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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Balance in Service

There should never be a moment in a Christian’s life when we say there is nothing to do. There are always things to do when we live for the Lord. An important thing, then, is to keep a balance in our service. But we are not always consistent; at times we go off the rail in spite of best intentions.

Martha was just like any of us. She had the best intentions, but in this case she lost sense of her balance and allowed herself to get caught up in the rush of activities.

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he (Jesus) entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word (Luke 10:38-39).”

She hurried into the kitchen to prepare a meal, perhaps also to prepare thirteen extra beddings for her unexpected guests. Meanwhile Jesus used the waiting time to teach his disciples, and Mary sat in listening. Martha was unhappy with her sister and grumbled to Jesus, perhaps loud enough so everyone in the room could hear her.

“Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me (Luke 10:40).”

She was implying, “I’m doing a lot of work; I’m preparing for my 13 unexpected guests. Have you noticed how hard I’m working for you?” There was both pride and self-pity in this. She wanted the admiration and sympathy of the Lord. Her complaint was also an indirect criticism of Jesus. She believed he had failed to notice that Mary was not helping.

Jesus chided Martha. You could sense the patience and tenderness in the Lord’s voice. “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things (Luke 10:41)…”

Firstly, Jesus addressed Martha’s need for attention. He did notice what she was doing. But her own self-pity blinded her to the fact that Jesus was aware of her efforts. The Lord reminded her that he knew and he cared.

Next, Jesus addressed Martha’s criticism of her sister. “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:42).” How many opportunities were there for anyone then to be a participant in one of Jesus’ private teaching sessions? Mary saw the opportunity and took it.

Finally, Jesus addressed Martha’s criticism of Him. He told her, “But one thing is needful. Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” In other words, he would not order Mary into the kitchen; she had made the right decision. Martha was wrong for implying that Jesus was not sensitive to her needs.

Please notice that Jesus did not scold Martha for not being in the study group. He approved of her working in the kitchen just as he approved of Mary attending class. Everyone would go hungry if Martha had not performed her role as a hostess.

We have to learn to be like both Martha and Mary; it would be right for Martha to join the class after she had carried out her responsibility as the hostess, but not before.

We need to spend time in God’s word, learning from the Lord and deepening our understanding of God and His will. But let us also learn that we have to make time for the hands-on work of the church: “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction (Jas 1:27).”

Working hard in one area does not excuse us from the other. We cannot neglect Bible study and prayer because we are so busy with everything else. But we also cannot say we only want to attend Bible studies and refuse to contribute to other works of the church. Neglecting either one of them is not right.

Martha wasn’t wrong for choosing to work in the back, making provisions for her guests. Hospitality is a wonderful quality in any Christian. Her mistake was in expecting everyone to agree with her: Mary ought to have helped her and Jesus ought to have known better that she needed help.

There is much to do for our Lord while we remain here. We must learn to discern the times when to prioritise one thing over another. Balance is important. The Lord knows our devotion and works.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1Corinthians 15:58).”

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Taking God Seriously

It feels almost like the blink of an eye – the year is rapidly coming to a close and a new one, Lord willing, will soon dawn upon us. Did you ever think you would make it this far? Have you considered that it is all due to the grace of God that you are here now?


Hopefully, you have. And hopefully, you will have been reminded that life is like ‘vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (Jas 4:14).’ Time is a luxury, our most precious commodity. We cannot afford to waste time, for it is wasting life. It is about time the church is roused from its self-induced slumber.


David said, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good (Psa 14:1).” For the longest time there have been men and women who disregard God. They deny His existence and reject His Being. Paul listed the tragic consequences of men’s failure to take God seriously (cf. Rom 1:18-32).


The concern of this article is not so much with the lost of the world but with those in the church, among God’s children, who do not take Him seriously. The following are some examples for us to take special care.


Playing Church


We are not discussing those who forsake the assembly (cf. Heb 10:25) but those who may be physically present but whose hearts are far away – tardiness, dozing during Bible classes and worship, fiddling with electronic devices, answering phone calls, talking to neighbours and so on.


Worship must be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Mere physical presence simply does not guarantee either the right attitude or worship according to the New Testament pattern. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men (Isa 29:13).”


We may not be teaching the precept of men over the truth of God, but nonetheless our hearts may be far from Him though we are physically present at the assembling place. This is playing church.




Quick question: whose responsibility is it to spread the gospel? If your answer is “every Christian”, well, congratulations. We all know the textbook answer and might even quote Mat 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16. But let us double check if in reality, we behave as if evangelism is the elders and evangelists’ exclusive responsibility.


Ask ourselves: when was the last time we took the opportunity (there are plenty, I assure you) to share the gospel? Or participate in the corporate evangelism program of the local congregation? I don’t mean once-a-year participation just so we could try to convince our own conscience that we have done it. I mean evangelising the community together on a regular basis.


Let us take evangelism as seriously as the Lord means for us to take it.


Closing an Eye to Sin


Nobody enjoys being the bad guy, isn’t it? When we know a brother or sister is doing something displeasing to the Lord, we would rather someone else (usually the preacher or elder) to raise the matter with the erring one while we either feign ignorance or talk behind their backs.


“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us (2Th 3:6; cf. 1Ti 6:5).”


God forbid that we do so out of self-righteousness. This commandment is given so that firstly, the leaven of sin does not leaven the whole lump (1Co 5:6-7) and secondly, so that the erring one might see the error of his way and come to repentance (cf. 2Co 2:5-7; 7:9-10).


This is what we must do when it comes to our attention that a brother or sister has sinned. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (Gal 6:1).”


“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (Jas 5:19-20).”


2015 is fast approaching. The time is now for us to take God seriously. Where we have not put in our utmost effort, let us do better and give Him the glory.

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On Living the Faith

Every now and then, we hear some Christians talking about faithful living as if it was rather unpleasant. These sincere brethren struggle at times to discipline themselves spiritually – prayer, Bible study, doing good, resisting temptations and so forth. They take the view that living by the faith of Christ means the sacrifice of certain pleasures and it does get tedious after a while.

This is an ‘outside-in’ view, whereas Christianity is ‘inside-out.’ Faithful living, or Christian discipline as some might call it, begins with a change in one’s relationship with God. It is not a philosophy or ethics we adopt and then try to inculcate by following a set of do’s and don’ts, ticking off a mental checklist.

A Change in Relationship

The former sinner, now a saint, enjoys a new relationship with God. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (Col 1:21).” The enemy is now a child of God. “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).”

Why do we live holy lives? Why do we pray and study the Bible diligently? Because we are now the children of God by His grace. We acknowledge what God has done for us and that without Him we are nothing. Our hearts are bursting with gratitude at the realisation of this amazing grace that we cannot help but live for His pleasure and glory. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1Jn 5:3).”

A Change of Heart

A change in relationship is not all. A change in heart is just as essential. We no longer live for the sheer gratification of the flesh and the pride of life. It is no longer ‘me, myself and I’. The heart is now turned toward the One who rescued it from the state of alienation and condemnation.

Paul’s heart was wrenched from hatred for the Lord and His church (cf. Acts 9:1-18). From a ruthless persecutor he was broken and mended and made an apostle (cf. Acts 26:14-18). Whenever we are tempted to think that faithful living is a chore, it is an alarm to search our hearts. Have our hearts been changed by the power of the gospel? Or do we, having put our hands to the plough, now look back? Such, the Lord says, are not fit for the kingdom of God (cf. Lu 9:62).

A Change in Loyalty

Previously we serve our own self-interests and worldliness; now we pledge our allegiance to the King of kings. When we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus (Rom 10:9-10), we are pledging our unyielding loyalty to him. As citizens of heaven (cf. Php 3:20), this is our honourable duty.

A Change in Purpose

For millennia men have been searching for the purpose of life. Vain philosophies and pseudo science lead not to the answer but to despair: they can offer no purpose. Going by the rationale of these outlooks, Man is no more than an animal – we begin to die the moment we are born. No meaning, no hope.

In Christ, we have rediscovered the true purpose of life. Paul declares this truth gloriously: “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Php 1:20-21).”

A Change in Lifestyle

Once more, Christianity is not ‘outside-in’ but ‘inside-out.’ Our lives are different not because we are trying to do things a different way but because we are different. Paul argues this point most convincingly.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 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. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness…What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom 6: 14-18, 21-22).”

Christians are new creatures in Christ (cf. 2Co 5:17-18). We have a new relationship with God and a new identity. Our citizenship is in heaven. Living by the faith of Christ is simply being what we are now in Christ. It is only natural for the children of God to live by His family values. Do not be deceived into thinking that the faith of Christ is a dull, joyless and monotonous existence. Nothing is further from the truth.

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Of Thoughtlessness, Impiety and Fear of Men

We follow on from last week’s article to consider other dangers that young people might fall into unawares, if we were careless in our walk with Christ.


Lack of thought is one reason why so many are lost today and why many more lose their salvation. Begin with the end in mind; think of the consequences of your actions and decisions.

Esau never gave a thought to his birthright; all he cared about was filling his stomach (Gen 25:27-34). Simeon and Levi must avenge their sister Dinah; they thought nothing of slaughtering innocent lives and the trouble their action would bring to their family (Gen 34). 

Solomon said, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established (Pro 4:26). Some young people would say, “Why so serious?” Christians, young and old, have to be serious about certain things in life. Spiritual warfare is a serious thing, salvation is a serious thing. Heaven and hell are serious things. 


Contempt of religion does not only apply to people who disbelieve in God or any religious system. It refers also to playing religion. One can be physically present for worship services and Bible classes, but the heart is far away. 

Some people come on Sundays as a mundane routine. Some come for reasons other than worship and fellowship of the saints. They cannot empathize with the psalmist who wrote, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD (Ps 122:1).” 

Religious jokes may sound rather harmless at times, but beware it does not lead you to take religion lightly. If it is worthwhile to have a religion, it is worthwhile to be sincere and earnest about it. 

You have to decide for yourself – between you and God – if you are going to take Him seriously. What will be your compass in life if you reject the Bible? The remaining alternative is the path to destruction. Yes, the Bible is difficult at times; of course it is as it reveals the mind of God to us. If you truly believe the Bible is the word of God, beware that you do not hold it in contempt.

Never laugh at religion. Never make jokes of holy things. Never make fun of those who are serious and in earnest about their souls.


 The wise man says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe (Pro 29:25).” Peer pressure can influence for good or it can lead to a downfall. “Be not deceived: Evil companionship corrupt good morals (1Co 15:33 ASV).” 

During the formative years of youth, it is easy to allow one’s mind to be influenced by the things one takes in – through friends, reading, TV shows, mass media, etc. Younger folks tend more than older folks to be concerned about what their friends will think or say of them. The fear of rejection and ridicule can prevent a youth from taking up godly habits of reading the Bible and praying. 

Herod was afraid of what his guests might think of him and so he had John executed (cf. Mark 6:17-28). Pilate feared the Jews so he had Jesus crucified. Fear of others’ opinion is a type of bondage. Learn to say ‘no’ if it leads to sin. The counsel of the wise man is, “…if sinners entice thee, consent thou not (Pro 1:10).”

God says, “I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth…(Isa 51:12-13)?” 

Remember the words of Jesus, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mat 10:28).” Only live to please God, and He can make others pleased with you. “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him (Pro 16:7).”

Again, God says, “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation (Isa 51:7-8).”

Learn to say in your heart, “I fear God, and therefore I need fear no man.”

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Of Pride and Pleasure in Youths

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word (Psa 119:9).”

Youth is a wonderful time of learning and of service to the Lord when health and energy are usually at its peak. Hope for the future looks bright and appealing; the sky is the limit. However, there are areas of dangers the young especially must take note of. These are dangers that can sabotage the spiritual development.

They could destroy anyone at any stage of life. The youth, however, will do well to learn to be vigilant against them from their young age.


Pride is said to be the oldest sin in the world. Pride caused Adam and Eve to be thrown out of Eden. They were not contented with their lot and wanted to be like God. By their pride, they let sin into the world.

Pride closes people’s ears to the gospel and turns everyone to his own way. Some youths are impatient and rude to elderly people, especially their parents, and will not stop to listen. They think they know enough of everything and are full of conceit of their own ‘wisdom’. They demand independence and their own way.

Rehoboam was like that. He despised the counsel of the older, experienced men who served his father and listened to the advice of the young men of his generation (2 Kings 12). Sadly, there are many like him.

Beware of pride. Do not be proud of your own abilities, strength, appearance, and cleverness. Do not be proud of your own self or your talents of any kind. Pride in young people is a mark of ignorance and inexperience.

Scriptures set before us the excellence of a humble spirit. We are warned not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Rom 12:3). We are told that if anyone thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know (1 Cor 8:2). How strict the command to put on humbleness of mind (Col 3:12); and also to be clothed with humility (1 Pet 5:5).

The Lord is our best example. He washed the disciples’ feet and said “ye should do as I have done to you (John 13:15).” It is written, “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor (2 Cor 8:9).” And again, “He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Php 2:7-8).” To be proud is to be more like a child of the devil than a child of God.


Youth is the time when you are generally most healthy and strong. Death seems far away – if you even think about it at all. Youth is also the time when you are least burdened with earthly cares. However, youth is also the time when desires and passions are strongest and constantly seek for indulgence.

Pleasure-seeking comes in many forms beside wholesome activities. You are aware of the immorality openly portrayed on mass media and pop culture. Sexual innuendoes are aplenty almost everywhere – the dressing, the suggestive body language, etc. Lascivious, drinking parties are also touted as activities that young people should indulge in, more so if you want to be popular and accepted.

Be on your guard against things that give temporary excitement, please the senses and gratify the flesh, but keep your mind from the standard of Christian conduct. Be careful you do not become like one of those the Bible calls “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Tim 3:4).”

The NT is full of warnings against worldly pleasure. “…abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul (1 Pe 2:11); “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth (Col 3:5); “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal 5:24)”; “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection (1 Cor 9:27)”; “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom 13:14).”

Solomon indulged in worldly pleasure and in the end concluded that it is all vanity.

There are more than these two potential dangers for everyone to look out for, which we shall see in the next bulletin, Lord willing. Let us continue to take heed unto ourselves.

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Bearding Lions and Slaying Giants

I love King David. What a hero! He was certainly one of the most beloved characters in the Bible. I mean, here was a man after God’s own heart yet his imperfection was blindingly glaring just like any of us. But his greatness, more than his leadership and bravery, was his humility to repent and confess when his sin found him out.

Let us revisit an episode in the life of this extraordinary yet very human king and learn the faithfulness of the Lord toward His own. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).”

David had earlier spared Saul’s life for the second time (1 Samuel 26:1-12). Who would blame David if he had killed Saul? After all, Saul was the aggressor here. David, though, chose to conduct himself with honour yet again. But in spite of Saul’s repentance (1 Samuel 26:21, 25), David pondered the possibility that one day he might die by the hands of the mad king (1 Samuel 27:1).

What? He who slain ten thousands thought that he who slain thousands (cf. 1Sa 18:7) would eventually get him? Put yourself in David’s sandals. If you were him, what would be your response? Would you pack up and run?

God delivered David from wild animals.
Imagine facing up to some of the most fearsome beasts. No, not in the protection of a zoo. If your instinct is like mine, you too would scream in terror and run as fast as your human legs and adrenaline could carry you. Usain Bolt couldn’t run fast enough to catch me! David, however, fronted up to these animals. Step aside, Bear Grylls.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him (1 Samuel 17:34-35).”

God delivered David from Goliath.
Goliath needs no introduction. Neither does Shaquille O’Neal to NBA fans. Now get this: Goliath is bigger than Shaq. That’s right. Shaq measures 2.16m in height. Goliath? A whopping 2.74m. Not even Andre the Giant (the late pro wrestler) at 2.24m could match Big G. Shaq would look up at Goliath (Andre, too), never mind puny shepherd boy David. No wonder the Bible tells us that “when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance (1 Samuel 17:34).”

And what did this rosy-cheeked, handsome boy say? “The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:37).” In what must be the greatest upset in history, “David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him (1 Samuel 17:49-50).”

‘Beasts’ and ‘giants’ in our life.
Certainly God delivered David out of insurmountable odds many times. What we see here is more than heroism and human high drama. We see the faithfulness of God in action. When he was on the run from Saul, David looked back over his life and took comfort that his God was mighty to save. Psalm 54 is proof of his dependence on the faithfulness of God.

We face our own ‘beasts’ and ‘giants’ in the forms of trials and temptations. At times they might appear as frightening as lions, bears and behemoths that could easily slam-dunk us through a basketball hoop, but they will work to our advantage. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).”

We can be assured that God will keep us when we remain faithful to His word. “But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5).”

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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.

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Despising the Church

“What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not (1Co 11:22).”

The Corinthian Christians had committed the terrible folly of a wrongful approach to the Lord’s Supper, for which the apostle sternly rebuked them. By their behaviour they had looked down upon worship and held the Lord in contempt, regarding the remembrance of His sacrifice as worthless.

A wrongful approach to any act of worship is to despise the church of Christ. As the church is His body (Eph 1:22-23), if we should despise the church, we are in fact despising Him. Let the saints of God keep a watchful eye for other ways we might intentionally or unintentionally despise Him and His church.


Forsaking the assembly.

Some unbelievers or atheists ridicule the church as a useless, even despicable organisation. It goes without saying that Christians would not despise the church in this way. But unfortunately a common way Christians despise the church is by forsaking the assembly. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Heb 10:25).”

When we forsake the assembly we are declaring to the world that “worship is not important. It is good to go to church when you feel good, the weather is good, and you have no other engagement.” This is despising the church because we would be treating it lightly, according more importance and prominence to other things in our lives. 

Accepting benefits without accepting responsibilities.

Do we partake of the Lord’s Supper in memorial of His blood shed for us, but do not seek the lost to tell them of Him? Do we listen to the preaching of the Word but fail to put it to practice in our daily lives? Do we own copies of the Bible but neglect to study the Word? Do we place our children in Sunday School but treat Bible classes as something less important than the myriad of things clamouring for our attention? Do we conduct ourselves as Christians on Sundays but for the rest of the week live like heathens?

By failing to prepare for worship.

We expect the preacher to be prepared to preach, but how do we prepare ourselves to serve? Song leaders prepare songs moments before service begins; men assigned to serve forget their assignments or are inappropriately dressed. Getting to bed late on Saturday night and feeling drowsy throughout worship on Sunday morning. Treating the church as a club where we meet friends for fun activities. And the list goes on, does it not?

Irreverence during worship.

Fiddling on smart phones and tablets, chatting with friends, walking in and out of the auditorium to answer or make phone calls, and other such like activities that distract from worship reveal the shameful lack of godly fear in many of the saints today.

Not taking doctrine seriously.

There are strangely some who think doctrines do not matter quite as much as living a good life; that the careful and industrious study of doctrines is a painful chore. They want to get to the practical parts. These immature souls do not yet realise that Christian living must be based on sound doctrine.

Unworthy giving to the church.

The ancient Israelites kept the best for themselves and offered the lame, blind, sick and blemished to the Lord (Mal 1:6-8). May we learn the painful lesson from history (cf. Rom 15:4; 1Co 10:11). If every member gives as the Lord has prospered, there would be so much more we could do for evangelistic outreach and benevolence.


The results are serious. We grieve the Lord when we despise the church (cf. Eph 4:30). Our spiritual lives weaken, as the Corinthians’ were when they held the Lord’s Supper in contempt. We might also become stumbling blocks to other Christians and visitors who might be considering obedience to the gospel.

We must remain ever vigilant and mindful against any potential action that might cause us to despise the Lord and His church, and recognise how we might have despised the church and then repent earnestly. Thereafter, let us resolve not to commit the error again and to serve with humility, joy and gratitude.

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Discouragement is an emotion common to all of us, regardless of one’s ethnicity, cultural and/or religious backgrounds and upbringing. A misleading thought and surely one that has caused much grief among the children of God is that we are immune to trials and tribulations. This is not the case; we learn certainly from the book of Job that sufferings befall the righteous and wicked alike.

What is discouragement? To put it simply, it is to find one in a state where courage, hope and confidence so essential to face the challenges of life are lacking or missing. Discouragement, when not dealt with, could lead to further complications: physical illness, lack of appetite, inability to sleep well, loss of interest in usual activities, withdrawal, etc. Discouragement is a very real and present part of life but with awareness we can prevent it from overtaking us.

There are many causes for discouragement, and no two persons experience it quite the same. Some of the common causes are the following:

Threats to one’s well-being, whether physical, emotional or mental.
David experienced discouragement when his son Absalom staged a rebellion against him and he was forced to flee Jerusalem. “LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God (Psa 3:1-2).”

Loss of health, security, property, loved ones, opportunities, etc.
Job was depressed when he lost everything. “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived… Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?… For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest… (Job 3:1-3, 11, 13).”

Unmet expectations.
The disciples had very much expected Jesus to restore Israel to its past glory.
When Jesus was arrested, their courage left them and they fled. “…Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled (Mat 26:56).” They were actually hiding in fear when the resurrected Lord appeared to them. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you (John 20:19).”

When discouragement comes as a result of sin, the only remedy is repentance. Realisation of sin ought to generate godly sorrow, the awareness that it is God whom we first and foremost sinned against. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of (2Co 7:10) and repentance and confession of sins are conditions for forgiveness. “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 can better deal with discouragement by altering our attitudes.
Much discouragement happens because we are overly sensitive, overly concerned about our feelings. Some may stop serving or even quit the faith because his or her feelings are hurt. It is a form of creeping pride to put our feelings above Christ and the cause. Put Him first and others second, serve the Lord and other people.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (Pro 23:7).” Be careful what goes on in our minds and what intellectual food we partake. “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).”

Be realistic. Things cannot possibly happen as we’d like them to every single time. It also takes time to resolve problems and difficulties. Be realistic and patient with yourself and others.

Remember the Lord cares. Jesus our Lord gives us assurance of His care. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me (John 14:1).” “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1Pe 5:7).” We read earlier in Psalm 3 about David’s discouragement. But in the same psalm David went on to say, “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about (Psa 3:3-6).”

Hold fast to the end. Peter encourages the saints in times of trial to hold fast. Look toward the coming of the Lord. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1Pe 1:6-9).”

Our caring Father provides a way out for us. We have no reason to allow discouragement to defeat us. Lean on Him and trust in His promises. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1Co 10:13).”