Archive for November 2012

Remember the Lord your God   Leave a comment

canaan

Canaan

Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.” Deuteronomy 8

It’s been quite a long time I’ve not been sharing from the Old testament. Since last week this verse was coming over and over in my mind. This is the reason for this post.

Why did God make the Israelites walk for 40 years in the wilderness? It could take just a few days to enter Canaan. Why walking for 40 long years in a scorching sun? Why waiting for such a long time in a wilderness which had no food and water but only sand, snakes and scorpions? Simply because God wanted to form their character, mould them and make Himself known to them as their Provider. God wanted to make the Israelites know Him, know that He is the I AM who did miracles since the great escape from Egypt.

The problem with the human mind is that he forgets too quickly and remember what it wants. The Israelites forgot the Egyptian’s oppression but remembered the nice food they got there. They forgot the plagues on the Egyptians, how God spared them and led them through the red sea but will not forget to complain.

Before God elevates, he humbles. God blesses the humble. He forms our character and attitude. He wants to see our attitude in the midst of trials. I don’t think God stops doing that nowadays.

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12

Even if many of us are not persecuted or tortured, God allows us to go through trials to form our character, grow and know Him better. Gold has to go through the flame to be purified.

The Israelites failed many times when tested. They complained and were disobedient to God’s directives.  God wanted to make the Israelites understand well who He was and what He was going to do.  When they were hungry, God sent manna and quails. When they were thirsty, God made water come out of a rock.

When Moses sent the 12 spies to visit the land of Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb  believed the Israelites could conquer the land with God’s help. Only these 2 had faith. God in his anger sent the Jews to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that unfaithful generation died. In this generation, only Joshua and Caleb survived and entered Canaan because they trusted God.

Canaan and the wilderness soon became antonyms.

The Israelites were blessed and had plenty of food They got a land, wheat, barley, grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil, honey, livestock, iron, copper – nothing was lacking.

But that is the time to watch more on one’s attitude! Because it becomes so easy to put God aside. If we apply it to the modern Christians, that could mean a Christian who still goes to church but has no time to care for souls. That could mean a Christian who does not study God’s Word, pray and share God’s Word. To be more precise, it’s a person who is no longer putting God’s kingdom first because he is so busy doing other things. God has indeed saved him and blessed him but he became trapped in a comfortable life.

But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful!” v 11-13

This Christian can become prosperous in this world without his soul prospering.  Then comes the time he forgets what God did for him. He becomes ungrateful, disobedient and ungodly. He wonders and say “What did Jesus do for me?”. He no longer takes pleasure in God’s presence.

Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors.” v14

As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons for all these trials was to make the Israelites understand well that they were nothing in all this. God did everything from A to Z for them. The Israelites did not know about Canaan, this was God’s plan.

He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.”

Remember the Lord your God. Don’t let yourself entangled by the things of this world. Obey Him. God may have taken you out of a pit and elevated you. Do not forget how He miraculously saved you. We tend to easily forget the consequences of disobedience, negligence and ignoring God. God clearly said:

 But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. Just as the Lord has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the Lord your God.” v19

God was serious when He cursed this Israel which later on became idolatrous and did abominable things!

Peter clearly said:

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.” 1 Peter 1:9

Hebrews 3:7-19, summarises this post:

That is why the Holy Spirit says,“Today when you hear his voice,don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness.There your ancestors tested and tried my patience,even though they saw my miracles for forty years.So I was angry with them, and I said,‘Their hearts always turn away from me.They refuse to do what I tell them.’So in my anger I took an oath:‘They will never enter my place of rest.’Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters.Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says:“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.”

Let’s not forget where God has taken us from, let’s not have a hardened and unbelieving  heart. Remember what the Lord your God did.

Posted November 24, 2012 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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The Truth   Leave a comment

Is your truth made up of lies?

Is your truth made up of lies?

What we see, hear, touch, taste and think can easily mislead us.

For example:

We can see that dragonflies have 6 legs but that does not mean that they can walk.

When we taste strawberries and lemons we think that strawberries have more sugar, but the reverse is true.

We might think that sound travels faster in the air than in water, but in fact in water it travels 4 times faster.

When we see an iceberg, we imagine that it’s not that big after all. Possible, 90% of its mass is under water.

Given certain conditions, hot water freezes quicker than cold water even if it does not sound logical.

For many years sailors believed that the earth was flat and that they would fall off edge if they sailed a long way through.

Copernicus came with his disturbing arguments that it was the sun which was the center of the universe. This truth received oppositions from those who endorsed the Ptolemaic system. Parents in ignorance taught lies to their children about the world.

A chunk of truth is a lie. We are submerged with information that require much efforts to remove those which are misleading. We see people confused by lies and do not really know what and who to believe. They do not know where they stand and are therefore unable to give good directives to those who follow them. A blind man cannot lead a blind man. We can inherit lies and traditions from our parents and pass it on to our children. This is a tragedy to blindly accept what is passed on to us. In response to this statement many will say that they just want to remain as they were brought up even if their conscience is punching them hard on their left brain to take time to examine. It’s really hard to accept that we have been fooled and lied to for years. It takes courage and time to accept the truth and remove the choking tentacles of lies. I was myself a victim of lies.

The truth, or should I say, the Absolute Truth is not dependent on what people say or think. We can either ignore it or accept only part of it (a lie). In this modern society we are living in, there’s this concept that right and wrong are subjective. This is itself a lie. Modernism is trying to make us believe that if you think that homosexuality is evil, you should not judge those who think it is not. We are getting sugar-coated lies from fashion, politics, educational institutions and science. If you walk half naked, they call it fashion. Legalisation of homosexuality and abortion is done in the name of democracy and liberality.

Even if millions of people thought the earth was flat, that did not make it flat. It is not the majority who decides what the truth is or what is moral. That would be a fallacious argument, ad populum. It is God who has established what is right and true. We can either choose to abide to it, twist it or ignore it. What are not absolutely right and true are wrong and false.

What is the truth? This was the question Pilate asked to Jesus.

The truth is simply everything that God established. The only truth that I’m absolutely sure about and on which my life is based on, is this:

Jesus is God. Ignoring it or arguing against it will not deprive Him of His divinity.

Call me a stubborn or intransigent. I once argued against Jesus’ divinity, I resisted and questioned it in so many aspects but I finally gave up. Now, because I believe He is God, there’s no way that He could have lied in what He taught. So I believe in everything He taught with the established premises that He is the Truth. So how can I filter out lies from such a large pool of information? I simply categorise as lies what are contrary to what Jesus taught.

If you’re still looking for your way, longing for the truth or wondering what life’s all about, Jesus claimed to be the answer:

I am the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE“. John14:6

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Posted November 17, 2012 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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Our legacy   2 comments

Legacy

Legacy

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Hebrews 6:12

According to the Oxford dictionary, the word “legacy” means : “An amount of money or property left to someone in a will.”

While listening to the song Find us Faithful by Steve Green, I came to realise that every Christian should leave something behind. They should leave their thumbprints, footprints and “faithprints” before they leave this earth. Their thumbprints should be seen by the future generation through the holy things they handled and touched. Their footprints should be present in their college, work and countries they visited.  What is the “faithprint” you’re leaving behind for the future generation and your children? Are we faithfully passing on to others what God has entrusted us?

Paul said to Timothy:

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Tim 1:13

Paul left a rich inheritance for Timothy, Titus, the Colossians, Thessalonians, Corinthians and many other churches. After 2000 years, Christians worldwide are still being blessed by the teachings and faith Paul passed on to Christians. Throughout his short life, Jesus invested in the life of people and this is why after 2000 years we had billions of Christians who followed Him. These Christians also passed on to others what they received from other Christians and the Holy Spirit. Investing in people definitely lasts longer than money and property.

Moses invested in Joshua and Elijah had  Elisha to succeed him. I never met Keith Green but his songs really influenced my life. I never met Andrew Murray but his books radically changed my life. Missionaries like Hudson Taylor and Billy Graham influenced nations. Millions of people won’t go to hell but to heaven because they repented of their sins after hearing the Gospel through these people. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who influenced the life of people for eternity by their faith. We are in a marathon and there’s like a great cloud of witnesses shouting “Keep on running”. We should remove these sins which entangle us and are like heavy iron balls hindering us from running this race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1

We are living in an era that the heroes of faith eagerly wanted to see. We are living under the greatest moment in the world history. The time we are living in is greater than the flood at Noah’s time or the great escape from Egypt under Moses’ leadership. We are living under grace, Jesus-Christ the long promised Messiah came. The Lamb of God was slain and cried out “It is finished”. God executed His secret plan for salvation 2000 years ago. It was something great prophets wanted to experience but it was not yet God’s time.

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.”

This great salvation is so special that even angels are eagerly watching what is going on. God did amazing things. There’re many Christians whose life inspire us. But what about us? Where is our Joshua or Elisha? What are we leaving behind. What will people say when we die? Are we influencing positively the life of others? Are we bringing light in the dark life of people? Are we like the salt giving taste? Even if we are pilgrims down here and do not owe anything, we can leave behind spiritual blessings. Even if we’re not able to touch deeply our neighbors at least we can do it for our children. I’m still a young guy but I will take the time needed to invest in my future children to make them know Jesus-Christ. A Christian should be a living sacrifice and give a pleasant perfume. Talking with a Christian should give peace and hope. We should be vessels through whom God touches life. Our hands and mouth should be blessings to others. May all who come behind us find us faithful.

The song below summarises this post.

Epistle to the Hebrews (7:11-19)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

So if the priesthood of Levi, on which the law was based, could have achieved the perfection God intended, why did God need to establish a different priesthood, with a priest in the order of Melchizedek instead of the order of Levi and Aaron? And if the priesthood is changed, the law must also be changed to permit it. For the priest we are talking about belongs to a different tribe, whose members have never served at the altar as priests. What I mean is, our Lord came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never mentioned priests coming from that tribe.  This change has been made very clear since a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has appeared. Jesus became a priest, not by meeting the physical requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed. And the psalmist pointed this out when he prophesied,“You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”Hebrews 7:11-19

Back to our study on the epistle to the Hebrews.

The author is still getting in depth in his argument. It is no longer the descendants of Levi and Aaron who will be in charge of the priesthood duties. This long established law is changed. It’s someone from a different tribe(Judah) who will hold this office. But why? Simply because the sacrifice of animals and the priesthood duties could not remove sins but only cover them. The Jewish law given was just something temporary and could not bring a sinful man righteous before God. Though there were great consequences when the law was violated, it was not perfect and was unable to bring perfection. Jesus brought perfection because He was perfect. We have read enough and can easily see the difference between the old and the new covenant. Jesus’ sacrifice is perfect so there’s no need to be guilty of our past sins. There’s no longer need to offer a sacrifice to get God’s forgiveness. The burden of sin is really removed. I cannot forget my past sins because it was something real. But there’s a God who no longer blames me for what I did because of what Jesus’ did. Jesus fulfilled God’s requirement for the forgiveness of the world’s sin. If God said He has forgiven me, why should I doubt His sincerity? The past is over.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Cor 5:17

Why should I doubt the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse? The Israelites over and over again asked God to forgive them because their guilty consciences were not giving them rest.

The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4

Not so with us who trust in Jesus’ sacrifice. The sacrifice has once been done for all and will never repeat itself again because it is perfect. Nothing can replace something perfect lest the former had defects. We have Jesus who was similar to Melchizedek and who had no beginning and end.  Jesus has the power of an imperishable life. Jesus did not become a High Priest because of his forefathers. No, he was from the tribe of Judah, but why? Simply because when we talk of Judah we refer to David. God promised David a son who will reign forever(2 Sam 7:12).

For the time is coming,” says the Lord,“when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom.He will do what is just and right throughout the land. And this will be his name:‘ The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved,and Israel will live in safety.” Jer 23:5

There’re several remarks which can be made regarding Judah and Levi but that will require a post in itself for discussion.I’ll skip this part to keep the focus on one particular aspect.

The law says “Don’t do this, do that”. There’re many man-made rules and traditions which try to bring man closer to God. But these are aimless efforts to try to get perfect. There’s not a human being who has been able to do everything that the law required(except Jesus). All of us once lied and therefore violated the law and no sacrifice could remove this sin before the coming of Jesus. Now we have a better hope, Jesus. Jesus’ command is love. If you love people and God, you’ll fulfill what the law demands.

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Rom 13:8

I’ll do God’s will not because there’s a law which is forcing me but because I love God with all my heart. I’ll do good to people, not because there’s a law which is forcing me but because I indeed love people with Jesus’ love. Our obedience to God is no longer a result of fear of the law but a result of our devotion and love. It’s not because there’s a law that I’ll not steal but because I love people. It’s no longer because of the fear of the law that a Christian will not commit adultery but because he loves his wife and God. This Christian man will even go beyond what the law requires and will not put his eyes of the wife of someone else. Jesus said that if someone looks lustfully at a woman, he has already committed adultery in his heart.

A husband will prefer to know that his wife loves him because she really does and not because she’s forced to. Being forced to love is not genuine love. Obedience as a result of love is what Christ brought. This kind of obedience has no limit because you’ll do beyond what the law requires. The law required to give a tenth of once harvest (as we saw earlier) and some Jews reluctantly gave what the law required (or less). But Jesus never taught that Christians should give one tenth. Paul taught that we should give cheerfully whatever we want with all our heart (2 Cor 9:7). How can you give with all your heart when there’s a law behind which is forcing you to?  How can you serve God with all your heart because of a law/ritual/tradition? All is finished ! No more rules and laws to dictate us, except the command of love which causes no fear. Live by the Spirit, love God and love people. These are what make us become like Christ and run towards perfection. The law shows us how incapable we are to meet God’s requirement, it shows us our sinfulness (Rom 5:20, 7:13). But God’s personified grace, Jesus-Christ, gives us hope. Jesus Christ our advocate and High Priest pleads for us and brings us to perfection.

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:17

Posted November 3, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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