VIDEO How Will I Know?

Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father…that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” —Matthew 11:25

We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step— we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin— “But if we walk in the light,” we are cleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again.

All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the “wise and prudent.” “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

It is perilously possible to make our conceptions of God like molten lead poured into a specially designed mould, and when it is cold and hard we fling it at the heads of the religious people who don’t agree with us.
Disciples Indeed


Matthew 11:25-30, United With The King

For Others’ Sake

All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. Romans 14:20

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Singaporeans stayed home to avoid being infected. But I blissfully continued swimming, believing it was safe.

My wife, however, feared that I might pick up an infection at the public pool and pass it on to her aged mother—who, like other seniors, was more vulnerable to the virus. “Can you just avoid swimming for some time, for my sake?” she asked.

At first, I wanted to argue that there was little risk. Then I realized that this mattered less than her feelings. Why would I insist on swimming—hardly an essential thing—when it made her worry unnecessarily?

In Romans 14, Paul addressed issues like whether believers in Christ should eat certain foods or celebrate certain festivals. He was concerned that some people were imposing their views on others.

Paul reminded the church in Rome, and us, that believers in Jesus may view situations differently. We also have diverse backgrounds that color our attitudes and practices. He wrote, “Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (v. 13).

God’s grace gives us great freedom even as it helps us express His love to fellow believers. We can use that freedom to put the spiritual needs of others above our own convictions about rules and practices that don’t contradict the essential truths found in the gospel (v. 20).

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

What are some of the rules and practices you keep as a believer in Christ? How might they affect other believers who think differently?

Jesus, give me the grace to give way on things that don’t contradict the gospel truth and the love to put the feelings of others above my own.

Sunday Reflection: Free to Submit

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

Depending on the circumstance, submission can be positive or negative. When it’s imposed, relationships are corrupted and people are wounded. (That’s one reason we condemn slavery and human trafficking.) But when submission is voluntary, it becomes a beautiful expression of love—which is what characterizes followers of Jesus.

Consider the relationship between God and His Son. The Father didn’t demand Jesus’ death for our sins—Jesus chose to lay down His life (John 10:17-18). This willing and active participation in God’s plan bears no resemblance to the forced obedience we typically imagine when we think of submission. The same is true for us: The exhortation to yield to one another (Eph. 5:21) is an invitation to exercise the freedom God has given us. And in that way, we experience fellowship with Him.

What kind of relationships would we have if loved ones forced us to serve them, or if God forced us to worship? Thankfully, He’s given us a choice, and each time we yield to Him—or to family and friends as appropriate—we taste true freedom.

Think about it
• Knowing submission is a freedom we’ve been given, how are you inspired to exercise it this week?  

The God of Patience and Consolation

“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 15:5)

Paul gives us a descriptive title for the Lord as the God of patience and consolation (encouragement). To understand this, we need to consider the context in which it was given. In the previous chapter, Paul addresses a divisive conflict in the Roman church where believers were judging and offending one another because of dietary preferences. He reminds them, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

Paul goes on to say, “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself” (Romans 15:2-3). Thus, our lives should be conducted to promote the edification of the body of Christ by denying ourselves and modeling the life of Jesus.

But how can we perform such a seemingly difficult task in our families, churches, and occupations? We are told that this ability is granted to us by our God of patience and consolation. Think of how much offence our Creator God has patiently endured with His gracious long-suffering toward sinful mankind and how much consolation He abundantly offers to us in His Word and through the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Let us look daily to God’s Word and model our lives accordingly: “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); and request His strength to perform it: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ….That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:14, 16). JPT

In All Perfection I See A Limit

Lamed

Lord, Your word is forever; it is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations; You established the earth, and it stands firm. They stand today in accordance with Your judgments, for all things are Your servants. If Your instruction had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for You have given me life through them. I am Yours; save me, for I have sought Your precepts. The wicked hope to destroy me, but I contemplate Your decrees. I have seen a limit to all perfection, but Your command is without limit (Psalm vv. 89-96).

I’m a perfectionist by nature. I probably use perfectionism defensively in uncomfortable situations to distance myself from other people. We use all kinds of devices like armor to protect ourselves—humor (being too funny), intellectualization (being too smart), superficiality (being too sweet). Sometimes achievement is an attempt to prove ourselves worthy in the eyes of others and ourselves.

This psalmist has a more realistic view. He promotes the faithfulness of God and his eternal Word. It’s settled in heaven, therefore he can stake his life on it’s immutable perfection. These qualities of the Word have supported the struggling psalmist in persecution and affliction. Through it all, he’s clung to the one sure thing he knows—the Word of God. It has become his delight, his salvation, and his stable reference point.

This section ends with a beautiful, original insight. “I have seen a limit to all perfection” (v. 96). No matter how high the level of excellence one might attain, the product of human creativity is short-lived at best. Works of art, clever creations, powerful empires—all are temporal. Only the Word is perfect, boundless, and eternal!

Personal Prayer

O Lord, I praise you for the absolute reliability of your Word. Help me to recognize the short-term duration of any work I may accomplish, including songwriting. May I look to your Word for perfection and not to myself.

The God Who Speaks

So My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.—Isaiah 55:9

Although we know that God is all-powerful, we also know that He is personal. But what does it mean to be a person? What predicates personality?

The best definition of personality I know is the one given to me by the tutor who taught me theology: “To be a person, we have to be able to think, to reason, to feel, to judge, to choose, and to communicate in words that constitute a language.” Richard Swinburne, a theologian, observes that people use language not only to communicate and for private thought, but to argue, to raise a consideration, to object to another. Unlike animals that show evidence only of wanting food and drink, people can want not to want something—like a fasting man, for example, wanting not to want food.

Now with that in mind—that one of the constituents of personality is the ability to think and speak—read the first chapter of Genesis. Notice how many times the words appear: “God said.” Count them. God is portrayed to us as a speaking God. And because speech is one of the constituent parts of personality, this proves to us that the Deity is a personal Being. We are not long into Genesis before we are brought face-to-face with the fact that there is more to God than mere power; the Almighty is a Person. This means, among other things, that the Almighty cannot be studied from a “safe” distance. Because He is a Person, He is someone who wants and waits to be known.

Prayer

Loving heavenly Father, how thankful I am that You made me like Yourself—to know and be known. May my strongest desire be to know You, not merely to know myself. For it is only when I know You that I can most truly know myself. Amen.

Further Study

Gn 1:1-31; Jb 33:13-14; 1Kg 19:12; Ezk 43:2

How many times does it say “God said”?

How did Ezekiel describe God’s voice?

I’ve Seen a Few Things

1 Corinthians 2:9

Grandpa, were you ever young?” There were overtones of doubt in the voice of the five-year-old questioner. But the answer had a ring of confidence: “I sure was, Bobby!” The eyes that met the little boy’s had both a twinkle and a far-away look. It was a long way back, but what was there was enjoyable to remember. “Young? Of course I was!”

The Psalmist said it too: “I was young and now am old” (Psalm 37:25). He wasn’t answering a little boy’s question. Rather he was looking at life’s varied experiences from the vantage point of piled-up years. David lived a long time ago, but when he wrote those words he was writing for us. He is worth listening to.

David remembered his youth. We who are older sometimes act and talk as if we never had a taste of life’s springtime. Recall it now and give thanks to God for it. There was a time when life was a succession of mountains to be climbed, and we had the strength and daring to scale them. Those years and those experiences were ours and we ought to recall them with gratitude.

David remembered his age. He had lived many years and he wasn’t trying to kid anyone—least of all himself—about the calendar’s uncompromising arithmetic. “I was young, now I am old.” To say otherwise is a delusion. Age can be carried with dignity when it is worn proudly. It is never more pitiful than when it is cloaked in the ill-fitting, borrowed trappings of youth.

David remembered his God. He looked down the long vista of the years and said, in the preceding verse of that same psalm, “the Lord upholds,” (v. 24) and in a following verse, “The Lord… will not forsake His faithful ones” (v. 28) To have a faith in God and a trust born of experience is to have a strength greater than the best muscles and a vision sharper than the keenest eyes. Such a faith adds life to years, not just years to life.

Since David’s time, God has revealed himself through his Son, Jesus Christ. His cross is the eternal evidence of divine love and the empty tomb is the triumphant symbol of divine power. So we go beyond David’s words and say with Paul, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).

I’ve seen a few things, but I’ve yet to see the best!

Bramwell Tripp, To the Point