2017-12-24

How the Good Things Cause us to Lose the Great Thing - Luke 14:16-24

We are always busy for the legitimate and good things of life such as career and family. So busy that we easily lose sight of the most important thing of life - our eternal destination. We are so busy about this life that we neglect to prepare for the next life that is eternal. This Christmas Season is a good time to reflect on life and find the not just good but the greatest thing in life.
Bible Reference: Luke 14:16-33

The Invitations are Sent Out - You are invited

The Excuses - I'm too busy now - no time for you.
  1. I'm Building My Business or Career - Luke 14:18
  2. I'm Getting Married and Bring-up Family - Luke 14:20
  3. Am I invited? Is there space left? Luke 14:20-23
    The invitation is not by your work by purely by the love of God.
    Jesus said he came for sinners, not the righteous Luke 5:32; for the sick and not the healthy Mark 2:17. There are no pre-qualifications. Everyone qualifies. You are invited.
    Heaven can contain everyone.
Evaluate and See: Luke 14:28-32

Jesus tells us to evaluate, count the costs.  Are we able to complete a building before we start? Are we able to win before we start a war? He is teaching what I learned from Sun Zi's Art of War too.

The Art of War 4:15 是故胜兵先胜而后求战,败兵先战而后求胜。
Hence, winners plan first to win and then start a war. The Losers start a war first and then hope to win. 

Decide for Jesus: Luke 14:33
What is the outcome of the comparison?

Mat 16:26  KJ21 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke 9:24 NIV For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Welcome to the banquet. 
What is your decision after the evaluation?
Sun Zi will calculate and compare and made his decision for Christ.
What about you?

Revelation 19:9 (ESV) And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

May I meet you there.

Lim Liat (c) 24 Dec 2017

2017-12-22

Healing On a Sabbath - The Purpose of Rituals

Rituals that supposedly help us may at times cause us to overlook the real needs of the people. We have to be reminded often with a key quote from Jesus, "Sabbath is for man and not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27). Confucius also reminds us exactly the same teaching - rules are for people.
Bible Reference: Luke 13:10-17 Healing of a Woman bound

Commentary:
  • 10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
    Jesus taught in the synagogues. He was accepted as a Rabbi. 
  • 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.
    Despite her sickness and the difficulty, she came to worship God. Most people would just stay at home. Her long period of suffering, 18 years, is specifically mentioned. The people there must have been aware of her long-suffering too.
     
  • 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”
    She did not ask for her healing. Jesus took the initiative. Jesus has compassion for her. Jesus has compassion for you too. What is your difficulty? Know that Jesus cares for you. 
  • 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
    Jesus pronounced her healing first, for her and for all others to know and then did the laying of hands. Hence, there is no question as to who did the healing. She was healed immediately and she praised God to confirm her healing. Her healing was obvious to all too. A bent back straightened. This drew the attention of all even more.
     
  • 14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
    The ruler of the synagogue felt he must make a stand and condemn Jesus for breaking the Sabbath Law of rest.
    Rituals are for People not People for Rituals?

    Why not another day? Why not now? If you encounter someone you are able to help, then you must help immediately rather than delay it.
     
  • 15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?

    A public rebuke must be answered publicly too.
    Jesus pointed out the key error - hypocrites.
    They themselves are breaking the Sabbath Law of rest to work to feed their healthy flocks in the Sabbath but now they are condemning a healing of a sick lady of their own people. Is she less valuable than ox or donkey?
  • 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”
    Watch the argument. She is one of you and yet you are not kind to your own!
  • 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
    The crowd were not fooled, showing the evil of the leaders.
    Will the church people be discerning enough not to be fooled by false and manipulative preaching?
  • A similar incidence is recorded in Luke 14:1-6
Confucius' Teaching 

《论语·八佾》人而不仁,如礼何?人而不仁,如乐何?

Confucius is known among the Chinese as the one promoting the Codes of Conduct or Rituals 礼 the most. Even him, correctly pointed out that rituals without love is useless. External harmony, like music, without the true inner love, also has no meaning.

Take Away:

Have we committed the same sin, of putting rules and regulations, above the true needs of the people? Yes, every organization must have rules and policies to work well. But we need to do them with love and consideration for the people. Because the very rules and policies are for the benefits of the staff working in the organization.

Lim Liat (c) 22 Dec 2017

2017-12-21

True Giving is Without Rewards - The Way of God

Are your gifts truly gifts for this Christmas? Know the giving of God. The Ancient Chinese also tell us that true giving is without any acknowledgment and without returns.
Bible Reference: Matthew 6:1-4
  • Mat 6:1  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 
  • Mat 6:2  “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
    Mat 6:3  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
    Mat 6:4  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.   
The Season of Giving:

Christmas is a time of giving. Most of us give for the pleasures of blessing others. But we also give as a form of returning others' gifts, a forced-to kind of giving. If we give to gain recognition or seek other forms of returns then we are not really giving at all. It is but a business transactions and we may be burden by it. How many of us are dreaded by the number of gifts we "have to" buy because it will be impolite not to give back? So, are we really giving? The way of God is giving to benefit the recipient without expecting any return. Even better still, the recipient does not know who the giver is.

Your giving may be in secret

Here are some quotes from the Ancient Chinese Classics that show how the Way of God or the Dao.

中庸 12v1 君子之道,费而隐。  
The Book of Centrality 12:1  The way of the wise gentleman is board and precise at the same time. 

That is the interpretation in the context of the chapter. However, if we go by the specific meaning of the words, we find a specific example of what board and precise means. 

费 is spending or giving things/money generously or widely
隐 is hidden or secret that could not be seen or known.

Hence, the true giving of God is giving without knowing one is giving nor threcipientnt know the person who is giving. 

In Lao Zi's Dao De Jing, you will find many verses about the Way of God:

道德经


  • C02 生而不有,为而不恃,功成而弗居;
    Giving birth and yet not possessing. Serving and yet not demanding. Accomplished and yet not claiming credit.
  • C10 生之蓄之,生而不有,为而不恃,长而不宰,是谓玄德。
    Giving birth and naturing it. Giving birth and not possessing. Serving and yet not demanding. Growing and yet not forcing. Such is the Way of the Great Virtue.
  • C51 生而弗有,为而弗恃,长而弗宰,是谓玄德。」
    Giving birth and not possessing. Serving and yet not demanding. Growing and yet not forcing. Such is the Way of the Great Virtue.
  • C08 上善弱水,水善利万物而不争
    The best goodness is like water. Water benefits all things and fights with them not.

The Chinese Masters agree that such high standard is not attainable even by the Saints.

中庸 
  • 12v2 夫妇之愚,可以与知焉,及其至也,虽圣人亦有所不知焉。夫妇之不肖,可以能行焉,及其至也,虽圣人亦有所不能焉。天地之大也,人犹有所憾。故君子语大,天下莫能载焉,语小,天下莫能破焉。

    The common man and woman in their simple mind can understand some part of the Way. However, for the thorough knowledge of the Way, even the saints still have much that they know not. The common man and woman, even sinful, is able to do what the Way teaches. However, to do completely what the Way demands, even the saints could not. The greatness of the heaven and earth cause people some regrets and disappointments. Hence, when the wise man speaks of the greatness of the Way, the whole world could not contain it. When the wise man speaks about the smallness. the details, the specifics of the Way, the whole world is not able to divide or split it.
We can see that anyone can follow part of the requirements of the Laws but we will fail the high standards of the Laws. Consider what Jesus said in 
  • Mat 5:27  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 
  • Mat 5:28  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 
So we can see that the Ancient Chinese Masters agree with Paul's Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

What the Saints Could Not - Jesus did it for us.
  • Rom 7:24  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 
  • Rom 7:25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
    So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin. 
The greatest gift of Christmas is Jesus, the Son of God, Himself giving His very own life for us. Completing what man could never have done. His purpose is simply the salvation of our souls. 

Will you receive Him now?

Lim Liat (c) 21 Dec 2017

2017-12-20

All Will Be Revealed - So How Shall We Live?

Jesus in Luke 12:2 tell us that all things will be revealed. And further in Luke 12:40 He warns that Christ will come at the hour we do not expect. How then shall we live such that we can be ready anytime and all the time? The Ancient Chinese teaching of "慎独" "Be Careful when Alone" gives us additional light.
Bible Reference: Luke 12:2-3; Luke 12:35-48

All Will Be Revealed:

When we want to do bad things we will go to some secret places that no one knows thinking that we would not be found out. We may also put up a false front to cover our evil intention inside. But Jesus tells us that all things will be revealed.
  • Luk 12:2  Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 
  • Luk 12:3  Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
How then shall we live?

Be Ready All the time so that He can come anytime:

In Luke 12:35-48, Jesus gives the parable of a wise steward. He is ready all the time so that the Master can come anytime and he would be found to be faithful. Sun Zi's Art of War tells us that the best defense is not counting on the enemy not attacking but in having the confidence that we have already prepared for him to attack anytime. (The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. 故用兵之法,无恃其不来,恃吾有以待之;无恃其不攻,恃吾有所不可攻也。). That is precisely the attitude we must have in waiting for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Luk 12:43  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing (awake, dressed, lamp burning, ready to serve) when he comes.
  • Luk 12:40  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Ancient Chinese Wisdom - 君子慎独 The Wise Gentleman is Prudent even when alone.

Confucianism has a teaching on 慎独 Preduence when Alone gives us additional understanding.

《中庸》:是故君子戒慎乎其所不睹,恐惧乎其所不闻。莫见乎隐,莫显乎微,故君子慎其独也。”
Book of Centrality: Hence, the wise gentleman is careful even when no one is watching and he is fearful even when no one is hearing. Because the hidden may be revealed and the little may be enlarged and seen. Therefore the gentleman is careful even when he is all alone.

The gentleman is careful not to do any bad thing, even if little, because however little, it will reveal to himself even if others don't know. A gentleman must be true to himself irrespective of whether others know about it or not.

《大学》第七章:"所谓诚其意者,毋自欺也。如恶恶臭,如好好色,此之谓自谦。故君子必慎其独也。小人闲居为不善,无所不至,见君子而后厌然,掩其不善,而著其善。人之视己,如见其肺肝然,则何益矣。此谓诚于中,形于外,故君子必慎其独也。"

The Book of Great Learning Chapter 7: What is integrity? Not to deceive oneself. If one hates the bad smell or if one love the lovely, that is just being humble (humility is about being true to oneself). Hence a gentleman must be prudent when all alone. The villain does all kinds of bad things when free. When they see gentlemen then they are shocked and so try to cover their bad deeds and to show off their good deeds. However, others can see into internal of lungs and liver, there are no advantages. The inner integrity is revealed in the external behavior. Hence, a gentleman must be prudent even when all alone.

We may be able to hide from people but we can't hide from God and neither from our own conscience.

The lesson for Today:

Count not on won't be discovered but be ready all the time, such that we may found as"the good and faithful servant" when Christ comes again.

Please see also:


Lim Liat (c) 20 Dec 2017

2017-12-19

Let Your Light Shine & How with the Doctrine of Centrality

True believers are lights. They are to let their light shine out to make the world a better place by setting the examples. Luke 11-34-36 reveals the secrets. It resonances with the Ancient Chinese Doctrine of Centrality 中庸 which gives us additional guides. See how you can be the light of the world.
Bible Reference:  Luke 11:33-36 (KJV)
  • 33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light
  • 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
  • 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
  • 36 If thy whole body, therefore, be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
Let Your Light Shine:

Jesus begins with a common sense understanding that we put a light, in this case, a candle, at a prominent place, the candlestick, to light out the whole place. 

He then proceeds to show us that how we can have light in our body and ends with our body full of light just like the candle he started with.  We are to let our light shine out.

This also tells us that we never live alone. Neither can we separate ourselves from the world. Living the life of a hermit is not biblical. We are to engage the society and more importantly shine our light and make a good testimony.

How to Have the Light?

It starts with our eyes. The input to our body, or more accurately to our mind and heart. 

It must be single. Focus on the right thing in contrast with the evil eye in the second half of verse 34. Not double minded wanting this right thing but also not willing to forgo the evil thing. Confucius teaches us 子曰:非礼勿视,非礼勿听,非礼勿言,非礼勿动。意思说,See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil (do no evil)。

Titus 1:15 reveals more light to us.

 ◄ Titus 1:15 ► To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

We must guard our input - What have we been watching and reading?

We are to take heed,  to develop our character, such that it contains no evil and no darkness.

It also reveals to us that we can tell the inside, the character of a person, by what he reads and how he interprets events. 

This also applies to us. We must reflect on the types of books, tv, movies, videos that we watch.

Shining the Light

We shine our light by our behavior. The words we speak and write and the things we do. Are our words edifying? Are they encouraging? Or are we gossiping and bad-mouthing others? Do we act according to what we preach? Do we deliver our promises? Are we helpful? Are we generous? Are we forgiving? Do we point out the right and wrong and make our stands or we just hide away and let the evil propagates?

The Teaching of the Doctrine of Centrality

As I was meditating on the verses, I was reminded of the words that I read earlier in the Book of the Doctrine of Centrality.

《中庸》13v1  子曰:「道不远人,人之为道而远人,不可以为道。」
The Way of Dao is not far from men. Men who pursue the Dao and yet distance themselves from others are not following the Dao.

Here we find Confucius supporting Jesus' let your light shine and not keep it in a secret place.

   《中庸》13v3 “忠恕,违道不远,施诸己而不愿,亦勿施于人”,

Confucius explains what the Way of Dao looks like. It is about "what you don't like what others do to you, then you don't do it to others." It is empathy. It is about considering the interests of others. Whatever we do, we must have consideration for others. This is one form of the Dao. Confucius in Analects gives a positive version of this Way of Dao 己欲立而立人,己欲达而达人 We must first build up ourselves and then help build others. We must be successful and then help others to be successful too.

Or in the Bible, we must love others as ourselves. Loving God is seen in loving others. 
◄ 1 John 4:20 ►If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Be Single-minded for God and Shine your light in this Christmas Seasons.

Lim Liat (c) 19 Dec 2017



2017-12-16

From the Peace of Christmas to Success in Life

There are two kinds of peace and one will lead to other. It is the foundation of a meaningful and satisfying life.
The Relational Peace of Christmas

The Christmas brings us the relational kind of peace. The peace that reconciles men back to God through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we receive Jesus into our heart, we enjoy the peace with God, and we also have His peace within us.
  • Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  
  • Luk 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
  • Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Personal Peace within Us from Jesus
  • Joh 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
His peace given to us is the one that surpasses our understanding, that enables us to remain calm, without anxieties, in face of all challenges. It is very unlike the peace of the world, which is very fragile and depends on all things running smoothly. When there is trouble or problem, we tend to lose our peace. We need to guard and let this peace of Jesus rules in our heart so that we can discern and make the right judgments and follow up with the right action.

The Peace Needed for Making Wise Decisions
This relates well to the calmness that Sun Zi tells us in his Art of War book. While we should consider the emotion of people affected in any project, we should never be emotional in our decision making. We must be calm and objective so that we can think and decide well. Never make any decision when we are not at peace. Sun Zi reminds us that the enemy trick, the devil, is to get us to be emotional, either angry and therefore make impulsive decisions to cause our failures, or fear that we fail to do anything to move us out of our trap. He will also exploit our desires to get us to sin willingly.

This is the great and good news of Christmas.
The relational Peace from Jesus enables His peace to be in us, to be our peace and our ruler, that we may live well in peace, with good judgment to make all the right decisions and achieve the good success for our lives and loved ones and extending those in need.

Lim Liat (c) 16 Dec 2017

2017-12-03

Learning from What is Said & Not Said - The Magi in Jesus Birth & the Message

When reading an article, we not only have the get the facts right but also getting the right interpretation to really benefit from it. We take an example from the birth of Christ about the magi from the East to illustrate.

An article like this one Christmas Timeline of the Biblical Account shows us how poorly our reading of the Bible is. It clarified many misunderstandings we have of the Christmas story such as:

  1. How many magi/wise men/kings from the East came to worship Jesus?
    Not three. But at least two and maybe more than 3. It was not stated in the Bible.
  2. How old was Jesus when they saw him? Not a baby. But around 1 year old. 
  3. Was Jesus born in a stable? etc.
Let's go deeper into the interpretation.


Matthew 2:11 
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

The Facts:
  1. They - so there should be at least 2 and likely more but the exact number is not stated.
  2. the 'Child' - Jesus was not a baby at this time.
  3. the 'Gifts' - gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Interpretations:

Since the number of the wise men was not stated but the specific of the gifts were. It shows that the author wanted his readers to pay more attention to the different types of gifts rather than be curious about the number of wise men. Our understanding of the gifts is more important than the number of people, or, the attributes are more important that number. The wise men and their gifts are important to our understanding.

The wise men --- from afar, took them many months to find Jesus, showing they came from far away. Then they were wise - people who seek and have an understanding of the coming events and then prepare for them. A wise person will try to understand and plan for the future but be not worry. In Matthew 6, Jesus told us not to worry but did not tell us not to plan. Because in Luke 14:28 Jesus told us to count the cost to see if we have enough money to complete the building first. It was re-emphasized again in Luke 14:31 to estimate whether we could win a war against a larger enemy. 

The good news of Jesus birth is to be shared far and wide. People from all over the world will want to receive this good news of Jesus birth. There is a reference to Isaiah 60:6  A multitude of camels shall cover you,  the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

The gifts:

A quick check across some commentaries will give us the following interpretations:
  1. Gold - represent King. Jesus as King of Jews that the wise men came to seek.
  2. Frankincense - the ingredient for incense to give out the fragrance, showing Jesus as Priest and Jesus himself even as the sacrifice, the frankincense itself, to be offered and burnt up for us to God.
  3. Myrrh - the ingredient to preserve a dead body. It has a meaning of bitterness. It represents the suffering Son of Man.
So we can see that the gifts are a foretelling of the mission of Jesus, as King to be a fragrance sacrifice to God for the atonement of men sins that men may be recounciled with God through Jesus. The gospel of salvation is about making dead men alive to be children of God through Jesus.

So, the number of wise men is not the issue. The meaning of the gifts is the main theme. It is the story of the life of Jesus - as King but offered as the incense to make dead men alive in Him.

Lim Liat (c) 3 Dec 2017