Monday, August 31, 2009

More faith… (Hebrews 11:32-38) 310809

Today is Monday, I am having Monday blues. It is a kind of feeling that I-have-not-rested-enough or Can-I-don’t-work or I-hope-Jesus-returns-today. I am not sure if you have any Monday blues, but I certainly have. Sometime, this kind of feeling can drag me to depression (not being exaggerated, it can really happen to some people). Sometime, this kind of feeling can cause me to lose hope (at least for the week ahead). And sometime, this kind of feeling can affect our faith.

Hebrews 11 tells me to simply take a look at all those who had gone before me; I am not in the worst situation. If those people who were faithful (and some not so faithful) had their fair share of blues, why should I be spared?

Gideon was fearful and doubting, God gave him fleece. Barak couldn’t wean off his dependency on woman (Judges 4:8), God gave him Deborah. Samson never learned from his mistakes, God gave him strength for pillars. Jephthah was an illegitimate son with low self esteem and perhaps insecurity, God gave him vindication. David committed adultery and murder, God gave him a heart of worship. Samuel anointed the wrong king and felt rejected; God gave him a peaceful death. Many, if not all, of the prophets had their shortcoming and weaknesses and even faithlessness, but God gave them faith to be faithful in the kingdoms and ministries entrusted to them.

Daniel didn’t shut the mouths of hungry lions, God did it. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah didn’t quench the fury of the flames of the blazing furnace, God did it. God did all those miracles recorded in Hebrews 11:33-38. It was in the weaknesses and the desperation of the people, God acted. It was when they realized their inability to act faithfully or to live by faith, God was faithful. It was when they thought they had no more faith to continue, God gave them more faith.

Are you also at the bottom of your situation? Are you feeling hopeless and think that you will be the next to be terminated from your job? God can give you more faith. Maybe you are having some fears of going through an operation or medical procedure and have no faith to go through it; God can give you more faith. Maybe you have no faith that you will be able to do well for you coming examination, God can give you more faith. Maybe you are facing difficulties and struggles in your relationship or marriage and have no faith if you can carry it on; God can give you more faith. Maybe when you look at your rebellious child, you have not no faith if he or she will turn back to you or God; God will give you more faith.

God will give you more faith so that you can love more, give more, and fear less. God will give you more faith so that you can live in peace, work with power and believe with more faith. Yes, more faith.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Scarlet Faith… (Hebrews 11:31) 270809

I think I really preached a very good sermon on Sunday. I am still very moved by it. The parable of the Lost Sons (Luke 15:11-32) keeps repeating in my mind. I keep wondering, how could the father welcome and accept his ‘prodigal’ son? After all, this ‘prodigal’ son cursed his father by requesting for his inheritance; this ‘prodigal’ son was not being led astray (at least we are not told by the text), he left his father on his own accord; this supposedly Jewish ‘prodigal’ son was unclean as he had closely associated himself with the pigs; this ‘prodigal’ son did not come to his sense if there was no crisis in his life; and this ‘prodigal’ son had no desire to become a son of his father again, he only wanted to be a servant!

But it was amazing to see how the father welcomed and embraced this ‘prodigal’ son back into his family. Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve his father constant look out for him? No, but the father did it anyway. Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve his father lifting up his robe and expose his leg in disgrace (thought the text didn’t mention this, but I think this is what likely had happened) to run towards him? No, but the father did it anyway. Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve his father hugging him in order to shield him from being stoned by other villagers if they saw him as he deserted his father and being ‘unclean’? No, but the father did it anyway. Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve to be kissed by his father as a sign of welcome? Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve the best robe to cover his ‘unclean’ body? Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve the ring that gives him back his authority? Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve the sandals which only fit the feet of a free man? Did the ‘prodigal’ son deserve the fat calf and enjoy the fellowship with his father once again? No, no, no! But the father did all these for him, anyway! All the ‘prodigal’ son had to do was to ‘return’.

The ‘prodigal’ son had the faith that if he returned, something good will happened to him, though he did not know the extent of it. The prostitute Rahab also knew that if she welcomed the spies of the people of God, she will receive favor from the Lord, though she did not know the extent of it. She became the mother of Boaz, who became the father of Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who became the father of David (Matthew 1:5, 6), and whom the line whereby Jesus Christ the Lord of all our faith came from!

What did Rehab do? She welcomed the spies of Israel and let them went away safely, and clung her hope on a scarlet cord (Joshua 2:18). This was an re-enactment of the Passover. This was a sign of God’s faithfulness in keeping His covenant with His people. With Rehab’s scarlet cord, she and her family was saved from the destruction of Jericho. With the return of the ‘prodigal’ son, he received the full blessing and acceptance from the father. With our faith in Christ’s death on the Cross, we enter into the eternal salvation which He has promised.

We cannot keep the covenant, we cannot keep the promise we make before God; but God is the covenant keeper and He is the One who will make sure the covenant is kept as He make it! God will make sure His promise to us will be fulfilled as we clung on to our scarlet cord with faith.

Do you have dreams or promises from God that yet to be fulfilled? Cling on to the scarlet cord in faith. Do you think you are very far from God and want to return but not knowing how? Hang out your scarlet cord and you will be received.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The People Faith… (Hebrews 11:29-30) 250809

Singapore just celebrated its National Day not too long ago. The theme of this year celebration was surrounding the Pledge:

We, the citizen of Singapore,
Pledge ourselves as one united people
Regardless of race, language, or religion,
To build a democratic society,
Based on justice and equality,
So as to achieve happiness, prosperity, and progress of our Nation.

I am not being patriotic here. As I read Hebrews 11:29 and 30, I imagine a nation being born as the people of Israel passed through the Red Sea on dry land (v29) and walked round the walls of Jericho to see it fell (v30). This is the power of the people in faith, and I call it: the people faith.

Walking through the Red Sea on dry land and the fall of the walls of Jericho were the two most magnificent miracles in the history of mankind. No matter how researchers and scientists try to explain and rationalize the possibility that the Red Sea could be opened and walked across if all the factors were in placed; or how the marching of the people of Israel could have produced some sort of frequency when coupled with the shout at the end of the march caused the walls of Jericho to fall. These are merely speculation and possibilities. But what had happened the eyes of the people of Israel were the miracles of the Lord!

What made these two miraculous events so magnificent was the involvement of the mass, the entire nation of the people of Israel. I don’t know how to make sense out of these, but I know that there is power when the people of God have a common faith. It is not about the faith of the leader. Moses could have opened the Red Sea, but if no one dared to step into the dry ground, they would be destroyed by the Egyptians. Joshua would not be able to take the city of Jericho even if the walls fall down after he marched around it according to the instruction of the Lord. It took the people of Israel to do it together, so that they could experience the power of the miracle.

It is easy to persuade a few brave and committed members to follow me to do some great for the Lord by faith, but it will be difficult or almost impossible to rally the entire church to do the same. But if we do it together, the effect of it will be miraculous.

Recently, our church has this 20K blessing campaign. It is simply going out to bless the people around us. We should do so not because it is a campaign; but as an outward expression of the blessings of God in our lives. I know that the number is growing very slowly, it is because not all the members are convicted and doing it together.

Can you imagine if our church blesses 20K people? And if only 1% of these 20K start to come to church to seek God, that will be 200 people, 50% growth for Covenant in half a year! This is significant and magnificent. Do you have faith that our church can grow in extent? I believe we can and have faith it can. But it is not enough, unless we do it together in faith

We, the members of Covenant Presbyterian Church,
Pledge ourselves as one united body inChrist,
Regardless of race, language or ministry,
To build a Church without walls,
Based on the Holy Spirit and His Word,
So as to bring about blessing, Good News and salvation to the people of our community.


Monday, August 24, 2009

No Ordinary Faith… (Hebrews 11:23-28) 240809

Yesterday I preached a good sermon. It was good because God spoke to me through my own sermon. I was preaching and being preached to. I was moved and touched by my sermon. Sound strange? Sound egoistic? Whatever we call it, the truth is that I was ministered yesterday.

It was an ordinary Sunday, which I have to preach an ordinary sermon on an ordinary passage: The parables of the lost in the fifteenth chapter of the gospel of Luke. But however ordinary it is, there is no ordinary result; because I prayed by faith that God will speak to us, and that includes me.

The faith of Moses’ parents were simple, they just wanted to keep the child alive! But it is not an ordinary faith. They would never imagine that their child will be greatest leader in the history of Israel, the one who have a face to face encounter with their Almighty God, the one who led the people of Israel out of Egypt and out of slavery, the one who witnessed miracles after miracles of God through him (ten plagues, parting the Red Sea, water from the rock, healing, manna from heaven, and more), and the one who contributed the five most fundamental writing of the Old Testament which half the population of the world today based their faith and lives upon them. These were no ordinary works.

My faith for my sermon was simple, but I knew that the impact it had on me was not ordinary. My faith for my daughter is simple, that is she will grow up to be a good person who fears the Lord. I will not imagine that she will one day becomes the lady Prime Minister of Singapore, or the one who brings the good news to the entire Singapore and it becomes a Christian nation, or the one who will be used by God in healing everyone who is touched by her. Whatever my faith is for my daughter, there will be no ordinary results, because God is the one who will bring them to pass.

Because of Moses’ parents’ faith, the faith of Moses became extraordinary. Do you think that you have only simple faith? Let it be, and act upon it. As long as you have faith , it will be something extraordinary. There is no ordinary faith.

Are you weary of trusting God to heal? It is a simple and ordinary desire to want to be healed; there is no ordinary faith as you wait upon the Lord to bring about the extraordinary. I cannot guarantee that healing will surely take place in the way we want it to be, but I can be sure that God loves and will bring about much more goodness in the midst of our pain and sufferings if we allow Him to do so. That will not be ordinary, because there is no ordinary faith.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Statement of Faith… (Hebrews 11:22) 210809

I have attended many funerals and even preached at some. One thing I found in common, not many of those deceased, planned for their funerals. I am not trying to be rude or funny here, but come to think about it, how many of us actually make arrangement of our own funerals. We may purchase a niche in advance, we may tell our children the song we want to have during our funeral service (I want the song This is the day), and some may even have the funeral passage and message chosen (I may even record my funeral sermon and play it during my funeral).

As a person dies and buries, it is the end of his life. Of course, as Christian, I know that I will be going to a better place. But whatever instruction or preparation we make for our funeral, it ends there. Joseph did not only stop at his funeral, but he had faith that one day his people, the Israelites, will leave Egypt and he wanted them to bring his bones along.

When I think of it, this is more than a prophecy. It is a statement of faith to the generations after. Just imagine, before I pass away, I tell my daughter that one day her granddaughter will become a missionary to Inner Mongolia and I want my bones (or ashes) to be brought there and scattered there. What on earth am I talking about here? I am speaking in faith. I am making a statement of faith about my future generations.

For those who have children; may be you can pray and ask God for that statement of faith to be spoken to your children. Record it somewhere that your children and children’s children can read about. For those who have no children; may be you can pray and ask God how can you leave a legacy behind to benefit the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

I believe that my devotional blog will be a great blessing to many (though not many give me comments) and one day down in the future history, it will be compiled and be published into a book and bless many others who are in the future generations.

This is my statement of faith! What is yours?


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blessing and Worshipping Faith… (Hebrews 11:21) 200809

I was having my off day on one of the Tuesdays. I was preparing a sermon in one of those café joints. A cup of ice-latte, a bible, and a laptop; I was happily immersing myself in the Word of God. Though there were many people around me, but my heart was only attending to the Presence of God. Though there were a sermon to prepare, but my soul was quiet, peaceful and rested. I literally enjoyed every moment of my time in such an experience.

Then a man came up to me. He was dirty, smelly and obviously, hungry. I saw him approaching other patrons in the café, but none gave him anything, needless to say attention. When he was at my table, I was in the middle of my most exciting moment of my sermon. He looked at me, so I looked at him. He tried to smile at me, and I also tried to smile back at him (I think I tried harder to smile at him). I wanted to get back to my work. I wanted to bet back into the Presence of God. I wanted him to leave me alone. But he asked if I could give him money to buy something to eat, for he had not been eating for a day and had no job as his hand was badly injured.

I was very tempted to give him $5 and got rid of him. But something within me burn. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get back into the Presence of God that day if I simply ignored him. I told him that I wouldn’t give him any money, but I could buy him something to eat. I closed my bible, turned off my laptop, packed up and brought him to a fast-food restaurant which was just next to the café I was in. I told him to order anything he wanted, and he did! That costs me more than $5. But I saw his face glowing and beaming with gratitude and joy. It was not that upsized-extra-value-meal that made this man happy (he didn’t order happy meal; that was cheaper). It was my attention to him, my willingness to be interrupted to bless him with this meal that made him happy.

Today as I meditate on Hebrews 11:21, the word ‘blessed’ and ‘worshiped’ grip my heart and remind me of that off day encounter. I am blessed because I obeyed the Lord prompting to bless that man. My heart was filled with joy that day and I couldn’t stop praising and worshipping God. And the Presence of God was even stronger after that.

I think blessing other people has such a power to draw us into a deep worship. But do you think blessing other people in such a manner is easy? At least not for me; I don’t going around buying upsized-extra-value-meal for people everyday. I don’t go around blessing other people. By nature, I am an inward person. I only care about my experience and my encounter with God. But God is concerned about other people too and wants to use His people to bless other people.

I have my reservation when comes to blessing others. I am bother about how other people see me, how other patrons in the café see me. I am self-conscious. It takes courage and faith to be a blessing to other. Jacob was old and weak; he couldn’t even stand by himself and needed a staff to support him (21), but he didn’t allow his weakness to hinder him to bless Joseph and his sons, even though he couldn’t see them (Gen 48:10). And of course, the result of that was worshiped in the Presence of God.

Is God prompting you to just go up to a stranger or a colleague whom you don’t really know and bless him with a cup of coffee or piece of nice chocolate? The next time when you encounter someone asking you for a meal, don’t just ignore or brush them aside (maybe you have bad experiences with conman), but ask God for that compassion to bless and take a step of faith to reach out to him with sincerity. You may receive the joy of a lifetime and an unforgettable experience of worship in the Presence of God.

Our faith is a faith that causes us to bless and worship.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Future Faith… (Hebrews 11:20) 190809

Each night, as I stare into the face of my daughter, I wonder what will she be liked, when she grows up. Then, an old, old song comes to my mind (I believe before I tell you, you would guess what song I am referring to). Oh Sara Sara, whatever will be, will be, the future is not for us to see, Oh Sara Sara… (I hope I’ve gotten the lyrics correct).

Yes, the future of my daughter, I will not know; but I know I can commit her into the hand of my loving Father, God Almighty. As I read about how Isaac blessed his children, Jacob and Esau in regard of their future (Gen. 27:27-40). I pause and reflect on how I, as a father, can bless my daughter with a blessing in regard to her future. I will not know exactly how she will turn out to be in the future; but I can start blessing her with the blessing of the Lord.

As a father, I pray with my daughter from time to time, teaching her to fear the Lord. I also pray for her as and when the need arises. But I am reminded on Sunday during a young families’ fellowship that I can keep blessing her every night before she sleeps with the Lord’s benediction:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
(Num 6:24-26)

This will be the future of my daughter, a woman who will be blessed by the Lord, and be kept in Him. She will see and experience the light and the grace of the Lord in her life. She will also know the peace of the Lord as she faces the harsh reality of life in the future.

I still do not know about the future, but I have faith in the Lord, who is also the Lord of the future. Do you have faith for your future? Pray the benediction upon yourselves. Ask the Lord to bless you and keep you, to make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, and most importantly, to give you the peace you need in this noisy and harsh world.

Are you facing some uncertainty about your future? The Lord can give you that peace to face the future, He is there with you. Are you facing difficulty in making a decision? The Lord will also give you that peace in whatever decision you make, He will walk you through.

This is future faith, because God is there in the future for you and me.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Obeying and Doing Faith… (Hebrews 11:8-19) 140809

I read a very good book by my favorite author, John Ortberg. It is called If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat. This book is a life changing book for me. I have actually read it twice and each time it confirms and encourages me to step out of my ‘boat’. The main thrust of the book is that if you really want to experience the fullness of God’s purpose for our life, we’ve got to take a step of faith to get out of our comfort zone. It is not some kind of pop psychology or self-help motivational theology; the author never promise life out of the boat is without storm, but he assures us that Jesus is there and He is strong enough to pull us up if we get distracted and sink.

As I read and meditate on today’s scripture, it reminds me of my spiritual journey with God. I was called, just like Abraham (v8). I went in into full-time ministry, just like Abraham went to where he did not know where he was going (v8). I am not boasting about my faith in following God; just like Abraham, I have my doubts and discouragement and even depression. But I can see that God is faithful to help me to live by faith, even though I have no faith at times. I can also see that God is faithful in guiding me to move in faith as I simply obey.

To Abraham, faith is not about how bold and courageous he could be in trusting God. We know from the account in Genesis that Abraham lied and at times chicken out. But God remain faithful. To Abraham, faith is simply obeying and doing. When he was called, he obeyed and went (v8). When he was tested, he obeyed and sacrificed Isaac (v17).

Abraham obeyed and did what God led him to do. Faith is about obeying and doing. I think James’ understanding of faith in his epistle sums it up: Faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26). The converse is true: Deeds without faith is also dead (Abel 1:1)!

Faith has to be translated into action, by this I will know I have obeyed. Well, it is not going to be easy. It is not easy to step out of our comfort zone. It is not easy to step out of my ‘boat’. But if I want to experience the inheritance and promise from God, I’ve got to get out of my boat. Is God calling you to get out of your boat? Is God calling you to bless a colleague or classmate, and it is weird to do so? You’ve got take the first step; you may not know how God can use you to be a great channel of blessing to that colleague or classmate. Is God calling you to reconcile a relationship, which you are still hurting because of it? You’ve got to take the first step to give that person a call or a message; you never know how God is going to bring about healing through that.

I am going to step out of my boat soon; because I want to walk on water and experience intimacy with my Lord and see where He is leading me to. Do you have faith that God is calling and prompting you to something bigger?

Obey and do it!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fearful faith… (Hebrews 11:7) 130809

I went to Telunas twice this year. One of which was with my Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades officers and helpers. As Telunas is kelong style resort, it has its own jetty and we are allowed to jump off the jetty into the sea. It even has a higher platform about 30 feet above the water for those who find jumping off a 10 feet high jetty is not thrilling enough to jump! It is a test of ones courage and faith.

I did the most unforgiveable thing there, at Telunas; which is to jump off the 30 feet high platform! I thought that is the ultimate expression of my faith in doing such a courageous and fearless thing! But it turned out to me that it was a silly thing to do.

In my tradition understanding of faith, to have faith is to be fearless about things we yet see. It is something like being bold in stepping forward and stepping into the unknown. Recently, I was reflecting about the Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade ministry which the Lord has placed me. As I received and sensed that He wants us to grow beyond our existing boundary, I said yes without actually considered our resources carefully. When the opportunity came for us to take on new companies, we actually had not enough resources, but by faith, or rather by fearless courage, we went ahead and God, in His good time, sent forth the right resources. I called this faith! But today, I read how Noah responded to God’s warning; he was in ‘holy fear’.

The preacher of Hebrews tells us that Noah in holy fear built an ark to save his family (v7). As I meditate on this, I think I can identify with Noah. Noah was given a task which was utmost ridiculous and radical, and he was also given the insight of the future though he could not fully grasp the full extent of it. He stepped out in faith! He stepped out in fear too! But he stepped out in holy fear.

I am about to step into a new ministry in the near future, I am stepping in by faith. To be honest, I do not have all the necessary skills and networking for my new ministry, I am stepping into it in fear. I am not even sure if I can do a good enough job, but I respond to God and step into it by a holy fear. I am not going to do this ministry with my skills and giftedness; I want to do it in dependent of God’s power. I want to do it with a sense of holy fear.

There was Christian movie I watched at Telunas, it is called the Second Chance. In the ending of the movie, the senior pastor told his son and his associate pastor that we should be like the lightning rod, in the shape of a Cross, fears absolutely no one and nothing, except the God Almighty. This is holy fear.

A fearful faith is a faith with holy fear. I will step out into new ministry with absolutely fearless about anything and anyone, except in holy fear of the Lord God Almighty! Has God been asking you to step out of your comfort zone lately? Have a fearful faith, step out in holy fear of the Lord and do what He has asked you to do and watch what He is going to do through you! Our church is in the midst of 20K blessings, is God asking you to bless someone and you are fearful to do so? Have a fearful faith then, go in holy fear to bless that person and see how God continues the work from there.

Let’s have a fearful faith.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Impossible Faith… (Hebrews 11:5-6) 080809

Whenever my daughter wants to have her milk or food, she will come to me and say, “Please! Pa Pa!” Sometimes, she will not look at me and simply going through the motion of saying, “Please! Pa Pa!” Of course as a good mother, my wife will insist my daughter to look at me and say, “Please! Pa Pa!” But as a not-so-good father, I will just quickly go and make the milk for my daughter; because I just want to get it done and over with, so that I can either rest or do other stuffs.

I think I am like God (please to do stone me for saying that), easily pleased; not because of how sincere my daughter will say her, “Please! Pa Pa!” But I am pleased by her ‘faith’, trust and confident in her father to provide what is good and necessary for her.

When I read of Enoch being found as a man of faith, I refer back to Gen. 5:18-24. Only seven verses about this man who is generally described as one who walked with God (Gen. 5:22, 24). The commentator of my NIV Study Bible for verse 6 says that Enoch pleased God is proof of his faith. What did Enoch exactly does that pleased God?

When I understand the context of Enoch’s life in Gen. 5 and here Hebrews 11, it is Enoch’s walk with God that pleased God. And his walk with God is the proof of his faith. In other words, Enoch’s faith is demonstrated by his daily and faithful walk with God. This pleased God.

And do you know that to walk with God daily and faithfully is impossible? How easy it is for us to go about life without God for a day? How easy it is for us to forget God in the midst of our busyness? How easy it is for us to walk away from God when things are not going in the way we want? Therefore, to walk with God daily and faithfully; it is impossible! The only with it can be done, by faith.

This is what I called the impossible faith. For me to please God by my effort, it is impossible. I can never able to achieve it. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are not faithful in many areas of our life, at least one area; and that warrants a disqualification for please God. It is by the grace of God that we can by faith in Christ, please God. We can please God because God walk with us daily as the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Christ makes the impossible into possible.

As I continue to reflect and meditate on these two verses in Hebrews, I pray that I will continue to be in tune with the Holy Spirit and be sensitive to His leading and walk with Him. Though quite impossible, by faith I will do it. Will you?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dead Faith Speaks (Hebrews 11:1-4) 060809

It has been quite awhile that I have blogged my refection devotion on Hebrews. For past one month, I have been very busy with some family matters and coping with changes in my life. One of the changes is that I will again become a father. Today, I will begin the series on Hebrews 11, meditating upon some of the characters and events mentioned in it.

When I was a young Christian, I read a book by Dr. John White which explains that faith is our response to God’s love. This definition deeply ingrained in my subconscious, after all that book was probably the first Christian book I read. But as I grow in the Lord, I also understand that faith is actually the person, Jesus Christ. And Hebrews 11 gives the biblical definition as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (v1).

Sometimes, to understand faith can be very confusing. I was from a charismatic church whereby I was taught that if I have enough faith, I will be able to move mountains and do the impossible; my knee pain will be gone. But I always have this tinkling question within me: how do we measure faith? How much of faith is enough?

When I read verse 4 of Hebrews 11, I see my name – Abel! I chose this name as my baptism name because it starts with the letter ‘A’, and God had regard for Abel and for his offering (Gen. 4:4). I had no idea what Abel really means or what is the offering that made God had regard. Abel actually means vapor or short breath or meaningless! What a good name! But Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain (v4), simply by faith.

I am facing some ministry decision to be made lately which will affect me and my family drastically. I am not sure whether I have the ability to do it, but I say yes to God and by faith I step forward. I think, by faith is not simply doing what is right, but doing with a right attitude. I may not be successful in my new ministry, but it is alright. At least, I am right with God in regard to my obedience to Him. Anyway, Abel died. He is dead after he offered his offerings; killed by Cain. But Hebrews says that Abel still speaks.

Dead faith speaks. The faith of a dead person speaks. The faith of a dead person speaks of his faithfulness and righteousness with God. The faith of a parent who had failed in bringing up his child in the way of the Lord speaks of his earnest prayers for his child night after night. The faith of a student who fails his O or A level speaks of his willingness to love and help others out of his comfort zone. The faith of a retrenched manager speaks of his generosity and good leadership of the past.

No wonder Leon Morris, a commentator on the book of Hebrews says that “Faith is a present and continuing reality. It is not simply a virtue sometimes practiced in antiquity. It is a living thing, a way of life the writer wishes to see continued in the practice of his readers.”


Going Deeper (Week 5)

Going Deeper (Week 5 Day 2)

The author of Hebrews repeated some words and phrases in verses 7-19. Can you pick up those words and phrases that are repeated more than three times, and explain why, in your opinion, the author emphasizes them?

Word or phrase [Meaning]
Today (v7, 13, 15) [The author wants the readers to take heed of the warning immediately. Don’t wait.]
Hear, heard (v7, 15, 16) [The author wants the reader to listen to God.]
Angry or anger (v10, 11, 17) [God is serious and ‘angry’ with our sinfulness, rebellious, and unbelief!]
Heart(s) (v8, 10, 12, 15) [The key problem lies in the hearts of men.]

You may find some other words or phrases or even ideas which are repeated over and over again. This exercise is to help us to read the Bible in a more careful manner, so that we can pick up what the Lord really want to speak through the author of the Scripture.

Going Deeper (Week 5 Day 3)

There are basically three senses of the use of the word rest: 1) Promised Land rest (Temporal, earthly rest promised by God), 2) Sabbath rest (Physical rest from work on the seventh day), and 3) Eternal rest (Spiritual rest provided and sustained by Jesus).
Identify where the word rest appears in vv. 1-10 and explain is in its context.

Rest [Meaning]
V1 [Spiritual rest]
V3 (x2) [Spiritual rest]
V4 [Physical rest]
V5 [Spiritual rest]
V6 [Promise Land rest]
V8 [Promise Land rest]
V9 [Physical rest]
V10 [Spiritual and Physical rest]
V11 [Physical rest]

What is your conclusion from this observation?

Pastor Keith mentioned in his sermon that there are Past-rest, Future-rest and Present-rest. If we translate that to my terminology of Sabbath rest (Physical Rest), Eschatological rest (Promise Land Rest) and Soteriological rest (Spiritual Rest); it corresponds respectively.

My observation is that all these three kind of rests have to be kept in perspective. We cannot neglect physical rest, neither lost sight of the future-eschatological rest; and we cannot forget our Present-Spiritual rest which is available to us now through Christ.

Going Deeper (Week 5 Day 4)

There seems to be a disconnection of ideas between verse 12-13 and the previous verses. Verses 1-11 or even from 3:7 is talking about rest and verses 12-13 is seemed to be talking about the Word of God. What is the single idea that strings 3:7 to 4:13 together? How would you explain it? (You can start by studying Psalm 95, where the author quoted from).

I also find it interesting that the Preacher ends of his section of sermon on rest with the idea of the living word of God. I don’t think he is telling us that the place to really find rest (all three kinds) is in and through God’s Living Word!

Psalm 95 correlates creation and redemption, with a special emphasis on redemption. The Preacher uses the conduct of the Israelites as a means of challenging his audience to a closer walk with God. There was a promise in the OT that God's people would enter into rest. The Preacher sees this promise as fulfilled—not in anything in the OT—but in Christ. In drawing attention to this, he shows from another angle that Christ is God's final word to mankind.

You are welcome to share with me or leave your comment if you have other insight of this passage.