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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God Wants Sincere Heart Service

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (Eph 6:5, 6).”

Christians are not immune from the possibility of serving out of a sense of routine, much like brushing our teeth. This happens commonly when one has been in the faith for a number of years. We coast along, having forgotten what it is to serve from the heart. To the church of Ephesus, the Lord has this indictment: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love (Rev 2:4).” They did wonderful works but sadly had forgotten their first love to the Saviour.

Paul wrote of the attitude we ought to have in serving: from the heart. Our service must be sincere and without ulterior motive to be acceptable. Some serve as men-pleasers, hoping to win the approval and praises of their fellow men. The Lord warns us in Matthew 6:1-18 against putting on a show to impress others. A Christian does the will of God sincerely and without guile.

Resolving not to lose our first love, let the saints of God revisit once more what love to the Lord means on a practical scale. Love for God and the brethren, according to the apostle John, is obedience to Him. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments (1Jn 5:1-2).”

The worship we render unto our God must be sincere. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).” Insincerity in worship is an insult to the Almighty. It has always been so. Joshua in his final address to the children of Israel exhorted them, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD (Jos 24:14).”

Worship is a joy, not a burden. Well did the psalmist say, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD (Psa 122:1).” When the children of God gather on the first day of the week to participate in this holy activity, may our hearts and minds be ready to meet with Him through the acts of worship.

God wants our hearts to be right with Him and for Him. God wants true allegiance from the heart, not lip service. He wants more than an outward form of conformity. The New Covenant of Christ is a heart-religion (Heb 8:10). God wants our obedience not merely out of terror and dread of His threatened wrath and punishment, but because we love Him for who He is and what he has done, and because we desire to please our Maker. The greatest commandment is to love Him with all of our being. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Mat 22:37).”

When Barnabas visited the brethren at Antioch, “and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord (Act 11:23). With all purpose of heart – that is the key. For it is out of a heart of gratitude for the great salvation that we serve Him (cf. Rom 6:17).

With all this in mind, let us check to ensure our service is sincerely from the heart. The first thing we can do is to align our ‘wants’ with the will of God. “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Mat 6:20-21).”

If we made a list of our wants and desires, and then made a list of what God wants of us – how close would they align? The Lord Jesus sets the perfect example. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God…(Heb 10:9)” In the face of cruel death, He said: “not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42).”

When we realised the discrepancy between our desires and God’s, we must seize the opportunity to align our will with His. This happens because we do not quite know our Lord as we supposed we do. To truly own eternal life is to know God. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).” Therefore we must strive to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ (2Pe 3:18).

The better we know God – the more likely our service will be from the heart. Engage actively in the church and the Lord’s work; spend time with God and His people. God has purposely designed that His people come together for worship and worship is a way of expressing reverence & love to God. The more we worship sincerely – the greater our love for God. It is a discipline. Let us also tell others of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

God’s commandments are not grievous to those with the right attitude. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1Jn 5:3).

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Guarding Against Envy

The scriptures warn us about the evil of envy. A child of God needs to be vigilant against this sin. We read in Rom 13:13 that as saints we must

“…walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”

 Envy is a Sign of a Worldly Mindset

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men (1Co 3:3)?” Envy can potentially lead to terrible consequences. It is the opposite of a sound heart, and likened to rottenness. “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones (Pro 14:30).”

 Envy Leads to Tragedy

 Two incidents in Genesis warn us that envy could result in severed ties and bloodshed. The first was Cain and the second was Joseph’s brothers.

“Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell… and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” The evil of envy leads to murder. Cain allowed his envy to fester and it became bloodlust, even toward his own brother (cf. Gen 4:4-8).

 Joseph’s brothers were envious of him. “And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” “

 Envy was so powerful it destroyed ties of kinship, like it was with Cain (cf. Gen 37: 4-11, 19-20). Joseph’s brothers did not care for his pleas; they became cruel and unfeeling. When the opportunity presented itself, “they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”

 Envy caused the priests and Pharisees to become insecure and jealous of their positions of influence. “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation (John 11:47-48).”

 It did not escape Pilate that it was out of envy that the priests had Jesus falsely accused, with the intent of murdering him. “…Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him (Mat 27:17-18).”

 Envy led to evil scheming and premeditated murder. It was not a crime of passion; it was cold-blooded murder. Worse than that, it led to the rejection of the Messiah.

 The Jews were envious of Paul and Barnabas’ success in evangelism. They blasphemed against Christ and His gospel. “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming (Acts 13:45).”

 Envy caused the Jews to lose all sense of reason and civil behaviour and they acted in violence. “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people (Acts 17:5).”

 Envy Ends in Judgment

 Envy is displeasing to God. Paul listed a catalogue of sins in Romans 1:29-32, among which is the sin of envy, which brought the wrath of God upon sinners.

 The envious also risk becoming excluded from the kingdom of God. Again Paul gave us examples of sins, this time in Gal 5:19-21, and concluded with this remark: “…of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Envy is on this list as well.

 Put These Two Guards in Place

 There are two guards we must have keeping sentry over our hearts to guard against the sin of envy.

 1. Humility.

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others (Php 2:3-4).”

 2. Contentment.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Heb 13:5).”

 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1Ti 6:6-8).”

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The Cross is not a Pretty Sight

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it (Luke 9:23-24).”

These words of the Lord, when first spoken over two thousand years ago, must have come as quite a shock to His first century audience. Unlike today, the mention of a cross in Roman-occupied Palestine in the life and times of Jesus Christ was nothing short of revulsion. This carpenter from Nazareth, whom many acknowledged as an extraordinary teacher (cf. Mat 7:28-29) and a wonder-worker (cf. Mark 1:32-33) risked the displeasure and perhaps even the ire of His listeners by referencing a cross!

To the Jews, the cross was a curse. The Law of Moses stated in Deuteronomy 21:22-23 “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

When Joshua sacked Ai, he hanged its king on a tree in a public exhibition of the latter’s damnation and judgment under the Law (cf. Joshua 8:29). The Romans’ cruel form of executing non-Roman criminals by crucifixion – nailing them to a wooden cross – was understandably perceived by the Jews as an ultimate shame and separation from the mercy and grace of Almighty God.

How else could the Jews of Jesus’ days have reacted to His teaching? Certainly not with the poetic sentimentality so common to our own days. The cross today is largely viewed to represent the giving up of bad habits and of suffering inconveniences. It has also evolved into a beautifully crafted fashion accessory to compliment one’s choice of dressing for the day. We find it commonly worn around the necks of many who profess a form of “Christian” piety but whose lives leave much doubt as to their true religious affiliation – from the “celebrities” living in open immorality to the skimpily dressed heartland girl.

The cross is simply not a pretty sight. The Lord was not making some sentimental statement designed to arouse warm and fuzzy feelings in His hearers. He was telling them (and us, let us not forget) something of a graver nature.

All three synoptic writers reveal that this statement was made in the context of Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Lord telling the disciples of His impending death and resurrection, Peter resisting Him and receiving a rebuke in return and the paradox of losing one’s life to save it (cf. Matthew 16:13-27; Mark 8:27-38; Luke 9:18-26). The cross is a picture of certain death.

There is nothing romantically sentimental about the cross. The Lord lays down the price of discipleship. Those who are determined to follow Him must surrender their will and self-interests to Him. The surrendering of the will, that is, to say with one’s entire being as Jesus has said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt (cf. Matthew 26:39)” is a true test of our resolve as disciples.

Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ led to the revelations of His imminent suffering and death. It was, in a very real sense, a challenge for the disciples to count the cost of following Jesus. Were they prepared to follow the Master to the death, if need be? Are we prepared to follow Him to the death?

It is extremely improbable that any of us today would suffer crucifixion as the Lord did. Nonetheless, disciples are expected to endure sufferings for His sake. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2Ti 3:12).” The early church was persecuted. James was the first apostle to be put to the knife. Stephen was stoned for his faith. Many were dragged off to prison and lost their lives.

The inspired Luke penned the words of Jesus, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Disciples carry the cross daily. Every single day we are prepared to die for the Lord; every single day we die to self and sin and the world. If anyone should think the price too heavy, let him reconsider. But mark the words of Jesus, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

Paul said, in 2Co 4:10-11, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”

The Lord who makes this stunning demand on all who would follow Him gives us great comfort and cause for rejoicing in His words recorded in the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Mat 5:10-12).”

Are you paying the price of discipleship everyday by going to the death for Jesus Christ? If you are, blessed are you! If not, it is time to deny yourself and surrender your will to the Lord’s demand.