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Faith and Reason


“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1Pet. 3:15).

Faith and Reason – many people see these two entities as the source of the great conflict in our system of beliefs. Many times in our Christian walk, we are not sure whether we should possess faith and discard reason; or for that matter embrace reason and abandon faith. If we appeal solely to reason without faith, we would become liberal Christians, rationalizing every miracle in the Bible to natural dispositions and reducing the unexplained to purely myths produced from the imaginative minds of the disciples of Christ. On the other hand, if we appeal solely to faith without reasoning, we will easily become heretics, proclaiming and practicing the truth in an illogical manner no different from the mystical cults. How do we reconcile faith and reason in our system of beliefs?
What is reason? Reason is the intellectual faculty of our mind in drawing conclusions based on facts of the evidences. It must be noted that the power of reasoning is not something we should despise, in spite of the conflict that it may cause to our approach to faith. In fact, the power of reasoning is from God. The ability to think logically and systematically is a blessing from the Most High. Hence, we have systematic theology – a course which brings about the understanding of God in a systematic and logical manner.

 

Faith, on the other hand, is not rational thought; neither is it irrational. The Christian faith is not about taking a leap in the dark. A person, who closes his eyes and crosses a busy street proclaiming that he has faith in God to protect him, is not a man of faith – as such a belief is totally an alien to the biblical faith. The Christian faith is not a blind leap in the dark. At the same time, it is also not the belief in the absence of evidence. Rather, Christian faith is a belief which rests completely upon biblical evidence.

 

Faith must not be seen as being superior to reason. Ponder for a moment – without the faculty of reasoning, would you have been able to understand the Gospel when it was presented to you? The Lord says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). The Gospel presents us as sinners who are unable to cleanse ourselves of our sins. It is only the blood of Jesus Christ which is able to cleanse us. If we are to put our complete trust in Christ, though our sins are as scarlet, yet they shall be white as snow. Isn’t the Gospel reasonable? That is why the Bible exhorts us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1Pet. 3:15). Because the faith that we have come to embrace is a reasonable faith!

 

But in like manner, neither can reason be made superior to faith. Without faith, how can you believe in a Saviour whom you have not experience with your senses – see, feel and touch? No matter how logical the presentation of the Gospel is, if the Holy Spirit does not work in the heart of the hearers, they will not come to the faith.

The Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is…” (Heb 11:6). On the one hand, the Gospel must be reasonable that it can be comprehended by others; on the other, without the working of faith, one will never be drawn any closer to the heaven even when he is presented with the most reasonable Gospel. Thus, faith is subject to reason; and reason to faith, such that with both working together, one can progress in his understanding of God and His will for one’s life.

 

Take the classic case of Abraham. In Genesis 22, Abraham was called to offer Isaac as a sacrifice unto God. This put Abraham in a great conflict. Why? Because prior to that, God had revealed clearly to Abraham that the covenant which God gave him would be through Isaac (Gen 17:19). Now, Abraham reasoned, if Isaac were to be sacrificed, wouldn’t that nullified God’s promise unto him? Here, Abraham had to wrestle between faith and reason – to sacrifice Isaac against God’s covenant or to spare Isaac against God’s command. How could he reconcile between two seemingly contradicting entities? If you were Abraham, what would you do? Eventually, Abraham went to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. He believed God had given him a clear command. At the same time, Abraham reasoned that God would not contradict Himself. In fact, Abraham, in his finite wisdom, believed that Isaac would be killed in accordance to God’s command but God would raise Isaac up alive again in accordance to the promise of God’s covenant: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Heb. 11:17-18). Bear in mind, that before that, there was no such incident of the miracle of one being raised from the dead ever recorded in the Bible! Such was Abraham’s faith and reasoning. With perfect hindsight, we know that this was not what happened. Instead, God intervened as Abraham was about to offer Isaac and provided a ram for the sacrifice.

 

We may not be Abraham, but many times in our spiritual lives, like Abraham, there is always a constant struggle between our faith and our reason. We have to constantly seek wisdom from the Lord to guide us in our decision-making: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jas. 1:5). If we are certain of God’s will for our lives which is biblical, do not try to find reasons beyond the Scripture for your reluctance in walking in the will of God for you. If we are fearful, then confess our lack of faith to God, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). But if your faith is not rested upon the word of God, be reasonable as not to build up a castle on sand. Instead, acknowledge your lack of understanding and continue to search the Scripture and seek the Lord’s guidance. Blind “faith” will only lead to destruction.

 

Faith and reason are not two irreconcilable entities in our Christian faith. Instead, they are twins which are essential for us to understand God and His will for our lives. Faith and reason are not the left and the right hands – where most people are stronger in one hand than the other, and thus hardly use the weaker one. Instead, faith and reason are likened to a pair of legs; both needed equally to walk properly. Every step taken by the leg of faith is always balanced by the leg of reason. Let us learn to embrace faith and reason together as we walk with God. Let us not just hop on one leg only as we walk in the will of God. What God has given us is a reasonable faith.

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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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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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Women, Wives and Working Mothers


In the early days in China women had scant recognition in the home. They were exhorted to be dependent first on father, then on husband and finally on son. The husband could divorce his wife if she is jealous, talkative, suffering from malignant disease or committing adultery. A wife had no grounds for divorcing her husband. If she gave birth to many girls, she would simply leave her new born baby girl to die.

The most important function of the wife was to bear a son, not a daughter, for only a son could carry on the ancestor worship and the family name in succession. Without a male offspring, a woman’s status in the family was precarious. She was slightly above that of a servant. It had been said that it was “better to raise geese than girls”, “feeding girls is like feeding cowbirds”, and after all, when you raise girls, you’re raising children for strangers”. Women, according to a clan genealogy, were “by nature ignorant, narrow-minded, sly and jealous”, and according to the ancient sage Mencius, “There are three un-filial acts; the greatest of these is the failure to produce sons”.

Until 1971, among most middle and upper class Chinese, a girl had her feet painfully bound from the age of five, a condition which doomed her to a life of inactivity. “Lotus feet” symbolized the position of women in which she played a narrowly prescribed role.

God created women with an important role in the home. Paul wrote to Titus urging him to teach the older women to train the younger women to love not only their husbands but their children as well (Titus 2:3-4). Lois, Timothy’s grandmother was to show Eunice how to love her children. Whether the children are born to the couple or are adopted, they are to be loved with a love that is selfless and sacrificial.

The negative feeling of being a mother is very real especially when children are very young. Life with small children in the home is 24 hours a day duty and 7 days per week. The physical and emotion strain on a mother leads many to cast motherhood aside in preference to working outside the home. According to the poll many would respond, “No” of being a mother.

Working mothers often think it difficult to discipline their children. Disciplining children requires time, patience and love. If they have many rules and regulations, their children will either become legalistic or end up disobeying every rule they make. They must teach them principles rather than give them rules. God told the Israelites that they were to teach their children about Him when they sit down, when they walk together in the streets, when they are about to go to bed and when they get up in the morning (Deut. 6:7). This teaches us that it is important to teach our children spiritual principles at all times and on every occasion.

The mother may give the children the punishment and reasoning but if love is wanting in her handling of discipline, it will be all in vain. Her anger will not persuade her children that she is right and she will soon cease to have their respect. It is dangerous to make your children to be afraid of you. Fear puts an end to communication and worst it leads your children to lie.

In the Asian context many mothers may not feel the need to express love either by word or by deed to their children. They say they love them in their hearts. This situation can result in the children growing up with the impression that outward expression of affection is not needed. Thus, they miss one of the most effective means to express the mother’s love for their children. Gracious, loving words lift the hearts of young and old.

Scientists confirm that babies need to be touched as well as fed to survive. As our children grow, they continue to need our affection. According to a ten-year study conducted by a team of researchers at Harvard University revealed that the mother is the most important person in the child’s environment. Mothers should love their kids, talk to them, treat them with respect, expose them to interesting things, organize their time, discipline them fairly, and raise them in strong and stable families. It is a time-honoured recipe for bringing happy and healthy children.

A mother who shows her love for her son will translate the Bible for him to see and understand. How? I read of four scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful, eloquent old English. Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its literal translation, the way it moves the reader from passage to passage with accuracy from the original text. A third man preferred Moffatt because of its ease to understand and be able to capture the attention of the reader. After giving the issue further thought, the fourth scholar admitted, “I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.”

When the other scholars laughed, he responded, “Yes, she translated it. She translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw.” There was another man who saw such a translation in his lifetime. He lived in the first century. His name was Timothy. We don’t hear much about Timothy’s mother. We hear a lot about Timothy. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he refreshed his memories about his mother’s love for him (2 Tim. 2:14-15; 2 Tim. 1:5).

What most mothers miss is to encourage their children to walk in the way of the Lord. We see many children growing up warped and twisted in their personalities because of parental abuse, lack of love and communication. A child who has the misfortune of growing up in a home where he is never encouraged is like a plant growing under the shade of a boulder that never gets to see the sunlight. It is easy to heap praises upon a talented child or one who excels in studies or athletics. However, it is the weaker child who needs more reassurance. We must sense the need for such a child who may be hurting inwardly but does not express it.

 

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