02 Jun 2019
The world is God's classroom. Theology is all around us. Followers of Jesus need to be life-long learners. In this fascinating series of events recorded in Matthew 15 &16, God is teaching us to pay attention to the spiritual lessons He gives us in our lives. Don't just rush through life. Don't just endure sufferings. Don't just celebrate in victories. There is more than meets the eye. Learn to pause and ask God for spiritual insights too. And then set up memorials in your life to help you remember. May this sermon encourage you to be a life-long learner of spiritual realities! Let's pay attention in the learning lab of Christ!
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A very good morning to all of you, welcome to Gospel Light and our second English worship service this morning. Glad you can join us on this Sunday morning as we continue our study in the book of Matthew.
We come to this series called, ‘Behold Your King’. A kind of a midpoint review of all that has gone by. Reminder that the book of Matthew is all about Jesus, and in particular how He is King. If you're following us, you would know that today we arrive at Matthew chapter 15. And we are looking at verses 29 all the way to Matthew 16 and verse 12. It's a long segment of Scripture, some 23 verses altogether.
Some of you have always asked me, “Pastor, do you have a photographic memory? How is it that you preach without notes, without a need for pulpit or a stand? Do you have photographic memory?” My answer to them, “Yes. But inside no film.”
I don't have a photographic memory. In fact, if you ask my wife and my kids, they will tell you that, “Daddy is actually quite forgetful. He forgets where he puts his wallet. He forgets where he puts his phone. He forgets where his glasses are, even though it's just hanging on his head.” And I am forgetful and I realize that I am forgetful because I do not pay attention to many things.
And I remember some of the things I want to share this morning. Because I paid attention to them in great detail over the week. And this is the same for my son, Shawn. He's a fascinating young man to talk to, actually. If you get to speak with Shawn, you realize you can talk to him about small things like insects and little microorganisms. Or you can talk to him about big things, like planets and solar systems., and he will be able to hold that conversation.
He remembers a lot of things. He knows a lot of things. But it's quite a different story when it comes to his schoolwork. Many things he learned in his assessment books and so on, he somehow can't replicate it in his exams and in his tests. And the reason is because …? He doesn't pay attention.
Paying attention is key to learning and it is key even to spiritual learning. Why are some people learning and growing well and others do not? I think one of the key reasons is that of paying attention. Today's text before us, presents a story about paying attention to spiritual teachings from Jesus Christ. This is the interesting passage. It's long. I said it's 23 verses altogether but it is all about learning to pay attention.
So, let me try to present to you why this is a passage on paying attention. First of all, we need to recognize there are some 3 to 4 segments, 3 to 4 stories interconnected with one another.
The first segment is when Jesus performs miracles. You've read that already in verses 29 to 31. And it records how Jesus healed those who brought to Him. The mute were able to speak. The crippled were made healthy. The lame started to walk and the blind could see. So, the first part is how Jesus performed amazing miracles.
And then it sort of focuses itself on the next segment, which is an amazing miracle of how Jesus took seven loaves and a few small fish, miraculously multiplied it to feed a large number of people. The Bible tells us in verses 32 to 39 that amazing miracle. How they all ate and were satisfied.
Just in case you thought everyone just ‘kam’ ah, just sucked a bit of it and were satisfied. The Bible says, “No.” It was not just sucking or licking the food. They really ate because there was seven baskets full after they had eaten.
“How many people were there?” you say. 4000 men, besides women and children. I would suppose 10,000 and above in total. Amazing miracle – Seven loaves feeding 10,000 people! Seven loaves not even, even enough for one young teenager here, I think.
The third segment is when the Sadducees and Pharisees, the religious leaders of the times of Jesus came and tested Jesus. It is given to us in chapter 16, verses 1 to 6, where it says, “They came to test Him. They asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.” So, they came asking Jesus, “Show us one more sign. Give us something more spectacular, so that we will be convinced that You are the Messiah, the Saviour.”
And then segment number 4, the final one is when Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven.” We understand the leaven as a kind of a yeast, a kind of a part of a dough that you add to another dough to cause the whole dough to rise. Beware of the yeast.
You say, “What you mean by yeast or leaven?” Well, in verses 7 to 12, it was explained that being aware or being careful about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees is being careful about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
So these are the four segments. And I'm sure you might have already forgotten what they are, so let me recap that again for you. The first is about miracles. And I just want to collect it together with the miracle of the seven loaves and a few small fish. Then the second segment, is that of Jesus being tested by the Pharisees and Sadducees. And then the third is when Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven.”
Now, I think there are preachers today who then look at these three parts and preach three sermons. You could do that. Nothing wrong with doing that. However, I think that's probably not what we should do today. Because the first story is a kind of a similar story to the five loaves, two fishes miracles Jesus did in Matthew chapter 14, just one chapter earlier.
Remember the sermon, “5L 2F principles for ministry”. Well, we have done that before and if I were to do it again, it would be quite a repetition. The second event of Pharisees and Sadducees testing Jesus by the way, is also a repeat event, in that this was done also in Matthew chapter 12. So if I were to preach this again, it will be a repetition.
But the most important reason why I think we should not deal with them individually as three parts, but together as a whole, is because right at the end when Jesus told the disciples, “Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees and Pharisees.” He ended off by saying, “Do you not remember the seven loaves for the 4000?”
It's like a burger - Shake Shack. I want to eat that, I haven't eaten it yet. But think of a burger, when you, when you have a burger you must have the bun and then the patty and then the bun. It's not a burger if you have the bun and the patty and no bottom patty. By the way, someone told me it's called ‘the crown, the patty and the heel’.
So you need this package together. And it starts off with the miracle of the seven loaves. And Jesus made reference to the miracle of the seven loaves. And therefore, I think the only appropriate way to approach this text is to see it as a holistic one. And I think and I hope, you'll join me in this journey. That this is about Jesus teaching us about paying attention when He teaches. Paying attention to life with Jesus. Paying attention in the learning lab of Christ.
So, this is going to be an interesting take, in that we are going to learned about - paying attention. So let me begin. Let me lead you in this journey a little.
1]. The Lesson
First, we are going to study the lesson. Jesus teaches a lesson to the disciples. And this lesson is taught not in sermon or didactic or lecture style. It's super lesson. It's a lesson that engages your mind, your eyes, your hearing and you're smelling and your touch, experiential hands on learning. In what? In the miracle of seven loaves for the 4000.
He engaged His disciples to distribute the bread and the fish. And in so doing, He's enrolling them into His class. He's enrolling them into a lesson. And I know that is the intent of Jesus because He said, “Do you not yet perceive, do you not remember?” [Matthew 16:9-10]
Miracles are done for many reasons. Sometimes to authenticate God's messengers. Sometimes to meet the needs of the people that the miracles are done for. And sometimes like in this case, they are meant to teach a lesson to the disciples.
What is the lesson you can learn from seven loaves and a few from small fish? I think the answer is obvious. In the face of a great need and a meagre supply. In the face of many hungry mouths and just a few small loaves of bread, Jesus is teaching the disciples - no bread, no problem. High-class statement!
Can you follow with me? Can you say this to me because you, you need to say later? “Jesus is teaching..? No bread, no problem.” Okay, you're catching on. So one more time, alright. He's teaching …? No bread no problem. Alright, you will need this in a while. So the lesson, they are to learn is - you don't have to worry, you don't have to fret, you don't have to be anxious with God. With Jesus, no bread, no problem. Bo Boon Twei [No problem in Hokkien].
It's okay or if you put it another way. Jesus taught the disciples in these miracles that we, as followers of Jesus Christ should not focus on your lack, but we should focus on our Lord. That's the key! “You're so obsessed that you only have five loaves or seven loaves. No, trust Me. Look to Me. Give it to me and see Me meet, see Me meet the needs of the multitudes.” So do not focus on your lack. Do not focus or but do focus on your Lord.
Or if you put it another way, when they were told to feed the multitudes, it would look like mission impossible, Tom Cruise, alright. They were. da, da, da … I don't know what's the tune, I forgot. But it would like mission impossible.
But after the miracle, they will all say, “It was mission incredible!” “Wow! I can't believe what just happened. Look at what our Master did!” So mission impossible became mission incredible. This is the lesson they are to learn - no bread, no problem.
Now the question is - Did they learn? Did they get the lesson? Why you all so negative? How you know, no? Well, the only way you can find out if they really learned the lesson is, if you put them to the test. That's why Singapore, we love to do test, right? Teachers, you love to do test. Why? Because it’s only when you test them, that you know whether they have learnt.
So now, Jesus puts them to the test. He places them into a Lab. He puts them into this test environment. And what is this test environment? When he said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” [Matthew 16:6] You say, “How is this a test?” Let me back this up a little for you.
You recall, after the miracle of the seven loaves and a few small fish, that the Sadducees and Pharisees came. It's next to that account, it’s side-by-side. Remember! So, it's part of something structured, Matthew is trying to communicate. So now, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus. They said, “Can you show us a sign from heaven?”
Now, I don't think they came with good intentions at all. They were not coming to Jesus as genuine seekers. As if, “If you show us a sign, we will really believe you.” No, they came to test him, they came to make things difficult for him. Because Jesus had already given more than enough evidences, he is the Messiah.
Just back up to 29 to 31, you'll recall, recall how He healed the … the blind, the lame, the mute. All kinds of amazing miracles. And remembering last week, even the Canaanite woman, the woman who live in Tyre and Sidon could believe in Jesus already, even though she's a gentile.
So, they don't need more signs, but they are here to make things difficult for Jesus, that's all. Asking incessant asking, for more and more and more signs. They have done that in Matthew 12, they're doing it again here. So knowing their heart, Jesus then said, “When it is evening, you say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red and in the morning, it will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” [Matthew 16:3]
I know that there are people who paraphrase or leverage on this saying of Jesus, to then say, “Red sky at night - sailor's delight!. Red sky in the morning - sailors take warning!” Now, I'm not asking you to memorize this, may not be so true here in Singapore, I do not know.
But Jesus is using this as an illustration to say, “You guys, you're not even professional weatherman, you are religious teachers, yet you already know how to interpret the appearance of the sky. You know how to look at these signs and supposed the forecast of the weather. How is it that you as religious leaders cannot interpret the signs that I have done?”
In other words, your inability to conclude that I am your Messiah is not because there is insufficient evidence, but because, “You are an evil and adulterous generation [Matthew 16:4]. With this, Jesus exposed their wickedness, that their hearts are evil and their motive to come to Him is not an altruistic or true and wholesome one. With this, He condemned them and He left and departed.
Now, you could have ended there but the story goes on interestingly that after He and His disciples departed. The disciples reached the other side and they realized they forgotten to bring any bread. “Jialat, forgot to bring bread. Just now got seven basket, now didn't bring any!”
Well, they realized they forgot to bring bread. And interestingly at this precise moment, Jesus said, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” [Matthew 16:6] “You talk about bread, alright, let me give an imagery and illustration about bread, about leaven, about dough and about rising. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
And immediately the disciples said, “Hah, hah, hah, it is it because we didn't bring any bread, He's going to scold us?” “Peter, you should have brought the bread, what!” “No, I give it to you, John. “No, no.” John, “I passed it to Philip…” “Aiyah, you guys…” And you can imagine them blaming one another. The commotion is theirs, stress and anxious. “I don't have bread, Jesus is scolding me. I don't have bread.”
They were all preoccupied about bread. And it was then that Jesus, being aware of this says, “Oh, you of little faith. You don't trust Me. Why are you still discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? [Matthew 16:8] How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? I said, “Leaven of Sadducees and Pharisees.” I know that the imagery about bread but I'm not speaking about the physical bread. I'm talking about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, which is really about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”” [Matthew 16:9-12]
What kind of teaching! Somewhere else, in Luke 12:1, we are told that their teaching is hypocrisy. They teach bad stuff, wrong stuff, presented as if it's good stuff. Beware of that leaven. Beware of that hypocrisy. Beware of those evil teachings.
So you see, the lesson the disciples were supposed to learn from the miracles is …? Wah, thank you, someone said. Okay, the lesson you are supposed to learn is? No bread, no problem.
2. The Lab
But when Jesus put them in the lab, beware of the leaven of the Sadducees and Pharisees, did they pass the test? No. Why? They were still preoccupied. They were still preoccupied with the problem of no bread. It showed up that they didn't really understand or believe.
3. The Learning
And so I hurry on to the third point, in this text and that is the learning. You know it's like a school teacher. He or she teaches a lesson, you're supposed to learn. And then he gives a test to show that you did not really learn. And then he gives you the debrief, in army we call this, ‘AAR’ - After Action
Review. What is it that you didn't do well and what is it that you can do better? So now, is the learning the AAR, the debrief time.
“So guys, remember we were in the plain and we multiplied the seven loaves, then do you remember how you took what I said, about leaven and so on. So guys, this is what you need to learn? You need to learn to pay attention. You need to pay attention with Me. You need to pay attention to the spiritual lessons. Why? “O you of little faith, why are you still discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember? Do you not pay attention at all?””
This inability to pay attention is not once off, it has happened before. So going back again to the first amazing miracle of multiplication, not the seven loaves one but the five loaves one. Because during the five loaves and two fish multiplication, in fact just a little bit before that, we are told that Jesus did something very interesting. In John 6:5-6, we are told, Jesus came to Philip and said, “Philip, where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
Now, Jesus didn't ask Philip this question, as if Philip could find a place that sells enough bread. But He did this to test Philip. He did this to engage Philip, so that when He does do the miracles later on, Philip remembers the lesson - when I had no solution, Jesus is the solution. No bread, no problem.
And when that miracle was done, the five loaves, two fishes miracles was done, immediately Matthew records for us, Mark also tells us that the disciples was sent from this side of the shore to the other side. And when they were sailing halfway, a few hours later, right in the middle of the sea of Galilee, there arose a storm.
And this storm was so great that even experienced fishermen like Peter, Andrew, James, John were worried. They were scared, they were fearful for their live. And to make things worse in the middle of the night from a distance, they see some figure walking towards them. And they all said, “It is a ghost, wu Gui ah! [there’s ghost in Hokkien] 有鬼呀！[yǒu guǐ ya]
They were, they were, they were scared. So Mark then tells us, very interestingly, “When Jesus got into the boat with them the wind ceased and they were utterly astounded.” And you would have thought, alright, this is a story about how Jesus calms the storm. Not exactly, not just that because in verse 52, it says, “For they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”
So, the gospel writer, Mark is intentional in showing, how the miracle of the five loaves, two fishes are not meant just to feed the flock. But it's meant to teach them great spiritual lessons. So that, when they are put to the test, they could have an anchor of their faith, but they did not learn. And they still did not learn this time round.
When after the seven loaves and a few small fish, Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees and Pharisees.” They were still preoccupied with no bread. So He said, “Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember? Don't you remember the original first miracle of 5L2F? And don't you remember and understand about seven loaves and a few small fish?”
This is therefore a text about paying attention in the learning lab of Christ.
There's a Pastor who wrote an article that says, “Theology is all around you, right for the picking.” [Pastor JA Medders] Think about this statement! We can learn about God, that's theology. We can learn about spiritual truth. Where? All around us. I don't think he is saying, “We learn theology around us apart from the Bible.” Nope! I think we need to learn about God from the Scriptures and also from the world around us.
In fact, it is the Scripture that shapes our minds, that gives us the proper perspective lenses to appreciate theology all around us. But it is true that I learn about God, not just in the Bible. Supremely in the Bible but not just in the Bible but also in the world around.
In other words, I'm saying, “That the world is God's classroom.” This world you live in, this life you're living is meant to teach us many things, beautiful truths about God and His ways. The Bible tells us so. For example, in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” When you look at the sky, just think about the sun, the moon, the planets but think about God who is glorious and majestic in creation.
Psalm 97 verse 6, “The heavens declare or proclaim His righteousness and all the peoples see His glory.” Even more explicit in Romans 1:20, when Paul said, “His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived.” “You know God's power and divinity. You say, “How?” Since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. We learn about God in the world around us. We learn about God in creation all around us.
In fact, Solomon tells us to look at ants [Prov 6:6]. Learn from ants. Learn theology, learn wisdom from ants. Learn about spiritual lessons from angry mama bears [Prov 17:12] . Learn about spiritual lessons about living wisely from a strong rope [ Ecc 4:12].
Jesus tells us to consider the birds in order to help squash our worries and fears in trusting our gracious Father [Matthew 6:6]. Jesus tells us to think of trees and fruit where we think about our relationship with Jesus. Abide in the vine, and like a branch abiding in the vine, you can bear forth fruit and much fruit [John 15:4-5].
The Bible tells us to look at athletes, soldiers, farmers as we learned the value of steadfastness and endurance [2 Tim 2:4-6]. Think about Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Steph Curry. Those people, these athletes who excel because they are steadfast, they have good work ethic. Learn, learn from people, learn from things around you. That's what He's saying.
In fact, don't just learn from grown men. Learn from little babies. Learn from the baby at home, how your baby craves for milk, should be a lesson to me on how I should crave for the word of God [1 Peter 2:2-3]. You see the world is filled with purposeful echoes of God.
When you look at the mountains, marvel at the greatness of Creator God. When you go to Botanic Gardens and you see chickens, nowadays, a lot of chickens in Botanics. When you go to Botanic Gardens, you see chickens, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, and they are trying to gather their little chicks. Remember how Jesus is like that hen that gathers Israel but Israel won't come.
When you go for barbecue, barbecue how to think God ah? When you go to barbecue and you smell the beautiful roast, think of what it means to be a living sacrifice, that brings joy and pleasure to your God.
The world is God's classroom. Theology is all around us. And the key is that we must have ears to hear, eyes to see, buds to taste. Do you? Because so often we rush in life, right? We sort of jump from one event to another. We struggle through one problem to another. We suffer through agonies and then it's very easy for us to just to think of life as enduring it through. But hey, it's very important in all stations of life, in any state you're in, to ask God - what do I need to learn?
You know, we have people in our church who struggle, who goes through hardships, sufferings, sicknesses. And when we pray or at least when I pray, certainly I pray for healing. Certainly I prefer deliverance, if that be the will of God. But at the very same time, I pray that God will reveal something about himself to them. That they will learn and they will grow spiritually.
Because it's so important for us to realize the world is God's classroom. Life is God's classroom and He doesn't waste pain. He doesn't waste our experiences. He is always teaching us about himself. So it is so important for us to learn even through sufferings in the midst of pain. And may I say, “We should also learn in the midst of failures.”
We fail, we all do. We are sinful beings. We have the flesh tugging at us. And sometimes we do succumb to the temptations of the flesh. But even in those times, let us remember that with David, he said, “Lord, when I turn around, help me to teach transgressors Your way.” “I, I blew it in the sin of Bathsheba. I blew it in the sin against Uriah.” And in Psalm 51 David says, “Lord, when I turned around, help me to use that failure to teach sinners Your way.”
And when Peter failed, God lovingly reached out to Peter. And I think Peter became a better apostle as a result of that learning, of his denial of Christ. God uses our pains, our sufferings, our failures. He does! And He uses even blessings.
In the midst of blessing, do not fail to ask God - what is it that I need to learn? I think many people, they succeed in life, they forget about God. Well, when we see miracles of five loaves, two fishes kind, let us be sure to say, “Lord, help me to perceive, help me to learn, help me to realize.”
We are all theologians in God's seminary. You say, “No. I have never been to seminary, no, no.” You must understand this world is a seminary. And we are all in seminary. You know what is seminary ah? Not cemetery ah. We are all in seminary until we go to cemetery. But we are all here to learn about God - in the world, in the Scriptures.
So the world is God's classroom. Do you realize? Do you learn? Do you know? But that's not enough, because Jesus did not say, “Do you not yet perceive?” But He also says, “Do you not …?” You see, all forget already. “Do you not remember?” So, it's important not just to realize, but to remember.
You know that's why God gave us the church, Pastors. Because Pastors are here to help you remember. I am glad that all of us have leaky brains. Because if you can remember everything perfectly, I will be out of job very soon.
The fact is we don't remember things properly or perfectly. And that's why the Scripture tells us for example in 2nd Peter 1:12, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” You already know these things. But I'm here to remind you.
You know, as a preacher, I realize I repeat myself a lot. You may not realize, but I, I repeat myself, the, the things I say not very novel, not very new, not very earth shattering, but it is needful for us. We need to be reminded of gospel truths.
And that's why we have the Lord's supper, you realize that. Lord's supper is a means to remember Christ because it's easy in life to forget Christ. That's why we need one another to provoke one another to love and good works. Because it's easy to forget all that. It's easy to say, “I love Jesus.” It's easy to say, “I am to be full of good works.” But I forget them. And that's why my brothers, my sisters, we need one another to remind one another.
And if you think about it, God takes this memorial, this - helping people remember, very seriously. You will recall, after Israel crossed the River Jordan, what are they supposed to do? Catch some fish and barbecue by the riverside? Nope, but they were commanded to set up a memorial. “When you get out of the riverbed, each tribe take one stone and we will build a memorial.”
Why? So that, future generations will ask, “What is this memorial?” “Oh, it's that Jehovah God let us cross the River Jordan on dry land.” “Wow, I didn't know that.” “Now, you know.” We got to remember, kids [sic, should be Parents], tell that to your children.
When you read the Psalms and there is a lot of history there. Psalms tell us it's like a repetitive recounting of how God was with Abraham and with Israel. And how He delivered them out of Egypt by the powerful plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. Amazing stories! Why? So that, all Israel will remember.
Why is it that every single day in Israel, animals are being slaughtered? Because in those sacrifices, Hebrews 10 tells us there is a remembrance of sin. So, throughout the Bible, over and over again there are ordinances, institutions to help us remember. So, that's why I think Christians, we gather on Sundays to worship the Lord and to remember Christ. We take the Lord's supper to remember Christ.
Some of you, you have your personal journals, you write down your spiritual learnings; understandings; distilling, so that you can come back and remember how God has led you, isn't it? We all should have ways to remember God's hand in unmistakable ways.
I have one. It's on the piece of paper. It looks like this. It's a crummy, old, yellowish piece of paper that has some Chinese characters. You know what it reads? 耶和华以勒 [yēhéhuáyǐ lēi]. 以勒what does 耶和华以勒? Well, it is Jehovah 以勒. It is Jehovah …? Wah, serious cannot ah? Jehovah Jireh. There's a lady in our church called, Jireh.
What is Jireh? Well, Jehovah Jireh means Jehovah or God who sees and provides. That's what Jehovah Jireh is, written on this piece of paper. How did it come about? Well, many years ago I was in China, northeast part of China teaching in a small, faraway village.
And after preaching, I remembered we were going back to Singapore. But along the way the traffic was bad. And on hindsight or on further questioning, we realize it’s because a dignitary from Russia has arrived. I was told prime minister or something like that. I was not very clear, but the dignitary was there and there were many road closures.
And as a result of that, I missed my flight back home. So, I got to get another flight but the blur me never brought enough money. I looked in my wallet and there was not enough to get another plane ticket back to Singapore. Now, of course you know I finally got back, because I'm here.
But, but I did not have enough. I, I was sitting there for a while just wondering what to do, took out my Bible, wanted to read it and when I opened my Bible, I found an envelope. The envelope was made of this paper. And when I opened it up, I realize there was 人民币[rénmínbì] inside, cash inside.
So, what has happened was that the villagers have gathered some love offerings and slipped it in this envelope and slipped it in my Bible, without me knowing. Because they probably know we won't receive anything from them. But they did it cunningly, subtly, I didn't know. And opened it up, I opened the envelope.
I counted the cash and it was just enough, a little bit more. There were seven, but not, not seven bucketful, seven baskets. But there was more than enough just a little bit more there was enough to get a ticket back to Singapore. So these were the words written by them and how timely it was.
So ever since then, I've kept this piece of paper in my wallet. You say, “Why?” Because is very comforting, when I open my wallet - no bread, no problem. Jehovah Jireh. Now, I changed my wallet since and the paper is so crumbly that I couldn't keep it anymore. But I immortalize it as it were on a piece of, on a slide, right here.
Now, we need some memorials like this, right? Because God is real, He's not theoretical. Oh yes, He's revealed greatly in the Scriptures but He's revealed greatly also in our lives. And I think for many of us here in Gospel Light, you might not have been with us before we came to Punggol but to me another memorial is every time I see this building, this place that we are in.
This building should have this phrase, ‘Jehovah Jireh’ written all across it. Because when we started we were smaller church and we had zero dollars raised because we never raised any funds for any infrastructure or building that we were foreseeing at all. But in the space of two years, 44 million was raised.
You say, “How did that come about?” I say, “I have no clue, up till today I have no clue.” In a real way, I said to my wife, “We, we actually .. I done, did so little, but all I had was the privilege to be in the front row to see Jehovah Jireh.” It's amazing! God is real! We have seen this in unmistakable ways.
But much as these stories are great, I think the greatest memorial we must have and that is the best, must be that of God sending His Son on the cross. That is the greatest memorial! Where God provided what man could not provide.
Thousands of years ago, Abraham went up to Mount Moriah, he had only his son to give. And just as he was about to kill his son, God said to him, “Stay your hand because Jehovah Jireh will provide. Look to the bushes and there will be the sacrifice.”
When man is hopelessly lost in our sin and when we can never save ourselves, Jehovah Jireh sent forth His Son. The cross is a glorious manifestation of God's amazing love, faithfulness, wisdom and power to save.
This morning, you must have journals in your life, you must have memorials in your life. But let it be all about Jesus and His sacrifice for us on the cross. Pay attention folks, this is a life of learning. Pay attention in the learning lab with Christ.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. It's not an easy passage but I hope it's clear. And most of all, I hope it leads you back to Christ. It's easy for us to rush through our careers, our families, our challenges. But be still this morning and know that He is God. Be still today and perceive. Be still today and remember.
Look to the cross, where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain. This is love in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. This is the wisdom of God that no prince of this world could ever fathom. This is the power of God to save.
Perhaps in your journey of life, you're downcast, you're broken, you're crushed. But today, look to the lesson that God gives us at the cross. Pay attention in the learning lab of Christ. Let your heart marinate in the attributes of God, in the concrete demonstration of His amazing love.
Perhaps some of you today are not a Christian, you're not a believer. I want to tell you that the central message of the whole Bible is Jesus Christ dying and rising to save us from our sins. This is what we call, ‘The Good News.” It's really good news because the bad news is that you are sinful, you're hopeless. You're alienated from God and you could never save yourself. But this stunning good news that comes from heaven is that God sent His Son to die for your sin.
My dear friend, this morning, would you repent and believe in Jesus Christ? That He may wash you clean , that you might be forgiven. May God bless your heart today. Father, thank You this morning that we can hear Your word and be reminded of such realities. Teach us, oh God to pay attention in life, in your classroom, but most of all to the cross. Jesus keeps me near the cross and may you draw sinners today to the cross as well. Bless each one, we thank You in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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