2007-10-31

The Temptations of Jesus

The Temptations of Jesus
Your identity is given by God and there is no need to prove to anyone at all. Surely it needs not be proven by external means. Does your parents need to prove to you or vice versa? Secondly, God has created the laws, spiritual and natural, for us to follow and not for us to violate for what we deems good. Lastly, there should not other gods than God. Never place wealth or glory above God and try to use God to gain them.
Luke 4:1-13 and Mat 4:1-10. The order of temptations is different in the two records.
Luke has it as 1-if Son then rock to bread, 2-worship-me for earthly glory&power, 3-If Son then throw yourself down

Matthew has it as 1-if Son then rock to bread, 2-if Son then throw yourself down, 3-worship-me for earthly glory & power. We will follow the Matthew's order.

1. His Identity
  • Our identity determines who we are, how we think, what we value, what we do and what we become - our destination.
  • Our identity need not and cannot be validated by a third party. Do not let others or external things define who you are. If so, we will come under control of another and loose our own identity. e.g. most people derive their identity from their job. If you ask them who they are, they will reply, "I am a teacher, or an engineer or a businessman". It is no wonder that when they loose their job, they are lost and depressed. Legalism, following the letters without the spirit, is a form of control and abuse.
  • Hence, we can see Jesus need not prove to Satan or anyone about his identity. His identity is defined by God. He know where comes from and where He is going. Satan typical temptation is to cast doubt ... Are your sure ? Do it to prove it....
  • Satan challenged Jesus twice to prove His identity - 1st one is physical, stone to bread, appealed to Jesus' physical hunger need. Jesus show him that man is more than just physical ... man is spiritual and spiritual food is of greater importance. While bread is what Jesus need at this moment and it is legitimate and good for Jesus to have bread but 'doing the Right thing' at the right time in the right situation is more important than doing the good thing’.
  • For many of us, Satan through people around us, our parents, friends, bosses etc, through abuse, rejections, or shame tactics (some supposedly for our good), to tell us that we are defective, useless and weak. Our identify should be defined by God and not by others, or circumstances. Such lies about our identity should be corrected).
  • Joel Osteen had a good message on this. See Joel Osteen - Message #462 - "Don't Let People Label You
    2. Trustworthiness of God & Presumptuous Living
    • The 2nd temptation on identity was spiritual since the physical one did not work. First one challenges our identity. Second one challenges His beliefs in the Bible and the trustworthiness of God. This resembles Eve' temptation "Did God said?" with "Didn't God say?".
    • Satan quoted from the Bible to challenge Jesus (in answer to Jesus quoting the Bible to answer him. Just plainly quoting the bible is of no use. We must understand the Bible correctly so that Satan cannot use the Bible to mislead us). But the principle remained the same, man should follow God and not challenge God. Jesus has no need to prove to the devil of who he is. God has no need to prove to us that He is God. It is for us to know Him. God has revealed Himself to man in the creation and given us His word through the Bible and His Son Jesus.
    • Secondly, There is no need for Jesus to prove God's promises either. He knows and His will is to do the Father's will. If there be the need, the protection show show up. e.g. a very similar thing happened here ....
    • Luk 4:29-30 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (30) But passing through their midst, he went away.
    • This temptation has a further meaning - presumptuous living or life style. We have the promises in the Bible, but it does not mean we can take life for granted and live life carelessly or dangerously, testing the promises of God. God promises us good health and healing. But that does not mean we can live unhealthy lifestyles - drinking, taking drug, no rest, taking junk foods, etc....
    3. The Journey to Destination - A De Tour or Short Cut
    • When the devil fails in the 1st Identity challenge (he fails to get us to question who we are), he will tempt us to move away from the path that God want us to take.
    • Here, Satan want Jesus to take the short-cut to glory ... the instant gratification. It is let's make a deal now. Why go through the long and suffering process ? Do it, the shorter way to your destination.
    • There is no short-cut to maturity. It is paved with little steps of experience and learning and sometime overcoming large steps of tragedies, hurts, persecutions and betrayals.
    Some felt that the temptations of Jesus is similar to the temptations of Eve: 1st appeal to the flesh (Gen 3:6 good for food); 2nd pleasant to the eyes and 3rd make one wise like God and corresponding to 1 John 2:6 of lust of the flesh, eyes and pride of life(the glory).

    In summary. we must know and be sure of our identity and then of destination and then the journey of living life rightly, not seems good to us, to reach the destination and calling of God. There is only one way to live, the right way defined by the Bible. While there are many good and legitimate ways, appealing to the flesh, the mind, the pride of glory and power, there is only one Right way - Choose right, not just what seems to be good.

    This posting is influenced by the message of A R Bernard(highly recommended - He called it the cycle of temptations: identity -> destination -> lifestyle. Devil would want you to question your identity, misled your destination(short cut to false glory), get you to live in careless lifestyle(do the stun and let God protects you).) and some Bible Commentaries.

    Update 16 Nov 2014
    Ps Oh Peng Kee gave us a good message on worship and preached about the Temptations of Jesus too. There are some additional new lights received besides those described above. Rock is meant for building and not for eating. Bread is meant for eating. Turning rock into bread is like violating the original purpose of things by using God's authority and power. It is a clear case of abuse of one's power and authority. Jesus will never do that - to abuse or misuse His authority or power.  Jumping from the steeple and expecting angels to save them is also violating the law of gravity created by God. It is like an encouragement to violate God's laws! Ps Oh's summary of the temptations are:

    1. Worship of God is not about satisfying our own desires.
    2. Worship of God is not to test God for our own purpose.
    3. Worship of God is not having other gods besides Him.

    The Watering Down of God's Word in Translations

    In my bible study this morning, I was reading 1 Cor. 'to be' in italics caught my attention. Let's consider 1 Cor 1:2 in the various translations:

    • (KJV) Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

    In the KJV version, 'to be' is kept in italics form to remind readers that the words are not there in the original Greek. However, in other modern translations like ESV, GW etc, the to be are not italicised and the reader cannot tell them apart anymore.

    In the NASB translation, the 'to be' is not there. See
    • (NASB) To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
    The Fuss on 'to be'
    You may be wondering what is the fuss about the 'to be'. To me, 'to be' and 'are' are worlds apart. 'to be' is not yet and is the process to become, whereas, are is already there. Let's read some more translations, those without the 'to be',...
    • (ALT) To the assembly [or, church, and throughout epistle] of God, the one being in Corinth, to the ones having been sanctified [or, made holy] in Christ Jesus, called holy ones [or, saints, and throughout epistle], with all the ones calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours:
    • (BBE) To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been made holy in Christ Jesus, saints by the selection of God, with all those who in every place give honour to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
    • (MSG) I send this letter to you in God's church at Corinth, Christians cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life. I include in my greeting all who call out to Jesus, wherever they live. He's their Master as well as ours!
    • (Murdock) to the church of God which is at Corinth, to the [people] called and sanctified, who are sanctified in Jesus Messiah; and to all them, in every place, who invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Messiah, their and our [Lord]:
    The above cited translations show that we are, not to become, set apart, selected and sanctified and called holy ones. We already are saints and not to become saints. We live out our sainthood in this world as the testimony for the Christ within us. We are not to struggle by our own effort to become. To put in another way, we are victorious already. We are not fighting to win a war. We are already the victor proclaiming our victory and recovering the land lost. See "Be-Do-Have" of Grace Based Doctrine

    This post is not to tell you which translated versions of the Bible are better. Some translations are better for certain verses. This post is to encourage us to read the Word with greater care and to use as many translations as possible to fully understand the Word.

    2007-10-29

    Platinum Rule - Loves as Jesus - NT Extends OT

    In our home group meeting last Friday (26 Oct 2007), there was discussion about the people who were given visions of hell saw people suffering there as a result of not-forgiving others. Mat 6:15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Someone commented that if one does not forgive, he cannot taste the forgiveness of God and may still leave in defeat even though saved.
    The verse is before Christ's cross (ie. OT way). After the cross, the verse in the NT is forgiving comes from new character of God.
    • Col 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
    • Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
    On Sunday, Ps JK preached on "Forgiveness". He cited the golden rule
    • Mat 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
    The golden rule was actually the summary of the Laws & Prophets. ( I usually add a qualification of cultural sensitivity where the way to express love differs culturally - giving of roast pig is a Chinese way of showing honor and appreciation but could be insulting to other cultures and religions.). In the NT, we should forgive as Jesus forgave us ... or do as Jesus do, love as Jesus loves, or more precisely, love as and with Jesus' love. He called it the Platinum Rule - Love as Jesus.

    In a message that I preached last year (30 Apr 2006) on "The New Commandment",
    • 1John 3:23 And this is his commandment,
    • (1) That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and
    • (2) love one another, as He gave us commandment.
    The Love-God of the OT becomes "Believing in His Son Jesus Christ"
    The Love others as yourself becomes "Love one another as Jesus with His Love"

    By believing in Jesus, we are rebirthed with His New Life and we are filled with His Character and Love. With His love in us, we are then able to love others and to forgive others.

    Someone mentioned that loving others as yourself is not trustworthy enough ( How do I know whether you love yourself or not? and what you like may not be what I like...). It is better to love as Jesus loves and with His love in us.

    While we are on the subject on forgiveness, we need to clarify and get rid of some misunderstanding about forgiveness.
    1. Forgiveness is about the hurt, the debt and not the debtor.
    2. You can forgive the debt by yourself alone . You do not need the corresponding action of the offender.
    3. You can only be freed by forgiving... otherwise , you are bond by bitterness (that the offender may not even be aware of ). It is all about you. You grow by forgiving.
    4. You should not and never wait for the offender to make the restitution or apology. He may not know. He may not be able. He may be gone (death, or un-contactable). He may not even care.
    5. Forgiveness is not Reconciliation. Reconciliation is a relationship and needs the offender to admit or clarify. You can forgive and need NOT has or want to has relationship with him. Relationship depends on the other party as well. Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
    6. Forgive does not meant you trust. The forgiven person needs to earn your trust again if he has betrayed your trust before.
    7. Consider your future, do you want to be trapped ?
    8. Consider the forgiveness that you have received from others and from Jesus Christ.

    2007-10-23

    BJ#11a Attention to Details - 6 Sigma Life

    Many people has the misunderstanding that importance is dependent on size; only big things matters; small things are insignificant can be ignored or poorly done. They are confused about strategies and the execution. Strategy is about doing the right things to achieve the vision and mission of an organization. Execution is about doing the right strategies rightly. We must do both well, namely, formulating the right strategies and execute them correctly. The 1st phase is about innovations and designs for differentiation and the 2nd phase is about careful execution according to plan. (Let me at this stage also point out quickly that execution to plan does not mean don't change the plan when situations changes. Execution according to plan include monitoring against planned targets and seeking causes for variation from plan. If variation is not as per expected (6 sigma) , we need to fix the systems and/or change the plan. In fact, it is in this close monitoring of variation that we can detect changes in environment).

    Attention to the details (and its variation) is the key to execution. The Bible teaches us that.
    • Luke 16:10 "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
    Ability to handle large things is dependent on the ability to handle small things first. The one who is negligent (defective effort, processes, or products) in small, will also be negligent in big items. The "Chaos Theory" teaches us about the 'butterfly effect' - a butterfly flagging its wings in Singapore can cause a Tornado in New York; a small variation in some parameters' value can cause big fluctuations over time. This verse can be called the "Chaos Theory" of the Bible.

    The subsequent verses repeated the same key theme "little thing affects the outcome" -
    • Luk 16:11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?
    If you cannot handle small amount of value, you cannot be entrusted with high value things. See why some persons are missed out in promotion ? See why some contract proposals are lost ?

    Let me take a detour here to talk about "unrighteous wealth". There are people who cited this verse (and similar ones) to say that money is evil. This is not true. Money is amoral. Paul explained it well in 1Ti 6:10 'For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils'. It is the love of money, making it the idol to pursue, that is evil. This is the same meaning that Jesus stressed in this context that you cannot serve Money and God. "Unrighteous wealth" is used, in context, in comparison to the true riches. In comparison to true riches, money becomes unrighteous, false or counterfeit riches. A better translation for 'unrighteous money' is 'money-the counterfeit riches'. This is similar to the "hate your parents" in Luk 14:26. By loving Jesus more relative to our parents, we will appear to hate them. This teaching is not about hating our parents, because everywhere else in the Bible, we are taught to honor our parents. It is about loving Jesus more.

    If we are unable to handle something of lesser value, money - false riches, we cannot be promoted to handle the true riches. Stating in reverse, if we want to handle things of higher value, we must begin now to handle things of lower value faithfully. Greatness begins with faithful handling of little things.

    Let's look at another bible verse....
    • Mat 14:20 And they all ate and were satisfied.
      And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
    The left overs are waste (not needed anymore; they all ate enough already). Most people would leave them there. Ever visit the site after a big celebration, e.g. Christmas Celebration in Orchard Road? New Year Celebration ?).

    Jesus' work did not stop at feeding the 5 thousands. The 'wastes' were collected into 12 baskets full. There are a few lessons and principles there:
    1. Collect the waste (recycle), keep the place clean. No need extra labor to clean them up after they leave.
    2. Don't waste the food/materials. The by-product of re-cycling is cleanliness.
    3. Accumulation of 'little' of many people makes 12 baskets full of good food.
      Don't belittle little things. It could have great impact.
    4. Principle of God's Kingdom: There is no waste in God's Kingdom. By implication, everything in your life, including your failures, crisis, disappointments, sorrows are for your growth and benefits. There is no regrets in God's kingdom. Trust God's with your failures, learn from them and see you can work with God to convert them into greater blessings. The steps to success are labeled 'failures of all kinds'.
    Branding and Quality are all related to the attention to the details and the precisions.

    Anything worth doing is worth doing well. We do all to the glory of God. START NOW in paying attention to little things and being faithful to little thing (arriving on time, submitting the reports, an extra smile, a little more effort .....)

    2007-10-11

    "Bible for Business" Seminar#1

    We just conducted the 1st session of "Bible for Business" Seminar in our Petra Church.
    It will be done on every 2nd Wed of the month. The next one is on 14 Nov. Hope to see you there.

    We spoke on the topics to be covered in "Business by Jesus". The topics are united in the Corporate Performance Management(CPM) framework. CPM is the unified methodology for strategy design & execution for creating and sustaining high corporate performance and value. See the diagram below:


    A key focus of the talk is on roles of Kings & Priests and Business, see Secular vs Spiritual Jobs.
    A good illustration on Business Mission came out of the discussion.
    Consider the job of a teacher.

    1. Business for Mission.
    The Teacher work hard in his/her job to earn a salary. He/she give tithes and offerings to church and other mission work that share the gospel. Her priority is to earn money by teaching to give to church and mission. Money for mission is more important than the teaching. She will do very little witnessing herself as that job is to be done by the missionaries. Teaching is subordinated to earning. Would the teaching be his/her satisfaction ? Would he/she strive to be the best teacher?

    2. Business and Mission.
    The Teacher will do teaching to earn money for mission work and at the same time do mission-type work like running Cell-group, Bible Study Group, Alpha Group etc. When there is a conflict of time and resources, there is a struggle to decide to give to teaching or to mission.

    3. Business as Mission.
    The teaching itself is the mission. Teaching is the worship to God. He/she will model Christ in his/her teaching. He will love and teach and develop his students and use every opportunity to live out and to share the gospel to the students and their parents.

    Living out Godly standards and practices in our business is testifying for Christ. The way we run our business, our staff, our suppliers, our customers and our owners are should reflect our believes and our Lord Jesus Christ. The people see Christ through us.

    We discussed that sometime 'firing' a under performing staff, after setting expectations, giving opportunities for training and trying out again, is a loving thing to do for him. Not 'firing' him and keeping him in his under-performing jobs is not good for him and his colleagues. The loving thing to do is to help discover his strengths, look for other job openings, and give a good retrenchment benefits to tie over the time without job and so forth. (This discussion exclude the situations of criminal offenses and breaking Company regulations). One of the participant shared the experience of letting his average performing staff to keep her job until she find a new job that suit her strengths and interests.

    2007-10-03

    Secular vs Spiritual Jobs

    I don't know when this started - calling jobs as secular vs working full time in church as pastors as spiritual. During 'revival meetings', the preacher will call people to the front to get them to commit to their 'callings' from God. These callings generally implied a call into the full-time ministry work, especially missionary works. Have you ever heard of a calling into "Business" or "Movie" vocation?

    These narrow-minded thinking (God's calling means full-time mission work and only mission work is spiritual work; implying all other works are secular and not spiritual) result in much harm to the church and its effectiveness. For a church to be more effective and to have a greater impact, we have to break free from such narrow mindedness and biases. We are called to preach the gospel in the vocations that God has called us to be. In each of our vocations, there are many people that the pastors and preachers will not be able to reach. We are the ones anointed by God to reach the ones God put in our vocations.

    We can see some improvements in preachers who preach the "Kings and Priests" calling of
    • Rev 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen
    • Rev 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
    However, they still suffer from dividing the calling into two vocations - some are called to be Kings and some are called to be Priests. They said Priests are to give the visions and Kings are to give the provisions. Implying businesses exist to give money to the church to execute the visions. I have a problem with this narrow-mindedness. Providing provisions for the church by the businesses is just too narrow again. I have no issue if a business is for the vision of Christ - i.e. pro the vision and not just provisions.

    The business itself has the vision to touch lives for Christ (the great commission) in ways that provide employment, products and services and the development of the nations they are in. They have great influence in showing how businesses should be run and how people should be treated. They show how 'Bible' should be lived.

    I prefer the ways Ken Eldred addressed this issue of Business and Missions in his book "God is at Work". The relationships can be expressed three ways:
    1. Business for Missions - the typical view
    2. Business and Missions - the improved view
    3. Business as Missions - the enlightened and correct view
    Putting Business as second fiddle to the mission and not seeing the business is the mission has caused the church miss out many businesses that are used by the enemy. e.g. the media and performing arts, technology etc.

    The gateways to a city are:

    A: Arts and Entertainment
    B: Business and Economics
    C: Church and Religions
    D: meDia and Distribution
    E: Education
    F: Family
    G: Government

    Let's not divided the gospels into compartments and keep people out. The message of the gospel should be the foundation and embedded in and show out in all the business and vocations that God has called and given us the abilities and strength to succeed in.

    1Co 10:31b whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

    Updated 25 Oct 2011 Lim Liat (C)

    "Be-Do-Have" of Grace Based Doctrine

    In the coaching and motivation world, there are lots of talk about the two different strategies of "Have Do Be" and "Be Do Have".

    Have-Do-Be is you must have resources first, say, money to pay for school fee in an Accounting course, then you do by studying and passing the exam, then you 'Be'come a qualified Accountant. You need to have money to buy a ticket to a movie, do the seeing the movie, and then be happy.

    Be-Do-Have is you act from identity of being first. Start with a "I'm successful" mentality, then act as if (if you can't fully believe, believe anyway), so you see opportunities where others miss them, you work harder when others give up, and you have successes. It is not what you have but what you are that determine the outcome. Take away the wealth from a successful person and he will get the wealth back again.

    Be-Do-Have is like seeing the vision, working out the plan to achieve, doing and executing the plan and then having the vision realized for others to see. Accomplishments - the haves, begin with a vision.

    In Christianity, the Be is a simple reception of Jesus as our Savior and Lord and then you are rebirthed from sinner to a Child of God having God's kind of Eternal Life. With the new identity, we just follow the Bible and the Holy Spirit and we will have the fruit of the Holy Spirit(Gal 5:22-23) of love, joy, peace and abundant life (John 10:10).

    Be-Do-Have is the working out of the Christ with in us. Phil 2:12. It is the Good Work (Eph 2:10) of Salvation (Eph 2:8-9).

    The traditional teaching of the Christ is trapped in the "Saved Sinner" concept of false humility and the practice of "Have-Do-Be" of trying to be holy..... have sin -> get rid of sin -> be holy! ?

    Christ has died to pay for all our sins. Christ is resurrected to give us New Identity. Let us humbly (not by our effort) receive this wonderful new identity of Godliness and Righteousness and proceed to do the work that result in Glory for God through us. We are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37) and we are overcomer (1Jn5:5) .

    You are not blessed because you are healed. You are healed because you are blessed. Similarly, you are not blessed because you are rich, but, you are rich because you are blessed. You 'are' first before you become. You are born a human being and you grow from a baby to become a man.

    Start with these mentality.