April 2011


This is a hymn that was taken from the verse in Hebrew
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” Heb 13:8

Lately I managed to reconnect with some of my old friends on line, and often a times, in such a meeting, there’s always a roll-call of common friends of whom we would really like know any news of these long lost friends whom we have not meet. Some people may accuse that we are being busy body. But more often or not. i feel that it is also another type of concern for the people around us.

Often than not we tend to get bad news more often than we hear good news. Just like like what the Beatles sang before in their song “In My Life” (though I seriously liked Emi Fujita’s version)

“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all”

We all know that changes are inevitable, we often welcome good changes, but like the the Song Dynasty Poet Fang Yue (方岳) wrote

“不如意事十常八九
可与语人无二三”
(bù ​rú yì shì shí cháng bā jiǔ​)
(kě yú​ yǔ rén wú​ èr sān)

It is translated as “Most often life doesn’t go according to ones wish, and we can tell so little about that to others.” The numbers in the poems actually indicated that 80%-90% of life is full of unhappy event and you can only share 20-30% of that unpleasantness.

It is from that poem there a modern author wrote a pair of couplets for his friends it reads
“常想一二,不思八九”
(cháng xiǎng yī èr, bù sī bā jiǔ​) meaning
“To consider the little pleasant events ,ignoring the unpleasant” It uses 10-20% to represent pleasant, and 80-90% for unpleasantness)

In fact, most of us knew these way too well, that most often than not, life is often faced with sadness and uncertainty. We have people whom we love passing on, friends who leave us, break up of relationships, losing of jobs, more often than the happier times. Therefore we should often remember the words of the couplets, to remember the happier times and to think less of the unpleasant times.

But I guess for Christians we have one more comfort, even if everything do not goes according to plan, we know that we have a God who listens to our plea and prayers, he comforts the people. He had taught us many things through the bible, and he had left them for us to read and to ponder about it. We have to often remind ourselves that all things work for the Good for those who love God. (Rom 8: 28) and even though there are times in life where what we wish for did not come to us. We must continue to have faith in God and to move on bravely though the trouble. Let us learn to use the word of God to comfort us and to move forward.

Jesus had taught us how to reconcile with Him and to walk with him, and he promise to walk with us all the days of our lives. And he sticks closer to us than our parents, our relatives and our beloved friends. This reminded me of the chorus of the hymn “Yesterday, Today, Forever”. This chorus was changed by my predecessors of my church to sound like this

昔在今在以后永在耶稣不改变.
父母兄姊亲戚朋友有时要离开.
耶稣不离开, 耶稣不离开,
天地万物都要改变.耶稣不改变

xī zài jīn zài yǐ ​hòu yǒng zài, Yē ​sū bù gǎi ​biàn​.
fù ​mǔ xiōng zǐ​ qīn ​qi péng ​you yǒu ​shí yào lí ​kāi​,
Yē ​sū bù lí ​kāi​, Yē ​sū bù lí ​kāi
tiān ​dì wàn ​wù dōu​ yào gǎi ​biàn, Yē ​sū bù gǎi ​biàn

Meaning
“Yesterday, Today and Forever, Jesus never changes.
Parents, siblings, relatives and friends may leave us at times
Jesus never leaves, Jesus Never Leaves
Though everything in the world may change, but Jesus never changes”

Let us read the lyrics of the Hymn “Yesterday, Today Forever” together.

Title :Yesterday, Today, Forever
Lyrics :Albert B Simpson
Time: James H Burke

O how sweet the glorious message simple faith may claim
Yesterday, today, forever Jesus is the same.
Still He loves to save the sinful, heal the sick and lame
Cheer the mourner, still the tempest, glory to His Name.

Refrain:
Yesterday, today, forever, Jesus is the same.
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His Name!
Glory to His Name! Glory to His Name!
All may change, but Jesus never! Glory to His Name!

He, who was the Friend of sinners, seeks the lost one now
Sinner come, and at His footstool penitently bow
He Who said “I’ll not condemn thee, go and sin no more,”
Speaks to thee that word of pardon as in days of yore.

Refrain

Oft on earth He healed the sufferer by His mighty hand
Still our sicknesses and sorrows go at His command
He who gave His healing virtue to a woman’s touch
To the faith that claims His fullness still will give as much.

Refrain

As of old He walked to Emmaus, with them to abide
So through all life’s way He walketh ever near our side
Soon again we shall behold Him, Hasten Lord the day
But twill still be this same Jesus as He went away.

Refrain

I was trying to find the hymn on youtube, but am unable to find it. But this midi file from Cyberhymnal is the tune I am refering to.

Please Click here for the tune

 

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I heard this hymn once in a Chinese evangelistic meeting. Sang by the sisters octet.

In this hymn, it is telling the listeners to have spiritual foresight. This is extremely important in the end time, lately i was talking to a friend and he was sharing with me how difficult it is to minister to the word now. In our discussion, we noted that Satan had worked very hard to confuse the word, and have devised many ways to deceive all types of Christians in the world. To the once who love signs and miracle, he had twisted the word of God to deceive them to do many things which looks like great acts of love, he kept them busy doing unimportant stuff and thus making it very difficult for them to settle down and focus on the important parts of the words of God carefully.

At the same time, in the world of the Christians who prefer to reason out their faith, Satan had deceived them to say that having emphasis on the belief that sacraments and keeping of the pure faith is a form of Asceticism and is heresy on their own accord.

In fact, Apostle Paul has spoken to the churches in 2 of his Epistle

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith giving heed to deceiving spirits of demons, speaking of lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” – Paul (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” – Paul (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

These verses for a while, reminded me that how difficult it is to minister to the word of God. How difficult it is for us to stand firm in the truth in the bible and defend it. Yet I believe that we must all have a spiritual foresight to know that S Jesus Christ is Lord and God. He overcomes Satan and the Word of God prevails over false teachings. We must have faith in the Word of truth written in the bible and dutifully made it known fully to the Christians of other churches, relying on the Holy Spirit not on persuasive words of human wisdom (Col.1:24-29; I Cor. 2:4-5). We should never twist the Word to suit the listeners, for those who do, do so to their own destruction (2 Pet.3:15-16). If in the ministry, we work with Him, then we share in His victory (I Cor. 3:9)

As I was praying and asking God for comfort and strength to continue my work, I am constantly reminded of the lyrics of this hymn, reminding us to have spiritual foresight, to see who would win in the very end.

Therefore, we must have foresight to see that it is indeed Jesus who would win in the end, and we must continue to minister to the truth of God, no matter how dark the night is, or how high the mountain is. We must learn to overcome difficulties and despair with faith and with the help of God, continue our work with love and perservance, only with such a heart we could see the victory that is to come.

So Let us enjoy together.

Title: 眼光
Lyrics and Performed by: 天韻詩歌

Stanza 1
不管天有多黑,星星还在夜里闪亮
bù guǎn tiān yǒu duō hēi , xīng xing hái zài yè lǐ shǎn liàng
不管夜有多长,黎明早已在那头盼望
bù guǎn yè yǒu duō cháng, lí míng zǎo yǐ zài nà tóu pàn wàng
不管山有多高,信心的歌把它踏在脚下
bù guǎn shān yǒu duō gāo, xìn xīn dì gē bǎ tā tà zài jiǎo xià
不管路有多远,心中有爱仍然可以走到云端
bù guǎn lù yǒu duō yuàn, xīn zhōng yǒu ài réng rán kě yǐ zǒu dào yún duān
(repeat 1 )

(Chorus)
(*)
谁能跨过艰难,谁能飞跃沮丧
shéi​ néng​ kuà ​guò​ jiān ​nán​, shéi néng fēi ​yuè jǔ​ sàng​
谁能看见前面,有梦可想
shéi néng​ kàn ​jiàn qián ​miàn, yǒu​ mèng kě xiǎng​
真神的心看见希望,你的心里要有眼光
zhēn ​shén dì xīn kàn ​jiàn xī ​wàng​, nǐ​dí​ xīn ​li yào yǒu​ yǎn ​guāng
(Repeat *)
噢,你的心里要有眼光
ō​, nǐ​ dí​ xīn ​li yào yǒu​ yǎn ​guāng​.

(The rest of the hymn is a variation using the same lyrics. It goes like this
stanza 1 (with no repeat) , chorus , conclude singing the last 2 lines)

Note: I have replaced the 上帝in the hymns with 真神because I feel that it is inappropriate to address God as Shang Di. Shang Di is a God worshipped by the ancient Chinese, though many thinks that there is a high chance that Shang Di may have indeed been Jehovah, but as long as it can never be proven, it is wiser not to just make such assumptions.

Translation
Title: Foresight
Perform by : Heavenly Melody

(Stanza 1)
No matter how dark the skies are , the stars are still shining in the night.
No matter how long the night are, the daybreak is already waiting at the other end,
No matter how high the mountains are, the songs of faith will trample them underfoot.
No matter how far the roads go, a loving heart will take you up into the clouds
(Repeat 1)
(Chorus)
Who could surmount difficulties, who could leap over despair,
who could foresee the good dreams that is to come?
The heart of the Lord is able to see that hope to come,
you must keep that foresight in your heart
Oh, you must keep that foresight in your heart 

So far we have 4 articles written regarding the warriors of David

Part 1: Talks about why we should learn from the warriors of David
Part 2: Talks about the historical setting as well as Davids way of leading the nation
Part 3: Talks about the common traits in the warriors of David
Part 4: Warriors who are not afraid of numbers as well as those who will not retreat.

Now let us learn about another of the warriors of David, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.

1. The Acts Of Benaiah

Both 2 Sam 23 and 1 Chron 11 had the same record of the deeds of Benaiah

a. He Killed 2 Lion-Like Heroes of Moab (1 Chron 11:22, 2 Sam 23:20)
b. He went down to a snowy pit and killed a lion (1 Chron 11:22, 2 Sam 23:20)
c. Wrestled off a a thick spear from an tall Egyptian and killed him with his own spear( 1 Chron 11:23,2 Sam 23:21)

Benaiah is a warrior who can do great feats, even feats that are deemed impossible by many. The lion-like heroes refers to enemies who are as ferocious as lions, out of which the faint hearted may not be able to face up such a challenge. The descriptions of the Egyptians he had killed is a man of great stature, 5 cubits tall, holding a spear that is as thick as a weavers beam. I particularly like this description because this weapon is exactly the same description of the spear of Goliath (1 Sam 17:7). Note that for a spear of that size, its head most likely weight 600 shekels as well. (though Goliaths height is 6 cubits and a span (1 Sam 17:4 ) much taller than this Egyptian)

Benaiah was able to accomplish his difficult feats by relying on God, and he performed his impossible feats because of his reliance on God. A lot of Christian will remember this famous saying of Jesus in the new testament

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Jesus (Matt 19:26)

But yet how many of us are willing to practise this in reality. These warriors of David didn’t just believe in the words of God, they are practising their faith through their reliance on God. The church needs warriors like this, with courage that is based on faith, not of human pride. One who based their courage on pride likes to say “You said that I cant get it done and now I will prove myself to you”. Such attitude will only allow the situation to turn from bad to worst, only courage that stems from faith can accomplish great things.

Let us pray to God, that our courage to be rooted in our faith in God and not from our fleshy desires. This is the only way we can accomplish great things for God. Especially things that ordinary man would deem impossible. There are some who question whether the church is able to preach the gospel message to the ends of the world, that seems to be an impossible task, as the church lacks financial power, the church is full of members but there are not much who is willing to take up the commission of preaching the gospel, and those who do were slow in their progress. It seems that we have hit a bottleneck,. with problems outside of church and within the church. This is indeed a difficult task, unless we learn from to be like Benaiah, who relied on God to perform impossible task.

The disciples asked Jesus “Who then can be saved?” and Jesus replied “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(Matt 19:25-26)

The big problem is, whether we still believe in the words of Jesus or not.

2. The Impossible Task Of Nehemiah and the Attitude of Paul

In the Old Testament,. we knew that Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the City Wall, lets look at what his adversaries had to say about this

“What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble-burned as they are?” – Sanballat the Samaritan (Neh 4:2)

“What they are building-even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!” Tobiah the Ammonite (Neh 4:3)

These man are trying to mock Nehemiah, and water down the spirit of the city wall builders. asking “Where are your resources to fortify the walls? Are you going to take the stones that are burnt? (Jerusalem was burnt with fire when the Babylonians invaded the city.) Are you going to use the same rubbish to build the wall? Even if you complete the work, a fox will be able to break your wall.”

This is an great insult, but similarly there are many people who said, this is a small church, do you think you can recreate the apostolic church once again? What can we do when we are faced with mockery? Nehemiah show us a good example, he prayed (Neh 4:4-5) He couldn’t care less about their mockery, and his eyes are fixed on God and not on his enemies. He just continue to build the wall, they build the wall with their hands and prayed to God in their hearts, they did not lose heart although that is what the enemies wanted.

Nehemiah led the people to concentrate on their work, not to allow these comments to create unrest in their heart, when the wall was at half the height, the enemies seeing that their first plan to destroy the morale of the people failed, they went on with the next plan. You will know if you read it.

To rebuild the walls of Jerusalem is a task that is full of trouble and problems, but have we wonder why Nehemiah was able to accomplish this impossible feat? He believed in the words of God, he did not forget Gods encouragement to Zerubabbel, who was tasked to rebuild the fallen temple of God. Zerubbabel met with a great difficulty, and when he felt overwhelmed by the task, God sent Zechariah the prophet to him and said

” This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
‘ Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the LORD of hosts.
‘ Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”‘” – Zechariah (Zech 4:6-8)

At that point although the great mountain of opposition still remains, Zerubbabel was able to be strengthen by the word of God. He knew that he is working in accordance to the Gods will, therefore he revived his faith, care less of his enemies and he believed that God will help him, thus by relying on God for this work. God moved many others to work with him, and Nehemiah completed his work using the same faith.

Similarly, establishing the kingdom of God is a colossal task, there are many who slanders and mock at us, saying, “how can you accomplish such a great task” indeed, if we were to look at each other, all we see is weakness, but if we set our eyes on God, we can see Gods providence, if we indeed believe that we are teaching the truth, and this truth will save the people in the last days, we will know that God will continue to help us. We will continue to pray and work faithfully, with a strong trust that God will help in the right time.

In the new testament Paul is armed with a similar mind when he was working in Corinth

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” – Paul (1 Cor 4:3-5)

When he is ministering in Corinth, he faced many problems in his work and he is stressed by it. Outside the church there are many dangers, and he is unable to receive true rest even within the church. There are some leaders who refuse to acknowledge him as one of the apostles, some are unwilling to work with him, and some gave him problems. There are some who played politics and divide the congregations. What would we do if we are faced with this? How did Paul get his courage to continue service? His courage is not carnal, and its not based on his human desires. He did not serve just to prove to others, but rather he served because he believe in God.

So, as we are facing great difficulty when serving the church, we have to constantly remind ourselves that the church is the body of Christ, and we are Gods coworkers, we just need to accomplish what is assigned to us. Let us not be bothered by how people judge us, as in the last days God will judge us, and it is at that point all will be revealed, whether we are true, faithful and loyal. This will all be revealed at the moment we stand before the judgment seat of God. God will reward and punish each one according to his deeds.

Therefore we must arm ourselves with this understanding, only with this faith we can find the courage to continue to serve God, we may need to change our point of view. Lets ponder carefully, are we like the warriors of David? What do we build our courage on? We can only accomplish impossible feats if we build our courage based on faith.

3. Benaiah and King Solomon

As I was reading through 1 Kings Chapter 1, Benaiah appeared once again in the story. This time King David was about to die, and his son Adonijah started to play politics and established his political power. In fact Adonijah is a charismatic leader and he is the brother of Absalom (the son of David who usurped his fathers throne)(1 King 1:6). His political allies included Joab (the general of David’s army) and Abiathar the priest. (1 Kings 1:7). In fact Adonijah was already preparing to assume kingship, preparing oxen, cattle and sheep for sacrifice and invited all the kings sons, the commanders of the army, and they are planning to make Adonijah King (1 Kings 1:25)

Here we see a startling reminder of how Abner the cousin of King Saul took Ishbosheth (Saul’s son) and form a kingdom, Abner led 11 out of the 12 tribes of Israel to follow their heart and the house of Saul. While only the tribe of Judah follow David(2 Sam 2:8-11)

Note that David has already indicated that God has chosen Solomon to be the next king. It was prophesied by Prophet Nathan that God will choose the next king to build his temple and to rule the country. (Deut 17: 14-15, 2 Sam 7:12-16, 1 Chron 28:5-8)

So once again, the kingdom of Israel is on the verge of separation, yet at this time, people who are loyal to God choose to stand at Solomons side ignoring the majority, this included Benaiah and the warriors of David. This is what the author of 1 kings said

“But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah. ” (1 Kings 1:8)

Here you can see, once again, the warriors of David choose to stand on Gods side (By now most of them should be very old, since they have followed David all the days of their lives). They have chosen to be the minority that supported King Solomon and they ignored the fact that the majority of the princes, and the commanders of the armies were supportive of Adonijah.

In fact, David entrusted the important work of crowning Solomon king to Benaiah his mighty man, Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet (1 Kings 1:32-41) They are the ones who brought Solomon to Gihon, anointed him and proclaim him as the king of Israel. This is a very dangerous task and is something that is against the majority of Israel. Yet now we see Benaiah still held on to his faith and does the will of God, even in his old age.

May we learn to be brave like the warriors of David, who dedicate their entire lives into service to God, Let us learn to serve God faithfully all the days of our lives, and to have the strength and courage to do the will of God, all the days of our lives.