the disciples must be ashamed, for they have mistaken their teacher as a ghost.

Sometimes Christians make the same mistake when we encounter something extraordinary and we jump into conclusion without examining it and listening to it carefully. We tend to go for what the majority believes and  allow our judgement became clouded. As the result, we are unable to discern if we are looking at Jesus or a ghost.

But if one were to recognise his voice, we will disregard the opinion of others. Man had often treated God as the devil and vice versa. For in the west there is a church of Satan and they worship the devil as God.  In the eastern world, the Chinese had a “Hungry Ghost Festival” where they make offering to the ghosts and not to God.

The Ironic Culture That Fears Spirits But Not  God

There was a time when Paul arrives to the city of Athens to preach the gospel. During those days the Athenians were worshipping all sorts of gods, they even had an altar dedicated to the unknown god.

Even though the Greeks are known for their culture, intelligence, philosophy and knowledge,. Yet they led a life full of superstitions and blind worship. So much so that they worshipped a God that is unknown to them

Since the dawn of history man had been afraid of gods and spirit, even though they were unable to see him, they will rather worship them. They worship all sorts of spirits both good and evil, in the hope that they will not disrupt their lives. The Athenians were worried about missing a spirit, so they created the generic altar for whoever that may be.

In fact they are not the only one that does that, the Chinese have the same concept as well. If one were to visit a Chinese temple, you will see many deities each with their own individual altar. Before the Chinese leaves the temple, they will put one joss ticks onto the central urn, and one will notice that there is no idols before that urn. So who was to receive the offering?  The Chinese called it “过路神” which literally means “The god that is passing by”

Both Athenians and Chinese fear spirits and they went further and they even worship the unknown god. Paul in his preaching tells them that they have neglected one God. That God is none other than the creator of mankind and the True God. He is not a God that was created by man, but in fact he created man.

The universe cannot exist by itself, for all things have a builder and the builder of all things is God. He had given us life and we must worship him.

Is Jesus The True God That Creates All Things?

But others may asks us “How can we be sure that the creator is Jesus?” So far we have seen all the miracles performed by him. Jesus had demonstrated his power as well as his authority to create all things.

John had selected 7 miracles and used them to tell us the abilities. He had talk about how Jesus had the power to create, how he can change the physical properties of water into wine. He told us how Jesus could heal a child in Capernaum when he is 33 KM away. transcending space. He told us how Jesus could make a 38 year old paralytic walk transcending time.

All these miracles tells us that Jesus had the power to transcend all physical limitation. It is a power only the creator can hold, therefore we must worship the true God

And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 
  Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped
  Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”- Matthew (Matt 14:32-33)

Perhaps these men have heard of Jesus and did not believe in him completely, but now when they believe they worshipped Jesus.  They believe not because of the fact that Jesus was walking on water and that the storm had stop. They saw it as an expression of the power of God. It tells them that Jesus is indeed the God who came in the flesh

The Conclusion So Far

Therefore let us worship the true God and not spirits. Let us learn to fear God and not the spirits. When we worship God we will receive that eternal life that he promise. Therefore we must worship the true God who created the heavens and the earth.

Why Walk On Water? What’s The Purpose Of Doing that?

Before we start, let us consider the question. “Why did Jesus walk on water? What is his purpose of doing so?”

Jesus did not perform that miracle to frighten his disciples or to test the limits of their courage. The gospel of Mark gave us the reason

Then He saw them straining at rowing,
  for the wind was against them. Now about
  the fourth watch of the night He came to
  them, walking on the sea, and would have
  passed them by.”- Mark (Mk 6:48)

Jesus did so because he saw them straining on the boat. Therefore he walked towards them in the storm, and it is a good thing. Jesus wanted to help them so that they do not need to strain further.

Perhaps as the disciples are battling the storm, they may have been complaining within their heart.

“Immediately He made His disciples get
  into the boat and go before Him to the
  other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent
  the multitude away.”- Mark (Mk 6:45)

The disciples were in this fix because they obeyed the words of Jesus and now they are greeted with a storm and they are struggling within their boats. If Jesus were to make them travel on foot, they may not have meet with the storm.

They may have felt that their suffering is a result of obeying the instruction of Jesus and the irony is that Jesus is nowhere to be found when they are stranded in the midst of their trouble.

The truth is, Jesus was on the shore alone and he saw them in trouble and the storm pressing hard against them. He choose to walk on water so that he can get to them and help them soonest. Yet these disciples were unaware and they even mistook Jesus as a ghost.

Let us now consider the other things we can learn from this.

Facing The Storms We Meet In Life

Sometimes in life we find encounter bad events and we feel that it is just because of our bad luck. We find ourselves suffering and we wonder why God was silent and not helping us. But the fact is that Jesus saw the wind against us, and he had already chosen to walk though the storm to go to them.  He did it so that the disciples do not need to struggle to come to him.

But sometimes we treat Jesus as a ghost for we are unable to see him clearly. I am sure that the disciples must have felt bad for Jesus was going to help them and they treated him like a ghost.

In life we often encounter troubles and storms that troubles us. When we try to pray about it, it appears as if Jesus did nothing to help us. We feel helpless when we are up against the winds and we are in fact struggling to keep our boats afloat.

But Jesus saw the disciples struggling against the wind and he walked on water to help them. Even though we cannot see him, we need to believe that he knows what we are facing.

Indeed trouble can cloud our judgement and we sometimes ask “Why did this happen to us?” But when the storm pass, we will be able to see its benefits. That is when we realise that we have misunderstood God. For sometimes we can only be sure when we reach the end of the road.

The Conclusion From The Record Of Mark And John

That is why we need to build our faith in Jesus. Let us not focus on the problem that lies before our eyes. For our perspective over the problem will change and we will view the situation differently later on. Even though we encounter pain and trouble now  Let us continue to have peace and hope within our heart. For we know that our helper is God. He can see us struggling in the storm.

Even though we cannot escape the many storms in life, but Jesus is always walking on the water to us. He did it not to frighten us but to help us. If we can see and recognise his voice we will not be afraid. We will know that is is good.

This is one lesson we can learn from the record of Mark and John 

This is a song most English Speaking countries would have heard or sang before. From where I come from in Singapore, most kids were taught to sing this as part of our music lesson.

When I was younger, I was wondering what does “Auld Lang Syne” actually mean for it hardly sound English to me, later on in my life I realise that it was in a language called Scots (not Scottish)  and it is literally translated as “Old Time Since”.

It means “A Long Time Ago” or “For the sake of Old times”

It is often sang during new years as well as even used in state funerals back in Singapore.

I believe the most recent time we hear it is just today, when our first prime minister’s coffin left the Istana for the parliament house on a ceremonial gun carriage , it was played on a traditional bagpipe.

While many good things had been already said about this giant in history. I believe that as a leader, he had made many tough decisions that we may or may not have agreed to. But still Singapore have lost a good leader who had contributed much for our country.

There is so much written about him in the media hence I do not need to say anything more.  As the nations mourns, i think I would post the lyrics here

Title : Auld Lang Syne
Lyrics : Robert Burns
Tune : Traditional Folk Song

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

 

you can find the original poem from Richard Burns here

Introduction

The Chinese had a saying “男怕入错行, 女怕嫁错郎” (nán​ pà​ rù​ cuò​ háng​, nǚ pà​ jià​ cuò​ láng​) translated it reads  “Every man fears entering the wrong profession, while every lady fears marrying the wrong man”

This saying reminds us to be careful in the choices that we made.

So far we had studied
1. Choice Of Oprah And Ruth
2. The choice Of Mary And Martha

Now let us look at the choice of Abraham and Lot

The Choice Of Abraham And Lot

“Please let there be no strife
between you and me, and
between my herdsmen and
your herdsmen; for we are
brethren. Is not the whole
land before you? Please separate
from me. If you take the left, then
I will go to the right; or, if you go
to the right, then I will go to the left.”- Abram (Gen 13:8-9)

“Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan,
and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain
and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. “- Moses (Gen 13:12)

Both Abram and Lot believed in the promises of God. They chose to listen to the command of the Lord and depart from Ur of the Chaldean. They went to the land of God’s promise with the same heart and on the same goal.

But as they journeyed in this life of faith, they encounter various problems and conflicts. That is the time when they both made different choices. Lot departed for Sodom while Abraham persisted and remain in the land of Canaan.

The Need To Resolve Conflict

In our lives of faith, we will definitely  encounter disputes and conflicts, therefore it is important for us to learn how to handle these conflicts. If we handle them well, we would be able to keep our friends. For a mishandled conflict can turn friends to strangers. In the worst scenario, they can turn friends to enemies.

That is why we need to learn how to resolve conflict. In this bible story, Abraham  managed the conflict well. He made a good choice.

Though many would feel that his choice and silly. But History had proven that he had made the right choice.

The bible had kept a record of this as a lesson for all of us. It is important for us to learn them when we encounter conflict in the future. Learning them can help us preserve our live of faith.

There are 3 things we can learn from Abraham resolving his conflict with Lot

Pt 1: Abraham Decided That Separation Was The Best Solution

Gen 13:9  tells us that Abraham choose to give way to Lot and to give him the privilege to make the first choice.  That is a good approach to the problem.

Some of us may feel that it is a bad idea to separate. Some thinks  that Abraham made this suggestion out of anger.  There are some who felt that as long as they are willing to tolerate, there is no need for separation.

But let us ask ourselves “Can all conflicts be resolved just by enduring?”

All cultures had proverbs that suggest the need to endure through difficulty. For example, the Chinese had a saying “守得云开见月明”. It means that if one were to endure and wait for the clouds to clear, one could enjoy the beauty of the moon.

But there are some problems that cannot be resolved by mere endurance. Take for example, if 2 people are  fighting for the same cubicle in the washroom, it is a question of immediate need and not a question of endurance.

There are problems that do not need our immediate response, but to identify them require a complete understanding of the situation. So let us consider the facts behind the conflict between Abraham and Lot.

Abraham did not choose to separate out of anger, he saw the truth behind the problem and he knew that separation is the best way to resolve it.

For the bible describes the problem in Gen 13:6

“Now the land was not able to support them,
that they might dwell together, for their
possessions were so great that they could
not dwell together. “ – Moses (Gen 13:6)

Here it says that the land cannot contain the 2 of them, it is unable to support them and their livestock. Even though Abraham and Lot had became rich, but the land remains the same. It had the same amount of green pastures and the same amount of water. It is unable to provide for the massive livestock that they own.

That is the reason behind their conflict. While it may be common for workers to fight among themselves. It may appear that as long as they bear with each other the problems can be resolve. But in the case of Abraham and Lot, their herdsman are continuously striving. If those strive happens once in the blue moon, Abraham would have ignored them. But if the strive happens again and again then the problem is not so simple as one would think.

Abraham understood that the land is too small to support the both of them. For their possession came in the form of Animals and flock which need land to graze and water to drink.

Abraham accepted the fact behind the problem. He knew that separation is the best solution for they need to gain more land. Even though it is painful to separate from Lot his nephew, but it is necessary.

Likewise today if we choose to ignore our problem and pretend to be cordial to each other. We risk the problem dragging on. Some problem if left unsolved for a long time will be harder to resolve.  The same applies to problems encountered within the church as well as those within the family.

Let us choose to face the problem and let us try our best to reduce the conflict. Let us not allow small problems to escalate into big conflicts.  If a problem cannot be avoided, we need to face it. But to face the problem require us to understand the facts behind the problem.

Some solutions may be painful, just like the choice of Abraham. But sometimes a short pain is better than prolonged agony. That is why Abraham chose to separate from Lot for he understand that the land was not able to support them.

Pt 2: Abraham Took The Initiative To Approach Lot

To resolve the problem, Abraham approached  to Lot and said “Let there be no strife between us”. We know as the fact that Abraham is the elder and he is the uncle of Lot. We also know that Abraham is the reason behind Lots riches. Lot owes his wealth to Abraham.

But Abraham did not use his authority as the elder to intimidate Lot, he did not accuse Lot of being ungrateful. Abraham choose to focus on the fact that they are brethren. Abraham did not make use of his seniority as a bargaining chip, he chose to focus on their kinship. By doing so, Abraham had lowered himself so as to approach Lot for a solution. This is not an easy task.

Sometimes when we fight, even though we can see that it is clearly our fault. Even though we regret the situation we had landed ourselves into, we cannot resolve the problem.

For no one wants to admit that they are in the wrong, and no one is willing to humble himself and apologize first. For we know that he who is first to speak loses, therefore we choose to wait for the other party to talk first.

But Abraham did not do so, and he did not wait for Lot to speak to him. But rather he chose to speak to Lot first.  For Abraham knew that if he were to wait, the problem may get worst. Today it may be their herdsman fighting but eventually it will lead to Abraham and Lot fighting directly.

So Abraham chose to be proactive and initiate the discussion. He did not want the problem to get worst.

There are times when we can resolve problem by waiting. For example, if we wait long enough the rain would stop. But some problems will only get worst if we wait. Those are problems that are avoidable, and they would never resolve by themselves.

That is when we need to take the first step to face the problems. But as we face them let us learn from the humility and courage of Abraham.

Pt 3: Abraham Choose To Give Way To Lot

We would notice that Abraham chose to gave way to Lot, it sounded like a simple way to resolve differences but often it is easier said than done. Lot is a reasonable man and he knew the root clause of the problem as well but he chose to remain silent. Why is it so?

For Lot Know that if he were to propose a solution, one side would need to choose a spot to go. Most of the time the first person would choose the better spot, leaving the latter to receive an inferior spot. Usually it is the one who propose who would allow the other party to choose their spot first.

Lot was unwilling to propose because he did not want to get the inferior spot. Abraham took the initiative and he was willing to lose out. Human beings have the tendency to want to take advantage and not lose. But when both parties think alike, the issue will remain unresolved. But if one side is willing to give in and suffer a disadvantage, it will resolve the problem.

Why is Abraham Willing to Lose his Advantage ?

Did Abraham approach Lot because he was too weak to fight him? Was Lot so powerful that Abraham needs to bow down to him?

We know that later in Genesis Abraham led 300 men to rescue Lot. From here we can see that Abraham was not a weak and he could fight Lot if he wanted to. While most will choose to bow down only to those who are stronger, Abraham chose to let go because of his faith.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when
he was called to go out to the place
which he would receive as an inheritance.
And he went out, not knowing where
he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the
land of promise as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob,
the heirs with him of the same promise;
for he waited for the city which has foundations,
whose builder and maker is God.

But now they desire a better, that is, a
heavenly country. Therefore God is not
ashamed to be called their God, for He
has prepared a city for them.”- Author Of Hebrew (Heb 11:8-10,16)

Abraham must have been fairly rich in Ur. It is likely that possessing Canaan would not make him richer. He left Ur not because he wanted a piece of land. Some may think that Abraham left because God wanted to make him into a great nation. But God also said that his possession will last forever.

We know that nothing last forever. Only the kingdom of God lasts forever. Abraham understood the will of God and he knew that the possession God is giving him is not on earth but in heaven. That is why he choose to be a sojourner and to lead a life living in tents. He became a nomad willingly, Abraham knew that life in the city is comfortable.

Lot eventually moved into the city of Sodom  because it offers a better and a different life style. Life in the city is very different from life in the countryside. The rich loves to go to the countryside to enjoy peace, but the poor would want to make a living in the city.

But Abraham chose to dwell in tents for he desired a better home in the heavens. It is that hope that defines his mentality and attitude. He is willing to lose his worldly possession and not to fight Lot. He chose to let go, and if Lot wants the better land, let him take it.

Let us study into that decision more closely.

Using Faith To Influence Our Choices

Whenever we make a decision with regards to solving problem. Let us ask ourselves “Are we looking to benefit our faith or to gain material benefits? Are we looking at the benefits before our eyes? or are we interested in the benefit that is to come? Are we concern about our pride? Or are we concern with how God look at us from heaven?

Sometimes our surrounding can influence our choice, but most importantly let us allow our faith to influence our choice.

Abraham made the right choice when he choose to suffer lost. He choose to give in to Lot and let go of his worldly possession. He did that not because he is weak, but because  he believed in God. He did it because he seek a heavenly home and not a piece of physical land.

Do we have the same mentality of Abraham? The God he believed in is the same God that we as Christian believed. Abraham allowed his faith to influence his choice. Are we willing to let faith influence our choices?

The answer to that depends on who we really believe in and what we want in life.

An Exhortation To Give In

If we are only interested in worldly possession, we will make choices like Lot. We will strive to the bitter end and we will not give in. We will fight anyone for them, even if he is our uncle. People who holds the attitude of Lot regards riches as the most important. They are willing to put aside kinship and relationship for the sake of it.

Even if they believe in God, they will never have the heart of God. They may sing “Hallelujah” as they worship. Paul once rebuke the church in Corinth.

“But brother goes to law against brother,
and that before unbelievers!

 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure
for you that you go to law against one another.
Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do
you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and
you do these things to your brethren! “- Paul (1 Cor 6:6-8)

Some of us may find Pauls letter harsh. For we are being attacked by our friends, relative and brethren. Let us consider what we will say to someone who is in that situation.

Some may response saying “Do not be afraid, we will support you in this fight! Go ahead and fight!” and they stand back to watch the gladiatorial spectacle.

Man had a natural desire to strive and they like to win. We would not want to win alone so we want our friends to win as well. Therefore we often encourage them to continue fighting.

But Paul exhorts Christians to give in. Paul even went to the point to say “Let us be cheated, and accept wrong”. We may be able to take it if we lose a bit of money. But sometimes we find it hard to accept when it comes to losing pride and reputation.

But have we asked ourselves “Did we lose more than what we gain in this fight?”

In this situation I am not talking about fighting for the truth. For Christian should never give in when it comes to the truth. Even Paul teaches us to persevere when it comes to defending the truth. As long as it is not a matter of truth, we must be willing to give in.

Ironically man tend to do the opposite. we fight when there is no need to fight we persist when there is no need to persist. We give in when we ought to stand our ground.

Conclusion Of That Conflict Between Abraham and Lot

But why do we give in? What are we persisting for?

Those are things we need to consider with regards to our faith. Right now we have all made our decision with regards to faith, and we all feel that we make the right choice. But how would we feel about that decision 10-20 years down the road?

Sometimes we will only know the outcome of our choice when we stand before God. At that time it will be too late for regrets.

That is why the bible tells us that God is watching us as we make our choices today.

When Abraham and Lot was fighting, God did not appear. He was watching as the events unfold, when he saw the decision Abraham made, he choose to appear before Abraham after Lot left.

“And the Lord said to Abram, after
Lot had separated from him: “Lift
your eyes now and look from the
place where you are—northward,
southward, eastward, and westward;
for all the land which you see I give to
you and your descendants forever. “-Moses (Gen 13:14-15)

Abraham passed the test and God is please with his choice. God assured him of his blessing, for Abraham esteemed the promises of God. When one esteem the promises of God, God will esteem him as well.

Conclusion Of The Study

So if we were to encounter a problem in faith, and there is a choice to be made. What choice will we make?

Will we choose to be like Abraham to esteem God’s promises? Or will we choose to be like Lot to be concern only with our earthly treasure. We know that Lot regretted his choice at the end of the day, for he lost everything when God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Will we still make a choice like Lot? May God help us make the right choice always.

Introduction

We have begin our study of the choices of life. So far we have learnt the about the following.

1. Choice Of Oprah And Ruth

There was a man who entered a fine dining restaurant. He was greeted by the waiter “Sir would you like a drink? There is fruit juice , tea and coffee”. The man replied “Give me tea” and the waiter replied “Do you want Red Tea, Green Tea or Jasmine?”. He said “Red Tea” Then the water ask  “Do you want milk to go with your tea?” he replied “Fresh milk please” the waiter continued “Will it be cows milk or goats milk?” He replied “Goats milk” , the waiter asked “Do you want white or rare sugar?”

At that point the man gave up and said “Just give me water” . The Waiter ask “Spring or tap water?” the man said in despair “Forget it, just let me thirst to death”

We need to make choices for many things in life. It can be about what to eat, what to wear. We are not worried about having no food, but rather there are too many choices. Sometimes it makes us unsure what to choose.

We often like to have more choices but when there are too many choices it will be hard to decide. Sometimes we do not know what is good choice for us.

Let us consider the choice of Mary and Martha

The Choice Of Mary And Martha

Sometimes in the midst of many choices, we are unsure over which is the best choice. That is why Jesus reminds us that there are things we cannot do without.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried
  and troubled about many things.
  But one thing is needed, and Mary
  has chosen that good part, which
  will not be taken away from her.”- Jesus (Lk 10:41-42)

So have we made the right choice? There are many things in life we can choose to let go. When we do so, it will help us to be less burdened and give us less worry. It will allow us to have more time to relax and allowing us to lead a less pressured and relax life.

The Choice Of Mary : The Word Of God

For man is limited and cannot have everything in life, we all have different needs. But there is one thing that we cannot do without, we need to take note of the words of Jesus. Jesus was talking about the better portion, which is the teaching of God.

Many people in the world had different definition of “A better portion”. Different man had different opinion of the better portion. The poor will regard money as a better portion for it solves his problem. But the rich will regard longevity as a better portion. for if one had money and no life it is no good. Many will view health as a better portion for they do not like to suffer illness.

To the dead there is no such things as a good portion. That is when we realise the only good portion in life is eternal life. Jesus tells us that it is something we cannot do without. For Gods words is the words of life, it is all that we need.

For we will all die on e day, and nothing on earth is a true blessing. For all things are temporary and we need to choose the words of God. That is the choice of Mary and it should be our choice as well.

The Life Giving Word Of God

Elder Peter Once tell us

“having been born again, not of corruptible
  seed but incorruptible, through the word of
  God which lives and abides forever, because

  “All flesh is as grass,
   And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
   The grass withers,
   And its flower falls away,
    But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

  Now this is the word which by the gospel was
  preached to you.” – Peter (1 Pet 1:23-25)

A Seed could be full of life or dead, but how would one be able to tell between the two? Of one were to plant the seed he will be able tell it easily. If the seed grows, we will know if the seed had life. You can eat its fruit. But if one does not plant the  seed there will be no growth and it will never had a life.

Peter tells us that the words we hear are precious for it is the words of life. If one were to hear it, it will give him eternal life and help us to pursue after God. We often pursue  after many things in the world, but those things are like flowers and grass. They look pretty but they are temporary.

Indeed today we have flowers that are permanent, they are fake flowers that doesn’t die. Sometimes we even mistook them as real flowers.  

We need to differentiate between genuine and artificial, what is everlasting and what is temporary. We are often careful with many things in life. How can we be careless with the words of God?

We need to receive this life giving work and it will bring us salvation. But there are many who do not like the truth in the words of God. For they feel that it brings dissensions and unhappiness and it breaks the unity of the church.

But the church is the kingdom of God and if they do not talk about the truth, what else should they be talking about?

The Word That Forgive Sins And Grants Eternal Life 

The Church is not a social club, an entertainment venue or a welfare society. There are already plenty of such organisations in the world.  But the world lacks a place where sins is forgiven, where salvation is granted.

Those  is only found in the church of God and that is why Jesus need to establish the church. The purpose of the church is the to preach the gospel and present all mankind with a choice. Man can choose to accept the grace of God and be forgiven or to choose to reject God.

In the eyes of God this choice is something that is important and something that must always be present. If the church was does not preach or care about the truth of God. Is she still the church of Christ. If Christians do not love the truth and do not discern the truth. If they treat the truth as something unimportant, they will disappoint God greatly.

Let us realign our thinking about the choice we make, for all man had to die once and after that to face judgement. Where will our souls end up in? That is why Jesus reminds us saying 

“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)

In life it appears as if there are many choices and many path to take, but in fact there are only 2 paths to take at the end of our life. One path leads to eternal life while the other leads to destruction. Which path will we take eventually? It depends on the choice we make in this life, if we choose to listen to the words of Jesus, we have eternal life. If we choose to listen to the world, we will reap destruction. 

The Choice Of The Rich Fool

Jesus once talked about the parable of the rich man who had a lot of wealth. He is capable and good, and he planned to tear down his barns for a bigger barn. He had gained so much in a short time and he added riches upon riches.

He told himself

“Soul, you have many goods laid up
  for many years; take your ease; eat,
  drink, and be merry.” – Rich man  (Lk 12:19)

But God told him

“Fool! This night your soul will be
  required of you; then whose will
  those things be which you have
  provided?’”- God (Lk 12:20)

We have heard this parable many times, but have we made our choice? Sometimes we forget our choice so we need to re-read the scriptures. 

“So is he who lays up treasure for
  himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Jesus (Lk 12:21)

We often forget this verse. Jesus tells us that those who choose wealth are poor towards God. Let us not be like the rich fool. for he made a wrong choice. He is rich before everyone else but he is poor in the eyes of God.

We need to have God to abide with us, we know that we will gain much if we strive after the world. But at the very end all that we gain will be given to others. The Chinese had a interesting word for the word blessing. You would often see this word written in their house especially during Chinese new Year

It is the word 福. Which is “Fu”. This words can be broken up into 2 portion. One side reads “一口田” which means a plot of land. But that is only half of the word. The other side of the word shares the same side as the word God. (神 which is Shen)

Only when both words appear then the word blessing is formed. IT reminds us that material possession is only half a blessing.  Only when it is accompanied with God then that is true blessing.

We need to have this same realisation,  indeed as human beings we need money for survival. All matters in life requires some money to be spent. But life is not about making money. We need to prepare for the salvation of our souls. For one day, our souls will leave us. When that happen where will it go?

Jesus reminds us to learn from Mary and to make the right choice. Let us choose to come before him and listen to the words of God.

At the same time there are 3 things we need to consider from the choice of Mary and Martha

Pt 1: How Should We Come Before Jesus ? 

Both Martha and Mary loved the Lord, they like to come before his presence. But their attitudes are different. It is something we ought to consider as Christian. For it is something we need to consider before coming towards God.

But Martha was distracted with much serving,
  and she approached Him and said,
  “Lord, do You not care that my sister
    has left me to serve alone? Therefore 
    tell her to help me.”.”- Luke (Lk 10:40)

When Martha came before Jesus, she only spoke what she wanted to say. Mary on the contrary did the opposite. She came before Jesus to listen to what he wanted to say. Martha was distracted with much serving and she was full of complaints within her heart. She is complaining about Mary not helping her. She is indirectly blaming Jesus. For she said “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”

Usually when one is busy and troubled, they will end up frowning and unhappy. The will not be able to listen to the words of God and they can only complain. Martha failed to realise it, and she even push the blame onto Jesus. She felt that she had the right to be angry. That is why she spoke bluntly before Jesus, but Jesus rebuke her gently.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried
  and troubled about many things” – Jesus (Lk 10:41)

Are these things really so important? Does Jesus need to listen to our order and do as we please?   Jesus said these for he wanted Martha to consider her heart, her thoughts and her action. 

At the same time Mary had many things to say, and lots of question she cannot understand. For he heard of Jesus talking about his death. The Jews of those days thinks that the Messiah will live forever, and if Jesus were to die is he still the messiah?

Mary must have loads of question on her mind as she heard Jesus talking about his death. But yet she put aside her worries, troubles and question and listen to him attentively.

“And she had a sister called Mary,
  who also sat at Jesus’ feet and
  heard His word “- Luke (Lk 10:39)

Pt 2: Are We Sitting At the Feet Of Jesus?

We need to ask ourselves , “Are we sitting at the feet of Jesus? Are We Listening To Him Attentively?”

Perhaps we may be seated in the church,  but are we seating quietly listening or are we on a lookout for words that will offend us? Are we sitting in the church hall but sleeping? Or are we hearing attentively?

What does it mean to sit before the feet of Jesus today?

The sermon speaker is a servant of God he is speaking in the name of Jesus. At the moment when he said “In the name of Jesus I speak” he is a representative of Jesus. The words he is speaking is taken from the bible. We are suppose to be listening to the words of God.

We are here to study the words of God and not to examine the qualification of the speaker. As long as he is speaking from the bible, we ought to pay attention. that is what it means to sit at the feet of Jesus.

If we come to the church with a attitude saying “Who is this man who is speaking, is he qualified to speak the words of God” We will only be listening to the words of man. For we ignore the fact that he begin in the name of Jesus and we do not even care if what he speak is accordance to the bible or not.

If one were to hold such attitude, then we are seating before the feet of man and hearing the words of man.

Jesus once told us something that we need to believe in

“For where two or three are gathered
  together in My name, I am there in
  the midst of them.”- Jesus (Matt 18:20)

Have we considered that Jesus is with us here in the church hall? Perhaps we do not see vision of Jesus and angels appearing among us. But if we believe in the words of God then every service will be a miracle by itself.

Even though we cannot see Jesus with us, but we can see him through faith. If we do that then we would be careful with what we do within the church. For we know that God is watching us as we service.

Sometimes we forget that Jesus is within our midst that is why we act without thinking that God is present with us. So today as we gather for service and as we speak and listen to sermon.

The speaker needs to understand that he is actually representing Jesus speaking, he had to be mindful and to speak according to the words of God. He need to speak diligently and be faithful to the words of God.

Likewise the listeners need to be reminded that they have a duty to be attentive and to listen. They had a duty to discern if the words spoken is according to the word of God.

For God is with us whenever we gather to worship. Let us consider if we have followed or went against the teaching of the bible.

Pt 3: Are We Serious In Our Worship?

Whenever we think of the fact that Jesus is with us in this church hall. Have we ever asked “What is he doing here today?” Those who are parents will check on their kids quietly. They want to know if the kid will behave when they are not around.

In fact Jesus is looking at us, he is not just looking at what we are doing within this church hall. He is looking at our hearts, and he can  hear our hearts responding to the speaker. He can hear our heart cursing and scolding the speaker. At the same time he is also looking at the speaker, he is considering if the speaker is indeed speaking the words of God.

He wanted to know if the speaker will dare to speak for God or if he would speak to please man. At the same time he is looking at the congregation. He wanted to know if they are here to receive the words of God or the words of man.

He wanted to know if we are serious in our service towards him . Perhaps there are time we are not serious, but Jesus is always serious, for whenever 2-3 are gathered in his name he will be there in their midst.

He want to know how we would worship him and he wants to know how reverent we are. He wanted to know how genuine is our hearts.

Conclusion 

Jesus once tells us that we need to worship in spirit and in truth. The original language also reminds us that  we need to worship according to the truth. Whenever we gather to worship do we come with willingness or anger? Do we worship him according to our whims and fancy and are we worshipping according to the truth?

We have made the right choice to come to church to listen to his words, but God is interested to know what is our attitude and what is on our mind. Let us ask God to help us understand this and help us readjust our thinking. Let us learn to worship God out of a pious and reverent heart.

Let us learn to worship God sincerely. 

In our previous part we have explored deeper into the story of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. We have discussed the two common skeptical reactions to the miracles.

We have looked discussed to see if the miracle was a result of an act of sharing or the power of God.

We also looked into the more difficult question of “If Jesus is so power, why are there so many hungry Christians in the world. We have establish the fact that God is able to provide food under all circumstances, but he did not do it for no reason.

The Israelites questioned Jesus telling him that their forefathers ate manna in the wilderness for 40 years. Let us now consider this matter even further.

Comparing Jesus and Manna

That is why Jesus begins teaching them  by telling them this

“Most assuredly, I say to you,
   Moses did not give you the bread
   from heaven, but My Father gives
   you the true bread from heaven.  
   
For the bread of God is He who comes
   down from heaven and gives life to
   the world.”- Jesus (Jn 6:32-33)

Sadly, the Jews failed to understand, and they only wanted the physical manna. All that they saw was the physical food. Indeed after eating, one will still die at the end. But God wanted us to have the bread of life, and with it we can live forever.

But when the Jews heard that they responded saying “Give us this bread always”,

That is when Jesus told them he is the bread of life. Anyone who goes to him will never hunger and will never thirst. But that is not a physical food, but spiritual food. That bread is the eternal life that God wanted to give them.

Even though man may die physically but they will rise once again on the day when God will judge the world. At that time, those who believe in him will enter into eternal life. That is Gods greatest gift to mankind.

For we know that

And as it is appointed for men to die once,
  but after this the judgment, “ – Author of Hebrews (Heb 9:27)

That is why we need Jesus. For man will die one day and there is judgement after death. This is something even our children knows, though many of us do not believe in god our conscience always tells us that we would be judged for what we do. That is why most of us will refrain from doing for our conscience always warns us.

What Must We Do?

As man is working, God is watching. Jesus had once said

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.
  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. F or assuredly, I say
  to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle
  will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” – Jesus (Matt 5:17-18)

Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God, he had given the church a commission to preach the gospel to all man. He wanted mankind to know that he is the Christ and he had died for our sins. Our sins can be washed away with his blood, and if we allow his grace to come into our lives we can face him boldly on the day of judgement and we can enter into eternal life.

That is the salvation of God and our purpose for following Christ

The True Promises Of God

There was once a pastor who begin by praying for his congregation. He started by praying

“Thank you Lord for giving us health so we can eat, drink and be happy, for without health all will be pointless” and everyone said “Amen”

However, there are some who left the prayer for they felt “Why did Jesus not heal me? Why am I sick?” But the pastor is unaware of it as his eyes were closed

Then he continue praying. 

“We thank you God for giving us a sweet and lovely home, where we can relax and see our beloved family members.”

Some left the congregation because their family is not at all blissful and there are quarrels everywhere. So they grumbled against God thinking “Why is my home in turmoil? Did Jesus not love me?”

He continue praying, saying

“We thank you for our successful career, a big house and a big car. We know that it all came from you and we have nothing to boast about, all we can do is to thank you from the bottom of our hearts”

The rich in the congregation said “Amen” but there are many poor seated there. they slog day and night and can not even put food to their tables or own a single property. There are some who work hard and have their salary cheated. They think to themselves, “Why did God not bless me with these opportunities for a better life? I think he did not love me”

Finally the pastor concluded saying “We thank God that we are all alive today”

But the hall was strangely silent and when he open his eyes, he saw the church hall empty. So he wondered “Was my prayer wrong? Isnt this what everyone wish for? why did they all run away?” So he asked God “Where did I go wrong this time?”

Gods reply was “You have mistaken, you have given promise which I never promised. You have signed a lot of blank cheques on my behalf. As the result, those who did not receive them left sad and disappointed?

“I did not promise believers to be rich blissful and healthy. Indeed it is within my power to do so,  but that is not what I have promised”

So what did God promise us? Why did we follow Jesus?

“And this is the promise that
  He has promised us—eternal life.” John (1 Jn 2:25)

If we hold on to this promise, then the sufferings on earth is all worth it. For we know that there is a place of eternal joy, where there are no tears and suffering. Indeed everything on this earth temporary, it will pass away one day.Let us not worry about the temporary pain but be concerned with eternal life.

I do not think that God uses sufferings and pain to developed faith ,  I believe that God do bless people with healing and benefits. But we need to understand why God blesses us. Blessings are given so that one would know that Jesus is God, and that knowledge can bring eternal life to those who believe.

This is true because God has set his seal upon Jesus.

Recognising The Seal Of God

“Do not labor for the food which
  perishes, but for the food which
  endures to everlasting life, which
  the Son of Man will give you, because
  God the Father has set His seal
  on Him.” – Jesus (Jn 6:27)

We need to seek this promise eternal life through Jesus, for God has set His seal on him. In the olden days, Signatures alone cannot be used to verify the authenticity of an important document. The documents must be sealed with the seal of the owner to verify its sender.

Today we see such seals still used on University Degrees and important documents. Whenever one see the seal, they will know the owner. God performed signs miracles and wonders as seals to prove that Jesus is indeed from God.

Jesus had once said

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father,
   and the Father in Me? The words that I speak
   to you I do not speak on My own authority; but
   the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 
   
Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father 
   in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works
   themselves.” – Jesus (Jn 14:10-11)

We have went through all these miracles performed by Jesus and we know that no other man on earth can perform miracles such as this.  All the miracles recorded here are the seal of the heavenly father. By recognising his seal, we will know that Jesus is indeed from God.

To Believe Or Not To Believe

There was a man who was lost in the desert, he had ran out of water and he saw a lonesome cabin in a distance. Out of desperation he ran towards it. When he arrive in the cabin he found it empty. In the cabin was a pump and a pail, he looked into the pail and there in it was a note

“Dear stranger: 
  This water pump is in working condition, 
  but the pump needs to be primed in order
  for the water to come out. Under the white
  rock, I buried a jar of water, out of the sun.
  There’s enough water in the jar to prime
  the pump, but not if you drink any first.
  When you are finished, please fill the jar
  and put it back as you found it for the next 
  stranger who comes this way.”

Can that be true? if it is true then it is good news, for there will be more water from the pump. However,  the traveller did not know how long the note was there. Assuming if the pump is damaged, than the water would have been wasted.

“If I drink this water, i will die of thirst eventually, worst still if the next man were to come into this cabin he may not have the chance to get water”  These though paced in his mind relentlessly.

Finally he decide to pour the water in and to prime the pump. Truly the pump was working and there was a lot of water. So as he enjoy the water and drink his fill, he did not forget to keep a bottle of water for the next stranger who arrive.

Before he left, he added one more line to the note

“The words written on this note is true,
   I have tested it personally. You must
  believe these words”

Jesus told us “Believe in me and you will have eternal life”

Will we choose to believe it? If we want everlasting life we need to believe in the words of Jesus. Let us pour our lives into Jesus, for out of it will be a spring of eternal life where the waters will never run dry.

May we all receive this eternal life and may we all believe in him.

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