Jurong Outreach

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


Leave a comment

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

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.