08 Sep 2019
Many people have misconceptions about Christianity. For example, many assume that the primary goal of knowing Jesus is so that He can bless us. And there are others who suppose the Christian faith is like a "bonus" or a good "add-on" to their usual lives. However, Jesus corrects these misconceptions in this passage in Matthew. First, He emphasises that the reason for following Jesus must be for His name's sake, in the gospel, for God's Kingdom. It is not primarily centred on "me". It is all about God and His gospel. Second, He tells us that following Him is radical and extreme. We must be willing to leave everything behind and to die to our selfish wants and ambitions. Third, He also encourages us that there are both present rewards and eternal blessings when we follow Him. When we make personal sacrifices for the gospel, we will ultimately gain more than we have given up. So may this sermon encourage you to re-orientate your life. May you truly follow Jesus indeed!
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Well, this is mid-autumn and in this sermon on Matthew chapter 19, verses 27 to 29, I also want to start with something mid-autumn. During mid-autumn we all eat mooncakes and there are many kinds of mooncakes now available in Singapore. You have the lotus seed one, you have the mixed nuts one, you even have the durian ones, the “Mao Shan Wang” [a premium variety of durian characterized by its bright yellow flesh, bitter sweet taste and creamy texture] ones but has anyone of you seen this kind of mooncakes?
Does anyone know where this mooncake is from? Someone sat on it? No, no, no not quite but these are deliberately like this. These are, one more chance, oh? These are, Hainanese mooncakes, absolutely! How come you know ah? It's very rare. Apparently these mooncakes known as the Hainanese mooncakes actually began some 92 years ago in a family of a Hainanese home.
They came from China but since they have come to Singapore, the recipe is now only in Singapore, no one sells Hainanese mooncakes in China, you can't find it there but it has also been lost, in a sense in existence here in Singapore because the original lady who came up with the recipe has since passed away so this 92 year old secret recipe was only recently brought back when her grandson decided to start a cafe that would sell these mooncakes again.
He felt that this was a legacy of his grandma and it would be a pity if this legacy is lost so he said, he decided to leave his mechanical engineering job to continue this legacy. He left what was precious to him, his job, his cherished job, in order to continue a purpose and a mission. Well, that's my attempt at mid-autumn carnival connection because I thought about a group of men who were willing also to leave their jobs for a mission and a purpose.
When Jesus walked into their lives some 2000 years ago and said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” These men did not leave their nets and boats for mooncakes. They left their nets and boats to be about God's work which is to be fishing for men for the salvation of souls, so Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew and others. They left what they used to be doing and they followed Jesus. They've been following Him for one to two years now and they heard Jesus in an encounter with a rich young ruler, say, “if you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21] When they heard the words, what? “Treasure in heaven”, I think their eyes all lit up.
Wow! If I follow Jesus, if he would follow Jesus, he would have treasure in heaven, so what will I get? So without much hesitation, Peter, in verse 27 said in reply, “See, Lord, behold, we have left everything” and he was honest about it. He was right, he left his net, he left his boat, he left his father, he left all these things behind to follow Jesus. "See, we have left everything and followed You. What then will we have?" [Matthew 19:27]
So this morning, I want to explore with you, what you will have when you follow Jesus. In this text before us, we're going to see what it means to follow Christ. Besides answering this question, I really want to also help you see, ahm, why we should follow Jesus. What's the reason? What's the purpose? I hope to also show you that one critical criteria, ingredient, factor or consideration in following Jesus. How should you follow Jesus and then finally, what will you get when you follow Jesus, what's the reward?
So let's start number one. What's the reason for following Jesus, why do we follow Him? Very simple answer, right from your text in Matthew 19, it says, you follow Him, “You follow Me for My name's sake.” In other words, you follow Me to make My name known. You follow Me so that people would hear about Jesus, you follow Me so that My name will be lifted up, it will be exalted.
Now some of you say that so egotistical, that so self-centered? Well, a proper understanding of why Jesus says “follow Me for My name's sake”, might be better understood in the light of what He prayed in John 17. In the night before He was going to the Cross, the very last night on Earth, this is what He prayed in his high priestly prayer, He prayed, “Father, the hour has come..." I'm going to die, I'm going to the Cross, "Glorify Your son”, why, egoistically? No, “Glorify Your Son, so that the Son may glorify You.” [John 17:1]
So the reason why we should agree and say yes, we want to glorify the Name of Jesus is so that the name of God the Father is also glorified. So the reason why anyone today would follow Jesus is so that Jesus, and the name of God will be lifted up.
I think this is important to grasp it might sound so, of course to you, but there's something I need to emphasize because I think many people come to church, many people say they are Christians. Many people say, "I will believe", not so much that they want the Name of God to be lifted up, but they want their own name to be lifted up.
There are many people who come to church today because they say, "Lord, I need your help." "I want you to bless me in my job." "I want you to bless me in my career." "I want you to bless me my health." "I want you to bless my kids, PSLE coming up, please help me score 292, Lord, please help."
And what you pray for, now, I'm not saying you don't pray. I'm not saying you cannot ask God for help. I'm not saying that when you're sick, you don't pray for healing, I'm not saying that but I'm saying, it is absolutely the wrong way round to look at the faith, if you think the end all and be all of following Jesus is so that God will bless me. I think it's absolutely wrong, it's unbiblical to think that the end all and be all of Christianity is to make my name great, is to make my name known, is for people to know how wonderful my life is. When Christianity, properly understood, is not for my name's sake, but for His name's sake.
This is a paradigm shift, this is an upside down reality you really need to grasp because I know even right now as a mumble ‘bababa’ talking, you're shutting off, you say, "Aiyah, whatever you are saying lah [Local slang], but I'm still here because I want God to bless me."
Hey, got to be clear, we follow Jesus for His name's sake. It's not that Jesus follow me, for my name's sake.
My son, Matthias, he, he is someone who is always fascinated with things around him so when we go shopping malls, it's quite a scary thing. We walk halfway, can disappear one that fella because he will walk into some shop he will stay there, we have moved off but he's still looking at a toy, that video, that whatever and so on Friday, it's the same, we were in a mall, he, I couldn't find him for a while and then when I saw him, I said, "Matthias remember, when we go out, it's not that daddy follow you, you follow daddy" and then it struck me, it isn't that's what the Bible is saying? Hey, get this clear, Christianity is not God following you on your agenda. It's me, it's I who need to leave my agenda and follow God, for His name's sake.
So why do you follow Jesus? Why do you come to church? So that my life will be more blessed? God is a God of blessing. He is the Father who blesses us with all good things but let me say if that is your goal, I think you've missed the point of Christianity. It is about Jesus, it's about His Name.
The parallel passage, you know that the life and times of Jesus are not recorded only in Matthew, it's also recorded in Mark, in Luke, in John and together they are like a wonderful symphony orchestra that enriches the song of Christ's life.
So we hear also Mark say, not only did Jesus mentioned, "for My sake or for My name's sake but also for the Gospel." [Matthew 10:29] In other words, our lives, lived on this earth, are meant, are really to revolve around the name of Jesus and the best way to lift up the name of Jesus, I believe is through the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, that wonderful message of promise that God will send and has sent His Son, to be the Savior of all who believe upon Him. That should be your will in life, that should be your call in life, that should be your purpose in life that we today are here for God's name, for Christ's name and for His Gospel.
Many people today pray about God's will. "Pastor, can you pray for me, what is God's will for me?” "Pastor, can you pray for me, what is God's will for me”, actually, you don't really need to pray a lot. You just need to read and believe it, that God's will is that my life will be spent lifting the name of Jesus, not lifting the name of Jason, to spend my life telling the Gospel and not my own story. That’s your goal. It really is your goal, as simple and clear as that, you believe it?
So hard, isn't it, even as I talk now, I know you're still alright, okay, but Monday to Saturday, I'm back to my work, I'm back to my career, I'm back to making a name for myself but these are the words of Jesus. The reason you follow Me, the reason why you will call yourself a Christian, it’s for My name's sake, for My Gospel and for the Kingdom of God. Luke tells us, "It's for the Kingdom of God" [Luke 18:29], not Jason's kingdom, not John's kingdom, not Mary's kingdom, but for the kingdom of the living God.
If you are today, someone who believes in Jesus, you have been brought out of sin to belong to God in this kingdom then let's serve this kingdom. I'll say more later on but first thing, in this text, we learn that the reason for following Jesus is for His Name, for His Gospel, for His Kingdom, not mine.
All right, just as I say to Matthias, “Matthias, you follow daddy, not daddy follow you.” My brothers and sisters we follow Jesus, not Jesus, come follow me.
A second aspect I think this text offers us is that one condition or criteria or ingredient or factor that is essential to following Jesus. I can't think of a simpler word. It's a simple concept but the word comes up a bit 'chim' ['difficult' in hokkien dialect] lah [local slang] but the word here is the radicality of following Jesus. What I'm saying here is that following Jesus is extreme, following Jesus is demanding, following Jesus is radical. It is not casual. It is not light and easy. It is not a walk in a park, it is not business as usual.
There are many people who think that becoming a Christian is business as usual, except you add a few things more that’s all in your life. People think that becoming a Christian is just setting apart your Sunday morning, come for church service and put a few spare notes into the offering bag and if you are a bit on the ball, you may want to go care group, Bible studies, service but essentially, Christianity to them is like a CCA - co curricular activity. I have my job, I have my family, I don't mind adding a little bit of event, a little bit of activity to buy this insurance policy, called 'going to heaven'.
I don't want to die and go to hell so I don't mind coming to church add a little bit of stuff, Jesus stuff add-on but don't ask me to do more. To many, Christianity is business as usual but no, following Jesus, according to Jesus Himself, is extreme, it's radical, it's demanding, how radical? Well, He said to the rich young ruler, “Go. Sell. Give. Follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21] Go, sell what? All your possessions and the Bible told us in Matthew 19, that this rich young ruler had great possessions, he was extremely rich and yet Jesus says, you want to follow Me, “go, sell and give.”
Now that was not just theoretical, it was real in the life of Peter, Andrew, James and John and Matthew and the others. Peter said, “See, look, we have left what, everything” [Matthew 19:27] and he's not lying. He left his father, his boat, his net, his means of livelihood, his job, his career, he could have been a top fisherman in town but he gave it all up to follow Jesus.
You say this is for Peter, this is for the rich young ruler, not for me. Well, Jesus said in verse 29, “and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands”, wow! this one very extreme, especially in Singapore, houses and land is not easy to come by but you gave that up, that's what following Jesus might look like, that you are willing to leave this, it's extremely radical, very, very demanding. You say, "Jason you are too extreme lah [local slang], could not be like this right?"
Let me tell you even more extreme things because earlier on, remember in Matthew 16, Jesus said, "If anyone would come after Me, you really want to follow Me, then you need to deny yourself and take up the Cross." [Matthew 16:24] What this means is that you need to die to yourself, the cross is the emblem of death so Jesus is saying to anyone who wants to follow Me, you can't follow Me if you're still wanting to live, live your old life. If you're still chasing your ambitions, your dreams, your goals, you can't follow Me if you're all about your fishing, all about your career, all about your job, all about your fame, all about your comfort. You can't, you need to deny yourself, crucify yourself, say no to yourself desires so that you may follow Me. Otherwise, you can't so Paul Washer, he said, "A true convert, does not receive the Gospel as an addition to his previous life". It's not an insurance policy I buy, it's not business as usual.
It is not to keep living the same way I used to live, no, if you really get the Gospel, if you understand who Jesus is, that He is the Son of God who came to give His life for you, to save you from your sin, you cannot live the same way you used to live. You would see that you should die with Christ on the Cross and now you should live utterly for the glory of God. You gladly give your life in exchange for the Gospel, you you are described like that man, who upon finding that pearl of great price, goes to sell all that he has, just to find and to get that pearl of great price.
That speaks of the supreme worth of Jesus and the Gospel so if you want to follow Jesus, let's be clear, we follow Him for the Gospel sake, for his name's sake and if you really want to be involved in the Gospel ministry, if you want to make His name great, it demands nothing less than that you will die to yourself because you cannot live for the glory of God, if you are living for yourself. “No man can serve two masters”, simple as that!
This is not complicated theology it's simple theology. You cannot follow Jesus, if you're living your own life that you used to live. If you want to pursue the kingdom, the Gospel and His name, you've got to die. See, Jesus said that about himself. He said in John 12, “Truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” [John 12:24] What a simple but absolutely powerful illustration.
A corn of wheat is of no good, it doesn't feed much but if this corn is willing to fall to the ground, rot in a sense and die and disappear. One day, it brings forth much fruit. If Jesus was not willing to leave heaven's glory and fall to the ground here on earth to die, none of us will be saved, all of humanity is doomed but because He's willing to come, to leave heaven's glory and to come to die for our sins, we, many of us sitting here, are saved together with millions throughout the ages. This fruit is only possible because of John 12:24 principle Jesus died and if we today are to live for the glory of God and for the purpose of the Gospel, then it calls for nothing less than that you and I would die.
Are you willing to die because that's what the Gospel needs, that's what the Gospel calls for. If Gospel Light is to be leading generations into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ, what do we need? All or, we need nicer PowerPoints slides, or, we need stronger aircon, or, we, we need to have more technology. Now I'm not saying these things are wrong but ultimately what the Gospel needs is people who are willing to die to themselves. Christianity is about dying, folks.
Why do you come to church? The reason why you should come to church is to die, so can you look at the person beside you and say to him or her - "I came to church to die" but that's what church is, right, because we are not here, so that we may continue to pursue our old lives. We are here to follow Jesus, and that means we are reminding one another, we are praying one for another, the ministry of the Word is so that we may be more willing to die. That's why you send your husbands to discipleship groups because you tell him to go and die. Go discipleship, go and die to yourself, that's what Christianity or discipleship to Jesus should be.
Now, dying is never a nice thing to say, dying is always difficult and painful and especially for Chinese people. We say it's a 'taboo', it's a 'suay' ['not good' in hokkien dialect] or 'pantang' ['superstitious' in hokkien dialect] thing, don't say too much but in Christianity, there's a lot of it “life comes from death” and without the dying of the wheat, there will be no fruit but is it worth it for you to die, is it really worth it, because I know you say, "I know the Bible say I should die but I'm scared of dying because I'm 'kiasi' ['afraid of dying' in hokkien dialect]", Singaporean, 'kiasu' ['scare to lose out' in hokkien dialect], 'kiasi' ['afraid of dying' in hokkien dialect], I'm scared of dying and I'm not sure if I die if it should be worth my while so let me encourage you lastly, from this text, the reward of following Jesus.
In this text, Jesus is giving us encouragement that we may believe Him and say yes, following Jesus is for His name's sake, following Jesus demands a price, it demands a dying to self but it is worth it because He gives us a reward, He promises us so.
So the ultimate point here in verse 29, should be when we make personal sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel, we will ultimately gain far more than we had ever given up. You will never be a loser nobody likes to be a loser but this text tells you, when you sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel, whether time-wise, life-wise, money-wise, whatever. When you make personal sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel, you will ultimately gain far more than you had ever given up.
Now that's precisely why Peter asked, "What then will we have? We have left everything what will we get?" [Matthew 19:27] Notice Jesus never rebuke Peter, say, "Eh, Peter, you very pragmatic, very mercenary leh [local slang]," he didn't do that. He honored the proper motivation here and Jesus replied Peter saying in verse 28, "Truly, I say to you, in a new world, when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me also, will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel".
The word 'new world' here is a very interesting Greek word, you can go back and read up is palingenesia, which is a description of something new, a creation of something new. It's used only two times in the Bible here and the other time in Titus 3:5, talking about the new birth of a Christian.
So in this new world, in the future, whenever that may be, the apostles are given a special privilege because they are ones who suffer much with Jesus and after Jesus had ascended, for Jesus, they are ones who have suffered much for the name of Christ and "those who follow Him will also sit on these 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel", these seats are fully reserve, no space for you already. "Hey, pastor, I want to go there leh [local slang]", cannot. None of us can go there because it's already fully booked. You say, "Aiyah [local slang], like that why I follow Jesus, the apostles follow, I know why lah [local slang], but for me, no point what".
Well, He does not limit it to the apostles because He says in verse 29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for My name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." So everyone who is about the kingdom work, who is about the Gospel ministry, who is all out for the name of Christ to be exalted. When you pay that price, when you make sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel, you will never lose out because He promises this to everyone. You say what are the rewards or what are the returns like, super good because it says hundredfold.
In today's day and age, if you are a counter investor, whatever investing if it can give you 10% return, you are already very good, true or not? I'm not sure lah [local slang] but I think 10% should be very good lah [local slang], our economic, our GDP, like struggling, right? So if you can get 10% returns, you are very good investor but this is not 10%, this is not even 100%, this is hundredfold, which is how many percent? Aiyoh [local slang] eh, okay lah [local slang], I, I asked that just so that you may think a bit and wake up a bit? So it's about 10,000%, right. That's amazing, that's crazy but let me just say in caution, I don't think Jesus is saying when you give up one house, God gives you 100 house. This kind of property investment very good ah, wow, God, I give you one condo, you give me 100 condo ah? No, I don't think this is really about material gain because Jesus had just said to the rich young ruler, “Go. Sell. Give.”
I don't think this is a promise, literally about material blessings. Just as I don't think Jesus is literally saying that you will have 100 brothers or sisters or mothers, that's, that's not possible but this hundredfold, I think refers to the joy and satisfaction, that all the money you give up, could never buy any way and He is really saying, when we make personal sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel, we will ultimately gain more than we had ever given up.
Now some of you may say, uh... I'm not so excited because I know God will reward me but it's in the future, it's in heaven, it's a bit too long term. Just like my two kids, we tell them study hard so that, you tell your kids this right, study hard, so that next time you get a good job then you'd have to sweep the roads. Not that sweeping the roads is anything bad, but we tell them, "Oh you, you want to study hard, so that you have a good career".
You know what the kids listen to all that and they say, "I don't care" because all they think about is now. I want to play my computer I don't care about my future. I sweep roads for all I care but I want enjoyment now, I want to play computer, I want to watch movie, I want to read my books, now so when we hear about Jesus rewarding you a hundredfold you think, "No lah [local slang], bo pakeh ['not happening' in hokkien dialect] lah [local slang], it's next time, I don't care, I want now".
Let me tell you, what I just said is for now, because He said in Mark 10, which is a parallel text, "You will receive a hundredfold". [Mark 10:30] When? Now, in this time! The joy and delight of making sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel is not something future, it's something now. What do you get? Well you get houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children. Now if I tell Shawn, “Shawn, when you follow Jesus, you will have 100 Matthias”, he said, “I don't want to follow anymore.”
Now when God says you will get a 100 brothers, sisters, again, let me say, I don't think it's literal, just like you could never have a 100 mothers, you only have ever, going to be, one mother, right? You may have stepmothers but your natural birth mother, only one, you cannot have many people give birth to one so Jesus is not saying that you literally have these things but that you’ll, imagine this, as you give yourself, your life for the sake of the Gospel, people get saved and they will be like family to you. If you go to the nations, if you go to faraway lands, if you preach to the peoples of the world, they come to know Jesus and when you are there, they are like family to you.
You get a million, a 100 fathers and mothers and children that way. That's the joy and delight where we give ourselves for the Gospel, we gain a family, a bigger family, a warm family, a blood- bought family that we would never have, otherwise. I find it interesting in this text that Jesus never said you will have a 100 wives. I don't want to say why, but notice He also doesn't say a 100 fathers, just mothers, not fathers, perhaps reminding us that we only ever go to have one Heavenly Father, but we have great family members in His body.
I also want you to note that Jesus is not a cunning salesman, paints all these good picture but doesn't tell you the reality. The reality is when you give your life for the sake of the Gospel, yes, you will have unspeakable joy and delight. Like Jesus, you will be able to say my food, my meat, my satisfaction is to do the will of My Father but at the very same time, you will also experience what Jesus said here, 'persecutions', it's interesting, right in the midst of this reward, He says, "As you do so, you will also receive persecution". [Mark 10:30] That's the reality when we live godly in Christ Jesus, when we preach the Gospel, when we are ambassadors, when we are peacemakers, you will suffer persecution but we can count it all joy, we can agree with Jesus when He says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake" and the final little phrase which we have no time to expand and really no scope to expand upon, eternal life. Wow, what a concept, what a promise, what a future, eyes have not seen, neither ears heard, nor entered into the hearts of men the things that God has prepared for those who love Him, unspeakable joy in time to come.
Basically, Jesus is saying, "When you make personal sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel, you'll never be a loser you'll gain far more than you had ever given up" so let me wrap this up. This is a short three verses that teach us a lot about following Jesus. There is clarity in the reason in following Him, it's not for ourselves, it's for His name, it's for God's kingdom, it's for the Gospel.
Let us be also very clear that following Jesus cannot be business as usual. It is not a CCA, it is not just a Jesus add-on. It is a call for a total reorientation of one's life, that we are willing to say no to our ambitions, wants and dreams and that we would die to ourselves in order to follow Him in a radical way. It's extreme, it's demanding, the Gospel ministry requires nothing less and then finally, there is good reward when we follow Jesus, you will never be the loser, you will gain far more than you could ever give up, so let's bring this home a little bit more.
I like to ask you about your jobs. How's your job, what's your job, how do you see your job? I think this is one dominant theme in a Singaporean's life, isn't it? I mean, if anything, Singaporeans are known to work very hard, Singaporeans are known to be dedicated to their jobs and it is a wonderful attribute to be dedicated to one's work. It is a wonderful virtue to be responsible for what you're called to. I think that is good Christian ethics but could it be that beyond dedication, there is an obsession, beyond dedication, there is idolatry, in that we take our jobs to be the ultimate goal and purpose and fulfilment of life, that now instead of working in order that I may survive so that I then can give myself to the Gospel, I am working so that this job brings me what God should bring me, this job brings me the comfort, the joys, the delights, the affirmation that really the Gospel should bring but now I look to my job to give it to me. Could it be that you and I are so addicted to our jobs that we will not follow Jesus, could it be?
I've known of brethren, here in this church and elsewhere, who are capable of doing more things in the work environment. They are, they have the potential to handle a lot more, but they deliberately scaled down their job commitments, they are prepared to earn less, that's not a problem. As long as they are able to sustain the family in a reasonable lifestyle, they say that's enough. I don't want to earn more, I don't want to rise up the ranks, I don't want to run the rat race, I, I don't need to be the top dog in my office, I don't need to have a million dollars in my bank account.
Why, because I understand that my life here is not about this job, my life here is Jesus. I can say no to these things, so that Jesus maybe supreme in my life.
Increasingly, I'm seeing a lot more of our people struggle through stress and anxiety. Now, there are many reasons why one would go through that but some really are stressed because of work. It's hard to work in Singapore, it's hard but then I recall what the Bible says, you know what the Bible promises? Jesus said, “Come to Me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Eh, how come I don't see a lot of Christians at rest, they seem to be so much unrest. Oh, Jesus did not fulfill His promise. No, it's not that Jesus failed in his promise but it's because we didn't come to Jesus. He says, “come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
He also tells us, “come and learn of Me, take My yoke.” Why, because My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Now yoke is not egg yolk ah, please. We have looked at this text before, for those who are new you think what, what Jesus egg yolk light and easy, runny, not the hard, no, no. The yoke is that beam that you place on animals like cows and bulls and so on that you can attach the plow that as the animal moves forward, it plows the ground so Jesus is saying, take My yoke upon you because in those days, there are yokes that are for one animal, there’re also yokes for two animals, that two animals together could pull stronger and faster so Jesus is saying, You have been carrying your own yoke, you are tired, you are stressed, you are heavy laden. You know why, because living for yourself is very difficult, living to build your name, your own kingdom is stressful, but learn of Me. Take off your yoke and take on My yoke and My yoke is easy, My burden is light, serving Me, serving with Me is a joy.
Many of you have not experienced what that really means. I want to encourage you today. Your life is not about the dollar sign. Your life is not about a bigger house. Your life is not so that you may be the CEO. Really, your life is not about getting a better car, your life and the sweetness of your life comes when you come to Jesus and you put on His yoke upon you, then you realize, it is truly light and easy.
I've worked in a secular world before. I've been serving in this church for some time. I'm glad to say I've not had a single white strand of hair yet. Maybe have I do not know, but it's not a lot, because it's in my opinion, not stressful to serve Jesus, it really is not but I can imagine if I had stayed on in the, in my previous employment, today, no hair, so if you want your hair and you want to, if you want to stay sane, ah, now you all listen ah! When I stress you're not bothered, when I say hair, you're very interested so if you want all that, listen to Jesus, “come to Me all ye who are heavy, weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Not only about jobs, but I think jobs are very much tied to lifestyle isn't it and there is always a lifestyle for a certain income. You earn so much, you will have that lifestyle that fits that income so there will never be an end, there will never be an end to the lifestyle you dream of.
There's always going to be a better house, there's always going to be a better car, there's always going to be one more zero possible at the end of your bank account. There's always going to be a lifestyle that will match your income so if you keep chasing it, you will always be frustrated.
I think it is wise for a Christian not to chase a more exotic holiday destination every year. Wow, last year I went to this and next year I want to go there. Wow, I hear my friend go to Timbuktu, I also want to go, actually nothing to see but you still want to go because you want to prove that you're more exotic. You have more money to burn, you are able to go to further places of the world, the world, your Singaporean friends have never seen, that's the human nature.
Oh, my, my friend just upgraded his car, two litre, I want to buy three litre, that's life but is that really the life Jesus calls you to have? I think it is wise, I really think now, now, I'm not I'm not asking you to live a lifestyle like a pauper and everyday eat hmm, hmm, porridge with soya sauce. Uh, I don't think it's always necessarily like that but it does, I think it is wise, it is good for us to think of how our lives can be made simpler. Simplify your life so that you are not surrounding yourself with all these pursuits that detract you from the Gospel. The real life is found in dying to yourself to do God's will. Now I'm not saying Singaporean don't take holiday. I know Singapore very small, you feel very cram, you need to get out once in a while. That's fine, but don't make that your ultimate goal.
Don't make the ability to bring my kids for four holidays a year, the benchmark of a successful parent. That's, that's not what it should be, simplify your life, alright? I know you're just okay, okay, okay, but still go back Monday to Saturday, 'chiong' ['go all the way out' in hokkien dialect] my job because I hear my friends talk about, wow Iceland and Antarctica, this cruise wow, hear about the car, it's so hard.
I know what it is, but do think about how, this is not a message about giving a little bit more to Jesus. This is a message from the Bible that says give your whole life to Jesus. I'm just explaining what it might look like in different areas that's all.
Finally, I want to say that if we want to serve Jesus then do so at home, it's very important to do that. Hmm, many of us myself included, there's always this temptation to make your children successful in life. A lot of it is because you really love them but also some of it is because it makes you look good. Wow, your son, study here, study there, wow so smart. This award, that award, yah, yah, look at the genes here. So, so, there's a lot of self tied into that but that's not really living for the Gospel, isn't it? I think it's very important that the parent should raise the kids not so that they can go to Harvard, but that they can go to Heaven.
It's tragic if your kids go to Harvard, but they're not going to Heaven, don't you think, that is a great sadness, of course, let me be clear, salvation is of the Lord. Some of you have done everything right to the best of your ability as biblically as you can, it does not guarantee their salvation but then again, that should not deter us from aiming towards that, that I would parent them in such a way that they would go to Heaven and not Harvard.
I have two sons, my goal, I'm not a great parent and I think I've mixed motives, many a time, I struggle with that but if anything, when they were born, I we wanted to give them names that would remind them for the rest of their lives that their parents wish that they would be servants of God and in the Gospel.
So my first son, Shawn, his Chinese name is 'Hao En' [name written in han yu pin yin] (浩恩) [name written in Chinese characters], what is 'Hao En', not 'hao lian' ['show-off' in hokkien dialect], 'Hao' is 'great' or 'big', 'En' is 'grace'. I wish and I pray and I hope to parent him in such a way that his life can tell of 'the great grace of God in the Gospel'.
My second son, Matthias, his Chinese name is 'Yi Yang' [name written in han yu pin yin] (义扬) [name written in Chinese characters], not 'one little lamb'. 'Yi' is the word 'righteousness', 'Zheng Yi' [written in han yu pin yin, mean 'justice' in Chinese] or 'Gong Yi' [written in han yu pin yin, mean 'righteousness' in Chinese] and 'Yang' is 'to declare' or 'to exalt' or 'to extol'. I pray that his life will be one where he declares 'the righteousness of God in the Gospel', that's what I want my kids to do. Now, I do not know what they will turn out to be, but that's my desire.
I want them to go to heaven and I want them to be helping others go to heaven. I do not need them to go Harvard, it costs me too much. Many of you would have plaques at home that says Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”, 'zhun bo' ['really' in hokkien dialect]? Make sure when you place that, that's what you pray for and what you live for because I think many people when they put up that plaque, they really mean “as for me and my house, we will go to church on Sunday.” That's not serving the Lord, not quite. What does it mean to serve the Lord, serve in the Gospel, serve in the kingdom, radically give up your old life, that's what it means to 'serve the Lord', you can't serve two masters.
So today make a choice, it's your choice, it's your life but remember this, your Savior left heaven for you. He gave up everything to save you, to bring fruit in this world, would you really follow Him? Christianity is not a casual add-on, it's not an insurance policy, it's a call to crucify yourself and to live for what really matters.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. I don't think these things are new to you, you might have heard them before but the purpose is not so that you are merely informed, the purpose is so that you may obey, so my brothers and sisters in Christ, can I ask you today to seek the Lord right here, right now in your heart, in the quietness of your heart. What are you living for?
Are you serious about serving God and Jesus, or has a lifestyle, has a career, has the applause of men subtly but surely wrested God away from His throne of your heart? Would you ask God today to once again break down the high place so that you may worship Him afresh and anew.
Worship is not about singing alone, worship is the sacrifice of your life. That because of the love of Jesus, you will lay down your life on the altar and say Lord have Thine own way and you may pray, “our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done.” That's what it takes to follow Jesus.
Repent of idolatries, repent of the idols that are now in your heart. There's nothing more tragic than to know what is right and where we should go and yet still missed the point, don't let that happen to you in your lifetime.
To all my friends and guests who are here for the first time I want to encourage you, the Bible tells us of this amazing Good News, that whilst we are yet sinners Christ came to die for you. He went to the Cross, He gave up His life. Why, He was not helpless but He was like that corn of wheat that intentionally came so that He may bring life to you, so that He may wash away your sins, so that you may be born again into God's family.
So dear friends, this morning can I encourage you to repent of your sin and believe, look to Jesus alone. He's the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
So Father, thank you this morning we could hear Your Word. Please let this not just be another routine message we hear, but by Your Spirit's enabling, call us to authentic discipleship to Your son. Turn our eyes away from the glamour and glitter of this world, to look to the Cross, to labor for the Gospel, to live for the fame of Jesus.
Then Lord, enable us on a day by day basis to die a little more to our pride, to our comforts, to our conveniences, to our successes. Teach us to deny ourselves and to take up our cross. And may the joy promised in Scriptures, so fill our hearts to do so. Thank you, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
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