December 2012


Once again, we arrived to a new 31 Dec once again. For someone like me, this is the 31st time when I approached 31 Dec. And for some of the visitors to my blog, I am sure they may  have passed by more than that. Sometimes, we only realize how fast the clock is moving until we reach the year end

Sometimes I wonder how many years doing have remaining, and when will our days end?  For this year end, I would be taking points from a sermon spoken from my church last year on 31st Dec. It reminded us to view the new year with a different perspective

Consider How Short And Fragile Life Is

David once wrote

“ Lord, make me to know my end,
   And what is the measure of my days,
   That I may know how frail I am.
    Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
   And my age is as nothing before You;
   Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. 
   Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
   Surely they busy themselves in vain;
   He heaps up riches,
   And does not know who will gather them.” – David ( Ps 39:4-6 )

Here David request the Lord to help him to see his end, and to allow him to know the measure of his days. He did it not out of a fear of illness, suffering and death.

However, he wanted the Lord to make him realise how short and fragile his life is. Indeed he describes the life of a man as handbreadths and vapor.

In the past, I like to compare life to a military rank,

0-9 : Private
10-19: Lance Corporal
20-29 : Corporal
30-39 : 3rd Sergeant

But if we were to use the fingers of our hands to represent a decade, our two hands could have effectively charted out our entire lifespan, just like the handbreadths David describes.

For me, I have used up 3 of my fingers, while some of us may have finished 1 hand. But we know, although we have 5 remaining fingers, it doesn’t necessary mean that we would live for another 50 years.

By now, I figured out what we can all appreciate our short our life is, when a year is gone, we have 1 year less. No matter how much effort we put in, we can never add an additional year to our life.

David reminded us, that our life is limited, therefore we must learn to treasure the remaining days that we have.

Have we ever asked ourselves what are we busy with?

David says that man often busy themselves  in vain, heaping up riches  and they do not know who will gather them.  Have we realized that life is more than just chasing after material possession and money?

Job once said

“For what is the hope of the hypocrite,
  Though he may gain much,
  If God takes away his life?
   Will God hear his cry
  When trouble comes upon him?
   Will he delight himself in the Almighty?
  Will he always call on God?” – Job (Job 27:8-10)

Sometimes, as we are busy gathering riches , have we ever considered what will happen on the day of calamity? Will the money and riches we gather deliver us from that?

Usually, that is the only time we wanted to seek God and to get his help, but will God still listen to us then? Many a times, it is too late for us to turn back to God when we encounter difficulties and calamities.

Making The Right Calculations In Life

The bible is full of examples of people who failed to realize this. Lk 12 talks about the Parable of the rich fool. He is a man who made lots of money in his life, having enough food to last his entire life.

He comforted himself saying he can now eat drink and be merry

Judging from his accomplishment in life, I am sure this rich man is a shrewd and intelligent man. But in all his life planning, he forgets to include God into his calculations. If God were to take his soul tonight, who would enjoy the many things that he had prepared for himself?

So the question to ask is “Have we included God into our plans in life?”

We often only calculate the things we have gain and we tend to ignore the things we have lost. Take Judas as an example (Acts 1:17-19)

Judas is a shrewd man, he knew that by betraying Jesus, he could gain 30 pieces of silver. In his mind, this is a good and profitable business transaction.

However, he had forgotten to factor in his lost,indeed he earned 30 pieces of silver, but the things he had gain cannot replace what he had lost. He lived to regret his mistakes, but that regret came in too late as we all know the end of Judas.

Have we planned with Wisdom? Have we considered what is worthy for our pursuit?  If we are wise and accurate in our calculations, we would reap rewards and benefits in our life.

Considering The Legacy Of David, His Faith In The Lord  

David continued his Ps 39 saying

“And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
  My hope is in You.
  Deliver me from all my transgressions;
  Do not make me the reproach of the foolish.” – David (Ps 39:7-8)

Are we waiting for the same thing as David? Sometimes we wait for many things, we wait for our children to grow up, we wait for a lover to appreciate and love us, we wait for pensions to be given and we wait for sermons to end.

But David waited on the Lord, he wanted God to receive him into his kingdom. David pleaded with God in Ps 17:14-15

“ Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
   With Your hand from men, O Lord,
   From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
   and whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
   They are satisfied with children,
   And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.

     As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
   I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” –David (Ps 17:13-15)

David is a king with power and riches, God had filled his belly with good and hidden treasure. But he never allowed these to lead him away from God.

Sometimes, if we were to compare the lives of the people in the world. People seem to behave as if they will live forever, they felt that they never had enough riches and food. They forget to consider that life may end many time.

But here we read the prayer of King David. His prayer is different from many people of the world.

Indeed David had children but he never place his hope in them, in fact he choose not to leave behind too much riches for his children. Instead he choose to leave the riches to his son Solomon for the construction of the temple.

He left behind his faith for his children to follow, indeed faith is more precious than riches. If our children is given much inheritance, sometimes the riches will turn them proud and lazy. But if we leave our faith for them to follow, they will learn how to lead their lives on this earth and with that, they will never boast of their wealth or compare their riches.

Although David was a king, he never forgets his life as a shepherd boy. He remembers that he is the sheep of the Lord, and the Lord is his shepherd. Therefore he waits for his God, this made David a man after the heart of God.

If our hope is in the Lord, our priorities in life will automatically change, we would naturally be more concern about questions like, “How do we face God, will we meet God with a feeling of satisfaction or fear?

Appreciate the Time God has Given, Repent Before Him

Considering this, because we do not know how many years we have, we ought to appreciate the fact that God allowed us to continue living.

I remember earlier this year there was a elderly uncle in my church, whom I always remember to be the one who writes the sermon title  using a calligraphy pen. He was diagnosed with Cancer in September and his heath suddenly turn for the worst. God took him home in Dec 2012

There are many who never lived to see the new year, therefore, we need to appreciate why God has allowed us to continue living.

In fact, Jesus had already warn us about our own end

But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul
  will be required of you; then whose will those things
   be which you have provided?’”- Jesus (Lk 12:20)

Actually as Christians, we are aware of this fact at the back of our mind, but often, we ended up preparing for something else. Sometimes we fail to keep the words of Jesus in our own hearts

In fact, we often do prepare for mishaps that could happen in life. many of us are armed with Insurance to provide for our families if we were to encounter any mishaps. We know that the money from the claims can help our families survives if we were to encounter any mishaps.

Bearing The Fruit Of Repentance

But are we insured against the judgment seat of God?

Let us understand that God has given us time to prepare, therefore let us not squander the time in mere enjoyment. Let us not be overcome by sin. Jesus once talk about a gardener who pleaded with the master

“Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.  And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that[a] you can cut it down.’” – Gardener (Luk 13:8-9)

Indeed, if God were to judge us by his word, we are all supposed to be cut down. For although we have did much good works, but similarly we have did many bad things we ought not to have done. 

Although we do not commit major crimes like Arson and murder, but are these the old sins in life? If God were to judge us according to everything we do, none of us can survive his judgment seat.

However God desires all men to be save, so he pleaded with God to let us be alone, to see if we can bear fruit.  If we do not seize hold of the grace given by God, and to bear fruit, we would eventually be cut down. Delayed Judgment doesn’t mean no judgment.

Many a times we mistaken the fruit written in Lk 13 as the fruit of the spirit. But we need to consider the word of Christ before the parable

For Jesus said

“Or those eighteen on whom the tower 
  in Siloam fell and killed them,
  do you think that they were worse
  sinners than all other men who dwelt
  in Jerusalem?
  
I tell you, no; but unless you repent 
  you will all likewise perish.” –Jesus (Lk 13:4-5)

That is when, he started speaking the parable. Therefore, the fruit that Jesus refer to is the fruit of repentance. Just as we believe in the grace and salvation of Christ, let us also believe in his judgment. For we believe in Jesus because we wanted to be saved.

Discipleship is not just about believing in Jesus, it includes a resolve to walk on the path of God, and to depart from a life of sin. For if we choose not to align our lives, and correct our path, we would perish just like the others.

John the Baptist once cautioned, using the tree as an example too.

“ Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 
   Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to 
   say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to
   you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these 
   stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore
   every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown
   into the fire.” – John The Baptist (Lk 3:7-9)

If today, John were to give us the same warning, will we take heed of it? Here John reminded them that they need to bear the fruits of repentance. It is good that we have found Christ and believed in Jesus. But if we believe and do not obey his word, then our faith would have no impact to our lives

Here John reminded the people that there is a need to have change in their lifestyle. As a Christian, we ought to share, work fairly and not intimidate people.  In order to do this, we need to have a resolve to change our lifestyle.

A Clean Heart And A Righteous Spirit

Sometimes we unknowingly turn ourselves into a brood of vipers. We became a wolf in sheep clothing. In the church, we apprear as good sheep in the fold of the Lord, but outside of Church, we behaves like wolves.

Therefore, as the year end approach, let us reconsider our ways.

We ought to pray for our own salvation, just like the prayers of David in Ps 39:8. Therefore as we approach the end of the year, let us pray like King David. Let us ask Strength from God to deliver us from evil, and to stop us from committing the same mistake.

David has an interesting perspective about repentance, let us look at the one of David’s prayer of repentance. 

“ Hide Your face from my sins,
   And blot out all my iniquities.

   Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
  Do not cast me away from Your presence,
  And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”- David (Ps 51:9-11)

Over here, David did not just stop at asking forgiveness. More importantly, he asked God for a clean heart and a righteous spirit.  Therefore, as we review all the events that has happen in year 2012. Let us learn to ask God for a clean heart and a renewed spirit for the new year.

Having A Change Of Mind, and a Change Of Direction

Sometimes, when we review the all the events of the year, we tend to remember both good and bad events. Indeed, we cannot return to the past to fix the things that had went wrong, but the new year is a new start. It is a chance that God has given us to start anew.

Therefore, we need to to do what David does, to ask God for a clean heart and steadfast spirit. God will never cast away a broken and contrite heart.

Therefore, let us learn to make a resolve before God, to start our walk of with God once again.

The Greek Word For for Repent is “Metanoe” It covers a change of mind, and change of direction.  It is a important point for us to consider. Sometimes only by understanding our mistakes can we seize hold of the chance to make a chance and to turn our steps towards God

Of Pain and Regrets

Sometimes, as we review our lives, we will bound to encounter regrets in this year. Sometimes we regret over the things we have done, sometimes we regret over what we ought to have done.

The new year is a chance to make amends,  and to make right what we have missed. As I think about it, there are some little exhortation I would like to give to everyone

1. To the students, sometimes we only regret for not putting effort to study when we enter the exam hall. Let us resolve to work hard, and not to live with the same regret again.

2. To many others, I would like to share a saying that Chinese often use to encourage their children

树欲静而风不止                       , 子欲孝而亲不在
shù​ yù​ jìng​’ér​ fēng​ bù​ zhǐ​,     zi​ yù​ xiào ér qīn​ bù ​zài​

Translated : “Although the tree desire peace, yet the winds continue to rustle its leaves. Though the child desires to show filial piety, but alas, his parents are no longer around.” 

We often use this saying to encourage children to seize hold of the opportunity to show love to their parents.

But I would like to extend this concept to friends and relative as well. Let us not delay to show love and concern to the people around us. For we never knew when we would lose our chance.

Let us learn to treasure the time we have together.

Summary Of Points

So far I have covered the following points

1. As the year draws to a close, let us remind ourselves that life on earth is short 
     a. Let us seize hold of the chance to draw near to God
     b. Let us not love the world, for everything on earth is temporary
     c. Let us renew our hope in Christ, and look forward to his second coming

2. Whenever God gives us a new year
     a. It is a grace given to us to prepare and draw near to God
     b. Therefore, we ought to review and repent from the wrongs for this year.  
              i. Repentance Is a chance of heart, a chance of direction 
             ii. It is important to ask God for a clean heart and a righteous spirit 
            iii. We need to make a resolve not to sin again

3. As We review all the events we encounter, there will be good and bad memories
       a.The new year is a new chance to
              i. Make right what we have done wrong
             ii. Let us seize hold of the chance to renew our walk with God.

May we all be able to start a new year with a renewed person. 

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So far we have covered

1. My preliminary response to the sermon by the Pastor
2. My thoughts on the Magi Gifts To Jesus
3. Millionaire Supporters Of The “Sophisticated Travelling Ministry”
4. Jesus Providence To The Disciples

As the next two point was really short, I will put them all together. I find his Point 4 and 7 some what similar, so I decided to discuss them together.

Pt 4: Jesus generously fed the poor

Lk 9:11-13 : When quoting the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000, the pastor claims that the disciples of Jesus did not complain about money when they were asked to feed the congregation.  From there, he further expounded the scriptures, claiming that the disciples of Jesus carries boxes and boxes of money as they do not use visa or master card in the bible.

He claimed that the money boxes had enough money to feed at least 10-20 K people (base on a estimate that each man bought his wife and children along, 5000 men, + 5000 woman +10 000 kids)

Point 7: He regularly gave to the poor

After sharing Point 5 and 6, he went on to quote the passage of the last supper.  

Jn 13:27-29  : He explained that the disciples of Jesus misunderstood the instruction “What you do, do quickly.” as either “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or “give something to the poor”.

He went on to explain that the disciples must have seen Jesus doing this so often that they did not have a doubt that it was what Jesus instruction to Judas. He went on to explain that Jesus had surplus in his treasury even after paying for the ministry expenses, and in fact, he got so much surplus that he could regularly give to the poor.

Reconstruction of Of Judas Money Box

The feeding of 5000  is the only miracle that was recorded in all four books of the gospel

(Matt 14:13-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:10-16, Jn 6:1-14). In fact I wrote a small discussion on this miracles some time ago .

Before I proceed, I would like to clarify that I do not think it is really  possible to recreate the size and weight of Judas’s money box. As no one had saw it before. But because of the pastor’s claim that Jesus  had enough financial power to feed 20 thousand people, and that Jesus disciples brought with them huge treasury boxes  to store the coins.

I decided to try to make an educated guess on how much money was in the box basing it on the comments of the disciples. My guess is made base on the following verses .

“ But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”
And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii
worth of bread and give them something to eat?””-John Mark (Mark 6:37)

“Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is
not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.””-John (John 6:7)

The Estimate of 200 denarii is a good guess, because it was mentioned by the disciples,  if they were to have more money, why then did they keep mentioning 200 denarii?

base on the previous article quoted in part one, these is a typical pay rate in the capital city of Rome

Secretary =15 Denari/month
Lecturer =12 Denari/month
Messenger = 9 Denari/month
Fortune Teller = 10 Denari/month
Legionary = 20 Denari/month
Praetorian = 60 Denari/month

Therefore, 200 denarii in the money box of Jesus would have been a huge sum  of money considering they were in Judea and not in Rome.

That would also explain why Judas was indignant  when Mary broke a Alabaster Flask of Spikenard costing 300 Denarii to anoint the feet of Jesus.

Base on the Wikipedia entry of a denarii , a typical denarii in the time of Christ would have weight 3.5 Grams, base on one of it source article a typical denarii is about 18 mm in diameter. Some Google search result show that the denarius is about the size of a US Penny, which means its thickness is about 1.55 MM

Assuming Judas dutifully stack up 200 Denarii into 4 stacks of 50 Denarii  that would mean his money box will be approximately 3.6 x 3.6 x 7.5cm

We have compared the money box to match box to provide you with an idea of how it looks

Judas Money Box Vs a Matchbox

While some over-zealous Christians may accuse me of being faithless, but that is approximately the amount of space needed to keep 200 Denarii stacked nicely in a box. The weight of the box should be around 700 Grams.  Which would have been pretty heavy for a small box.

While we are at it, we have to remember that a typical worker earns approximately 300 denarii in a year, that will mean an average worker earns 25 Denarii a month, and Judas had about a salary of 8 men at his disposal. I felt that this is a fair estimate and that would have demystify the idea behind Jesus needing carrying box full of treasures.

However, let us remember that 200 denarii is only barely enough for each men to have a little. Which is not good enough to feed a person in that circumstances.

Just in case if people thinks that the 5 loaves and 2 fishes are of posh quality. John 6:9 tells us that they are Barley Loaves and 2 small fishes, just enough for a child to eat.

There are two types of flour used for bread making in the time of Jesus. They are wheat flour and barley flour.  In those days, wheat is more expensive and are used to bake bread for the rich while barely is a mainly used by the poor.  Therefore, let us not picture the bread given to the 5000 as “food for the rich and prosperous”

The Ministry To The Poor

One thing I did agree with the pastor was the fact that Jesus did provide for the poor. Although we may not have an idea how much money was given to the poor, or the statistic of people who received helped from Jesus.

I have 2 reasons to believe that Jesus did use money to help the poor.

The first reason is somewhat similar to what the pastor said

Judas mentioned about giving money to the poor when he criticized Mary for breaking the flask of spikenard Mk 14:5.

In Jn 13:27-29 the disciples did misunderstood Jesus command to Judas that it could be an order to give to the poor.

One of the stronger reason is behind the fact that when the church started, it does provide and feed widows and children living in the land of Israel (Acts 6:1-2)

There was also Christians such as Dorcas who took care of widows (Acts 9:36-41)

Paul did teach Timothy about how the church should handle widows (1Tim 5:3-16)

Elder James mentioned that a pure and undefiled religion before God involves visiting Orphans and widows in trouble (Jas 1:27)

The Apostles must have learnt that while watching Jesus help the poor and needy.

Conclusion

As I was researching through this topic, I can see the compassion of Jesus, how he saw the people coming to him and how he work tirelessly to teach them the truth about the kingdom of God.

Jesus had compassion for the people whom he teaches, in a separate miracle to feed 4000 people, Jesus said

“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”- Jesus (Matt 15:32)

Let us also have the same love and compassion just like Jesus.

I was really tempted to make a blog entry, this is especially true with all the hype going about of Nostradamus, Mayan Calendars, Hopi Indians etc. This wave was kick higher with all the catastrophic related movies from Hollywood.  

Perhaps all that the  Mayans wanted to say may be,  

“I just ran out of space on this circular board. Can I have a new piece for my
  next 5000 year Calendar?”

At one hand I think they are more efficient since  we need to change a calendar once every year while they only need to do that for once every 5000 odd years.

But jokes aside,  I am sure as the curtain of 21-12-2012 draws to a close, there will be many mathematicians and numerologist will be hard at work calculating the next doomsday (In fact they now claims that its 2015 in order to convince people to buy their books one more time). Besides that there will be he new age spiritualist will be dig deeper into their “Richer Array of Gems  that strings into a necklace of experience”  to debate if doomsday is a fact of friction.

At the same time many “self proclaimed” bible scholars to dig into bible codes, and do extensive bible study into the book of revelation to try and “know the times”. Creating a new era of confusion, deception and misinformation

Sadly, the hoo-hah behind 21-12-2012 may  leave some followers of God to be confused, and it may also make them lose their faith.

Therefore, it is necessary for us to relook at the end of the world from the perspective of the bible. Before I start, I would like to say that this blog entry is not about when God will come, but how to truly be ready for the second coming of Christ.

Understand That Only The Father Knows The Time 

Jesus once said this

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of 
heaven, but My Father only.” – Jesus (Matt 24:36)

While some smart Revelations and Daniel Expert scholars thinks that it because of this verse, it is possible to calculate the year  and even the month of Christ second coming. I personally think that it is not possible to guess the year of the end of the world.

For Jesus continues saying

“ Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.    
   But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour
   the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his
   house to be broken into.

   Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour
   you do not expect.” –Jesus Matt 24:42-44

In my entire 31 years of my life on earth so far, my house was “almost” broken into once, and by the grace of God, my neighbors saw the thieves before they attempted to break into the house, and they alerted the police.

No one can ever predict when the thief would strike again. Though crime analyst will tell you that it is possible to predict the next time a robbery would take place and they could even narrow down to the possible areas of the Robbery. No man could ever predict when his house would be broken into.

Therefore, to all the Revelations/Daniel enthusiast who still are working hard to resolve the “year” and the “month” of the second coming of Christ. Do consider I would like to share, below.

Keeping the Words of Jesus Carries More Weight Then Knowledge Of End Time Mystery

Moses once said this

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things
  which are
revealed belong  to us and to our children forever,
  that we may do all the words of this law.” –Moses (Deut 29:29)

Indeed there are many mysteries in the bible that I believe that the holy Spirit would reveal to the children of God in the right time. While it is very important for us to know the prophecy and observe the time, let us remember the main reason for God to reveal the scriptures to us.

God wanted his children to know his law and his words, and to keep them in their daily lives. Hence obeying the words of Jesus and following his commands are more important. Even Jesus said this before

“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me
should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does
not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world
but to save the world.  He who rejects Me, and does not receive My
words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will
judge him in the last day” –Jesus (Jn 12:46-48)

The mystery of the end times and the prophesies in Revelations covers only a fraction of the words of Christ. Therefore, while researching into revelations may indeed be a hobby and some may regard it as fun. Let us not lose sight of the more important commandments of Jesus.

Let us keep them in our hearts, for we know that it is appointed for man to die once and after that to face judgment (Heb 9:27) .. Judgment is not an assessment of our knowledge of the mystery of the end time but a reveal if we have kept the commands of God. It is a time where we must all give an account for every thing we have done. (Ecc 12:13-14)

Appreciate Gods Rationale For Not Telling The Day, Month and Year of His Second Coming

I personally disagree with the idea that one could know the year or the month of the coming of God. Although I believe that the signs of the end of time can be seen evident in the world.

If men were to even be able to calculate the year and month of the second coming, although he had 1/31 chance of getting the day right. But God knows the hearts and thoughts of man.

In fact, I know that if one day I could tell when the end of the world is coming, we would tend to choose to cut lose before it and jump onto the repentance bandwagon to get favors from God from the last minute, (or Month or year)

By giving this information, or allowing it to be revealed would be counter productive as that could clause his grace to be abused by people. God wanted to find believers who genuinely follow his commands. He wanted to save those who truly believe. 

Let Us Not Despise And Scoff At the Second Coming Of Christ

God once spoke through the mouth of Elder Peter

“knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, 
  walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 
   "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell 
     asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning 
     of creation." 
  But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord 
  one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
 
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count 
slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any 
should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – Peter (2 Pet 3:3-4, 8-9)

Indeed, as 21-12-2012 draws to a close, I am sure we would hear comments like the scoffers in our daily lives. Although the prophecy of the Mayans had nothing to do with Christian or Christ. But it is possible for non believers to scoff at anyone who believes in the end of the world.

This is made worst if Christian started to lose their confidence that Christ will come again. Usually I would read 2 Pet 3 whenever I have a doubt.

In fact, God did not want to bring the bring the world to an end quickly, as he hope more would come to repentance. In fact God demonstrated that same love in the parable of the wheat’s and tares (Matt 13:24-30) . When the workers wanted to remove the tares, the master stopped them so that they would not uproot the wheat by accident.

Knowing this, that God has given the church more time to save souls. Let us realized the commission of Christ.

“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)

Let us be willing to be ready to share our faith. For Paul also questioned

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” – Paul (Rom 10:14)

Therefore, let us make use of the time God has given, to win more souls for Christ. To call out to the people. Let us ask God to guide us, so that we could accomplish his will to save people.

Let us focus to live a life for God, and to build up our faith.

After Jesus shared about the end of the world in Matt 24. He concluded his discussion by reminding the members to be faithful to God in the last day and to live a life preparing for the second coming of Christ.

He wanted us not to be like the evil servant who thinks to himself ‘My master is delaying his coming” (Matt 24:48) He wants us to be a good servant that was working faithful for his master.

He concluded by giving 3 parables telling believers what they ought to do to prepare for the last days.

1. Parable Of The 10 Virgins (Matt 25:1-13)

While waiting, both the foolish and the wise virgins fell asleep (Matt 25:5). However, the 5 wise virgin prepared extra oil for the lamps. When the bridegroom comes, they are able to trim their lamps and join into the banquet.

Likewise, we ought to prepare ourselves for the coming for God. Perhaps at times we may stumble, but we must continue to be faithful to God, to prepare additional oil in the lamp. So that when the bridegroom comes, we would be ready to join the banquet.

2. Parable Of The 10 Talents (Matt 25:14-30)

It is interesting that the master gave the same comment to the 5 talents as well as the 2 talent servant. And they were all able to enter the rest of the master.  The last servant was reprimanded not because of the number of talents he had, but for his laziness to use it.

It doesn’t matter how many talents God has given us for our ministry. Some members are talented and had more responsibilities than others.

God does not have unrealistic expectation, but he only wanted his children to make use of the talents God has given to serve him. As long as the effort is given, God will remember them.

Therefore, let us learn to serve God with all the talents that was given

3. Parable Of The Sheep And Goats  (Matt 25:31-46)

Here Jesus reminded the members not to forget to love fellow brethren.  For whenever we serve our brethren, we are indeed doing it onto Jesus.

Look Forward To His Coming

Sometimes as we believe in Christ, on one hand we would love ofr Christ to come again, and on the other hand, we felt that we are not ready for his coming.

Such is the Dilemma that most Christian face. This is mainly because when we examine ourselves, we find ourselves unworthy to meet God.

These are all moving of the Holy Spirit to help us draw closer to God. Let us not be afraid of meeting our Lord for we know that it is the ultimate objective in our faith. For we know that the blood of Christ cleanse us from our sins and we are worthy to meet God because Jesus had paid the price for our sins.

when John concluded his book of Revelations he said

“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”- John (Rev 22:20)

Let us be armed with the same mind and attitude of the Apostles. and let us continue to look forward to Gods second coming.

So far we have discussed the following

1. My preliminary response to the sermon by the Pastor
2. My thoughts on the Magi Gifts To Jesus
3. Millionaire Supporters Of The “Sophisticated Travelling Ministry”

Let us examine the next point from the Pastor

Pt 3 : Jesus provide for his entire ministry team, including their wives and children

He claims that his “sophisticated travelling ministry” includes his 12 disciples and the 70 disciples. They travel together with family (including the wives and children). His travelling group could amount more than 100 people.

In Lk 9:1-3 When Jesus sent out his 12 apostles he told them that he will provide for all their needs, and will take care of all of them.

In Lk 9:51-52, Jesus sends an “advance team” to prepare the lodging and food before he arrive.

In Lk 22:35 : He said that Jesus provided so well for the disciples that they do not lack anything when he sent them out in Lk 9:1-3

He concluded saying that if God gives a vision, he will provide the provisions. So he did not use donations cards, he had enough supplies to do anything

In fact in Jn 4:8, they have meat to eat for his disciples. and he goes around mocking the Christians who claimed that one must receive Jesus and give him food when he arrives. In fact Jesus will bring individuals out for a nice meal when he arrives.

For Jesus is very rich and he is able to supply everything needed to his disciples.

Rabbis At The time Of Jesus

I remember I was watching a documentary about the live and times of Jesus. In the bible, Jesus was addressed as Rabbi.

According To Wikipedia

A Rabbi is a title derives from the Hebrew word רבי rabi [ˈʁäbi], meaning "My Master" (irregular plural רבנים rabanim [ʁäbäˈnim]), which is the way a student would address a master of Torah. The word "master" רב rav [ˈʁäv] literally means "great one".

Disciples are often known as “Talmudim”, which is a very close follower of a rabbi. A talmudim would often walk behind Rabbis and follow them where ever they go.

They are suppose to attend to the master, and they would also do manual task like pouring water and washing the feet of the Rabbi (hence Jesus act of foot washing in Jn 13 is a directly contradictory to the culture of that time)

As the task a Talmudim did is somewhat similar to a servant, they are often dressed differently to differentiate between disciple and servant.

Travelling Families?

As far as the bible is concern, there was no records of the disciples bringing their family along with Jesus while they travelled. Although the bible did mention of the families of the apostles, he tells us that Jesus had brothers and Peter had a wife that believe in Jesus  (1 Cor 9:5)

The bible also records of Peter mother in law healed by Jesus (Matt 8:14, Mk 1:30 Lk 4:38)

As the bible had never records of the families of the disciples travelled with Jesus. Therefore to make a claimed  saying that Jesus have to provide for the families of the disciples would be a sweeping statement, it can never be proven.

Perhaps instead of picturing Jesus travelling with a huge company of men, woman and children , it would be more realistic to picture the “Sophisticated travelling ministry” to  the following

  1. 12 Disciples  (Lk 9:1) (AKA the twelve Apostles)
  2. 70 Disciples (Lk 10:1)
  3. The woman who ministered to the daily needs of Jesus (Clothing, food, etc) , they are ladies like  Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna (Lk 8:1) )

Due to the nature of work of the 70 disciples, it is highly possible that they are not always at the side of Jesus , they may be sent into various cities. The 12 disciples were more commonly seen to travel alongside Jesus.

Advance Party , Money Bags, Knapsacks and Sandals.

While I agree with the pastor that before Jesus enters a city, he would usually send 2 of the seventy disciples and after that the 12 disciples would be sent into the town or city. (Lk 10:1). But we need to take note that Jesus usually send them without money bags, Knapsacks and Scandals (Lk 10:4)

At this time we may wonder , what about Lk 9:51-52?

If we were to examine the verses carefully, you will notice that Jesus was entering a village of the Samaritans and we know as a historical fact that Samaritans and Jews are not in friendly terms. Therefore it would be difficult for Jesus and his disciples to receive the same hospitality as if it was a Jewish villages. This I believe is the likely reason why disciples were sent in to prepare lodging for Jesus.

While the pastor was reading Lk 22:35, he seem to be reluctant to read the following two verses which reads

“ Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 
For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH THE TRANSGRESSORS.’ For the things concerning Me have an end." Luke The Physician (Lk 22:36-37)

When the church is establish after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The work of spreading the gospel lies on the shoulders of the disciples. While they continue to lodge with believers,  it would be fair to say that they would still need to provide for themselves as they serve the Lord.

They may receive donations and help from members from churches around the area. We also read of preachers like Paul who work as tentmakers while preaching and ministering to the church  (Acts 18:3).

In the course of reading the new testament, in the Pauline Epistles we can see churches that provided for Paul as well as those who doesn’t.  (2 Cor 11:7-9)

Therefore the concept that “When God gives a vision, he will provide provision” is somewhat a far fetched concept as far as the early believers are concern. The prosperity teachers are free to brand me as “Faithless”.

Food For The Jesus And His Disciples

I found the part where he mocked traditional churches picture of a poor and hungry Jesus very amusing and disrespectful. While I do not picture Jesus as  poor, destitute, hungry and beggar, the idea of Jesus eating abalone, Caviar and Kobe Beef equally inaccurate in the light of the scripture.

The Pastor quoted Jn 4:8 claiming that Jesus ate meat all the time is pretty inaccurate.  For the word for Provision is τροφή (trophē) which can mean food or meat. They represent basic necessities and not luxuries.

Personally I believe that Jesus is more than capable to find proper food for him and his disciples, but by picturing Jesus as someone who spends extravagantly. Is that not a equally ridiculous depiction? 

I believe that when Traditional churches  asked the question “Will you invite Jesus into your house for a hot meal?” they have no intention to portray Jesus as thin, poor and destitute.

They all had this idea base on the fact that many people invited Jesus to their house for a meal. Jesus ate with people ranging from Rich Tax-collectors such as Zacchaeus (Lk 19) and commoners like Lazarus (Lk 10:38-40)  and Jesus even entered the house of Pharisee (Lk 7:36)

The act of receiving Jesus in the house is not a act of sympathy or compassion. But rather an act of love and hospitality for Jesus.

Conclusion

While it is fair to say Jesus is able to manage his own finances and to provide for the needs of the disciples travelling with him. Let us not go beyond the scriptures and use our imagination to create a inaccurate description of the ministry of Jesus, that borders to being incredible and unrealistic.

Having an incorrect understanding will lead to unrealistic expectation of God’s providence  and potentially stumble the faith of others. Especially to those who are currently encountering difficult trials from God.

Let us not by accidently stumble the faith of people that are undergoing trials. Let us paint a accurate picture of Jesus base on the truth written in the bible.