Recently there was a comment on the blog that got me curious about the name list of the Descendents of Israel. Hence I decided to list the names in a table and do a calculation of the people listed in Genesis chapter 46. The counting of the children born from each of Jacobs 4 wives could be verified easily. But I think the difficulty lies in the following verses

“All the persons of the house of Jacob
who went to Egypt were seventy.” – Moses (Gen 46:27)

12 Sons + 1 Daughter +  53 Grand Children + 4 Great Grandchildren = 70

Interestingly, I believe that when all the house of Jacob was used. Even the children who had passed away in Canaan are included in the number.

“All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt,
who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’
wives, were sixty-six persons in all” – Moses  (Gen 46:26).

I believed the numbers are derived as follows
70 – Er (Died in Canaan ) – Onan(Died in Canaan)- Ephraim (Living In Egypt)-Manasseh (Living In Egypt)

Just to share the chart since it was already completed

A Summary of all the names and the numbers in Gen 46

A Summary of all the names and the numbers in Gen 46

A PDF version can be downloaded here: Gen 46 Numbers

Introduction

So far we have examine the choices made by many characters in the bible.

We look at the choices of the following Characters

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

Let us take a look at the choices Of Agur

Many of us would wonder who Agur is, for there are no bible stories associated with him. What choice did he make?

“Two things I request of You
  (Deprive me not before I die):
   Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
  Give me neither poverty nor riches—
  Feed me with the food allotted to me;
  Lest I be full and deny You,
  And say, “Who is the Lord?”
  Or lest I be poor and steal,
  And profane the name of my God.”- Agur (Prov 30:7-9)

So what do you think of the choice that Agur made? He prayed for 2 things before the Lord. He wanted the Lord not to deprive him of it. He wanted to receive them before he die and they are important to him. His choice is a choice that we must make in this life as well. 

But do we regard these as important? If we believe in its importance  we will pray for them just like Agur.  One of his choice concern his life on earth while the other concern his character. 

These are the choices we ought to make as we live our lives on earth.

The Importance Of Making The Right Choice

We need to be mindful of how we live and how we behave.  For Agur saw something that is beyond our lives on earth. He knew that we will eventually be judged by God, just as  Elder Peter said. 

“but as He who called you is holy, 
you also be holy in all your conduct,
 
because it is written, “Be holy, for I 
am holy.”

  And if you call on the Father, who 
without partiality judges according 
to each one’s work, conduct yourselves 
throughout the time of your stay here 
in fear; “ – Peter (1 Pet 1:15-17)

Our God is a just God, and he will not treat us with partiality when he judge us. As the children of God we need to put the fear of God in our heart. That is why Agur made his choice knowing that we all have to face judgement one day.

Likewise we need to make a choice on how we want to lead our lives on earth. The people of the world often plan for their lives. They set goals, and they wanted to enjoy their lives and attain their goals. That is a good thing

But Christians need to make an additional resolve to lead a life without sin.For we need to consider how we would appear before God at his judgement seat.

The people of the world had many goals in life. Some wanted riches, some wanted power and authority, some wanted to be famous. For all wants to be somebody before the eyes of the world. Yet Agur choose to focus on how he would appear before the eyes of God. He had made the right choice for we will all face judgement eventually. 

Therefore let us learn from Agur and make the right choice, let us strive to be a true and sincere man so that we can stand blameless before God. Let us examine his choice in greater details

Pt 1: To Remove All Falsehood And Lies  

Agur ask the Lord to remove all lies and falsehood from him. For our God is a truthful God who hate all forms of Hypocrisy and falsehood. He is pleased with a true and sincere person. He will often choose men with such traits to serve him. Lets take a look at one example

Jn 1:47-48

Jesus : “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
Nathaniel: “How do You know me?”
Jesus : “Before Philip called you, when you
                were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

When Jesus was preaching, he came across many Jews, he called many of them hypocrite. But here he called Nathaniel a true Israelite. But what did he mean by a “True Israelite”. Perhaps we all have our own definitions. But Jesus defines it as “A man with no deceit , a man with no guile” .

When Philip told him that he had seen the Messiah and he is Jesus of Nazareth. He remarked “Can anything good came from Nazareth?” . In his eyes the town of Nazareth is not famous and there are nothing good will come from there.  Philip did not debate with him and he just said “Come and see”

At that point Nathaniel realised he had been very partial and unfair, for even a honest man can have the wrong perspective and thinking. Nathaniel realised his mistake, so he changed and went with Philip. He was willing to change for he know that it will only be fair if he sees Jesus before commenting.

But when he came to Jesus, Jesus said “Behold an Israelites Indeed in whom is no deceit”. For Nathaniel came in search of the true facts, and he is trying to understand. If he insist on his view that nothing good came from Nazareth, then he is a deceitful man. But now he is honest and he knew that what he said was wrong.

These are the character that pleases Jesus.  For there is a possibility that we may have said something wrong as a human being. But we need to have a honest and truthful heart. We need to have the courage to admit our mistake and change.

Honestly As The Most Important Character Trait

What will we regard as the most important character trait?  Will it be love, Humility , Gentleness Or Honestly. Some regards love as the most important for it endures forever.  Some regards humility as  important, for God hates the proud.

But I feel that honestly and truthfulness is important, for without it, nothing will be real.

You may see a man full of  acts of love & humility. His love and humility may move you to respect him and to love that person. It may even make you testify of his good deeds. But if one day you are aware of the true objective behind his action. You will lose all your respect and love for that man, for now you know that his humility, love and gentleness are nothing but a facade.  

If we could appreciate the scenario above, you will regard truthfulness and honestly as the most important traits. You will understand  why Jesus hated the Pharisees, for they appear good and spiritual before everyone around. They are often seen offering tithes, preaching and expounding the words of God. Many of them spent time copying scriptures and teaching them to the children of Israel. They receive recognition and admiration from others, they are called Rabbi on the streets.

But yet Jesus criticized them directly, he called them hypocrites. He said they are not truthful and they did them only for others to see. They have their own agenda and they had gone against the word of God. We knew that Jesus hated their hypocrisy for it was written all over the gospel. 

That is why we need to learn from Agur, and to ask God to help us, we need to ask God to take away falsehood and lies away from us. It is important before God and important to man as well. For we like things that are real and sincere  We wanted our spouse to love us with their heart, we like our children to show us filial piety from the heart .

If one day we have spent a fortune  getting something  only to find that it is a fake. We will be very disappointed. That is why truthfulness and honestly is so important.

The Value Of Honestly In The Eyes Of The World

There was a man who once said to a Christian mother, “Your child is honest, he choose not to cheat even when his friend cheated”.  But the mother said “What is the use of being honest?  He still failed his test”

There was once someone who said to a wife “I envy that you have a honest husband” Yet the wife replied “What’s the point of  him being honest? He got no talents”

It seems that everyone understood that a honest man is a good man. But we feel that honesty is a  useless trait.  On the contrary, we  look up to people with the ability to study, the ability to make money. We regarded those abilities as  more important than honesty. Our world is a world that do not value honesty nor is it interested to nurture honestly among the people.

We have many type of  prizes in the world, there are given to people who made contribution in the field of science and the field of literature. There are prizes for the promotion of economic sciences but never a prize for the morally upright. Perhaps the only prize closest to that is the peace prize. But that is given to anyone who made contribution to world peace. The winner need not be a morally upright person . He could receive the prize as long as he uses his influence to promote world peace. It does not consider the fact that the individual may be immoral or perhaps even violent.

In our pragmatic world, it rewards anyone who is able to make a contribution to the world. As long as one could contribute, the world will always be willing to give all the applause and laud the he wants. They will respect him and give him whatever he desire/

But the world regard men without talent as pitiable regardless of  how morally upright the person may be. That is how our world works, it will be so even if we like it or not.

But God is different from the people of the world. God does not look at our abilities nor look at our contribution to the world. God is interested in what is in our heart, what type of character we are. He wants to know if we are a man without guile.

Pt 2: Give me Neither Poverty Or Riches

If we only focus on our accomplishment and our contribution to the world. We will sigh and be disappointed when the day comes when we outlive our usefulness.  For the world no longer looks up to you and they have found a new idol to idolize.

That is when we would rather be less capable and more faithful. 

Perhaps we may be poor in the past, but we used to have a happy and affectionate family then. But now even though we are rich and capable, we are unable to find time for our family.

Perhaps our children are filial and loving in the past. But even though they are rich, successful and famous, they refuse to acknowledge their parents.  Then we would rather wish that they were poor, simple and honest.

We need to be careful with our choices so that we can avoid that regret.

The Brutal Truth About Our Achievements In Life

There was a woman diagnosed with breast cancer during the year 2010. She died in 2011 and she reflected much over that last year for her life. She ponder over the question “Why am I suffering from breast cancer?”

She was a young doctorate degree holder, with a wealthy husband who loved her. They had a lovely child and her life was smooth and beautiful. She used to believe that these were all  the fruit of her labour. For nothing is free in this world and there is a price to pay for every success and pleasure. The more she reflected, she realised that she had indeed sacrificed much for her personal success.

Just as these successes came quickly, they were taken away from her swiftly as well. There was nothing she could do to take them back. If she could turn back time, she would have chosen to lead a less busy but simpler life.

We all knew that it is impossible to turn back time, that is why she shared her experience hoping that others like her would listen. She wanted to say that one could never take their achievements back to heaven.

This is a truth that we are all well aware of, will we choose to make the right decision?

Let us not regret only when we are at the end of our life. Let us not wait until we lose our health, our love and our children before we regret. If we have sacrificed our faith for those success. Would that not be too big a price to pay?

Let us come to this realisation and let us make a good choice in life.

As it was my custom since 2010, I would specially post a hymn on the 3rd may of the year.  3rd may had always been a special day in my life.

So far I have shared the following hymns

What A Friend I have In Jesus” – May 3rd 2010
“Thanks to God” – May 3rd 2011
“Day By Day” – May 3rd 2012
“All The Way The Savior Leads Me” – May 3rd 2013
“Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer” – May 3rd 2014

This year I was reading an article about the hymns “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus”.  It was a hymn that I have not heard for some time,  So I did a bit of research onto the lyrics and the history behind the hymn.

The lady who wrote the lyrics was Louisa Stead. She was a widow, she lost her husband during a family picnic.While they were sitting down enjoying the day,  they heard a scream. They saw a boy drowning in the water. Mr Stead attempted to save the boy, but it was not successful. Louisa and Lily could only watch helplessly by as Mr Stead died with the boy.

Louisa and Lily became a pair of helpless widow and child. They became poor and destitute. But yet they experienced the love of God. For God moved many people to provide for them.

Eventually the love of God moved Louisa and Lily Stead to work as missionaries in south Africa. Let us read the lyrics of the hymn together.

 

Title : Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Words: Louisa Stead, 1882.
Music: William Kirkpatrick.

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know, Thus saith the Lord.

  • (Chorus)
    Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
    How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,
    Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus!
      O for grace to trust Him more.

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me,
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood.

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life, and rest, and joy, and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
 

 

Here is a video of the backstory

“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
Lesson 5: Learning Obedience In The Midst Of Suffering

Lets look at the 6th Lesson

Learning To Show Filial Piety At Home

“Honor widows who are really widows. 
   But if any widow has children or
  grandchildren, let them first learn to
  show piety at home and to repay their
  parents; for this is good and acceptable
  before God.
  … ….
  But if anyone does not provide for his own,
  and especially for those of his household,
  he has denied the faith and is worse than
  an unbeliever.” –Paul (1 Tim 5:3-4, 8)

Paul was talking about being filial to ones parents and showing filial piety. Most people will acknowledge the fact that parents played an important part in their lives. It was the parents who had taken care of them while they were children. There is no doubt that parents played an important role in their process to maturity.

While the west regards filial piety as an Asian concept. The fact is that even in Asia the trend of showing filial piety is eroding.  There was reports of parents suing their children for neglecting them. This situation should be worst as there are many parents who refuse to take their children to courts for neglect.

We are bound to find some Christians among those guilty as well. Which is why Paul rebuke the Christians of his days.  Those Christians send their elderly to the church and expect the church to take care of them.

But the church was only obligated to take care of the widow and the helpless. That is why Paul taught that Christian children ought to show filial piety at home first.

Paul said that those who do not provide for his own are worst off then unbelievers.

How Do We Show Filial Piety?

Therefore let us learn to honour our parents and to love and take care of them. At the  basic level, we should spend time to call them and to find out if they are well. Despite the fact that most parents would lie to their children even if they are unwell, that is the bare minimum one could do. 
 
There are a few aspects in life  that we could consider to show filial piety to.

Livelihood : Some parents gave too much for their children that they failed to accumulate  enough savings for themselves. Therefore Children ought to take care of the livelihood of their parents. Especially when  our parents are too old to earn an income.

Even though many of us live in an affluent place, there are still plenty of needy around us. When we were younger, we depended on our parents for our daily allows. Many a times our parents gave more than they could afford. Therefore it is only fair that the children ought to help care for the livelihood of our parents. 

Respect: Many Children in the modern era tend to look down the elderly. For it appears that they are unable to keep up to pace in our modern world. Many of them are not good at using modern gadgets and technology. Sometimes we find them a nag when they repeat the same question again and again.

But yet God commanded his children to respect the elderly.

“‘You shall rise before the gray headed and
  honor the presence of an old man, and fear
  your God: I am the Lord”- YHWH (Lev 19:32)

This concept was taught in the new testament as well.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord,
   for this is right. “Honor your father and
  mother,” which is the first commandment
  with promise:  “that it may be well with you
   and you may live long on the earth.”- Paul (Eph 6:1-3)

Love:  Many thinks that their basic duty is just to provide money to their parents. But we often neglect the fact that  our parents are lonely, especially when all the children are away from home.

Love and affection can never be replaced with money. Our parents needed our love and our time with them. One could never take away his wealth and possession when they die. At that point of times, only memories and love are important.

For it is love that grants us peace, it will allow us to be at peace before God. If one is able to show love to his parents, siblings and family. He is able to show love to the church as well. That is the love that will allow us strength to face the Lord without fear.

Love has been perfected among us in this:
  that we may have boldness in the day of
  judgment; because as He is, so are we in
   this world.  There is no fear in love; but
  perfect love casts out fear, because fear
  involves torment. But he who fears has
  not been made perfect in love.  “ – John (1 Jn 4:17-18)

Love can give us boldness in the day of judgement. Perfect love cast our all fear. The fact is that death not as scary as it looks. For the pain is only temporary. No matter how painful it is, that pain will go away one day. 

That is why man ought to fear the judgement that is to  come after death. If we have loved God and love his family, if we have loved our siblings and our parents, then that love will allow us to face the judgement of God in peace.

These are all lessons we ought to learn in life, may we learn down with the guidance of the spirit of God.

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 

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