Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."

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Reflection and Meditation

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (2Co 13:5)?”

Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian church, which was struggling with issues of sectarianism, sexual immorality and denying the apostleship of Paul.

The apostle wrote to rebuke them, chastise them and exhort them. As their ‘father’ in the gospel, he was concerned about their spiritual health and well-being; he was concerned about whether they remain in a right relationship with God.

In these words the apostle wrote, we can infer that the Corinthian Christians had been neglecting the important spiritual exercise of examining themselves, to see if they remained in the faith or have departed to apostasy.

This remains an important exercise to keep our spiritual well-being in check.

It is easy to watch our conduct when we are among other people. We are usually mindful of proper social etiquette so as to at least not make fools of ourselves and to keep up a good impression.

It is when we are alone that we let our hair down. But even when we are in the company of others, we are often ‘alone’ in our thoughts. People may observe our external behaviour but no one can see accurately into our minds except God.

It is in the solitude of our minds that we need to be more vigilant and mindful. The wise man counsels, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Pro 4:23).”

When we make a habit of this spiritual exercise of self-examination, we may be able to discover areas in our lives where we fall short of the gospel standard. The apostle says in Philippians 1:27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

Self-reflection helps us to discover our sins and shortcomings. It not only uncovers any hidden sin but also helps us to recognise areas where we can improve. Self-reflection is a means for us to live worthy of the gospel.

Self-reflection is the first step. We may become aware, through this spiritual exercise, of any sin and shortcoming but awareness is only the beginning. If there was sin in our lives, we still need to repent and resolve to live righteously.

If our self-reflection leads us to take positive actions in repentance and improvement, then it could be truly said to have been worth it.

We feed on the scriptures daily for our spiritual nourishment, to help our inner being to be strengthened (cf. 2Co 4:16; Eph 3:16). When we reflect upon ourselves using the knowledge we have gained from the scriptures, we can check our manner of life and speech and thus become wiser.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psa 1:1-2).”

Another psalmist adds this wise counsel. It applies equally to the young and not-so-young alike.

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Psa 119:9-11).”

Making it a daily habit to self-reflect in the light of what we learn from the scriptures, leading to the benefits of spiritual growth, is easier said than done and requires not a little discipline. Any of us who have tried it will understand the demand on self-discipline, but will also readily acknowledge the benefits.

The hectic pace of life with its accompanying stress adds to our increased exhaustion. Many may find it a chore to make time for self-reflection and meditation. It is more tempting to spend any spare time to catch up on our sleep and recreation.

If we think about it, not spending time on self-reflection is only another form of escapism. Our stress will not go away; worse, hidden sins may become further entrenched, adding to our spiritual woes and lack of peace.

If we exercise the discipline to examine ourselves, whether we remain in a right relationship with God, we find that we are mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared to face another day with all its challenges and stress.

We will experience the peace of mind and strength of spirit to continue our pilgrimage to our home above. Such benefits come about only with discipline and love for God’s word.

“Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments (Psa 119:4-6).”

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day (Psa 119:97).”

Self-reflection and meditation are not spiritual exercises we can simply pick up at leisure and cast aside whenever we feel like it. It comes with a serious and mature attitude toward our lives and responsibility toward God.

To learn to be a man and woman of God, we ought to learn to take responsibility for our own growth and manner of life. Whatever we do or say, we alone are responsible and shall have to give an account (cf. Rom 14:12; 2Co 5:10).

Through the spiritual exercise of reflection and meditation, we can learn from our mistakes, make necessary corrections and prevent these mistakes from recurring. We can prevent hidden sins from building and thus hurting our relationships with God and fellow man.

This is an important part of our growth as saints on this earth. Again, it is easier said than done, but let us trust in our Lord and set our hearts and minds on growing in holiness


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Fellowship with God and His Saints

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ (1Jn 1:3).”

Why did the apostles preach the gospel? John said that it was so that we can have fellowship with the Father and the Son. Our life in Christ is fellowship with God and other faithful Christians. John offered no other means of entering into this fellowship except by obedience to the gospel of Christ.

Fellowship with God—just the thought of it fills the finite human mind with wonder. The word fellowship conveys the thought of a close, intimate partnership and sharing. Our fellowship with God is not a partnership between equals, which makes it even more amazing.

God is the Creator and we, His creatures. We are created for the glory and pleasure of God (cf. 1Co 10:31; Rev 4:11). Yet we have alienated ourselves from Him by our willful disobedience.

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Isa 59:2).”

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).”

What is there in us that merits such great favour from Him? Nothing. It is by the sheer grace of God that we can now enjoy fellowship with Him. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men (Tit 2:11).” He gave us His Son to make atonement for our sins.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”

The amazing grace of God doesn’t end with our redemption. God is pleased to do more than that; He has adopted us as His children.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:4-6).”

It must be a heart of stone to not be moved by the love and grace of God! It is possible to harden our hearts against the love of God and refuse His fellowship. The apostle warns against just such a hardening of the heart.

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years (Heb 3:7-9).”

Never cease to be amazed and arrested by the great and astounding love of God. No language can express perfectly this love. It is perfectly manifested in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for us on the cross.

Our fellowship is not only with God but also with other faithful Christians. No one is meant to go at it alone. The church is the society of the redeemed, the household of God (cf. 1Ti 3:15). In this household, we are the children of God and the brethren of Christ Himself.

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:26-27).”

“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee (Heb 2:11-12).”

The Lord Jesus said:

“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).”

The saints of God have family all over the globe. Where the faithful people of God are, there is our family. In our fellowship with one another in the Lord, we “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another (1Th 5:11).”

We support and help one another in our pilgrimage to heaven. The journey does not need to be lonely. The Lord is with us, and our brothers and sisters in Christ are with us too.

This is the reason why we obey the Great Commission—so that sinful men and women may be reconciled to God and have fellowship with Him.

When the Samaritan woman whom the Lord spoke to at Jacob’s well discovered that He was the Promised One, she ran with excitement to her townsfolks to tell them about Him.

“The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him (John 4:28-30).”

This nameless woman serves as an excellent example of evangelistic zeal. She did not keep the good news to herself; she wanted her friends, neighbours and relatives to share in the amazing discovery.

We ought to also want others to share in this fellowship we have with God and His Son.

Fellowship with God and the Lord Jesus is the greatest honour bestowed upon us. The Lord said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).”

If we maintain this fellowship, the day will come when we shall see Him face to face. Our fellowship with Him shall be in eternal glory, no longer marred by struggles against sins.

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The Wonderful Privilege of Prayer

The Lord had a busy public ministry. His popularity with the common people meant that they pressed in on him whenever they could, seeking to receive healing from him and to hear him preach.

In spite of this, we read in the scriptures: “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).”

Prayer held a vital part in the Lord’s earthly life. He taught His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:5-15). He poured His heart out and agonised in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood, not long before His arrest (Luke 22:44).

His apostles also urge the saints to pray. Paul spoke plainly in these words: “Pray without ceasing (1Th 5:17).” Elsewhere the apostle exhorted the church:

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Php 4:6-7).”

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Col 4:2).”

Yes, we know that we ought to pray. The Lord has set us the perfect example of an obedient life saturated in prayer. The inspired writers have many times exhorted us to pray.

Let every one of us, then, examine our hearts: do we pray as we ought to? Is prayer an indispensable habit and spiritual discipline, or is it something rushed through or neglected?

A long prayer is not necessarily a good prayer and vice versa, but before we even wonder about the length of our prayers, let’s be sure that we are praying without ceasing, that is, have an attitude and readiness to pray at all times.

The church is blessed to have many talented brothers and sisters serving in so many capacities. We thank our Father for His multiple blessings and gifts. Nonetheless, if we neglect prayer, our fervent service means little or nothing.

One of the greatest spiritual blessings we have in Christ is prayer. Prayer is given to us so that as the children of God we can communicate with our heavenly Father. Think about what it cost for us to have such a blessing.

The Hebrews writer explains:

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb 10:19-22).”

Let’s ponder over this momentous statement. We have confidence to enter the holiest, i.e. the presence of God, by the blood of Jesus. By the blood of Jesus! The only begotten Son of God shed His blood on the cross—this is what it cost for us to have the privilege and blessing of prayer.

Is it then unreasonable to say that we would very much be ungrateful if we neglect prayer? Is it too much to say that we would be holding the blood of the Lord in contempt if we think so little of prayer?

We are given another reason why we ought to pray without ceasing. The Lord is our high priest. As our high priest, He is our mediator before the Father. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1Ti 2:5-6).”

John summarises this astounding doctrine in these wonderful words:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1Jn 2:1-2).”

Jesus Christ gave His life as the ransom for our sins but He does more. He is our advocate with the Father, our mediator before the Father. The marvellous truth of our high priest is that He understands very well our struggles, our fears and our joys.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:14-16).”

Here at the feet of our heavenly Father, before His throne, with the Lord Jesus as our high priest and having been washed in His blood, we may be confident that our Father will hear us and supply us with the grace to help in time of need.

Peter says to us: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1Pe 5:6-7).”

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Eph 6:18).”

Our Father wants us to be fervent in prayer. Let us do as the children of God and pray without ceasing.

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Redeeming the Time

Time is our most precious resource. Once it passes, we will never get it back. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, once said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” There is great wisdom in that.

Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time (Col 4:5).” In our modern speech, we might express the same verse this way: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.”

The apostle adds further to this instruction in his letter to the Ephesians.

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:15-17).”

To walk circumspectly is to be careful how we walk. This of course has reference to how we live our lives, especially toward those who are outside of Christ. Christians are to walk in wisdom as opposed to the foolishness of this world.

What does it mean to walk in wisdom? It is to understand the will of the Lord. We are not meant to walk according to the cultural values of this world. Christians live by a higher, divine standard.

John has famously said that we are not to love the world or the things in the world. He draws a clear dividing line between those who love the world and those who love God. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1Jn 2:15).”

Part of living carefully among unbelievers is to make the best use of time. A reason Paul gives is because the days are evil. A cursory glance at the headlines of most newspapers is a stark reminder of the godless age we live in.

Time is running out. When the Lord returns, He will bring with Him judgement for all nations (cf. Mat 25:31-33). We shall have to account for how we live, i.e. how we spend our time and what we spend it on.

There is a fact which will do us much good the earlier we become aware of it. We often plan and live as if we will go on living forever, or at least, we will live for a very long time.

The wise man said, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest (Ecc 9:10).”

Spending our time in constructive activities is good practice. Gainful employment is one such example. It is a scriptural mandate that we should work. “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (2Th 3:10).”

Using part of our time in service to the Lord and the community, improving our proficiency in various areas of our lives, spending quality time with loved ones to build meaningful relationships are further examples of constructive use of time.

The opposite of that is to waste time in too much recreation or worse, unwholesome activities.

It has become a common sight in public to see the majority of people with their eyes glued to their mobile devices. A quick glance will reveal that most of them are watching dramas, playing games or on some social media like Facebook and Instagram.

Some recreation is good and necessary but over indulgence can become a snare. How about using the time in public transport to read the Bible or a good book, memorizing scripture, or even pray?

This may escape notice, but we can waste time too in improper use of the mind. Paul says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Php 4:8).”

When we spend our time brooding over some real or imaginary slight, or fantasize over the impossible or improbable, building castles in the air, we waste precious time. We are to love the Lord our God with our mind (cf. Mark 12:30). This calls for discipline on our part.

Brooding over past mistakes or sins can also become a time-eater. If there is anything in our lives that are not in peace with God, let us immediately repent and confess; God is faithful to forgive.

Once we have been forgiven, let us move on to better things. Paul said of himself, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Php 3:13-14).”

The biggest time-eater perhaps is simply laziness. We know what we ought to do; we know the longer we drag our feet, the more time we waste and we will never get it back. Yet we procrastinate and prefer to do something else—something pleasurable.

Keeping in mind that this age we live in is evil and that we are to walk in wisdom, let us “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober (cf. 1Pe 1:13)” and redeem the time. Do we love life? Yes, of course. Then let us be careful how we use this most precious of resources.

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What is Your Decision?

Decisions. We make them every single day. Most of our daily decisions are thankfully not life-and-death ones. But now and then we are faced with extraordinary decisions with serious consequences. These are the ones we cannot afford to be careless about.

Israel was presented by Joshua with the most important decision in their thus far short existence as a nation, a decision central to their survival and prosperity.

Joshua declared to Israel the word of Jehovah their God, reminding them of what God had done for them (cf. Joshua 24:1-13). He followed that with an exhortation.

“Now therefore fear Jehovah, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt; and serve ye Jehovah (Jos 24:14).”

The aged leader understood only too well that this was a decision that each and every Israelite must make for himself and herself. As much as the people loved and respected him, he could not decide for them.

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah (Jos 24:15).”

The people, perhaps because of the solemnity of the occasion or the euphoria of conquest, gave a resounding answer.

“And the people answered and said, Far be it from us that we should forsake Jehovah, to serve other gods; for Jehovah our God, he it is that brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and that did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the peoples through the midst of whom we passed; and Jehovah drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites that dwelt in the land: therefore we also will serve Jehovah; for he is our God (Jos 24:16-18).”

The wise old leader shook his head. These dear children were too quick to reply; they had not given due consideration. He could see they were caught up in the emotions of the moment.

“And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve Jehovah; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgression nor your sins. If ye forsake Jehovah, and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you evil, and consume you, after that he hath done you good (Jos 24:19-20).”

But the people insisted: “And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve Jehovah (Jos 24:21).”

So Joshua held them to their words. Very well, since you insist you know what you are doing; since you make your decision with both eyes opened.

“And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you Jehovah, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. Now therefore put away, said he, the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto Jehovah, the God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, Jehovah our God will we serve, and unto his voice will we hearken. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of Jehovah. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it hath heard all the words of Jehovah which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness against you, lest ye deny your God (Jos 24:22-27).”

Israel was true to their covenant made at Shechem for as long as Joshua and his generation of leaders continued to lead them.

“And the people served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Jehovah that he had wrought for Israel (Jdg 2:7).”

But the history of Israel tells us of the tragedy that followed not very long after. Joshua died, and soon the other elders as well. The hearts of the people began to turn away from God.

“…and there arose another generation after them, that knew not Jehovah, nor yet the work which he had wrought for Israel. And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, and served the Baalim; and they forsook Jehovah, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the peoples that were round about them, and bowed themselves down unto them: and they provoked Jehovah to anger. And they forsook Jehovah, and served Baal and the Ashtaroth (Jdg 2:10-13).”

Decisions. We make them every single day. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” This decision Joshua presented to ancient Israel passes to every one of us of the spiritual Israel. The Lord says:

“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:13).”

What is your decision? Who will you serve?

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What’s the Point of the Old Testament?

The Lord Jesus declared on the cross, “It is finished (John 19:30).” He has completed the work His Father has sent Him to do—to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

“For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth (Heb 9:16-17).”

By His sacrificial death Jesus has fulfilled the covenant made at Sinai with the children of Israel and established a second, better covenant.

Today we are amenable to this New Testament established by the blood of Christ. No longer are we to keep the ordinances of the old. But even so the Old Testament scriptures remain an indispensable part of our Christian heritage.

The question often asked is: what purpose did the Old Testament, or the Law of Moses, serve?

Paul went to some length to explain to the Galatian saints.

“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made (Gal 3:19)…”

First of all, the law was given as an ‘instructor’ to teach what sin is. Paul explained the same point in Romans.

“…I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet (Rom 7:7).”

Second, the Old Testament law was never meant to justify anyone; rather, it condemned everyone as sinners.

“…for if there had been a law given which could make alive, verily righteousness would have been of the law. But the scriptures shut up all things under sin (Gal 3:21-22)…”

The same law cannot both condemn and acquit a person at the same time; that is a self-contradiction. Paul has made clear in Romans that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin.

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin…for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:9, 23).”

Thirdly, it is the faith, or the New Testament system, which alone can save.

“…that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal 3:22-24).”

The law acted as a guardian, pointing and leading the way to the system of faith which does save—the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom 1:16).”

Besides its purpose of explaining what sin is and pointing the way to the gospel, the Old Testament also helps to instil hope in us.

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope (Rom 15:4).”

How do the Old Testament scriptures instil hope in us? When we turn to the pages of the Old Testament we read about the many times God exercised His faithfulness toward His chosen people, Israel.

God did mighty works in their behalf—destroying the army of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, leading the children of Israel across the wilderness into the Promised Land, wiping out the Assyrian army that laid siege to Jerusalem.

We read also of the times God took care of individuals who trusted in Him and obeyed Him. The heroes and heroines of the faith, some of them unnamed, are all examples for our learning straight out of the Old Testament scriptures.

We are reminded time and again of the power and faithfulness of our God. Truly, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Ps 46:1).” Through the scriptures, we find the hope we need to carry on with our pilgrimage to our eternal home in heaven.

The Old Testament also serves as needful warning for us.

“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted…Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come (1Co 10:6, 11).”

The Old Testament not only gives us examples to emulate but also examples to avoid. Along the Christian journey we find traps and pitfalls laid out for us. Not all of our predecessors in the faith successfully navigated the minefield which is this world.

The Old Testament scriptures remind us of the children of Israel in the wilderness, how so many of them never made it to Canaan because of their rebellion and unbelief. Truly we need to pay attention to these tragic examples.

We are today amenable to the New Testament of Jesus Christ. But let us remember the Old Testament forms part of our complete inspired scriptures from God. There is so much we can learn from the beauty that is the Old Testament scriptures.

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God Hates Divorce

Divorce remains one of the greatest social ills. The Statistics on marriages and divorces for 2016, released by the Singapore Department of Statistics on 18 July 2017, reveals that divorce in Singapore is at a 10-year high.

Among the reasons given for this increase in divorces are infidelity, money woes, lack of communication, irreconcilable differences and—would you believe it—weight gain.

Whatever the reasons given for divorce, it is hard to deny that divorce brings with it terrible ramifications. It destroys families, hurt the innocent (especially children), leaves psychological and emotional wounds that take a long time to heal, place massive stress on finances, etc.

While divorce has been a social norm for a long time, God’s attitude toward divorce remains steadfast and unchanged. The people of Israel wanted to know why God rejected their offerings and petitions. He explained through the prophet Malachi one of the reasons.

“Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks a godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously (Mal 2:14-16).”

God hates divorce. Surely the increase in divorces is a sure sign of the growing godlessness of the society we live in.

The church is the salt of the earth (Mat 5:13). But as the Lord says, if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

It is our task to voice out against this appalling social ill. In the short course of our national history we have been blessed bountifully. But let’s not take it for granted that God’s blessings will continue if we allow our morality to plunge.

“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Pro 14:34).”

But doesn’t God allow divorce as Moses in the Law had made provisions?

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favour in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and send her out of his house (Deu 24:1)…”

The Jews apparently had been abusing this text to divorce their wives for just any reason, much like today’s society (weight gain? Seriously?).

The Pharisees thought this would be a thorny issue to challenge Jesus, so they came to Him one day and asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason (Mat 19:3)?”

A root of the problem is the understanding of what Moses meant by “found some uncleanness in her.” Jesus began by correcting their erroneous thinking that God approves of divorce.

“And He answered and said unto them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Mat 19:4-6).’”

Referring to Deuteronomy 24:1, the Pharisees tried to press their issue. “They say to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away (Mat 19:7)?”

Jesus expounded to them the scripture. First of all, Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of the people’s hearts against the ordinance of God on the sanctity of marriage (v. 8). The Lord goes on to explain what Moses meant by “found some uncleanness in her.”

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery (Mat 19:9).”

The only acceptable reason for divorce is fornication, which is illicit sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other. Anyone who divorces his/her spouse other than for sexual infidelity and remarries is guilty of adultery. And anyone who marries the one guilty of fornication is likewise guilty of adultery.

Jesus explains what Moses meant by ‘uncleanness’. It is fornication. There is no contradiction in the scriptures. It is men who twist the word of God to gratify their inordinate desires.

God hates divorce. Just because He allows it due to the hardness of men’s hearts does not mean He approves of it. In Rom 1:28 we learn that “God gave them (the wicked) over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting”. It does not mean God either condones or approves of sin.