VIDEO A Sign of Maturity – Show Me Your Passport

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Philippians 3:20

Many Christians rarely hear a sermon concerning biblical prophecy. Some pastors and teachers consider prophecy to be a controversial topic, with the potential to cause disagreement and division. But the return of Christ is mentioned, directly or indirectly, in all but four books of the New Testament (Galatians, 2 and 3 John, and Philemon).

The apostle Paul connects an understanding of the return of Christ to spiritual maturity. In Philippians 3, he describes his own desire to press on to his reunion with Christ as the culmination of his life of service on earth (verses 12-14). Then he says that all who are spiritually mature should think the same way (verse 15); we should understand that our citizenship is in heaven, not on earth, and live in expectation of meeting the Savior we followed on earth. So, contrary to what many believe, pursuing Christ now in anticipation of meeting Him then, is a sign of spiritual maturity according to the apostle Paul.

If you aren’t already, begin today “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. C. S. Lewis


Show Me Your Passport, Please! – Philippians 3:17-21 – Skip Heitzig

Diligence, Are We Overdoing It?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

When R. was in Primary One, she scored 9 out of 10 marks on a spelling test. Her mother responded by caning her, saying: “If you had prepared for the spelling test diligently, you’d have gotten full marks.”

Diligence—the mindset of focusing on something, and giving it constant, careful attention—is a virtue found in the Bible. In the book of Proverbs, we see many reminders to work hard, and warnings about laziness (for example, 12:24).

Diligence is also very much a part of Singapore culture. A recent news report on parenting observed that many parents here push their children hard to achieve top grades, believing that it will set their kids up for future success.

But, perhaps we can ask ourselves: Might we as Christian parents be emphasising diligence too much? Might we be giving our children the idea that their value in life is tied to their results, and this is something they can earn through hard work?

In an effort to build up the virtue of diligence in our children, we may give them the impression that diligence is the ultimate thing to trust and hope in. “You just need to work more so that you’ll succeed more and achieve more, then you’ll be happy,” we nag our kids.

But the Bible tells that God values us differently. Our value is in Christ alone, and not in how good we are, how well we perform, or how hard we have worked. It lies in us being saved—by grace.

When it comes to salvation, the Bible makes it clear that diligence makes no difference. The truth is, salvation—which is all that we need to be truly happy, secure and at peace—cannot be earned. It is given, not gotten. We can’t diligently remove sin from our hearts, nor can we diligently earn our way into heaven by doing good works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Diligence may be a prized virtue, but it is not what God wants us to ultimately prize. Depending on diligence leads to a driven mindset, constantly chasing after fulfilment through effort. It places our value in what we do and how well we do it. But depending on God leads to a grace mindset, constantly doing our best while resting in God who has given us all spiritual blessings in Christ, and who sees our value in His Son alone.

Which mindset do we want to pass on to our children? —Ruth Wan

 

Lord, thank You that we are saved through grace,
and not through diligence or our own works.
Teach me to continue relying fully on You,
and to nurture in my children
a mindset of grace.

 

What other pitfalls in parenting might we face as we try to raise our children to fear the Lord? For more articles on biblical parenting, visit our new website, Biblical Wisdom for Parents.

Prayer Does Make a Difference

1 Timothy 2:1-8

When we observe the godless condition of our nation, we readily recognize the need for change. But the biblical solution for our predicament is surprising. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul instructed his protégé to establish some priorities in the church, including prayer “for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). Our petitions help us live tranquil and godly lives and thereby provide opportunities to tell others about the Savior (1 Timothy 2:2-4).

Paul would never have given this command to Timothy if he didn’t believe that the church’s prayers made a difference in achieving God’s purposes for their nation. Our problem is not with the Lord’s promise or power, but with our doubt. By focusing on the enormity of the problems or the power of those in office, we lose sight of our sovereign God, who listens for our pleas that He intervene.

Political policies and legislation are not ultimately determined in conference rooms and governmental chambers, but in prayer closets. The voices that shape the direction of a nation are not necessarily those that loudly ring out in legislative halls, but those that approach the throne room of the heavenly Father with bold faith (Heb. 4:16). As the church believes and prays, the Lord will respond.

Knowing that God can change a country, you may be wondering why He has waited so long. But He is likely already working in ways we don’t recognize or understand. Every authority on earth can be touched by the power of prayer if we are willing to ask and believe God.

Real Weighty Matters

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

This particular “woe” among the eight in Matthew 23 is often only partially proclaimed. Usually, sermons are delivered about the “judgment, mercy, and faith” that are indeed the “weightier matters of the law”—but Christ’s somewhat offhand remark on the responsibility to tithe is either ignored or downplayed.

Surely the legalistic and public display of “obedience” to the law is condemned by Jesus. He rebuked these same men for their desire to show their spirituality. “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men” (Matthew 6:2). But Jesus also said in our text that they “ought . . . to have done” the tithing of their wealth.

The condemnation is that this kind of hypocrite seeks only his name in a bulletin, or a plaque on a wall, or a brick in a walkway, or a wing in a hospital or museum, and is indifferent to the quiet, background work of ministry that doles out judgment, mercy, and faith.

Jesus measures “weightier matters” this way: “I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36). “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

If we wish to honor and please our Lord, He expects us to do both—faithful tithes and offerings, and judgment, mercy, and faith. HMM III

Just Common People

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

—1 Corinthians 1:26-27

Christian believers and Christian congregations must be thoroughly consecrated to Christ’s glory alone. This means absolutely turning their backs on the contemporary insistence on human glory and recognition. I have done everything I can to keep “performers” out of my pulpit. I was not called to recognize “performers.” I am confident our Lord never meant for the Christian church to provide a kind of religious stage where performers proudly take their bows, seeking personal recognition. That is not God’s way to an eternal work. He has never indicated that proclamation of the gospel is to be dependent on human performances.

Instead, it is important to note how much the Bible has to say about the common people—the plain people. The Word of God speaks with such appreciation of the common people that I am inclined to believe they are especially dear to Him. Jesus was always surrounded by the common people. He had a few “stars,” but largely His helpers were from the common people—the good people and, surely, not always the most brilliant.   TRA005

In our church, Lord, help us to treat all alike as Your servants. Amen.

 

And He said to them all

And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross dally, and follow me.—Luke 9:23.

 

We pray Thee, grant us strength to take

Our daily cross, whatever it be,

And gladly for Thine own dear sake

In paths of pain to follow Thee.

W. W. How.

The more you accept daily crosses as daily bread, in peace and simplicity, the less they will injure your frail, delicate health; but forebodings and frettings would soon kill you.

Francois De La Mothe Fénelon.

 

We speak of the crosses of daily life, and forget that our very language is a witness against us, how meekly we ought to bear them, in the blessed steps of our holy Lord; how in “every cross and care,” we ought not to acquiesce simply, but to take them cheerfully,—not cheerfully only but joyfully; yea, if they should even deserve the name of “tribulation,” to “joy in tribulation” also, as seeing in them our Father’s hand, our Savior’s cross.

Edward B. Pusey.

 

Take kindly and heartsomely with His cross, who never yet slew a child with the cross.

Samuel Rutherford.

 

Change of Name

“And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali; for I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.” Hosea 2:16, 17

That day has come. We view our God no more as Baal, our tyrant lord and mighty master, for we are not under law, but under grace. We now think of Jehovah, our God, as our Ishi, our beloved husband, our lord in love, our next-of-kin in bonds of sacred relationship. We do not reverence Him less, but we love Him more. We do not serve Him less obediently, but we serve Him for a higher and more endearing reason. We no longer tremble under His lash, but rejoice in His love. The slave is changed into a child, and the task into a pleasure.

Is it so with thee, dear reader? Has grace cast out slavish fear and implanted filial love? How happy are we in such an experience! Now we call the Lord’s Day a delight, and worship is never a weariness. Prayer is now a privilege, and praise is a holiday. To obey is Heaven; to give to the cause of God is a banquet. Thus have all things become new. Our mouth is filled with singing, and our heart with music. Blessed be our heavenly Ishi for ever and for ever.