Mar 30, 2009

Being Born

Then God said, "Let Us make man in our image, after our likeness….. (Gen 1:26)

then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Gen 2:7)

There are many today who champion evolution. Some Christians will even concede that creation did not “happen”; that it was not within six physical days that the universe was created. Do we thereby deny the inerrancy of the written word? Can we continue to hold that the bible be true; that God created man and “it was evening and morning the sixth day”.

Humankind is born of woman. It is often overlooked that a man has no choice and plays no role over his own birth. A man cannot will his own birth, he has no choice over his parentage, his conception or his birth. As Nicodemas had said, a man cannot go back into his mother’s womb. He could much less choose which womb to return to. That which is born of flesh is flesh; that which is of spirit, must be born of the Spirit. As in the physical, we play no part in the process of being born. The Lord said that those born of the Spirit is likened to the wind; we know not where it came from nor where it goes. Being born of the Spirit is at the sole discretion of the LORD. It is the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not of flesh, nor of the will of man. Not by parentage and baptism as proposed by some, and certainly not by the mere recital of a “sinner’s prayer” by others.

Have we been truly born again?

If He should set His heart to it and gather to Himself His spirit and His breath,
all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust. (Job 34:14-15)

God bless.


Mar 23, 2009

Fathers and sons

Scripture does not propose that the children of god-fearing parents will become god-fearing off-spring. In biblical history, sons are seen to fade in comparison. The sons of Eli and of Samuel even, were poor testimonies despite their lineage. What portends god-fearing sons? Levites, priests, raised and living in the goodness, fullness, of the House of the LORD; all seems to have assured nothing. Involved in the ministry, Aaron’s were destroyed for incorporating “false fire”, Samuel’s profaned their ministries till the people rejected them and the LORD, to seek a mere mortal for a king. Eli’s sons’ disdain and continual pollution, even within the House, incurred divine wrath which consumed the House of Eli.

In Isaac and Jacob, it appears that only these sons, who have had their own personal encounter and knowledge of the LORD, having an on-going or a restored relationship; these have been watched over, and preserved in His grace. Jacob, for all his lying and conniving ways, could not escape the discipline of the LORD. The god-fearing kings of Israel’s successes ran concurrently with their obedience to the Book of the Law. Those who cried out, from the midst of impending adversities, to their God, knew they had some possibility of deliverance. An audience with the LORD is not a guaranteed privilege.

And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. "Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, (Deut 8:10-14)

Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deut 8:17-18)

Why do sons fail, after their fathers? Deut 8 provides some insights. The LORD is good, and He provides bountifully. Living in that bounty, we know no calamity, no drought, no illness, and no threats. In walled and high-towered cities, we lay claim to the promises and protection of the LORD. We prosper and continue in our pursuits; of happiness, wealth, and well-being; in and of themselves, not evil things. And we forget. The LORD does not impose Himself on us to demand thankfulness, to demand sacrifice. He does not even demand awareness; it was Moses who admonished “Take care lest ....lest….beware lest”.

In the wilderness, the LORD continued testing and teaching His people. He taught them with hunger and thirst, He taught them with death for despising manna to eat quail, with plagues, with Miriam turned leprous, with earth-swallowing tragedy and fiery serpents. Once in the cities, it seems He used only His prophets to warn, of drought and poor harvests, locusts and rot, and of impending invasion. But the people were always willfully forgetful. Some were conspicuously outright, preferring their idolatrous ways. As kings failed, priest failed, and the elders failed; then their sons along with them. It is immensely easy to forget the LORD in times of plenty. In the face of adversity, when things start to go amiss, we humanly complain. We do despise the chastening hand of the LORD especially when it hurts.

But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant, though he is lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the term appointed of the father. (Gal 4:2)

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy. (Lev 19:2)

As heirs, we are to submit to teaching and training. We need to sit and to learn, from the book, from teachers, from elders, from the Holy Spirit, from our Father. What differentiates the well-nurtured from brats, if not the hours spent on nurture and grooming, not least by God-fearing fathers and example? What happens indisputably with heirs who have been given free-rein to do as they please, heirs who have no sense of value, honor and the glory of their father’s name? Consider Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, with his council of other brats. He lost the kingdom. Consider Eli’s sons and Eli’s ineptitude, in their profaning of the House. Greater men have suffered colossal losses, how scantily we prepare for adversity. To ensure the safety of ourselves, our sons and our houses after us, for an eternity before us. Surely we are not dull to the magnitude of the issues at stake. The examples and warnings have already been given us. Do we truly care to know the LORD ourselves? What of, our calling; being called out and called to? Will we despise the need for study, for grooming, for discipline to be the heirs we were called to be? If heirs we are indeed?

"Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:1-9)

God bless


Mar 16, 2009

Of Wines, Grapes and Wineskins

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved." (Mat 9:17)

Recently we celebrated the birthday of Uncle Peng Hong. In the festivity and appropriate for the occasion, there was brought to the table, some bottles of beautiful red wine. They were of great color, fragrance and body. The wine was colored a deep rich ruby-red, with a bouquet to match. There was that smoky aroma reminiscent of oak. The wine completed the evening handsomely with a taste that fulfilled the promise, and expectation, of eyes and noses.

Wine has always been associated with celebration and good-times. Good wine is not an accident of nature. It takes quality grapes of particular genuses, properly cultured throughout the growth stages preferably endowed with most suitable climatic conditions, precisely harvested at just the right maturity. The Old school required and dictated specific locations religiously. Duly harvested, properly cleaned then carefully crushed, the grape-pulp is prepared for fermentation with much painstaking diligence.

To ensure the continued supply of good wine, much work has to be done; the techniques, the care and preservation of the vineyard, the ongoing crops, the experience, the history. In ancient times, fermentation was effected using wineskins. It was foolishness to put new wine into used old wineskins because the fermentation would effectively rupture the old skins. We would have needed to find new wineskins to fill the newly crushed grapes to continue the process of making wine. In a time when there were no vats or bottles, the futures for wine will be at jeopardy, if no new wineskins were made available. Wine supply would literally dry up when all the current wineskins are drained. Unless there is an unrealistic expectation for further miracles to continually turn water into wine immediately, the more reasonable approach would be to ensure the nurture of the grapes and sheep for wineskins.

Imagine, a scenario when that generation will have less and lesser access to fine wines. Will the day dawn, when we would have forgotten what choice wine is? How then would we celebrate life? Wine makes the meal, promotes the moods and accentuates the occasion. It will be a sad day when choice wine no longer graces our tables.

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. (Isa 25:6)

We need new wine that will age and mature well. We need choice grapes to be crushed in preparation for the brew. We need wineskins, fit and ready for the LORD’s use.

O’LORD, bless us in this our search. Amen.

God bless.


Mar 9, 2009

One thing

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. (Psa 27:4)

What thing have we asked of the LORD recently? What thing do we seek? The one thing. This desire of our heart; that which we will seek after. That which would consume us, describing the focus and supreme necessity of ourselves. Is it to dwell in the house of the LORD, and for all the days of our lives? Do we desire dwelling or visiting rights? It is most improbable, to be in the house of the LORD and not know, who the Owner is. All the days; who’s days and what days? In ancient times, to be into the house of the LORD was not everybody’s privilege. Only Levites were permitted to minister to the LORD in His temple. And they were given to partake of the very best that was sacrificed to the LORD. The first and best of the people, their herds and the land, out of the goodness and abundance of the LORD.

But the LORD dwells with us; we are His temple, He dwells within us. He has chosen to make us His own, and to be our God. Within us, where is this sanctuary? Within us, where does He abide? Is He in the throne-room or some place, we know not exactly where? And what if He fills us completely? Can a human body really contain Him? Imagine; the LORD, presently and totally in our minds, our hearts, our hands and our feet, our eyes and our ears, our tongues and our lips, each and every part of our bodies. The temple of the LORD! Perfect vessels and perfect instruments of the LORD. When our hearts, hands and feet, eyes and ears, body and soul are melded to His; would not the Lord, be physically walking in the streets again, in the world He came to save? Regenerated Christians that we are, that would be the people we were “born again” to be; Christ lives in me!

To gaze upon His beauty and to inquire in His temple. To fill our gaze with His beauty would endear and foster further inquiry. A mere glance at His beauty would command us away from the trinkets that so glitter and engross us. There is so much to be seen, so much to know, so much to ask. As growing children before the perfect Father, the perfect Brother, the perfect Counselor, there would be much to enquire.

One thing have I asked; have we yet asked? Do we truly know the desire? Emmanuel, God with us; is this not what it is about?

Grant us a sight, O’ LORD that we would seek no other.

One thing have I asked…

God bless.


Mar 2, 2009

Of clean hands and a pure heart

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. (Psa 24:3-4)

The hill of the LORD, the holy place; who shall ascend, who shall stand? In their time, the hill of the LORD was covered in clouds of smoke and flame, surrounded with lightning and thunder. The base of the hill tremored. Anything not conformed to His demands that approached, died. If mere approach resulted in death, need we consider standing? In the presence of the Lord, angels covered their faces and their feet, constantly resounding to each other, His holiness. Consider then, the audacity of modern-day man.

Clean hands and a pure heart? Clean, and hands as in plural. In a corrupted world, working the ground; can we ever come away with clean hands, even if we wanted to? And the heart is deceitfully and desperately wicked above all things, or would “wicked and desperately deceitful” be also an encompassing description. The standard for a pure heart is clearly unattainable. But we have nonetheless to pursue cleanliness; we can at least look to “guarding” against.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psa 119:9)

To lift up our soul to what is false, and to swear deceitfully; they are both ironies. Why would we choose to worship, what we know to be false? To swear and to be deceitful in the same breath, is also clearly unnecessary; why swear when you can be silent, and why with deceit, if indeed we wanted to swear. Ironic but of a truth, we do. We do worship what we know to be false, and we do swear deceitfully. Let us heed the advice of Elder John regarding idolatrous lives and be ever conscious that we carry, and thereby invoke the Name of the LORD.

In our preparation to approach the Holy One whether in groups or on our own, let us not be too cavalier; the requirement for clean hands and a pure heart is not a supposition. By His grace and righteousness, He has provided a way; a path paid for, in blood. The Hebrews writer has warned against “trampling underfoot” the blood of the Lamb.

You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. (Lev 20:26)

Holiness is not quite the same as purity but to be wholly and conspicuously separated and dedicated, for His use. Holiness is also not something that can be deferred till we are older. The LORD is definitely on a “time-sharing” relationship. We do not have the luxury or the option to look back, once having put our hands to the plough.

God bless.