August 2014


Today during a sharing, there was a interesting topic shared. Usually I would help to interprete it to English, but since I do not have the chance today, I would write it on my blog for my English speaking friends.

Introduction

In the book of revelations, Elder John saw a vision

“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem,
  coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as
  a bride adorned for her husband. 
   And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold,
  the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell
  with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself
  will be with them and be their God.”- John (Rev 21:2-3

This vision tells us that in the last days, the tabernacle of the Lord will appear, John saw this new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. This tabernacle is none other than church of God.

Prophet Isaiah also saw this tabernacle in his vision

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
  That the mountain of the Lord’s house
  Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
  And shall be exalted above the hills;
  And all nations shall flow to it.
  Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
   To the house of the God of Jacob;
   He will teach us His ways,
   And we shall walk in His paths.”
  For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
  And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”- Isaiah (Is 2:2-3)

Over here Prophet Isaiah saw the church in the last days.  He called it the mountain of the Lords house, Jerusalem. This is why the fact that Christians could go to church is a blessing from God . It is the way to heaven, and God has created this path for everyone who desire to be saved by the Lord.

Sadly, many modern Christians regard the church as unimportant, they claim that as long as one believes in God, he would be saved. Back in my own church, we place emphasis on the importance of  coming to  church, as it is the starting point for one to begin walking on the heavenly path.

King David once wrote this in his Psalms

“ I was glad when they said to me,
  “Let us go into the house of the
   Lord.””- David (Ps 122:1)

This is the song of Ascents. It is one of the  hymn sang by Israelites when they come up to Jerusalem for the feast.  God required the Israelites to come up 3 times to Jerusalem to appear before God. As the Pilgrims are on their way up the mountain of Jerusalem, they will sing these song of Ascents. Each of these hymns carries a teaching, and something for us to learn. Ps 122 tells us that David is joyful whenever he come up to Jerusalem

Let us first consider “Why must Christians be joyful when they come to church?”

The Church Is The Dwelling Place Of God

There are many Christians who regards coming to church as a waste of time. But they forgot the fact that we are his people  and we go to church because it is a command from God.  So let us consider why is Israel joyful whenever they go to worship God in Jerusalem?

The answer is found in another hymn in the Songs of Ascent

“ For the Lord has chosen Zion;
  He has desired it for His dwelling place:
   “This is My resting place forever;
  Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.”- Psalmist (Ps 132:13-14)

From this verse, it tells us why the Pilgrims came willingly, for they knew that techy are coming to the dwelling place of God. The mount Zion referred in verse 13 refers to the modern day church. For God has chosen his dwelling in the church. The Church is made up of people who worship him . He will abide with them forever till the end of time.

God has a reason to choose us to form his temple , his church let us be willing to go to church. Let us not just go there for the sake of fellowship but most importantly to worship him.

In order for us to come before God ,we need to pay attention in how we prepare to meet God in this temple.  Ps 23:3-6 gives us a few pointers in how one should prepare before going to the temple. Let us pay attention to Verse 4 –5

“He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
  Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
  Nor sworn deceitfully.
  He shall receive blessing from the Lord,” – Psalmist (Ps 24:4-5)

These verses remind us that in order to receive blessing, we need to have clean hands and pure hearts. These are things we need to take note whenever we come before God.

The Church is established with the hand of God

Let us consider another reason why the Israelites are glad when they come to Jerusalem. they came because it is a place to seek the words of God. The church is established by God. Just as what we read earlier in Rev 2:2. The New jerusalem came from God and is from heaven.

The church is not just an institution of man, it is build by God and it belongs to Jesus. Jesus established the church to give salvation to mankind, therefore we must be willing to go to it.

“Jerusalem is built
As a city that is compact together,” –David (Ps 122:3)

Over here it tell us that it is God who established Jerusalem, it is a city compact together. This means that it cannot be attacked easily. Jerusalem is a city that is surrounded by a wall, compact together. It prevents enemies from comming into the city.

Similarly, the church today is built by JEsus, and it is compacted together as well. Jesus himself is the wall that protects his church so that no enemies could penetrate it. Whenever we gather together within the church there is a sense of peace and security. IT allow our souls to be protected from external pressures which saps the life out of us.

Is 2:3 tells us what we ought to do when we are in his temple

“Many people shall come and say,
  “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    To the house of the God of Jacob;
    He will teach us His ways,
    And we shall walk in His paths.”
  For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
  And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” –Isaiah (Is 2:3)

Whenever we gather in church we ought to receive the words of God. For she will teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his path. We know that the word of GOd is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path.

In fact Paul also says that the word of God can bring spiritual wisdom to man. It can teach us the truth and the way to salvation. Therefore it is important for us to put in effort to listen and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in the way of the Lord. Only than can the words of God edify us.

LEt us consider another reason why it is joyful to go up to Jerusalem

The Church Is Where Everyone Goes To Give Thanks To God”

“Where the tribes go up,
  The tribes of the Lord,
  To the Testimony of Israel,
  To give thanks to the name of the Lord.”- David (Ps 122:4)

Over here we know that there are many tribes who would come up to Jerusalem to worship God.  Even though they are different, but they all came to Jerusalem because of God. That is why they came to Jerusalem with joy, for they are gathered like a spiritual family.

Today in church it is just the same, today even though there are so many different races and people within the church, they are all one big family. They are purchased by the same blood and they are all the same in the eyes of God.

Through our fellowship within the church we care of each otehr, and give each other edification and encouragement, we are like one family, and that is why it brings us Joy to come together.

However, in Ps 122:2 it reminds us that our feet have to be within the gates of Jerusalem. The gate acts as a border and a separation between what is in the city and what is out of the city.

What should one do as he enter into this city of God?

There are 3 aspects that we ought to consider

Pursuing Holiness To Draw Near To God

Today in the church, there must be this separation between Holy and Unholy. It is important for us to stand within the gates of Jerusalem. For whenever we enter Jerusalem, we have come to a holy place.

That is why the Author of Hebrew reminds us

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness,
  without which no one will see the Lord: “ –Author Of Hebrews (Heb 12:14)

Over here it reminds us to pursue  holiness, for it can enable us to enter into Jerusalem and come before the Lord. In order to come into the temple, one must be cleanse and be Holy. Most importantly, we must be holy int he heart

Something things in the world can easily defile us, it often defile us by allowing us to stumble in keeping the words of God. The things we read the things we see, sometimes affect our perception and resolve in following the owrds of God.

that is why we need to be vigilant as we conduct our lives on earth, let us not do things that will affect our relationship with God. If we manage to hold on to his words, God will always be ready to bless us.

To Pray For The Peace Of Jerusalem

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.

  Peace be within your walls,
  Prosperity within your palaces.””- David Ps 122:6

Over here it reminds us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We need to pray for our church to flourish and prosper. We need to pray to the Lord to guide the church, to guide the leaders through the Holy Sprit so that God will to save mankind would be accomplish.

Then the church will always prosper, like sheep with a shepherd.

To Love Jerusalem

Psalmist also describes their joy of comming to Jerusalem.

“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
  Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” –Sons of Korah (Ps 84:10)

Their words contains a teaching that all Christian ought to remember. A Day in the courts of God is better than 1000 days outside. This is true because withint he chruch one can build spiritual life and behold the glory of God. If we strive to enter it, God will give us his promise and he will abide with us, and he will take care of us forever, till the day we return back to heaven.

Conclusion

So far we have discussed 2 aspects of coming to church.

We discussed the question “Why is the Israelites Joyful when they come into Jerusalem?” This question is important as we need to know why we must be joyful as we come to church.

So far we know that

1. The church is where God chose to be his dwelling place

2. The church is built by the hands of God

3. The church is where we have fellowship and to build up and edify each other

Coming to church can help us to learn the ways of God and to walk wisely in the path of salvation. We can get the truth there and it can lead us all the way till we return to heaven.

At the same time, we talk about what we ought to do when we enter into the church.

We ought to

1. Pursue Holiness to be close to God

2. To pray for the peace and prosperity of Jeruslaem

3. To Love the church , for a day in it is better than a thousand outside

May we all be able to hold on to our faith till we reach the gates of heaven.

Advertisements

Introduction

Today in a meeting, when I entered into, I saw the topic written on the wall. In fact this topic had always been on my mind, which is why I named my blog “The Hesitant Prize Fighter”. I believe that we all want to get a better value in life.  Generally there are 2 type of ways one could get a better value in life.

One way, is to gain experience through life experience, people who take this path dislike advice from others. They wanted to experience everything by themselves. Some of them may end up with a smooth sailing life, but it is no doubt the blessing of God. But there are also some who only learn regret upon meeting with accidents. That is the time when one realise that some lessons require a price that they are unable to pay. They end up regretting only when they know it is too late for turning back.

On the other hand, there are also people who are willing to follow the advice of their elders and to consider the words of God. A Person who takes this path, will lead a life in the protection of God. Such people found more value in life then the former.

In fact, the secret of finding values in life  depends on our attitude to life. Let us consider the following questions

Is Wealth As A Better Value?

In the eyes of most people, they will tend to think that the riches add values to a person life. For with riches comes great enjoyments and a higher quality of life. But wealth doesn’t always guaranty joy in life.

Let us consider the experience of King Solomon, we all know how wealthy he is and how much enjoyments he had within his life

“So I became great and excelled more than all
  who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my
  wisdom remained with me.

  Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
  I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
  For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
  And this was my reward from all my labor.

   Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
  And on the labor in which I had toiled;
  And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
  There was no profit under the sun.” – Solomon (Eccl 2:9-11)

Indeed, Solomon would have been the envy of most people in the world, for he is a man who gain everything and he is able to do everything his heart desires. But his conclusion is that all the things he did are vanity.

Can Wealth Provide Security?

There are also some who regard wealth as a form of security. It is human nature to plan for the future and to save as much money as one could. For we know everything in the world requires money. We worry from children’s education funds to our own medical bills. That is why wealth is often regard as a form of security.

Yet Solomon says something to share about that

“There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun:
  Riches kept for their owner to his hurt.
   But those riches perish through misfortune;
  When he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand.
   As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return,
  To go as he came;
  And he shall take nothing from his labor
  Which he may carry away in his hand.”- Solomon (Ecc 5:13-16)

Indeed wealth does not always bring security. In a poor country, the rich often fear being kidnapped or robbed. That is when riches are kept for their owners to his hurt. Sometimes the rich may encounter misfortune and lose their riches. That is wealth provided no security but in fact became a problem that makes him feel unsafe.

Can Wealth Provide Satisfaction?

There are also some who regards wealth to provide satisfaction in life. For with wealth, you can get good enjoyment and luxurious living. Indeed they give satisfaction, but not forever. Just as King Solomon mentioned in his book of Ecclesiastes

“All things are full of labor;
  Man cannot express it.
  The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
  Nor the ear filled with hearing.

  That which has been is what will be,
  That which is done is what will be done,
  And there is nothing new under the sun.” – Solomon (Eccl 1:8-9)

Perhaps wealth can get us into a high class concert hall for a performance, we may find the experience fulfilling, but after a while, we will feel that it is nothing new. Wealth could get us luxurious food but if one were to eat it on a regular basis, it would no longer remain satisfying. That is why King Solomon describes that experience to be “ The eye is not satisfied with seeing,  Nor the ear filled with hearing”

The Simple Fact About Accumulating Wealth

There are also people in the world that feels that wealth could help them resolve problems in life. That is why we often envy businessman who is able to think about the present and envisioned the future. We wish to be able to be like them, but often we tend to forget this simple truth from Solomon

“For there is a man whose labor is
  with wisdom, knowledge, and skill;

  yet he must leave his heritage to a man
  who has not labored for it. This also is vanity
  and a great evil.

   For what has man for all his labor, and for the
  striving of his heart with which he has toiled
  under the sun?

  For all his days are sorrowful, and his work
  burdensome; even in the night his heart takes
  no rest. This also is vanity.”- Solomon (Eccl 2:21-23)

Let us consider a simple fact, a worker just need to work and at the end of the day he could rest from his labours. But this is different from a life of a businessman, he may need to plan ahead for tomorrow and to prepare work schedules and plans to expand his business.  At the very end of the day what did he gain?

Indeed one need to work hard and smart in order to accumulate wealth. He often works hard only to find that he is unable to enjoy the fruits of his lab or at the end of his life. That is why King Solomon describes it within his book

“Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled
  under the sun, because I must leave it to the man
  who will come after me.

   And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?
   Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled
  and in which I have shown myself wise under the
  sun. This also is vanity. “ – Solomon (Eccl 2:18-19)

In fact one would never be able to bring his wealth to him to his grave

To Labour For The Food That Endures

Of course I am not saying that it is unnecessary to work hard and to get money. But we ought to ponder about these question as we pursue the worldly wealth

Indeed we require money if we want to survive in t his world, but how often did we spend too much time pursuing after it? Those who relentlessly pursue wealth usually fails to consider where would he go after he leave the world.  That is why he spend all his time toiling in his life.

Jesus once reminded us

Do not labor for the food which perishes,
  but for the food which endures to
  everlasting life,”- Jesus (Jn 6:27)

The food that he refers to is the words of God. For without it, one would lose eternal life. Indeed many people are becoming more affluent in their lives, and they enjoy their lives more than the people of the past.  However, such life also takes away our sensitivity to the words of God and the vigilance in our faith.

The Warning From The Generation Of Noah

When Jesus liken the end times to the times of Noah (Matt 24:36-39). He tells us that during those days everyone is leading a typical life. they are eating , drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. They are leading secure lives and they lose their vigilance. They were unprepared when the flood hit them. The same thing can happen to us today if we live a complacent life and we over indulge in this colourful world.

Paul once gave warning to the church in Thessalonica

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren,
  you have no need that I should write to you.  For you
  yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so
  comes as a thief in the night.

   For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden
  destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a
  pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”- Paul (1 Thess 5:1-3)

Disasters usually strike when it was least expected. Those who are unprepared are often affected by it. People who live within turmoil’s are usually prepared when disasters strike. When one is in tribulation, he is often able to draw near to God and to read the bible. Ironically we tend to lose interest in times of peace. This is the reason why Christians regard troubles as good things at times. It help us lead a life of vigilance. Just as King Solomon once said

“In the day of prosperity be joyful,
  But in the day of adversity consider:
  Surely God has appointed the one as
  well as the other,  So that man can find
  out nothing that will come after him.”- Solomon (Eccl 7:14)

We must be joyful in prosperity and consider in times of adversity. Both came from God and sometimes God give us trials in time of peace for our good.

The Right Attitude In Times Of Joy

When God allow us to live in days of prosperity, let us learn to have self control in joy. As the book of Ecclesiastes reminds us

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
  And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
  Walk in the ways of your heart,
  And in the sight of your eyes;
  But know that for all these
  God will bring you into judgment.” – Solomon (Eccl 11:9)

Indeed as we enjoy and are joyful, let us remind ourselves that God is watching and we need to have self control. Without self control, one could easily find themselves in sin by accident. That is why Job often offer sacrifices for his children as he is afraid that they may offend God as they are enjoying themselves.

Let us learn to have self control, so we would not fall in our faith. Let us also consider the lives we lead.

2 Things That Add Values In Life : To Fear God

Let us learn to fear God, one who fears God would be able to add value to his life. He would give his best to Jesus. Just like Mary who broke her flask of spikenard to anoint the feet of Jesus.  She offered something that is most valuable and Jesus remembered her offering.

“Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this
  gospel is preached in the whole world,
  what this woman has done will also be
  told as a memorial to her.”- Jesus

The life of Mary is one that is filled with the fear and the love for God. People who lead such a life will become a beautiful testimony for the Lord. Just like how God testify about Job before the devil

“Have you considered My servant Job,
  that there is none like him on the earth,
  a blameless and upright man, one who
  fears God and shuns evil? And still he
  holds fast to his integrity, although you
  incited Me against him, to destroy him
  without cause.” – YHWH (Job 2:3)

God could testify of Job being God fearing before the Satan, and a God fearing man will always have a good testimony before God.

2 Things That Add Values In Life : To Serve God

The second thing  one could do to add value to live is to serve God in our youth. Just as what King Solomon shared

“Remember now your Creator 
  in the days of your youth,
  Before the difficult days come,
  And the years draw near when you say,
  “I have no pleasure in them”:”- Solomon (Eccl 12:1)

It is hard for one to serve God when he is old, that is why it is called the difficult days. For we would lose our strength and are unable to serve  Solomon continue to remind us to seize hold of all opportunity to serve God

“In the morning sow your seed,
  And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
  For you do not know which will prosper,
  Either this or that,
  Or whether both alike will be good.”- Solomon (Ecc 11:6)

a farmer will seize every opportunity to sow his seed, for one can never tell which one will prosper. In the same way, let us size the chance to serve God when we have the chance. For only  by serving him can we find a life that is full of value. As we have read earlier, everything that we do for the Lord will become a memorial to him. Just as we have read the examples of Mary and Job.

Those who serve God will bring value, as their works will follow them.

Conclusion

We have examine the things that the people in the world regard as valuable. We know that people in the world can only see what lies ahead of them and many of the things they pursue after are in vain.

Even though we need wealth to survive in the world, but we as children of God must peruse a life that brings more values to us. We need to fear God, and to serve him. Even though the things of the world do contain a value, but if we want more values in our life, we need to make sacrifices. We need to spend less time on the things of the world.

Only then can we find more time to pursue after things that are of greater values. May God help all of us to make the right choice

“Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges
  who delivered them out of the hand of
  those who plundered them.” – Author of Judges (Judge 2:16)

Judges are people used by the Lord to save the Israelites from their oppressors. They exist between the period after Joshua’s death until the time of Eli the Priest /King Saul. There were a total of 12 judges, did we see the weapons that they were using?

Each of the judges were given different gifts, hence their weapons are different, but yet with Gods help, these weapons became effective weapons to accomplish Gods salvation.

Likewise  today in our spiritual battle, we too have spiritual weapons.  We had studied the weapons of Peter and Paul, let us consider the weapon of the judges.

The Flesh Jawbone used by Samson

Let us begin the journey by considering the weapons used by Samson. Many would reckon that Samson himself is already a weapon and would not imagine him needing  any other weapon

But over at Judg 15:16 Records of a weapon used by Samson

“With the jawbone of a donkey,
  Heaps upon heaps,
  With the jawbone of a donkey 
   I have slain a thousand
   men!”  – Samson (Judg 15:16)

A Jawbone is usually not considered as a weapon, but with the help of Gods spirit, it became an effective weapon. What does the jawbone of Samson represent?

The Importance Of A Steadfast and Strong Faith

The jawbone is a representative of a steadfast and strong faith. During war time, people with a strong and steadfast spirit tends to win, for without it, soldiers would lose their courage fighting.

1 Sam 17:10-11 records of a  battle at the valley of Elah where Saul and his armies are dismayed and frightened. In fact we know that Saul and his troops are not cowards and they have won many battles before.

But this time, the situation is different, the enemies is strong and tall. Therefore they grew weak before the fight event started. When Goliath challenged “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”  Everyone was afraid to respond to that challenge.

When the time is ripe, David entered the valley of Elah, he came to visit his brothers in the battle field. What did he say when he heard the giants mocking Israel?

“What shall be done for the man who kills
  this Philistine and takes away the reproach
  from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised
  Philistine, that he should defy the armies of
  the living God?” David (1 Sam 17:26)

They are indeed words of courage, but at the same time it draws much disdain from the audience. One example was the elder brother of David (1 Sam 17:28-29). He feel that David was proud, for its easy to say “Go and Fight, be strong and courageous”  but must people who said that just did it so that they could watch the fight.

But David was far from that, he was being misunderstood. So David replied “What have I done? Is there not a cause?” . David didn’t care what others think, he knew what he wanted to do all along. David did not visit the valley of Elah to play hero, he knew the necessity to fight and he know Israel will prevail.

Why was David so confident and where did he gather his faith? This is something we need to examine in detail.  For many had lost their faith in the valley of Elah and they are unable to fight even if they have a whole armoury to draw their weapons from.

A Faith As Hard As A Jawbone

David’s faith is as hard as a jawbone of the donkey. That is why he is able to say his famous words in 1 Sam 17:45.

Initially when Goliath saw David, he look down on him saying “Am I a dog that you come with me with sticks?”

David said

“Then all this assembly shall know that
  the Lord does not save with sword and
  spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and
  He will give you into our hands.”- David (1 Sam 17:45)

These words can be easily spoken with our mouth. But the question is, are we able to say it when we are facing our own Goliath?   Sometimes we only know who we are fighting when we stepped into the battlefield. That is when we grow faint and wonder “How did I lose that faith?”

The Need To Build Faith

David’s faith is establish as he progress with life.  Sometimes we are all fired up after listening to a sermon, we seem to be full of faith before God. But often that faith was never tested, nor was it put to use often.

But if one nurtures his faith and use them often, , he will have the faith to face calamities when it comes. Therefore it is important for faith to be nurtured. But often we have faith but we do not use it, we spend it merely listening to sermons.

Let us look at how the faith of David is nurtured. David spoke about it here

“Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep,
  and when a lion or a bear came and took a
  lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and
  struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth;
  and when it arose against me, I caught it by its
  beard, and struck and killed it.

When Saul claimed that David was a youth and cannot go to war. David disagreed and he bore testimony about how he killed Lions and Bears. I am sure most of us have the courage to kill foxes and wolves, but do we dare fight a lion and a bear?

Usually we will calculate our odds and when we realise the odds stacked against us. That is when we value our lives more than the lives of the sheep. But David is different, he fought the lion and the bear. How is that possible?

He relied on God, he wanted to save his sheep, he believes God is his shepherd. That is not a mere poetic description of God, it was his declaration of faith. He must have fought many lions and bears, and as the result, his faith became stronger. That is when he is made to fight Goliath the giant.

 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and
  this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of
  them, seeing he has defied the armies of the
  living God.” -David (1 Sam 17:36)

He did not enter the battlefield relying on his skill with the sling, but his faith can clearly be seen in the next verse

“The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the
   lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver
   me from the hand of this Philistine.”-David (1 Sam 17:37)

As the result, Saul agreed and said “Go, and the Lord be with you”. We all know the outcome of that battle.

We know that the weapon we need in this spiritual battle is persistent faith. This faith is build up over time and require us to cultivate it in our daily lives. How do we cultivate it?

We will discuss these questions on the next post.