11 Jun 2017
Matthew 5:6 The King's Speech - Blessed are the Hungry Pastor Jason Lim 11 June 2017 Mick Jagger sings, "I can't get no satisfaction", "and I try, I try, I try. " He echoes the frustration of the world today. But Jesus proclaims, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. " According to Jesus, real satisfaction is found in righteousness. Those who long and crave for it will be satisfied. Find out what this means in this sermon and may God lead you to be really satisfied today!
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A very good morning to all of you and welcome to our second English worship service this morning, I'm glad to be back after a week of holidays, it's fun, it's enriching but it's a quite tiring with the two boys. Many of you have asked me how it was, I will share a little bit about it later on in the sermon. But today we continue our series in the King's speech. This is really the sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave some 2,000 years ago, recorded for us in Matthew chapter 5 to Matthew chapter 7.
Today we come straight to verse six, where it says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Mat 5:6)
These are amazing words from Jesus Christ, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Many of us would be familiar with this experience of hunger isn't it? We all understand what it means to hunger. Here in Singapore, we have a pasta, laksa, roti prata and we know what it means to hunger for such food. But what does it mean for you to hunger for righteousness? What is righteousness? What does it mean? If I were to ask you to define righteousness, what would it be? What is one of those words in the Bible when it seems quite complicated, but I would suggest to you, it's actually quite straightforward. Listen carefully alright, what is righteousness - I think righteousness is simply right relationship with God. It means being right with God, it means being in rightness with God, it means being compatible, meeting up to the standards of God. The basic meaning of righteousness is equity, it's compatible, you meet the standard, you are accepted, you are right with Him.
You see the opposite of righteousness is, unrighteousness. That's right and what is unrighteousness? It means you're not right with God, it means you are not meeting His standards, it means you're not conforming to His Word. When we are angry with someone in our hearts, when we hate someone in our heart, you know what, that is sin, that is not what God wants, you've come short of that standard, that is unrighteous, you're not meeting that standard.
When you've an adulterous thought in your mind, you, you've come short of God's standard, you're not righteous. Sin is missing the mark, sin is not hitting where God wants you to hit. Therefore, the Bible says, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Sin or sinfulness leads us to unrighteousness, you, you don't meet up to God's standard.
So righteousness simply means rightness with God, being in a right relationship with Him, being right with Him and the Bible is saying, Jesus is saying, that the child of God, the man who is in the kingdom of heaven, he hungers and thirsts, he longs, he prays to be in this rightness with God, he wants to be right with God.
Now, this man understands, he can't be right with God, based on his own efforts, he, he knows that. He knows that because in the first beatitude we are told, he is someone who is poor in spirit, he, he understands his spiritual bankruptcy, he understands he is sinful and is helpless, he is hopeless in and of himself, so beatitude two tells us, he mourns over his sins, he is broken, he is grieved over his sinfulness, but he hungers, he wants to be right. So he stops looking to himself to be righteous, but now he looks to the righteousness that God provides in Jesus Christ. He relies on and he rejoices in the righteousness of Christ, when He went to the cross. Jesus went to the cross so that He may give people His righteousness, that's the amazing story of the Bible.
You say, what is the Bible about, what is the Gospel about? Simply this - God sends His Son to live a perfect, righteous life, so that He may die and give, give that perfect righteousness to those who hunger and thirst for it.
Apostle Paul says it this way, for God made Him that is Jesus, to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. That's the most unfair exchange, that we who are sinful are now righteous and Jesus who is perfect and righteous would be punished as sinful. And the Christian hungers for this righteousness from Christ, he repents of his sins and he turns and believes in Christ, for this righteousness.
You see, what is a Christian? It's very easy for us to assume simply because you're here this morning, you must be a Christian, no. Simply because you carry a Bible, you must be a Christian, no. A Christian is someone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, someone who understands his own unrighteousness and hungers for this righteousness from Christ. He hungers for this right relationship with God, he's not here so that he can have some healing or some problems solved in life, or that God will bless him with a good pay rise, no, he understands fundamentally, supremely, he wants to be right with God.
So I ask you today, do you have and have you rejoiced in this righteousness Jesus provides because that's what it is. That's what the kingdom of heaven is made up of, people who hunger for this righteousness.
But there is more to this, because in the Greek, this sentence is not just a once off experience. This is written in the present tense and in the Greek grammar, it means this is something continuous. To read it properly, it will be something like, blessed are those who are hungering and who are thirsting, it is a continuous reality. So a Christian is not just someone who say I believe in Jesus, that He saves me from my sins. He is that, but so much more. He is someone who believes in Jesus for salvation from the penalty of sin, but he's also someone who longs to be freed from the power of sin.
He says God I want to be righteous, not just in position but also in practice. In reality, because I see sin in my life, I don't want that, I want to be more righteous, more holy, more godly, more like Your Son, that's the heart cry of a true child of God.
Just now we sang the song, Refiner's fire, there is this statement I remember that says, "My heart's one desire is to be holy." See, that's the hunger to be holy in practice, in life.
A Christian is someone who God has, has, had such a grip of their heart that God has so changed their heart, it is radically different. He hungers for righteousness. So my friends, how's your heart today? Jesus says blessed are those who are in such a reality.
Let me move on, I've explained the word righteousness to you and let me move on to explain, well, before that, just let me quote Edwards alright. Jonathan Edwards, he says, “The first effect of the power of God in the heart in regeneration is to give the heart a divine taste or sense; to cause it to have a relish (a desire) of the loveliness and the sweetness of the supreme excellency of the divine nature.” In short, Jonathan Edwards is saying, when a man is so saved, so worked upon by God, he will love, relish and cherish spiritual realities. Everyone in this world wants some kind of healing, wants some kind of solution for their problems of life, but the man in whom God is working, he wants and desires spiritual realities. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness.
So let me as I've said move on to the second word, and that is the word, satisfied. It's a keyword to understanding this beatitude. What is the meaning of the word satisfied? Well I think all of us understand that we, we want to be so satisfied in that we are in peace, in joy, in comfort, but you know, this satisfaction is hard to get.
Mick Jagger, you know that guy with a rather big mouth, well anyway, I remember him as such, he's a lead singer in Rolling Stones and there is a song that is famous and it is, I can't get no…? aah, you all so holy, never hear before, I can get no satisfaction. And the lyrics go on to say, “And I try and I try and I try.” I think Mick Jagger is speaking for the world really, I don't think he's wrong, he's right, he's absolutely right, the world is saying, I can't get no satisfaction. I tried, I tried to work hard, Singaporeans you work hard, I want to climb the corporate ladder, I want to have a greater savings, I want to succeed in my sports, my athletics, in my trophies, I want to excel in everything and I try but even after I got my pile of money, even after I've climbed the corporate ladder, even after I've married a beautiful wife, I'm still not satisfied. Even after my PSLE is 92.. eh what 92, 292, I also not satisfied. I got 11 A1s also not satisfied, somehow I can't get no satisfaction. I thought if I have this, if I just owned this, I will be happy, but I'm not satisfied.
I read about this man, Mr. Hunagundi, he has a very unique habit. Mr. Hunagundi does something none of us here I think would do and that is, he loves to eat bricks, hah, but it's true, go Google him. I just read about him a few weeks back, Mr. Hunagundi loves to eat bricks. This is not a Photoshop thing, huh, just to show you, he actually eats gravel, stones, sand, he eats it, because he loves it.
In fact, it is said that he eats up of 3 kg a day of gravel and sand and sometimes he even eats burning charcoal. I mean, that is way off the charts for me. But you know what, what's interesting is, besides eating these stones and gravel he has to eat, also, food, because he can't get satisfaction from bricks and stones and gravel. When I look at Mr. Hunagundi, I say he is weird, he is unusual, but isn't it the same for you and for me.
In a very real way, spiritually speaking, we are like him. The real satisfaction is in righteousness, in the right relationship with God, but man says no, I don't want real food. I want anything else, the gravel of life, the stones of life, the sand of life, I want to have all these things, I eat these things, I love these things, but really, after eating 3 kg a day, every day you're not satisfied spiritually. You are not really happy in your soul because real joy, real satisfaction, real peace comes from the right relationship with God, and if you are not happy today, if you're not really living a life of joy today, it's not because your wife left you or your boyfriend didn't want you, or you're, you're not successful in your career, but you're not plugged into God, you're not in a right relationship with him, you're not walking right with Him.
You feast, you thought that money, this gravel will satisfy you. You thought that rock of success in your sports would satisfy you but no it doesn't, I can't get no satisfaction. This satisfaction comes in the right relationship with God. The word satisfied here is a beautiful word. It is a word that is very pictorial, it's a picture of animals feeding at the feeding trough, you know how it is right, one big box full of food and all the animals and they are slurp, slurp eating all the food and idea is that the animals will feast to such extent they are so full, they want no more, that's the idea, they shall be satisfied.
The Bible is saying you can have this satisfied of the soul and your heart when you hunger for righteousness with God. That is the experience of the writers of the Bible, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” (Psalm 23:1). The world may crash, my business may fail, I may be sick, but if he is my Shepherd, I shall not want, I'm satisfied.
Jesus Himself said, to the woman at the well, who wanted a drink of water, He said to her, you know if you drink this water from this well, if you drink water of this world, you will thirst again, “but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) There's a spring and a source of constant nourishment and refreshing that is found in Christ. Jesus elsewhere tells us, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
He's saying, I am the One who meets the deepest longings of your heart. I'm the One who will satisfy you, till you're really satisfied because I'm the One who bring you the right relationship with God. So this is a fantastic statement, as you continue to thirst, as you continue to hunger, He continues to satisfy.
So we've looked at two words, the first, righteousness, being right with God. Number two, we have looked at the word, filled, or satisfied, to be absolutely satisfied with who God is in our relationship with Him. The third word I want to focus on, or third phrase I want to focus on is the phrase hunger and thirst, these are good things.
Hunger may be an uncomfortable experience but it's a good thing. It's a good thing that God should give us this gracious pain. Just think about it, if you have kids today and your kids never hunger, I tell you the mothers here will lose far more hair than you have, I think it will turn white faster, aiyoh, why you never eat, why you never eat, if your kids have a great appetite, you're very happy, because you know that hunger is good. If they are hungry, they will eat more and they will grow more.
So hunger, though uncomfortable, is a gracious pain, it's a good thing and I think it's a good thing if you today are hungry for God. It's a good thing if you today are hungry for right relationship with God. To be, you have a hunger to be made more and more holy and righteous, godly, if that's your desire, that's a good thing, that's the sign of life, that's a sign of health.
One of the questions I ask patients when I was a doctor is, “How's your..?” One of the most common questions, ‘How's your appetite?” It's a very general, simple question but if the person says my appetite is super good, I say then see me for what, just want MC right? If you have a great appetite, it's unlikely you're very sick. But if someone says, “Oh I have poor appetite for the past three months.” I said, “Whoa, you've got to have a check” because that means you're not doing very well. See, hunger is a sign of health, really, that you're alright, you long for God and spiritually, I think it's the same.
Now, I want to say that the word hunger here is not a, sometimes in Singapore, okay I want to say, this word hunger, we all understand it, but we don't really understand it, because Singaporeans are hardly hungry. Hardly hungry, you turn to the left there is pasta, you turn to the right, there's Laksa, you turn everywhere there's food it's hard to be hungry, maybe hungry for six hours max and you say wah, bey tahan want to die, want to faint already. The word hunger here is to be famished, the word here is to be starving, it's a word used to describe Jesus after he fasted 40 days and 40 nights. So it's to be extremely hungry, that's what I would say. The word thirst is to thirst to the point of deep pain. So these are intense longings, I think that's the point I'm trying to make.
Blessed are those who intensely crave for righteousness, that's the sense of the verse. It's like what Spurgeon will say, “True godliness lies very much in desires.” You know I find that very powerful. God saves a man, not just positionally or judicially as if he gives him a ticket to heaven and that's it. But God saves a man totally, God changes the man's heart. He doesn't just change his vocabulary, he doesn't just change the way he thinks, he also changes the way he feels. I give you a new heart, that is the totality of the person and a man's desires will change, to desire godliness and that's where it begins. “True godliness lies very much in desires. As we are not what we shall be, so also we are not what we would be.” But look at this phrase, “The desires of gracious men after holiness are intense.” It's not just a casual - if I can be holy, I'll be holy; if there's a Bible study I will go there; yeah, if there's something convenient, I'll attend… No, when you are hungry, when you're starving, this becomes priority. You do your very best, you do your very best to pursue growth in Jesus Christ. It's not that casual affair, it's a priority, if you are proactive about it, you're passionate about it and you'll be in pain until you experience it. That is the description of those who hunger after righteousness.
Look at Job, Job says, “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured” Wow… “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12) What a word, treasure, intense desire for the Word of God.
Hey do you read the Bible, I'm not asking whether you treasure, I'm asking do you read the Bible? Because there are many people who may read the Bible, but they don't even treasure it, they just flip it as if it's some ritual that they are forced to do. But Job's heart longs and craves and desires for the Word of God. The Bible tells us, “The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:9b,10) Oh, we love money, people today love gold, the more the merrier. But the psalmist says, I love the Word of God. That's my desire, I don't know why but God gave me this heart and I love the Word of God, I love to obey, I love to live that life of righteousness and I'm sad when I don't. You know, when you can say that, I say to you, God has done something in your life, you have a new heart.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1) That is the longing of the heart. How about this, “O God you are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) Imagine yourself in the desert, parched, hot, no water inside, you say, give me one drop of water, give me God, intense craving for the right relationship with God.
Or Peter would say, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2) Babies cry incessantly until they have milk. No milk means, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, you can be sure about that, it wouldn't say, “Mom can I have a little bit of milk please?” Where did that come from, someone please give the baby milk. The cries of the baby are incessant until they are satisfied with milk. You see, it doesn't matter anymore what happens around them. When you meet a starving man, you don't talk to him about politics, you don't talk to him about geography, you don't talk to him about entertainment, all he wants is food. And when you talk to a Christian, his world may be crushing or crumbling all around him, but what he wants is God.
I read about this lady, Joni Eareckson Tada, she's on the right side of the screen. She's a young beautiful active lady when she was young, but when she was about a teenager she fell, she broke her neck, had a fracture of C4, C5, spine and was paralyzed from neck down. She lost the use of her limbs, pretty much most of it and was bound to a wheelchair, even at night when she experiences pain, she will need someone to turn her. Otherwise, she was not able to do so.
She has been in this state for 50 years, 50 and throughout the years, she has been to healing rallies, look for pastors to pray for her and she still desires to be healed of course, why, why wouldn't you? She still desires to, to regain the use of her limbs and to be able to walk again, she wants to be restored to full health and she's still having people pray for her. But she says, in this interview, which is a great interview, you want to know about healing and what the Bible says, not just someone who talks about it theoretically, but someone who experiences it for past 50 years and, and is forced to go to the Bible, to really objectively say to, to find out what God says, this is a great interview and I will be happy to share with you the link.
But in this interview she, she said, somehow as I grew in Christ, my priorities begin to change. I used to have people pray for me, to be healed for my legs and my hands, but I begin to pray more and ask people to pray more, that I will be more like Jesus, that I know more of Jesus, that I will witness more for Jesus, that I'll disciple more for Jesus.
Don't get me wrong, I still want to be healed, but that priority from number one is now come down to 5, 10, 15, 24, I don't even know where it is now. And so when someone asks me, “Joni can I pray for you?” I'll say, “Yah, sure, please, but can you pray for me something specific?” She says, “Well, what is it?” “Would you pray for me that God would help me not to be so obsessed with myself, would you pray that God would help me to deal with my unforgiving spirit, not to keep a record of wrongs that people have done to me? Would you pray for me that I would feel free from pride and, and that I will not be so anxious about my life and that I will not fear tomorrow, would you pray that God will work in me?”
When I hear that I say, I hear the heart of a woman who has been changed by God. In the midst of all her pains, this is her one desire, that I will be holy. She hungers and thirsts for righteousness and she is satisfied. She says, elsewhere, “God is more concerned with conforming me to the likeness of His Son than leaving me in my comfort zones.” It's going to be far more comfortable to use your hands and walk, it is, but she's perceives that God is more concerned with transforming her on the inside. “God is more interested in inward qualities than outward circumstances - things like refining my faith, humbling my heart, cleaning up my thought life and strengthening my character.” What an example, what an example of faith and real longings of the Christian heart.
What an example of what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. I've pretty much explained the three words but I just want to end with some concluding applications, if you may. What are the applications or implications then for the church, for you and for me? I think number one, for the church, understanding this beatitude means that as a church we must feed the hungry. You see not everybody in the world is hungry, that I think I've come to realize.
When I began ministry, I assume everybody will be interested in the Bible, I mean such a beautiful amazing book. But after these 10 years, I realized, there are essentially two kinds of people sitting right here today and in any church service. Those who are hungry and those who are not. Those who want to know what the Bible says and those who really are not.
So you say, why do they come to church? Don't know, maybe friends are here; don't know maybe it's part of their life; don't know, maybe they hope to be entertained somewhat by some interesting jokes or statements; don't know maybe they want to hear what they want to hear. But essentially there are two kinds of people, those who are hungry for the pure Word of God and those who are not.
And it's so important to recognize these two groups, because, JI Packer, great theologian who is still alive today, he said this, “Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites;” Doctrinal preaching, means preaching that is rightly loaded with truth; teaching that is rightly packed with the Bible teachings. It's not light, it's not airy, it's solid stuff. Doctrinal preaching today is not very popular, why because most people actually don't like it. They find it boring, hah tell me so much about God, aah, tell me so much about commandments and rules and huh, that's so boring they say.
Well Packer understands, doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites - hypocrites are people who look like they are Christians when they are actually not. So they come to church, they, they are happy sitting here, but they don't really want to hear the Bible. Fundamentally, they don't really want to hear the Bible. They may be interested in stories, they may be interested in some entertaining jokes, they may be interested in some claims or false hopes of miracles and false healings, but they don't really like the doctrines.
But Packer continues to say, “It is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ's sheep. The preacher's job is to proclaim the faith, not to provide entertainment for unbelievers - in other words, to feed the sheep rather than amuse the goats.” The hungry and the not hungry.
You know, I think it's sad that today, a failure to distinguish the sheep and the goats, have caused the church to dilute doctrinal preaching, because they, the pastor, it's very easy, I mean as a pastor I look at the crowd, I preach doctrinal stuff and then the church just… (doze off). So what does the pastor do, what is the pastor tempted to do. Next week study more, not the Bible but study more jokes, add jokes here, add jokes there, stories here, stories there, entertain the crowd and after a while he runs out of jokes, frankly how many jokes can have in your life. So he runs out of jokes and he starts to, he starts to talk big, he dangles carrots like, you know if you believe God, trust Him, He is going to bless you and healing all your diseases, he's going to solve all your problems. Now he may say that like in that way, but he's going to add a little bit of that, a little bit here, so entertainment, false claims and you know what, those things are what goats want, so you to get more and more goats. The church is packed, because there are many goats, but the sheep are starving and dying.
Now at the end of the day you can, we may all appear before God and say God, look at the big church we had. No, I was not looking for a big attendance, I was looking for real sheep and you have starved the sheep.
See, the job of the preacher is not to entertain but to feed. He's not called, frankly the Bible doesn't call the preacher to be really entertaining or creative, those words not found, but faithful is found. But when you don't understand that, when the church is trapped to go for numbers and to get goats, then you missed the point. What's the point? I'm saying to you as a church, let us endeavor to feed the sheep with solid teaching. Now, I'm not saying be so heavy, so chim, so lofty, so elevated that nobody understands and you blame every one, you all stupid, never understand.
No, do your best to present it simply, clearly, in an applicable way, but don't shy away from teaching the pure Word of God and trust that there are hungry people who would feast upon the Word of God. God's Word is worthy, your jokes are not.
So in our children ministry, in your care groups, in our Bible studies, feed the sheep with doctrinal teaching, please. At home, teach your kids the solid, Word of God, you will be amazed how much they can understand. The Bible is not so chim that everything got to be just stories and nothing real of real substance. Now I want to say something about feeding the hungry I think this point is so helpful too, in how we share the Bible with others.
Don't assume everybody is hungry for truth. Sometimes it's not the right timing and it's not wise to force things down people's throat. When pastor Randy was here last week or two weeks ago, he was teaching us about evangelism and really the essence of it, one of the key principles is just feed the hungry. You don't have to share the Gospel with everyone in that one setting and force them to listen, no, ask, invite, go as far as the person is hungry to absorb. You don't always have to have the last say and force the person to accept what you're teaching, feed the hungry. Recognize, there are people who are hungry and people who are not, alright so that the first application I want to make.
A second application I want to make in understanding this beatitude is, do what is right and not what feels right, there is a difference. There is a difference between what is right and what feels right. It is very important, to make that distinction especially today in the world we live in. We live in a world where more and more people are saying there is no such thing as right or wrong, there is no such thing as absolute truth. You see, people say that we are living in this postmodern world, what a big word, well, postmodern modern after modernization, people are getting smarter, they think that they are smarter at least and they, they, they feel that there's no reason why they should listen to others tell them what is right or wrong.
Who are you to tell me if premarital sex is right or wrong. Who are you to tell me if same-sex attract or relationships are right or wrong. As long as I'm happy, as long as I think it's okay, as long as I don't think it hurts anyone, I think that's fine. Who are you to tell me, so moral relativism, relative to me, I set the standard. So people today don't do what is right, as God would have it, but they do what feels right. You see, it feels right to be in a same-sex relationship. It feels like to have extramarital affair. I mean as long as I'm happy who are you to tell me and they say if I live the way I feel, that's more enjoyable, that's more liberating, that's more peaceful, that's real life, I don't want to be shackled by this thing called right or wrong.
But do you know that sounds very much like a story in the Bible where a man says, “I don't want to live in my father's house, it's so restrictive, I don't have real happiness there, I want my freedom.” So he goes to his dad and said, “Dad, give me all that I deserve.” And he leaves his house. He leaves his father's house, he goes to a faraway land, he does all that he enjoys, all that he wants and then at the end of the day, he ends up with the pigs.
He thought he had freedom but he's now brought into slavery and bondage. And so he wakes up and says, ‘Oh no, I've done wrong, all that I ever wanted was in my father's house.” See Jesus said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Right relationship with God, in accordance to His Word because only then shall they satisfied. They shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free.
Real liberty is not doing what I feel is right, real liberty is doing what God says is right. A fish says to itself, I want to be free, so he jumps out of the fishbowl and he starts to walk on land, I'm so free, I'm so free and then he dies. That's not freedom, real freedom is when the fish is where he is made to be, in the water. Humanity is really free when we are in the will of God, because we are made to be in a right relationship with God.
So the Bible says, do pursue righteousness, be done with this rubbish called moral relativism. There is a God and we are made for Him. And real satisfaction comes when you are right with Him. When you pursue what He pursues, when you live the way He would have you to live, you will enjoy the satisfaction.
Let me say thirdly, be doers, not just hearers. When Jesus says blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, He is not just saying blessed are those who want to know what is righteousness. No, He is talking about people who actually pursue righteousness in their life, not just their brains, in their knowledge. They are doers not just hearers they are living out these truths.
See, a wise man according to Jesus, is someone who hears the Word of God and does them. Alright, very important, wisdom is hearing and doing. You know what's a fool, you know what's a fool? According to Jesus, a fool is someone who hears and does not do. Now I suggest to you a man who hears and does not do, is a greater fool than someone who does not hear and does not do. You have heard what is right and you still do not know that makes you an idiot, basically, that would be what it is. So foolish, build your house upon this solid teaching, act upon it and you will stand and you don't do it.
I say to you Christians, you have a solid Bible. People today say I want to know God's will, I want to know God's will, I want to know what God has to say. Go to the Bible build your life upon the principles of the Bible, you'll be wise, your house will stand, your life would be standing. But many of us, we don't read, that's problem number one, but the greater problem is that you read, you listen, you hear a sermon like this, but you don't do. How tragic that would be. But the Christian man says no, I, I long, I crave, I desire to do.
That's the great commission. We always focus on the words, “I am with you always” Wah, tremendous, comforting, promise, that's true. But don't ever missed these words, “observe”, “to observe” You see, the great commission is not just teaching people truths, it's teaching people to observe the truths, to do the Word of God, otherwise there's no great commission.
Making disciples is not just teaching them truths but helping them to do those truths, because according to James, “He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25) It's in the doing that there is a blessing.
In Gospel Light, we want to emphasize doctrinal teaching, but we are asking you, we are telling you that you must not aim for information alone, you must aim for transformation. Now doctrine, teaching, sound preaching of the Word is absolutely essential for growth. But mere knowledge alone is not going to cut it, information alone is not going to cut it, you've got to be transformed by it. So, it comes when we obey in the power of the Spirit, be doers, not just hearers.
Number four, it addresses people who say well, Jason, you preach this long and by the way, very long, you better….if you're someone like that, because you know you have no appetite for spiritual things. You don't really want to be righteous, you don't really want to be godly, don't really want to know the Bible, but you want to want because you know you are in trouble. You want to want, you want to be someone that is described like in the Beatitudes.
Then I say to you today, simply cry to God for a new heart. You see, the key is not for you to now, okay I want to be someone like the Beatitudes, so I hunger, you don't, you can't create that yourself, that's the effect of a new heart.
So I say it to you, cry out to God today for a new heart, that's what I say to my kids every night, “God help Mattias to realize his sin, to realize that he cannot save himself, God gave Mattias a new heart, help him to repent and believe.” That's what I pray for my kids, a new heart. I don't say to Matthias, “Matthias you got to hunger and thirst after righteous aah.” He says what, what, what, similai eh, but I pray God gave my kids a new heart that they may be saved. So if you want to want these things, come to God in humility, in prayer, because I think that's what God does, as promised in the new covenant. Ezekiel 36, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26) Cry out to God today, if you're seated right here and you have no hunger, hey, I did not preach this message to condemn you, but I pray this will wake you that you may then cry out to God.
Well l I have one story and it's about my trip to Korea and so here it goes. We went to Jeju, it's a volcanic island, bigger than Singapore, but it's amazing, I think it's a island that is formed from a volcanic eruption sometime back. So at the center of Jeju is this mountain called Mount Hallasan. One of the first items on our agenda was to ascend Mount Hallasan. It's a very tall mountain and there many ways to go up and so we as brave Singaporeans chose the shortest one. So the four of us, we, we chose the shortest route to walk, to scale, to ascend. Well my kids are nine and five, I don't think we should be overly ambitious. So we went to this trail, that is marked out here, this is the roadmap, one of the signage we see and it's about what 2, 3, 4 kilometers one-way and it's marked in three different colors, because it tells you the different difficulty levels.
The first third is red, that's the most difficult, then you have green which is normal and then yellow, which is easy. So we all started on this trail and somewhere about 1/4 mark up the red one, we were in trouble, because you know when I say difficult, I think Singapore difficult. Singapore Bukit Timah hill quite difficult what, but I thought Bukit Timah hill can lah, I can, so I thought it's like Bukit Timah hill standard, but the Korean difficult is harder, it's higher than the Singapore difficult. So by about the quarter mark we were feeling it and we said, “Wah, we walked so long, we are really quite tired and we are only at the quarter mark of the red.”
Well, we had a taste of it and we said but we have to go on right, cannot lau kwee, come back Singapore tell people we try half, one quarter come back already. So we went on and it became more and more difficult. I was struggling, alright, I'm generally quite okay fitness wise, but I was having, OK that's my excuse, but I was having flu, all stuffed up, can't breathe, short of breath. My wife just had a major surgery a month ago and so we were struggling up. So about half way, three-quarter mark we, no actually half way mark, we, we saw from afar, very high up, people up there.
I said, “Hah, are you serious, we're going there. We walked so short, already want to die you know.” So I asked our kids, do they really want to go. They say, “Yah we want to go, we want to go.” Well basically what we saw was that if you, if you notice, this might red point, there is this site that interested us, portable water, in Chinese it's quan shui, so we are looking for this spring, this maybe waterfall, this stream. You know how high up there, it's cool and nice and refreshing so my kids love water, they love water adventures. So we said at least make it to the portable water mark lah. We, we won't make it all the way, we are quite sure already, we say, kao liao, can, but let's make, let's head for that and so we, we, we went on. When we reached the rock stage, oh sorry, when we reached the rock stage, we were half dead. I mean, we stopped so many times, we see the aunties, uncles walk up there, but we stopped so many times sitting there, chuan and my wife, said, “Guys you go ahead, when I'm better, I'll catch up.” I thought to myself, “No way are you going to catch up.” But I asked the boys, “Do you want to go?” The boys said “Yah, we want to go and we want to see the spring and the waters.” And in my mind I said, “Jialat, what if half way, they said, daddy I cannot walk anymore.” All those fears came into me, but we still trudged on, with the hope that we would cross the red zone into the green zone where it's going to be easier.
Well it became a little easier, not much easier. We went on further and then interestingly it in the green area it opened up to a plain. It's like amazing, you know it's lots of rocks, got to jump over rocks, it's quite scary for my kids, but we went past that, went beyond this, this place where there are lot of trees and it came to this open plain. It's like open plain in the middle of nowhere, beautiful and we said, “Yeah we are going to the spring soon.” We walked on and on and on and then I said, “Shawn, Matthias, did you see the spring or the river?” They said no. But when I looked at the sign, that it's along the way, “But we past it, you know Shawn? Maybe we missed it.” So we turn back.
So we walked back and then it struck me. Maybe we did pass it, we passed the portable water point. And I walked nearer to confirm if that is so and so as we walk, we got to this stage where I said, “Shawn, I think that is the portable water point.” “Dad, what are you saying?” “That's the portable water point.” We went nearer and this is the portable water point. I was like, you mean we, you mean after three hours, and after almost dying there we, we were looking for this rainwater collection point. My son immediately say, “Wah lau eh, I can't believe this is it.” “Shawn take a photo of this portable water point.” I mean portable water I can understand but then write quan shui know, spring water, wah. I should have learned Korean. Well on the way back down, well we, we had a good laugh, took some photos, on the way back, by the way my wife caught up with us, amazing, miracle happens, she caught up.
So on the way back down, I could hear Shawn keep saying, “Mount Hallasan I hate you, Mount Hallasan I hate you, Mount Hallasan I hate you, you almost killed me.” And then I thought to myself as I heard him say that, isn't this a description of all of us in this world? We all are trying hard to climb Mount Hallasan because we believe, we have been told that there is some refreshing satisfaction up there. And so even though it's hard, we still to try, you still try to work, you still try to labor in your office, you still try to, to be the first guy here in your in your job, you want to arrive there.
But you know you spent 20, 30 years of your life and when you get right up there, you realize, wah lau eh, like that one aah, I can't get no satisfaction. My friends, real satisfaction is found in pursuing a right relationship with God. Jesus tells us so. Real satisfaction for your life is not in the bucks you have, in the cars you drive, but in your right relationship with God, in holiness. Right satisfaction for your kids is not that they become top scholars in PSLE, but that they have a right relationship with Christ. Real satisfaction for Gospel Light Christian Church is not that we are packed full of people, but that you are walking in a right relationship with Christ. And when we hunger and crave and desire for righteousness in our lives, in our church, in our homes, in our society and in the world that is to come, Jesus says blessed are you, for you will be satisfied. May God satisfy you today as you turn to him for righteousness.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. I've spoken much and I just want to give you this time to reflect, to repent before God, what He is saying to you. So take this time, if you're not in a right relationship with God, I say to you today, cry out to God for a new heart. Maybe today you are a Christian already, you know that, but you are struggling in life, you're not satisfied in life, you, you know something is wrong in your life, it is not about your father, your friend, your auntie, your colleague, no, no, no, no, no, this morning I want you to know it's you and your relationship with God. Your friends, your, your auntie, your colleague whatever, they are just an indicator that something is not right in your life with God. So this morning, would you repent and hunger for that right relationship with God again.
Maybe for some of us, it's time to come down from the Mount Hallasan of money and fame and power and to believe Jesus. Satisfaction is found at the foot of the cross. Some years ago, I decided to come down from Mount Hallasan, there are still temptations to go up there, yes, but I pray by the grace of God, give me that hunger and thirst for righteousness, nail me at the foot of the cross, I want to stay there and continue to drink of the refreshing stream from Jesus.
This morning, I pray you will join me in finding satisfaction in God alone in righteousness with Him. Father, thank You for this time. Bless Your people as we think, as we reflect, as we repent, O Lord, thank You for calling us out of this world to belong to You. We are made for You and we are called by You. Draw us near, feed me, feed us, satisfy us, that You may be most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in You. We pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Link to Joni Eareckson Tada's interview
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13 Aug 2017
05 Jun 2017
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28 May 2017