Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Door of Divine Healing Ministry is NOT shut

Preamble: This is the sermon (notes) for my sermon at a Divine Healing Service, for 24 May 2014 (It flows like an article, and so, you should have no problem reading it through) [the underscorings are only to assist in my sermon delivery].

Opening text: Rev 3:7 – 8a

7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. …

No, I am NOT going to preach about the end times or anything like that.  Neither am I going to preach about the key of David specifically. 

But in 2 Tim 3:16 we read that Scripture is useful for teaching and correcting; and so, I am going to use these 2 verses to start speaking on a subject that is close to my heart – the Divine Healing Ministry.

As to the key of David, in verse 7, for today, what I want to say is that, verse 7 was saying the Lord Jesus holds the Master Key in the Kingdom. If you ask the experts in the locksmith industry, they will tell you that the Master Key can open all of a set of locks. I believe many don’t know about this. 

For example, for an entire block of locker cubicles, when I have the Master Key, I can open every one of the cubicles, even though you have your key to your cubicle.  I learned that it got to do with the rod pieces design in the locks.

And so, your locker door I open, you cannot shut, for you can shut it, I will be able to open it again. 

Verse 7 says, “What he {Jesus} opens no one can shut, …”  
Verse 8, “…… See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” 

What I am saying, is that we have Jesus, our Lord as the one having the Master Key, and so, no one can shut the door in His face, and so, too, when He opens a door for you, no one can shut it in your face.  People can try it, the demons can try it, but if the Lord intends it to be open for you, for as long as He intends, He opens it back, maybe even before you notice it, that someone is trying to shut it.

If you are asking about that part of the verse 7 that said, “and what he shuts no one can open.”, oh, that’s NOT difficult! 

If He can open a door (and He can, since He has the Master Key), He can change the lock, you cannot open it, can you? Is that NOT what you do when you lost your key to your house?  You use, say, your wife’s key (the duplicate) to open the lock, and then you change the lock, so that whoever has your lost key, he cannot open your door.

Now, what does this key and open door stuff got to do with the place of the healing ministry in the church?

Is there a legitimate place for the healing ministry in the church, today? 

Does God heal people of sicknesses or demonization or demon-possession, in this modern time? 

We know from Scriptures, God opened the doors of various ministries in His church. 

Eph 4:11 gives us this: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,” 

Then we also read in 1 Cor 12:28, this: “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.”  

People like to talk about the Eph 4:11 list as the 5 fold ministry, put down by the Apostle Paul. 

But 1 Corinthians was also penned by Paul, and it has the mix of the gifts of the Holy Spirit with some of the ministries falling under the 5 fold ministry, and Paul did word them as God appointed them in the church. 

So, is healing a legitimate ministry in the church; we see it in the 1 Cor 12:28 list, together with some of the 5 fold ministry, don't we?  It is a legitimate ministry, if we are prepared to be plain about it. 

Additionally, James 5:14 said this: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”

God has opened the healing ministry door in His church at large, no one should or can shut it.  But today, we do find many churches all over the world, and even in Singapore, they do NOT believe in doing the healing ministry. 

Many churches will pray for you for other things, like to find a life-time partner or a job, but when you are sick in the body, they will NOT pray for you to be healed by God. 

But why?

A common reason given is that, that ministry door was already closed with the passing on, of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, arguing that the foundation of the Church has already been laid.

But unfortunately, if that is the correct way to look at it, (to me) then people have NOT been true to themselves, for if the healing ministry door is closed, the same could also be said of the 5 fold ministry, for commonly Eph 4:12-13 is linked back to Eph 2:20 by people to support Church foundation completion, when Eph 4:12-13 was directly flowing from the 5 fold ministry (the 5 fold ministry is listed for us in v11). 

If foundation completion meant cessation of ministry, then 5 fold ministry was to cease as well.  But we can see that the 5 fold ministry is alive in the very churches which accept NOT, the healing ministry or ministry having elements of being supernatural.

There is a deception or delusion in our community that some of us are given in, to.  Now, if a person comes to you asking you to pray for him to get a job or a life-time partner, you will pray for him; you would, wouldn’t you?

But another who is sick, you will NOT(?), on the purported belief that if the sick gets healed that would be supernatural.  The door of the supernatural, purportedly, has been closed and so, you would NOT do it – to pray for the sick; you think you would be going against the Word if you do so?! 

Let’s ask ourselves, for the job-seeker, do you believe God would help him to get a job, when you pray for him?  Yes or No? 

No!  That would be you are against the Word, praying in disbelief!  We ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we do that!  Still pray when you don't believe in God's intervention. 

Now, if you believe God would intervene for the job-seeker, then wouldn’t that be supernatural.  That is the valid definition of supernatural, is it NOT? – God intervenes, giving rise to the impossible (or near impossible) becoming possible. 

When God intervenes, that is no longer natural, it is supernatural.  You can believe for God to intervene in all other things, but NOT when people are in need of healing?!  Why? Healing a bad thing? No-right! Is there NOT a deception or delusion?

I can give you some of the reasons (including real excuses) why some leaders are NOT praying for the sick, but I will NOT do it, today, because of time.

Rather, I want to stress to you that the healing ministry door was opened and still remains open; although Man will still die.

Sorry, no immortality for Man, even for the great healing ministers like Kathryn Kuhlman; but God healing people, and eventually people still die, is reconcilable by the Word; one day I will preach on it. 

That we, men, still die, that does NOT mean we should acquiesce (agree) with sickness. 

If you are sick, go see a doctor; go get prayed for (James 5:14).

Even when it is near impossible to be healed, be of right posture and continue to look to God for healing; meanwhile live life courageously despite limitations from your sickness; don’t give up. 

In Singapore, there are still some churches which have the healing ministry; and the International Healing Room Ministry has a few centres in Singapore, too. 

These are telling us that despite many churches shutting the door, God still keeps the door open. 

On a more personal level, when individuals shut the door, God will raise up other individuals who would minister healing; God still keeps the door open.

There are several grounds supporting the position that the door is still open (apart from the direct NT verse of James 5:14), but I will cover only one more, today (because of time-constraint), and then we will move into the ministry time, where we will pray and minister to those with needs.

What is this " one-more" ground?  It is this: That Jesus did so much of it (healing), in His earthly ministry, and what He said about signs and wonders, and miracles that we would do after Him, are pointing to it, the healing ministry door is still open.

I will skim through some of the healings accounts in the Word to show that Jesus and His then disciples did a lot of healings.  Because of time-constraint, I will just look at those in the Matthew Gospel. 

Be encouraged and let faith arise as we quickly go through them:

Healing of the “are you willing” leper: Matt 8:2-3 - A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.

Healing of the servant of the “Centurion of great faith": Matt 8:5-10, 13 - 5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, of her fever: Matt 8:14 - When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

Demons cast out and all sick THERE healed: Matt 8:16-17 - When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”

Healing of all kinds of sicknesses and diseases by Jesus: Matt 9:35 - Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  

Healing of various sicknesses, including expelling demons, by the disciples: Matt 10:1, & 7-8  - He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Matt 10:1). Jesus’ instructions - As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Although here, in the Matthew’s gospel, there was no direct mention of actual healings done by the apostles (here we see Jesus sending them out), but in Acts 5:16, it was recorded for us, many sick, demonized and demon-possessed people were healed by the apostles.

A Gentile's daughter healed by Jesus (we can pray for non-believers to be healed): Matt 15:22-28 - A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Mute, crippled, lame, blind, etc. healed by Jesus at one seating: Matt 15:29-31 - Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Now if Jesus spent much time healing the sick, and also sent out His then disciples to do the same, can we easily dismiss the healing ministry, saying that the door has been closed?! Think about that. 

In fact, Bible scholars tell us that about 2/3 of Jesus' public ministry, and nearly 20% of the Gospel books' content, were devoted to healing.

Then there was the "much of the signs and wonders and miracles of Jesus (and those of the then disciples) were related to healing"; and in the Great Commission commandment given by Jesus to us all, we see signs and wonders and miracles, including healings, in it.

Great Commission: Mark 16:15-18 - 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

[I am going to draw to a close ....]
I believe some in our community is barking at the wrong tree – it is NOT the foundation of the Church is completed or NOT, rather is the Great Commission completed or NOT.  As long as the Great Commission is still on-going, signs and wonders and miracles, including healings (and that includes casting out of demons), will still go on – The Divine Healing Ministry Door is NOT shut.

1. Our Lord has the key of David, the Master Key that can open all doors and so, too, He can shut any door, and so, He controls all the doors, including the door of ministries in the Church.
2.  Ministries did NOT necessarily cease with the Church foundation completion. 
3. Divine Healing Ministry Door is still open.  Various grounds for that position.  2 looked at, today:  James 5:14 & Jesus ministry, together with what He said in the Great Commission Commandment to us.
Now, don’t say the Divine Healing Ministry is no more, rather go through the door, and seek the Lord on how to operate in the Ministry.  And for those needing healing, believe and go through the door.  This is our heritage; don't let people tell you no more healing will God do in the Church; that is a lie.

                                     ooo END ooo

Anthony Chia high.expressions

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Seeking after God

Today, we will take a look at seeking after God, and the things of God.  What does it mean by “to seek God”, that we often find in Scripture, in both OT and NT?  Could it be that it was referring to a one-off event or occasion?  Or was it often carrying the connotation of a present perfect continuous tense of “always seeking”?

I once read someone (an overly grace or hyper-grace chap) wrote “this Matt 6:33 verses does NOT apply to us, for we, believers {he meant they, overly grace or hyper-grace believers) are already righteous”.  What does Matt 6:33 say?  This is what it says:

Matt 6:33 (Amplified Bible) - But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

So, there are believers out there, from skewed teachings of their leaders, believe that they are no longer to be seeking any more, the kingdom of God and His righteousness, on the ground that they were told that once they have converted (into a believer), they are completely righteous, perfect even, and have since, be with the full mind of Christ; and that they cannot be, of any other way; and cannot be unrighteous at any point in time anymore; for their belief is that all their sins, including FUTURE ones had been forgiven them at their moment of conversion!  So, to them, essentially, seeking is for the non-believers, and once conversion has taken place, no seeking necessarily; rather their motto is “just bask in grace” (although, it is clear that this Matt 6 was addressing believers {and NOT non-believers}) [If you want a proper exposition of this Matt 6:33 text – click here].

Is there or is there NOT, seeking God, for the believer?  If you so decide like what this chap I referred to, decided, that as a non-believer, you sought, and when you have become a believer, you have found, and there is no more seek or seeking necessary, you will likely to see no impetus to carry yourself in the way Christians are commonly expected to. 

Purportedly, you don’t need to go to church (you are forever righteous; nothing you can know that can change that; it is a voila, already), don’t need to take in, any more of the Word (you have the full mind of Christ); no need to refrain from sins (for all sins, inclusive of FUTURE ones had already been forgiven); don’t need to be counselled or taught of the ways of God (you got the full mind of Christ; purportedly, anything God instructs, you would already know and doing!  No “should” or “ought” necessary?!)

The “I am done seeking, for I am already righteous” posture will cause one to ignore many more of the very fundamental and base requirements of God, for one to walk with God.  Or maybe such people believe they are walking with God! 

Are you in a close walk with God?  The “walk with God”, in Scripture referred to the close walk, the pleasing and satisfactory walk with God.  There are a couple of people in Scripture said to have “walked with God”.  They included Enoch, and we will take a look at him:

Gen 5:21-24 (Amplified Bible) - 21 When Enoch was 65 years old, Methuselah was born. 22 Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him]. Heb 11:5-6 (Amplified Bible) - 5 Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. 6 But {For} without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists {God is} and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

The “walk” of Enoch is understood as a habitual walk or a walk in habitual fellowship with God or walk in “a manner of life” given over to God.

Enoch lived 365 years.  He did NOT walk with God from day 1; he started walking with God from the age of 65, after the birth of his son, Methuselah. 

Gen 5:22 said that he walked with God for 300 years, before he was taken up (bypassing mortal death) to Heaven by God.  From Heb 11:5-6, we are further told that his walk had been pleasing and satisfactory to God for the reason that he had walked with faith, with God.

The author of Hebrews gave a dual fundamental truth in Heb 11:6, and they are:

1.   Without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to God; and
2.   To come close to God one must “believe God exists and that He rewards” those who earnestly and diligently seek Him.

I will NOT elaborate further here on the faith-truth, that without faith it is impossible to please God.  We will take a more in-depth look at this faith aspect, another time.

Here I will concentrate on the second of the dual-truth. What does it mean “believe God exists and that He rewards” those who ….?  Now, does it mean so narrowly like, “You have to believe God exists, the opposite being you don’t believe He exists”?  I don’t think so. 

If you have NOT believed He exists, you would NOT have become a believer in the first place.  Generally speaking, the Book of Hebrews was directed at believers, and so, this phrase could NOT be about whether or NOT one believes God exists.  Also, to read it so narrowly would be incompatible to the previous verse of referring to a habitual walk with God.  A believer obviously believe God exists; that is the bare minimum; he may NOT know enough about God (his character, his ways, his truths, etc), but he believes God exists. 

Rather, it is more of, it is saying that you have to believe God will come near you as you come near Him {and so, the translation of “God is” is preferred by me}; and His coming near you is the reward of your seeking.  If you earnestly and diligently seek Him, He would be come and “meet” you, or He let Himself to be met by you; or He would come and walk with you, or He let Himself to be pursued and followed by you (or be walked with, by you).  James 4:8a - Come near to God and he will come near to you.

If one believes, like the overly grace chap I mentioned above, who thinks that he seeks NOT anymore; and so, he, making the scriptures on seeking irrelevant to him, would miss the habitual fellowship walk with God; he would miss “be pleasing and satisfactory to God”, for he would have thought (true to his belief) there is just no more condition(s) to pleasing God, and when such is his belief, he would have just assumed God is walking WITH him. 

Once, I followed a blog of an overly grace believer (a UK chap) for sometimes; and he talked about his journey from IC (institutional churches – traditional ones), to CC (cyber churches – the overly grace ones), to “Once you laid hold of “you are just to bask in grace” {of the grace revolution (teaching)}, you have the “permissive will” of God to live life as you think fit”!  [I am NOT saying there is no such thing as the “permissive will” of God, but it must necessarily be framed against the character of God and His ways; the unqualified “as you think fit” is very dangerous!]

In other words, he has come to believe, through the overly grace teachings that God is walking with him, and he is free to live as he deems fit.  Purportedly, he believes the gift of salvation has forced the hand of God(!) to walk with him!  The overly grace believers, though they do NOT openly admit it, they are purporting “God, you alone, got my butt into salvation, you MUST keep my butt in!  God, you walk me-lo”.  The correct understanding is that it is God is FAITHFUL, NOT God MUST; people fail to see “being faithful” is NOT the same as MUST (as in no choice); being faithful, does NOT necessarily mean God MUST!

Why “seek” is NOT a one-off, but a “seeking after”. The primary reason is because God is holy, and He is unchanging.  Holiness characterises God.  Meaning?  He sticks to holiness, and thinks and does no evil.  When we are evil or unrighteous, we separate ourselves from Him, and so, the walk would no longer be a close one.  Because we are still having the fallen flesh, and we are still in the world (although we are no longer of the world) their desires (both from the flesh {fallen flesh} and world {allures of the world}) can draw us into sins and unrighteousness; and so, we, as believers, still could draw away from our close walk with God or the Lord.

In the above, I quoted James 4:8a as “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” The rest of the verse (James 4:8), reads “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  See, there is condition to His drawing near to you; it is NOT God does NOT want to draw near; but if you don’t wash your hands, you don’t purify your hearts, and you are double-minded, you are keeping God at bay. 

The “double-minded” referred to, in James 4, is about the wavering between giving in to the desires of the Spirit (which leads to walking with God), and those of the fallen flesh {Gal 5:17 – desires of the flesh and Spirit are mutually opposing} and the world {James 4:4 – friendship with the world is enmity with God}, both of which, of the fallen flesh and world, are being used by the Devil (and so, following after them could lead you to be deceived by the Evil One).

If you do NOT understand this, soon enough you could fall to sin, and worst still, under the overly grace teaching of purported unchanging righteousness and perfection the moment one is saved, you could think and be deceived into believing that nothing is amiss.

The argument that God is still with us, for God, by His Spirit, indwells us, and so, is walking WITH us (regardless), is NOT correct.  God is omnipresent, and God by His Spirit indwells every believer, but there is a place you will NOT find God is WITH you?  Is there such a place?  “I thought Scripture told us that we cannot hide or run away from God; in the depth of the sea, He is there, into the heaven (sky), He is there; how come, you say there is a place we will NOT find God is WITH us?” 

That place is evil; in evil God is NOT!  I mean God is present, for He, by His Spirit indwells you, but He is NOT present WITH you; He is present but NOT present WITH you.  In evil God is NOT WITH you; He sees you doing evil, but He is NOT WITH you.  The “WITH you” is what we are talking about.  I repeat, James 4:8 tells us that we got to wash our hands, purify our hearts, and NOT be double-minded (James 1:7 – Don’t expect to get anything if you are double-minded; double-minded is also about flip-flopping in the belief of God’s truth). 

Now, you also cannot be proud; James 4:6 – “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”  (But we will NOT dwell into this, here).

The Holy Spirit can be like a guest in your home; He may NOT be with you with some of the things you do in your home.  And if you just “park Him at one corner, and show Him the sign, “Don’t interfere”, He may just sit there and do nothing, and is grieved by you. 

If we honestly want to please God and be satisfactory to Him, we should be giving the Holy Spirit free reign in us; that we should allow Him to prompt us, anything and everything that irks Him, and we have to response positively to His promptings.  If we ignore His prompting, then He may stop prompting.  The Spirit of God does NOT generally go round overwriting your volition.  Seeking after God is allowing the Holy Spirit to tells us what we are to do or NOT to do, and we following such dictates of the Spirit.

In the psalms, we read this: Ps 105:4 - Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.  The Hebrew word for face, here, is the same word also translated as presence.  This means we are to seek God’s presence always, remembering now that it is NOT mere presence, but God’s presence as in He is WITH us.  We look to Him in our endeavour, and rely on His strength; and this means we exercise faith for the endeavor; we do NOT depend fully on our own strength.

People tended to forget that the presence of God can be good or bad; it is good when He is WITH you; bad, and can be very bad indeed, if He is AGAINST you.  When we seek His presence, we have to get to “He is WITH us”. These verses from Hebrews 10 remind:

Hebrews 10:26-31 - 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. [This definitely is referring to believers]

For another NT text on “seek God” is NOT a one-off thing, we look at Acts 15:17 

Acts 15:17 - that the rest of mankind may seek {seek after [KJV]} the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, …

The context of this verse is that Paul and Barnabas had gone to the Council at Jerusalem and talked to the Council concerning what God had been doing among the Gentiles (including signs and wonders).  The Apostle James was here quoting what was happening was in agreement with what the prophets had said.  We can see that the text said that, that even believing Gentiles might seek after the Lord; and so, the “seeking God” is NOT referring to just non-believers seeking God (or that when any of them do find God, that would spell the end of their seeking God).  We, as Gentile believers, are to seek after the Lord; in fact, be seeking after the Lord, always.

Another NT text pointing to seeking rather than a one-off "searched and found", is this Colossian text, Col 3:1-2.

Col 3:1-2 – 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

The things above, in the Colossian text refers to the Lord and things of the Kingdom.  The Lord was from above; Jesus said this, in John 8:23, “…, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

The text began with since our entry into salvation, meaning “from then on, we are to ….[do certain things]”; and then, setting our hearts on something, clearly carries the connotation of perseverance of a position/posture taken; and perseverance necessarily involves length of time, like in one’s life or one’s walk, with God.  If you are still NOT convinced of the connotation, see this OT verse from 1 Chronicles 22.

1 Ch 22:19 (KJV) - Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God;…. (ESV) -  Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.

The context of this 1 Ch 22 text is that King David was speaking to his son, Solomon; following this command, he, David, asked his son, Solomon to build the Temple.  Solomon was instructed to set his heart and soul to be seeking the LORD always, but we know from Scripture, later in life, King Solomon, neglected this command; he sinned, neglected to purify his heart and was double-minded. 

Solomon was persuaded by his concubines to support the worship of pagan gods, including building high places for the pagan gods.  For this failure of King Solomon, the United Monarchy of Israel got split; the house of David ended up with only Judah in the south, with the Benjamin tribe still loyal to the house; the rest of the 12 Tribes (10 of them) broke away, after King Solomon’s rule.

Here is another warning by King David to his son, Solomon:

1 Ch 28:5-10 (KJV) - 9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

I hope it is clear enough that it is foolhardy to think that once we have converted (into a believer), we have done seeking God and the things of God. God is holiness and righteousness; and He is unchanging; us?! We have to continue to pursue His Kingdom and His righteousness in order to walk with Him - one who is holy and righteous; and it is also, we need to walk with Him in order that we can be victorious in our pursuit of His Kingdom and His righteousness.

In John 15, Jesus spoke about the mutual abiding of the vine and branches.  Jesus is the vine, we believers are the branches. Is it you are converted, you are done seeking?  No, let me explain below:

Jesus said in John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Now, for the transitional phase of Jesus was still walking the earth, the disciples were converted by the word/teaching of Jesus (they had received in).  Jesus said they were made clean by His word (forgiven, atoned for).  However, immediately after that, in v4, Jesus added, “Abide in me, as I also abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me.  It is indeed, Jesus has come, and we have been cleansed (forgiven and atoned of our sins, when we entered into salvation), yet Jesus added that we are to abide in Him; NOT just He will abide in us; but we are to abide in Him [first], and He will [continue to] abide in us. 

What is all the abiding for?  It is so that the branch can go on to be fruitful.  People have to understand, what fruit is borne is NOT determined by the branch but the vine; in other words, it is NOT the vine follows after the branch.  The fruit is the fruit of the vine.  What it means is that we seek after God and NOT the other way round; He is the unchanging one; we are to ones who need to be changing/be transformed continually by seeking after Him and the things of His kingdom. 

In v8 of that John 15, Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  What does this suggest? It is suggesting, from the fruit of your life (your living), people can see you are indeed the branch of the vine.  You and I got to be bearing the same fruit as the vine, and it is the fruit of the vine, NOT our own fruit. This cannot result unless you and I are abiding branches to the vine, or we are seeking after God and the things of God, on-going. If you are trying to bear your own fruit instead of His fruit, He is NOT WITH you, on the other hand when you are bearing His fruit, He is WITH you. 

What is our own fruit and that of the vine?  The former is fruit of our flesh {fallen flesh}, the latter, of the spirit, the Spirit of God.  Getting yourself to be led by the Spirit of God is to be seeking after God.  Scripture (Rom 8:14) has it as “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the [true] sons of God.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

They know the truth, but they don't attempt to live it

Romans 1:29-32 - 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The crux of the matter is perhaps some people are NOT accepting there is indeed a creator, omnipotent and holy God.  When one is NOT accepting there is that God, then quite obviously, the focus is then shifted to ourselves, men.  But when that happens, this creeps in – “each to his own” (if possible). 

When men look at other men or themselves, soon enough they realise there are so much inadequacy with men.  And so, submission to another or even to the authority is often something we do NOT want to accept.  “Why must I?” is almost always asked.  Often, without God in the picture, it all comes down to these:

1. If I cannot fight it and win, I will submit; otherwise, why submit?;

2. If I can get away with it, I will NOT submit; and

3. If I believe life is just scores of years, at best, why NOT live and let live.

Righteousness often, then gets defined with the above in mind, although as Christians or believers, we know of righteousness as righteousness of God.  Instead of looking at the angle of what God considers as right or wrong, men come up with their own versions of righteousness.  If I cannot fight you and win, then what you say counts-lo; I will do as you say!  In such a case, one’s righteousness is the righteousness of the men in control over him.  For example, if the men in control, and so, is his authority, say, “if you kill someone, you just need to pay a fine of $10K”, he takes that as righteousness, and he would go kill someone, and then pays up the fine, and walks away.

Then, many subscribe to “if I can get away with it”, then it is NOT wrong-lo.  And so, such a person’s righteousness is like shifting sand or shadow; depends-lo!

The live and let live people, in the extreme, don’t give a damn about righteousness; do whatever you want to do, only that you don’t impact me, negatively, please; myopic, for sooner or later, they will be impacted by the actions of others.  Perhaps, they accepted this, “If die, die-lo!”

But is it really possible for someone to kill another, and then pays up the miniscule fine, and walks away as if he has just killed a chicken?  I don’t think so, at least NOT at the first time he did it.  The same can be said of the person cheating in an examination but is NOT caught.  Also, for the person who just does whatever his carnal flesh tells him.

It was NOT meant to be, but Man had partaken of the Fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, and so, is with sense of good and evil, even though he is “ill-equipped” to handle it. Knowledge of good and evil, in and of itself is NOT, not good; it was just that Man was then inadequate to handle it (and so, God told Man NOT to eat from the Tree).  It, the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, nonetheless did something to Man.  Man’s “eyes” were open (Adam's and Eve's eyes, from the Fall, were opened, to shame). 

In a sense, Satan or the ancient serpent gave Man (opened up Man to) that knowledge of good and evil, but because he (Satan) has also, at the same time, worked an agency in us all, down the lineage of Man, and this agency, I call Iniquity, it (the agency) often voices to us, “It is alright NOT to be good all the time”.  If you and I listen to it, it ensnares us; and over time, our conscience becomes seared, and “black and white” gets all mixed up, so to speak.  We then find it difficult to stick to good; and when we do evil often enough, we become “comfortable” in it, but the knowledge of good and evil still stares at us; only that many of us, look the other way, to avoid the rising up of internal turmoil.  Adam and Eve had nakedness (shame from it) staring at them (after they fell), and what they did to “look the other way” was to cover it up! 

[As a side, this is something to think about:

Adam and Eve used leaves to cover up; most temporal indeed, soon enough, they would have to face that which gave rise to internal turmoil.  God then provided a less temporal covering; He made animal skin as covering.  This veiling that we see it recorded in Genesis was foreshadowing the veiling of what was holy from the unholy or what is righteous from the unrighteous.  Man was holy and righteous until he fell;  Man got increasingly worse, although at the beginning after the Fall, Man was still “NOT that bad”, so much so that Scripture still recorded God coming to Man, and helped Man, even with the birth of the first sons of Man (Cain and Abel, and Seth).  The leaves or animal skin was a veil, and it foreshadowed the veil God also put, subsequently between Him (holiness) and the fallen people (unholy).  This veil was represented by the veil in the temple, separating the Holy of Holy (where God was) from the rest of the outer area of the Temple; and Jesus’ works on the cross, was what removed that veil.

The veil has been removed indeed; a “through Christ Jesus” way has been opened whereby we can come before His Holiness, and whereby we can, NOT look the other way or hide, but can live out the truths and ways of God, the righteousness of God.  The victory has indeed been won, yet the “through Christ Jesus” way is “we enforcing that victory of Christ Jesus”; that we, men, believers, fighting “violently” (Matt 11:12), the resistance still being put up by the dark principality of Satan who still roams the earth where we, mortal men, are, presently.  And so, as a gospel message, men can only begin [our] victorious life, by coming into salvation offered by Christ Jesus, the Son of God.]

That is what most people do, they look the other way or refuse to confront the unrighteousness that they are in, or that they are outside of truth. Truth sets us free, said Scripture, yet often truth can have a way of making one uncomfortable first (like godly sorrow), before the person acknowledges the unrighteousness in question, and wants to do something about it.

Ps Prentis, my long-distance pastor friend, in his blog entry (“They know the truth”), covered much reasons/excuses of people NOT walking in truth.  Perhaps, needing to be stressed is the issue of one needing to develop self-control, and perseverance (in righteousness).  This is still so, that we need to develop self-control, and perseverance (in righteousness), after we have become a Christian or believer.  To know the truth is one thing, to walk in the truth is another.  Although, Scripture said that truth sets you free, it really is truth lived out that set you free (the Hebrews understood it that way – got to live it out).  To murder is wrong; that is a truth, and you can know the truth, but if you still kill anyway, the truth has NOT set you free; in fact, it condemns you. 

How is the truth of ‘murder is wrong’ sets one free?  When lived (truth of ‘murder is wrong’ lived), the person just won’t be double-minded about it anymore (already decided, die, die won’t kill); he does NOT expense energy on it anymore, or let turmoil to rise in him, concerning it; he is free, in that sense, isn’t it NOT!  On the other hand, another who is NOT living the truth (of murder is wrong), he is NOT free, for the Iniquity agency voice of “It is alright NOT to be good all the time”, still hits him often, “disturbing” (one who is no longer double-minded, is NOT “disturbed”/moved by such); and it is often, for he is still double-minded about the matter.  Resolve or self-control and perseverance are therefore very important in the life of a Christian or believer; and Gal 5 gives us that self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit to be developed by the believer.

Self-control means there is a battle going on; the self or the flesh (or fallen flesh or carnal flesh; the Iniquity agency is in the flesh) desires something, something which is self-gratifying; and the control is to put a lid on self’s desire, so to speak – have it denied or have a control of it.  Jesus in Luke 9:23 said that we are to deny ourSELVES, and take up daily, our cross and follow Him.

For a matter of righteousness or unrighteousness or truth or untruth, there is a fight or “violence” until won!  Matt 5:29 painted the picture – “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

If your right eye is won over, gouge it out and throw it away!  It is when self-control is had (has won), that you are free; you are free to look at anything, but will automatically turn from that which would contaminate your soul.  The Apostle Paul said this in 1 Cor 10:23, “…. I have the right to do anything"--but not everything is constructive {edifying}.”

What is behind these words of Jesus: Matt 11:12, "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force."?  It is first of all NOT suggesting we take up arms and fight other men.  Well, on a personal level, we are to win over every area of unrighteousness that still shames us; remember, we cannot just cover it up or look the other way.  And on a corporate level, the Church must fight against unrighteousness within herself, in order that she can be the unblemished Bride.  Is it NOT true; on a personal level, there are areas we know what the truths of God are, yet we have NOT won the fight (some NOT even fight it); we know the truth but we are still NOT free, yet.  Fight the self-control fight, we must.  The same goes for the corporate Church.  Don’t give up, persevere.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pleasing God - walking in faith

Article text
Heb 11:6 (KJV) - But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Do we really want to please God?
Do we really want to please God?  I find that perhaps, we genuinely desire and will go about pleasing another only when we are truly loving the other. 

There are of course, many motivations that can be cited for us to please another; where at the base of them, is the question of “what is in it, for me?”  I speak from first-hand knowledge that when this (“what is in it, for me?”) is frequently posed in a family setting, trouble maybe coming, divorce etc. may even be, in the works.  Why?  Because the true love component is ceasing.

You need to be loving God
When the other party is God, I believe it is also similar; i.e. you will only in a mode of wanting continually, to please God, when you are loving God. 

The posture that we should be having, should NOT be, “I will please God because I want this or that!”  When it is so, when you don’t have this or that which you need God to give it to you, you don’t please Him, or He becomes furthest from your heart and mind. 

It is NOT so, when we are loving certain individuals, like our spouse or children; for them, don’t you always think of them (they will come into your mind) when something to be decided will impact/affect them.  You will have their interest and welfare at heart all the time.  You will think about whether they will lack something, for example, when you are considering to be away for a time.

In love, you will heed
When we love another, we would like to please that someone, generally speaking.  And we will give heed to what will please that someone. 

Very simple, if that someone does NOT like durian, don’t buy him/her durian; if he/she likes custard apple, then get him/her custard apple. So, it is with God.  If we love God, we should like to please Him, and we should give heed to what will please Him, God. 

God said faith is needed
And so, if God has said, and He has said, without faith it is impossible to please Him, then we should develop our faith and move in faith, and NOT neglect the development of our faith and go about things without faith.

Posture of faith – 2 angles
What does it mean to be with a posture of faith?  One can look at it from various angles.  Two angles I will touch on, here. 

Angle no. 1 - Fear NOT, but are you walking after & with God
One, faith is like you fear NOT when you get up an SIA plane and fly to, say, USA.  You don’t worry if the pilot is fit to fly or NOT, or if the plane is air-worthy or NOT, or that some terrorists are on the plane, and the plane may be forced to plunge into the Empire State building. 

God is much, much and much better than SIA.  If you don’t worry with SIA, how more you should NOT worry with travelling with God (or walking or moving with God)!  SIA may get you to where you want to go, in time and comfortably too; “that is your reward for your “faith” in SIA”.  God NOT only get you to a place, and in more than in 1-piece, so to speak, He will get you to where He knows best for you, and you will be with peace and joy, NOT only when you reach the destination but along the way.  Will you have faith in God, the Almighty?!

When we fly on SIA, there are rules and regulations you have to abide by, including things you should and should NOT do.  You cannot for example, say, “I will NOT eat plane food; I will lit up naked fire and cook my own food”.  That would be disastrous if one or more people do that! 

Another silly example, but nevertheless is a valid one, is that you cannot say, “I want to sit outside of the plane!”  No, you cannot open the plane door in mid-air and decide you want to sit outside of the plane! 

It is so, too, when you walk with God, there are rules and regulations  (those who say they are saved by grace and purport that, that “saved by grace” meant that there are no rules and regulations, are plain na├»ve). 

So, while it is true there is nothing to fear when you are walking with God, but the issue is how are you walking with God? Are you really walking with God? Are you having the situation of “God is going there, but you are NOT going there, but here?!”  Or are you ignoring “Hey, you cannot get to the outside of the plane!” (so to speak).  You can try it, NOT be “an obedient passenger”, and see what will happen. On second thought, don’t do it, don’t blame me if you are man-handled!  God is graceful and merciful, still you and I cannot profane His grace. 

Are you walking after and with God?  The walk with God is a walk “after and with” God.  It is NOT God to walk with you, but it is you follow God.  It is you follow Him, and you walk with Him.  If you follow Him NOT, you won’t be walking with Him, no matter what you may think or say!  Therefore, walking with God, always involves seeking Him, and earnestly and diligently, too.

Angle no. 2 - Leave room for God
What is the other posture of faith that I want to touch on?  It is connotated in this “Surely, you do NOT need to do, to this extent!”  Or another simple way to put it, “Leave room for God”. 

Are you God or God is God?  Is it NOT you are following Him; or is it you are saying He is following you?  If you leave no room for God to do His part, you are in fact, NOT following Him; you are saying, “You just watch and see; or you (God!) tag along”  If there is any tagging along, it is you and I, tag along God, NOT the other way round! 

When we try in the extreme to cover all grounds, so to speak, it is NOT only, we have no faith, we are saying (to God) we are on our own!  And that is pride!  Needless to say, God is NOT pleased with a prideful person (James 4:6)

Don’t get me wrong; I am NOT saying God cannot be expecting you and I, to be able to independently do certain things.  Maybe an illustration is this: 

When you are small, a child, your father or mother may teach you how to brush your teeth, but now you can brush your teeth, and your father or mother is NOT at all bothered with this activity of yours, although they would still be keen to know if you brush your teeth regularly. Is your dad NOT interested in your life anymore?  If He loves you, you try getting married, all without him (NOT informing him, NOT getting his views, NOT involving him in the wedding proper, etc), you can see if he is pleased or NOT.  Of course, he is (interested in your life), and of course, he is NOT pleased.

Don’t stray, don’t run ahead
Of course, in our walk with God, it can also be that we run ahead of God; but don’t do that.  We are sheep, He is our Shepherd; we still are to follow Him, or we may fall into the ravine, for example; painful for us and painful for God!  You and I, should NOT stray from, and we should NOT run ahead of, our Shepherd.

Can please without faith?
Now, can you and I please God without faith?  We may do a thing or two, without faith or without specific regard to God, or as NOT unto God (like brushing your teeth; even this, can be argued to be with faith), but as a walk (and if you looked at the earlier verse, Heb 11:5 {blog text is Heb 11:6}, you see it there, a walk with God {Enoch’s walk with God – Gen 5:24}), you cannot be pleasing to God, if you operate without faith, so very often.

Heb 11:5 (KJV) - By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

This Hebrews 11:5 was quoted from Gen 5:21-24.

Gen 5:21-14 (KJV) - 21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: 22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

The Genesis passage above revealed to us, that Enoch did NOT walk with God from day one, but after he reached 65 years old, and he walked with God for 300 years before he was translated to Heaven, by-passing mortal death.

But, but …
But I could be wrong, make the wrong move, when I try to walk in faith (that is why I walk in FACTS/SIGHT), then how, bro Anthony?  You ask yourself: Isn’t He your Lord, and isn’t He faithful, and isn’t He mindful of you and caring of you, and isn’t He all capable, and knows how to take care of you meanwhile, if you will love and call unto Him; and isn’t He to you, dependable?  Only this (I say): “Will you die, die, follow Him?

But bro Anthony, how can I begin to move in the right direction of operating always with faith?  For a start, get into this posture (meaning, always, asking): “What would Jesus do, for this thing, situation or scenario?  This puts us into the mode of doing thing as unto the Lord.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions
PS: I have arrived?  No.

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