30 Jan 2022
As we grow, we find ourselves yearning to contribute towards the spiritual well-being of others. Gratefulness and a growing sense of responsibility make us more appreciative of God’s truths gleaned from the many sermons, leadership skills acquired in ministry, experiences gathered through care groups and counselling skills picked up from practical encounters. God often reminds us to encourage and love one another, bear the burden of one another, comfort and pray for one another, forgive and forebear with one another, teach one another …. . Each specific ministry may call for a slightly different set of qualities and skills but one principle transcends them all. God uses Isaiah to teach this to us. On a lighter note, have you wondered why “ONE” is put in front of the word “ANOTHER” as opposed to just using “another” by itself eg. help another, pray for another? I am thankful for this simple reminder – How?
What we're going to talk about is the same topic. And as you have observed over the last four weeks, there seems to be a different angles that are coming up. And I'm so grateful for that, that the Lord will just put the whole thing together, the whole puzzle together, bringing different aspects of ‘one another’ to the audience. Today, as you notice, when we care, serve, build or do anything for one another, there needs to be preparation. And you have heard many of the preparations whereby we talk about the skill, we talk about the knowledge, the qualification, and for some of us, we have the age, and that's where the experience will come in. So we're very grateful that all these things are taking place.
The Book of Isaiah But today, I just want to ask, can you take a short walk with me? In the book of Isaiah, there are 1,292 verses. Now I'm not going to frighten you because I know when we go through that, it is going to take days, maybe. But I'm going to comfort you, in the sense that we are going to talk only about seven verses. In all these 1,200 over verses, only seven verses. And we're going to talk about three remarks by Isaiah and three remarks by the Lord. So can you imagine how short the sermon is going to be like, okay? So we're going to see what Isaiah has to tell us.
Isaiah 6:5 As we journey into that time, we can see Isaiah was a young man. He was approximately 20 years old, like many of you who are here today. He is 20 years old and he has the desire to want to be with God. And in that year itself is the year whereby they said that King Uzziah died, and he was found in the temple of God. And I believe for a man who wants to be with the Lord and wants to serve the Lord, you have to know about him. So it's not a surprising thing that he will spend his time going to the temple. But on that day, as he was at the temple, he saw a very strange thing. He saw the King of Kings on the throne. And besides that, the angels were just above him. And then suddenly, he heard praises from the angel to the King of Kings. And when these praises were being uttered out, the door, and not only the door but even the post of the door, you know how solid the door posts are, began to shake in a temple. So I believe the whole temple is basically shaking. And the moment he saw that, for a person who walks close to God, he knows it is not something he demonic but he knows that he has come into the presence of the Holy God. And straightaway he uttered these words. He says, “Woe to me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5). For Isaiah to come before the Lord and say, “I'm a man of unclean lips.” - what crosses our mind? Oh, probably, you know, Isaiah knows that even my secret sin, I have to inform the Lord because He knows everything. So instead of Him bringing up to me, I better confess it to Him first. Or is that Isaiah, having prepared himself to serve the Lord, his sinful nature is very minor in the eyes of man. Probably, you know, I mean, an angry word to someone, maybe I lie a little bit, maybe I shout at someone, or I bluff. So it's just a matter of unclean lips. And as they continue, he says, “and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips”.
Now, I believe all of you would know that the Israelites are the chosen people. And when God wants to choose someone, I'm sure He's not going to choose all those ugly creatures, you know, sinful nature, I mean, demonic people, to want to be the chosen people. He probably will choose very good people. It's just like how Isaiah said, “I'm a man of unclean lips and these people that I'm dwelling with are also people with unclean lips.” That scene is not very big, you know. It is just a small little thing, a little utterance that they shouldn't be saying. But somehow or another, we get angry, we get upset, we get irritated, we say it out loud, so it's understandable. So we will go away thinking that Isaiah is not too bad after all and you know, at the end, people are just not too bad, after all.
Isaiah 1 - 5 But then, after that, if you look at Isaiah chapters one to five, before where we started off at Isaiah six. This is what is being mentioned from Isaiah chapters one to five. I'm just picking up only one verse in each of those chapters. In chapter one, verse four, it says, “You are a nation of people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers …”. That was how God referred to Judah. And then in chapter two, he says, “You man, you're proud. You are very proud and I'm going to humble you.”. And in chapter three, he says, “Your sin is like Sodom.” And all of us know, if you have read the Word of God, that Sodom is so sinful that the Lord had to punish the people there for their sin. And He says, you know, your sin is just like Sodom’s.
Now, I just want all of you men, I know some of you are sitting with a lady next to you on the right or on your left. Can you just look at them and tell them or just look at them, give a smile with your eyes, and let them know “you have been a good influence to me”. Okay, can you do that? Yeah, not many of you are turning. Okay, maybe you need a bit of convincing. Now, do you know that in Changi prison, at the present moment, there's about 11,000 inmates there? A little bit more. And out of the 11,000 inmates, 11% of them are women. That means what? That means 89% of us men are inside there, you know? So can you imagine, how can a woman not be a good influence to man? So now can you turn to her, give her a smile and say, “You're a good influence to me”. And that is what is happening. But at that time, even the Lord would point to the woman and he says, you know, “You daughters, you women are a filth of Zion as well.” So strong was the word of God. He did not even mince it because He wants all of us who know what proceeds before His meeting with Isaiah and that is important. And finally, He says, “You call evil good and you call good to be evil.” Why? Because we think that when we do the things of God, we are asked to forfeit many things in life that are no good for us. We will not go around pursuing all the possessions that we always wanted. They will no longer be ours. All the pleasures that we seek for will no longer be ours. What about the position, the prestige and the power we can get in life? They will not be ours. That is why they do not like the things of God and they say those types of things are evil. But the things that we are doing now, they are good because they provide and meet all the so-called needs and wants that we want in life. And that is the condition that Isaiah, Judah are living in.
Sin, Iniquity, and Transgression
So when Isaiah was saying that, remember that it is not small sins that he is referring to. He just very kind with his words and he wants to come before the Lord even to disclose the inner sins of his life. And when this takes place, after Isaiah had made mention, this took place - he saw an angel flew from the sky, went to the altar of the temple, took up a burning coal with a tong, and he brought it to Isaiah, and took that coal and went on his lips. And when the coal went on his lip, this is what the angel says. He says, “Thy iniquity is taken away, and thy sins purged.” Have you ever wondered why the angel will not just simply say, “Your sin is taken away” or “Your sin is purged”? Why iniquity is taken away and the sin is purged? Has the coal done two things instead of one?
What about this verse? And God says, you know, when He was talking to Moses in Exodus, He says, “I keep mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression (another new word) and sin.” The Lord seems to say, to tell us that He does not only forgive our sin but transgression and iniquity as well. All of us are very familiar with the word ‘sin’. It is something that is wrong. When we do something wrong, it is sin. And we sometimes use the word iniquity and transgression in the same meaning as sin. They can be in the same basket but definitely when the Lord breaks it up like that, iniquity, transgression and sin, you're forgiven, it shows that there is a distinction among the three. And failing to do it, that is why many of us are caught in the situation whereby we thought we are okay but we are not okay.
And when Isaiah ultimately prophesied Christ's death, we know that Christ died for our sin. All of us understand that. But when Isaiah says that, he also mentioned the word ‘iniquity’. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The Lord had laid upon him, that is Christ, the iniquity of all of us. That means he did not only die for our sins, but also the iniquity as well. “For the transgression of my people was he stricken” - transgression as well. So when Christ went to the cross, it was not just for our sin but our transgression and our iniquity. What is it all about? And I ponder. I always wonder why is there a distinction among the three. And here he mentioned, in another part of Isaiah, “make his soul an offering for sin…”.
You know, this is one portion of God's word that I'm very concerned for myself. Before I came to know the Lord, John 3:16, was the one that brought me to the Lord and I know that the Son of God died for us. But then as we live as a Christian, you will notice that other verses become more important as we begin to grow. And this is one of the very important verses which I am always afraid of. I'm very frightened of this verse because, you know why? Christ says, you know, he tells his disciples and he says, you know, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father.” Doing and not doing other things, but the will of my father. And he carries on the story by saying, “Many of them will say to me (many of these people I'm talking to) … have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” So what is the problem? If I cast out demons, if I prophesy in God's name, and I do wonderful things in God's word, what is the problem? And note the words “many of them”. Many of us can be in that bracket of ‘many’ as well. And the remark that Christ says is, “I never knew you: depart from me, you workers of iniquity.” It is not that you are doing sinful things. Prophesying and casting out demons in my name is not a sinful thing, but he uses the words “you workers of iniquity”. There seems to be a distinction here. And we must know that distinction because it's going to help us in order to go out to serve, to build, and to encourage, and to bear the burden of one another. It is very important that we know this. The best way is always to go to the original language. And the original language for these three words are a little bit different from what we understand, I believe. Sin, which is called Hatta in the Hebrew language, we are very familiar with, so probably I will not explain so much on that. But rather iniquity and transgression, which is Awon and Pesha, respectively. Now, in the definition of what you see in the dictionary of what iniquity is, iniquity is simply explained as immoral, a character that is immoral, or a character that is a very unfair, or it is a very unfair characteristic or behavior that we are involved in - that is the meaning of iniquity. So it is a behavior that shows unfairness, it is an immoral behavior. So it's something that we do. And then under transgression, which is Pesha, it is explained as an act that we do that is against the law - that is transgression. But in the Hebrew language, it speaks much clearer why we always forget transgression and we always forget iniquity and we know sin, and sin, and sin alone. Awon, in the Hebrew language, means a wicked desire of ours. A desire is not visible, it cannot be seen. And normally, when we have a wicked desire, we do not want other people to know it so we will keep it a secret in us. And the power of sin is always in secrecy. So we will have a wicked, secret desire in us. And then for transgression, which is Pesha, that is crossing the line. Now, in the dictionary, it is an act that goes against authority. But crossing the line, we will explain later, that it is not an act. It is something invisible as well. And that is why we don't pay much attention. And that is why we find that many Christians, when they do something wrong, they know it is sin and when they are caught or when they are found, they know that it is sinful, they tell the Lord, “I'm not going to do it.” or they tell their spouse or their friend, “I'm not going to do it. This is sin and I'm not going to do it anymore.”. But if we forget iniquity and we forget transgression, that can happen again. And that is why we find that it happens the second time; and two years later, the third time; one month later, the fourth time; and it goes on in our life. And we asked ourselves, how come I cannot get rid of this?
Iniquity is awaiting the opportunity to sin. There is a desire and we are just waiting for that desire to be fulfilled. No one knows about it. It is a secret. Transgression - we see the possibility of fulfilling and meeting the desire that we have. And we tried to develop this possibility into an opportunity that is to come. And the moment this opportunity is right, we seize the opportunity and we sin. That is the distinction. Another way to explain it is in First John 2:16. As you know, John had made it very clear that our sins are linked to one of these three: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. And these are the three things. Transgression will take place and after that, if you're not careful about it, it will appear as sin and iniquity is actually the sprout of sin. You see, when Adam and Eve did the wrong thing, the seed of sin is planted in each one of us here. And the Lord allowed that to stay with us as a consequence of what has taken place in Adam and Eve. We cannot remove that and every now and then it will sprout, it will start coming out. And it is important that once it is iniquity, we snip it off. But it will come again, and we should snip it off. If we don't do that, then we will find that that little sprout will be fed by our transgression. And when that transgression begins to feed it, it will grow from a little sprout to tentacles of pride of life, tentacles of lust of the flesh, the pride of life and the lust of the eye. And that, as all of us know, which is easier to remove? To cut off the little shoots, the little sprout, or to try to pull away the tentacles of an octopus? All of us would understand that.
Our sins have consequences on other people Another illustration to make it clear to all of us is like what happened to David. David, after a long day, he was just resting. And he feels, you know, that it was a very, very difficult day that he had. He couldn't sleep because I guess he has many battles and many responsibilities. So one of the nights he just went up to his rooftop. Today, they call it a penthouse. They went up to the rooftop and they were just walking
around and probably they heard some laughter or some people talking. And he looked and a short distance away on the other rooftop, he saw some lady washing up. A lady was washing up and others were helping her. And he just had a look. And he looked. Now men, have there been moments in your life, whereby you kno, you were walking with your spouse or your girlfriend, and then suddenly you see a lady, you know, who is not very properly dressed pass by and your eyes just go in that direction as well? Has it happened? I like silence because silence tells me something else. And then your spouse, your wife, will tell you or give you a nudge and say, “Hey, dear, why are you looking at her like that?” You know? And then, men, we have our pride, you see. Then we will tell them, “Eh I'm a man, man? What do you expect me to see? Look at another man? Of course I will look at a lady. And any way, I just had one look only. What's the problem? Just one look, you know.” And ladies, when you encounter your friend or your spouse saying that next time, just look gently in his eyes, don't be upset or angry, and just say, “I understand, dear. But that one look was so long.” Just tell him that and I believe he will understand. So that's what happened to David. He was looking and suddenly, you know, a lot of thoughts came into his mind. He was wanting to cross into transgression - crossing the line. And the next thing he knew, the next morning, he asked someone to go and find out who was staying there. And then of course, his servant went there and he said, “Oh, her name is Bathsheba and she's the wife of one of your generals, Urriah.” And straightaway, this may not be exactly what he did, but possibly how transgression can take place. Straightaway he can think, “Oh, her husband is under my command. Oh, that's an opportunity. Why don't you call her to come and see me because I want to give her a personal report, you know, of how the husband is doing, you know? He is doing a great job and I would like her to know personally from me, you know? And because I have a lot of things to do, why don’t you ask her to come in the later part of the evening and not in the afternoon or in the morning?” You know, so he went and she was there. And when the servant was around, what is the possibility of him telling the servant, “Okay, this is gonna be a private thing I'm going to tell Bathsheba. Why don't you just take the time off so I can let her know about the wonderful job that her husband is doing?” And one thing led to another and when the opportunity presented itself, sin took place. And when we realize, when sin takes place, what happens in our life? It affected Bathsheba. It affected David. But what has it got to do with Urriah, the husband? But the husband had to die because of their sin. He asked the general, I mean, not the general, but probably the chief of staff, to send Urriah to the thickest battle to make sure that he gets killed. So he had to die for the sins of the two. And many innocent men, because they were involved in the battle, had also to die because of the sins of the two. Joab, who is the Chief of Staff, had to do something so ugly, by sending a group of people to die, knowing that he is a general, a very faithful general, and these men likewise are fighting for the king and fighting for the land, but I have to do it. This is another sin and the little baby that was born, also had to die because of the sin of the father and the mother. So always remember, when things are not right with us, people around us suffer as well. It is not just you and me but other people will have to suffer.
So now probably you will understand, you know, when Christ said in Matthew 5:28, “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” So the appearance of sin takes place as early as iniquity. And that is why when Jesus was trying to tell me many years ago, I was wondering, how can that be possible, you know? And then when I looked into that, I find that yes, it is very possible. Because if I don't arrest that, things will begin to happen, one leading to another. And even when David, you know, when he prayed, he always asked God, you know, and he always confessed not only his sin, but his iniquity and his transgression as well. He made it a point that all these appearances of sin, two of them quite invisible and the one, sin itself, which is visible, to be taken away. I confess and I seek forgiveness for all these areas of my life. So when the Lord says, you know, “I never knew you: depart from me, you workers of iniquity.”, it is because we use the Lord's name in vain to satisfy either the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life. And it can happen anywhere - in an organization that is secular, or even in a religious organization, it can take place.
When God asks: Can you care, serve, build another for me?
So when God asked us, can you care, serve and build another for me? Well, as Christians, we know what to say. So our humble reply is, “Oh, Lord, I have little to give. My abilities, they're very limited. My capabilities, they're very insignificant. And my skill, I still need some time to polish it.” But if the Lord is to come and tell us, you know, “But child, my child, you have iniquity. You have transgression and all these is the pride of life, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye. Can you give this to me?” And our reply? Are we willing to give it up to the Lord?
A righteous heart A righteous heart is one that is purged of iniquity. And then, after all these have taken place, Isaiah heard the Lord saying - now pay attention to this - “Who shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah quickly replied, “Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Now, I want you to look at this and I want you to compare this with three other wonderful men in the Old Testament.
Moses - Moses was asked to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and he replied, “Who am I? I'm a nobody. How can I do this stuff, you know? These people won't acknowledge me. And we are talking about maybe half a million people here. And how am I going to talk to Pharaoh? In fact, you know, I caused so much problem there and I took the Israelites out and you asked me to go to Pharaoh and try to tell people about bringing them there? I'll be having a lot of problems!”
As for Jeremiah, he was asked to serve as a prophet and he says, “Lord, I cannot speak.” because Jeremiah at the time was only 15 years old and he really cannot speak. So he says, “I cannot speak, I can't do this. This job is too much for me.”
And what about Gideon? He was asked to save Israel from the Midianites. And he said, “I come from a poor family and I'm a nobody. I'm the youngest. Why did you pick me to do this type of job? And this is a big task that you've asked me to do.”
What is the difference between these three and Isaiah? For Moses, he was asked to lead them out of Egypt and then the other two. What is the difference? Well, probably you've seen it. All the other three had excuses whereas Isaiah said, “Here am I; send me.” Simple and plain. And you believe that that is a miraculous, a wonderful thing Isaiah is doing because his heart is purged from iniquity - a righteous heart. But there's more to it. If you look at this carefully, in the case of Isaiah, no mission was given. All the Lord asked was, “Who will go for me? Who will I send?” That's it. What was the mission? There was no mission given and Isaiah quickly said, you know, “Here I am. Send me, if you find it is fitting.” What Isaiah has done here is that he has given the Lord a blank check. In other words, “Lord, you fill in the amount. You fill in what you want me to do. I am available.” We may not do this, you know, give a blank check to people. We are afraid. But can we give a blank check to God or do we feel that we cannot trust Him enough to give Him a blank check? How many of you, by a raise of hands, have ever received a blank cheque? No one. If I ask you how many of you are wishing to receive a blank cheque I think probably everyone will put up their hand.
But in my life itself, 40 years ago, when I was in Canada where my wife was serving the children in a nonprofit organization, there was a lady, a 60 year old lady there. And after knowing my wife about something for four days, spoke to her and developed a relationship. He asked my wife, you know, “This seminar, this Christian camp that you are going for - why don't you go for the Christian camp?” Because my wife, in one of the discussions, brought up his Christian camp, you know. And then my wife said, “Oh, no, because we are very careful with our money. We are here on no-pay leave. So we cannot just spend.” I mean, everything that we need to do, we will spend. So this lady the next day, she actually gave my wife a check and no amount was indicated there because she doesn't know how much to write. And instead of asking my wife how much she needed to write, she just gave the check to my wife and said, “Well, what you need, just write it.” I couldn't believe it. The first time ever in my life. And until today, that is still the first time ever in my life that I got a blank cheque. And for us men, we will manage finances and you know, I was thinking, “Wow, that is good.” There is a camp fee and there is a transport fee and there are certain snacks that we buy. I know for Gospel Light, whenever we go for a camp we will always bring snacks. So there are snacks to buy and all that. So probably you know, it will come to maybe about $300, $400 or $500. But then my wife said, “No, I think we should just put the camp fee.” And the camp fee at that time was $150 and she wrote $150 on the check itself. That's why men, your wife is a very good influence in your life. If my wife had not written, I probably would have written something like $500 or $600. So appreciate the woman in your life. Do you know that even the words “better half” was started by a poet by the name of Horace and it was started as a friend, a person who helps a lot. You see, a better half was never meant for husband and wife. But over the years it has always meant husband and wife. But do you know that nowadays it is always the man that says of the woman when introducing her, “This is my better half.” but I've not heard a woman say to a friend about the husband, “This my better half.” so men, we got a problem there. So we got to correct that, you know, hopefully in time to come.
So this is something I heard also about thirty over years ago. I remember a Pastor was talking about this and I thought it was a very good illustration of what we want to do today. This is a picture taken at that time of a man walking across a tightrope, Niagara Falls. And Niagara Falls, only 11 People have crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope - 10 men and one woman. But one of them by the name of Charles Blondin, he was the one that went the most. He walked up and down at least 300, 400, and maybe even more times - no one kept count. But he does that. And he just enjoyed his work so much that sometimes he will push a wheelbarrow across, sometimes he will put a blindfold, and then there are times where he will go into the middle and he will do a flop. You know, he just kind of do a back flip and he will still stay on the rope. And also he will even cook his breakfast and eat there. And he will cross and he will come back. And on some of these occasions, when he comes back, he will look at the audience and ask the audience; he says, “Do you believe I can go the second time?” and of course the audience you know, and some of them who have been living around the area, they have come more than one time, and then they will say, “Yes, yes. Yes, you can do it. You can do it!” “Louder! Do I hear yes or no?” “Yes, yes. Yes. Yes, you can do it!” You know, then after that, he will say, “Sir,” because he has kind of spotted who are the people who say, “Yes, yes, yes” the loudest. “Sir, can I ask you to climb on my back and I will walk across with you?”. And straight away, the “Yay, Yay, Yay” becomes softer and softer and softer. Because when the guy says ‘no’, he is going to point to the next one, and the next one, and then he invited everyone. “Who among you would want to sit on my back?” No one. And he says, “I asked you a question. I asked you whether you believe I can go across, and all you say, ‘Yes, yes, yes, I believe!’”
We Christians call ourselves believers. We tell the non-Christian, “You are non-believers.” Do we believe enough, when the Lord says, you know, “I want you to help me to serve one another. I would like to ask you to go and bear the burden for one another.” Do we believe enough to say, “Lord, I will go” or our “Yeah, yeah, yeah” will slowly quieten down. And finally, after all the years, only one man sat on his back. And that man was his manager. There was no one else. And I think the manager, because he's the manager, he has to do it. You know, otherwise, you know, Charles Blondin, will say, “Eh how come you also don’t want to sit on my back?” and he will say, “You've seen me walk so many times!”. Only one man. So as a believer, let us live up to our word. If we are willing to serve the Lord, have no fear to give a blank cheque to the Lord. Because the Lord had never shortchanged us. You know that in your life.
Responsive Heart (Heart mirroring my belief) Isaiah has a very responsive heart. His heart mirrors his belief, that is why he is able to say, “Here am I, send me.” without permission at all and not knowing what he needs to do. And then comes the interesting part. And the interesting part is, the Lord says, without any prompting or any question from Isaiah, the Lord said, “I want you to go to these people (I mean, the people in Judah). They will hear you, but they will not understand you. They will see you but they will not perceive. They will perceive not.” That is the kind of thing that you're going to face. That means, their hearts are going to be fat, their ears are going to be heavy, and their eyes are going to be sharp. And that's the condition you're going to minister to. And Isaiah replied, and this was his question - “How long, Lord?” Some people think that Isaiah was kind of taken aback, you know. “Wow, you gave me this kind of mission!” and he was shocked and was wondering, you know, “You mean to say, I got to do this kind of work? I hope it's not too long, you know.” and he asked God, “How long?” I don't think so. He already had a righteous heart. He already had a responsive heart. And the Lord asked that question so that Isaiah would ask the Lord this, “How long, Lord?” It was not meant for Isaiah. It was meant for all of us, the Christian after the life of Isaiah, to know another heart of Isaiah. And then the Lord's reply is, “Until the city is destroyed. Until the houses are broken down. Until they hardly find many people there, and only remnants of people will stay there. That is how long.” And Isaiah never flinched from his job. He went there faithfully, and he went there and for the next 46 years of his life, two-thirds of his life, he was serving the Lord in this capacity. And the condition he was working in, people who would kind of ridicule him. People opposed him and people laughed at him, but he spent 46 years of his life doing that. And why is he able to do that? Because he has a reverent heart, one that reveals his faith in the Lord.
Reverent Heart (Heart Revealing My Faith) You see, when we are not careful, and we don't snip off the sprout that began to grow under the category of in iniquity, it was with transgression, it will begin to be like tentacles, ultimately. And is going to be very, very hard to get it off. That is why when you meet up with a person who, let's say, for example, he has been not has not been faithful to the spouse. And then he says, “Oh, okay, I'm so sorry. I will not do this again.” Probably the spouse caught him or her. “I will not do it, please give me a second chance.” And if he doesn't snip off the iniquity, ultimately, it will begin to grow again five years later. We have many cases. How come you're doing it? I thought you told your wife “sorry”, right? Or your husband “sorry”, right? Why is it happening again? And it will happen again. That is why it's very important to identify and know that. And once we have a righteous, responsive and reverent heart, that's where we're going to do great and wonderful things for one another.
That means your ministry, when you go out, to serve, to care, to pray, to help, you know, to love one another, it will be very different from many who are out there doing the same thing. Because of your reverent heart, your responsive heart, and especially for your righteous heart, you will be very, very different. And if you look at the words, you know, “one another”, you'll notice that in the Bible, they do not say, you know, “help one another, pray for one another, bear the burden of one another”. But ‘one another’ is always there. ‘One another’ is always there. Almost 100 times it is written in the New Testament. It may be a very insignificant thing. But to me, I think it is very significant. Because when you put one in there, it becomes what? It means that each other, as much as I help you, I get help instead. It is reciprocal. So many of us will think that when I go there and help, I am better than the person and that's why I'm helping the person, that’s why I'm praying for the person. That's why I'm bearing that person’s burden. No, the meaning of it is reciprocal. There will be many times in our life when you need that prayer, when you need encouragement, when you need teaching as well. So always remember that when you go up there, it is not helping another but helping one another.
And when I was young, a young Christian, I always liked to think of this picture that helped me a lot in my Christian growth. When I was young, I went to church and basically you can say I'm a zero because there's not much I can give to the church. There are so many things I need to learn, I do not know about God yet, and I don't know what is truth, and then the organization or the church, everything. I'm like zero, which means there's no input at all. But do you know that when there is a one leading a zero, when a one leads a zero, there is a value added. It has become a 10! But when all the zeros are together, they all become zeros. There is no value added. But that is why you must be able to lead someone. It is only then that you add value into his life and become 10, 100, 1000, and 10,000. Always remember that. Why do I pick one? Why don't I pick two? Why is it just one only? You know why one? Because we can never make a decision for another person. All of us will know that. We can only make a decision for ourselves. As much as I can encourage you, I can tell you, I can use the word of God to inspire you, you know, and to tell you, “These are the things to do.” but I cannot make the decision as to whether you want to go, and you want to do it, or you don't want to do it. That is for you to decide. So just remember, just one and that is yourself. Make that right decision, make that wise decision. And when the Lord used Isaiah as an example, do you know that he went out in a very difficult terrain, and there's nothing that the Lord showed about Isaiah’s capability or skill, but He revealed his heart to us. The heart is a very important thing. The Lord has told us many times, “because the heart is deceitful above all things”. If you think anything can deceive you, the heart beats it. It is so deceitful and it is desperately wicked. That means because of the seed of sin, it is desperately looking for wicked things to do in our life. Who can know it? Now, when you hear the words, “who can know it”, many of us say that, “Oh, yeah, I must not let people know. You know, I must keep it to myself. I cannot let people know because it's a wicked thing.” But the ‘who’ actually includes ourselves. Many times we have been deceived by our own heart. We think we are doing things for the Lord. And ultimately, we find that no, it wasn't for the Lord. It was actually for my pride that I was doing it. It was because of my lust that I'm doing it. It is not for the Lord. Who can do it? Be very careful about that.
And as much as Jeremiah 17 speaks about that, Proverbs four, the Lord gives us a solution to it. And the Lord says to all of us here; He says, you know, “Keep your heart with all diligence.” Keeping means guarding it with all diligence. That means, do not let, for a moment, let it wander. Make sure you catch hold of it, guard it and put it under lock and seal. I think you're very good at doing it, right? Over the last two years always lockdown, lockdown, lockdown. So do that to your heart. Lock it, you know, and seal it. Make sure it doesn't get corrupted at all. Because out of it are the issues of life. That is why many of us are experiencing challenges in life. I'm not talking about the challenges that the Lord will put into our life to groom us but I am talking about the challenges that we create for ourselves, for our spouse, for our family, for our friends and for ourselves. There are many problems that we create because of our inability to guard and keep our heart. But the moment you do that, you will find that a good 80-90% of what you're facing now will just dissipate because you have kept your heart with all diligence.
So when we serve, always remember that we must do it with a pure heart. That is why as much skill as we have, as much training as we have, everything that we have, if our heart is not right, something evil will come of it. Can you imagine that? That would be a very painful thing to do for the Lord, using His name, using His church, using our position in the church, using our name as Christians, as believers, and then we do things and ultimately realizing in the months ahead, we are actually destroying another life instead of caring, serving and building them. Put our heart right before the Lord.
Prayer Let us pray. Father, in the short time you have opened us to a very needed thing in our own personal lives. Starting with just one, that is ourselves, we can make so many changes and so much impact in the lives of other people if the condition of our heart is right. So we pray, Father, that you will help us and you will guide us because we know that it can be a difficult task because we are so well-groomed and having the desire for things of the world because of the many years we have spent on it. But we know, Father, that you are supreme, and if we put ourselves before you, and on bent knees, seek your help, it can be done. And then use us mightily as how Isaiah would say, “Here am I; send me.” In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
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