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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Doing God’s Will from the Heart

Imagine you are driving in your vehicle and you approach a school zone. You spot a police officer on duty nearby and slow down the speed, as you should while driving within a school zone. You respect the officer’s power to fine you if you drive above the speed limit, and you most certainly do not appreciate a fine.

Now imagine the next day you drive into the same school zone. This time there is no police officer in sight. You think to yourself, why not? Let’s just get through this area quickly.

You step on the pedal. Suddenly, a little girl appears within your peripheral vision and you slam on the brakes. A fraction of a second too late and tragedy could have occurred. You are shaken up.

The third day you drive into the school zone again. As with the previous day, there is no police officer in sight. Nonetheless, you slow down. Your heart has been affected by the near accident the day before.

Now, regardless of whether you suffer the consequence if you were caught speeding, you observe the law willingly, even happily.

The above little imaginary exercise is to illustrate that our Lord wants willing, cheerful adherents to His law. Fear of eternal punishment is a motivation for us to walk uprightly, and rightly so, but there is a better way.

Love is a better motivation than fear. The Lord Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). You cheerfully serve the ones you love, don’t you? It is a joyful thing to see smiles on your loved ones’ faces. We keep the Law of Christ (Gal 6:2) because we love and appreciate what He has done for us on the cross.

The apostle John writes, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1Jn 5:2-3).

Any married person knows that if his/her spouse does something as an automaton, without the heart, it really quite defeats the purpose. Likewise, acceptable service to God is from the heart. Paul writes to the Ephesians:

“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph 6:6).

Our worship and service to the Lord cannot be separated from our sincerity and heartfelt gratitude. Service and worship are not dour, joyless affairs. Our Lord says that our worship of God must be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

We usually get the truth part down to a pat, but the spirit part is sometimes lacking. What does He mean by the spirit? Joshua, by inspiration, exhorts the same attitude in worship and service. “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth” (Jos 24:14).

Service and worship is a joy, not a burden. The psalmist says, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psa 122:1).

Doing the Lord’s will, i.e. obedience, is not something that is coerced. Obedience is an act of the will. God did not create us to be robots—without thoughts, emotions and a measure of free will. He wants His people to obey from the heart. Such is the kind of obedience which truly pleases Him.

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom 6:17).

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A Conversation on Instrumental Music

The following conversation between three friends (A, B and C) was overheard one day somewhere on the sunny island of Singapore…

A: Hey man, we had an awesome worship yesterday. The band was great as usual.

  1. So you believe in the use of instrumental music(IM) in worship?

A: Of course. Everyone does.

B: I tried looking in the New Testament (NT) where it expressly says we can use IM in worship. I couldn’t find it. Maybe you can show me?

A: Does it matter? What’s important is we are into it, man. The music is awesome!

B: So you’re saying you can’t find it either?

A: The use of IM is an aid. It helps to build up ambience and feelings in worship.

B: Do I understand correctly then that there is no express command to use IM in worship?

A: It does not say we cannot use it. Like I said, it’s an aid.

B: How about this? The use of Ecstasy and other hallucinogen is an aid. It helps to build up ambience and feelings in worship.

A: No, that’s wrong. You cannot understand it this way.

B: Is there another way? I thought the point is using aids to build up ambience and feelings?

A: Look at it like this. We use song books and song leaders. They are not expressly commanded in the NT but we can use them. Same thing for IM.

B: So it should be the same for hallucinogen, isn’t it? Let me see if I understand you:

  1. IM is not expressly commanded or forbidden.
  2. IM helps in building up feelings for worship.
  3. Therefore, it is OK to use IM.

B: I can simply replace IM in the argument and still retain the same logic, can’t I?

A: I don’t think you get it. Using hallucinogen is substance abuse. It is wrong.

B: Where does it expressly say hallucinogen or other forms of drugs cannot be used in worship?

A: You cannot look at it like that.

B: Why not? IM is neither expressly commanded nor forbidden, but you say we can use it. Hallucinogen is neither expressly commanded nor forbidden, but you say we can’t use it. Laying aside the legality of hallucinogen, I still fail to see the consistency in your logic. Let me try something else. How about using Coke in place of grape juice in the Lord’s Supper? Or durian in place of the unleavened bread?

A: We are talking about music in worship.

B: We are talking about what God approves in worship.

A: We are not getting anywhere. You’re impossible to talk to.

B: Educate me, then. What makes you decide that you can use certain aid such as IM in worship but not others, like hallucinogen? What are the rules you apply?

A: Common sense!

B: So common sense says you can use IM, even though it is not expressly commanded nor forbidden, because it helps?

A: Yes!

B: But hallucinogen doesn’t apply, even though it is also not expressly commanded nor forbidden, because it is illegal?

A: Yes. Now you get it. You are not hopeless after all.

B: Thank you. But suppose we use something else instead? Say, breakdancing? How about HIIT? Maybe we can try playing ‘fetch’ with my dog. Going by your rationale, I can do all that as long as they help build up my feelings?

A: You are trying to cause trouble, aren’t you?

B: No, on the contrary I’m trying to apply your logic. Besides common sense (which doesn’t sound very ‘common’) what other rules do you apply?

A: The Bible doesn’t say we can’t use it! And there are so many people who can testify that music is great for ambience and lifting up feelings. Don’t tell me you don’t agree with that?

B: If you mean music uplifting emotions, yes. But we have seen how it is uncommon sense to simply say the Bible doesn’t say we can’t. There’s a lot the Bible doesn’t say, like hallucinogen. Surely there must be more to it than that?

A: For example?

B: For example, God told Noah to build an ark (Gen 6:14). God didn’t mention using or not using tools. But Noah must have used tools, don’t you agree?

A: Of course.

B: Why?

A: Why? It is common sense!

B: Right. Using tools was an aid to carry out the command, wasn’t it? Do you agree that it’s because it doesn’t interfere with the command to build an ark?

A: Fair enough. But using IM does not interfere with singing.

B: Let’s come back to Noah again. God expresslytold Noah to build an ark of gopher wood, right? Do you think that Noah would be obedient if he had used other wood?

A: It’s not the same case.

B: Let’s think about it further. God told Noah to use gopher wood. That excludes other wood, doesn’t it?That’s what the logical Law of Inference indicates. Don’t you think using other material would have interfered with the command to build an ark of gopher wood? Noah might still have built an ark, but if it wasn’t gopher wood, it wouldn’t be what God had wanted, would it?

A (fidgeting): It’s still not the same.

B: Let’s see. God tells us to sing (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). That’s vocal music. God had expressly identified the music he wants. The same Law of Inference excludes the other type of music, which is instrumental. By the way, doesn’t 2Co 5:7 say “For we walk by faith, not by sight”?

A: What’s your point?

B: Indulge me. And Heb 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please him”? And Rom 10:17 says “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”? So we are supposed to live by faith, for without faith we can’t please God. And the source of faith is the word of God.

A: Yes. But I still don’t see your point. We are talking about music in worship.

B: We are talking about what God approves in worship. Now let’s see what the word of God says, shall we? After all, it is the source of faith, and we need faith to…

A: Yes, I know. Just get on with it.

  1. Nice. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19). Let’s consider this. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Can the human voice do this?

A: Duh, it’s common sense!

B: Yes, it’s common sense. Now, how aboutinstruments? Can instruments speak, literally?

  1. I know what you are trying to get at, but I disagree with your point.

B: Hold your disagreement for a second. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col 3:16). The human voice can teach and admonish and sing; the instruments can’t. Again, common sense. Now, what is your disagreement?

A:It doesn’t say we cannot use IM!

B: Does it have to, since God has told us he wants vocal music, which is able to speak, teach and admonish? Again, the Bible doesn’t tell us a lot of things. It doesn’t tell us we can’t gamble or husbands can’t beat their wives, etc.

A: IM merely helps to build up ambience! It doesn’t replace singing!

B: Of course it doesn’t. But it adds another type of music besides singing, doesn’t it?

A: It does no harm but lots of good.

B: Doesn’t the Bible say we are not to add or take away or edit the word of God? Check it out. I believe it’s in Proverbs 30:6 and Revelation 22:18-19.

C: What are you two going on about? Whoa, A, look at the humongous pout on your face…

B: We are discussing what God approves in worship. A here says we can use IM. I was trying to understand his logic in light of what the Bible says.

C: Isn’t it obvious? Of course we can use IM in worship. The Bible says so.

B: Really? I was just asking B to show me where in the NT it says so. Do tell!

C: Read the Old Testament (OT). Just Psalm 150 will suffice.

B: How does that tell us we can use it in the NT?

C: OT, NT, what’s the difference? It’s still the Bible.

B: So, going by that rationale, we can offer animal sacrifice in worship then?

C: Bro, you’re sick. What are you talking about?

B: Just trying to understand your rationale. If the OT is no different from the NT, and we can use IM because it’s mentioned in the OT, then logically we can offer animal sacrifices and burn incense, can’t we?

C: It doesn’t work like that, bro…

A: That’s what I have been trying to tell our hero here.

B: Paul said to the Galatians who wanted to do some of the stuff in the OT: “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:3). Follow one article, obligated to follow them all. So, let’s come back to the rationale you just used. Logically, we should be able to offer animal sacrifices and burn incense, can’t we?

C: Well, we don’t have to offer animal sacrifice, but we can still use IM.

B: In spite of Gal 5:3?

C: Gal 5:3 is only talking about circumcision, not the whole Law of Moses.

B: Well, there’s Gal 5:4…

C: What? What does it say?

B: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). You see, Paul was talking about the whole Law of Moses.

A: He was talking about Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 when you came along. He’s saying these verses only mean vocal music, not IM.

C: That’s easy. It DOES say IM. The phrase “making melody” means you can use IM.

B: Making melody where?

C: What you talking about, bro?

B: It says “making melody in your heart to the Lord”, doesn’t it? Not, “making melody on an instrument.”

C: Dude, my pastor said that phrase was from the Greek word, psallo. Psallo means we can use IM. Get it? You can’t argue with the Greek word. And you can’t argue with my pastor!

B: I don’t know if your pastor is a Greek expert, but Thayer is certainly acknowledged as one of the best Greek lexicons available. Let’s see(taking out his mobile device). Thayer says:

Thayer Definition:

1) to pluck off, pull out

2) to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang

2a) to touch or strike the chord, to twang the strings of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate

2b) to play on a stringed instrument, to play, the harp, etc.

2c) to sing to the music of the harp

2d) in the NT to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song

B: Sure, he does give definitions for IM usage. But pay attention to what he says in 2d). “In the NT to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song.” Look, I appreciate you bringing out psallo, but we know how words change meanings over the years. What comes to mind when we hear the word ‘gay’?

A & C: Well, homosexual…

B: Yet less than a hundred years ago it meant happy and cheerful.

A & C: What’s your point?

B: The point is this. The word psallo also has evolved its meaning over centuries. As a lexicon, Thayer gives us all the meanings across the word’s etymology. But true to its scholarship, Thayer tells us the contemporary meaning when it is used in Eph 5:19. “In the NT to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song.” No IM expressed or implied. It’s not only Thayer. Other renowned lexicographers point out the same thing.

C: I still don’t like what you say about the OT. It is the word of God.

B: Of course it is, but the question is: are we still obligated to keep the OT? Or, does the OT still apply to us in the practice of Christianity? Remember what we have just heard in Galatians?

A & C: Of course it still applies! Don’t you keep the 10 Commandments?

B: I understand you conduct services on Sundays, right? Since you keep the 10 Commandments, why don’t you keep the Sabbath? It’s Saturday, you know.

C: Christ was resurrected on a Sunday, that’s why we worship on Sundays.

B: The Bible says, “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).

A: What’s your point?

B: Christ shed His blood to put into effect the New Testament; the old covenant is no longer in effect. The Bible also says, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col 2:14).

A & C: …

B: Look, guys, there is much we can discover in the Bible. Why don’t we find a nice place, get some coffee, and look further? Sounds good?

A: Fine. I’m cool with that.

C: You got me curious. OK, let’s do that.

 

P.S. A, B and C are currently on a regular, weekly study of the Bible together. Besides the topic of authorized music in worship, B is also helping his friends discover what the Bible says on a host of things.

 

P.P.S. On a Wednesday evening, after another session of searching the Scriptures, A decided to obey the gospel. C is struggling, meanwhile…

 

 


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Unprofitable Servants

Our Lord teaches in Luke 17:7-10 the true attitude of a servant.

“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:7-10).

Perhaps you have come across some well-meaning folks, in a display of piety, quoting the final two lines whenever they are praised or complimented for some good service they have performed.

“We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

Perhaps we have ourselves quoted these lines.

While we ought not to bear evil suspicions of anyone’s intentions (cf. 1 Timothy 6:4), it is good for our souls to check our own intentions whenever we use these oft quoted lines from the Lord Jesus. Let others take care of their motives; we shall care for our own.

However long or short the number of years we have been members of the Lord’s body, the church, we could at times pause and ask ourselves: what have I achieved all these years as a Christian?

Surely, we know brethren who have an impressive ‘curriculum vitae’ as far as their areas of service go, and it is right to appreciate these brethren and remind ourselves that we too can contribute more in our service to the Lord.

But what makes for an achievement? Dictionary.com defines it as 1) “something accomplished, especially by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed; 2) the act of achieving; attainment or accomplishment.

Take a moment and consider these definitions with the words of the Lord, “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.”

The Lord uses the word “unprofitable.” This is an interesting word for Him to choose. The Greek word, achreios, means “useless, good for nothing.” The word “unworthy” better expresses the meaning of the word in our modern English than “unprofitable.”

This is a rather strong expression for the Lord to use in describing the servant’s attitude, don’t you think?

Faithful, obedient service is no less than what our Lord deserves from us. We score no points with Him; we merit no credit whatsoever for rendering service we owe to our Lord and Master.

“We have done that which was our duty to do.” What have we done for the Lord and His church in the years, however long or short, as a Christian? Have we actually ‘achieved’ anything, in the sense of the word as popularly understood today?

Whatever “superior ability” we might imagine we possess, whatever special effort and great courage we might display; whatever we think we have attained or accomplished—what are these but “that which was our duty to do”?

If we should ever feel tempted to pat ourselves on the back whenever we are tempted to think of our “achievements” in the Lord, take a moment to ponder: “We are useless, good for nothing, unworthy servants: we have only done that which was our duty to do.”


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Christian Unity 

The topic of Christian unity is an important matter that deserves the serious attention of every member of the Lord’s church. Our Lord Jesus Himself emphasized the importance of having His disciples being united in the faith through His prayer.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me”(John 17:20-21).

In view of the above passage, we need to understand that the mission of Christ is divine in that He has come to this world to preach the gospel message of salvation so that those who obey Him would have the hope of eternal life in heaven.Hence, the world would be convicted by the good news of Christ and believe that Christianity is divine when they are able to witness for themselves the strong unity amongst Christ’s disciples.

As we flip through the pages of the Holy Scriptures, we will also read of several other passages that emphasise the importance of unity amongst the believers of Christ. Consider what the apostle Paul has written.

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Here, in this passage, the apostle Paul was addressing the church at Corinth pertaining to matters on unity as it was observed that there were contentions amongst the Corinthian brethren. In particular, the congregation at Corinth was not divided on matters of sound doctrine.

In this regard, we can observe that the teaching of Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ was one and the same thing.However, the rebuke of Paul was concerned with the opinions of individual brethren because they have caused divisions amongst themselves by choosing to follow various teachers (1 Corinthians 1:11-13).

So, what important lesson can we learn from the example of the church at Corinth? As members of the Lord’s church at Jurong, let us always take heed that having uncontrolled pride concerning one’s opinion about spiritual matters could result in divisions within the body of Christ.

When there are contentions within the church, it will be difficult for brethren to speak the same thing and be joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. The outcome will be disunity within the members of the Lord’s church and this is what Satan ultimately desires to see happening to the church.

Moreover, let us also take heed to the warning mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”

As God’s people, we will not deny that the church should be united. However, it is a very different thing to propose that anything unscriptural should be tolerated in order to promote unity amongst brethren. In the light of this argument, we need to recognise that any form of unity taken at the expense of accepting doctrines or practices not authorised in the New Testament is clearly not the kind of unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17.

Hence, it shouldn’t surprise that the introduction of unscriptural teachings and practices over time since the establishment of the Lord’s church is responsible for the birth of denominationalism.

There are currently so many thousands of denominations and the denominational world is making an effort to arrive at some type of union among themselves, which has resulted in the ‘unity in diversity movement’, known as the Ecumenical Movement.

In essence, the main thrust of this movement recognises that there are indeed many differences in the teachings of various denominations, but this would not be a major issue as they still can extend fellowship amongst one anotherand be united as the family of God.

Brethren, as we examine the Word of God, let us remember that Jesus must be honoured as our King and His New Testament as the only rule of faith and practice.

In Ephesians 1:22-23, the Scripture reads: “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

This passage of Scriptures tells us that Christ is the head of His church and all of His disciples are expected to be in submission to His will.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul also tells us in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Thus, we can understand that the only scriptural basis for unity will be for members of the Lord’s church to have the mind of Christ, which can only happen when we accept what He says and do as He requires. To this end, the Word of God is the basis for scriptural unity.

Danny Leong


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Rejoice Evermore

Paul instructs us to “Rejoice in the Lord always (Php 4:4)” and “Rejoice evermore (1The 5:16).” How can we do that? Allow me to suggest four ways we can do that.

The first is to be constantly aware that we are loved. We know that the Father loves us so much that He gave us Jesus so that in Him we can have eternal life (cf. John 3:16). Paul states in Gal 2:20, “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

How can we measure the love of God? We cannot. The love of God is so great it transcends our mind. It takes the special revelation of God through His Son and Word for us to even realise its magnitude.

Think about the greatness of this gift. Think about the cost of this gift. Let the beautiful truth fill us with awe, gratitude and humility. It is wonderful to love and be loved. We bask in the love of family and friends. There is One who loves us beyond the love of family and friends. It is the Lord, our Father who is in heaven.

The second way we can rejoice evermore in the Lord is to realise that God is using our circumstances and situations to train us in godliness.Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

What is that ‘good’ that is working out for those who love God? Paul tells us in the next verse: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to beconformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren(Rom 8:29).”

Our Father is working through our situations to make us more and more like Jesus. So no matter how tough things get, we can rejoice and let God do His work as we put His precepts into practice.

Peter comforts us with these words:

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously (1Pe 2:21-23).”

The third way is to value above all things the relationship we have with the Lord. Paul, in comparing everything he had achieved before he was a Christian, declared:

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Php 3:8-9).”

Paul lost a lot but he gained much more. What he gained is supremely worth having—a relationship with Christ, which would last for eternity. The more of it he had, the more he wanted.

This is what every Christian has; this is what you and I have in Christ. What is it worth to you? What are you willing to let go for it?

The fourth way to rejoice in the Lord always is to freely give what we have freely received (Mat 10:8).The Lord wants us to preach the gospel and to share the knowledge of Christ with others. When we do that, we know we are giving the world what it desperately needs. David says:

“I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation (Psa 40:10).”

It is a joy to be given the privilege to share Christ with others, to give to them what we have also received.The gospel is worth proclaiming, even when people are sometimes hostile toward the messengers. Christians can experience joy and sadness at the same time.

There is joy in sharing the gospel, even when there is sadness when the gospel is rejected. But the joy that comes when someone obeys the gospel! Some of you know what that feels like: leading someone to Christ by the gospel.

“The Lord says that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:10).”

The Lord sent our seventy missionaries in pairs to preach the Good News. Upon their return and report of success, Luke says of the Lord, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit (Lu 10:21).”

What was the cause of our Lord’s joy? It was the conversion of souls; the receptive hearts of the humble toward the message of the kingdom, even though the proud and conceited reject the message.

Looking around the world today, what do we see? Many are walking in the broad way that leads to destruction, facing an eternity without God. What could be more important and worth doing than sharing the Good News about Jesus and the salvation He brings?

Dear saints of God, let us rejoice evermore in the Lord. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Rom 15:13).”


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Joy in Being Right with God

Not long after Jesus sent the Twelve on a limited commission to preach, He sent seventy disciples out in pairs to preach as well.

“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest (Luke 10:1-2).”

The first instruction He gave them was to pray. This is important; it is the Lord’s work, His harvest. Before the workers begin to work, they must pray.The harvesting of souls is the work the Lord has left his church here to do. If we neglect reaching out to the lost, then we are not on the same page as our Lord.

As we work to become more effective soul-winners, we must remember to rely on our God and seek His favour in prayer.

In verse 17, we learned that “the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”They were excited at the success of their mission. They experienced the joy that comes from serving the Lord.

Any service rendered to the Lord ought to be an expression of our gratitude and devotion to Him for the grace and mercy He has bestowed unto us. Just serving in gratitude is itself a joyous experience.

God has no need of any unwilling labourer in His vineyard. He doesn’t require any fearful soldier among the ranks of His holy army. The Lord ordered Gideon to dismiss from the army of the children of Israel “Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead (Judges 7:3).”

Our God never compels anyone to serve unwillingly. But let it be known that the loss is ours to bear, whosoever among us refuse to serve with gratitude. For a start, we will miss out on the blessing of the joy that comes from faithful and grateful service.

And at the end of the ages, when the Lord shall reward His servants, can one who was unwilling to serve expect to be welcomed with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant;enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat 24:23)?

When we are successful in our ministry, it further adds to the sense of joy. It becomes a further motivation to improve our service. But regardless of seeming success or not, we are called upon to serve. Let us rejoice in the privilege and opportunity to express our humble gratitude.

Some skeptics tried to paint a picture of Christianity as a gloomy religion.They allege that Christians are killjoy and do not want anybody to have fun.But Christianity, instead of being gloomy, actually drives away gloom and moodiness.

We read that these disciples came back from their work rejoicing.Joy comes when the saints are united and live and work together in the will of God. Joy is the Christians’ heritage as a member of God’s family.

But doubts and unbelief, whether as a result of listening to the lies of the devil or not immersing ourselves in the knowledge of Christ, can make Christians afraid of God as a slave driver who doesn’t want us to be happy and who forces us to do things against our will.

This is simply not true. The Scriptures tell us the opposite.

“I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High (Psa 9:2).”

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence isfulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psa 16:11).”

“They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures (Psa 36:8).”

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom 14:17).”

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Rom 15:13).”

Like theseventy disciples, we all enjoy a job well done. We love the sense of having achieved the objective of what we set out to do, especially when it is the Lord’s work.

The Lord, however, gave them—and us—a greater reason for rejoicing than success in ministry. He said to them:

“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).”

Knowing that we are saved by Christ and that we are in a relationship with God is a cause for great joy to the Christian’s heart, and this joy is something only Christians can truly understand.

“Rejoice in the Lord” means rejoice in belonging to Christ, in having His Father as our Father, in being cleansed and righteous before Him and made ‘heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:7)’ and in having salvation and eternal life as God’s gift.

We have the great spiritual blessing of joy because the Lord has redeemed and adopted us. Why should our hearts be troubled?


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Hindrances to Joy

Christians are meant for joy. We discover true joy only in a right relationship with God, which transforms how we view other people, our relationships with them and also how we view the material blessings given to us freely by our heavenly Father.

Joy is something which is badly misunderstood, sometimes even by Christians. To better appreciate the joy God has created us to enjoy, let us be more aware of counterfeit joy.

Joy is not the same thing as fun and games. Many people are fun-seekers without finding joy. A person can have ‘fun’ but remain joyless.Irresponsible pursuit of pleasure is common in our times and actually points to a lack of joy.

True joy is of God and therefore by its very nature, holy. Christians certainly can have fun but let’s not mistake fun for joy.We can have joy without fun just as we can have fun without joy. The two are not necessarily connected.

Think of Paul and Silas. They were in prison and certainly not having fun. But they had joy. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them (Acts 16:25).”

Joy is also not being a ‘jolly good fellow’ who is always smiling and cheerful and is generally the life of the party.Some Christians are like that while others are not and never will be. This is a matter of temperament and has nothing to do with joy.

I think that is good news because if joy is dependent on having a sunshine personality or jolly temperament, some of us would be disqualified from ever having joy.

Joy is not the same thing as being carefree. Again advertisers would have us think that taking a vacation and getting away from it all is the key for joy.But if that were so, as soon as the holiday is over and you return to the responsibilities and burdens of life, joy ends because you are no longer carefree.

On the night He was betrayed, less than 24 hours before His crucifixion, the Lord said to His disciples:

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken to you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:10-11).”

Even at that moment Jesus has joy, although He was not carefree.

Similarly, Paul in prison facing possible execution was not carefree, yet he had an abundance of joy and wrote to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Php 4:4).”

Joy was the reality for both the Lord and the apostle despite the pressure of getting killed. It should be reality for us today too.

Since joy should be reality for Christians today, why then are some not experiencing joy more abundantly?People, even Christians, who are hurting, find it hard to believe that it is possible for them to have this joy in the Lord.

They may even get bitter and angry when they know others are experiencing joy and want to share it with them.

There are eight hindrances to joy common to humans. Christians are not spared from experiencing them in life. We can label them the four black Ds and the four black Fs.The four black Ds are: disappointment, desolation, depression and desperation. The four black Fs are: frustration, failure, fear and fury.

Christians are not victims or prisoners of either the past or the present. The power of forgiveness is at work in our lives.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9).”

We have before us the promise of deliverance. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment(2Pe 2:9).”

Joy will someday be ours in the fullest measure. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev 21:4).”

We should not give way to the negative feeling that life will never be better for us than it is now.Christians ought to have incredible heart capacity. Grief, desolation and pain are triggered by present situations but faith produces joy, hope and peace.

It doesn’t mean we will never experience grief, desolation and pain, it means we experience something else alongside the hurt.It is possible for Christians today, like Paul, to be ‘sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2Co 6:10).’

True joy is not a result of our circumstances or situations; it is a result of being rightly related to the God who designed us for joy.

Nehemiah and Ezra encouraged the people, saying, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh 8:10).”And David said, “The king shall have joy in your strength, O LORD; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice (Psa 21:1)!”