Monthly Archives: March 2016

Behold the Lamb! He Is Alive.

In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor
and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12)

Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah! Before the great Revelation to
John the Apostle at the Island of Patmos – he beheld the exalted Lamb, before him
some leading people of God interacted with a lamb that changed their lives and
generations. It is a good thing for us to go back and trace the journey of the Lamb,
and finally, our celebration today will be deeply rooted and with rise to greater
heights.

The lamb of Abraham saved Isaac from the sword. When he said to inquisitive Isaac,
‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’ (Gen 22:8), did
Abraham really understand what he was saying? Had not God asked for his only son
as the sacrifice? And this father was determined to obey God at all costs; yet the
whole future generation would now be cut off! After God’s intervention, Abraham saw a lamb – the lamb slain to take the dangerous place of his only son.

The lamb of Moses saved the firstborn of the Hebrews when the angel of death visited all the families in Egypt. God called Israel his firstborn nation and the Egyptians who oppressed them would lose their first born that night as a final blow to secure release from bondage that had lasted more than four hundred years. After clear instructions from God, Moses saw a lamb – the lamb slain to provide blood for the much needed protection (Ex 12).

This lamb suffered and died every year at the commemoration of this great
deliverance, at the Feast of Passover. This feast was instituted to remind the Jews of the mighty hand and outstretched arm that brought them out of that bondage.
The lamb of Isaiah was innocent, but was silent and submissive to suffering and
death; he was oppressed and afflicted, pierced and crushed, punished and wounded
(Is 53). Even Isaiah saw a lamb – the lamb slain ‘for our transgressions’ and ‘for ouriniquities’. Could this be the lamb that takes away the sins of the world as John
Baptist declared? He may not have known what would become of this lamb; indeed
he was beheaded long before Jesus Christ went to the cross; but when he said,
‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’, John the Baptist must have reminded many of the lambs that suffered and died to bring freedom to the
people of God.

Finally, the Lamb of John the apostle – this one only looks ‘as if it was slain’ but He is alive! And He receives ‘praise and honour and glory and power, forever and ever!’
(Rev 5). Celebrate the victory as you determine to remain faithful in the worship of
this victorious Lamb – He is our salvation and our life, today and in eternity.

God bless you all, and enjoy a Happy Easter!

The Servant King

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41-42)

The picture of the triumphal entry is partially re-enacted on Palm Sunday year after
year – with the waving of palms and singing ‘Hosanna!’ Picture the junior donkey carrying the King Jesus and receiving praise and honour as he entered the capital city – easy to imagine if you have been in church, even for a few years. Evangelist Luke recorded a unique verse of Jesus’ lamentation as he approached Jerusalem and saw the city: ‘if you… had only known… what would bring you peace’ was his cry. One would expect a capital city to be home to the best school and university, the best student and professor, the best archives and library, yet the Lord was moved to tears and wept over the city’s perilous
ignorance.

In his commentary, Adam Clarke suggests it is very likely that our Lord here alludes to the meaning of the word Jerusalem, from yereh (he shall see), and shalom (peace or
prosperity). Now, because the inhabitants of it had not seen this peace and salvation,
because they had refused to open their eyes, and behold this glorious light of heaven which shone among them. What would bring her peace and salvation? Only the obedience and righteousness, the blood, sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 50, the Messiah is portrayed as mighty to save, yet the Jews fell into trouble – they were taken out into
humiliating captivity like enslaved children; they were uprooted from their homeland and banished like a divorced wife, because of their sins and transgressions (vv.1-2), and for their neglect and contempt of the Messiah. Indeed this same fate befell Jerusalem later when the Romans burnt it down to ashes. Note the imitable traits of the coming King who is as concerned about you as he was about that city:

The Student King: He has been taught and he knows the word that sustains the weary. He listens with his ear as one being taught, and is obedient and determined to do the will of the Sovereign Lord – even setting his face to go to Jerusalem where he would meet his death!
The Servant King: In the lowliest humility, the Lord served his Father by serving the lost sinners. He suffered beatings on his cheeks and lashes on his back and shame on the cross for you and me – to save a perishing world, serving His Master! We must give ourselves to learning as students and to ministry as servants, as our Lord Jesus Christ has given us
example.

The Saviour King: He is mighty to save, so fit and qualified; the one who dried up the sea and parted rivers, and the one who defeated death by rising again – no other can save but Him. And he calls us to follow and trust in Him. Hallelujah! He is the Saviour King.

God bless you as you all.

Spiritual Discipline: Worship

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
He stood up to read… (Luke 4:16)

God is omnipresent – He is everywhere; but He has revealed that there are duly dedicated places where He chooses to stand and wait for those who honour Him to come and
worship as a congregation with their gifts of different kinds, and there He will fill them with joy. Others may see this as a contradiction and think you can worship God anywhere and the place does not matter, but sincere believers should also take the principle of the
physical altar seriously. Jesus Christ himself gave the example that the discipline of public worship is important – it was his custom to attend the congregational worship gathering. Many more aspects of worship are important for us to engage in regularly and consistently.

As part of worship, “Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name – there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and
sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD.” (Deut 12:11) The different kinds of giving in the House of the Lord come to us from as far back as Prophet Moses who enacted these by God’s instruction: Burnt offerings were free will offerings that God’s people brought whenever they came to worship. These were brought for no special reason apart from just worshipping the Lord with one’s wealth. We follow this example when we bring such a free will offering to any worship service or
meeting.

On the other hand, Sacrifices included all other distinct burnt offerings made for a reason such as atonement of sin or reconciliation with a neighbour. Today, the greatest sacrifice has already been offered to bring us redemption and peace; Jesus Christ died in the place of sinners, so that by faith we might receive forgiveness and be reconciled to God. We therefore no longer bring sacrifices as it was in the Old Testament, but instead we offer thanksgiving freely for the salvation brought to us by our Lord.

Tithes were and still are a clear portion from one’s increase – specifically one tenth. This mathematically clear portion instills discipline in God’s people to always remember the Lord as the source of all increase, profit and all types of wealth. A similarly clear order was that of Firstfruits in which a portion of the first harvest or first born among the livestock were brought and offered to the Lord as recognition of His blessing in productivity and
increase. And finally, it was expected that some people would make vows or pledges for one reason or another, and the Vow Offering was expected to be brought in its time. It is good to make a pledge, but the discipline of honouring the same is demanded by the chief
witness – the Lord himself. Determine to grow in this and all other aspects of worship as a
discipline to the glory of God.

God bless you as you all.

Spiritual Discipline: Giving

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: … to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter; …and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (Isa 58:6-7)

In this season of Lent, we chose to spend time on Spiritual Disciplines as our subject
of study and practice. The discipline of giving and generosity is one of those that are
a must if one is to please God. Giving is part of worship to God, service to fellow
people, and it gives fasting a truer and greater meaning. The Prophet Isaiah writes
about generosity as part of the kind of fasting that the Lord desires – which means
that fasting without generosity is insufficient and will not be fully effective. Have you
made the effort to seek God more deeply in this season with fasting and prayer, meditating
on the Word of God and attending the mid-week services? Generosity is a must
add-on.

There are many types of givers: some have donated land or furniture to the Church,
while others bring huge sums of liquid cash. All these are welcome. Some give
secretly while others would enjoy some recognition; still this is acceptable. Jesus is
inspecting our giving in the same way he did on that Wednesday afternoon at the
Temple. On that day he witnessed the many types of givers and also noted the
amounts – large, medium and small. But there was a particular widow who brought
the least amount, just two small copper coins worth a few cents; and Jesus noticed
her too (Luke 21:1-4). There were many lessons worth learning from this woman,
and the Rabbi pounced on this opportunity.

Give Sacrificially: The widow is said to have given all that she had to live on as if
she was about to commit suicide! But interpreters claim that she trusted God to
supply her needs and therefore sacrificed her all. It must be true because there are
many examples both in Biblical times and in our age where such sacrificial giving will
be a trigger to immense material blessings. When you give and it pains, it is a sacrifice
indeed. Albert Barnes the Bible Commentator notes that it is our duty to devote
our property to God. We received it from him, and we shall not employ it in a proper
manner unless we feel that we are stewards, and ask of him what we shall do with it.

Give Sincerely: Not that God did not receive and appreciate the others who gave
medium and large sums of money; but among them were some who only compared
the amounts, and others who gave from their ‘left-overs’ without a true passion for
the House of God and sincere worship. Your heart is what God wants first before you
bring your hand. May the Lord increase in you the grace for giving and generosity as
a discipline, that your fasting and prayers and worship may be acceptable and your
blessings come speedily.

God bless you.