Friday, April 3, 2020

Can We Claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 for God’s Healing of Nations from Covid-19?


2 Chronicles 7:14 has become a great hallmark for revival. During the present Covid-19 crisis, many well-intentioned preachers are claiming 2 Chronicles 7:14 and calling the church to repentance. “If we humble ourselves, confess our sins and seek the Lord, then God would heal our land from coronavirus,” they proclaim.

Now it is always good to call the church to heart-searching repentance. It is necessary to pray to God to have mercy on us and deliver us from Covid-19. But can we claim the promise given in 2 Chronicles 7:14?

It is rightly said, “A text taken out of its context (the original situation into which it was spoken) is a pretext (a false reason that hides the true intent).” Let us see the context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to refrain from faulty interpretation and application. This article is long but worth your time and attention.

WHAT IS THE CONTEXT?

After taking seven years to build the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, Solomon offered the dedicatory prayer (2 Chro. 6:12-42). As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, the glory of the Lord filled the Temple (7:1-3). Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and assured him that He had heard his prayers (7:12). He said to him,
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (7:13-14)
According to this Scripture, we must ask two questions.

WHERE TO PRAY?

Question One: According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, in which place did the Lord say He would answer the prayers? In which place did the Lord expect His people to pray and seek His face? To answer, we must go back to Solomon’s dedicatory prayer. Due to space constraints, I will only quote the words that require our attention.
2 Chro. 6:22-23, “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar IN THIS HOUSE, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:24-25, “If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you IN THIS HOUSE, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:26-27, “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray TOWARD THIS PLACE and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, then hear in heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:28-30, “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemies besiege them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands TOWARD THIS HOUSE, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:32-33, “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays TOWARD THIS HOUSE, hear from heaven…”= 
2 Chro. 6:34-35, “If your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to you TOWARD THIS CITY THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN AND THE HOUSE THAT I HAVE BUILT FOR YOUR NAME, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:36-39, “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near…if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray TOWARD THEIR LAND…then hear from heaven…”
Do you observe the phrases "in this house" "toward this place" "toward this house" and “then hear from heaven”? What is the place in which Solomon pled with God to answer? It is solely in the Temple at Jerusalem. Every petition that Solomon made was connected to the prayers offered at the Temple he built.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, when the Lord said if they humble themselves and pray, it is in the Temple or toward the Temple of Jerusalem. Solomon acknowledged that this place was chosen by God Himself, “the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name” (6:38).

Immediately after 7:14, the Lord said in verse 15, “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made IN THIS PLACE. For now I HAVE CHOSEN AND CONSECRATED THIS HOUSE that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart WILL BE THERE for all time.” The humbling of the people of Israel and their praying and seeking the Lord was at the Temple that Solomon built.

Bear in mind that there was only One Temple in Jerusalem where people offered prayers and sacrifices. That was God’s chosen place in the Old Covenant. If we apply 2 Chronicles 7:14, then we must offer prayers in the Temple of Jerusalem, for that’s what the text meant. Unfortunately, there is currently no Temple in Jerusalem but the Islamic shrine “The Dome of the Rock” located on the Temple Mount.

Caution is required here that church buildings are not the Jerusalem Temple. Many falsely attribute church buildings to God's physical Temple by misinterpreting Old Testament Scriptures. To be sure, according to 1 Corinthians 3:16, it is not the church buildings but the church (God’s people) which is God’s Temple.

But 2 Chronicles 6-7 exclusively mentions the physical Temple in Jerusalem where God answered the prayers offered by the Israelites. It has no relevance to God’s New Covenant people. The discontinuity from the old pattern of prayers and worship was answered by the Lord Jesus Himself, which He spoke to the Samaritan woman:
Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain (where Samaritans worshipped) nor in Jerusalem (where Jews worshipped on the Temple Mount) will you worship the Father.....But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:21, 23-24)
 WHICH LAND GOD PROMISED TO HEAL?

Question Two: What is the land that the Lord said He would heal? 
2 Chronicles 7:13-14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 
Observe the phrase “heal their land.” Whose land? The land given to the nation of Israel. The Lord promised to Abraham centuries ago, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gen. 12:7; 15:18; 17:8). This land is the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. 

Centuries later, when the Israelites were held in the bondage of Egypt, the Lord appeared to Moses and said, “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites…” (Exo. 3:8). 

After their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, the Lord spoke to them about blessings for obedience to the Law and curses for disobedience to the Law (Deut. 28-30).

The blessings include rich harvest and abundant rain, and victory over enemies in the land in which they would live (28:1-14). The curses include famine, pestilence, defeat by their enemies, eventually losing their land and going into captivity (28:15-28). But if people repent of their sins and turn to the Lord, God said He will bring them into the "promised land" and prosper them again (30:1-10).

So the prayer that Solomon offered in his dedication of the Temple in 2 Chronicles 6 was in accordance with God’s promise of blessings and curses and restoration written in Deuteronomy 28-30. And the assurance that God gave to Solomon in healing their land as a result of His people’s repentance was based on His promise of restoration in Deuteronomy 30. This healing of the land in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is concerning the curse the Lord would bring on the land, "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people" (7:13).

When the Lord brought out the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, He made them a distinct and theocratic nation, gave them the Law (613 laws) by which they must abide, and brought them into the land of Canaan where their prosperity and adversity was dependent on their obedience and disobedience.

In contrast, the church is not a theocratic nation. We are God’s people living in secular countries. The church is not under the Mosaic Law. The covenant that the Lord made to Israel, the several blessings for obedience to the Law and curses for disobedience to the Law, does not apply to the church because we are under the New Covenant, under the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:20-21).

Do you know that even the present Israel cannot claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 because their blessings and curses are now based on their faith and rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ? They are no more called to live under the Mosaic Law with its blessings and curses. They are called to repent and believe in the Gospel of Christ and live under the New Covenant.

2 CHRONICLES 7:14

Therefore, in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14,

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence AMONG MY PEOPLE,” speaks about the disasters God sends among His covenant people because of consistently breaking His Law. Only God’s people (i.e. the Jews) are in view here. This text doesn’t speak about God sending these disasters on Gentile nations.

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves” speaks about the nation of Israel (who are called by God’s Name) humbling themselves before the Lord. This text doesn’t speak about individuals or a small group of people praying to the Lord, but the nation of Israel. This text doesn’t even speak about repenting on behalf of the nation but the nation itself repenting before the Lord.

“and pray and seek my face” speaks about the Israelites offering their prayers in or toward the Temple of Jerusalem.

“and turn from their wicked ways” speaks about the Israelites turning away from their disobedience to the Mosaic Law.

“then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” speaks about the restoration of or to the "promised land", the land flowing with milk and honey. The land here is the land promised to Israel and not any other lands.

When you consider all these issues within the immediate and broader context of 2 Chronicles 7:14, do you suppose you can claim it for our present Covid-19 crisis? Did the disaster come only on God's people? Are we as a whole nation repenting before the Lord? Is our land the "promised land" given to the Israelites in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant? Are we praying and seeking the Lord in the Temple of Jerusalem?

CONCLUSION

Well, does all this mean that we learn nothing from 2 Chronicles 7:14? Not at all! We cannot claim its promise literally, but we can learn some good principles from it. We learn about God’s goodness, holiness, faithfulness, and grace manifested toward His people. We grasp how humble repentance is pleasing to the Lord. We observe how broken and contrite spirit moves the heart of God to forgive and accomplish His purposes in His community. The Book of James exhorts:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (4:8-10)
But can we claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a promise to apply to our current crisis, that is, if the Church repents, God will heal the nations? No, we cannot. The call to repentance with a promise of healing of the land was given to God’s Old Covenant people, the Israelites, who lived under a different dispensation. We, the church, are under the New Covenant, and are neither a political nation nor do we own a particular land as a nation.

In the Old Covenant, the Israelites had a physical Temple where God's presence dwelt, sacrifices of animals were offered on the altar, and Levitical priests were the mediators between God and people. They were also given the Law with blessings and curses in the "promised land" they lived. If they obeyed the Law, they prospered in the land. If they disobeyed the Law, the people and the land were cursed. And if they repented of their sins against God, the Lord healed their land.

Considering the New Covenant, Christ Jesus has become our sufficient and ultimate sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 10). Through Him, we have direct access to God (Heb. 4:14-16). Through Him, both Jews and Gentiles have become one people of God (Eph. 2:13-16). Through Him, we have become the Temple of God (Eph. 2:21-22). Through Him, we have become royal priests of God (1 Pet. 2:9). Through Him, we are no longer under the curse of the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:10-14). Through Him, if we confess our sins, we are cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7,9) What's more, through Him, we inherit God's eternal Kingdom (Eph. 1:13-14). Hallelujah!

Remember that we cannot randomly claim the Old Testament promises, particularly when they were given to God’s Old Covenant community, i.e. Israel, under a different dispensation. The blessings and promises given to the church in Christ Jesus are incomparably greater (Read Ephesians chapter 1).

Finally, although it is inappropriate to claim the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14, can we pray in general for God’s mercy and plead with Him to heal the nations from Covid-19? Sure! Much prayers must rise at the moment to the Throne of Grace for God’s deliverance from Coronavirus. We must also pray that the Lord would use the Covid-19 crisis to awaken unbelievers to remind them of their mortality and insecurity in the world, and show them the greater need of salvation found only in Christ.

We must likewise pray for the local churches that the Lord would use the current plight to bring spiritual awakening and deliver them from lukewarmness. We must pray that the Church would remain faithful in the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, because real healing of the nation can only come through individuals turning from their sin to Christ. Without the preaching of the Gospel and without people experiencing the forgiveness of sin found in and through Christ, true healing cannot come to the nations.
___________________________

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What Does Coronavirus Reveal About the Condition of Our Heart?


The outbreak of the pandemic Covid-19 has sent tremors all across the world. Yes, knowing its contagious and catastrophic nature, we must be concerned about its impact. However, this crisis need not cause God's redeemed people overcome by panic and despair. We may face fear but we must not be conquered by it.

Today morning, in my personal devotions, I came across the words of Christ Jesus, which birthed the following words.

At the end of His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus delivered heart-searching words. He said that anyone who listens to His words and puts them into practice would be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. When the floods and winds storm the house, it doesn't fall because it is built on the rock. But when these disasters storm a foolish man's house, it collapses because he built his house on the sand. (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49)

The point that the Lord Jesus made was that if we keep listening to His words but do not put them into practice, we will collapse when difficulties storm our lives. Head-knowledge without heart-obedience cannot stand well during crises. But if we keep hearing and obeying God's Word, we will live a steadfast and unshakable life amidst the storms of life.

The outbreak of Coronavirus is a testing time for God's people about their obedience and genuine knowledge. We have been reading God's Word and listening to sermons about the goodness and sovereignty of God and trusting Him in times of difficulties. Praise God! But what does Coronavirus crisis reveal about the condition of our heart concerning all that we have been learning?

In their book "How People Change", Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp show us the humble truth: "Trials do not cause us to be what we have not been; rather, they reveal what we have been all along. The harvest the trial produces is the result of the roots already in our hearts."

So what does Covid-19 pandemic disclose to us about how much we know God and obey His Word? Where is our faith in God's goodness and sovereignty? Where is our praise and thanksgiving to God in this affliction? Where are our unceasing prayers for God's kind help with whom nothing is impossible? Where is our comfort of God? Where is our joy in the Lord? Where is our hope of eternal life through Christ's death and resurrection? Where is our obedience to all that we have been reading and listening about God?

Contextualizing the Lord Jesus' words spoken at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, let us put it this way. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. When Coronavirus comes closer to his doors or storms his life, he is steadfast and unshaken because he built his house on the rock (knowledge with obedience).

But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. When Coronavirus comes closer to his doors or storms his life,  he is shaken and collapses because he built his house on the sand (head-knowledge without obedience).

What does the pandemic Covid-19 reveal about the condition of our hearts?

___________________________

Enquiries: 

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

"It Is Better Not To Marry!"


"IT IS BETTER NOT TO MARRY!" Don't get upset. These are not my words.

The Lord Jesus said, Moses told to give a certificate of divorce because of men's hardness of heart. "I say to you," asserted Christ, "whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9).

Hearing the Lord's firm words, the disciples were afraid and responded, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, IT IS BETTER NOT TO MARRY" (19:10). The disciples understood the seriousness of marriage that once a person is married, divorce is not an easy option. There is only entry but no exit. Marriage is a permanent commitment and not a temporal relationship.

Don't you suppose divorce is rampant today because such seriousness is greatly lacking in the married couples? When there are several reasons for divorce, marriage is not a severe and sober decision.

However, biblically, to marry someone is to keep the covenant of marriage until the heart stops beating and the soul leaves the body. For this reason, a man and woman must discern carefully before getting into a marital relationship. Why shouldn't they when marriage is a significant choice of living together for life?

Many who claim to "fall in love" do not "stand firm in marriage". They easily give up on marriage because they quickly get into it without considering the cost. No wonder, it isn't uncommon for marriages to crumble because couples marry based on excitement, attraction, and wild emotions that don't last long.

Do young men and women pray for God's wisdom to discern wisely their life-partner? Do they seek the counsel of mature people? Do they discuss the pros and cons of marriage? Do they honestly discuss their differences and weaknesses? Do they understand God's design for marriage and submit themselves to its authority? Do they know what it means to die to self in marriage? Are they aware of the tremendous responsibilities and potential conflicts that come along with marriage? Do they read books on marriage to prepare themselves well? Do they understand how the Gospel builds their marriage? Do they put emotions (cart) behind and reason (horse) before them?

Dear young men and women, here is my counsel: GET INTO MARRIAGE WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. IT IS A PERMANENT RELATIONSHIP. CONSIDER THE COST OF MARRIAGE. BE SOBER-MINDED. EXERCISE SELF-CONTROL.

To marry someone impulsively is dangerous and destructive. Marriage, in reality, is not like Hollywood and Bollywood movies (i.e. always romantic and erotic). It is a tough relationship on planet earth.

So prepare yourself well for marriage. Choose your life-partner wisely. Set the Holy Bible before you, mature people around you, the Lord Jesus Christ at the center, and get ego out of everything. Remember the words of disciples (who understood there is no easy way out of marriage): "It is better not to marry" (Matt. 19:10).

IT IS BETTER NOT TO MARRY IF YOU DON'T PREPARE YOURSELF BETTER FOR MARRIAGE.
___________________________

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Monday, November 18, 2019

"My Husband Doesn't Spend Time with Me"

Image result for wives complaining about husbands

During my life lived "under the sun", the complaint I have most often heard from women is this: "My husband doesn't spend time with me". While this is an emotion that probably men also share, I haven’t yet come across a man who complained about it.

Let this be clear: Husbands must certainly not ignore the feeling of grief their wives have about their dissatisfied relationship with them. Instead, they must commend the longing and love their wives have for them.

But what must wives do with the grief they have about their husbands not spending time with them?

Here is my most sincere counsel to wives for their consideration.

Firstly, examine yourself. Ask yourself if your desire towards spending time with your husband exceeds the longing you have towards your heavenly Father. Do you neglect your intimacy with God and pursue intimacy with your husband? Have you idolized your husband and try to find your security and satisfaction in him?

May I tell you the plain truth (which maybe a painful truth to some): Your husband can never satisfy you and meet all your needs. Only Christ is your all-sufficiency. You are first married to Christ, and you owe your utmost allegiance and devotion to Him.

Remember the words the Lord Jesus spoken to the Samaritan woman who was in the pursuit of finding her heart's satisfaction in several men:
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Most women claim to believe in Christ, but it seems to be only an intellectual confession because they haven't experienced the living water Christ pours on their thirsty hearts. As Jeremiah 2:13 reveals, they still desperately look to the broken cisterns, which is human relationships, rather than to the fountain of living waters, which is Christ Himself.

Your soul’s desperate need every day, therefore, is not for your husband but for Christ. So pursue your intimate relationship with Him. Long and seek communion with Him. Drink daily the living water at His feet. Make Him your strength, security, and satisfaction.

Secondly, think about your husband. Think about whether you are concerned about your husband's relationship with God! Do you encourage your husband to draw closer to God's heart? Are you an inspiration in his walk with his Creator?

Remember that God has made your husband, not for yourself, but for Himself. You do not own and possess your husband but God. You are not his life but Christ. You do not enthrone his heart—God alone does. Your husband doesn't exist for your happiness but for God's glory.

Your predominant responsibility in marriage, therefore, is to be a helper of your husband's walk with God. Here is a staggering fact that requires much consideration—A WOMAN WHO ENCOURAGES HER HUSBAND TO DRAW CLOSER TO GOD'S HEART DRAWS HIM CLOSER TO HER OWN HEART AS WELL.

Thirdly, let him knowgently. As you are desperate for your Maker and pursue an intimate relationship with Him, and as you encourage your husband in his walk with God—your desire to spend time with your husband will be noble and meaningful.

Instead of nagging your husband to spend time with you, gently share with him how much you love him, and enjoy spending time with him. Ask him what you can do to help him have sufficient time with you.

If necessary, seek the counsel of the elders of your church or some mature Christians to help you both enjoy a mutual love relationship in your married life. But remember to keep priorities intact.

Finally, do not lose heart! Despite seeking to help your husband have sufficient time with you, if all your attempts fail, do not lose your heart.

Christ Jesus, your eternal life, and heavenly husband, is always loving and faithful towards you. He loved you to the extent of laying His life on the cross for your sins. He will never leave you, nor forsake you, nor neglect you. You are the apple of His eye. If you give your heart to Him and make Him alone the King of your life, nothing can break your heart.

The Scripture reveals one of the things under which the earth trembles and cannot bear up, and that is—an unloved woman when she gets a husband (Proverbs 30:21-23). This woman would devour her husband for undivided attention, unfading affection, and undying satisfaction. How foolish it is for a woman to look for from her husband what only God can give!

Dear husbands, if you happen to read this message, be considerate towards your wives. If you love Christ and understand how much He loved the church and laid His life for her, give your time to your wives and encourage them in their walk with God (Eph. 5:25-33). Do not use the factor of finding your wives' sufficiency in Christ to evade your responsibility as a loving husband.
___________________________

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

You Are Not Created For Heaven


"I have put my faith in Christ Jesus, my sins are forgiven in Him, now I have the gift of eternal life, and therefore I am awaiting to go to heaven"—such is the tendency of many Christians.

Although the assurance of heaven to those who believe in Christ Jesus is true, this narrow perception has done immense damage to Christianity.

A lot of Christians' focus is on heaven while they live here on earth for themselves. Their excitement is all about the benefits of salvation for themselves—such as love, forgiveness, deliverance, peace, joy, blessings and heaven. There seems no great passion and devotion in them for the Lord Himself.

CREATED FOR THE CREATOR


It is necessary to understand that YOU ARE NOT CREATED FOR HEAVEN. The Scripture declares:

  • "All things were created through him and FOR HIM" (Col. 1:16). 
  • "FOR WHOM and by whom all things exist" (Heb. 2:10).
  • "For from him and through him and TO HIM are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:33).
  • "Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and FOR WHOM WE EXIST" (1 Cor. 8:6).
  • "Everyone who is called by my name, WHOM I CREATED FOR MY GLORY" (Isa. 43:7). 
  • “The people WHOM I FORMED FOR MYSELF that they might declare my praise” (Isa. 43:21).

The Scriptures testify that WE ARE MADE FOR GOD AND FOR HIS GLORY. It is good to know that there is heaven for those who have faith in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. But we must know: WE ARE NOT MADE FOR HEAVEN. WE ARE MADE FOR THE LORD AND FOR HIS GLORY.

If we are created for the Lord, don't you suppose our lives must be lived for the Lord? Shouldn't we know and submit to His Holy Scripture? Must not the purpose of the Lord and His will be our own purpose and will? Shouldn't His glory be our goal?

REDEEMED FOR THE REDEEMER


Salvation is not merely about possessing heaven. It is God's restoration of our lives to live (on earth and eternally) for the purpose for which we were created, i.e. for the Lord's glory.

The Lord Jesus did not die on the cross to bring you just to heaven. He died so that He can bring you to God: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that HE MIGHT BRING US TO GOD" (1 Pet. 3:18).

God's passion and purpose for you is not to bring you to heaven, although there is heaven for those in Christ Jesus. God's goal for you is to bring you to Himself.

The Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17 is quite well-known, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." But here is a Scripture, just above two verses, which many Christians seem to have never read carefully in their entire life:

  • "He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor. 5:15). 


Read the above Scripture again and again!

What do you think is the meaning of these words spoken by the Lord Jesus to His disciples: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt. 16:24).

When the Lord Jesus said, "Deny yourself," He meant, "Don't live for yourself." And when He said, "take up your cross and follow me," He meant, "Live for Me and follow Me at the cost of suffering and giving up everything." To follow Christ is nothing but to live for Christ. To become a disciple of Christ is to become completely devoted to Him. Doesn't He deserve this from us?

Paul well exemplified a self-denial and Christ-centered life in these words: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

Caution must be made here: We do not live for the Lord to earn salvation We live for the Lord because that's what salvation is. Sin has separated us from God, making us our own gods (Gen. 3:5). Salvation in the name of Christ Jesus is reconciliation to the only true God by whom and for whom we were created and redeemed. Blessed be HIS Name forever and ever.

ETERNAL LIFE IS ETERNAL JESUS


So may we not live for ourselves on earth while hoping for heaven. In fact, here is the truth for us to reflect upon—HEAVEN IS NOT FOR THOSE WHO LIVE FOR THEMSELVES ON EARTH.

Do you know what eternal life is? It is not just endless living all through the eternity. Listen to the Word of God, "The life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us" (1 John 1:2).

The Scripture declares that eternal life is Jesus Christ. To have eternal life is to have Jesus eternally. And to have Jesus eternally is to know Him and to live for Him throughout the eternity, beginning from the time of our salvation on earth (cf. John 17:3). Heaven is all about Jesus.

Therefore, let our lives be marked on earth with a passion and devotion to live and die for the Lord and for His glory. Let us live for the One who made us for Himself and who redeemed us by His blood to make a people for His own possession.

HOW TO LIVE FOR THE CREATOR AND REDEEMER?


1.    Delight yourself in the Lord and find your utmost satisfaction in Him.

2.    Pursue intimate relationship with Him through prayer.

3.    Enjoy worshipping Him and thanking Him at all times.

4.    The Holy Bible is God's mind and will. Therefore, study it diligently to know His will and to understand His purposes.

5.    Obey God's commandments without reservations.

6.    Keep God's glory as your focus in everything you do.

___________________________

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Monday, March 12, 2018

The Answer to the Mystery of Suffering


Why does suffering exist in the world?

Some claim, “God must be good but not all-powerful, or He must be all-powerful but not good. If God is both good and all-powerful, how can He allow suffering to exist in the world? Why doesn’t He erase suffering from the earth?”

The problem with such thinking is that these people only consider the goodness of God and His almightiness. What is missing in their perspective is God’s sovereignty. God is not just good and almighty; He is also sovereign.

Here is the biblical description of God’s sovereignty:
Psalm 135:6, "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps." 
2 Chronicles 20:6, "O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you." 
Daniel 4:35, All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”
Isaiah 46:10-11, "For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it."
What is the answer to the mystery of suffering? God’s sovereignty. But who knows God’s sovereign mind and work? The Scripture declares:
Isaiah 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  
Romans 11:33-34, Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”  
Psalm 92:5, "How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep!" 
Ecclesiastes 3:11, "Man cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." 
Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." 
What we know from the above Scriptures is that none would comprehend God’s sovereign mind, except what He reveals to us. To a certain extent, God's Word reveals the cause and purpose of suffering.

The Scripture reveals that the existence of suffering is due to the original sin. Adam's sin has brought the curse upon the entire human race (Rom. 5:12). Added to this plight are the wrong choices every person has made, rebelling against God's holy standards (Rom. 3:10-17). Even those who make the right choices—especially by believing in Christ Jesus and following Him—have to suffer as a consequence of living in this sinful world (Phi. 1:29). But God uses suffering to shape the character of His beloved children (Rom. 5:3-4).

Moreover, there are many questions concerning suffering which remains mysterious to our finite minds. We simply have to trust God's sovereignty, knowing, "The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He" (Deut. 32:4).

When one focuses only on God's goodness and His almightiness without giving thought to His sovereignty, he would assume God to function according to his expectations. It is only when one knows the sovereignty of God that he would heed the words, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10), and acknowledge with Job, "Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (42:3).

Though we have to go through suffering in this sinful world, God's Word has good news for us. All who have repented of their sins against the holy God and believed in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins, they have become a new creation by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The glorious eternity is waiting for them when "He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:4)

DEAR FRIEND, DON'T GIVE UP IN DARKNESS. WAIT FOR THE LIGHT.
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Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Sermon on the Mount to the Saints on the Mount of Social Media


The teaching that the Lord Jesus gave in Matthew 5-7 chapters has come to be known as "The Sermon on the Mount." Christ taught different issues in these chapters. One of the matters He addressed was "anxiety(Matt. 6:25-34).

Based on the words of Christ, I address here the issue of anxiety for identity in social media. Apparently, these days social media has a dominating influence on the identity of people all over the world. Even God's people have yielded themselves to the temptation of building their identity on people's responses to their pictures and posts in social media.

Therefore, the following message is written to help the saints of God not to let social media determine their identity (who they are). Those who have ears to hear let them hear the conviction of this message.

DON'T BE ANXIOUS AND CURIOUS


Do not be anxious about your acceptance nor look out for attention, how many likes you get or how many thumbs up you receive or people's responses to your posts.

Is not your life more than likes and thumbs up and smiles and other emojis?

Look at the birds of the air: they may neither seek for acceptance nor crave for attention, and yet your heavenly Father cares for them. Are you not of more value than they?

And which of you by seeking attention, acceptance and approval of people can add more value to your life?

Consider the lilies of the field, how beautiful they are and how they grow. Can a man produce by himself such beauty? Not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Do you understand how fearfully and wonderfully you are made? Do you know you are God's image? Do you see how glorious your life is, which is redeemed by the blood of Christ from the mire of sin? Do you know you are God's chosen, beloved and holy one?

Stop being anxious and refuse to build your identity on digital emojis and people's approval. Do not be obsessed with posting your pictures or your personal matters and keep an eye out for how many likes or responses you get. For the pagans seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you do not need them.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, feast your eyes on the beauty of the Lord Jesus, behold the glory of God, gaze upon the cross on which Christ died for your sins, consider the eternal glory awaiting for you, set your mind on the things above—and you will count all the emojis as nothing.

Therefore, do not seek people's attention and be not anxious about your acceptance, nor about people's responses to your posts. Your heavenly Father loves you like no other and graciously accepts you based on the work of Christ Jesus on the cross.

Flee from building your identity on the vain and fleeting glory of social media. Know Christ Jesus and know who you are in Him, the Eternal Glorious One, who loved you and laid His life for you. That's all that matters. That's all you need. That's all-sufficient for you. Rejoice in the Lord always.

___________________________

Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com