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Making the Mature Years Count


To bless others

With good health care services in Singapore, the city state now has the fourth-longest life expectancy in the world. This means that Singaporeans are living longer. We have about 1,000 centenarians. I hear of many saying they desire to live longer, healthier and be active as long as they can. When the time to die, they would die as fast as possible. An elderly lady once said, “All my useful days are gone. My children are all raised and they have their own homes. When they were small, I enjoyed cooking for them and mending their clothes. You see, I was needed then, but not now. Instead of being a blessing I am just a burden.” There is a tendency for senior citizens to feel that they have lost their usefulness.

King David felt the same dilemma in his old age. He prayed, “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth” (Ps. 71:9). David felt that when physical strength was decreased people would do away with him because his relevance was gone. He was even afraid that God might cast him off in the time of old age. In verse 18 of this same psalm, David said, “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come”. David wanted God to leave him here on earth to demonstrate the strength of God to the new generation and the power of God to their children who were yet to be born.

 

To testify for God

Someone said, “I’m not 80, I’m 18 with 62 years experience”. No matter how old we get, we can still be young at heart – but with the benefit of a well-lived lifetime of knowledge and wisdom. For this reason older people have a tendency to live in the past and to talk about the past, and I think God planned it that way so they would testify of His greatness and power that they experienced in years gone by. This can be a tremendous blessing to the present generation.

Growing old as a Christian is not something to fear, for David said in Psalm 71:14-16, “I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I

know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only”. In verse 15, David pointed out that he did not know how many days he had left: “I know not the numbers thereof”. But David made it very clear that he was going to spend this time talking about the Lord. In verse 16, David must have been thinking about the failing health of older people when he said, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God”. Though the physical body may be weak, God provides the strength that is needed. What resources God has are available to the elderly.

 

To bear fruit

Psalm 92 compares the believer to a palm tree. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (vv. 12-14). In old age, the believer will bring forth fruit like the palm tree. The Christian is like the palm tree which can flourish in all circumstances. The palm tree grows even in the barren desert areas where no other plant life will grow. This is because the palm tree is not dependent on favourable circumstances for growth and fruitfulness. Authorities tell us that an old palm tree bears the sweetest fruit. It is apparent that God takes special interest in older people. In Isaiah 46:4 God says, “Even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs (the time of gray hair) will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you”. Yes, God made us and He will carry us through and will deliver us. As long as God puts us here, He has some work for us to do, and He will give us the grace and strength that is needed for each day. But perhaps some shut-in friend is saying right now, “I haven’t been out of my room for years. How can I serve the Lord here?” I would remind you that the ministry of intercessory prayer is a very vital one.

 

A good conclusion

At his old age, Moody was asked to grant permission for his biography. He refused, saying, “A man’s life should never be written while he is living. What is important is how a man ends, not how he begins”. While Paul was still in the Lord’s service, he feared that he might turn out to be just wood, hay, and straw rather than gold, silver and precious stone (1 Cor. 3:12-13). What will be the Lord’s appraisal of our lives is more important than someone evaluating us.

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Homosexuality


It is not surprising to hear that politicians, educators, doctors, engineers and even clergies profess themselves as homosexuals. Some doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists have defended homosexuality. The movie industry has portrayed homosexuality and lesbianism in a sympathetic way. The world has come to accept homosexuality as a behavioral norm. Proponents of homosexuality assert that gay rights include freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom of theological beliefs.

What is a homosexual?

According to Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary a “Homosexual”

  1. Shows a sexual desire for those of the same sex.
  2. Has sexual relations with individuals of the same sex.

A “homosexual” is one whose sexual inclination is toward those of the individual’s own sex rather than the opposite sex”.

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

God had created a man called Adam and a woman named Eve and brought them together as husband and wife. God’s intention from the beginning was a lifelong union between a man and his wife. It is a heterosexual monogamy. It is the union of one man and one woman. God prescribed no other kind of sexual partnership. Neither did He allow for an alternative. Therefore, homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God. It is a violation of God’s revealed purpose for marriage. The Bible says “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Lev. 18:22). The sin of homosexuality called for the death penalty under the Moasic law. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:13). “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a Sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Dt. 23:17).

The Bible says in Genesis 19:24 that “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” for their practice of homosexuality. Those who condoned and tolerated the Sodomites were condemned by God. However, Kings Asa, Jehoshaphat and Josiah spoke and acted against the issue of homosexuality, They ‘did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kings 15:11, 12, 22:43, 2 Kings 22:2; 23:7). If we speak out against homosexuality, we are doing that which is right in the sight of the Lord.

Writing in Romans 1:26,27, the Apostle Paul further argues that homosexuality is depraved behaviour. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature; And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet”.

How does the church treat homosexuals?

Recognising the Bible as the authoritative standard for its faith and practice, the Church has historically and consistently held the view that the practice of homosexuality is clearly incompatible with the teachings of the Christian faith. The only sexual relationship sanctioned by God and given as a gift from God is between a male and a female within the bounds of a monogamous marriage. Therefore, we do not condone homosexual practices and we consider homosexual lifestyle as sinful and unacceptable. However, homosexuals should be regarded and treated no less as persons. Jesus loves all sinners but He hates sin. The Church should offer assistance to those who are beset with homosexual desire to receive the grace of God’s forgiveness and experience the power of God to change their lives. The road to complete restoration might be long and painful and is incumbent upon the Church to show love, compassion and empathy.

How does the society regard homosexual?

Though we deem homosexual lifestyle totally unacceptable on the basis of the Bible and our faith, we believe that unless there are legitimate reasons homosexuals, as individuals, should not be discriminated against in areas such as employment, health care and housing. It does not follow, however, that our society should be re-ordered or allowed to evolve to the extent that eventually homosexual practice is endorsed, permitted or encouraged as an alternative lifestyle. We will continue to support our Government in its current legislation concerning homosexuality; its policy of not permitting the registration of homosexual societies or clubs; and its policy of not allowing the promotion of homosexual lifestyle and activities. We will help the nation to preserve and promote wholesome values and lifestyles that will contribute to the well-being of our society.

 

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Possessed By Possessions


A person’s true life is not made up of the things he possesses, or his ability to abstain but his willingness to share what he has. Abraham who was a very rich man with sheep, goats and cattle, as well as silver and gold was commanded to bless others too. Jesus says in Luke 12:48 “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”. If we have been blessed with “much”, we are expected to give “much” but even those with a little are expected to give something. It is not the amount we have but how we are using it that is the important thing.

Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 6:19 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth”. Jesus does not say, as many wrongly quote, ‘lay not up treasure on earth’. If this is the statement, then it would be wrong to provide for old age or to put aside savings for the education of one’s children. This would be in conflict with such passages as 2 Cor. 12:14 “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” and in 1 Tim. 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”. Jesus forbid not those who set aside money for the future or making wise investments in order to be better stewards of God’s money in the days to come.

The disciple is not to lay up treasure on earth for himself. In other words the disciples should not be like a miser who heaps up treasures on earth for himself. He is stacking up the money with no active function or purpose. To selfishly stockpile treasures for ourselves with greed and covetousness is not what our Lord wants. There is no security in earthly treasure. Your jewellery can be stolen; fashionable clothes go out of date. Wars destroy property and value of money. Businesses can fail. Money can devalue. Jesus went on to illustrate the insecurity of earthly treasure. In the East wealth was preserved in three main forms – garments, grain and gold.

Garments were always an expression of wealth because they were a commodity of great value. Very often gold was woven into the garment. Gehazi, a servant of Elisha knew that garments had substantial value. He asked Naaman for a talent of silver and two changes of garments. In Joshua 7:21, Achan saw garments as a form of wealth – “I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment …and I coveted it … and I took it”. When Joseph bestowed his affection upon Benjamin, he gave him five changes of garments (Gen. 45:22). The problem with clothings that it is subject to the ravages of moth. But have you ever noticed that moths don’t eat what you wear, only what you store?

Grain was another way they stored their wealth. The rich fool said, “I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my crops and my goods” (Lk.12:18). His wealth was in grain. The word “rust” in Matthew 5:19-20 actually means “eating”. Nowhere in the Bible is it used to mean rust. The problem with grain is that mice, rats, worms and vermin like to eat it. They can eat away the wealth of the farmer. Fifteen percent of all of the stored grains in India are eaten by rats and mice.

 

Gold or precious stones as a form of wealth are exemplified in the parable of “the treasure hid in a field” (Matt. 13:44). In those days, there were no banks in which to deposit the money. To keep it in the house might allow the thief to steal it. The most common thing to do was bury it. Matthew 13:44 gives the parable of the man who found the treasure stored in a field. But thieves would lurk around at night and watch where men would bury their treasure and then go and dig it up. In addition, when a thief broke into a house, he would literally dig through the wall. It is interesting that the Greeks termed burglars “mud diggers”. The phrase “thieves break through” literally means “to dig through”. The thieves were mud diggers literally digging through the mud walls of a house. The point is if you hoard it; you can lose it because it is unsafe and insecure. Moreover, devotion to the task of accumulating wealth for oneself automatically erodes devotion to God. In the long run, treasure tends to become master, not servant.

The lesson is clear – use what you have. This applies not only to money, but to time, resources and love. What we keep we lose – what we use and give will multiply. How a man regards and uses his money will determine his character and personality. Jesus did not condemn the rich young man simply because he was rich. He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give to the poor. The reason the rich young man “went away sorrowful” was that his great possessions had taken hold of him. He did not possess them. His possession possessed him. His sin was that he laid up treasures on earth for himself. Perhaps, it is time for us to come to God with a sincere, honest, open-minded look at our ways we live. Our aim is to live simply that others might simply live.

 

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Are you a Timothy or Paul?


The United Nations defines the youths as those aged 15 to 24. Currently, there are 11.1 billion youths in the world. In Singapore, there are more than 750,000 youths and in Malaysia there are 5,013190. Those born before the Japanese occupation in Singapore received little education and training. Many who were born after Singapore’s independence had better educational level. As a result their children are highly educated and can plug into the information technology for interactive discussion and communication. Despite of all these the church is to ensure that the youths today do not lose their spiritual footing.

The challenge of nurturing the younger generation for Christ cannot be neglected. Dr. Lim Yew Cheng saw this need and scheduled me to go over to Evangel B-P Church on 23-24 June to observe the running of a youth seminar. It was timely and needful for the youths in PJ to be ministered by the MTT Ministries team from US led by Rev. Bob Landis. MTT ministries main office is at 103 Stevenson Ln. Greenville, SC 29611, USA.

MTT means ‘Make A Timothy Today’. “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Bob and his wife Joyce were graduates from Bob Jones University. While both working as youth directors, they quickly saw the importance of training young people to serve the Lord. In 1998 he founded the MTT. The training involves the taking of the young people on short-term mission trips to different states in America and to different countries around the world. Today MTT has ministered in 15 different countries and has as many as 6 teams a year. MTT is also an avenue for young people to seek God’s will or just to make a difference somewhere in the world.

The team of 10-12 members led by Rev Bob Landis and his wife Joyce, who in their 60s, were in Evangel from 21-24 June. Most of the team members are between 18-25 years of age. Pastor KK of Pasir Panjang Christ Church Singapore was the co-ordinator for accommodation, meals & transport to Evangel BPC. The youths who attended the Evangel Youth Training Seminar were mostly from non-Christian homes. They are the music students of May Lynn. Some of the areas of training at Evangel included soul winning, preaching, testimonies, story telling, hand chimes, vocal and instrumental music, drama, puppets, balloon art, chalk art and Bible stories.

“Make A Timothy Today” (MTT Ministries) is to help independent, fundamental, Bible-believing churches produce Christ-centred young people with a servant’s heart. The theme is “Moulding the next generation for Christ”. As much as we are concern for the spiritual well

being of the youth, we need to realise the needs of the adults and the elderly among us. It is important to help believers put their faith to practice at various stages of life. The different phases of life are equally crucial and related to one another.

Singaporeans are rapidly aging. According to estimates from the Department of Statistics, the nation’s population will approximately consist of 800,000 elderly folks aged 65 and above by 2030. This elderly community is expected to generate many demands related to healthcare, retirement woes and financial problems.

There are many middle aged believers who are not able to handle the many issues faced in this stage of life, e.g. marital difficulties, mid-life crises. Every stage of life presents a different set of challenges; as such, it would be most beneficial for believers to be constantly equipped themselves with God’s Word to handle confidently the many issues of life at any stage. We must not allow age to present us from believing that God still can use us.

Paul believed that even at his old age he can still trust God to help him to complete the course which God had set for him. He says in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Hence there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Recollections of Sharon BPC Youth Mission Trip to India

Sharon BPC had a similar youth mission trip to Bangalore led by Rev Ho, Rev. Jack and Angie Sin and Dr Tan and Irene on 14-22 Dec. 2011. Rev. Ho wrote: “It has been an enriching experience for the Missions Team as we went and fellowship with the brethren from a small village church at Varthur (15 Dec).

The simple belief of the village folks was a humbling experience for us. We also busied ourselves in the Lord’s work at the Family and Youth Retreat from (16-17 Dec), ministering the Word both to the adults and children. It was a great time to get to know the brethren and their zeal and thirst for the Word. On Sunday (18 Dec), we have a morning service in English, followed by the extensive Children Ministry in the afternoon and the Kannada worship service.

On the final day, we have a time of reflection and contemplation, sharing our experiences. The Missions Team thanked the Lord for answering our prayers in protecting and empowering us to do His work. The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38).

 

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Godly Rebuke Brings True Repentance


“It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools”
(Ecclesiastes 7:5).
What will your response be if you receive an email rebuking you of your errors? A typical first response would be to switch into an offensive mode, by replying with a nasty email directed to the sender, describing how wrong he was. Then, this is often followed by the defensive mode, by justifying the validity of the actions which you have been accused of, declaring how right you were. Rarely do we respond objectively to the accusations and do a self-examination before replying that email.

This could have happened to you if you were part of the church at Corinth. Though the apostle Paul did not write them an email, he did write them an epistle or a letter to rebuke them of their errors. The Church of Corinth was a gifted church. However, as abundant were their spiritual gifts, so were their sins. Divisions, strife, carnality, fornication, idolatry – you name it, they had it. The apostle Paul wrote them a weighty letter to rebuke them of their errors, so as to stop the rot. Nobody likes to be told that he is wrong. But nonetheless, the Corinthians responded positively to the godly rebuke with repentance.

That is the way with God – when we err in our ways, God sends us rebukes to help us to turn away from our sin and to turn back unto Him. One of the channels which God uses is His Word. When we read God’s Word, God uses His Word to rebuke us of our sins. God’s Word is God’s way of speaking to us – whether it be a word of comfort, encouragement or a rebuke. We never like such a rebuke from the Word of God – the truth hurts! Indeed, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Because of this, many, who are deep in their sins, are fearful to read God’s Word – for they know very well that the Word of God will surely rebuke them. How true is the saying – either the Word of God will keep you away from sin or sin will keep you away from the Word of God!

Other than His Word, God also uses His messengers to rebuke us of our sins. Many times, when we sinned against God, we thought nobody knows. But when God sent His messengers, be it preachers or fellow brethren, to speak to us, we are suddenly brought into awareness of our sins. Sometimes God works in such a way that the messengers themselves are not aware of our sins when they deliver the message to us. Many times in my preaching, some people think that I am highlighting their sins when the Word of God is preached. But the truth is that I have no idea what their sin is. In my preparation, I would seek the Lord on the message which He would want to be ministered to His people. It is the Word of God preached that convicts us of our own shortcoming. The preacher is just the vessel whom the Lord used to deliver His message. So, if the Word of God convicts us through the preaching, be thankful. It demonstrates that you are still spiritually alive and not paralysed. Without the
Spirit working in your heart, you will not be able to feel the impact of the Word of God in your live.

However, there are times also when God deliberately sends His messenger to highlight our sin. For example, God sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke King David for his secret sin. Similarly too, God used the apostle Paul to rebuke the Corinthian Church of their many sins. What lessons should we glean from this?

First, we need to be sensitive to godly rebuke, be it through God’s Word or God’s messengers. Do not develop an attitude of listening to what we like to hear only. Learn also to develop an appetite to listen to all the Lord has for us, regardless whether it is pleasant unto our soul. The Bible says, “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools” (Eccl. 7:5). True, none of us like to hear a rebuke. A rebuke does not have the melody of a song. It always hurts our feelings and our egos. At the same time, a godly rebuke can turn you away from the disaster of God’s judgment to come. Be sensitive to godly rebuke and it will help you avoid the displeasure of God.

Here is the second lesson for us – do not treat those who deliver godly rebuke to you as your enemy. The apostle Paul has this to say, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16). And again, the Bible reminds us, “5Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Prov. 27:5-6). A rebuke, when responded wrongly, could also bring an end to a friendship. But consider for a moment – if a person is willing to take such great risk to deliver a godly rebuke to you, what does this demonstrate to you? Such a person is sincere and is concerned over your soul – he is a true friend indeed who is not afraid to lose his friendship for the sake of Christ. We should learn to appreciate those whom God has sent to rebuke us and thank God for such faithful friends who are concerned for our souls.

Third, we also ought to learn to speak the truth in love, even if it is a rebuke and may not be pleasant to others. As preachers of God’s Word, we are called to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2Tim. 4:2). There is no joy in rebuking others or when we are rebuked by others. Godly rebuke is necessary to bring one to repentance. To repent, one has to make two right turns in life. First, he must make the right turn away from sin. True repentance will result in a person turning away from his sin. Second, he must also make the right turn unto God. To turn away from sin and not unto God is pride and not repentance. Take the case of Judas Iscariot who betrayed the Lord. The Bible says Judas repented but he went and hanged himself. Judas is a good example of one who turned away from his sin and yet never turned unto God in repentance. On the other hand, by turning unto God without turning away from
sin is simply hypocritical. Many people wanted to turn to God, and yet at the same time, they refuse to turn away from their sin. This is not true repentance. True repentance comes about when we make two right turns in life: turning away from our sin and turning unto God.

My dear readers, has the Word of God been rebuking you lately and you are in need of repentance? Turn away from your sin and turn back unto God. Listen to the message that Isaiah has for you: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7). May the Lord grant you a sensitive heart to His Word for His glory.

 

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Our Thanks to Dad


Father’s Day is celebrated worldwide to recognize the contribution that fathers make to the lives of their children. In Singapore it is observed on the third Sunday in June. In Thailand December 5th is Father’s Day. This is the day the present King of Thailand was born, and the Thais think of him as the “Father of the Nation”. It is appropriate for all Thais to celebrate Father’s Day on the king’s birthday. The Scripture calls kings “fathers”, “Kings shall be thy nursing fathers”. (Isa. 49:23). The call to honour the fathers whether be it kings or common citizen is biblical.

A study shows that the role of the father in the child’s development is important. The vast majority of neurotics, both children and adults, grew up in homes where there was no father or the father was absent or weak, and the mother was domineering. David neglected his son Absalom who became the greatest heartbreak of his life. You can’t neglect your children and win.

One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behaviour, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behaviour. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavioural problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem.

In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, achieve academic success and avoid drugs. In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of their children.
Good fathers reflect the Heavenly Father

The loss of a father hurts the daughter’s ability to relate healthily to males. Dad’s absence when the children are young tends to lead to immaturity and poor peer adjustment. In general children see fathers more than mothers in the setting of direction of the family. When father participates actively in child care, boys in the family are likely to be more masculine and they are able to cooperate more in school.

Many studies show that lengthy absence of the father from the home is linked with poor adjustment to adverse impact than absence because of death. Of course, some fathers tear down rather than build up. An aggressive, brutal dad who rejects or neglects a son is likely to produce a delinquent, anxious or dejected youth.

A loving father, who guides but does not arbitrarily impose his will, tends to nurture mature offsprings. God’s word to Abraham is just as significant now as 3,500 years ago – “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment”.

Stressing on the importance of fathering raises painful questions for many single motherhood. What can such mothers do? Many children without a father have found that other men in the family of faith can help fill the void, and guide them in keeping the way of the Lord. For a woman bringing up her children alone can look up to God’s people.

The gospel of Matthew begins with a long list of names tracing from Abraham to David, and from David to the family in which Jesus was born. It is instructive to observe in this list that many godly parents had wicked and ungodly sons. The names of Rehoboam, Joram, Amon and Jechonias should teach us humbling lessons. They were all wicked men unlike their pious fathers. Grace does not run in the families. It needs something more than good examples and good advice to make us children of God. They that are born again are not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13). Praying parents should pray night and day that their children may be born of the Spirit.

How thankful we can be for fathers who help their children “walk worthy of God” (1 Thess. 2:12). While 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 is primarily directed toward church leaders, Paul talks about how their role is similar to a father’s. He states: “As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged everyone of you, as a father doth his children.” The word exhorted is “to call near”. Children need their fathers to give them encouragement. The word comforted is “to console”. Nothing is more valuable to a child than the time given by a father to listen and talk. Without constant relating, relationships turn cold. Charged is “to affirm”.

Fathers challenge their children by affirming the truth of God’s Word as they live it out in front of them. And even in failings, they acknowledge what is right through the asking of forgiveness. One father summed it up this way. He said, “My family’s all grown, and the kids are all gone. But if I had to do it all over again, this is what I’d do:

 

  1. I would love my wife more in front of my children.
  2. I would laugh with my children more – at our mistakes and our joys.
  3. I would listen more, even to the youngest child.
  4. I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection.
  5. I would pray differently for my family – instead of focusing on them, I’d focus on me.
  6. I would do more things together with my children.
  7. I would encourage them more and bestow more praise.
  8. I would pay more attention to little things, like deeds and words of thoughtfulness.
  9. And then, finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family; every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day, I would use to direct them to God”.
 

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The Strengthening of the Inner man


16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:16-17).

 

Some of us have been faithfully praying for our loved ones and also of the members of the church whom we know are going through difficulties in their lives. We are concerned for them. We wanted the best for them. That was the same spirit which the apostle Paul demonstrated to others whom he ministered unto. For example, the church of Ephesus was a congregation which was very dear to the apostle. Paul enjoyed a close fellowship with the Ephesians. He constantly prayed for them. What exactly was the apostle’s prayer for them? He prayed: “16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:16-17).
Paul was not praying that they would be given the physical strength to endure trials and tribulations. Of a truth, many times, we do need the Lord to give us the physical strength to go through hardship and trials in life. Going through difficult moments in life is indeed taxing to our body and mind. However, the more needful thing, as highlighted by the apostle, is to pray for the strengthening of the inner man in us. Many times, in our prayer for others, we focused only on the physical being and forgot about the inner man, the spiritual being.
Human beings are different from other creations of God. Plants have a body that can grow. They do not have a mind to think. Animals have a body and have a mind but they live by their instincts. For example, hamsters will eat their own offspring when there is a lack space for all of them to live in. Piranhas will eat up the weaker ones among themselves and only the fittest survive. Animals have no moral and reasonable soul within them.
Human beings are different because we have an inner being, and our inner being is created in the image of God – in righteousness, knowledge and holiness (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). Our inner being distinguishes us from other creations of God. Many times, we often neglect our inner being and concentrate on the external well-being of our physical body. In this prayer by the apostle Paul, we are reminded again on how important it is to pray that others would be strengthened not only in their physical being, but also that they might be strengthened with might by God’s Spirit in the inner man.
The apostle himself was learnt this lesson from God. At one time in his life, Paul testified that he was given “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2Cor. 12:7). We do not know exactly what this thorn in the flesh was, but it must have bothered the apostle tremendously for he was led to pray three times to the Lord to remove away this physical infirmity from him. After pleading thrice, what this man of great faith got was not the removal of this thorn in the flesh. Instead, the Lord replied Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor. 12:9).
The Lord did not restore him physically. Instead, the Lord strengthened him in inner man with His grace so that Paul might be able to continue on in spite of the infirmity. And because of that, Paul can testify: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
The physical body is merely temporal. We can only grow physically up to a certain age, where our body will no longer grow, and the slow process of decay will take over. But such a fact does not apply on the inner man! Our inner man can continue to grow in faith until the day when we meet Christ face to face. In fact, the older we all, the more our inner man should grow in grace and in the faith. The growth of the inner man is never limited to the physical body.
The apostle prayed: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17). We can only have Christ in our heart by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). Every man should not only confess Christ but possess Christ in his heart. Some may have sincerely asked Christ to be their Saviour. However, they also need to make Christ their Lord too. Many people only want Christ to save them from their sins, but they would not want Christ to be Lord of their lives. They would only want Christ to be their Saviour but not their Master. To them, Christ must come when they call; and He must leave after their needs are fulfilled. The apostle Paul prayed that Christ must DWELL in our hearts. Christ must not be merely a guest to the heart, to come when needed and to disappear when not wanted. Christ must dwell within us and be a resident in our heart. My friends, is there a permanent place within your heart for Christ? If not, why?
Perhaps, one of the reasons is that you may not have fully experienced the love of God for you; you may not have fully comprehended the magnitude of the love of Christ. Jesus has loved us with an everlasting love. The Son of God left heaven’s glory and to take on the form of a lowly man out of His great love for us. His love for us led Him to the Calvary Cross to lay down His life for His beloved: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). One stanza of the well-loved hymn, The Love of God, goes: “Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry, Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.” God’s love for us extends far beyond the widest ocean and tapestry of the open sky. Such is the wonder and matchlessness of the love of God!
My dear friends, our life on earth is a pilgrimage and will never be easy. Our physical body is fragile and can be easily broken by the storms in life. What we need to do is to root and ground ourselves deeply, not in the wisdom of this world, but in our Lord Jesus Christ. At times, where you felt lonely, remember that you are not alone. Christ is with you. Look to the cross and you will see His love. Root and anchor yourself in the love of Christ and you will no longer be easily shaken in the midst of the storm. You will remain steadfast in faith because you know that no one can ever take away the love which Christ has for you: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Be strengthened in the inner man by rooting yourself in the love of Christ.

 

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