19 Jan 2020
The bible is God's sure word to us. And the early church believed it. They were a people built upon the solid foundation of God's word in the scriptures. What does that mean? 1. Declaration - The Acts church was committed to the faithful declaration of God's Word. The Apostles prioritized the ministry of the Word and was devoted to it, not being easily swayed away even by other important ministries. The church and our family today will also do well to prioritise the teaching of the Word today. 2. Discernment - The Acts church decided upon the Gentile inclusion based on the scriptures (Acts 15). They did not resort to personal bias or tradition. We must also hold the Bible as our supreme, final and infallible authority for life and practice. To know God's will, we must also have the renewal of our minds through the scriptures. Charles Swindoll said, “The better you get to know the WORD OF GOD, the less confusing is the WILL OF GOD. …. . ” 3. Dedication - The Acts church was devoted to the apostles' teaching. They studied and sought to obey God's word. The church today should also be paying constant attention to and persevere in the study and obedience of God's word. That may require a plan to simplify your life. But let's follow Mary to choose that which is the best!
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This is the 3rd week of the new year and we are on this series called, 'Vision 2020'. What it means is that we are looking ahead as to where God is leading this church - where we want to be as a people.
I'm very clear that as a church, our goal is certainly not just having a nice building. The goal of this church is not just about growing attendance. The goal of this church is not even having more programs.
I believe that the goal of this church is to become a certain kind of people. A people that will bring delight to our Father. And I believe that the vision of this church is a very simple one. And it is to be like an Acts church for today.
You say, "What's an Acts church?" Well, it's the church recorded for us in the book of Acts of the Bible. It's the early church, the New Testament Church born some 2000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit came down in mighty power.
What's so admirable? What's so desirable in the church in the book of Acts? Well, there are 7 qualities. 7 characteristics or if you may, 7 values that I feel are so precious to God and to His people.
1] Centered on Our Savior
The 1st value, the first characteristic is that they were a people centered on our Savior. They were a people who were all about Jesus. They demonstrated a passion for Christ. They were moving forward in the power Christ provides. And they were preaching Christ everywhere. To the point that they will risk their lives for the Savior.
2] Filled with The Spirit
A 2nd value or characteristic is that they were a people living lives filled with the Spirit. They were empowered by the Spirit that they were effective witnesses wherever God sent them. And so these are things that we as a church want to emulate.
3] Rooted in The Scriptures
We want to be a people centered on the Savior. We want to be a people filled with the Spirit. And today, the 3rd value is that we want to be a people rooted in the Scriptures.
Now, what does that really look like? Let me try to explain this. This has always been something very dear to the hearts of Gospeliters. Since our beginning, the value of God's Word, the high position that we hold to the Word of God is something that all of us here, probably here are familiar with.
If you have been able to obtain a copy of our church history in this book, the roots, or 'Looking Up. Looking Back'. This is a book that really details the history of Gospel Light these past 32 years. Where it begins with the roots, it begins of the journey, but in chapter 3, almost immediately, you're introduced to a very fundamental value and that is a solid Bible foundation.
You can read about the experiences. You can read about the blessings of God's Word to our leaders, our elders, our deacons in this book. So do check it out. So what I'm saying is, "Rooted in the Scriptures, having a solid Bible foundation is very dear to Gospeliters." But what does that really mean? What does it mean for a church to be rooted in the Scriptures?
My son, Shawn attends the youth service and in all our services, we're preaching through the same series. So I asked him, "Hey, Shawn! How's the sermon today? What do you learn about?" He said, "Rooted in the Scriptures?" So I asked him, "So what exactly did you learn about rooted in the Scriptures?" And he said, "Isn't the title self-explanatory?"
I say, "Okay, I guess so! But I like you to be able to have a better handle at what it means to be rooted in the Scriptures." So, I thought about 3 things that are important for us, as a church and as a people, alright.
To be rooted in the Scriptures must mean that number 1, the church is faithful and committed to the declaration of the Word of God. Make sense! We must not declare the words of men, the philosophies of men. We are committed and we have to be faithful to the declaration, the teaching of the Word of God.
Now that is obvious because only the Word of God can give us the new life. There are many philosophies of man. There are many self-help talks. There are a lot of pep talks, a lot of this kind of (a) seminars going on today. But they don't really give you eternal life. The only means by which men and women can be born again is through the Word of God [1 Peter 1:23] And there is nothing more important to be declared and to be taught, than the Word of God.
People often ask me, "Why did you give up medicine? It's such a waste!" That will be the first comment. But almost immediately, they will also catch themselves saying, "Ah, I know why." You know, they ask a question and they answer themselves. "Why would you leave medicine?" And they will almost always follow up by saying, "Ah, I know because you want to save souls."
I'll immediately correct them by saying, "No, I don't do any saving at all. I did not die for anyone. I did not pay for the sins of anyone. Jesus died for the sins of the world. Jesus died for those who believe upon Him. But yes, I do see that there is nothing more important than to help people find eternal life in Jesus Christ."
There is nothing more important in my estimation, to be preaching and teaching the Word of God. And if you are here today, you ask yourself, "What's the most important thing of life?" Is it really to eke out a living? I believe it must be that we are giving the Word of Life to those who need it.
Now, the Word of God is so important that throughout the Bible, it talks about it, itself. It says, or it records the Words of Jesus saying, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." The Bible tells us that Jesus prayed, "Lord, sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth." The Word is important for life, it's important for purifying our lives.
Paul says in Ephesians 5, "That we are cleansed by the water of the Word." Peter tells us that, "We grow up when we feed and when we desire the sincere, the pure, unadulterated milk of the Word." The Bible tells us, in 2nd Timothy, chapter 3, "That the man of God is furnished unto all good works through the Word of God."
So we see that the Bible is really indispensable to the Christian life and therefore the church, if it is to be rooted in the Scriptures, must be faithful, must be committed, and must prioritize the teaching of God's Word. And that's what we see in the book of Acts.
In the book of Acts 6:2, we read that the apostles, the leaders of the church said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables." They were absolutely committed to the preaching of God's Word.
What happened in those days was that, there were many, many widows in the church who were not provided for. They did not work, they had no family to support them and they were needy. So there was a situation that was needed to be addressed.
And you know, in our day and age, when there's a problem in the church, who do you call? Ghostbusters? No, no, no, please don't. So if there's a problem in church, who do you call? The pastor. "Pastor, can you sort this? "Pastor, can you do that?" And obviously the leaders must have felt and known the needs in the congregation, in the church.
But the Apostles, the leaders said something almost politically incorrect. Can you imagine if I were to say something like this, you say, "Wah, this pastor, very uncaring. Wah, this pastor, very lazy." But this is what the Apostles said, "It is not right that we shouldn't give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables." (Acts 6:2)
Now, I want you to be clear, I absolutely believe that the apostles are not saying that serving tables, providing food is below them. He's not saying that, "This is such a menial job, it is beneath our station." I don't think that's what they mean at all!
But they are recognizing that there must be a priority for their ministry and a leadership, that as the apostles as the leaders of the church, they cannot, it is not right, that they should leave the preaching of God's Word to serve tables.
So in their wisdom, they call the church to appoint 7 men, godly men full of the Spirit to oversee this necessary need. "But they themselves would devote to prayer and to the ministry of the Word." (Acts 6:4) I believe that a healthy church is where the preachers, the teachers, the leaders of the church, are able to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word.
Now, I was in Perimeter Church some time ago and I spoke to some of their pastors. They were taking us through a tour of their building, a huge building. And they came to some rooms, showed us the AV system and I asked, "Do you know how to handle the AV system? You know, the lights and sounds. They said, "No, I do not know how to do it." And he added on, "And Pastor Randy (their senior pastor) told them never to learn it."
I said, "Why?" He said, "Because if we learn how to use it, people will expect us to do it and we would not be able to focus on the ministry of the Word." Now I'm sure, the philosophy of the church is not to say that - Pastors cannot do anything else. But it is to communicate a priority the Church must maintain. The preachers, the leaders must give themselves to the ministry of the Word.
And that means you have to be faithful in teaching the whole of Scriptures. Apostle Paul, he says, "I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." (Acts 20:27) A faithful preacher does not ride on his hobby horse every Sunday. Talking about the same things he likes, his favorite subject, things that appeal to people. Talk about health. Talk about wealth. Talk about money and stress.
And no, these are necessary things to be dealt with along the way. But the goal is to teach people the whole counsel of God and not just favorite subjects, we hold dear to ourselves. So let me put it this way again, to be rooted in the Scriptures, yes - it's self-explanatory in some way. But to break it down, it also means that the church must see to it, that God's people are faithful and committed to the declaration of God's Word, in the church as pastors, elders, teachers.
And one thing I'm really glad for in Gospel Light is that I feel the complete liberty to be able to devote myself to these areas. I've many brethren in this church, many of you who regularly ask, "Pastor, are you doing too much here?" "Are you overworked there?" They recognize that I'm a finite man, limited capacity, limited mindshare, bandwidth. And yes, there must be a prioritization!
And thankful for many of you. You may not be preachers. You recognize that's not God's calling for you. But you want to see that the ministry of the Word flourishes. And so you support the pastors, you support the leaders in various congregations. And we thank God for a church, at least in this aspect that can prioritize the declaration of God's Word.
Can I apply this sideways a bit? How about your homes? How about your family? Is your family, a family rooted in the Scriptures? What does that mean? Well, it means I think that the fathers. I'm getting personal here. I'm saying, "If you want to be a family rooted in the Scriptures, then I say, "Fathers, you've got to declare God's Word faithfully to your children. There's no shortcut!"
So often we think that the ministry of raising godly children is Gospel Light's duty. After all, we put money in the offering bag, Gospel Light should train my kids in the Bible. Well, the Bible never says that!
The Bible commands, God commands that, Fathers, we are to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It did not say, "Sunday school, nurture the children." It says, "Fathers." If I may say, "Parents." Yes, but in particular fathers. You are the head of the household. You set the tone. You set the spiritual tone.
Now, there are many things in my family, I'm hopeless in. I'm really hopeless in cooking, washing, cleaning. I'm probably the messiest adult at home. And I do not know a lot of my kids' assignments and so on. But there's one thing I think I can never farm out and that is the teaching and preaching of God's Word at home.
Now, your kids have only an hour on Sundays in our Sunday school. They are not going to learn that much. Your dream for your kids, it must be that they are godly men and women but they will not get there if you are not rooted in the Scriptures and you're not helping your family get rooted in the Scriptures.
You say, "But Pastor, I don't know how to teach the Bible." Then learn! I actually do not know how to solve the mathematics problem for my son, but I learned. I look at the answer at the back. But, at least I learned, I try. I think he's getting better than me now in drawing boxes. So I'm learning to say, "Okay, you check the answer yourself."
But hey, if you do not know how to teach the Bible to your kids, don't give up there. Learn, you can do it! Devote yourself to the learning of Scriptures that you may then teach the Scriptures. That's a God given responsibility!
Alright? And then may I apply this also to our care groups. Care group - CG, in our church, I think we need to maintain that care groups are not social groups. Care groups are communities of faith, where we fellowship one with another in the things of God. Where we commune with one another because of God and His Son Jesus Christ as reflected in the Scriptures.
So in Care Groups, we want to practice biblical fellowship, not Biblical, actually not unbiblical 'feilowship'. Now don't get me wrong, I think food is important. Food is so good and we rejoice in food. But if your Care Group is only about food and you come only because there's a dinner there, outing there and you avoid fellowshipping in Scriptures, then I don't think that is really biblical fellowship.
Now, food is love made edible - wonderful. But physical food alone is not real care. Real care is encouraging and provoking one another to love and good works, to a passion for God and for His Son. So I hope in our Care Groups, we will be a people going into the Bible.
I've heard, newcomers to our church. They fit in well, they joined the Care Groups and one of the pleasant delights they have is - "Wow, in our Care Groups, we really go into the Bible. And that should be the case. They shouldn't come to this church, join a CG and say, "Wow, this care group is just like my unsaved friends." Something is wrong, isn't it?
Now, let me clarify, I'm not suggesting that our care groups become preaching stations. I've been to care group environments where people sit in a circle, expecting to engage but only one person talk the whole session. Wah, that is in my opinion - painful. I'm a preacher, but I feel that's painful. It's like everybody is keeping quiet but only one guy talks and that's not what it should be, alright.
What I'm saying is, Care Groups, yes, we go into the Bible, but let's interact, let's engage, let's discuss. Let's ask, let's provoke and have a good balance. Don't preach, but handle the Scriptures. Don't be dominating, but let's get everybody involved in the understanding, in the application of the Word to our lives.
Can I share a bias I have? Some of you are retiring, some of you are having more time. Some of you are asking, "Hey, Pastor, what can I do in this church?" First of all, I say, "Please check out our website. There's a whole list of ministries that you can preferably consider."
But if I can share a bias, I will say this, "If you have time, you have a passion for God, you want to make a difference in the kingdom. Can I ask you to consider teaching?" "I cannot lah! Stand here teach?" No, no, I'm not asking you to come here, because if everybody comes here, I have no job to do. I'll be, I'll be gone. So I'm not saying that.
But I'm saying teaching in a sense of helping someone. Now it can be 5 people, it can be 3 people, it can be 1. But that is not an option the way I see it. The Bible says, "Jesus gave us this great commission, go and make disciples." What does it mean to baptize them and also to ... Matthew 28:19-20. Go and make all the make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them.
We all have a responsibility to teach. Not like here [referring to pulpit], but one on one, one on two, one on three. Older women teaching younger women, older men teaching younger men.
I know why you don't want to do that because you say, "I'm older." Well, it's a good thing to be older. I want to look older, but it's good to be walking a little bit old, longer in the faith and helping someone along in this journey of faith. If one day, I have, I've always had this scenario, sometimes these funny scenes. If one day this whole church, we can't do any ministry. No ushering, no food ministry, nothing.
But if everyone is teaching someone, I will die happy. I really will. I'll be very happy, I'll be satisfied. I'll be thankful to God, "Lord, that's, that's all I need!" That's, that's the encouragement I need that God's people are teaching one another, the Word of God. I know that if we do that this church will be in the right place in due time.
Are we a church rooted in the Scripture? Are we a family rooted in the Scripture? Is our Care Group rooted in the Scripture? Well, number one, that's what it looks like, we will be teaching the Word of God that will be a priority of life.
Secondly, what does it mean to be a church rooted in the Scripture? It means that the basis of our discernment will be the Scripture. In other words, all that we choose, all that we decide upon will not be based on our opinions, our biases, our preferences, our traditions, but it will be based on the Word of God.
Some, some weeks ago, I think it was about two, three weeks ago, there was a lady who came to church with her husband and, and said, "Pastor, can I speak to you?" And I said, "Sure." "Ah, I had a dream two nights ago. I dreamt that I was holding my. The mom was saying, "I was, I dreamt that I was holding my daughter's head and I was doing (Pastor moves his arms up and down) this the whole time. "Pastor, what is God saying to me?"
Wah, there was a, I mean, I've had many questions, but there's a tough one. I, I didn't know quite what to say. I didn't quite know how to interpret the dream. Of course, I, who, who tells me. I mean, God did not tell me my dream last night that this is the dream that I'll be asked. But that only highlights a point that I'll explain later on.
So how do you know, what is God saying to you? How do you know God's guidance in your life? How do you discern what is the right thing to do? How does a church decide on matters of the church? Song choices, tongues, should we come to Punggol? What should we do? How, how does one make decisions?
Well, let's look at a scene. A story in the early church, in the book of Acts. There was a problem because Gentiles were getting saved. And the Jews were upset that the Gentiles were getting saved and they are not becoming like them in their Jewishness. "We are circumcised, they are not circumcised. We eat clean food, but they eat unclean food." "Oh, maybe we should convert them also to our Jewish way."
That will be their preference. That will be their choice. That will be their bias. That will be their tradition. But James, the leader of the Jerusalem church did not decide based on preference, opinions and biases. He said, "With the words or with this, the words of the prophets agree just as it is written" So on and so forth, "all the Gentiles who are called by My Name." (Acts 15: 15-17)
So James was quoting Scriptures, Amos 9:11, saying that, With what Peter has witnessed, that the Gentiles are coming to faith, and that God has given them a similar gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us resolve, let us see that in the Bible, according to God's Word, He has already prophesied that Gentiles would call our God by Name. And we do not need to make them Jewish before they can call God by Name.
What I'm saying here is that, the resolution of this very important issue was not preferences or traditions or bias, but the very Word of God itself. So I learned in the Acts church, being rooted in the Scriptures means that our discernment, our choices, our decisions are based on God's Word, because we see that God's Word is the final, is the supreme, is the infallible authority for life and practice.
So in this church, we don't have many rules. We don't have a rule book, really. But if there is anything that you see, contradict the Bible, we will submit to the authority of the Scriptures. We won't say, "It's our tradition. It's our preference. It's our bias. That's the way people do it." No, the Bible is our final supreme and infallible authority for life and practice.
So let's talk about you. How do you make choices in life? How do you discern in life? How do you know what God wants you to do? What job to take? What house to buy? Where to go to live? How do you know if you pursue this lady or pursue that lady? How would you know about the purchases you make in life?
Many of you have this question and one of the FAQs I have in my ministry must be, "Pastor, what should I do?" You know, people believe that as Pastors, we have special access to God. Oomm and then the, you know, like, like the internet, the download comes down. Download, downloading, downloading, downloading download, finish. "Ah, I tell you the answer."
People believe that we have this special access, special knowledge, special device that will be able to see God's will, to, to hear from God. And perhaps you're right because some 14 years ago when I was ordained as a Pastor in this church, Pastor Paul gave me a powerful device. 14 years ago in SCGS, he gave me a crystal ball.
A crystal ball, a crystal ball that wow, allows me special insights. Did he give me crystal ball? You, how many of you were there 14 years ago? Forgot already ah! How many of you were there 14 years ago? Is that what he gave me? Wah, shiny crystal ball, got electric rays come out one. Did he give me this? No. What did he gave me? What did he pass over on that day of ordination? He passed me a simple Bible. By the way, I think he took it back after that.
So, I received no crystal ball. I have no special access to God, any different from yours. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. So please don't come and ask Pastor or your Pastors or the leaders of the church, "Pastor, what should I do? Should I marry him or him?" I'm not you, how I know? Now, if you come and ask us, sure, I will share with you Biblical principles, but I won't tell you what you should do.
Pretty much all of my ministry life I understand that it is too big a responsibility for any one man to decide for someone else. And I have no right to do so, isn't it? I'm not you. God did not tell a Pastor to tell the members what to do. If a day becomes like that, this will become a cult, you know? Don't do this. Don't do that. Follow my instructions.
Wah, I become God leh! But I'm no God, I'm a servant of the Lord. And all I can say is, "The basis of discernment is not some special revelation I may have, but that we have the general revelation of God's Word. And we live, not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The Scriptures, we must believe in the sufficiency.
Now, people believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, that Bible is complete, is great, is beautiful. It's perfect, it's flawless. But do you believe in the sufficiency of Scripture? It's a doctrine that is actually very challenged today because people like to resort to visions and dreams and prophetic impressions. Scary, you know, in my opinion! I'm not saying that God cannot speak to us in exceptional ways. He may, I'm not saying, He can't! But if that's what you crave for, that's what you're always waiting for, it's super dangerous. Who knows?
So the lady who asked me, What does that mean? Dunking my, my daughter's head and pulling. I say, "I don't know." She said, "Oh, maybe that's baptism." I said, "Only do it one time, why got so many times?" But anyway, I said, "I do not know what that means. But I know that you should not live your life based on interpretation or dreams or interpretations of dreams because it can go very wrong." But I say, "You can live by the Word of God."
It's so scary to have what prophetic impressions. Some people draw out their impressions and say, that is the will of God. Are you sure? How do you know your interpretation is from God, not from yourself, nor from the devil? How do you know?
Well, it is the Scriptures. So the way to know God's will is not some exoteric experience or dreams or visions or crystal ball or even your Pastor. But the key to knowing God's will is really the Word of God. The Bible says, "Be transformed by the renewal or the renewing of your mind." [Romans 12:2] The word, 'renewal' is the repair, the renovation. You know, your mind is spoiled? Do you know that?
"I'm very smart, IQ 150." Your mind is spoiled! You don't understand, because your mind is corrupted by a virus, like a computer system is corrupted by a virus called, sin. So you are always thinking defectively, you know that? You do not know God! You do not know what is life!
But when you are born again, hah, there's, there's a now a potential for this mind to be healed, to be repaired. Repairing takes place, the renewal takes place. And when your mind is being repaired, you now can begin to discern more accurately the will of God.
So how do you get this repair going on? The Bible says, "The repair takes place as we behold the glory of God in the Scriptures, then the Holy Spirit will transform you from one degree of glory to another." (2 Corinthians 3:18) So you see this logic, you see this process. We discern the will of God through the renewal of the mind. And the renewal of the mind takes place when the Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out as we behold the glory of God in the Scriptures.
In short, you can better discern God's will, as you are going to God in the Scriptures. He changes your mind to such a degree that more and more, your decisions, your thinking, your perspective, your convictions will be as if God Himself would decide.
Now I say this reverentially, I'm not saying, any one of us will become like God or become Gods. But the way we think will be more godly, more god-like as it is being repaired by the Spirit as we look into the Bible.
You know why people go to dreams and visions and prophetic impressions and Pastors, to discern God's will? They, they only go to these things, they look only do these things. You know why? Lazy. I diagnose the problem - lazy. Don't want to read Bible, want shortcut. Like myself, don't do homework, copy homework. There is no shortcut however, for the Christian life.
You want to know God's will, you want to make better choices in your life. You want to live in joy and live in a realm of blessedness He intends for you, then renew your mind in the Scriptures.
It was Jim Elliot who says, "Why wait for a voice when you already have a verse". And there are people who just won't open the Bible. "God, speaks to me. God, speaks to me. God, speaks to me." But your Bible always close. It's funny, right? It's funny, but that's how we are!
Charles Swindoll says, "The better you get to know the Word of God, the less confusing is the will of God." So you want to make better decisions, get rooted in the Scriptures. So a church, a people rooted in the Scriptures: Number one, declare God's Word faithfully, it is a priority for our church, for our families, for our lives.
A church, a people rooted in the Scriptures will make decisions based on Scripture, their discernment is not the whims and fancies, the traditions of men, but on the revealed, clear, sufficient teachings, the body of truth in the Bible.
Lastly, and I think this is where we are weakest at, to be fair. A church rooted in the Scriptures must be a people who are dedicated to the study and to the obedience of the Scriptures. The early church really exemplified that in this statement. "They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship (Acts 2:42) so on and so forth. They devoted themselves.
The word, 'devoted' means to give constant attention, to persevere. Now, I suppose after having read the Bible for 20 over years of my life, the Bible is not exactly an easy book to read, right? Now, I know everybody says, "Oh, the Bible is very simple, you can read." Well, in one way, yes, it is. There are some things that are really easy, obvious, but to really understand the Bible, it takes a whole lifetime. It's not that easy.
And so some of you say, "Pastor, when I can't sleep, I read my Bible." "It's so difficult!" Well, the Bible says, "Don't give up but give constant attention." Put in your effort. Put in diligence to the study, to the learning and to the obedience of the apostles teaching.
Now in this church, I believe the Pastors, the leaders, the Care Group leaders, the discipleship group leaders, we, they, put in a good shift of work to feed God's people. We want to, that's our calling. We, we deeply feel for the communication, the impartation of the Word of God. But this church will not be a church rooted in the Scriptures if God's people are not hungry for God's Word.
If God's people are not putting in diligence, creating space, creating opportunities to study and to grow in God's Word. Oh, we can have Tuesday night Bible studies, we can have Sunday Christian Education Program right after the service, even providing lunch for you to eat and listen at the same time. We can provide Care Groups, Discipleship Groups, Bible Study Fellowship, BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), we can have CG leaders.
But if you are not giving yourself devotion to God's Word, this church will never be rooted in the Scriptures. You will not be rooted in the Scripture. How do I get rooted? Well, it begins with a devotion, giving constant attention.
So you need to have this plan, alright? You want to be rooted in the Scripture, I asked you, "What's your plan?" People say, "I want to lose weight!" But never have a plan, you will never lose weight. "I want to lose weight, 2019 lose weight, 2020 lose weight, 2021 lose weight." Never lose, in fact increase only. That's the sad story of our lives, right? So if you want to say, "Oh, I want to be devoted to the apostles teaching." What's your plan? People say, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So what's your plan?
Let me suggest a few things for you to consider. I won't tell you what you should do, alright? But I will suggest, do something that is simple and sustainable, that's all.
It can be as simple as having a, a Bible app. Nowadays, a lot of app lah - food got app, taxi got app, everything got app ah. Let me ask you, "Out of your apps, how many Bible ones?" eh jialat, don't have! Or maybe, "Pastor, I have a lot, 10 of them, but never opened one."
So, so think of something, ask God for a plan. Is it through an app? Is it through a website? Is it a commentary? A study Bible?
Now, these are tools that are so available today? I feel it's almost criminal, that Singaporeans living in this open society, do not access these means of grace. Sad. Now, I would say that if you, if you want to use resources, good for you to check with your Care Group leader, they may be able to guide you as to, is this a good website, healthy app or not. Because we have many good things, there will also be a lot of counterfeits, so do your checks.
But for you, some of us, we say, "That's hard." I know you have a Bible reading program that can cover the Bible in a year, but it's hard. "I don't know how to read it." Then I say, "A simple plan is, think of somewhere you can learn the Bible from someone."
I know it's hard to learn things by yourself. You would appreciate a coach. You will appreciate some examples. Then I say, "Think about some platforms you can join - Bible studies here in church, Tuesday, Sunday, BSF." We have Bible Study Fellowship, they have, we have a men's group and ladies group on Thursdays being conducted in this building. Find your Care Group leader. Find someone who is more mature in the faith and say, "Hey, Sis, I, I, I want to read the Bible, can you just show me how? Can you read the Bible with me?"
Wow, that would be a great step! Nothing big deal, but just a little bit, just something small, get your appetite going, you know. It's like eating Thai food, just mango salad, wah, then you wah, tom yum soup, wah then you eat a lot after that. Just whet your appetite, just get going, get something sustainable that you can enjoy.
But it does require some sacrifice, right? Nothing gets going without some sacrifice. You want to lose weight, go exercise lah, please. "Aiyah, very tired lah, very" That's the common problem, just wake up a bit earlier. Just stay back a bit later, just do some exercise. Start a plan and be prepared to make some sacrifices.
Recently, I was at Takashimaya in Orchard and we, it was, it was a jap, Japan fair going on. And I chanced upon this, this amazing fruit. What is this? Well, there's a specific name to this. It's not rock melon, is called, Musk Melon, M U S K. It's a product of Japan, Japan fair, right?
So when I looked at it and say, "Wah, so pretty got this purple ribbon some more. You go to market where got melon like that one! So there's this purple ribbon on it and I thought, "Oh this must be the famous Japan Melon or whatever lah. It's called Musk Melon and guess how much it costs?
Hundred ah! Wah, you can buy a lot of rock melons you know, hundred dollars. How much? When I saw the price, my mouth dropped, my jaw dropped. It is $238. One melon, by the way, it's smaller than a bowling ball ah. This is not, I, I, I would have thought 230 Yen, maybe, but it's $238. Now when it's $238, you better pay a bit of attention ah. So I looked at the sign and it says there - musk melon.
The Japanese musk melon is an epitome of luxury in Japan's gift giving culture. Prized for their perfectly spherical shape and intricate netting. These melons are a result of painstaking cultivation. Growers trim vines so that only one most promising fruit monopolize all nutrients from the vine.
So when I went on internet, I realized this is how they cultivate their melons. One vine, how many melons? One melon. So the farmer in order to have this nice, juicy sweet tak kong (outstanding in Hokkien dialect) $238 melon, he sacrifices and cuts off all other branches. He cuts off all other buds, nothing else would take the nutrients. All the focus goes to this one - my precious musk melon.
You know why your lives chow (smelly in Hokkien dialect)? You know why our lives stink? And we don't, we are not sweet and we are not beautiful. You know why? Because all the nutrients are going everywhere. All our time, our efforts, our attention, our focus, our mindshare is going everywhere. Our lives are so complicated. The musk melon of spiritual life cannot blossom. Do you realize that?
You know one thing I learned from the Bible, it may not be said in exactly these terms, but I think what I learned in the Bible is - life should be simple. Now what I mean by that is not that, oh, every morning wakes up, eat sleep, then. I'm not saying that simplicity. I'm saying, the cares and the affairs and the delights and the passions. I think as best as we can, we should simplify it.
Today we live in a culture where the more capable and more talented you are, the more celebrated you are, "Wah, you can ski ah!" "So, you know, I want to be known as someone who skis." So every holiday must go and learn how to ski. Because I need to learn how to ski, how to do equestrian, how to do ballet. I need to learn so many. I must make sure my kids can do everything.
Is that really important? Is that really important? At the end of the day, does God ask, "Eh, you know equestrian or not?" "Wah, how come you never dance better your ballet class?" You think he's going to ask you that? He's going to look at your musk melon - $28 or $238? That's the question! How's your spiritual life, right?
So this year, we say, we need to look clearly where we want to be. Now, where do you want to be? To excel in 1000 things or to excel spiritually? To be a man or woman rooted in the Scriptures, then cut some vines. Take out some scissors, maybe this, this night, go home, take scissors. Tell your family, "These are things that I have to cut. These are things I have to cut."
Maybe some of you today are struggling. You're struggling in your life because you're not happy. You are actually quite angry on the inside. You're not, you're not living in peace. In fact, you, you, you see that you're getting nasty. You hit out at people, you hit out at church, friends, church members. Hit out your wife, your husband, your kids, and you wonder why. "I'm doing so much," you say. "I'm going to church, I'm working, I've so many??? But I'm not happy on the inside, why?"
Well, let me tell you a story. Some time ago, there was someone who was really upset. She complained about a lot of things, but it's strange because she knows the Lord and she loves the Lord, but she's complaining, she's upset.
In fact, she did not complain to someone else, she complained to God about Him, about God Himself. So who is this person? Well, I think you might have known by now. She's Martha. Martha, Martha, who hosted Jesus in her home. Martha who wanted to, to be hospitable to Jesus and probably prepared a nice meal.
But in the midst of all her preparations, she blurted out, she, she scolded Jesus. "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me alone to do all this? Don't you care, Jesus? Don't you?" I can imagine that, that scolding posture. "Tell her to come and help me lah." If she lived in Singapore, she would have said that.
You know, she was angry, she was bitter, she was upset. With who? With God. What's the problem? She loves Jesus, right? I mean she, she created a feast for Jesus. Jesus puts His finger right to the heart of the problem.
Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. [Luke 10:41-42] You know why you are unhappy as a person and nasty to people? Not because people are nasty, but because something is going on inside. You are anxious. The word, anxious is pull in different directions. You are so burdened with so many things. Your heart is not at rest.
What's the solution? Martha's sister found the secret. Jesus says, "Martha, you're too distracted. Your sister, Mary, she's the wise one. One thing is necessary and she has chosen a good portion." "You know what your sister is doing, she's willing to prioritize. She's willing to put aside the chicken, the ham, the vegetables and she's sitting at My feet hearing Me. She is wise. She has chosen the good portion."
Let me ask you, "This year, who would you want to be? Martha with a complicated life or Mary, who has a simple life of saying, "I want to sit at the feet of Jesus."" Then, create space for that, have a sustainable plan. Look for someone, join us Care Group, join a Bible study. Commit yourself maybe to CEP. Come for Tuesday night Bible Study, whatever that may be. Buy a commentary, study guide, whatever that may be. Make that time and be rooted in the Scriptures.
And I tell you, I guarantee you, that's the experience of anyone, if you have committed yourself to the Word of God at the end of the year, you will look back and be thankful and say, "This has been a blessed year indeed!" And I hope that when we get to heaven, we will admire your musk melon. Wah, $2,380 one, tak kong! Why? You have cut off a lot of branches that you may prosper spiritually.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. Being rooted in the Scriptures can be a simple slogan we say on our lips, but that means nothing. Do you long to be a man or woman who knows the heart of God, who makes godly decisions, who live in that joy and light and peace, who will not be distracted, who will not be bitter, who will not be hitting out? Then, let's follow dear Mary.
One thing is necessary and she has chosen the good portion. Do you realize it's your choice? Do you realize you can make a difference? Do you realize that how this year and how your life would pan out rests in a way in how you choose today?
So right now, in the quietness of your heart, I want to encourage you, to think about how you can cultivate your inner life. How you can create space for the Holy Spirit to change you into the image of Savior, Jesus Christ. Are there things you need to forsake? Are there things you need to prioritize? Are there choices and decisions you need to make? Is there someone you need to speak with? Don't let this sermon stay a sermon please. Let this be God's Word to spur you on into a God led decision.
May you taste of the goodness of the Lord in the Scriptures. May you grow in your delight for His Word. May you be a man or woman truly rooted in the Scriptures. Your family will be different. Your life will be different. Gospel Light will be different. Punggol will be different. The world will be different. It begins with your inner life today!
Maybe some of you are here and you do not know Jesus. Let me tell you, the Word of life. I gave up, well, I didn't quite give up, I was led away from the careers in this world, because to me, there is nothing more worthy than this Word of life.
This Word of life says, "Even though we are all sinners, helpless and desperate by ourselves, God in His amazing love has promised and indeed has sent His Son to die and save us from our sins."
The Word of life says that, "Whosoever repents and believes in Jesus Christ will not perish, but have everlasting life." Today, I invite you to turn from sin and to believe and receive this Word of life. May God bless you. I believe it is this Word, this Gospel that you need today and may the Spirit of God lead you to repentance and faith.
Father, thank You for this morning and I pray for this church, that whilst we rejoice in the preaching of Your Word that we could hear weekly. Lord, give us a heart that loves Your Word.
O, make us a people who will be like the Acts church who devote themselves to the apostles' teachings.
I pray that Bible Study, Bible obedience will not just be something we have on Sunday mornings, but every day of our lives, every week in the rhythm of our life. This will be a priority for us. So lead us all today, lead our families, to being more and more focused and rooted in the Scriptures. Bless each one, we commit ourselves to You. We thank You in Jesus Name. Amen.
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