February 2011


My friend was sharing about the vanity of the work place, and how companies nowadays kind of, through the administration of performance and appraisal, reward the people who are not doing work and yet fire and persecutes the people that are dutifully doing their duties.

Many a times in life, bosses do not remember the 1000 good things you have done, but yet they remember than 10 things that you have made mistakes for. Once a friend of mine showed me his appraisal, which is made up of many accusations of the things he hasn’t done.

Actually, my friend wanted very much to quit from the company, but yet, despite the low “Performance rating” given by his superior, they refuse to discharge him of his duties although he had written for a transfer many times.

His predicament reminded me of this little parable spoken by King Solomon
There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.” – Solomon (Eccl 9:14-15)

No wonder King Solomon called life as vanities of vanities, and all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind. (Eccl 1:14)

For that Parable, the Solomons conclusion is found in the next few verses
“Wisdom is better than strength.
Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised,
And his words are not heard.
Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard
Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war;
But one sinner destroys much good.” – Solomon (Eccl 9:16-18)

I really wondered, with all the funny things that are going on in our corporate culture, are we progressing or just “making a living”? We have to remind ourselves that we live in a world where 80% of work is done by 20% of the people.. while the remaining 80% of the people spends time criticising and downsizing the 20% all in the name of “Better Efficiency” and “Lowering Cost”.

It is hope that one day the management will reward the right people, encourage the right culture. But i guess with the advent of the Sukhomlinov Business Managers and the Report Hungry Generation, that will be an ideal that can never be reach. But again… I still believe in Solomon’s conclusion of the matter ūüėČ . Let us read it aloud together

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil. ” – Solomon (Eccl 12:13-14)

Meanwhiles, for both of my friends, let us take comfort that although our work is not appreciated, we are still deemed as wise man (At least in Solomon’s eyes). Let us learn to lift our heads high as the poor wise man, and wait on the Lord for his justice.

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In these few days, this hymns has been in my mind, so i decided to do some research over it.

This hymn was written by George Bennard (1873-1958) and the hymn has been sing by many famous people. hmm I did not notice that Elvis Presley sang that before also. From the comments in youtube, I think it is a very common funeral hymn in the US.

As I thought about the cross and death by Crucifixion, I am not sure how many of us knew that Crucifixion is one of the worst punishment that can be meted out by the Roman Governors. It is usually done to the worst of all criminals in ancient Rome and is often use in Judea as a punishment to rebels and messiah wannabes who wanted to lead the people to rebel against Rome.

The criminals are often crucified at hills so that they can be seen from afar, this serves as an deterrence to all rebels and messiah wannabes in the time of Jesus.

When one is crucified on the cross, his blood will be left to drip, while he needs to use his legs to constantly pull himself up in order to breath. It is a very painful way to die, and the Romans would often give the victim a mixture of sour wine mingled with gall (Matt 27:34), it will serve as a anaesthetic to make the death less painful. They often view this act as the last humane thing they could do for the victim.

Usually, the victim is left to die on the cross, but if there is a need for them to die quickly, the soldiers may break the legs of the victim (Jn 19:31). The purpose of this is to make sure the victim will not have the strength to pull himself up to breath and thus die by suffocation.

In the case of Jesus, because he looks dead, so the centurion decided to pierce his body. Most combat medics will tell you, if a person is dead for some time, the red and the white blood cells would be separated hence “blood and the water came out” (Jn 19:34). That is used to confirm the death of the victim.

This is the mechanics of Christ punishment.

It is through such a gruesome punishment that God opened the true and living way to salvation. Sometimes i wonder why did God choose such a painful way to pay for our sins. Perhaps i guess the real answer will only be known when we get to heaven to ask him. Right now i have the tendency to believe that only by such death can all his blood be poured out. The new covenant that God made with man is based on the blood of Jesus (Heb 10:1-18).

Yet, often or not, we preach the message of the sacrifice of Jesus and the way to be reconciled with God to the world, we are often viewed as fools.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – Paul (1 Cor 1:18)

Sometimes i wonder how many of us still hold on to that conviction that Christ has paid for all our sins using that old rugged cross. How many of us really treasure our relationship with God, and have we often traded our old rugged cross with something else?

During the time of the apostles, the term “Christian” is actually an insult, and a derogatory term for the believers of Jesus. Being a Christian then often means that one will have to flee for their lives, hiding in the catacombs and the outskirt of the city. Being burnt on the stake and being thrown into the lions den for the entertainment of the Romans.

One of the most interesting account that left a deep impression in me is found in one of the records of the early church fathers, about Polycarp, a bishop in Smyrna during the second century AD. He was burnt on the stake in the stadium during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. he was 86 years old when he died. (Some claimed that he is older, and he was only converted to Christianity for 86 years before he died). He tried his best to run away but was eventually captured by the Romans

This conversation is based on a early Christian writings known as “The Epistle and Martyrdom of St Polycarp” (I have rephrased some of the old English to help readers to understand what Polycarp said)

When he was brought into the stadium, there was an uproar in the stadium he was being trialed by the Proconsul (thats a high ranking Roman official) who did not really want to kill the old man.

Proconsul: “Have respect to your old age,
                        Swear by the fortune of Caesar;
                        repent, and say, Away with the
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Atheists.”

Polycarp:¬† “Away with the Atheists.”
                      (Refusing to swear by Caesar)

Proconsul: “Swear, and I will set you free,
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† reproach Christ;”

Polycarp:¬†“Eighty and six years have I served
                       Him, and He never did me any wrong:
                       how then can I blaspheme my King
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† and my Saviour?”

Proconsul : “Swear by the fortune of Caesar,”
                         (Trying to urge him again)

Polycarp:¬† “Since you urged me saying that, I
                       should swear by the fortune of Caesar,
                       and pretended not to know who and
                       what I am,  therefore hear my bold
                       declaration,

                       I am a Christian. And if you wish to
                       learn what the doctrines of Christianity
                       make an appointment with me , and
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† you shall hear them.”

Proconsul: “Persuade the people, ”

Polycarp: ” I have offered to share my faith with you,
                       for we are taught to give all due honour to
                       the powers and authorities which are
                       ordained of God. But as for these people,
                       I deem them unworthy to receiving any
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† testimony from me.”

Proconsul: “I have wild beasts at hand; I will cast you
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† into their den unless you repent”

Polycarp:¬†“Call them then, for we are not accustomed
                       to repent from what is good in order to adopt
                       that which is evil; but it is well for me to be
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† changed from what is evil to what is righteous.”

Proconsul: “Since you despise my punishment, I will
                        sentence you to be burnt by fire, unless
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† you repent”

Polycarp:¬† “You threatened me with fire which burns
                       for an hour, which will get extinguished in
                       a little while, but you are ignorant of the fire
                       of the coming judgement and of eternal
                       punishment, reserved for the ungodly. So whats
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† holding you back? Bring forth what you said.”

According to the epistle, he was burnt on the stake but the fire did not hurt him, and in the end they knife him to death. As it is the writings of the church fathers and not part of the Christian Bible, I will not attempt to prove if the epistle is true or not.

Personally as I read the story of Polycarp, I am very moved by his conviction, especially how he made the stand before the proconsul. Indeed he cling on to that old rugged cross even in the face of death. I remember Jesus once said

” Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” – Jesus (Matt 10:32-33)

I really wonder if I am trailed in the same way, will I ever have the courage to do the same.

Let us learn to cherish the old rugged cross just like the Christians before us.

Hmm I did not notice i spoke so much..I intially wanted to just write a simple message before the tune. But nonetheless.. lets sing it together

Title: The Old Rugged Cross
Lyrics and Tune : George Bennard

(Stanza 1)
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross
where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

(Chorus)

(Stanza 2)
Oh, that old rugged cross so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God
left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.

(Chorus)

(Stanza 3)
In the old rugged cross,
stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

(Chorus)

(Stanza 4)
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day
to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

(Chorus)
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

I only found 2 stanzas on youtube.. if you have the full tune please let me know

This is the second entry on the Warriors of David. In Part 1, we have went through the reasons why modern Christians should learn from the warriors of David. The warriors of David are relevant in todays world as Christians now serves the Lord Jesus in establishing the kingdom of God. This is liken to the days when the warriors aided David in establishing his kingdom

Besides having the basic trust and reliance, God requires his children to be willing to take up positions within the church, and such requires willing believers to take up the roles. God did not choose angels to accomplish this role, because God wanted to establish his kingdom together with his children , he wanted his children to share in Gods glory.

In order to appreciate the situations surrounding the warriors of David it is necessary for us to understand the Era of King David

Historical Setting Of The Warriors of David

It is tempting for many who reads the Old Testament Bible to think that the split among the tribes of Israel began only in the times of Rehoboam the son of Solomon (1 Kings 12). But how many of us would have imagined that the split happened much earlier? In fact the splits happened during the reign of Solomon as well.

After the death of King Saul, Abner (Saul’s Cousin) the general of Saul’s army made Ishbosheth the son of Saul as king over all Israel. 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel followed Abner and continue their support for the house of Saul. Only the Tribe Of Judah followed David. (2 Sam 2:8-11).

The Leadership of David

The leadership style of King David is very different from the politicians of our times. Over the times we see how dictators goes about mass murdering his oppositions to preserve their regime. This is especially true when we read about Chinese history, the deceptions and the craftiness of man were littered all over her 5000 years history. History had also seen the rule of famous dictators like Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin.

The motivation of David is somewhat different from the leaders of our time, David wanted to lead the people of Israel to have a correct faith, to have a faith with God.

It’s a daunting task for David to unify the Israelite kingdom especially when the rest of the tribes do not follow David. If David were to take the path of the modern despots, he would have declare a civil war against the house of Saul and. Some ancient Chinese may even say that David had the “Mandate from Heaven” and could jolly well use it and start a rebel army.

Others may advice him to take advantage of the fact that David is anointed by Prophet Samuel and paint a smear campaign on Abner by portraying him as someone who disobeyed the will of God

It is at this point then we can see the magnanimous heart of David. David is a king without ambition who loves the people of God like a shepherd cares for his sheep. David refuse to go into battle against his brethren and was willing to wait for the people to change their heart. He exercises this patience toward King Saul and now he is using the same treatment to the house of Israel. (2 Sam 2:11). David believe in Gods promise that he will be king, but he will not use his methods to accomplish the will of God. (Think about Rachel in Genesis & Jeroboam the king of Israel, they all tried to accomplish the will of God using their own methods, this is a great contrast against David)

Finally, the elders of Israel were moved by the spirit of God and the love of David, they relented, they all came to David saying

“Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over My people Israel.” (1 Chron 11:1-3)

How many of us would remember that David waited 7.5 years for that verse to happen?

Lessons Gathered In This Study

Davids leadership method was based on his faith, there are many Christians authors who like to make business books out of David, but sometimes I wonder, if Davids method of running the kingdom be used in a secular organisation, will chaos occur?

David did not establish his kingdom using the methods that are commonly used in companies and nation building. That is because Gods house is NOT a worldly organisation or a business

In business and politics, we practise meritocracy, we rewards people who bring in profits and persecute those who bring losses. We make use of people when they have a contributions and fire those who are not performing. There is a saying that in the midst of rewards one can often find heroes. The worldly organisation wants everything from you especially if you are capable. When you are old and worn out, they kick you away, making way for new capable people.

We live in a very realistic world that focus on numbers and profits, but the house of God do not work like this. God has a sense of values that differs from the world.

Although the house of God is made up of many people, each with a different idea and mentality. (This is somewhat similar to business and politics), it is tempting for us to employ worldly tactics to secure our positions and power and to get things moving. But have we ever realised that it is very difficult to judge if an individual is contributing to the church or not?

In the parable of the Talents(Matt 25:14-30), God’s reward for the servant with 5 talents and the 2 talents are the same Matt 25:21,23, he only rebuke the servant with 1 talents because he refuse to use it to serve God. So.. if we are going to apply meritocracy to it, will we make the one with 5 talents the manager? If the worker with 2 talent could produce 10 talents, will he be rewarded even more by the master? Will we retrench the staff with 1 talent because he is a liability to the organisation? If we were to judge by world standards, how many of the our brethren will have to be sack in order for the church to be effective?

God only requires all his children to put in all the effort to serve God, it doesn’t really practise the appraisal and rewards system as the world does.

God values the a widows 2 mites more than the thousands of talents placed in the temple Treasury(Mk 12:41-44), he values 1 sinner repenting more than 99 who does not need repentance (Lk 15:6-7) , 1 lost coin more than 9 coins (Lk 15:9-10) and the return of 1 prodigal son just as important as his son who serves him dutifully all this years (Lk 15:31-32).

Yes God requires his children to use their talents to establish his kingdom, he is ever waiting for them to respond to his call and to take up positions that he had intended. He has even distributed his gifts so that his children has to work together in order to accomplish the great work to save the souls of others. But God does not need them to apply their worldly work methods to establish his kingdom.

We often tend to abuse the verse
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Zech 4:6 to say that God do not require might and power. If we were to think about it, God is encouraging Zerubbabel not to rely on power and might but to rely on God, but that doesn’t mean power and might is not need. If Zerubbabel only spends his time praying and not rebuilding the temple, will the temple have been built?

David also once said in his Psalm
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” – David (Ps 20:7)

Personally I feel that leadership skills are needed in the church, but we have to make a differentiation between, real leadership skills in the church verses the ones in the world. For example, You may be a CEO of a large company, an Project Manager, or Sales Director of the multinational company. But you need not have the skills to lead a group of brethren in service to the Lord.

You may be a colonel in the army, a commissioned officer, but you need not have the expertise to lead the armies of the Lord.

God requires brethren who had talents and love for God flock to serve him in the church. God requires brave and willing warriors with talents that could work together to establish his kingdom .

In Gods kingdom, many things works the opposite just like how Jesus said it

“”The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.” – Jesus (Lk 22:25-27)

God did not need us to bring in our office politics (AKA shrewdness in the workplace), our methods to manage our vendors through long emails and official correspondence. Our management skills to to “set directions” and “having long meetings”. God did not need us to do peer appraisal and performance review.

God did not care about numbers, performance that are quantifiable, but rather he desires everyone to put in their utmost effort to serve him. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 , 2, or 5 talents, what is most important is that we are all good and faithful servants.

As we learn to establish the kingdom of God using our trust in God as well as our talents, as we study deeper into the warriors of David together, let us also learn not to treat the house of God like the worldly organsation. Let us learn not to run the church by deploying worldly methods of management.

The bible concluded their records of the Warriors of David with the following verse
“Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God.” (1 Chron 12:22)

Let us learn to work together to form the army of God, not using worldly organisation methods, but in accordance to Gods will.

So far we have 5 Blog entries dedicated to the study of the 10 Plagues. They are

Part 1: Talks about the introduction and a brief summary of the story of Exodus
Part 2: Talks about the fairness of God in the 10 plagues
Part 3: Discusses how the 10 plagues teaches us about the power of God Vs the power of the devil
Part 4: Discusses the Mercy Of God from the 10 Plagues
Part 5: Discusses why God wanted his name to be propagated using the 10 Plagues

By right I was hoping to complete the study at part 5. Somehow or rather, I got a bit curious and I listened to the next sermon spoken in the series. I realised that there was one more point that was missed out. Hence I decided to create this bonus part to cover the topics.

This is really the last entry regarding our studies of the 10 plagues.

In the previous articles, we have covered that despite the fact that the ten plagues appears as pain and sufferings from the Egyptians, we can look beyond the suffering and see the fairness of Gods judgement, the almighty power of God as well as the mercy of God when he execute his judgement. We had also discussed that the 10 plagues had allow Gods name to be magnified among the other nations, this is not because of God needed extra glory, but rather, to save more souls for God. We also read the testimony of Rahab, who decided to repent before Gods judgement landed on the city of Jericho.

Do we know that the 10 plagues also serves as the training ground for Moses in his walk of faith? God made use of this incident of the 10 plagues to groom Moses into a great servant of the Lord. The sufferings of the 10 plagues is the punishment to the Egyptians, but it serves as Gods way to reform the faith of the people as well as to allow Moses to grow spiritually.

Lets first look at the result of that training.

And the LORD said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbour and every woman from her neighbour, articles of silver and articles of gold." And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people. Ex 11:1-3

This is spoken just before the 10th plague was executed. So far, the 9 plagues had impacted the people of Egypt significantly. As the Egyptians are tired out and were feeling disappointed. The Israelites became more and more exalted. The Pharaoh became more and more arrogant. Although he saw the almightiness of God, but he was unrepentant because he had a proud heart and is unwilling to submit to Gods power. Pharaoh’s hard heartedness came as a result of his pride. At this particular moment, we can see a great change in the man Moses, he became very great in the land of Egypt. His greatness came as the result of his continued trust in God and his willingness to submit to God.

The Initial State of Faith Of Moses

If we were to compare Moses at this moment verses the Moses in the burning bush. we can see a huge difference in him. At the burning bush, Moses keep pushing away the opportunities to serve God, yes he believed in God but he often say things like "Who am I that I should speak to the Pharaoh? I am slow of speech and of tongue" He gave many excuses. Moses needed to be persuaded by God and and there are times God need to show his anger before Moses complied.

It was because of that Moses faith was weak, that God have to make Aaron his brother the mouthpiece of Moses. In the beginning, Moses faith is weaker compared to Aaron his brother. Aaron not just spoke on Moses behalf, he even performed many miracles on behalf of Moses. Let us consider the how the first 3 plagues are executed

1st Plague
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’" And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the LORD commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. (Ex 7:19-20)

2nd Plague
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’" So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. (Ex 8:5-6)

3rd Plague
So the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’" And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. (Ex 8:16-17)

Did you notice, God was speaking to Moses, Moses has to tell Aaron what to do. The miracle was accomplished by the rod of Aaron.

The Improvement of The Faith Of Moses

What about the 4th and 5th plague? You will start to notice a change compared to the first 3

4th Plague
And the LORD said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. (Ex 8:20-21 )

5th Plague
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep-a very severe pestilence. (Ex 9:1-3)

Notice the absence of Aaron and Moses was talking to the Pharaoh directly. Aaron’s rod was no longer used to perform the miracle. These Miracles are accomplished by the words of Moses.

Lets take a look at the next plague.

6th Plague
So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt." Then they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses scattered them toward heaven. And they caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast. (Ex 9:8-10)

This miracle is done with the help of of the 2 brothers working together. God was talking to the both of them directly.

The Perfection Of The Faith of Moses

Moses faith is slowly improving that we can see a a very different Moses on the 7th to the 9th Plague

7th Plague
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt-on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt."And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. (Ex 9:22-23)

8th Plague
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land-all that the hail has left." So Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind on the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. (Ex 10:12-13)

9th Plague
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. (Ex 10:21-22)

We can see the same process in all these 3 plagues, God commanded Moses, Moses did everything. Did you notice Moses did not use the rod at all? Moses understood now God do not need the rod to perform a miracle, and miracles happen because of his obedience to God.

However, the last plague is performed by God himself, not through the rod of Moses or Aaron, because only God has the power of life and death. And that is Gods final judgement to the Pharaoh.

What did Moses learned from this?

Why does God have to go through this process to use the rod of Aaron first then use the rod of Moses? God appointed Aaron to be the mouthpiece of Moses and to perform miracles on behalf of Moses, was Aaron suspended from duties that’s why Moses had to take over? Yes indeed Aaron did make a mistake, but that was very much later in the wilderness journey at the foot of Mount Sinai. But at this current moment Aaron did not make a mistake. Then why did God do that?

God has willed to use Moses from the start, it is because of the weakness of Moses, that’s why God appointed Aaron to assist Moses and to perform miracles on Moses behalf. God wanted to train up Moses, for Moses to see how Gods power is manifested to the Pharaoh.

When Moses is growing in his faith, he did not need the help of Aaron, he is able to talk directly to the Pharaoh. So therefore Aaron is given the backseat and he must retire his rod. For it is time for Moses to use his rod to perform the miracles. That weak Moses at the burning bush was transformed into a great man before everyone, his faith had finally matured and he is able to become the leader whom the Israelites respected.

Let us not just concentrate on the great miracles perform by Moses, because the first few miracles were performed by Aaron. WE have to see how Moses transformed into a servant who completely submitted himself to God. He did not question God’s command, he simply submit and followed. This is very different from the initial Moses. Moses used to doubt the word of God, now he does not question God anymore, it is not because of a lack of courage, but rather, he knew that God is someone that we can trust and believe in. Although there are times Moses cannot understand the reason for Gods command, but he only needs to submit himself fully and do the work. This is one of the most important traits of the church worker.

Moses submission can be seen at the 10th Plague

Moses instruction to the Israelites at Passover

Let us read Moses instruction to the Elders of the Israelites

Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. (Ex 12:21-24)

This is one tall order to be issued to the Israelites isn’t it? After that incident when the Israelites kept the first Passover, they did so willingly and submitted to God completely as they personally experience the salvation of God during the Passover night in Egypt. Have they disobeyed Moses, their firstborn will be killed alongside the Egyptians. But we must understand that at the point of time in Ex 12, they are have not seen the firstborn being killed, if God were to request you to do this, will you have follow Gods instruction fully?

I know i will have many doubts in my mind " How is it possible for God to kill all the firstborn in one night? If we do not spread the blood on the doorpost., will our firstborn die? If the destroyer were to pass by in the day time, he would be able to see the blood on my door post, but will it be effective at night?

If I am Moses, I would be worrying, "How can I make the Israelites believe me? How am I to explain to them? Yes the Israelites have killed lambs before, but to spread the blood on the door? Does God have to make us go through so much hassle just to save us?"

I guess Moses only had one thought in his mind " This is the instruction of God, although I am unable to understand, nor do I know the theology behind the lamb, I do not know who this Passover lamb refer to, but I know that this lamb is suppose to take our place and die on our behalf. If we do not spread the blood on the doorpost, our firstborn will not die" Moses gave God his complete trust, as well as the Israelites because they all perceive that Moses is a great man. Which is why when Moses gave an order, they just carried out, no question asked. Ex 12:28 proves it. Moses completely obeyed God, and lead the people of Israel to do so, everything happen just as Gods instructed.

What we can learn from all these

This incident teaches us an important teaching, that we must follow the words of God, trusting in it and with complete obedience. Now, if God gives us an instruction, will we follow? Lets us do a simple test,
Jesus once told his disciples that "He who believes and is baptised will be saved" (Mk 16:16) and the apostles said, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;" (Acts 2:38) . We knew that the disciples conducts baptism in the name of Jesus, full immersion, and in living water .

We know that Baptism forgives sins, which is why Jesus wanted the disciples to do it (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, Titus 3:5, John 3:5) . Alot of times when we share this with our fellow Christian friends, they often question among themselves " Do we really need do it? Do we need that to wash away our sins?" Sometimes we try to reason ourselves, "If we follow the correct mode of baptism, but yet without faith, will it be valid? If no, that will mean faith is more important." Does that mean that we can change our mode of baptism just because we have faith?

Sometimes I wish that God will not make it so difficult for us, it is easy for a healthy man to undergo baptism in the sea or river, but it will be a huge test of faith if the person is sick or bed ridden, cant we just sprinkle water on him? There are many people who claimed that we are childish and the question why do we need to follow everything in the scriptures. They like to use Romans and say that it is our faith that justify us, and all we need to do is to say the sinners prayer and that’s all.

But isn’t all those verses instructions from God? Personally although there are still many things I am unable to rationalised about baptism, but I tell myself, I will do it according to God instruction. Jesus often taught us to "Go and do likewise" since it is a command from God, why cant we just accept it and do it?

Ironically in our workplace, when we are given specific orders to do, we do not question the order. This usually applies in both the Army and as well as our daily work.. but why then cant we apply this same principle onto God?

Isn’t Gods command of greater authority? Many of Gods instruction is not for us to question and requires our act of faith and complete obedience. If we always try to explain the instruction of God with logic, and only kept those where we can rationalised  and reject those that we cant, aren’t we telling God that, "I am not inferior to you, if your orders cannot be understood by my logical mind, I will not accept it?"

This is the exact reason why Adam sin, the devils started to clause doubts into him, "why do you need to abstain from the fruit? will you surely die?"

This same failure in the garden of Eden is repeating day by day, sometimes we cannot see our relationship with God. Moses could not see it initially, he argues, question God, but now you can see his obedience, Moses has truly humbled himself, and when he magnified the name God God, God made Moses great before the Pharaoh, the Egyptians as well as the Israelites.

Elder Peter once said this
"Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for " God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" – Peter (1 Pet 5:5-6)

Here Elder Peter taught the younger people to be humble, in fact we must all be humble regardless of our status and how strong our faith are. We must learn to be submissive to one another, not to demand others to be submissive to you. WE must learn to show respect to each other, and not expect others all to respect us. God will give grace to those who are humble

Verse 6 teaches us not to try to exalt ourselves, for the more we try to exalt ourselves, the harder the fall, we only need to humble ourselves before God, and lead others to submit to the word of God. Just like Moses, He did not force others to listen to him, but rather he lead the others to listen and to submit to God

The bible verdict to the live of Moses, is not about the great miracles that he had perform, but rather the bible talks about the faithfulness of Moses as a servant in the house of God, how he lead the Israelites to worship God. How he had given all the glory to God and not himself. He is just being a servant, using his explanation of the word of God to lead people to be humble before God.

And we see a truly different Moses, one that have achieve growth in his faith and spirituality, as well as maturity in his thoughts.

Perhaps there are times we have failed like Moses, lets not be too critical of our past, or to bother about what others have to comment about our past failures. Most importantly we have to continue to pursue improvement, just like Moses, who once relied on his own wisdom to save the Israelites. That lead him to flee the courts of the Pharaoh and to stay in Midian for 40 years. He once rejected Gods instruction but he eventually is able to do what God wanted him to do. He is able to lead the people out of Egypt not fearing the wrath of the Pharaoh

So let us pursue spiritual improvement, although the environment we are serving in is not always ideal. It may even clause us tears and sorrow. We may not understand why we need to go through these pain. Just like the case of the 10 plagues to Egypt, it also allow the Israelites and Moses to grow, when they left Egypt, they became the Army of the Lord, and started a new direction in their lives, they are no longer a slave to the Egyptians but the chosen race of God..

They helped to build up the kingdom of God and are servants in Gods kingdom, isn’t this the goal that all Christian wanted?

This concludes our study of the 10 plagues.

I have also create some simple hand-outs that could be used to summarized the story of the 10 plagues, it contains the pictures of the Egyptian gods that are targeted in the 10 plagues as well as the important points about the plague.

Download Hand-out Here

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the teachings drawn from Warriors of David. These warriors are recorded in the 1 Chron 11 and 12. There was a sermon spoken about it many years ago, so I have decided to rearrange them and present them on this blog.

1 Chron 11:9 tells us that David became great because God is with him. This is a big contrast to King Saul, initially King Saul follow God and fought many battles on Gods behalf.. However, he became proud in the latter part of his life. So much so that he disobeyed God on 2 occasions.

Finally God judged King Saul and this is what the bible says about it

“So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.” (1 Chron 10:11-14)

Although Saul was killed in action , his political power and influence did not end immediately. There was many Israelites who were in the side of the family of King Saul, they refuse to submit to David.. God was with David, and God guided him to help unite the kingdom of Israel.

But as God is guiding David, we also see that there were a band of mighty warriors of David who stood by him. While David was establishing his kingdom these mighty warriors assisted David to build the kingdom of God. Whenever David is in peril in the midst of battle, these mighty men stood side by side with the king and fought valiantly, accomplishing the work of God to establish the kingdom of David

The bible describes them as such
“Now these were the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel. ” (1 Chron 11:10)

The name list of the mighty warriors of David were recorded in 2 Sam 23 and 1 Chron 11 and 12. I will be use the record in 1 Chron 11-12 for the study, with supporting information from 2 Sam 23. The bible records the name list of the warriors as well as their acts, by reading it, one can see the courage of the warriors.

Why did the bible record these information? God wanted to recognised the work of the mighty warriors as well as to leave them as model examples for Christians to learn from them.

Reasons For Studying The Brave Warriors Of David

Today, Christians are entrusted with the duty to assist Jesus to establish the kingdom of God. We would definitely need the guidance of God, but at the same time, God requires mighty warriors who are willing to help establish the his kingdom.

Let us learn to actively take part in the gospel work as we pray and seeks God guidance. God is ever willing to guide and lead the church but he also wants brethren who are willing to take up positions alongside with God in this battle to save the souls of man. God wanted man to have a part in the glory and he wants to established his kingdom together with his sons.

 

When¬†God cries “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” (Is 6:8). What will our answer be?

Although we wanted to be like Isaiah who said “Here am I, send me” but quite often or not our reply would be “Here am I, but send him”.

There are also times where we give our reasons, claiming that there are many others who are more talented than us. One of the more interesting excuse saying that we would need a calling from God.

 

Sometimes we may wonder, why God doesn’t send his angels to do this work? Isn’t a testimony of an angel more effective than us preaching? Why didn’t God entrust this task to his angels? According to the author of Hebrews, angels are ministering spirits sent by God to minister to Christians (Heb 1:14), who will inherit salvation. God has chosen Christians to be his ambassadors, to reach out to sinners and to bring them to salvation.

 

This is clearly evident in the great commission that Jesus has given to all Christians

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus (Matt 28:18-20)

 

Sometimes we expect God to appear in a burning bush (EG: Moses) or inspire through the Holy Spirit (EG: Paul). Indeed it is true that there are occasions God choose special individual to accomplish specific task, but here God has already called out to all Christians. God has given Christians talents so that they can compliment each other and work together as a body of Christ. The real reason why God gave talents to people is to allow them to save souls and help him establish the kingdom of God.

 

God does not have unrealistic expectation of his children, all he wanted is that all his children were to minister each other according to the gifts they receive. As long as we are willing, there are always places that will require our service. Just like what Elder Peter said

 

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – Peter (1 Pet 4: 10-11)

 

Elder Peter also said

 

“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” – Peter (1 Pet 5:1-4)

 

Therefore if we were willing to do our part to help establish the kingdom of God, one day, when Jesus comes, our names will be recorded in the book of life, just like how the acts of the warriors of David was recorded in the bible. As we were reading the 2 passage, you will notice that there are many other names that were recorded in the list, their deeds were not recorded, but the fact that their names are mentioned tells us that God values the contribution of these warriors.

 

In my next blog entry, I would be talking about the common qualities of the warriors of David. Let us all learn to understand the will of God, let us be more than just a faithful believer in Christ. Let us learn to emulate the qualities of the warriors of David. Let us join in to help build up this kingdom of God.

 

Its nearing the end of the Chinese New Year. The Chinese calls this festival śė•Ťäā Meaning Spiring Festival. As the celebrations draw to a close, the earth slowly returns to Spring. The farmers will be planting and many new plans and dreams takes off.

I remember that the last Th day of the spring festival was also a very tough point in my walk of faith. as I review and take pulse of my faith. There are many times during this walk of faith, i find that when the situation gets difficult and tough, I would be closer to God in prayers and my faith goes uphill. At the same time, there are times when I pleaded with God again and again, yet God remains strangely silent.

There comes a time where our patience grows dim, and we ask God “How many times do you want me to repeat my petition?” and slowly we grows to a stage where our hearts are cold and hard. We started to move on without considering God. The springtime is a good time to remind ourselves to prepare our hearts, to renew our faith. To once again put our trust in God.

In times like this, I like to remind myself of this verses spoken by the prophets

“Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah (Is 40:28-31)

“Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls-
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.”- Habakkuk (Hab 3:17-19)

“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
” Therefore I hope in Him!” – Jeremiah (Lam 3:22-25)

One thing that is common among this 3 prophets, was the fact that they knew about the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah. Despite their pleas to God to spare the people, they continued in their faith in God, no matter what happens.

So in this new year, let us bring back the springtime in our faith, let us continue to wait on the Lord, let us pray to ask God to bring back the springtime as we are facing life’s difficulties.

Title: Bring Back the Springtime
Lyrics: Kurt Kaiser, 1970

When in the spring, the flowers are blooming bright and fair,
After the grey of winter’s gone.
Once again the lark begins his tuning,
Back in the meadows of my heart.

Chorus
Lord, to my heart bring back the springtime.
Take away the cold and dark of sin.
And, Oh refill me now, sweet Holy Spirit:
May I warm and tender be again.

Lord, make me like that stream that flows so cool and clear
Down from the mountains high above;
I will tell the world the wondrous story
Of the precious stream filled with your Love.

Chorus
Lord, to my heart bring back the springtime.
Take away the cold and dark of sin.
And, Oh refill me now, sweet Holy Spirit:
May I warm and tender be again.

Hmmm was really at all in the mood for a blog entry.. Just that as I need to return to work very soon.. and I need to catch a plane and to go somewhere else to work in a few hours time..

Am not sure why, but this little song that I used to sing during army days keep popping up in my mind.

I am sure many of the guys will have their own variation of this song over the years, as it has been used so often in the army here. But this is the version that I was taught by my sergeants.

Title: In The Early Morning Run
Lyrics: SAF

In the early morning run,
with a full pack on my back,
With an aching in my heart,
and my body full of sweat,
I am long long way from home
and I miss my lovers home,
in the early morning run,
as the cold wind blows…
as the cold wind blows…
as the cold wind blows…
as the cold wind blows…
as the cold wind blow
(Repeat until your song IC is bored and change a new song or resume chanting “Left Right,Left Right,Left Right,Left”)

Note: There is a Song IC for every platoon, and he is supposed to sing one line while the rest of the platoon will echo it. This is a simple 4/4 beat song to aid the soldiers to check their timing during marching, a left leg forward will begin the line and a right leg forward will end the line (So each line will go “-Left – Right – Left – Right” ).