2016-12-13

The Great Blessing at the End of Trial - Amos 9:13

Amos 9:13  Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 
The book of Amos is about the discipline of the Lord. Discipline is different from punishment. Punishment is pains inflicted for the wrongful acts done. Discipline has a future expectation of building us up that we may be better after it. Discipline has two kinds. One is corrective and the other is building up.

  • The corrective kind: We have committed sin and we suffered for it but God wants us to learn from it and grow up to be a better person. 
  • The development kind: We may not have committed any sin, but we discipline our bodies that we may become stronger. 
Sadly, for the people in Amos' time, it was the corrective kind. God used the sufferings to try to wake the people up. It was a long and painful process despite the repeated calls of God to seek Him and be saved.

Their sins: 
  • Amo 2:4  ... because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:
  • Amo 2:6 ... because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes; 7  That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name: 8  And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god. 
  • Amo 2:12  But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not. 
  • Amo 3:10  For they know not to do right, saith the LORD, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces. 
Their repentance was not recorded in Amos but in other parts of the Bible. It ends with great blessings in Amos 9:11-15 the restoration of Israel and great prospersity. 

It is God whose mercy and love that will save us. It is not us seeking God but rather God reaching out to us. For those of us who are going through the dark hours of trials, and even of our wrong doings, let us be encouraged that God is with us through them, and His blessings that will come is beyond our imagination. 

Read carefully again Amos 9:13, His blessings are out of the ordinary. They are supernatural miracle. Because the normal stages of planting and reaping are all mixed up. The abundance would be so much that the mountains and hills could not contain but overflow with them.

Be not discouraged, whatever the trails, whatever sins, repent and look-up and see the love and mercy of God. Stay true to be with God and see His salvation.

May this coming Christmas be a time of breakthrough for you.

Lim Liat(c) 13 Dec 2016

2016-11-04

Everything You Need to Know About Forgiveness

Forgiving others is a key virtue of your character and the secret to a happy and successful life. However it is a very difficult to do. There are many hindrances and excuses not to do it. But there are ways to help you so that you can live in freedom and joy.
Why should I forgive?
  • - God commanded it.
    • - Mat_6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
      • Mat_6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    • - Mat_6:15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
      • Mat_18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
    • Luk_6:37 "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;
    • Eph_4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
  • - Good for us
    • - Remove our bitterness and hatred
    • - Free us from bondage
    • - Bring us healings
      • Mat_9:2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven."
      • Jas_5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
    • - Obtain forgiveness for ourselves
      • Mat_9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he then said to the paralytic—"Rise, pick up your bed and go home."
    • You are truly His disciples for Christ also forgive those who crucified Him.
What is Forgiveness?
  • Forgiving the people, including yourself, that hurt us and bring a closure to the bad experience of the past.
  • - It is an act of your will and not by feelings
    • of released and peace will come when you truly forgive.
  • - Forgiveness is a process.
    • It takes time for the Holy Spirit to heal the inner heart. Luk_7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little."
Who should I forgive?
  • Others
    • Luk_17:3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,
    • 2Co_2:7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

  • Yourself
    • for the mistakes that you made
      • - the cause of your present suffering
      • - if only I did to make do that.
      • - the loss of money
      • - the wrongs committed against yourself eg chemicals addictions
    • - 1Jn_1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1Jn_2:12 I am writing to you, little children because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake.
  • God
When should I forgive?
  • immediately
    • Mar_11:25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
    • as soon as possible
  • of past events and people
Where to forgive?
  • You can forgive right where you are. It is not necessary to go back to the crime scene.
How to forgive?
  • 1. Know that god has forgiven us
    • Mat_26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
    • Mar_3:28 "Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter,
    • Col_3:13 ... forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
  • 2. Look to the past
    • - be specific
      • to the person and
      • to the wrongful acts
      • at a particular time and place
    • Mat_26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
  • 3. Do it now
    • get help from others and the Holy Spirit if you have difficulty
  • 4. Look to the future
    • know that God is the judge and will judge them. God will vindicate you of your hurts and injustices did to you.
  • 5. Examples of Jesus & Stephen
    • Luk_23:34 And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.
  • - Seven Hindrances learned from Ps John Liu's sermon:
    • a. Not knowing that forgiveness is commanded by the Bible
    • b. Misunderstand that must have the feeling first in order to forgive.(Fact - Forgive first then feeling will come eventually - It is a Process)
    • c. Too deep a hurt so could not forgive.
    • d. Misunderstand that forgiveness is about ignoring the actual injury.
      • (It is facing the injury and bringing closure to the hurt through forgiving and healing by God)
    • e. Misunderstand that you have already forgiven when actually you have not.
    • f. Misunderstand that the one who forgives is to be weaker and not to forgive is to have the right to win against others.
    • g. Under the hindrances of the demonic spirits of unforgiveness and control.
How can you know you have truly forgiven him/her?
  • - when you don't feel the pains to recall the events and the perpetrator
  • - when you can calmly greet the perpetrator
  • - when you don't make any demand on him/her to repay back.
    • It is like he owes you and yet you did not demand that he pays you back.
  • - better still, you can pray for blessings upon him/her.
How Many/How much?
  • Seventy times seven
    • Luk_17:4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."
Forgiveness and Forget
  • Forgiveness is not about forgetting the betrayals and hurts. It is about not being held in bondage to the bitterness and hatred and the desires to take revenge.
Forgiveness and Trust
  • Forgiveness is not about trusting again. In fact, forgiveness is about resetting the trust offered earlier to nothing and the forgiven person needs to earn the trust again. 
Lao Zi also tells us about forgiveness. 
See if you can learn some more from:
By Lim Liat (c) 4-11-16

2016-10-16

The Meaning and Value of Life, is the length of vital important?

The calling away of a young brother in Christ triggered some reflections on the value of our lives. It is not about how its length, its enjoyment, its wealth, nor about the suffering but rathere on whether we have completed the His calling for us. Only by the yardstick of our calling could we understand and accept life with its all joys and also all the pains.
Why God? 
Very sad to hear the news of the passing away of my former pastor' son. We saw how he has grown up, from one of the best Sunday School children, to a young man, a husband, and a good father. He was only 38 years old. He had fought and lived victoriously for 8 years against the brain tumor. He never ever raised any "Why me?" or any complaint against God, his father told me. I have no words to comfort the father. For I am tempted to ask, "why God?". We have witnessed many miracle healings of God even in this very church that his father served as a pastor. Why not heal him? He is still so young and the children are very young too.  I have to rethink about the meaning of life, and the purpose of God.

What is the yardstick to measure the value of life?
Must life be long in order to be useful and valuable?
Must we be married?
Must we have a family?
Must we have children that grow up well?
Must we have a good career, with a good salary, to live a comfort and luxury life?
Must we have wealth to give generously to others?
On the other hand, is a tragedy bad? Is an accidental bad? Is sickness bad? Is suffering bad?

What about Jesus? 
What about the martyrs, especially the young children, because of their refusal to denounce their faith in Jesus?

The key: 
Then I remember reading the life story of Jim Elliot when I was young. He was killed by the very people who he wanted to share the gospels with. His famous quote that touched my heart, that caused to response to a prayer to dedicated my own life too, to Jesus, as follows:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

The Yardstick
The yardstick for our life, it not how long it is. It is not about how wonderful, not about family, not about career, and nor about sickness nor tragedy nor whatever. It is all about the call of God on our life and whether we live out the His purpose in us that He has created us for.

Paul in his departing message wrote, 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

The key is whether we complete the race that God has call and put us in. Paul finished his. My young brother had surely completed his. 

Before this, Paul said, Phi 1v21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. ....  24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body

So we know, even heaven is a better place for us to go quickly, we are here to accomplish the purpose and calling God has for us. When our work is done, then God will call us back. Each in different ways, some we may think is great, even some ways where we may think it was bad. Because in whatever way we leave this world, God has His purpose and is for the benefits of some others. We will all find that out when we meet Jesus.

What is Greatness?
In 2 Tim 4:7 cited above, Paul gave 3 points 
  1. I have fought the good fight, 
  2. I have finished the race, 
  3. I have kept the faith.
Paul's teaching matches with my learning from Ancient Chinese Wisdom. It resonates with what Mencius said about being a greaet person - staying to one faith no matter what. Here are the details.

Mencius defines What is a Great Person.
孟子 “居天下之广居,立天下之正位,行天下之大道;得志与民由之,不得志独行其道;富贵不能淫,贫贱不能移,威武不能屈:此之谓大丈夫。” 
He lives with heart concern about the board world,
stands at the right position under the world,
walk out the great way of God.
When he is successful, he shared his success with the people.
Even when is not successful, he continues to stick to the righteous way.
Wealth and fame do not corrupt him.
Poverty and low position do not change him.
Power and threat do not succumb him.
That person is truly the great one.

Lao Zi defines what is longevity
Lao Zi gives a very interesting definition of longevity. It has nothing to do with the length of our life ata all. 

In Dao De Jing Chapter 33 verse 4 不失其所者久,死而不亡者寿。
Being true to oneself is lasting. Died and yet his legacy lives on is a long life.

Longevity is being true to oneself, to one faith, to his God, no matter what ---- unyielding to the temptation of richness, fame, lusts neither giving in to the pressure of persecutions, threats and sickness. He has fought a good fight. He has kept the faith. He has completed the race.

What is more? Leaving a legacy of good influence that touches the lives of present generations and generations to come. That's is truly a long life.

My young brother in Christ had not just finished the race, but left behind a legacy of an exemplifying life that touches not just all our lives and the future generations.

We shall all meet again in the great feast of the Lamb.

Lim Liat (c) 16 Oct 2016

2016-10-11

Why Grace is often Abused as a License to Sin? Salvation!

Because the Gospel is preached simply as salvation from the penalty of our sins, we can easily misunderstand it as our license since my sins, whether past, present and future, are all forgiven already. What is the real message of the gospel? Salvation is not the end objective. Salvation is the path to good work. We are saved for good work. The objective of Salvation is that we may be like our Creator God with good works that glorify Him.
Many believers are confused by the hyper-grace message. On the one hand, it is preached that we are not saved by good works but solely by grace, through faith in the work of the cross of Christ. Hence, we are therefore freed to do whatever we like. Yet, on the other hand, we somehow feel that it is wrong to sin but we cannot explain why.  Ephesians 2:8-9 is often quoted to justify we are saved by faith alone.

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Paul said that some people accused him of preaching grace as a license to sin. In Romans 6:1  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? He gave the answer in the following verses, 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. We are saved from sins to walk in the newness of life. The old life is sinful, new life is without sin, and we shall not walk in sins as that will be back into the old sinful life. 

But I find Ephesians 2:10 make the answer even clearer. 
  • Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Verse  8-9 shows how we can be saved by grace through faith. Verse 10 continue with the purpose, the starts with the 'FOR', and show the purpose of salvation as "for good works", that God has originally intended, which we failed because of our sins, and 'salvation' by grace, is for us to have the grace power to walk, not talk about, but by behavior, in the good works to show forth God's workmanship in creating us.

With this in mind, we can easily understand why James said, "Faith without works is dead". (James 2:26) So, if we claimed we are saved by grace and continue to walk in sins freely, then we can safely conclude that he is not saved. He did not understand the message of grace and there is no evidence of change. A saved person will at least know and struggle to get free from his bondage to sin. 

So, John explains this very clearly to us in:
  • 1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The purpose of salvation, which is Redemption, Righteousness, and Worship. The final outcome is the fellowship of God and men related rightly. We are saved for good works to glorify God.
When we get this right, we will not abuse grace as the license for sins. Some 'believers' could behave like the 2nd or 3rd generation rich folks who do all kinds of wild things and expect their rich parents bail them out. Do we only want God to bail us out of troubles but don't want to follow His ways? Jesus said, "If you love me then follow my commandments". So we cannot have Jesus and then do our own things.

Hope you are enlightened. We are saved by grace through faith to glorify God with our good works, proving that we are indeed children of God.

You may want to look at this too Understanding the "Radical" Grace Message of Joseph Prince to see how love causes repentance.

Lim Liat (c) 11 Oct 2016

2016-09-24

Secret of a Victorious Life - Keys in Right Order

We may know the ingredients needed for a particular dish but if we mix or cook them in the order, the dish will not turn up well. It is the same in our living. The post gives the keys and the order for a victorious living.
The Peter that boldly declared "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." (Matt 26:35) denied the Lord three times later. (Luke 22:54-62). But the John that proclaimed "the disciple who Jesus loved"(John 21:24) followed Jesus and could be found at the cross of Christ and be given charge of His mother. What is the difference? Both have 'love'. But the order and the source is different. Peter's version is "I love Jesus". John's version is "Jesus loves me." Peter focused on his love for Jesus. John focused on Jesus' love for him. The outcomes were completely opposite; one ran away and the other stayed. Where you focus your heart and mind is the key --- always focus on God first and then we can do the right thing.

With this concept in mind, we can find that many translations of the Bible could be more effective if only they get the God and Me in the right order. The errors made are usually either all on God and neglect man's responsibility or overemphasizing on man's ability neglect God's grace. Let's look at a short verse Jude 1:2.

(KJV)  Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
(YLT)  kindness to you, and peace, and love, be multiplied!
The original order of words is preserved in the KJV and YLT. But the newer translations just mix them all up and give the following destroying the order and mess up the responsibilities.

(MKJV)  Mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
(ESV)  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
(ISV)  May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance!
(NLT)  May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.

The newer translations put all the responsibilities on God to give you mercy, peace and love. However, when you go back to the original version, there is Mercy to You comes first and then come peace and then come love and then multiplication.

MercyG1656 unto youG5213 andG2532 peaceG1515 andG2532 loveG26 be multipliedG4129

To a Chinese that is able to read and understand ancient Chinese text form 文言文, the position of words make a vast difference. The Chinese version from the Strong's words is:

矜恤你 并平康 和仁愛增加

The translated meaning for me is:

God gives you his mercy, so that I have peace, and so that I can love more and more.

Why don't I love others?
Because I am not secure myself. I have no peace within. How can I give out what I don't have?

How can I have peace?
Focus on the mercy of God. Know that God loves you and will care for you. He has given and sealed us with His Holy Spirit. Jesus said that no one can snatch you out of His hand. Paul reminded us that if God is for us then who can go against us. Peter tells us to cast all your cares unto Him for He cares about you etc etc. Read and recall those verses and soon the peace within you will rise up. You will be calm and confident and yourself secure, you can start to think of others.

How can I be sure that my interpretation is right?
Jude 1v21 gives us additional support. We must always interpret the Bible by the Bible and within the context.

(KJV) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

The first part asks us, men's responsibility, in the love of God.
The second part gives a specific thing to do, looking for the His Mercy that can give us eternal life. Jude v1 assured us that we are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.

Looking for G4327 is a weak translation of the original Greek,  prosdechomai, 
Thayer Definition: 1) to receive to one’s self, to admit, to give access to one’s self

It has a much stronger meaning of having already received it and just go and use it. It is about focusing with confidence on what is already there and yours to use it. It is not expecting as if wishing only.

Conclusion - The Keys and Order for Victorious Living

Focus on God's mercy for you so that you have the peace to enable to love more and more.

As you do that, your godly influence will spread out to more and more people. Your are fulfilling what Paul says about the Thessalonians,  1Th 1:3  remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. ... 1Th 1:7  so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.

May your light shines forth through your love built on peace that comes from the mercy of God for you. ◄ Matthew 5:16 ► let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Lim Liat (c) 24 Sep 2016

2016-09-22

The Nonsense of Being Proud of Our Weaknesses - The Abuse of 2 Cor 12:9

In 2 Corinthians 12:9b , Paul wrote, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." So many believers, instead of trying to develop their abilities, they are happy to stay in weaknesses as signs of virtues. It is actually the work our fleshly desires to justify what we do not want to change and to stay in our weaknesses. What did Paul really mean by his weaknesses? Read on....
If we neglect the context of any biblical verse and interpret the Bible according to our liking, we can surely come out with all kinds that appear to be very uplifting but actually very wrong. An example is "Being proud of our weaknesses". We find the biblical support in 2 Cor 12:9b, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." We all can relate to our weaknesses. So we quickly find in this verse the justification for our weaknesses. Even the great Apostle Paul tells us that we should be proud of our weaknesses. We happy leave out the second part of the verse and accept our weaknesses are virtues because they are to be used by God! The context of 2Cor 12 tells us that Paul was given special revelations and was tormented by 'a thorn of the flesh' which he prayed to God to have it removed. But God gave the answer that His grace is sufficient to handle the attacks of Satan. We can learn a few things from this passage.

1 Do we have anything special to boast of first?
Paul had much to boast of - eg special revelation (v3-4,7). If we don't have any ability or accomplishment to show off, then this boasting in our weaknesses does not apply.

2. The Purpose of Boasting of our Weaknesses - Prevent us from being Proud.
2Co 12:6  though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.

3 How are Paul's weaknesses revealed? Through attacks from the devils.
Strengths and weaknesses are revealed through external challenges when one goes out to accomplish good things. Laziness, lack of discipline, foolishness are just bad habits and there is nothing to be proud of but rather to be quickly repented and changed by the power of God through Christ. We then can do a before and after testimony for God. We should boast on the power of God to change us to have strengths from our weaknesses. Every time we share our weaknesses, we must quickly follow with how God has changed our weaknesses to strengths.

4 What is this 'thorn of the flesh'?
See Paul's thorn in the flesh and weakness are not his! The thorn refers to the persecutions and disasters he faced throughout his missionary work. He could have stayed in a place with people liking him. Instead, by the calling of God, he continued to venture out to bring the gospels to the rest of the world then.

5 What then are the Weaknesses? Lack of Strength to Accomplish a Mission
2Co 12:10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. The Greek Word for weakness is G769 astheneia Thayer Definition: 1) want of strength. It is the lack of strength in face of external persecutions and sufferings. It is thinking that we can do it that we venture off. It is in succeeding what we venture out to do that we can have some basis to be proud off. It is also where the danger lies --- that we rely on our strengths and neglect the leading and the relying on God. The challenge must be greater than our abilities that reveals our lack, that we may go back to God for His grace to continue the work. Our great moments of triumphs are also our great dangers to neglect God.

Conclusions
Our weaknesses, lack of strengths, come from accomplishing worthy projects.  Our lacks force us to look for God as our source of strengths. It keeps us humble in our successes, knowing that our strengths actually comes from God so that we may be careful to be sensitive to His leading and His empowering grace. Christ in us and through us to the praise of His glory. Never boast of our weaknesses but rather of His empowering grace. ◄ Matthew 5:16 ►In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. If you want to boast of your weaknesses, then continue with how God transform your weaknesses into strengths.

On the other hand, don't let our weaknesses to excuses for doing anything. The key is always to be sensitive to the leading of God. God may either strengthens you or may bring others to help you as Aaron to Moses (note... God's original intention is to strengthen Moses but Moses gave too much excuses").

Weaknesses are not for us to be proud of but of our needs to rely on, trust and be proud of God.

Lim Liat (c) 22 Sep 16

Additional Thoughts (17 Oct 16)
Some thoughts about "boasting about weaknesses".
1. Boasting may be better translated as confidence. I'm not shy to speak of my weaknesses because I have faith in Christ who will strengthen me.
2. There is the timing issue. After I have through Christ overcome the weaknesses, then I can boast about Christ, not me, in helping me to overcome. I have a before and after testimony.
3. We can boldly assess ourselves because if there be any weaknesses, we have Christ to help us overcome it.
4. Hence, we can live in joy and confidence knowing He is with us no matter what.



2016-09-15

Lao Zi explains Jesus

Why God needs to become man is well explained by Lao Zi.
The most famous quote from Lao Zi is the first 6 words of Dao De Jing --- 道可道非常道。
The WAY that can be described is not the eternal WAY.
Our first reactions could be:
1. Very deep ... very powerful ...It gets my attention, but what is it saying?
2. Pure rubbish. Lao Zi is just trying to catch our attention by twisting words.
3. If the Eternal WAY cannot be described, then how can we know it?
The answer to point 1 will do away with point 2. Lao Zi is just trying to tell us that our language and our mind are too limited to understand the unlimited great WAY well. He further explains it by saying 名可名非常名 The Name that is Named is not the Name. A name is just a representation of the thing and it not the thing itself. It is a convenient way of reference but the name is surely not exactly as the named thing.
The answer to point 3 explains the need of God to some in the person of Jesus to explain the unlimited and eternal God to us. We could, as Lao Zi did, to explain what the WAY is like. Lao Zi wrote another 80 chapters/paragraphs to try to explain to us the attributes of the WAY through the universe, nature, and living things that are created by the WAY. The best way to the WAY is for the WAY to come to us in man form and tell us. It is like we becoming a cat so that we can fully communicate with the cat. So, we have this in
John 1 The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
.....
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Sep 16

2016-08-12

Lessons from the Two Famous Deacons of Acts - Stephen and Philip

While Stephen and Philip had similar backgrounds, characters, and talents, their lives were vastly different. Stephen was martyred at his best adult age like Jesus. Philip lived to a good old age with four daughters who were preachers. Whose life do you want to live? What are their lessons for our lives?
The lives of Stephen and Philip are described in the Book of Acts 6-8.

They shared the following similarities:

  1.  of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, 
  2.  whom we will appoint to this duty of Deacons, distribution of foods Act 6:3
  3.  were Greek-speaking Hebrews.
  4.  Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip Act 6:5
  5. Work of Stephen:
    1. And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Act 6:8
    2. Members of the synagogue of Freedmen could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. (Act 6:9-10)
    3. the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Act 6:15
  6. Work of Philip:
    1. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.  And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. Act 8:5-7.
    2. Philip met with an angel and sent him to bring the gospel to the Ethiopian Officer Act 8:26-38.
    3. Philip experience time-travel in Act 8:40 after the baptism of the Ethiopian.
Their Different Endings:
  1. Stephen was stoned to death after preaching his last message on the God of the Hebrew and their dealings with the prophets of God. He condemned the people for their rebellion and killing of God's prophets. In a way, Stephen actually planned out his martyrdom!He left behind the famous words, just like Jesus, in  Act 7:60  "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep. 
  2. Philip lived up to ripe old age as we can see and infer from Act 21:8-9  On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.  9  He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.
So we can see that while both were true men of God who have great testimonies, Stephen was a martyr when young and Philip was an evangelist that lived to a ripe old age.

Lessons for Us:
  1. It is not for us to wish ourselves to be Stephen or Philip. 
  2. As God has different plans for Stephen and Philip, God has a different and unique plan for our lives. It is our responsibility to find out God's plan for us. Some may live short but meaningful and powerful lives. Some may live long and also meaningful and powerful lives. 
  3. Living meaningful and powerful lives seems to be dependent on us, being faithful to Him and His Words and the Holy Spirit as both Stephen and Philip had shown us.
Hence, worry not, but make sure we are faithful to His calling for us and live our lives to the maximum with His leading.

Lim Liat (c) 12 Aug 2016

2016-07-27

The Devil's Tactics Against the Church

Devil's 3 Tactics against the Church are persecution, lies, and division. See how they can be overcome. 
Reflections on Sunday Chinese Sermon of Ps John Liu of Petra Church on 24 July 2016.
I often wonder how do people see more things, or more revelations as believers like to put them, in the very same Bible passage that we read. One way of course is by studying hard and listening widely and accumulate through years of learning. Another way is to study it, read it, and reflect it in conversation with God. Another way is to have a fresh perspective such ashttp://christianity-rediscovered.blogspot.sg/…/the-branding…. The simplest way is to just enjoy the exposition of others.
The title is "The Tactics that the Devil Uses Against the Church" base on Acts 4-6. The passage itself has no mention of the devil and it is not too obvious to me to relate it to the activities of the devil. Ps presented a good overview of the content of Acts. But the keys are the three tactics that the devel employed against the church and how the church overcome them.
1. Devil uses persecutions to soften up or weaken the church.
Act 4:1-14, 29-31.
The miraculous healing of the lame beggar caused an uproar for the people and the religious leaders. Religious leaders put Peter and John into prison, threatened them not to speak of Jesus anymore. However, instead of being scared to silence, they spoke up boldly and they prayed to God to give greater boldness. Overcome persecutions with testimonies of patience and boldness with the power of Holy Spirit within.
2. Devil uses lies to pollute the church.
Act 5:1-11 We have the stories of Ananias and wife who sold their property and reported to Peter only 1/2 of the actual price sold. They were killed instantly when Peter exposed their lies. If you heard Ps Joseph Prince sermon on this. He said Ananias was not a believer because the text was "a man named Ananias". "Disciple" was used, instead of 'man', to describe a true believer as in Acts 9:10 that described another Ananais.
To counter devil's pollution of lies, we must worship and serve God truthfully. Authencity and truth overcome lies. (See how some of our local churches failed on this.)
3. Devil creates problems to cause separation in churches.
Acts 6:1-7. Here there were two groups of believers, the local Hebrew Jews speaking and the Greek speaking Jews who were converted. The complains arised because the Greek speaking 'foreingers' widows were not treated fairly vs the Hebrew speaking ones. This is very much like Churches with multiple languages where one group will be given priorities over another. Notice the wisdom shown by the apostles here.
  1. The problem must had been investigated and confirmed and so duly addressed. That explained why changes were made to solve this problem. Often, in the name of peace, real problems were swept under the carpets instead of being addressed upfront. Hiding problems does not make problem go away. Hidden unhandled problem accumulates to blow up later ... resulting in church split etc. 
  2. Be not distracted. The focus on preaching the gospels was not diverted to handle this problem. A separate group of leaders were ejected to handle this administrative issue. 
  3. Show of Wisdom, Trust and Love. The new leaders , deacons, elected were of Greek Names showing that they were purposely chosen among the Greek speaking congregations to address their problems. It is not a 50%-50% Committee of Hebrew and Greek. It is all Greek. It shows:
    1. the ones who can identify with the problems are chosen to fix the issue.
    2. the trust the Hebrew Leadership had for the Greek speaking leaders. 
    3. the Love the key Hebrew speaking dominant group has for the weaker Greek speaking group. More should be given to the weaker that the weak may also grow up.

While Ps Liu summarized the overcoming of the problem with "Not Afriad of Death" testimony, 不怕死的见证. I would like to summarize it differently as 愿牺牲的见证 Willing to sacrifice testimony or better, 勇敢,智慧与爱的见证 - Testimony of Boldness, Wisdom and Love. Only by bolding facing a problem, with a wisdom to find a solution, and implementing a solution with love, can we successfully overcome the divisive work of the devils.
For more on the devil's tricks. see Sun Zi's Art of War and the Bible.
Lim Liat (c) 27 July 2016

2016-07-25

Fear of the Lord and the Real Fear - Knowing the Difference makes all the Difference

The Fear of God kind of fear is different from the Fright kind of Fear. The fright kind of fear causes one to take a flight. The Fear of God kind, in awe of, causes one to be obedient and to stay away from evil because we do not want to hurt the God that love us. The secret lies in the original Hebrew and Greek words of of fear. 
Fear of the Lord
The Hebrew words used for the Fear of the Lord are H3372, H3373, H3374 according to the Strong's Concordance. Let's look a one of them, H3374 Yirah.

Fear (of God) H3374 יִרְאָה yir'âh yir-aw'
Feminine of H3373;
  • fear (also used as infinitive); 
  • morally reverence: -  X dreadful, X exceedingly, fear (-fulness).
Gen 20:11  And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.  The Chinese words for the Fear of God is "敬畏" respect fearfully which captures the Hebrew H3372,3373,3374 afraid and revere at the same time.

Looking at the ancient Hebrew pictures that form the word tell us even more. The ancient Hebrew alphabets are pictures, or icons in today term, and they are combined to form meaningful words. This is very much like the Chinese words which are picture based and combination of pictures. 

The word Yirah Fear contains worship (& work of worship), first(top priority), strong(power), and looking and receiving of revelation (of God - breath of God?).  We can clearly see what does Fear Yirah of the Lord means -- the why purpose and the what action! The Fear of God is acknowledgement and worship of the Powerful God of All creations and to understand His will and to obey Him in our action. Putting God first in everything that we do as our worship that He rightfully deserve from us, His creatures.  This is seen in the following verse with even the Egyptians of the Moses day. The result of their Fear of God is the believe and the obedient action to move their cattle into houses to avoid the hails that will killed all outside. Fear of God causes us to be obedient and not to run away as the terror kind of fear.

Exo 9:20  He that feared-H3372  the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 

The Fear of God makes us NOT afraid instead of afraid!
Exo 14:10  And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraidH3372: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.

Their fear caused them to cry out to God to save them. God opened up the red sea to allow them to escape, removing their fear.

In fact, this Yirah Fear is frequently used together with not, Fear Not.

Fear Not because of the Fear of God

Gen 26:24  And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fearH3372 not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.

Gen_50:19  And Joseph said unto them, FearH3372 not: for am I in the place of God?

The implication is clear, our Fear of God removes the afraid fear that we may fear-not. Because we are aware of the greater power God, and his presence for us, we fear not.

The really afraid or terror Fear in Hebrew are:
H4172 môrâ'  /  môrâ'  /  môrâh
  • fear, 6 Gen_9:2 (2), Psa_9:20, Isa_8:12-13 (2), Mal_1:6, Mal_2:5
    Gen 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered
  • terror, 2 Deu_34:12, Jer_32:21
  • dread, 1 Deu_11:25
  • feared, 1 Psa_76:11
  • terribleness, 1 Deu_26:8
  • terrors, 1 Deu_4:34
H6343 pachad pakh'-ad
From H6342; a (sudden) alarm (properly the object feared, by implication the feeling): - dread (-ful), fear, (thing) great [fear, -ly feared], terror.
  • Exo 15:16  Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.
The afraid kind of fear causes us to run away or stay away. Whereas the awe kind of fear causes us to want to worship and stay close to the object of our fear.

The Greek Words for Fear

Awe Fear of God G5399 φοβέω phobeō fob-eh'-o
From G5401; to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed;
by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: - be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence.

as in the following verses. Notice fear-not is used frequently with the awe-fear. Because we have revered a higher power, God, we can fear not any other.
  • Mat 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 
  • Luk 12:32  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Afraid Fear G5401 φόβος phobos fob'-os
From a primary φέβομαι phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright: - be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.

However, the Greek words are not as meaningful as the Ancient Hebrew as we have noted upfront.

Where the Two Fears Meet 1 John 4:18

1Jn 4:18  There is no fearG5401 in love; but perfect love casteth out fearG5401 because fearG5401 hath torment. He that fearethG5399 is not made perfect in love.

The best translation of this verse is found in Amplified Bible

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].
Even then, it has not fully cover the teaching. It started with afraid is not in love. It ended with perfect love even takes away the awe-fear. The closeness is unimaginable. It is complete oneness as Jesus prayed in John 17:20-26 Father in Christ, Christ in Us, and Us in Christ and in the Father.

John 17:20-26 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for thosewho will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may bewith me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Conclusion: Awe Fear chases with Afraid Fear because of His Love for us.
The Awe-Fear of God causes to want to be with God, to be obedient and do His will. It causes us to move closer. If we awe-fear God, we will fear-not any other things or beings on earth. The afraid-fear just causes us to run away. The devil uses lies and accusation to cause the afraid-fear in us to cause us to run away from God. But, God's love causes God to reach out to us through Jesus Christ His Son and to implant His love in us so that we afraid-fear Him not, that we may revere Him and even more to love Him totally without any awe-fear as we are all ONE in Christ and in the Father God. If you want to afraid-fear not, you must receive Jesus and awe-fear God to start and progresses up closer with Him.

Lim Liat  25 July 2016

2016-07-16

Peter & John And the Mustard Seed - New Insights

Two new things that I learned from today Chinese sermon by Ps John Liu on Acts 3:
1. Love for the Repentant.

John was likely the one who extended his friendship to accept Peter after Peter's denial of Jesus. We find Peter and John often mentioned together after the event of the crucification. An addition point is about how we can and should help people with realize their wrong doings. It is not more criticisms but an extension of love.

For more see Understanding the "Radical" Grace Message of Joseph Prince.

One more thing, John, the one who repeatedly focus on the love of Jesus for him was able to stay with Jesus at the cross whereas Peter, the one who claimed of his love for Jesus, denied Jesus three times.  Focus not our love but on the love of Jesus for us. We will have greater peace and appreciation.

2. Mustard Seed Faith. 

When Jesus said this, there are two key meanings. One is the smallness of the seed. We don't need great faith to move mountain. We begins with the little that we have. Second is about the growth of the seed to the great mustard tree. Our little faith needs to grow and to grow out faith is the very simple thing on acting out or living out, starting from the little that we have. Else, our faith is not living but dead - that is the teaching of the letter of James.

2016-06-14

Fasting for the Right Purpose

Fasting is not about skipping meals to get God to bless and answer our prayers. Rather, it is about doing justice and mercy for needy and living rightly in the Lord. With such living, the blessing of the Lord is with us even without our fasting. In fact, doing charity is not optional but rather a natural attribute of the new life as children of God. 
What is the purpose of fasting? A common understanding seems to be to get God to answer our prayer by our show of seriousness through not eating or drinking for a fixed period.  Some consider fasting as a spiritual discipline and fasted for many days. Some even tell us how hard and how long they fast. However, Jesus warned us that fasting was not for show (Matthew 6:16-18) and we were to dress up as usually so that no one know we were fasting. The basic issue about fasting is not about how you fast but rather why you fast. What is the motivation for your fasting? Are you motivation right?

By going through the events where fasting was recorded in the Bible, we can find many reasons for fasting and they are usually for the benefits of others rather than self. In two passages, Zechariah 7 and Isaiah 58. true fasting is about doing justice and mercy and not about afflicting oneself! Below is a mind-map showing the different purposes of fasting:


Fasting is About Doing Justice and Mercy

The Meaning of Fasting from Isaiah 58

  • Fasting is NOT about afflict a man's soul nor body.
    Isa 58v5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
  • The Real Purpose and the Form of Fast is about Doing Justice and Mercy.
    6 “Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?—when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Here is the mind-map on Zechariah 7 on Fasting:


Doing Justice and Mercy is NOT an optional item but rather a command or an attribute of the new life as Sons of God.
  • James 1:27  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Jesus associated with the needy and taking care of them is part of the work of the righeous.
  • Matthew 25v34Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, 36I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’37Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and cloth You? 39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’40And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’
Hence, it is more important to examine the purpose for your fast rather than how you fast such as skipping one or more meals, going without certain kinds of food or even of water and for how long. Fast for the right reasons but better still, do the right things of justice and mercy and living rightly.

Lim Liat (c) 14 Jun 2016

2016-05-26

"Honoring Your Parents" - The Bible Honors Your Cultures

While the fifth commandment is about honoring your parents, the Bible only have a few verses on how to honor them. However, in the Chinese culture, the Chinese Classics cover many details about filial-piety, teaching us about the how's of honoring our parents. It seems that the Bible only give the essential and leave the details to your particular culture. It then shows that the Bible does not despise or reject any culture as long as the foundations are biblical. Our cultures and traditions actually enhances the teaching of the Bible and need us to know them well too. Let's see the details.
Honor Your Parents
This is the fifth commandment of the Ten Commandments.  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”. (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16). Paul especially emphasized this command in Ephesian 6v1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. v2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— v3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

How do we honor our parents?
As children, it is about obeying our parents as pointed out by Paul in Eph 6v1 above.  Here are more from Solomon:
  • Prov 1:8 ​​​​​​​​Hear, my son, your father's instruction, ​​​​​​​and forsake not your mother's teaching, ​​​
  • Prov 13:1 ​​​​​​​​A wise son hears his father's instruction, ​​​​​​​but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. ​​​
  • Prov 30:17 ​​​​​​​​The eye that mocks a father ​​​​​​​and scorns to obey a mother ​​​​​​​will be picked out by the ravens of the valley ​​​​​​​and eaten by the vultures. ​​​
In other parts of the Bible, we can find the following additional 'how to':
  • Curse Not: Matthew 15:4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.'
  • Despise Not: Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old.
  • Assault NotProverbs 19:26 He who assaults his father and drives his mother away Is a shameful and disgraceful son.
We are to respect them even though they discipline us. Hebrews 12:9  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

Honoring is not Something that our Parents need to earn. In the commandment of honoring our parent, there is no qualification for the parent, such as, good parents. Our parents are accountable to God for bad parenting. As children, we are accountable to God for honoring our parents.

The Teaching of Chinese Classics:
The Chinese have a vast amount of literature on honoring parents. There is even a book dedecated to Filial Piety 孝经 see Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 10 on Filial Piety and Understanding the Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing) in One Minute. Filial Piety is called the root of virtues. Honoring our parents is extended to honoring our God. The matched well with the first 5 commandments of the Ten Commandments with is all about upward respect and worship of God and then of our parents (the fifth). The other 6 commandments are about living with others on the horizontal plane of men to men. Let me reproduced part of the above mention post here:
  •   夫孝,德之本也,教之所由生也。
    Filial Piety is the root of virtue. Education should begin with this.
  •   身体发肤,受之父母,不敢毁伤,孝之始也。
    Body, hair and skin are given by parents, taking good care our body is the starting of Filial Piety.
  •   立身行道,扬名于后世,以显父母,孝之终也。
    Develop our character and have the right conduct, leaving a good reputation, a good legacy, to glorify our parents, is the end of Filial Piety.  (This is what life is all about - leaving a good legacy on the world)
  •   夫孝,始于事亲,忠于事君,终于立身。
    Filial Piety begins with serving our parents, being loyal to our kings (bosses,government, country) and ends with good character ( a good standing). 
The Chinese has basic text book for teaching children called "弟子规" Guides for Students or Disciple. It explains what honoring means --- obey when we are young and caring for them when we have grown up (with our own family). Here are some quotes from the book:


小时要服从 – 父母有教养的责任 
As children, we obey our parents. Parents have the responsibility of feeding and instructing their children.

–弟子規<入则孝>父母呼 应勿缓 父母命 行勿懒 父母教 须敬听 父母责 须顺承…
When parents call us, we must not delay in answering them.
When parents ask us, we must be diligent in carry them out.
When parents teach us, we must listen respectfully.
When parent discipline us, we must follow and adopt the right behavior.....
 
•大时是照顾,不要让父母犯错。 
When we are adults, then we must take care of our parents, and to make sure that they don't commit error and suffer from it.

The key is how do we correct our parent. Here we have the details ...
–弟子規: 亲爱我 孝何难 亲憎我 孝方贤 亲有过 谏使更 怡吾色 柔吾声 谏不入 悦复谏 号泣随 挞无怨 
When parents love us, honoring them is easy.
When parents hate us, honoring them is true virtue.
When parents have wrong doing, must persuade them to change.
Our faces and behavior must be pleasant and nice, our voice gentle.
If they do not accept, we must happily repeat our persuasion,
This is followed by our crying.
Even if we are beaten, we have no anger.

•〈出则弟〉 When we go out to socialize, we must respect others.
–兄道友 弟道恭 兄弟睦 孝在中 财物轻 怨何生 言语忍 忿自泯
Be friendly to our juniors and be respectful to our seniors.
Harmony among brothers are due to respect and love within.
Material things are not valued and so there is no complains.
When we control our tongues, anger will automatically disappear.

So, hope you can see how your own culture helps you to live out the Biblical teachings.

Lim Liat (c) 26 May 2016


2016-03-26

The Secret of A Long, Healthy and Happy Life

Do you know the secret to a long, healthy and happy life?

Do you know that the Bible and the Ancient Chinese give you the same answer!

Exercise is NOT the answer.

The answer is Godliness or A Virtueous Character.

Bible: 1 Timothy 4:8 ►
for while bodily training is of some value,
godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Note Godliness is of value every way .... i.e. happiness, wisdom, health, wealth, good relationship, whatever is good for life and it is not just for the PRESENT life and also the FUTURE life after death.

Ancient Chinese Wisdom:
养生之道,首在养德。
Cultivating life begins with cultivating virtues.

老子 51 “道生之,德畜之,物形之,势成之。是以万物莫不尊道而贵德”
Lao Zi DaoDeJing 51:
The Dao/WORD give birth to it (life),
Virtues builds it up,
Materials shapes it (with the body),
Energy (Life Force) completes it.
Hence, all living things honor the WORD/Dao and treasure virtues.

《庄子·天地》篇说:“故形非道不生,生非德不明”
Zhuang Zi said,"Hence nothing without Dao cannot be born. Born without virtues cannot be bright (i.e. shines with light).

So, don't just go for running and other aerobic exercises, remember to do more about cultivating your virtues ... your self-control, reduces your excessive desires, manage your stresses, control your impluses & greeds,etc.... Most important, discover the purpose of your life.

1 Timothy 6:6-11English Standard Version (ESV)

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and[a] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

So, while we exercise our body, we must also exercise our brain and our spirit.

Lim Liat (c) 26-3-16

2016-02-29

Understanding the "Radical" Grace Message of Joseph Prince

The radial grace message of Joseph Prince invited many criticisms from some of his Singapore churches in the earlier days and now from the US churches since he is very famous there. It took me some time of listening to his weekly and mid-week sermons to fully appreciate his 'radical' grace message. Not that his message is correct in all aspects, but rather, we are encouraged to filter out the bad and only take in the good part of any message. A sinner needs not more condemnation to repent but rather an unconditional love for and acceptance of him and the grace empowerment to overcome the sinful acts. It is grace that breaks the bondage of sin and give the freedom to glorify God.
A Child Upbringing - To Punish or Love ? It is both in the right order.

A pastor shared his touching story of a childhood experience.

As a child, he stole from the family shared piggy bank to buy food and things for friends to gain acceptance and popularity. He stealing was discovered one day by his parents. His father gave him a hard caning. However, he was surprised that the next day, his parents brought him to a restuarant to have the food he liked.

His father told him that despite the canning they still love him much. The canning was for correcting his bad act. They want to assure him that he was loved and valuable to them.

What do you think of the Father's behavior?
Is that the way you would follow to discipline your child?

Please analyse the situation carefully. If you discover a wrongful, what will you be doing?
If you ignore the stealing, the child grow up thinking that it is ok to steal so long as you have a good reason.

If you just do the beating without the subsequent assurance of love and acceptance, the child may grow-up to be insecure and even rebellous.

Often times, the consequences of a wrong act will be good enough as the disciplining action. Additional beating or scolding will over-disciplining. e.g. a child over-ate and suffered stomach upset or get sick. The consequence of pains as long as he understood the cause of his pains, is a good enough discipline. Over doing discipline will cause rebellion or self-condemnation.
  • Eph 6:4 AMP Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
  • Colossians 3:21 (AMP) Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart andbecome discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken].
What has that got to do with the Bible teaching of Law of Grace?
We are like child that commit sinful acts. By knowing the Law, we know what is right and wrong. After we know right and wrong and then did something wrong, what should we do? What should be
the best way to put us back on the right path?

If we know we sin, then more condemnation does not help. (Of course, if we are like David, who thought he did not commit adultery and murder with Besheba, then he needed a Nathan to tell him).

Will condemnation help? Will more punishment help? 

Devil is very good at this accusations and condemnation. If devil could accused and condemn you to get you accept that it was you that was bad and not the act, then you will give up the fight and behave like what the devil accused you of.

The Law can only show you that you sin. The devil and your guilt will accuse you and condemn you for that sin. What can you do? Nothing. It is only Who can help you! You need the assurance of love from someone that is close to you, like the Father to the child of the above story. You need to remember of your identity as Child of God, and be assured of His love still for you. With the secured of love and identity, you can then bold face up to the sins that you committed and call it rightly as a sin. But know that you are not the sinful but righteous in standing because of Christ and can boldly standup to face the consequence and take steps to make good.

Of course, the best way is not to sin at first. That's why Paul tell us to gaurd our mind with pure, truth and praise worhty thoughts. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

That is the key of the grace message of Joseph Prince though he seemed to preach in such as way as to confuse people to criticize him as ultra-grace preacher (ultra-grace is grace as licence to sin).

Grace is not ignoring the sins but rather admitting it as sins and drawing upon Christ's forgiveness, restoration and grace empowerment to live the life that one should.

The best way to get people to admit and to realise their sinfulness is not more condemnation but rather showing of love and acceptance of the persons and not the sinful acts. For example, Zacchaeus in the bible(Luke 19:1-10), was convicted of his sins, simply from Jesus' show of acceptance that he would like to come to his house to have dinner with him!

If you want someone to change, accept him first and earns the right to show him his weaknesses. Grace and Truth comes together but it is grace first and then the truth. Without grace, we will only give accuses to deny our sins .... what else could we do if we are to show our face in front of others?

Hope we can practise this "grace then truth" way of dealing with people.

Law and Grace - Rightly Dividing the Words - The Motivation for Obeying the Law
Joseph Prince's grace had been accused by many as the ultra-grace or antinomianism, lawless grace, grace as license to sins. We need to go deeper to find the finer points of a statement when it looks contradictory.  Since Jesus has taken the curse of the Law and paid the debt of our sins, then we no longer need to follow the Law. On the surface, it looks like are indeed given a license to sin whenever and whatever without condemnation. However, if you do deeper, it actually means we don't have to follow the Law to gain our justification because we have been justified by Christ through faith. When we receive Christ's salvation, we actually acknowledge that the Law is good, we are sinful, we cannot help ourselves, and we want Christ's to forgive and transform us. Christ said he came to fulfill and not to do away with Law. The Law always remain the standard of right and wrong no matter what we do or do not. We want Christ's grace so that we can do what the Law want. Grace is the empowerment given to us to do what we should. As a transformed person, with the Love of Christ in us, we actually surpass the requirement of the Law. So now, we obey the Law automatically because of our new nature. By following our new nature in Christ, the Law of Love and of the Spirit, we surpass the Law requirement.

The motivation of our obedience to the Law is very important.  Consider a rich man giving money to charity. If his motivation is to gain respect and reputation as a kind person, then is his giving really an act of love? It is more like a business transaction - giving money in exchange for fame. As new creation, the child of God, we will automatically follow the Law, because our new nature is love. We do not obey the Law to gain justification because we are already justified. We obey the Law unknowingly and automatically because we are only acting out of our new nature.  As Jesus said, we follow not the letter but the spirit of the Law, which is a much higher standard.  
  • See Matthew 5:27-28 (AMP) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  • Matthew 5:21-22  (NKJV) Murder Begins in the Heart21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Grace Gospel is not about making a man good or better, but rather is about making a dead man alive. We are dead in our sinful self. It is not that we cannot do anything good. We sure can, But there is this sin within us that we need to die to and be given a new life. This new nature of life is very important. A monkey can behave like a man. A parrot can speak like a man. But they remain monkey and parrot in their nature. Unless we be given a new life, a rebirth, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 

This does not mean that we will not sin anymore, but rather we will not purposely sin and sin. Those taking grace as license to sin does not understand grace and is not rebirth and will remain in their sins. When the new man sins. The devil will be quick to condemn him and his own conscience will accuse him too. Unless he is deceived, he will know that he sins and will repent. He needs to come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in his time of need (Heb 4:16).

What is the differene between Peter and John? Peter said he would die for Jesus and yet denied him three times. John who said he was beloved of Jesus was found to be with Jesus even under the cross of Jesus. That's is the key radical grace of Joseph Prince's message - Focus of being loved unconditioally by Jesus that you may live a victorious and God glorifying life. The power is in experiencing the love of Jesus for you.

See also Grace, Law and Joseph Prince's Preaching
To have a more in-depth and balanced view of this issue, please read the following articles from Tim Keller ....The Gospel - Key to Change and the 15 applications in The Centrality of the Gospel.

Have a fruitful and fully rested and charged up weekend.

Lim Liat (c) 29 Feb 2016