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.

So far in our studies of Trials And Temptation We have covered the following 1

Part 1 : The Fundamental Difference Between Trials and Temptation
Part 2: The 1st Concept: God Does Not Tempt Anyone

Now let us take a look at the second concept regarding Trials and Temptation from the book of James,

Second Concept : To Count It Joy When We Fall To Trials

“My brethren, count it all joy
  when you fall into various trials,” – James (Jn 1:2)

The second concept is to be joyful in the Midst of Trials. James was writing the book of  James to the 12 Tribes scattered abroad. But if we consider the new testaments perspective , there are in fact only 2 tribes. One that believe in Jesus and the other who are antichrist.

During the days of James . the 12 tribes of the Jews are mainly antichrist, and they persecute those who belong to Christ. Paul used to be zealous in the work of persecuting Christians and he went around seeking to throw Christians into the prison. Later on he was converted by the grace of God and he became someone who believed in Christ

The ones who persecute Christians are considered the majority to those who believe in Christ. In those days, believing in Christ doesn’t bring peace, but it means being persecuted for the fact that they accepted Christ. The persecution is severe and it can lead to them being thrown into the lions den or burnt alive. When in the midst of those trials, they are some Christians who did not know what to do.they were discouraged and they murmured against God.

This is natural,  for if we are thrown into prison for crimes, we will feel its justified. But these people are suffering just because of their belief in Jesus, and they fall into trials. That is when many find it hard to be joyful.

The Correction From James

Therefore when James wrote his letter to encourage the believers, he started by correcting their concept of Trials. He told them that they are supposed to be joyful when they encounter trials. But at this point of time, many would ask “Is such a joy  a form of self deception?”

Interestingly there is a Chinese Novelist Lu Xun who once wrote a book known as (The True Story of Ah Q” (阿Q正传). In it was a character known as Ah Q, he was full of self talk and self deception.  He will imagine himself as a victor even if he was defeated

But James here is not promoting such spirit. But rather he is promoting a spirit of faith. Peter talked about the same spirit as well

Beloved, do not think it strange
  concerning the fiery trial which
  is to try you, as though some
  strange thing happened to you;

   but rejoice to the extent that you
  partake of Christ’s sufferings, that
  when His glory is revealed, you
  may also be glad with exceeding  joy. 

  If you are reproached for the name of
  Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of
  glory and of God rests upon you. On their
  part He is blasphemed, but on your part
  He is glorified. But let none of you suffer
  as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as
  a busybody in other people’s matters. 
  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him
  not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in
  this matter”- Peter (1 Pet 4:12-16)

That should be out attitude of faith, we must not find it strange when fiery trials came upon us. For we are suffering together with Christ. Eventually when he comes again, we will rejoice with him.

Although in the eyes of man we appear pitiable in the midst of suffering. Even though it appears shameful before others. But in the eyes of God it is something glorious, it is a blessing as well. For if we are reproached for Christ, we received a blessing for the spirit of God rest in us. Those who do not understand the faith can only see their pitiful state and their suffering but they are unable to see the glorious spirit of God abiding with them.

Conclusion Of Second Concept

That is why James corrected our concept , telling us that we must count it joy when we undergo trials. For the spirit of God is upon us and we are suffering alongside with Christ. Pester tells us that that suffering is a different kind of suffering. Typical punishment comes with shame, and there is no glory in punishment for doing wrong. But if one suffer punishment because of Christ, it is a blessing for when Christ comes again you will rejoice with him.

That is because while we are alive, we are willing to suffer together with Christ and Christ is willing to allow us to rejoice with him. That is a concept every Christian ought to have in the midst of Trials

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)

Let us continue the study by looking at the 4th Miracle

5 Loaves And 2 Fishes

I once came across a song about it.

 

“There is a lad here who has five barley
  loaves and two small fish, but what are
  they among so many?”- Andrew (Jn 6:9)

  … ….

“Therefore they gathered them up, and
  filled twelve baskets with the fragments
  of the five barley loaves which were left
  over by those who had eaten.  Then those
  men, when they had seen the sign that
  Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet
  who is to come into the world.”- John (Jn 6:13-14)

Sometimes we wonder what good can 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes do. Over here Jesus perform a great miracle feeding 5000 with it. The 5000 people accounted for are men, so it is possible that there are 10 000 people present at that time. All of them had eaten and were filled and there are 12 baskets of fragments remaining.

Those who saw the miracles claims that he is truly a prophet. Indeed there are many prophet sent among the Israelites, but to the Jews there is one that is very special. For all the prophets sent to Israel were man, but there is one prophet who will come from God.

This prophet was spoken off by Moses and he is God coming in the form of flesh to save man.  His purpose is to establish the kingdom of God and to bring man to heaven, This special prophet is the prophet that all the other prophets prophesy about. He is called the Messiah, or in Greek “Christ” his name is Jesus.

During that time, many did not believe in him, they saw him as a son of a mere carpenter. His brothers and sisters were also among them, and many wonder “How can a child like that be a that prophet? How can he come from God?”

Jesus performed many miracles and amazed them again and again. But this time, after feeding 10 000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, the people believed that he is truly the prophet. They wanted to make him king  but they misunderstood Christ. They thought that the Messiah’s Kingdom will be in the world,,

They only knew Jesus through the miracles that he perform. For they know that no one could use so little to feed so many and they knew it is certainly not a magic trick. Jesus did the miracle to display his power of God for he is able to feed 10 000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes.

An Answer To Skeptics Who Called This A Story Of Sharing

There are skeptics who claim that this is not a miracle. They claims that at that time everyone is hungry, and many brought food with them. They did not dare to eat it for no one is willing to share.

When the disciples came asking for food, the boy generously open and share is food. His selfless act touched everyone who then took out their food to share with their neighbour. they claim that it is a story of love, and it is something we can all learn from. But by saying this they discredited the miracle, accusing the disciples for making this story into a myth.

But such explanation fail to account for the 12 basket of fragments remaining. At the same time, there were at least 5000 men who were present during the miracle, they were alive when the story was spread. Why then did no one had the moral courage to refute the miracle?

They were unable to refute for they all knew that Jesus performed that miracle and he is the Christ, they knew him as God manifested in the flesh to give eternal life to anyone who believe

An Answer To Skeptics Asking  “Why Are There So Many Hungry Christians?”

But yet there are still scoffers who will pass comments like this “Since Jesus is so good, that will mean we will not hunger again. For Jesus can provide bread for us and we never had to work again. Why then are there so many hungry Christians in this world?”

But as Christians we ought to be able to answer this skeptics. But how would we approach it?

Yes if Jesus is willing, he can provide us bread and we do not need to work. This miracle happened before, that happen when Israel left Egypt, they were without food. They had finish all the food they brought out of Egypt, and God rained Manna from heaven. He did it for 40 years in the wilderness. This is a miracle that many Jews know today.

If God is willing he is able to perform this miracle just as he did thousand of years ago. But as Christian we ought to ask ourselves “Why then did Jesus not do it now?”

This is the same question asked by the Jews during the time of Jesus

“What sign will You perform then,
   that we may see it and believe You?
   What work will You do?  Our fathers
   ate the manna in the desert; as it is
   written, ‘He gave them bread from
   heaven to eat.’”- Followers of Christ (Jn 6:30-31)

Interestingly they just saw Jesus feeding 10 000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, why then did they ask Jesus to perform a sign so that they will believe him? They quoted the experience of their forefather in the wilderness who ate manna for 40 years.

Jesus perform this miracle once, for one meal only, yet the truth is, God fed their ancestors for 40 years in the wilderness. But Jesus gave them a reply that they were not to happy with

“Most assuredly, I say to you,
  you seek Me, not because you
  saw the signs, but because you
  ate of the loaves and were filled.” – Jesus (Jn 6:26-27)

These people came to Jesus as if they were seeking him with zeal, it appears as if they believe in him and they wanted to follow him all the way. But they came to Jesus not for his signs or for eternal life. They saw the miracles of Jesus and knew that they can receive physical benefits from them.

But Jesus did not perform those miracles to tell others that he can bring material benefits. He did them so that they will know that he is the messiah and the could give them eternal life.

Sadly these people are not interested in  eternal life and salvation. They are only interested in the physical benefits, the fact that he can heal the sick, cast our demon and give bread to the hungry.

That is why Jesus reminded them not to labour for food that perish.  He wanted to correct their perception, he wanted them to know that he did not come to the world to give physical benefits. He wanted to give eternal life to them. That is the very reason why Jesus perform the miracles in the first place.

The Purpose For Miracles

Indeed there are many blind men in Israel but not all had their eyes open by Jesus. There are many lepers in Israel during the time of Christ, but how many recieved healing from Jesus? Jesus can feed the hungry, he performed the miracle twice. Throughout his years of ministry, he raised 3 from then dead.

That is not because God is without power, but his purpose of doing them is allow others to see that he is the Christ and to come to him for eternal life.

Jesus had the power to overthrow the Roman empire, but he choose not to. The Israelites wanted him to be king, they wanted the Messiah to drive the Romans out of the land of Judea. They wanted to be free from bondage, labour and taxes. ‘

But Jesus did not come to establish the kingdom of God on earth, indeed he came to establish a kingdom of God, but that kingdom is meant to provide salvation to the people.

But this disappointed the Jews who were in great opposition. We do not deny that slavery is a terrible practice, immoral and depressing but the purpose of Jesus is not to overthrow systems and to improve the physical lives of the people. He is not here to create heaven on earth he is here to establish a kingdom. Through the Kingdom that he establish, he could grant eternal life to those who believe. That is why he performed miracles.

The Reason For The Raining Of Manna

That is also the reason why God rained Manna for 40 years in the wilderness.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes
  in Me has everlasting life.  I am the bread of life. 
  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness,
  and are dead. This is the bread which comes
  down from heaven, that one may eat of it and
  not die.  I am the living bread which came down
  from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will
  live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My
  flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” – Jesus (Jn 6:47-51)

Jesus responded to their challenge by telling them that anyone who believes in him will have eternal life. He is the bread of life and if one were to eat of this bread, he can have eternal life.

Jesus told them that their ancestors ate manna and died, the raining of manna is a great miracle, but why did God give Manna to Israel what is his purpose? Was it done solely for the purpose of handing out free food or was it done to demonstrate his power and his love?

If God only gave manna for the sake of free food then this miracle would have no significance. For those who ate the Manna died eventually, many of them died in the 40 years in the wilderness.

God did it to tell the world that he had the ability to give us the bread of life. He wanted us to live forever by accepting this bread of life.

Introduction

We often make many choices in life, some of the choices are major, like where to stay and where to migrate. Others are simple, like “Where to for lunch?”. Sometimes in order not to to make a choice, we like to say “Its up to you”

Indeed everyone had the freedom to choose, but we all must bear the consequences of our choices. That is why we need to choose carefully, for a good choice will bring us blessing and a bad choice will bring us pain and regret. We can try our best to fix the result of a bad choice but there are some damages that are irreversible. 

The bible records of many bible character as well as their choices. Some of their stories serves as warning to us, there are also stories where we can learn from .For some of these characters make good choices, and some bad ones.

The Dilemma Of Ruth And Oprah

Today we will look into the book of Ruth, where it records of 2 women and their choices.

“Now they took wives of the women
  of Moab: the name of the one was
  Orpah, and the name of the other
  Ruth. And they dwelt there about
  ten years.  Then both Mahlon and
  Chilion also died; so the woman
  survived her two sons and her
  husband.: – Author of Ruth (Ruth 1:3-4)

“Turn back, my daughters;
  why will you go with me? Are
  there still sons in my womb,
  that they may be your husbands?
  Turn back, my daughters, go—for 
  I am too old to have a husband.
  If I should say I have hope, if I
  should have a husband tonight and
  should also bear sons, would you wait 
  for them till they were grown? Would 
  you restrain yourselves from having
  husbands? No, my daughters; for it
  grieves me very much for your sakes
  that the hand of the Lord has gone out
  against me!” – Naomi (Ruth 1:11-13)

Ruth and Oprah met with sad events in their lives, their husbands was dead and the lost the love of their lives. Since woman at that time depended on man for survival, they lost their financial support in lives as well.

As a result, they were both facing the same test, and they need to choose how to spend the rest of their lives. They are cross between whether to return with Naomi to Israel or to return to Moab and remarry. They know that if they return to Moab, they could survive at the very least, the roads back to Israel is a long and difficult path.

If we were them, what choice will we make? Both women made a different choice, and lets read about them.

The Choice of Oprah

“Look, your sister-in-law has gone
  back to her people and to her gods;
  return after your sister-in-law.”- Naomi (Ruth 1:15)

Naomi told them to return to their people and their gods. Therefore Oprah made a choice to let go of her faith and return to her country.

Interestingly, the 2 women encounter an experience that was very unique to Moabites. For they were given a chance to become an Israelites and to know the God of Israel. In those days Moabites were forbidden to enter the assembly of God (Deut 23:3) . But when these two women married Israelites, they were given a chance to enter that assembly. they received this faith through marriage. 

Yet they face difficulties and it appears as if God did not protect them. They lost their husband and they lost their livelihood. They must be wondering if they should continue on the journey of faith.  That is the reason why Oprah gave up and return to her people and her god.

Perhaps Oprah made up her mind because she felt that she could do nothing to change the situation. So she accepted the situation and left not blaming anyone for her misfortune.

The Oprah Attitude

Sometimes we make decisions just like Oprah, for there are many situations that are beyond our control. Some of us live in a war zone, where life is unstable and unsafe, there are others who live in peaceful countries. There are some who are born into poverty while some are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. There are some who are poor and need to work hard to survive. There are also some who are born beautiful with many suitors and people to love them, while some are born ugly, hideous and no one to care for them. Indeed these are not within our control and we have to accept it no matter if we like it or not.

That is the attitude of Oprah, She chose to let go because there’s nothing Naomi could do to help her. Even though she loves Naomi, she chose to let go of her mother in law and her new faith.

If we are faced with a situation like Oprah, what will our choice be? Will we choose to give up our faith? Ruth on the other hand, made a different choice. 

The Choice of Ruth

Ruth was faced with a the same situation and the same test. Ruth was aware of the choice of Oprah, for Naomi encouraged Ruth to follow her example. But Ruth made up her own choice. She chose to hold fast to their faith.

She wanted to take care of Naomi even if it means a bitter life. This is clearly seen in her response to Naomi

“Entreat me not to leave you,
  Or to turn back from following after you;
  For wherever you go, I will go;
  And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
  Your people shall be my people,
  And your God, my God.
   Where you die, I will die,
  And there will I be buried.
  The Lord do so to me, and more also,
  If anything but death parts you and me.” –Ruth (Ruth 1:16-18)

Some of us will wonder why Ruth choose to do this, for it appears to be an unwise decision. For she had chosen the bitter and difficult path. In the eyes of many her choice appear to be foolish.

But history testify that Ruth made the right choice and it is a choice that brings eternal blessing. Her name was recorded in the genealogy of Christ. But how was she able to take this bitterness? How did she find her strength? 

The Strength Of Ruth

She had strength because she had faith, for in the past Ruth did not know the one true God. She used to worship whatever they see. For humans are made with a desire to worship God , for God created mankind and we call him our father.

If one were to worship the true God, they will receive blessing,  and Ruth knew the true God, he is YHWH who created the entire universe and man. He was the God who made the promise to Abraham and he promised that his people will become a great nation.

Ruth believed in that promised, and she chose to follow God. Even though at the moment it appears as if there are no benefit and only bitterness. But she persist because she knew that Gods promises are true. She have fought so hard to become part of the Kingdom of God and she is not willing to let go of her faith and her opportunity to be part of them.

That is why she said “Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” She wanted to be part of that kingdom, and she believed in the judgement of God. Ruth did not focus on the bitterness that lies before her eyes, but she saw the true blessings that will come in the future.

She regarded the trouble before her to be insignificant compared to eternality. For the most important thing is how one would meet God and face judgement.   That is why she said “The Lord do so to me, and more also,” 

Ruth knew that God was watching her as well as her choices. She could not leave Naomi for Naomi would be helpless if everyone left her. Ruth had the right to consider her well being but she is also aware of her duty to Naomi.

Indeed we all have our rights to choose, but God is watching the choice we make. He will judge us according to our choices.  Ruth choice testify of her faith in God as well as her love for Naomi.

This type of faith and love moves us for she chose to hold on to God and take the difficult path. Her faith became the strength that allow her to face difficulties and to overcome them. She is able to keep the faith because she knew that if she hold on to God’s hand God will hold on to her as well. Her love allows her to hold on to the hand of Naomi and she went through suffering together with her.

That is The Choice Of Ruth

The Result Of The Choice Of Ruth

The faith and love of Ruth allowed her to receive blessing from God. Her blessing are recorded in the latter part of Ruth

“Also the neighbor women
  gave him a name, saying,
  “There is a son born to Naomi.”
  And they called his name Obed.
  He is the father of Jesse,
  the father of David.” – Author Of Ruth (Ruth 4:17)

Ruth gave birth to the son, and his name is Obed, he is the father of Jesse, the father of King David. It was David who established the kingdom of Israel, and God fulfilled his promise to Abraham through David. For he promised that his descendants will become a great and mighty nation.

Ruth is the great grand mother of David and more importantly she is one of the ancestors of Christ. The choice of Ruth is one that carries a strong impact in her life. It turned her from a Moabite who was forbidden to enter the assembly of God to an ancestor of a great Israelite king. Her faith and love resulted to her being blessed by God.

The choice of Ruth is recorded as an example for us to follow. For we have contrast the choice of Oprah and the choice of Ruth.  Therefore whenever we encounter troubles and difficulties, let us not be ignorant, we can choose to be like Oprah, and say “There is nothing I can do about it” or we can choose to be like Ruth who made the right choice.

These are all recorded in the bible as lessons for us. 

Examination Of Faith

Let us now take the chance to reflect on our faith. and let us ask ourselves if we have the faith of Ruth. For Paul once reminds us.

“Examine yourselves as to whether
  you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
  Do you not know yourselves, that
  Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed
  you are disqualified. “- Paul (2 Cor 13:5)

Examining the faith is not about commenting on the faith of others. It is a reminder for us to examine ourselves, to test our faith to see if it is true. For there are some who appear to have a strong faith would still choose to let go of their faith for the slightest reason. They choose to leave God at the slightest quarrel or disagreement with a fellow brethren. But is our faith built upon emotions and relationship with people in the church?

Emotions and love are part of faith but they are not faith. Therefore we need to be sure of what we believe in and who we believe. Therefore we need to test our faith to see if it is true, for we will be disqualified if we do not.

We need to be sure that we are indeed true believers or a Christian by name.

If one day, we are without the protection of God, we are unable  to see miracles and are without bread to it. Can we still believe in God in such difficulties? Why then do we follow the Lord?

When Jesus was preaching, there were many who wanted to follow him. they are all sincere but how true is their faith? Once Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves of faith and 2 fishes, there are many who followed him. They needed that miracle and they needed that bread, so they believed in Jesus.

“you seek Me, not because you
  saw the signs, but because you
  ate of the loaves and were filled.” – Jesus  (Jn 6:26)

Jesus gave us his love and protection, he gave us miracles out of his love, but are we following Jesus because of his miracles? What if there are no more bread? Can we still follow Christ?

That is when many choose to depart from him. That is why Jesus said

“If anyone desires to come after Me, 
  let him deny himself, and take up
  his cross daily, and follow Me.”- Jesus (Lk 9:23)

If we are unwilling to take up the cross and to face our challenges, we cannot persist in faith. It will be hard to follow Jesus. On that day where many who left Jesus , Jesus asked

“Do you also want to go away?”- Jesus (Jn 6:67)

Jesus wanted to his disciples to examine themselves to see if they truly believed in Jesus. If they believed , they will follow him even if it is through a path of suffering. 

At that time Peter answered him

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have
  the words of eternal life. “- Peter (Jn 6:68)

The disciples recognised that Jesus is indeed the messiah, and he is the one they should follow. If we have the same understanding we will be as steadfast as Ruth. If Ruth did not have faith in God, in his promise and eternal life, she will have followed Oprah and return to her tribe and her gods.

Let us emulate that same faith like Ruth.

The Faith Of The Church In Thessalonica

The faith of Ruth is similar to the faith in the book of Thessalonica.

“We give thanks to God always for you all, 
  making mention of you in our prayers,  
  
remembering without ceasing your work
  of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope
  in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of
  our God and Father,

  And you became followers of us and of the
  Lord, having received the word in much
  affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,  so
  that you became examples to all in Macedonia
  and Achaia who believe. “- Paul (1 Thess 1:2-3,6-7)

The Church of Thessalonica brought joy to Paul. they church undergo much tribulation after their conversion. Paul was worried that they will lose their faith, so he sent many workers to visit the church. The reports of these workers brought joy to Paul. For they kept their faith and hope in the midst of troubles. they have manifested their love in the midst of suffering, and that is why they are special.

The church was able to show love for others, and they gave beyond their ability. Once when they heard of a famine in Judea, they offered to help the church. Even though they have little to eat, but they empathized with their brethren in Judea who had nothing to eat. So they brought their little contribution to Paul to be sent to Jerusalem. Their loved moved Paul for they are able to help others poorer than them. The church became good examples to those in Macedonia and Achaia.

The faith of the church of Thessalonica is just like Ruth. They are able to show the joy of faith, their love with endurance. IT is that faith that allow them to be steadfast and persistent.

Conclusion

It is faith that allow Ruth to see, that even though she cannot change the situation. But faith could change her attitude towards life. Even though we encounter difficulties, Faith can help us bear with the trouble, it can give us the strength to help others.

Having faith can give us strength upon strength, endurance to the end. It will help us face our troubles positively.

There was a painter who came to a house to do a painting and when he arrived, he saw that the owner of the house was a blind person. He felt a little sad for him, for it is a pity that he is blind and he cannot see. Yet he found the owner, optimistic and humorous. He show no sign of pessimism and they started to talk while he was drawing.

When the painting is completed, he gave the bill to the owners wife. and he said “Though we have agreed on the price, but there were more work than i expected. Therefore i change my price”

The wife saw the bill and was puzzled “Why did you decrease your bill instead of increasing it?”

The painter replied “I have a good time with your husband, his attitude in life help me realise that my situation is not as bad as I think. It makes me feel that the work is not as bad as I thought. I would like to express my thanks, therefore I have decided to reduce my bill as gratitude.”

When the wife heard it, she took a look at her husband and her painter, her eyes went red, for one of them is blind and the other was without a hand. They all encounter unhappy events in their life. These are all things that brought inconveniences and trouble in life. Yet they choose to face it with a positive attitude.

We cannot change the length of our lives, but we can change the contents within our life. We cannot change the face that we are born with but we can choose to put a smile or to put on a frown.

We may not know what will happen tomorrow, but we can make use of what we have today. We cannot expect our lives to be smooth sailing, but we can put in effort in whatever we do.

For when Christ comes again, he will not ask us what we have accomplishment. It is human nature to measure success by what one have accomplish. But Jesus is different, he is only interested in how much effort we put in doing his work.

It doesn’t matter if we have 5,2,or 1 talent. For Jesus will only measure the effort we put in. In life, we will face with many tribulation. Just like Ruth who is faced with many difficulties. But can we be like her to hold on to a steadfast faith.

If we are enduring and patient, we can make the right choice. Eventually we will find our names written in the book of life. May we enter the kingdom of God and may we all make the right choice in our faith.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
  Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

We have discussed that there are many  things Christians ought to learn during their walk of faith.  So far we had covered the following lessons.

Lesson 1 : Learning To Fear God
Lesson 2: Learning To Do Good And Be Honest

Lesson 3: To Learn Righteousness
Lesson 4: Learning To Be A Good Samaritan

Let us continue to look at the 5th Lesson

Lesson 5: Learning Obedience In The Midst Of Suffering

“Though He was a Son, yet He learned 
  obedience by the things which He suffered.
  
And having been perfected, He became the
  author of eternal salvation to all who obey
  Him” – Author Of Hebrews (Heb 5:8-9)

the Author of Hebrews is talking about Jesus, who learnt to be obedient to God in the midst of suffering. Sometimes we ask God “Why did you make us suffer like this?” but God will say “When I was on earth, I suffered too, and I suffered more bitter things than you have encountered. I learn to be submissive to it, are you willing to learn from me?”

Sometimes it is pointless to ask “Why me?”  But rather we should ask “What can I learn through it?”

Will we overcome our suffering or will our suffering overcome us. Christian ought to understand the significance of suffering. For even the Chinese Philosopher Mencius once remark

“天降大任於斯人,
  必先苦其心志” – Mencius

Translated “When Heaven is about to give a man the great responsibly, it will allow suffering to prepare his heart”

A man may starve and become poor, he may be face with much opposition. These problems are meant to toughen his soul and character. The same saying is also found among the western world.

“There are no good or bad experiences,
  only experiences that inform that
  inform the soul in unique way”

The Significance Of Suffering

A Christian ought to know that sufferings are meant to edify us. For Jesus had set himself as an example for us to follow, he cried and prayed at the garden of Gethsemane. He did not want to drink the bitter cup. But Jesus is willing to submit to God and he had set an example for us to learn.

If we believe that Gods will is the best and we believe that he is faithful to us, he will not make a mistake to allow us to be abused and tortured. He allow it to happen so that we can learn from it, and face it. We will be able to overcome the problem with his help.

The most beautiful testimony is often found when we hear of how Christians overcame great suffering. It is through suffering one see a true faith, for these Christian persisted in the midst of their trouble. They remain faithful and unchanging to God.  These people are not prophets and prayer warriors but just mere brothers and sisters. But from their suffering they are able to see the will of God and submit to it.

The Psalmist once said

“Before I was afflicted I went astray,
  But now I keep Your word.
  You are good, and do good;
  Teach me Your statutes.

  The proud have forged a lie against me,
  But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.
  Their heart is as fat as grease,
  But I delight in Your law.

 It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes. – Psalmist (Ps 119:67-71)

Before the Psalmist encounter sufferings, he was on the wrong path. When he was afflicted, and he considered his life and realise his mistake. He turn back to God and became a changed man . That is why he said the suffering was good for him. Even though his body suffered, his soul was saved.

The same thing happened in the parable of the Prodigal son,  we can see how he learnt obedience through his suffering. That changed his entire life. In the end he received everything he once lost.

So when we encounter suffering, let us think and reflect. Are there gaps in our life of faith? Have we been following and obeying God? Suffering is not an indication of God departing from us. On the contrary It is a demonstration of his love, for he is using suffering to wake us up.

A Story To Share

There was a lamb who lived in the green pasture, all is peaceful and happy. There was a tall fence protecting them. There were barb wires around it. They have a good shepherd that loves and protect them.

But suddenly the peace was disrupted. A mysterious wolf came and there are nights where lambs will go missing. No one knew how the wolf entered the pen, for the fence was impregnable.

The older sheep says “Although we cannot see him, but we know he exist, let us just accept the fact, for wolves will always steal sheep and there is nothing we can do.”

But there was a young lamb who refuse to agree, he wanted to find the reason. He envisioned that one day there is no sheep that will go missing.  Sadly, his dream remain a dream for he was captured before he could win. But his death moved the rest of the flock.

They searched and found the problem. They notice that whenever there was rain, no  sheep will not go missing. Eventually this led them to the problem, there was the stream  flowing through the pen.  On rainy days, the stream was flowing fast and the wolves cannot enter the pen. When it is clear, the wolves are able to swim through the fence and attack the sheep. 

From then on, no sheep fell victim to the wolves anymore.

Conclusion

That story ended with  a happy ending, but can we have a similar ending in our lives? Are there holes in the fence of our lives? 

Why is it that we used to love but now we hate each other, why is it that we used to travel on the same direction but now we have disagreements. why is it that we treat each other as strangers even though we are family?

Worst still “Why is it that non Christians mock us asking whether we are truly the disciples of Christ?

Let us mend the hole in our lives so that we can have a better life from now on.

Introduction

Tonight is the last night of year 2013. Since the year 2011, I have begin to write a sharing on the last night of the year. I started this habit because i feel that it is a good habit to use the last night of the year to review and to think about God before the new year arrives.

For we know that not every one had the chance to see the new year coming. We know that December this year is marred by many air disasters, and just a few days ago, hundred of souls perished on Airasia flight QZ8501 . The incident saddens me as I am a frequent flier of the airline and I hope that God would bring comfort to the bereaved families from the  incident.

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes we do not know when the last night of our lives is coming. Sometime ago I was sharing about Daniel chapter 5, and how it recorded the last night of a particular king .

“That very night Belshazzar, king
   of the Chaldeans, was slain.”- Daniel (Dan 5:30)

King Belshazzar did not know that he would be slain on that very night when he saw the finger of God writing on the wall. That was also the night where the kingdom of Babylon had fallen. Sometimes we wonder why did his judgement came so swiftly.

The Reason 1 : King Belshazzar Did Not Give Glory To God

Daniel gave the reason why judgement came before King Belshazzar

“And you have lifted yourself
  up against the Lord of heaven.
  They have brought the vessels
  of His house before you, and you
  and your lords, your wives and
  your concubines, have  drunk wine
  from them. And you have  praised
  the gods of silver and gold, bronze
  and iron, wood and stone, which
  do not see or hear or know; and the
  God who holds your   breath in His
  hand and owns all your ways, you
  have not glorified.”- Daniel (Dan 5:23)

Daniel gave 2 reason why King Belshazzar had sinned against God. The first reason was that King Belshazzar did not give glory to the God who had given him life. For God is the reason why he continues living

Man ought to give thanks to the Lord who created life, but King Belshazzar chose to praise the idols.  But the true God is the one who govern our ways and he is a judge, one day everyone had to be judged by him. But the king choose not to believe in that God, instead he chose to mock God by taking the vessels of the temple of God for his pleasure. His action did not glorify God

One of a main reason why man will not give God the glory is because he did not believe that all that he had came from God. Man tends to think that his achievements, talents and wealth were a result of is own effort. that is why they rather give glory to himself than to give glory to God.

That is why God once spoke true Moses

 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord
  your God by not keeping His commandments,
  His judgments, and His statutes which I
  command you today, lest—when you have
  eaten and are full, and have built beautiful
  houses and dwell in them;  and when your herds
  and your flocks multiply, and your silver and
  your gold are multiplied, and all that you have
  is multiplied;  when your heart is lifted up, and
  you forget the Lord your God who brought you
  out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; “- Moses (Deut 8:11-14)

Moses knew the heart of man, so he warn the Israelites not to be proud and haughty when they achieve success. He wanted them to know that all these came from God. Indeed man had to struggle and put in effort to achieve riches, but if God did not provide the time and life, how can man put in any effort?

Since it is God who gave us life so that we can achieve our success, let us learn to thank God and give glory to God. For a man who knows that will never be proud, for he knows that all that he had came from God. Without God his effort will amount to nothing.

So let us ask ourselves, do we give glory to God? Do we acknowledge  that all that we receive came from God? If we understand it, we will come to worship and thank God, we will chose to serve him. Let us not be like King Belshazzar, for he achieved nothing at the end of his life.

 The Reason 2: King Belshazzar Did Not Humble His Heart

“But you his son, Belshazzar, have
  not humbled your heart, although
  you knew all this.” – Daniel (Dan 5:22)

Daniel was referring to the incident of King Nebuchadnezzar his grandfather. King Nebuchadnezzar was haughty at a point in his life, and he felt as if the kingdom of Babylon was built by him. Before he can finish saying , the judgement of God came and he was stripped of his kingship. He became insane and he ate grass like an ox.

King Nebuchadnezzar became well later on when he repented and he received the grace from God. As the result, he humbled himself and praise God

 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and
  extol and honor the King of heaven,
  all of whose works are truth, and His
  ways justice. And those who walk in
  pride He is able to put down.”- Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:37)

The incident of King Nebuchadnezzar is known all over the palace, even though Belshazzar his grandson heard of it, he did not humble before God. God had already given him a model and an example, but he choose to make the same mistake, to mock God and to continue sinning. That is why God chose to judge him that night.

Why Did God show Partiality?

But as we read the bible we cant help but wonder “Since Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar are all proud and haughty. Why did God choose to treat them differently? Why is Belshazzar killed that very night and King Nebuchadnezzar is punish 1 year later (CF: Dan 4:28-29) ?

When King Nebuchadnezzar saw the vision, God chose not to punish him as he took the advice of Daniel

“Therefore, O king, let my advice
  be acceptable to you; break off your
  sins by being righteous, and your
  iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.
  Perhaps there may be a lengthening of
  your prosperity.”- Daniel (Dan 4:27)

When the king took the advice of Daniel, his prosperity is lengthened, but unfortunately King Nebuchadnezzar forgot it by the end of 12 month and he chose t glorify himself once again. That is when God chose to execute his judgement. From this incident we can see that God indeed love sinners and he wanted to give them chance to repent. But sadly not everyone cherish the opportunity.

Some will wonder, why did Daniel not give the same advice to King Belshazzar? Daniel must have seen that Belshazzar is worst and more wicked than his grandfather. Even though both are haughtily, but King Nebuchadnezzar could still see that God is stronger than him. He never dared to use the vessels that he took from the house of God in Jerusalem, he left them locked out in the treasury of his temple. But Belshazzar was different, he think he is stronger than God.

He knew that the articles belong to the temple of God, but he chose to use them to drink and make merry. He thought that God did not exist, for he did not stop him from using the vessels.  Since he deny the existing of God, God decided to deny him of his existence.

Just as he think that God was powerless before him, his finger appear and wrote on the war. The bible describe his reaction vividly.

“Then the king’s countenance changed,
  and his thoughts troubled him, so that
  the joints of his hips were loosened and
  his knees knocked against each other”- Daniel (Dan 5:6)

That was the night he was slain, it was his last night on earth. It was too late for regrets, even though God had given him ample time to repent, but he did not seize the chance to repent.

The words that God has written is not just for King Belshazzar, it is for all to see. Let us learn from the warning from God, and consider the meaning of the writing on the wall. For God had recorded them in the bible for us to read.

The words are written in Dan 5:25-28

MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;

Mene is a word that means “To Count”. As humans we often spend our lives counting, but have we learn to count our own days? Moses once taught us

“The days of our lives are seventy years;
  And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
  Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
  For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
  Who knows the power of Your anger?
  For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
   So teach us to number our days,
  That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:10-12)

Our lives are actually short. Sometimes we forget to number our days and we spend all our time counting the achievements we made. As the result, we cannot see the true gain and loss within our own lives.

For when we gain something we lose something in return. we need to ask ourselves a the end of the day if we have really gained something or lose something. We often sacrifice our health our relationship to gain wealth, as the result we are too busy  for our family and loved ones. Even though we may end up with wealth and fame, but can they be used to get back lost relationship?

There are something in life that we can never gain back, and they became regrets and pain within our lives. Therefore Moses here reminds us to have the wisdom to number our days. For we need to pursue after the real thing that are with our effort. For our lives on earth is limited, we need to know what is really critical in our lives.

Usually when a man reach the last stage of his life, he will realise that there are many things are no longer important. that is when he will see those that are  really important.

So if tonight is our last night on earth what can we give in exchange of our life? What can bring us up to heaven in the end? Let us learn to pursue after the things that are important and cannot be done away with.

Paul reminds us

“See then that you walk circumspectly,
   not as fools but as wise, redeeming the
   time, because the days are evil.
  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand
  what the will of the Lord is.” – Paul (Eph 5:15-16)

Indeed, when year 2014 pass, we can never return to it, that is why Paul remind us to walk circumspectly, redeeming the time, we need to cherish our time and life must not be wasted. Let us not be unwise and understand the will of God.

For a fool will believe that there is no judgement, he will eat drink and be merry, for he thinks that after his death, there is no judgement. The wise will use his time to pursue and worship God, he will spiritually nurture himself and repent.

TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;

Tekel means “To Weight”. King Belshazzar was weight no the balances in heaven, he was found wanting. The Psalmist once used the same expression

“Surely men of low degree are a vapor,
  Men of high degree are a lie;
  If they are weighed on the scales,
  They are altogether lighter than vapor.”- Psalmist (Ps 62:9)

During his time, the society was divided between the higher and the lower class. The man in the high society are people with power and authority they had the power to shape the world and do many thing. People in the world feels that they are VIPs.

But in the scale of God, even such man are found to be lighter than vapour. So today when we enjoy power and authority, let us remember the teaching of Tekel. Let us not be found to be like vapour before the scales of God. For God is severe to those who are found wanting

“‘You wicked servant! I forgave
   you all that debt because you 
   begged me.  Should you not also
   have had compassion on your fellow
   servant, just as I had pity on you?”- Jesus (Mat 18:32-33)

We are all familiar with the parable of the unforgiving servant. He forgot the fact that his master had forgiven him of debts, and he only remember what the other servants owe him. As the result of his unwillingness to forgive his fellow servant. The master came to settle his score with him.. In the end he is delivered to the torturers until he can pay his debts.

Christian often think that this is regarding master and servant, but Jesus said this

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven
  is like a certain king who wanted
  to settle accounts with his servants.”- Jesus (Matt 18:23(

God indeed wants to settle account with all his servant, and he want to weight us on his scale. He wants to know if we are found wanting in the eyes of God or man.

Year 2014 is just like a book of account. We may have gain a lot, but we also found wanting in many areas, We may have owed others but we all owe God. If tonight is to be our last night we can never repay all that we owe.

Let us thank God for allowing us to live, for tonight is only the last night of the year, God has still given us a chance to make atonement and to make right the wrongs that we have done. Let us learn to seize this opportunity.

Most importantly let us be willing to come before God to confess and repent from our sins. Let us be willing to nurture ourselves spiritually and uphold the teaching of God. Let us not be like Belshazzar who lose his chance to turn back. Let us emulate king David

“Have mercy upon me, O God,
  According to Your lovingkindness;
  According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
  Blot out my transgressions.
   Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
  And cleanse me from my sin.
  For I acknowledge my transgressions,
  And my sin is always before me.”- David (Ps 51:1-3)

David knew his weakness before God and he ask God to forgive him of his sin. For He knew he can never repay the debts. But let us learn to go beyond just asking God for forgiveness. For there are many who stop there.

If one were to continue to sin after Gods forgiveness, it will result to a greater punishment. Let us consider (PS 51:9-10)

“Hide Your face from my sins,
  And blot out all my iniquities.
  Create in me a clean heart, O God,
  And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”- David (Ps 51:9-10)

Beside asking Got to forgive our sins, let us resolve to follow his words, let us ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse us to help us. To cleanse our hearts and to renew a steadfast spirit within me.

This is something we all must pursue

PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

UPHARSIN is also Aramaic for Paras. That word means “To Separate”. For that night the kingdom of Babylon is divided between the Medes and the Persian. When Jesus comes again, man will also be divided between right and left.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory,
  and all the holy angels with Him,
  then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
 
All the nations will be gathered before Him,
  and He will separate them one from another,
  as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
 
And He will set the sheep on His right hand,
  but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say
  to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of
  My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
  from the foundation of the world:”-Jesus (Matt 25:31-34)

Will we be on the left or on the right. That depend on which side we choose to take.  If one repents and walk on the path together with God, we will be on his side. And those who choose to walk on their own path will be on the other.

Let is be on the side of God when he comes again, for the last night will come surely. Let us be sure where we are standing on.

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