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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The Four Giants

You probably have heard of Goliath. Almost everyone has studied the account of Goliath challenging the army of Israel (1 Samuel 17). The Israelites were scared of him and no one would go out and fight him. Then David came upon the scene and killed Goliath. He killed him with a sling-shot and small Stone.

4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.
45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. And 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. 
50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.
51 Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.

There are other giants who are killed by Israelites. Four are mentioned in 2 Samuel 21. The Philistines come up against the Israelites to war against them. In verse 16 “And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David“, we learn about Ishbibenob. His spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass. That is very heavy. He intended to kill David. But Abishai killed Ishbibenob instead.

In verse 18 “And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant“, we read about Saph. He also is a giant and he is killed in battle by Sibbechai.

In verse 19, we read about another Goliath. His spear staff was like a weaver’s beam. Needless to say that was big and heavy. He was killed in battle by Elhanan.

Then we read about another giant in verses 20 and 21. “And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant. And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea the brother of David slew him.” He is not named but we are told something very interesting about him. This giant had six fingers on each hand. He also had six toes on each foot. He evidently was very large.

So large that he also must have challenged Israel like Goliath did when David was younger. But Jonathan killed this man.

In verse 22, we read that these four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants. We are told that all four of these giant men were sons of the same man. It makes me wonder why the father did not try to stop some of his sons from fighting Israel. After the first two were killed, one would think that the father would start to understand that God was with the Israelites. One would think that he would not want his other sons to be killed. But some people just do not want to learn. Some people just refuse to acknowledge God as the One True God.

Don’t be like this man and his sons. Don’t try to fight against God. Don’t try to defy Him or challenge Him. Instead, study the Bible. Learn all you can about His word. Then obey Him.

Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, WE can be saved from our sins when:
We place our trust in Him (Hebrews 11:6),
repent of our sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10),
confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10),
and are baptised (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).

And He died for ALL, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Jesus will continue to cleanse those who continue to live for Him.

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How to Study the Bible

The Bible is a very big book. Actually, it is a library of 66 different books. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. These books are all joined together because they have one common theme. This theme is God’s plan to save man from his sins through Jesus Christ. The first 39 books, the Old Testament, tell us that “Christ is coming.” The first four books of the New Testament tell us that “Christ has come.” The last 23 books of the New Testament tell us that “Christ is coming again.”

In order to understand the Bible properly, one needs to ask five questions as he reads:

  1. Who is speaking?
  2. Who is spoken to?
  3. When is he speaking?
  4. What type of language is the speaker using?
  5. What are the circumstances or conditions under which he is speaking?

If one can answer these five questions correctly, it will help him to understand the Word of God clearly.

Who is speaking?

Everything in the Bible was written by men who were inspired by God. However, these inspired writers sometimes recorded by inspiration the words of evil men. Even the words of Satan are found in the Bible (See Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5; Matthew 4:3, 6, 9). These words are accurately recorded, but they are not recommended for us to follow today. If one asks, “Who is speaking?” it will help him to know whether the words he is reading are words he should obey.

Who is spoken to?

In Genesis 6:14, we have the following commandment of God: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood.” Is it necessary for us today to build a ship out of gopher wood in order to please God? No, God does not want us to do this. This command was given to Noah. It was necessary for him to obey it in order to be saved from the great flood which God was going to send on all the world. But this command does not apply to us today. If we answer correctly, “Who is spoken to?” we will see this command was meant only for Noah.

When is the Bible writer speaking?

Is the writer speaking to people such as Abraham and Isaac who lived in the Patriarchal Age when God revealed His will directly to the fathers? Or, is he speaking to the people of Israel who lived under the Law God gave to Moses at Mt.Sinai? Or, is he speaking to people today who live under the Law of Christ, which is the New Testament?

In the days of the Law of Moses under which Israel lived, animal sacrifices, sabbath keeping, special feast days, instrumental music and choirs and a special priesthood were all a part of required worship (Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23; 1 Chronicles 25; 2 Chronicles 29:25; Psalm 150). But Jesus fulfilled the Law, Psalms, and Prophets [the Old Testament] (Luke 24:44). He has taken it away (Colossians 2:14). Today, all men live under the Law of Christ, which is the New Testament (Hebrews 8:6-13). If we ask, “When is he speaking?” it will let us see that these Old Testament laws of worship are not for us. We must go to the New Testament to find how God wants us to worship Him today.

What type of language is the inspired writer using?

All human languages have two types of speech: literal and figurative. Literal language is the type which is found in the historical books of the Bible such as Genesis and Exodus, the book of Acts, etc. It is fact. Literal words must be understood to have their actual meaning. In literal language, if a sheep is mentioned, it means a four legged animal which has wool on its back.

Figurative language is different. Words are used to represent ideas or thoughts which are different from the actual meaning of the word. For example: a sheep or lamb may be spoken of, but an animal is not meant. It is being used to represent something else which has some of the qualities of a sheep or lamb. Jesus was a man. He is the Son of God. But in figurative language in the Bible, He is sometimes spoken of as a lamb. John the Baptist said of Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Lambs were used for sin offerings under the Law of Moses. John did not mean that Jesus was an actual lamb. But he meant that Jesus would be the offering for our sins.

What are the conditions or circumstances in which this writing is given?

If we know the circumstances surrounding the writer at the time he writes, it will help us to understand what he is saying. For example: many people have great difficulty understanding the book of Revelation. But if we know the circumstances under which the book was given, it will help us to understand its message. The writer of Revelation was John, the apostle. He had been imprisoned by the Roman government on a rocky island called Patmos. This was done because he was a Christian. The heathen Roman government was persecuting the church of Christ near the end of the first century (about A.D. 95 to 100). The things which were revealed to John were “things which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). The book of Revelation was intended to encourage those Christians who were being persecuted in the first century (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). Any time that Christians are persecuted, they can gain great encouragement from studying the book of Revelation.

The Bible is God’s inspired Book. It is His revelation to mankind. But in order for us to understand the Bible, we must learn how to study it properly. We must “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). If we will ask these five simple questions as we study, we will find that we can indeed understand God’s Book!