Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jesus Christ: Mr. Light of the World or Mr. Arrogant?

Sometime I met people who always seem to be full of themselves. Singing their own praises, full of their own important, and think of himself or herself more than anyone else. They are not the kind of people I like to get around with. But as I read the Scripture, I noticed that, Jesus, at first impression, seems to be a bit like that: he talks a lot about himself and seems to offer himself to others as the answer to their needs. I ask God who writes Bible: Does Jesus have any right to talk this way?

What about this (for example): “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12, ESV)? That is a strange thing for anyone to say. In what possible way can one man be the source of light for the whole world? What?! And is he telling us that apart from him and without him people are, in effect, in darkness? If you read this passage carefully, “I am the light of the world,” that would certainly seem to be the case, for he goes on to say: “Whoever follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12).

As if it was not clear enough, Jesus repeats it: “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). Follow him, believe him, is what Jesus saying, because without him we are simply blind and will stumble our way through life, risking making wrong decisions and going to the wrong directions. Without Jesus it will be like walking in the dark!

Now, unless it is true (which I personally believe to be true), that is an arrogant talk! And for those who were there when Jesus said it, it was made worse because they would detect, realized in these words – “I am the light” – that Jesus was claiming to be divine. For them, “light” was a description of God Himself, and the ONLY one who had the right to claim to be the light of the world is God! So Jesus’ claim was daring indeed: He claimed to be what God alone is supposed to be, and therefore claimed to offer people light which would make a radical difference to their lives.

I am the light of the world.” This was a shocking statement from Jesus (maybe not so much today, but during Jesus’ time, that claim is blasphemous if it’s not true), so to you, who do you say Jesus is: The liar of the world? The looser of the world? Or “The light of the world”? Seek Jesus for yourself, pray to God and read the Gospels first hand before you make any decision, because any decision you may make will make a difference in your life – either into the light or into the darkness. May you choose the brighter future in Him. Choose Light. Amen.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Can Jesus be Both Man and God? ("No Way!" or "Oh Yeah!")

Jesus was a man. All right. If we look at Jesus’ life, it’s hard to deny that. But what about his claim to be God (as I already examined in the last two blog posts)? Can he be both? The first followers of Jesus certainly seemed to think so. Two of the Gospel writers, especially, said so clearly in their account of the birth of Jesus.

Luke recorded the visit of an angel to Mary telling her that she would become pregnant and give birth to a son. Since she was then unmarried, she was understandably (okay, I don’t really understand actually) surprised and alarmed and asked how it could happen. The angel replied: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God” (Luke 1:35, ESV).

Matthew, on the other hand, highlights the experience of Joseph, Mary’s fiancĂ©. Joseph was understandably (okay, once again, I don’t really understand) concerned when he discovered she was pregnant and he contemplated calling an end to the engagement. But God through a dream spoke to him and reassured him: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20, ESV).

These part of the Gospel accounts, possibly more than any other, is difficult for some to accept – it sounds more like fantasy than fact (probably one of the great stumbling block for our majority neighbour). Yet it is entirely consistent with the rest of the Gospel accounts, and it provides an explanation of that contrast between the divinity and the humanity claim of Jesus.  Both Luke and Matthew tells us that Jesus was born of Mary and is therefore – man; but was conceived by the Spirit of God and is therefore – God. And that is what early Christians have believed down the centuries until now, that Jesus was both – man and God. The Apostles’ Creed (if you worship in a Protestant Church, you might be familiar with this), one of the earliest statements of Christian faith and belief, states that: “I believe in Jesus Christ… He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.”

To say that Jesus is both (100%) man and (100%) God is neither to twist the evidence in the Scripture, nor to dismiss part of it, but rather to face up realistically to the whole Scripture’s evidences. But, yeah, you must examine the evidence yourself. Start with actually reading the Gospel story in the New Testament yourself. Don’t settle for what people’s saying (like religious teachers in your university or campus or school or on TV channels), seek for yourself. If you seek Jesus with all your heart, you will find Him. I pray you will have peace in Him, amen.

Jesus is asking us, “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:13-16)
Do you know Jesus of the Bible?
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jesus was so Human

Jesus wept” (John 11:35, ESV)

No doubt we are right when we said that Jesus is the Son of God. When he said “I Amor “The Father and I are one” or “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” or “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” – he is claiming to be equal with God. He was God. But if we examine the life of Jesus, we find a fascinating contrast. To be equal with God is to be more than human. Yet, in his life, he appears to be very much an ordinary man, displaying thoroughly human characters and behaviour.

There was a time, for example, when children were brought to him for blessing. The disciples tried to send them away (perhaps they were very tired that day), but Jesus welcomed them, took them in his arms, and blessed them (read Mark 10:13-16). And on another occasion, when the disciples asked him who was the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus replied by taking a child as an illustration and saying: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, ESV).

Not only did he enjoy natural human activities such as the company of children, he also experienced the same physical weaknesses that we all know so well. In the New Testament, we find him tired after walking on a journey and resting for a while by a well (John 4:5-6); he was hungry after going without food for 40 days (Matthew 4:2); and thirsty as he was dying hung on the cross (John 19:28); he became exhausted by a long campaign of preaching and teaching – and to my amazement, on one occasion, he actually fell asleep in the back of a boat, and (more amazement!) managed to sleep through a violent storm (Mark 4:35-38). Jesus was so human.

He also experienced every human emotion too. He knew the joy of celebration and was happy to be a guest at a wedding (John 2:1-11); he was angry with the corruptions in the temple (John 2:13-22) and he knew the sadness of losing a close friend, and was not ashamed to weep openly at the grave (John 11:33-36). He, this I like, felt great compassion for people in their need; whether it was for a crowd “because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34), or for an individual such as the rich man whose wealth kept him from finding eternal life – we are told that Jesus “looking at him, loved him” (Mark 10:21). Jesus was so human. He, I believe, is still a man even today (Read the Book of Revelation if you don’t believe me). Jesus is – the Son of Man.

Do you know that Jesus is not only the Son of God, but also the Son of Man?
That He is both fully God and fully man? (Seek the Scripture)
Do you know Jesus of the Bible?
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Friday, September 26, 2014

God Speaks for Himself: The Gospel and the Poor

We live in an imperfect world with a huge imbalance of wealth and power. God is a God of justice and wants His people to make a difference in the world, standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and sharing what we have with those who have nothing. God is love, and love seeks people to be loved – just like Jesus. Here are 10 quotes from the Bible, that probably not so popular among Christians today. May His Word speaks to your heart, produce actions and revive your faith in Him:

“If in any of the towns in the land that the Lord your God is giving you there is a fellow-Israelite in need, then do not be selfish and refuse to help him. Instead, be generous and lend him as much as he needs”. 
Deuteronomy 15:7-8

“I, the Lord, command you to do what is just and right. Protect the person who is being cheated from the one who is cheating him. Do not ill-treat or oppress foreigners, orphans, or widows; and do not kill innocent people in this holy place.
Jeremiah 22:3

“No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.” 
Micah 6:8

“Rich people who see a brother or sister in need, yet close their hearts against them, cannot claim that they love God”. 
1 John 3:17

“Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, ‘God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!’ — if you don’t give them the necessities of life?” 
James 2:15-16

“Learn to do right. See that justice is done — help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows”. 
Isaiah 1:17

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” 
Luke 4:18-19

“None of you should be looking out for your own interests, but for the interests of others”. 
1 Corinthians 10:24

“Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers”.
Romans 12:13

“Don’t take advantage of the poor just because you can; don’t take advantage of those who stand helpless in court. The Lord will argue their case for them and threaten the life of anyone who threatens theirs”. 
Proverbs 22:22-23

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Tanamlah Benih Wahai Rakan Pelayan PelajarKu

Aku [Paulus] menanam benih dan Apolos menyiramnya,
tetapi Allah sendiri yang menyebabkan tanaman itu tumbuh” (1 Korintus 3:6, BM).

Firman ini mengingatkan saya tentang pekerjaan saya sebagai seorang pelayan pelajar Kristian.  Saya mengaku bahawa agar sukar untuk saya mengukur sejauh mana efektifnya pelayanan yang saya lakukan sekarang. Kadang-kadang saya merasakan bahawa saya hanya “menanam benih”, kadang-kadang hanya “menyiram”, dan kadang-kadang merasakan bahawa “musim menuai” akan lambat tiba. Melayani dikalangan pelajar adalah seperti itu. Menanam banyak benih, menyiramnya, berdoa bersungguh-sungguh, dan kemudian memerhati dan menunggu. Tidak semua benih akan tumbuh, tetapi pasti ada yang akan tumbuh.

Dan ini ialah Berita Baik bagi saya (dan kamu yang melayani TUHAN): Saya tidak perlu menjadi seorang yang terkenal atau bijak untuk melayani pelajar. Saya tidak perlu berpendidikan tinggi. Saya tidak perlu menjadi seorang yang pintar atau pandai bercakap atau memiliki penampilan yang menarik. Saya tidak perlu menjadi apa-apa, kecuali hati yang ingin melayani. Tiada pengorbanan yang diperlukan, kecuali keseluruhan hidup saya sendiri. Jika saya tidak kisah untuk menjadi penanam “benih,” maka saya boleh menjadi pelayan pelajar. Ada ramai orang yang belum mendengar kebaikan Yesus, dan ada banyak jiwa yang belum tahu tentang perbuatan-Nya. Peluang untuk mengkhabarkan Berita Baik dikalangan pelajar masih lagi terbuka luas.

Ini nasihat saya kepada kita semua: Kebanyakkan kita tahu banyak perkara tentang Yesus. Masalah kita bukanlah disebabkan oleh kurangnya pengetahuan. (Sebenarnya, kita tahu terlalu banyak.) Kita telah dilengkapi dengan pelbagai kemudahan dan pengetahuan samada melalui internet, buku-buku, guru-guru, seminari, persekutuan Kristian, kelas Alkitab, dan sebagainya. Persoalan bagi kita pada abad ke-20 ini ialah bukan, ‘Apa yang kamu tahu?’ tetapi, ‘Apa yang kamu akan lakukan tentang apa yang kamu sudah tahu?’ Lihat semua “benih” yang TUHAN telah berikan kepada kamu. Cukup untuk kita sendiri and cukup untuk seluruh keluarga kita, dengan banyak lagi bakinya. Bukankah sudah tiba masanya untuk kamu dan saya menanam dan menyiram “benih” yang sedia ada? Pergilah “menanam benih… dan menyiramnya”; biar “Allah sendiri yang menyebabkan tanaman itu tumbuh.” Amen.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mentaati Yesus, Bukan memberi Alasan

Asas dalam penginjilan ialah Amanah Agung. Firman Yesus ialah: “Pergilah ke seluruh dunia dan khabarkanlah Berita Baik daripada Allah kepada seluruh umat manusia” (Markus 16:15, BM). Lukas 5:1-11 merupakan salah satu daripada ajaran Yesus Kristus tentang penginjilan kepada pengikut-pengikut-Nya. Dengan menggunakan gambaran seperti menjala ikan, Yesus mengajar mereka tentang bagaimana untuk menjala (atau memenangkan) manusia. Selepas mereka menjala semalaman tanpa menangkap apa-apa pun, Yesus berkata kepada Petrus, “Dayunglah perahu ke tempat yang dalam lalu tebarkanlah jala untuk menangkap ikan” (5:4). Setiap nelayan yang sudah biasa dengan Tasik Genesaret tahu bahawa jika mereka tidak berjaya mendapat ikan pada waktu malam sebelumnya, mereka harus sedar yang mereka tidak akan mendapat ikan langsung. Walaupun Petrus sedar dengan kenyataan ini, dia menjawab, “Tetapi kerana guru yang menyuruh, baiklah, saya akan menebarkan jala” (5:5). Kemudian, mukjizat terjadi! Oleh kerana ikan terlalu banyak, jala mereka hampir putus! Perahu hampir tenggelam! Dan Yesus berkata, “Jangan takut! Mulai sekarang kamu akan menjala orang supaya menjadi pengikut-Ku” (5:10). Secara ringkas Dia seperti berkata: “Apabila Aku sudah berfirman, lakukanlah!

Kita kadang-kadang beranggapan bahawa kita tidak layak untuk bersaksi tentang Berita Baik dengan orang yang belum percaya kerana kita takut jika mereka bertanya banyak soalan, kita tidak mampu untuk menjawab kembali. Kadang-kadang kerisauan itu ada kebenarannya. Tetapi kebanyakan masa kita menggunakan alasan itu supaya kita boleh bersembunyi daripada bersaksi kepada orang lain. “Jangan takut!” kata Yesus. Pergilah bersaksi tentang Dia. Ingat: Yesus yang memanggil pengikut-pengikut-Nya dan kita sekarang untuk “menjala orang” akan juga melakukan mukjizat yang sama! Mukjizat akan terjadi jika kita mentaati Firman-Nya. Ikan banyak! Jala hampir putus! Perahu hampir tenggelam!

Taat kepada Yesus, bukan memberi alasan

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Jesus and the Father are One

I and the Father are one
(Jesus says about who He is, John 10:30, ESV)

Jesus was doing His own business in the temple of Jerusalem when a crowd began to gather. Just like famous people today, Jesus found it hard to escape the crowds. They started asking awkward questions, of which the most direct was: “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24, ESV). Jesus replies was classic and in the end He said something unexpectedly: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Could He possibly mean it?

There are many religious groups and sects around today (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and New Age to name just three) who will tell that all Jesus meant when He said this was that He shared with God the same aims, desires and goals; that their hearts and minds were united; that they had a common mission. If that were so, Jesus’ reply was harmless (it would be unfair to accuse Him of blasphemy). Yet, apparently, those who were present thought otherwise. He was dangerous, very erroneous in His words. To their understanding, “I and the Father are one,” Jesus was declaring Himself as equal with God – and that was blasphemy. And so, as before, they “picked up stones again to stone him” (10:31).

Four chapters later, Jesus even have difficulties with His own disciples and close friends. Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:8-10). It was just as well that Jesus was alone with His disciples, and that none of them are picking up stones to stone their Master. Afraid or confused, maybe. Here was the same outrageous and ‘blasphemous’ claim again, that – Jesus was saying as to be equal with God.

Clearly, from my previous posts in this blog, that Jesus believed that it was not simply that He had exclusive access to God (“the Way”), nor even that He enjoyed a special intimate relationship with God (called God “Father”, “Abba”), but that He was actually equal with God (“I and the Father are one”) – He was God.

Do you believe that “[Jesus] and the Father are one”?
Do you know Jesus of the Bible?

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Before Abraham was Born, Jesus says "I Am"

I am telling you the truth. Before Abraham was born, ‘I Am’
(Jesus says about himself, John 8:58, TEV)

It all begins in the time of Moses, Israel’s great national hero. When God called on him to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Moses was reluctant to accept – in fact, he played hard-to-get or in my local language: ‘Jual mahal!’ (Read about it in Exodus 3). He offered all sorts of excuses for not going. One of the more reasonable was that he couldn’t explain who had sent him. Moses said to God, When I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ So what can I tell them?(Exodus 3:13, TEV). God replied (and it’s a little difficult to make it sound sense in English): “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I Am has sent me to you’” (3:14).

Clearly, in the New Testament John 8, Jesus’ use of the phrase “I Am” would remind His hearers of that incident and of that special name for God. More than that, the fact that Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, ‘I Am’”, and not “I was”, would suggest something else: that He was claiming to be what only God really is – eternal. Only God can legitimately claim “I Am” at any time, past, present, or future; but there is Jesus saying that He is also eternal, that His birth in Bethlehem was not His beginning, that He had always been in existence, even before Abraham.

This was highly provocative. Jesus must have realized that His words would imply these things and would arouse the anger of His critics (as He always does). By applying the name “I Am” to Himself, Jesus was talking for Himself something that was properly God’s alone – Jesus was claiming to be equal with God. Morgan G. Campbell writes, “These are the words of the most impudent blasphemer that ever spoke, or the words of God incarnate.” His critics took it as blasphemy, and in their Law, the punishment for that was death by stoning. So angry were they by now, that they dispensed with arrest, trial and sentence. So clearly understood Jesus’ statement that they grabbed the nearest stones and trying to kill Him there and then. Even today, the real Jesus is so hated by the enemies because He, in God’s Word, says, “I Am.”

Is Jesus really the “I Am”?
Do you know Jesus of the Bible?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jesus called God "Abba"

I am the way, the truth, and the life;
no one goes to the Father except by me
(Jesus says about Himself, John 14:6, TEV)

So close was Jesus’ relationship with God that the name by which He called Him most naturally was ‘Father.’ In fact, Jesus actually called God, in His native language Aramaic, ‘Abba.’ And that is remarkable, because ‘Abba’ is an expression of familiarity and intimacy such as a child would use of his father – indeed, in certain parts of the Middle East, children can still be heard today calling their fathers ‘Abba.’ It is almost as familiar as the English expressions ‘Daddy’ or ‘Dad’, or as the Ibans calling their fathers ‘Apai.

What is so important about that? Simply this: that religious people of Jesus’ day took God very seriously indeed. They considered Him great and powerful and holy, and therefore virtually unapproachable. They avoided calling Him by name if they could, and when they did (in worship or prayer, for example) they would be very careful to use titles which conveyed proper respect and reverence for Him. To call him ‘Father,’ let alone ‘Daddy,’ would have seemed thoroughly disrespectful and therefore unthinkable. The fact that Jesus did so repeatedly must have annoyed and upset many of His fellow Jews.

What is more, if you study the religious world, you will find there are many names and titles for God, but nowhere will you find anything comparable to the intimacy of ‘Abba.’ (In Islam, for example, there are 99 names of Allah, and there is none soo intimate as ‘Abba.’ Probably this is the missing ‘link’ between their God-and-men relationship) No other religious teacher has dared to use such a familiar way of addressing God. Yet Jesus even encouraged His followers to address God in the same intimate way, and they have done so ever since. “Our Father in heaven…” This is not only remarkable, it is unique.

Do you know God as your ‘Abba’, ‘Father’?
Do you know Jesus of the Bible?

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Jesus' Provocative Claim

I am the way, the truth, and the life;
no one goes to the Father except by me
(Jesus says about Himself, John 14:6, TEV)

These words of Jesus prove to be a problem whenever Christians talk with non-Christians, particularly today when it is considered right to be tolerant of the views of others. The problem is this: if Jesus is right that no-one can come to God except through Him, then the common, ‘tolerant’ belief that there are many routes to God (as many of my liberal friends think it is so), of which Jesus is just one of them, looks very shaky.

Of course, we could say Jesus did not really mean what He said; or we could conveniently forget that He said it. Some Bible scholars, which is not necessary Christians, offers us a let-out by suggesting that these are words the Gospel writer put on the lips of Jesus, rather than actual words spoken by Jesus. But, as historically and evidentially proofs, there is rather more integrity about the New Testament than that. In any case, we must very careful not to dismiss this or any other saying of Jesus simply because it is difficult to accommodate into our thinking and reasoning.

The alternative is not easy. It means accepting the words of Jesus and standing by them. We then risk being accused of intolerance and arrogance: because here, Jesus is provocatively claiming to enjoy some kind of exclusive access to God and relationship with God. It is so exclusive, in fact, that if anyone else wants to come to God, they can do so ONLY through Jesus – that is, anyone who wants to get to know God needs to get involved with Jesus. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me

Do you know the Way to God?
Do you know Jesus of the Bible?

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Melihat Setiap Orang Seperti Yesus Melihat Mereka

Kita harus melihat setiap orang sebagaimana Tuhan melihat mereka. Menurut Alkitab Matius 9:36, Yesus diperhatikan sebagai seorang yang seperti itu: “Apabila Dia melihat orang ramai itu, Dia mengasihani mereka kerana mereka risau dan tidak berdaya, seperti kawanan domba tanpa gembala” (BM). Perjanjian Baru menulis bahawa Yesus seringkali berasa begitu, “Dia mengasihani”; “tergeraklah hati” (TB), “jatuhlah belas kasihan-Nya” (TL); “Ia kasihan” (BIMK), lebih kurang lapan kali. Yesus melihat melebihi kesalahan dan kekurangan mereka. Dia melihat keperluan rohani mereka – mereka seperti kawanan domba tanpa gembala.

Kebanyakkan orang Kristian merasa tidak selesa apabila bergaul dengan orang bukan Kristian. Memang sesetengah daripada mereka hanya mementingkan diri sendiri dan kadang-kadang percakapan mereka keterlaluan. Namun begitu, kita sering terlupa bahawa masalahnya bukanlah tentang apa yang mereka lakukan, ianya tentang siapa diri mereka – peribadi yang belum mengenal Yesus Kristus, Penyelamat kita. Sebagaimana Kristus melihat melebihi perbuatan seseorang dan melihat keperluan rohani mereka terlebih dahulu, kita juga harus melakukan perkara yang sama. Kita harus memiliki hati yang mengasihani, berbelas kasihan kepada orang bukan Kristian dan melihat sepertimana Yesus melihat mereka. Sikap Yesus harus menjadi sikap kita.

Beberapa tahun yang lalu, para pelayan misi telah dibunuh oleh kaum Auca Indians di negara Ecuador. Bapa kepada salah seorang daripada mereka berkata: “Saya merasa lebih sedih terhadap mereka kaum Indians berbanding dengan kematian anak saya sendiri.” Ini ialah sikap yang mengasihi orang lain!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

John Wycliffe on How to Life Live

Reading John Wycliffe (1330-1384) biography is a very inspiring and up lifting for me. He was a philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, reformer, university teacher at Oxford in England and most known by all as – an English-Bible translator. Below is a lengthy quote from his sermon How to Life Live:

First, when you rise, or fully awake, think upon the goodness of your God: how because of His own goodness, and not for any need, He made all things out of nothing, both angels and men, and all other creature.
Your second thought should be on the great suffering and willing death that Christ endured for mankind. When no man might make payment for the guilt of Adam and Eve, and many others, neither could any angel make payment, the Christ from His endless love, suffered such great passion and painful death, that no creature could suffer so much.

Think thirdly how God has saved you from death and other mischief, and suffered many thousands to be lost the previous night, some in water, and some in fire, and some by sudden death – and some to be damned without end. And for this goodness and mercy thank God with all your heart. And pray that He will give you grace to spend in that day, and evermore, all the powers of thy soul, thy mind, understanding, reason, and will, as well as all the powers of your body, strength, beauty, and five senses, in His service and worship. Pray too that He will empower you to do nothing against His commandments; but in willing performance of His works of mercy, and in giving a good example of holy life, both in word and deed to all men about you.

Next, be sure that you are well occupied, with no idle time, because of the danger of temptation. Take meat and drink in moderation, not too costly, and be not too particular about them. But such as God sends you with health, take it in such amounts that you will be fresh in mind and understanding to serve God. And always thank Him for such gifts. Besides this, be sure that you do right and fairly to all men, thy superiors, equals, and subjects or servants, and stir them all to love truth, and mercy, and true peace, and love.

Also, most of all fear God and His wrath, love God and His Law, and His worship; and ask not principally for worldly reward. In your heart desire the bliss of heaven, in the mercy of God, and a holy life; and think much of the dreadful doom of pains of hell, or order to keep you from sin.
            At the end of the day think where you have offended God, and how much and how often, and therefore be sorrowful, and amend your actions while you may. And think how many God has allowed to perish that day, in many ways, and to be damned everlastingly, and how graciously He has saved you, not for thy deserving, but for His own mercy and goodness, and therefore thank Him with all your heart. And pray for Him for grace that you may dwell and end in His true and holy service and real love, and teach other men to do the same.

            If you are a priest and especially one having the charge of souls, live a holy life, surpassing other men in holy prayer, desire, and thinking, in holy speaking, counselling, and true teaching. And may God’s commands, His gospel, and virtues, be ever in your mouth, despite sin, and seek to draw me from it, and may your deeds be so rightful that no man shall blame them with reason, but may your open deeds be a true book to all people and unlearned men, to serve God and do His commands thereby. For an example of a good life, one that is open and lasting, stirs men more than true preaching by word only. And waste not your goods in great feasts of rich men, but live a humble life, of poor men’s alms and goods, both in meat and drink and clothes. The remainder give truly to poor men that have not their own, and may not labour for feebleness or sickness, and thus, you shall be a true priest both to God and man.

If you are a lord, ensure that you live a rightful life in your own person, both in respect to God and man, keeping the commands of God, doing the works of mercy, ruling well your five senses, and doing reason, and equity, and good conscience to all men.
            In the second place, govern well your wife, children, and household attendants, in God’s Law, and allow no sin among them, neither in word nor in deed, that they may be examples of holiness and righteousness to all others. For you shall be condemned for their evil life and their evil example unless you amend those as much as you are able.
            In the third place, govern well your tenants, and maintain them in right and reason, and be merciful to them in their tents. And chastise in good manner they that are rebels against God’s commands and virtuous life, more than for rebellion against your own cause. Otherwise you love your own cause more than God’s, and yourself more than God Almighty, and you will then be a traitor to God. Love, reward, praise, and cherish the true and virtuous of life more than if you sought only your own profit.
And reverence and maintain truly, according to your skill and might, God’s Law and true preachers of it, and God’s servants, in rest and peace. You do wrong against God if you maintain the Antichrist’s disciples in their errors against Christ’s life and teaching, and help to slander and pursue true men that teach Christ’s gospel and His life.

            If you are a labourer, live in meekness, and truly and willingly do your labour, that your lord or master, if he be a heathen man, by your meekness, willing and true service, may not have a grudge against you, nor slander your God, nor your Christian profession, but rather be stirred to come to Christianity.
And serve not Christian lords with grudging, not only in their presence, but truly and willingly, and in absence. Not only for worldly dread, or worldly reward, but for dread of God and conscience, and for reward in heaven. For God, who has put you in such service, knows what state is best for you, and will reward you more than all earthly lords may, if you truly and willingly obey Him.
            And in all things beware of grudging against God and the trials sent by Him, in great labour, long or great sickness, and other adversities. And beware of wrath, of cursing, of speaking evil of man or beast, keeping patience, meekness, and love, both to God and man. Thus, each man in the three states ought to live, to save himself, and to help others. And thus should good life, rest, peace, and love be among Christian men, and they be saved, and heathen men soon converted, and God magnified greatly.”

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Let Go of Prejudice and Read It Firsthand

I once read that G. Campbell Morgan - an evangelist, preacher and teacher - had grown up in a Christian home, never questioning that the Bible was the Word of God. But in college, before he became known as Bible teacher, his faith was severely challenged and he began to entertain doubts. “The whole intellectual world was under the mastery of the physical scientists,” he later said, “and of a materialistic and rationalistic philosophy. Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, Spencer, Bain. There came a moment when I was sure of nothing.”

In those days, opponents of the Bible appeared every Sunday in great lecture and concert halls across England, attaching Christianity and the Bible, and these brilliant atheists and agnostics troubled the young student. He read every book he could find, both for and against the Bible, both for and against Christianity, until he was so confused, so riddled with doubt that he felt he couldn’t go on.

In desperation, he closed his books, put them in his cupboard and turned the lock. Going down the bookshop, he bought a new Bible, returned to his room, sat down at his desk, and opened it. He said, “I am no longer sure that this is what my father claim it to be – the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and opened mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself.” As he looked into the book before him, studying its form and structure and unity and message, he was amazed. He later said, “That Bible found me. I began to read and study it then, in 1883, and I have been a student ever since.”

Are you in doubt of the Bible? Here are my suggestions:
Let down your predetermined prejudice about the Bible,
Open your mind and let it speaks for itself,
Then you’ll discover that it is what it is – the written Word of God – or not at all.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Adversity into Triumph: Coffee into Sweet Smelling Fragrance

A young woman was complaining to her father about how difficult her life had become. He said nothing, but took her to the kitchen and set three pans of water to boiling. To the first pan, he added carrots; to the second, eggs; and to the third, ground coffee. After all three had cooked, he put their contents into separate bowls and asked his daughter to cut into the eggs and carrots and smell the coffee.

What does this all mean?” she asked impatiently. “Each food,” he said, “teaches us something about facing adversity, as represented by the boiling water.” The carrot went in hard but came out soft and weak. The eggs went in fragile but came out hardened. The coffee, however, changed the water to something better. “Which will you be like as you face life?” he asked. “Will you give up, become hard – or transform adversity into triumph? As the ‘chef’ of your own life, what will you bring to the table?” The questions are very thoughtful.

On adversity, Alice H. Mortenson, wrote a poet:

Sometimes God takes away our props
that we might lean on Him,
allow temptations, so we’ll grow
And triumph over sin.
Sometimes He takes away our strength
for doing earthly things
to rest our bodies that our souls
may soar on eagle’s wings.
Let’s not resent it when He says,
“Come ye apart – Be still”
or chafe at disappointments
that are His sovereign will.
Oh, let’s not doubt or question “Why?”
with unexplained delays,
but keep on soaring ‘neath His wings
with gratitude and praise!

When you face adversity, face with hot boiling water, would you change the water to something better? Would you transform adversity into triumph? God have a purpose in your adversity. Trust Him. Truth Jesus in your adversity. Let the hot boiling water turn coffee into a sweet smelling fragrance!

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

John Wycliffe on The Name of Jesus

John Wycliffe, 1330 - 1384
After church service yesterday, I decided to go to the church library and borrowed some books. Three books; John Wycliffe: Herald of the Reformation, William Tyndale: Bible Translator and Martyr, and Martin Luther: the Great Reformer. Before this, I have read Jonathan Edwards: the Great Awakener and Charles Spurgeon: the Great Orator (my favorite) – and more to come. This exciting biographical Heroes of Faith series by Barbour Publishing, Inc. explore the lives of famous Christian men and women throughout the ages. I like reading these 208 pages each of inspiring biography because they remind me to walk in the faith, to treasure Christ and His Word, and to make a difference in people’s lives.

I picked up John Wycliffe biography first and read through it. I want to share a sample of his sermon on ‘The Name of Jesus.’ Read and be blessed:

Whoever desires to love God, if you will neither be deceived nor deceive, if you will be saved and not fail, if you will stand and not fall, study to have this name Jesus constantly in mind. If you do this, the enemy shall fall and you shall stand, and the enemy shall be enfeebled and you shall be strengthened. Therefore, seek this name, Jesus, hold it and forget it not. Nothing so quenches flames, restrains evil thoughts, cuts away venomous affections, or alienates from us vain occupations.

This name, Jesus, truly held in mind, roots up vices, plants virtues, brings charity or love to men, gives men a taste of heavenly things, removes discord, produces peace, gives everlasting rest, and does away with fleshly desires. All earthly desires, all earthly things, it turns into heaviness. It fills those that love it with spiritual joy. The righteous man deserves to be blessed, for he hath truly loved this name, Jesus. He is called righteous, because he seeks earnestly to love Jesus. What can go wrong for him who unceasingly yearns to love Jesus? He loves and he desires to love, for thus we know the love of God to stand; for the more we love, the more we yearn to love.

It is said, ‘They that eat me shall not hunger, and they that drink me, shall not thirst.’ Therefore the love of Jesus by itself is delectable and desirable. Therefore no joy shall be lacking for those that seek earnestly to love Him whom angels desire to behold. Angels see Him always, and ever desire to see Him; for they are filled so full that their filling does not take away their desire, and they desire so much that their desire does not take away their fullness. This is full joy; this is glorious joy.

Therefore many men wish to joy with Christ, but as they love not His name, Jesus, they shall have sorrow without end, whatever they do. And if they give all things that they have to poor men, unless they love this name, Jesus, they shall labor in vain. For only such shall be gladdened in Jesus who have loved Him in this present life. Those that defame Him with vices and foul thoughts, and turn not again, there is no doubt but they are put out from the glory of God. Therefore a man shall not see the glory of God that has not joyfully loved this name Jesus.

In truth, an evil man does not find Jesus for he sees Him not where he is. He tries to seek Jesus in the joys of this world, where He shall never be found. Why therefore do you say, ‘We shall be saved in Jesus,’ while you cease not to hate Him, without whom you cannot have health?
I am not surprised that a man, being tempted, falls, if he does not have the name of Jesus lasting in his mind. Truly this name cleanses the conscience, makes the heart clear and clean, and drives away fear. It gets man warmth of love and lifts up the mind to heavenly melody.

O what a good name! O what a sweet name! O glorious name! O healthful name! O name to be desired! Wicked spirits will not abide with you when they behold Jesus, either in mind or hear you proclaim His name out loud. I sought to love Jesus, and ever the more I grew complete in Him love, so much the sweeter His name became to me. Therefore, blessed be the name of Jesus forever and ever. Amen.” (Refer to page 171 – 172).

Because of this name, Jesus, John Wycliffe burned with a desire to make God’s Word accessible to every individual. He was the first man who makes God’s Word available in English language. And for the rest of his remarkable story, get a book and read his biography… Enjoy reading! God bless you.
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Classic Summations of the Life of Jesus Christ (Part 2 of 3)

The life of Jesus Christ is so intensely beautiful and powerful that verbal descriptions of it have moved audiences for centuries. Here are some favorites (Click here for Part 1):

“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a pleasant woman. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He never went to college. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race, and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as has that One Solitary Life.”
Attribute to Philips Brooks (A.D. 1835 – 1893), American Episcopal minister

“Fundamentally, our Lord’s message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, ‘I am the bread.’ He did not come merely to shed light, He said, ‘I am the light.’ He did not come merely to show the door; He said, ‘I am the door.’ He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, ‘I am the shepherd.’ He did not come merely to point the way; He said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’”
J. Sidlow Baxter, British Bible teacher

“A catalog of virtues and graces, however complete, would merely give us a mechanical view. It’s the spotless purity and the sinlessness of Jesus as acknowledged by friend and foe that raises His character high above the reach of all others. In Him we see the even harmony and symmetry of all graces: His love for God and man, His dignity and humility, His strength and tenderness, His greatness and simplicity, and His self-control and submission. It’s the absolute perfection of Christ’s character that makes Him a moral miracle in History. It’s futile to compare Him with saints and sages, ancient or modern. Even the skeptic Jean Jacques Rousseau was compelled to remark, ‘If Socrates lived and died like a sage, Jesus Christ lived and died like a God.’”
Philip Schaff, Church historian

“The historian Will Durant, author of the massive Story of Civilization, devoted an entire volume of 751 pages to the years surrounding the life of Christ, and he entitled it ‘Caesar and Christ.’ In it he noticed the stylistic differences between the Gospels, but he concluded, ‘The contradictions are of minutiae, not substance; in essentials the synoptic gospels agree remarkably well, and form a consistent portrait of Christ. No one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life, character, and teachings of Christ, remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man.’”
Will Durant, historian

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

What God Does With Our Sins

Rosalind Goforth was a well-known missionary to China who, along with her husband Jonathan, enjoyed an illustrious career and ministry. But for many years, even having laboured for the Lord in China, Rosalind often felt oppressed by a burden of sin. She felt guilty and dirty, nursing an inward sense of spiritual failure. Finally one evening when all was quiet, she settled at her desk with Bible and concordance, determined to find out God’s attitude toward the failures, the faults, the sins of his children.

She put these words at the top of the page: What God Does With Our Sins. Then as she searched through the Scriptures, she compiled this list of seventeen truths:

1)    He lays them on his Son – Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:6)
2)    Christ takes them away (John 1:29)
3)    They are removed an immeasurable distance – as far as the East is from the West (Psalms 123:12)
4)    When sought for, they are not found (Jeremiah 50:20)
5)    The Lord forgives them (Ephesians 1:7)
6)    He cleanses them ALL away by the blood of his son (1 John 1:7)
7)    He cleanses them as white as snow or wool (Isaiah 1:18, Psalms 51:7)
8)    He abundantly pardons them (Isaiah 55:7)
9)    He tramples them under foot (Micah 7:19)
10) He remembers them no more (Hebrews 10:17)
11) He casts them behind his back (Isaiah 38:17)
12) He casts them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19)
13) He will not impute us with sins (Romans 4:8)
14) He covers them (Romans 4:7)
15) He blots them out (Isaiah 43:25)
16) He blots them out as a thick cloud (Isaiah 44:22)
17) He blots out even the proof against us, nailing it to His Son’s Cross (Colossians 2:14)

These are such amazing truths. Only the sinners can claim this forgiveness.
Would you come to Jesus? [Read and check the Bible verses above for yourself]

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Doing the Wrong Things Well

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death
(Proverbs 14:12, 16:25)

University president and ‘management guru’ Warren Bennis spent several years researching a book on leadership. He travelled around the country spending time with ninety of the most effective and successful leaders in the nation – sixty from corporations and thirty from the public sector. His goal was to find these leaders’ common traits. As first, he had trouble pinpointing any common traits, for the leaders were more diverse than he had expected.

But he later wrote in his book Why Leaders Can’t Lead: “I was finally able to come to some conclusions, of which perhaps the most important is the distinction between leaders and managers: Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right. Both role are crucial, but they differ profoundly. I often observe people in top positions doing the wrong thing well.” The same can be said for most people.

So, in your Christian life, conduct and service; are you doing the right thing according to His Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit? Or are you doing the wrong thing well according to your own flesh and desire? Both may achieve many good things for humankind and the world, but in God’s eyes doing the right thing is more important than simple doing thing that seems right for us, or worst – wrong thing well.

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