Tuesday, 5 October 2021

THE BLESSEDNESS OF SPIRITUAL POVERTY

 What does Jesus really mean when He taught that it is blessed to be spiritually poor?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Indeed, great blessings belong to those who realise:

  • They are spiritually poor.
  • They need to change for the better.
  • They need God’s mercy and forgiveness.
  • They need to depend on Him for strength to change for the better.

In other words, they are willing to humble themselves before God.

This theme is further amplified in the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14):

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

We would have thought that the former with his good deeds would be approved by God. But he was proud and self-righteous, treating the latter with contempt. It was the humble tax collector who found favour in God’s eyes. He realised he was spiritually poor—could not measure up to God’s standards of morality—and needed His mercy and forgiveness.

On the other hand, the spiritual state of the Pharisee above can be compared to the members of the church of Laodicea, who were lukewarm and did not realise they were spiritually bankrupt.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (Revelation 3:15-18).

Indeed, it is better and more blessed to acknowledge our spiritual poverty and seek God’s mercy than to think we is spiritually rich but, in God’s eyes, we are not.

Even Paul, the apostle, proclaimed: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy 1:15).

To reiterate, the way to blessedness is to humble ourselves before God and acknowledge our spiritual poverty. And unless the Holy Spirit through God’s word convicts us of our soul's corruption, we won't be changed from shame to glory & from glory to glory.


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SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS AND POVERTY

What truly matters is not how we see ourselves but what God thinks of us: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, POOR, BLIND, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

http://bit.ly/1L4zs69

Thursday, 12 August 2021

COVID: DEVELOPING A POSITIVE MINDSET

Living positively in a difficult season of doom and gloom

In the current pandemic, fear and uncertainty abound. We are gripped by a sense of helplessnessand even hopelessness. Now, one and the half years on, the contagion continues to rage all over the world, one wave after another. With viral mutation and emergence of new variants, it seems as if there is no end in sight.       

The pandemic is part of the end-time cluster of earth-shaking calamities and trends which include pestilences, famines, earthquakes, wars, persecution, false prophets, deception, moral decadence, apostasy and man’s love of self, pleasure and money ... all of which are recorded in the Bible. And all this SHAKING is meant to wake us up spiritually. https://bit.ly/37evv2A

As believers, we pray that God will keep us safe. We commit to Him all the days of our livesthat we will continue to serve, honour and glorify Him.

While we hold on to His promise in Psalm 91that He will protect us from the viruswe are not so foolhardy as to neglect safety measures (wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated enclosed places). https://bit.ly/3isX6Ds

Firstly, we have to set our minds on things abovelive purposefully and intentionallymaking the best use of our limited time. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we know His will for our lives–what He wants us to do. Those who are led by the Spirit are children of God (Romans 8: 14).

Two things can derail our plans to live for God:

On one hand, we can indulge in wasteful living and the pleasures of the world. Since life can be so transient and uncertain, we might reason to ourselves: “Let’s eat, drink and be merry while we can.” Actually there is nothing wrong with enjoying God’s blessings provided  we are grateful to God and do not get carried away in the process.  All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful; but not all things edify (1 Corinthians 10:23).

On the other hand, we can be consumed by worries and concerns that we become distracted from God’s calling for our lives. Everyone faces problems in life. That's not the issue. More importantly, how do we respond and who carries the burden? The trouble with us is, in our finite minds, God is too small. We can't let go and let God take over, can't cast our cares and concerns on Him.

Like wise stewards (Matt 25:14-30), we have to utilise our God-given talents and resources before it is too late. Some faithful believers have died, their lives cut short by the virus. However, they have gone home to a well-deserved place of rest and reward. Their lives reflect Paul’s motto in life: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Our lives need to be characterised by sobriety and self-control, not drunkenness, carousing and careless living. And that can only happen when we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of us.

When we realise we are spiritually weak, we are blessed in God’s eyes (Matthew 5:3). As such, we need to pray so that the things of the world and our fleshly desires will not prevail over our good intentions. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).

As we seek to live meaningful lives in this pandemic, may we reflect on the positive and negative themes found in the following passages. And may the Lord grant us wisdom and understanding (1 Corinthians 2:15-16).

Positive theme

So be very careful how you live. Do not live like people who aren’t wise. Live like people who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity. The days are evil. So don’t be foolish. Instead, understand what the Lord wants. Don’t fill yourself up with wine. Getting drunk will lead to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-18).

The end of all things is near. So be watchful and control yourselves. Then you may pray. Most of all, love one another deeply. Love erases many sins by forgiving them. Welcome others into your homes without complaining. God’s gifts of grace come in many forms. Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully (1 Peter 4:7-10).

Negative theme

Be careful. If you aren’t, your hearts will be loaded down with wasteful living, drunkenness and the worries of life. Then the day the Son of Man returns will close on you like a trap. You will not be expecting it (Luke 21:34)

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear the message. But as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures (Luke 8:14).

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HOW DO WE MAKE SENSE OF THE PANDEMIC?

What is its significance from a biblical viewpoint?

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CLINGING ON TO PSALM 91, NEGLECTING SAFETY MEASURES

If we believers hold on to the promise in Psalm 91that God will absolutely protect us from the virusand neglect safety measures (wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated enclosed places), we are only being foolhardy.

https://bit.ly/3isX6Ds