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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Hearing God’s voice 

by Ps Christopher K

We often think that only the super holy and super righteous ones hear the voice of God, but not the unrighteous, sinful ones. Nothing can be further from the truth as seen in the Bible:
  • ·    In Genesis 1:  Adam had sinned a great sin and was hiding amongst the bushes. Yet in his unrighteous state, the tender voice of God (not in anger, but in love) came to him, “Where are you?”
  • ·    In the OT: God’s voice came to a sinful Gentile prophet, Balaam, as he pursued the path of sin and evil. God’s voice warned him to turn from sin.

As Christians, we have been chosen to represent God and to carry His voice to others. We are His vessels and instruments to channel His voice to the unsaved ones.
Discerning God’s voice and the devil’s voice:
God’s Voice                                                        Devil’s voice
Truth                                                                    Lies
Leads to freedom and freedom of choice            Leads to bondage, control, 
Produces faith                                                      Produces fear
Has integrity                                                         Has hidden, crooked agendas
Teaches us to rely on His righteousness alone   Teaches us to depend on our own 

God wants to work on you today
You cannot come to God in your own righteousness. You cannot earn God’s favour by your own good works (prayers, fasting, charity, etc) (Romans 7:19). You simply need to totally surrender and rely on what Christ has done for YOU on the cross. As you yield your life into the hands of the Potter, God can turn a rubbish into a masterpiece (Jeremiah 18:1-6).

Thursday, February 06, 2014


Out With The Old, In With The New

by Ps Samuel Hari

Text : Eph 4:17-32 (NLT)

Right believing will no doubt lead to right living. Right believing however needs to be reinforced. Right living involves, putting off the old man/patterns and putting on the new man/patterns.

v17-24 – Change our walk/patterns from the old nature as we are citizens of a new kingdom.

People are hopelessly confused. Everything starts in the head, heart and futility of their minds.

v18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.

The solution
v20-21 Learn about CHRIST! Hear Him, be taught in Him, the truth is in Jesus, He is the TRUTH! Solid about our identity in Christ. Study all the "In Christ" scriptures (meditate, internalise). 
(Rom 8:1; 2 Cor 5:17; Col 1:27; Eph 2:10; 3:19)
v22 Put off (throw off) the old (which is corrupted by lust and deception. Don't try to repair it. Throw it, aggressively sometimes). Notice this comes AFTER v20-21. We have no strength to put off if we don't have v20-21 (keep going in circles). How to throw off? See how BEAUTIFULLY v22 is sandwiched between v20-21 and v23?
v23 Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. v30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by keeping “skeletons in the closet”. One of the most powerful prayers is, "I cannot.. help me, Holy Spirit".
v24 Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. A very important part of the process as we cannot just keep getting rid of the rubbish, we need to consciously replace it with the truth! Where does it come from? The Word - personal study, group study, sermons, church, cell group, fellowship, IMPACT!

If we just put on the new man without putting off the old man, we are covering up…Sweeping things under the carpet. If we just put off the old man without putting on the new man, then we will constantly live in condemnation and give room for the devil to move in with far worse lies! Through power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we replace the lies with the truth.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Special Gifts by Ps Samuel Hari 

Text: Eph 4:7-16 

Grace is a Special Gift. One aspect is it’s the unmerited favor of God. The other is it's a special gift! We are GRACED by God through Christ to be a blessing to the church and to the world!

What is the Gift? (V11)
The 5 Fold ministries. We need all five in the church to be balanced. Don't reject or favor a particular ministry because we are uncomfortable or like it. They are ALL SPECIAL GIFTS from the LORD (through the generosity of Christ (v7)) to us.

WHY did He GENEROUSLY give us these gifts? (V12-13)
 • To EQUIP us to DO God's work
• A CONTINUOUS and PROGRESSIVE work. We are not there yet; SO be on!

The result
• Unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God which equals to...
• MATURITY, to a MATURE MAN, which is measuring up to the FULL and COMPLETE standard of Christ

Ephesians 4:11-13 MSG

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

What is “fully alive like Christ”? V14-16 
No longer IMMATURE like children. Childish vs Child-like. We need to GROW UP!
V14. NOT...
• tossed and blown by every wind of doctrine/new teaching
 • be tricked by half truths. Looks like, smells like, feels like but is NOT the truth! Not just doctrines; developing discerning...listed as Holy Spirit gift..1 Cor 12:10
• speaking the TRUTH in LOVE
• GROWING in every way, more and more like Christ who is THE HEAD
V16. Christ does His part and we do ours (the gifts given to the body 1 Cor 12:7-11). We cannot leave everything in God's hands without doing our part. It's working together although it seems impossible when people have different gifts, talents and mindsets. However, when we do our part and leave the rest to God, He will fit everything together PERFECTLY and the whole body WILL be HEALTHY, GROWING AND FULL OF LOVE!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daily Bible Commentary (May 13-17th)

Matthew 24 deals with end time prophesy. There are many differing views on these prophetic scriptures and the commentator provides his personal viewpoint 

Monday – 13th May
Topic: The King’s Return Part 1
Read: Matthew 24:1-14 

The Olivet Discourse grew out of some questions the disciples asked when Jesus told them that the temple would one day be destroyed. First, they wanted to know when. This answer is not recorded in Matthew but is given in Luke 21:20-24. Secondly, they asked about the sign of Christ's return. This is answered in Matthew 24:29-44. In their final question, they asked about the sign of the end of the age. Christ's reply is in Matthew 24:4-28.

We must keep in mind that the "atmosphere" of this discourse is Jewish. Jesus talked about Judea (Matt. 24:16), the Sabbath (Matt. 24:20), and the prophecies of Daniel concerning the Jewish people (Matt. 24:15). The full truth about the rapture of the church (1 Thes. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51ff) had not yet been revealed, for it was a mystery (Eph. 3:1-12).

Matthew 24:1-44 indicates that our Lord was discussing events that will take place on earth during the time of Tribulation. (See Matt. 24:8, where "birth-pangs" is a symbol of Tribulation; and see also Matt. 24:21, 29.) After the church has been suddenly taken out of the world, there will be a period of "peace and safety" (I Thes. 5:1-4) followed by a time of terrible suffering. Many Bible scholars believe this period will last seven years (Dan. 9:24-27). It is this period of "tribulation that Jesus described in the Olivet Discourse. At the end of that period, Jesus will return to the earth, defeat His foes, and establish the promised kingdom.

In the section before us, Jesus explained three different periods in the time of Tribulation.

The Beginning of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:4-14)
The events described in this section are "the beginning of birth-pangs" (Matt. 24:8). The image of a woman in travail is a picture of the Tribulation period (1 Thes. 5:5; Isa. 13:6-11). Let's consider some of the significant events that will occur at the beginning of this period.

Religious deception (Matt. 24:4-5). The Jews have often been led astray by false prophets and false Christs. The rider on the white horse in Revela­tion 6:1-2 is the Antichrist, that final world dictator who will lead the nations astray. He will begin his career as a peacemaker, signing a covenant with Israel to protect her from her enemies (Dan. 9:27). Israel will welcome this man as their great benefactor (John 5:43).

Wars (Matt. 24:6). Note that wars are not a sign of the end. There have always been war in the world, and will be until the very end. Wars of themselves do not announce the end of the age or the coming of the Lord.

Famines (Matt. 24:7). War and famine usually go together. Revelation 6:6 suggests terribly high prices for staple foods, for a "penny" was a day's wages.

Death (Matt. 24:7-8). Earthquakes help to create famines, and both help to cause epidemics that take many lives.

Martyrs (Matt. 24:9). Christians have always been hated by the world, but here we have an acceleration of persecutions and murders. All nations will be involved. This certainly was not true in the history of the early church.

Worldwide chaos (Matt. 24:10-13). Those who once were true to each other will betray each other. This suggests that marriages, homes, and nations will be torn asunder because of lack of loyalty. Lawlessness will abound (Matt. 24:12), for even the law enforcement agencies will not be able to keep the peace.

Matt. 24:13 has nothing to do with personal salvation in this present age of grace. "The end" does not mean the end of this life; it refers to the end of the age (Matt. 24:14). Those believers on earth during this terrible period, who endure in their faith, will be saved when the Lord comes at the end and delivers them.

Worldwide preaching (Matt. 24:14), Revelation 7:1-8 teaches that God will choose and seal 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will carry the kingdom message to the ends of the earth. This verse does not teach that the Gospel of God's grace must be spread to every nation today before Jesus can return for His church. It is the Lord's return at the end of the age that is in view here.

Tuesday – 14th May
Topic: The King’s Return Part 1
Read: Matthew 24:15-22 

The Middle of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:15-22)
The midpoint of the Tribulation period is most important, for at that time an event will take place that was prophesied centuries ago by Daniel (9:24-27). Please notice that this prophecy concerns only the Jews and the city of Jerusalem ("thy people and ... thy holy city," Matt. 24:24). To apply it to the church or to any other people or place is to misinterpret God's Word.

The prophecy involves seventy weeks and the Hebrew word "week" means "a week of years," or seven years. Seventy sevens would equal 490 years. But this period of 490 years is broken up into three parts:

(1) During seven weeks (49 years) the city of Jerusalem would be rebuilt and the worship reestablished.

(2) After 62 weeks (434 years) Messiah would come to Jerusalem and die for the sins of the world.

(3) The prince will make an agreement with the Jews for one week (seven years) to protect them from their enemies.

The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given in 445 B.C. by Cyrus (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1). The city was rebuilt in troubled times. Sir Robert Anderson in his classic book The Coming Prince (Kregel, 1975) has proved that there were exactly 482 prophetic years (of 360 days each) between the giving of the decree and the day that Jesus rode into Jeru­salem as the King.

But we must account for the remaining" week" of seven years. Where does it fit in? Note that the same city that was rebuilt will also be destroyed "by the people of the prince that shall come" (Dan. 9:26), that is, the Romans. ("The prince that shall come" is a name for the Anti­christ.) This event took place in A.D. 70. But the Jewish nation would be spared and the city restored again. For at some future date, the prince that shall come (Antichrist) will make a covenant with the Jews for seven years. This is where the missing"week" fits in. He will agree to protect them from their enemies and permit them to rebuild their temple. (Daniel 9:27 talks about a restoration of the sacrifices, and this would demand a temple.)

The logical place for this seven-year period is after the Rapture of the church. "The time of Jacob's trouble," the Tribulation period, will be seven years long. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 indicates that the Anti­christ cannot be revealed until the restrainer is taken out of the midst. That restrainer is the Holy Spirit in the church. Once the church is out of the world, then Satan can produce his masterpiece, the Antichrist.

He will make the agreement for seven years, but after three and one ­half years ("in the midst of the week") he will break that agreement. He will then move into the Jewish temple himself and proclaim that he is God (2 Thes. 2:3-4; Rev. 13):

The Antichrist will cause a living statue of himself to be put into the temple, and his associate (the false prophet, Rev. 20:10) will cause the whole earth to worship i.t Satan has always wanted the world's worship, and in the middle of the Tribulation he will begin to receive it (Matt. 4:8-11). Jesus called this statue "the abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:27).

An interesting parenthesis occurs at the end of Matthew 24:15ff "who so readeth, let him understand.” This statement indicates that what Jesus was teaching would have greater significance for people reading Matthew's Gospel in the latter days. By reading the Prophet Daniel and the words of Jesus, these believers will understand the events and know what to do. This is another evidence that the Olivet Discourse applies to people during the Tribulation period.

Wednesday – 15th May
Topic: The King’s Return Part 1
Read: Matthew 24:23-30

Prophetic scholars have speculated as to why the Antichrist would break his covenant with the Jews after three-and-one-half years. It has been suggested that the invasion of Israel by Russia, prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39, would occur at that point. Certainly Israel will be at ease and dwelling in safety at that time, for she will be protected by the Antichrist (Ezek, 38:11). At that time, he will be the ruler of a l0-nation alliance, "The United States of Europe" (Rev. 17:12-13). Russia, of course, will be soundly beaten, not by Israel, but by Almighty God. When the Antichrist sees that his great enemy, Russia, has been beaten, he will take advantage of the opportunity and move into Israel, breaking his covenant and taking over the temple.

The readers of this prophecy in the latter days will know what to do:

Get out of Judea! These instructions are similar to those given in Luke 21:20ff, but they refer to a different time period. Luke's instructions apply to the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and the "sign" was the gathering of the armies around the city. Matthew's instructions apply to Jewish believers in the middle of the Tribulation, and the "sign" is the desecration of the temple by the image of the Antichrist. Those who have confused those two "sign events" have ended up believing that Jesus Christ returned in A.D. 70!

This entire paragraph relates only to Jews, for no Christian believer would worry about breaking a Sabbath law, This event ushers in "the Great Tribulation," the last half of Daniel's 70th week, when the judgments of God will be hurled upon the earth. During the first three and a half years of the Tribulation, the judgments were natural: wars, famines, earthquakes, etc. But during the last half, the judgments will be supernatural and devastating.

During this period, God will care for His elect (Matt. 24:22), referring to Jews and Gentiles who believe and are converted. "The elect" here does not refer to the church since the church will have been raptured at least three-and-one-half years previously.

The End of the Tribulation (Matt. 24:23-44)
World conditions will be so terrible that men will wonder if any relief will come, and this will give false christs opportunities to deceive many. Satan is capable of performing "lying wonders" (2 Thes. 2:9-12; Rev. 13:13-14). The fact that a religious leader performs miracles is no assurance that he has come from God. Many Jews will be deceived, for "the Jews require a sign" (1 Cor. 1:22). Jesus performed true signs in His Father's name, and the nation rejected Him (John 12:37ff), Satan's miracles they will accept.

Verse 27 indicates that the return of Jesus to the earth will be sudden, like a stroke of lightning. The event that precedes His return is the gathering of the gentile nations at Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:11ff). The eagles flying around the carcass picture the awful carnage that will result from this great battle (Rev. 19:17-19). The cosmic changes mentioned in Matthew 24:29 precede the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.

We are not told what "the sign of the Son of man in heaven" is, but the people on earth at that time will recognize it. When Jesus comes for the church, He will come in the air and His people will be caught up to meet Him in the air (1 Thes. 4:17). But our Lord's second coming at the end of the Tribulation will be a great public event, with every eye seeing Him (Rev. 1:7).

This event will have special meaning for Israel. Jesus will return at that hour when Israel is about to be defeated by the Gentile armies (Zech. 12). He will rescue His people, and they will see Him and recognize that He is their Messiah (Zech. 12:9-14). There will be a national repentance, national cleansing, and national restoration under the gracious leadership of their Messiah.

Thursday – 16th May
Topic: The King’s Return Part 1
Read: Matthew 24:31-35 

We must not confuse the trumpet of Matthew 24:31 with the "trump of God" mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. "His elect" in Matthew 24:31 refers to people on earth, Jews and Gentiles, who have trusted Christ and been saved. In the Old Testament, Israel's movements were announced by trumpet signals (Num. 10; Joel 2:1ff). Israel has been a scattered people for many centuries. The angels will gather Israel with trumpets just as the priests did in Old Testament times (Lev. 23:23-25).

Scholars of prophecy do not agree on all the details of future events. But the following summary is a fair representation of what many pro­phetic scholars believe as to the order of events:

1. The rapture of the church (1 Thes. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-58). This 'can occur at any time.

2. The leader of the 10 European nations makes a 7-year agreement with Israel (Dan. 9:26-27).

3. After three-and-one-half years, he breaks the agreement (Dan. 9:27).

4. He moves to Jerusalem and sets up his image in the temple (2 Thes. 2:3-4; Rev. 13).

5. The Antichrist begins to control the world and forces all people to worship and obey him. At this time God sends great tribulation upon the earth (Matt. 24:21).

6. The nations gather at Armageddon to fight the Antichrist and Israel, but see the sign of Christ's coming and unite to fight Him (Zech, 12; Rev. 16:16; 19:11ff).

7. Jesus returns to the earth, defeats His enemies, is received by the Jews, and establishes His kingdom on earth (Rev. 19:11ff; Zech. 12:7-13:1). He will reign on earth for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-5).

The purpose of prophecy is not to entertain the curious, but to encour­age the consecrated. Jesus closed this section of His, discourse with three practical admonitions, built around three illustrations: a fig tree, Noah, and a thief in the night. Verse 36 makes it clear that no one will know the day or the hour of the Lord's coming. But they can be aware of the movements of events and not be caught by surprise,

The fig tree (Matt. 24:32-35). Luke 21:29 reads, "Behold the fig tree and all the trees" (NASB). The fig tree in the Bible is often a picture of Israel (Luke 13:6-10; Hosea 9:10); and the other trees would picture the nations of the world. Perhaps our Lord was suggesting that increased nationalism will be one of the signs of the end times. Certainly future events cast their shadows before them. ,. And when these things begin to come to pass ... " (Luke 21:28a, italics mine) suggests that a sign need not be full-blown before it is important to God's people.

The budding of the trees indicates that summer is near. The beginning of these signs indicates that the Lord's coming is near. The generation alive on earth at that time will see these events take place. Our generation sees a foreshadowing of these signs. We do not look for signs as such; we look for the Saviour (Phil. 3:20). Jesus can come for His church at any time.

Friday – 17th May
Topic: The King’s Return Part 1
Read: Matthew 24:36-44 

The days of Noah (Matt. 24:36-42). Here the emphasis is on the fact that the people did not know the day when judgment would strike. Noah and his family in the ark are a picture of God's miraculous preservation of Israel during the awful time of the Tribulation. (Enoch is a picture of the church which is raptured before the Tribulation. (Gen. 5:21-24; Heb. 11:5; 1 Thess. 5:1-10; 1:10).
What kept the people from listening to Noah's message and obeying? The common interests of life-eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage. They lost the best by living for the good. It is a dangerous thing to get so absorbed in the pursuits of life that we forget Jesus is coming.

The verb "taken" in verses Matt. 24:39-41 means "taken away in judgment."

Do not apply these verses to the Rapture of the church when believers are caught up in the air to meet the Lord. During the Tribulation, a division will take place: Some people will perish in judgment (be taken away), while others will remain to enter into the kingdom. The use of' 'took them all away" in Matt. 24:39 makes this clear.

The thief in the night (Matt. 24:42-44): Jesus used Noah to warn that men will not know the day, and He used the picture of the burglar to warn that they will not know the hour. After the Rapture of the church, there will be a time of peace and safety on earth (1 Thess 5:1ff). Then suddenly God's judgments will fall (Peter 3:10ff).

People alive on earth during the Tribulation period will be able, from the Scriptures, to tell the drift of events; but they will not be able to calculate the exact day or hour of Christ's return. Added to this is the fact that the days will be "shortened ... for the elect's sake" (Matt. 24:22). This may mean fewer days of tribulation, or it may mean fewer hours so that the people on earth suffer a bit less (Rev. 8:12).

When we combine the exhortations found in these three pictures, we end up with: "Know that He is near! Watch therefore! Be ye also ready!" Believers alive during that period of history will certainly find great comfort in the promises of the Word of God.

While the interpretation of this section relates to Israel during the Tribulation, we may apply the Word to our own hearts. We do not know when our Lord will return for His church. Therefore, we must be alert, watchful, and faithful. Jesus dealt with this in detail in the next section of the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:45-25:30).

How grateful we ought to be that God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation when Jesus Christ appears. He has saved us from the wrath to come (l Thess. 1:10; 5:9-10). As the people of God, we will certainly go through tribulation (John 16:33, Acts 14:22), but not the Great Tribulation.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Daily Bible Commentary (6-11th May)

Monday – 6th May
Topic: The King’s Denunciation
Read: Matthew 23:1-4 

This was our Lord's last public message. It is a scathing denunciation of false religion that paraded under the guise of truth. Some of the common people no doubt were shocked at His words, for they considered the Pharisees to be righteous.

Perhaps we should remind ourselves that not all of the Pharisees were hypocrites. There were about 6,000 Pharisees in that day, with many more who were "followers" but not full members of the group. Most of the Pharisees were middle-class businessmen and no doubt they were sincere in their quest for truth and holiness. The name "Pharisees" came from a word that means "to separate." The Pharisees were separated from the Gentiles, the "unclean" Jews who did not practice the Law ("publicans and sinners," Luke 15:1-2), and from any who opposed the tradition that governed their lives.

Among the Pharisees were a few members who sought for true spiritual religion.· Nicodemus (John 3; 7:50-53), Joseph of Arimathaea (John 19:38ff), and the unnamed man mentioned in Mark 12:32-34, come to mind. Even Gamaliel showed a great deal of tolerance toward the newly ­formed church (Acts 5:34ff). But for the most part, the Pharisees used their religion to promote themselves and their material gain. No wonder Jesus denounced them. Note the three divisions in this message.

Explanation to the Crowd (Matt. 23:1-12)
In this section, Jesus explained the basic flaws of Pharisaical religion.
They had a false concept of righteousness (Matt. 23:2-3). To begin with, they had assumed an authority not their own. "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in Moses' seat " is the literal translation. There is no record in the Scriptures that God assigned any authority to this group. Their only authority was the Word of God. Therefore, the people were to obey whatever the Pharisees taught from the Word. But the people were not to obey the traditions and the man-made rules of the Pharisees.

To the Pharisee, righteousness meant outward conformity to the Law of God. They ignored the inward condition of the heart. Religion consisted in obeying numerous rules that governed every detail of life, including what you did with the spices in your cupboard (Matt. 23:23-24). The Pharisees were careful to say the right words and follow the right cere­monies, but they did not inwardly obey the Law. God desired truth in the inward parts (Ps. 51:6). To preach one thing and practice another is only 'hypocrisy.

They had a false concept of ministry (Matt. 23:4). To them, ministry meant handing down laws to the people and adding to their burdens. In other words, the Pharisees were harder on others than they were on themselves. Jesus came to lighten men's burdens (Matt. 11:28-30), but legalistic religion always seeks to make burdens heavier. Jesus never asks us to do anything that He has not first done. The Pharisees commanded, but they did not participate. They were hypocritical religious dictators, not spir­itual leaders.

Tuesday – 7th May
Topic: The King’s Denunciation
Read: Matthew 23:5-12 

They had a false concept of greatness (Matt. 23:5-12). To them, success meant recognition by men and praise from men. They were not concerned about the approval of God. They used their religion to attract attention, not to glorify God (Matt. 5:16). This even meant using religious orna­ments to display their piety.” Phylacteries" were small leather boxes into which the Pharisees placed portions of the Scriptures. They wore these boxes on their foreheads and arms, in literal obedience to Deuteronomy 6:8 and Deut. 11:18. They also increased the size of their "tassels" on the hems of their garments (Num. 15:38; see Matt. 9:20).

The Pharisees also thought that position was a mark of greatness, so they sought the best seats in the synagogue and at the public dinners. Where a man sits bears no relationship to what a man is. Albert Einstein wrote, "Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value."

They also thought that titles of honor were a mark of greatness. The title "rabbi" means "my great one" and was coveted by the religious leaders. Jesus forbade His disciples to use the title rabbi because all of them were brothers, and Jesus alone was their Teacher ("Master" in Matt. 23:8). There is a spiritual equality among the children of God, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Jesus also forbade them to use the title father with reference to spiritual things. Certainly it is not wrong to call one's biological father by that name, but it is wrong to use it when addressing a spiritual leader. Paul referred to himself as a "spiritual father" because he had begotten people through the Gospel (1 Cor. 4:15). But he did not ask them to use that term when' addressing him.

A third title that was forbidden was master (Matt. 23:10); which means "guide, instructor, leader" This is not the same word that is translated "master" in Matt. 23:8 in the King James Version. That word means "teacher," while this one means "one who goes before and guides ". Perhaps a modern equivalent would be "authority." God has placed spiritual leaders in the church, but they must not replace God in our lives. A true spiritual leader directs his people into freedom 'and a closer' fellowship with Christ, not into bondage to his ideas and beliefs.

True greatness is found in serving others, not in forcing others to serve us (John 3:30; 13:12-17). True greatness is not manufactured; it can only come from God as we obey Him. If we exalt ourselves, God will humble us, but if we humble ourselves, in due time God will exalt us (1 Peter 5:6).

Wednesday – 8th May
Topic: The King’s Denunciation
Read: Matthew 23:13-36 

Denunciation' of the Pharisees (Matt. 23:13-36)
We must not read this series of denunciations with the idea that Jesus lost His temper and was bitterly angry. Certainly He was angry at their sins, and what those sins were doing to the people. But His attitude was one of painful sorrow that the Pharisees were blinded to God's truth and to their own sins.

Perhaps the best way to deal with these eight "woes" is to contrast them with the eight beatitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12. In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord described true righteousness; here He described a false righteousness.

Entering the kingdom-shutting up the kingdom (Matt. 23:13; 5:3). The poor in spirit enter the kingdom, but the proud in spirit keep themselves out and even keep others out. The Greek verb indicates people trying to get in who cannot. It is bad enough to keep yourself out of the kingdom, but worse when you stand in the way of others. By teaching man-made traditions instead of God's truth, they "took away the key of knowledge" and closed the door to salvation (Luke 11:52).

Mourners comforted-destroyers condemned (Matt. 23:14; 5:4). While this verse is not in some manuscripts of Matthew, it is found in Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47. Instead of mourning over their own sins, and mourning with needy widows, the Pharisees took advantage of people in order to rob them. They used their religion as a "cloak of covetousness" (l Thes. 2:5).

Meek inherit the earth-proud send souls to hell (Matt. 23:15; 5:5). A proselyte is a convert to a cause. The Pharisees were out to win others to their legalistic system, yet they could not introduce these people to the living God. Instead of saving souls, the Pharisees were condemning souls!

A "child of hell" is the equivalent of "child of the devil," which is what Jesus called the Pharisees (John 8:44: Matt. 12:34; 23:33). A "child of the devil" is a person who has rejected God's way of salvation (righteousness through faith in Christ). This person parades his own self-righteousness through whatever religious system he belongs to. The convert usually shows more zeal than his leader, and this "double devotion" only produces double condemnation. How tragic that people can think they are going to heaven, when actually they are going to hell!

Hungering for holiness-greedy for gain (Matt. 23:16-22; 5:6). "Blind guides" is a perfect description, one that must have brought a smile to the lips of the listeners. Jesus had used it before (Matt. 15:14). The Pharisees were blind to the true values of life. Their priorities were confused. They would take an oath and use some sacred object to substantiate that oath-the gold in the temple, for example, or the gift on the altar. But they would not swear by the temple itself or the altar. It was the temple that sanctified the gold and the altar that sanctified the gift. They were leaving God out of their priorities.

Jesus knew that the Pharisees wanted both the gold and the gifts on, the altar. This is why the Pharisees practiced "Corban"-anything dedi­cated to God could not be used for others (Mark 7:10-13; Matt. 15:1-9). These men were not seeking for the righteousness of God; they were greedy for gain. They worked out a "religious system" that permitted them to rob God and others and still maintain their reputations.

Thursday – 9th May
Topic: The King’s Denunciation
Read: Matthew 23:23- 28 

Obtaining mercy-rejecting mercy (Matt. 23:23-24; 5:7). The Pharisees majored on minors. They had rules for every minute area of life, while at the same time they forgot about the important things. It is usually the case that legalists are sticklers for details, but blind to great principles. This crowd thought nothing of condemning an innocent man, yet they were afraid to enter Pilate's judgment hall lest they be defiled (John 18:28).

There is no question that the Old Testament Law required tithing (Lev. 27:30; Deut. 14:22ff). Abraham had practiced tithing long before the Law was given (Gen. 14:20), and Jacob 'followed-his grandfather's example (Gen. 28:20-22). The principles of Christian giving under grace are given in 2 Cor. 8-9. We are not content simply to give a tithe (10%), but we also want to bring offerings to the Lord out of hearts filled with love.

Justice, mercy, and faithfulness are the important qualities God is seeking. Obeying the rules is no substitute. While it is good to pay attention to details, we must never lose our sense of priorities in spiritual matters. Jesus did not condemn the practice of tithing. But He did condemn those who allowed their legalistic scruples to keep them from developing true Christian character.

Pure in heart - defiled in heart (Matt. 23:25-28; 5:8). Jesus used two illustrations  the cup and platter, and the sepulcher  They both stated the same truth: it is possible to be clean on the outside and at the same time defiled on the inside. Imagine using dishes that were defiled! Whatever you put into the dish or cup would also become defiled. The Pharisees were careful to keep the outside very clean, because that was the part that men would see; and they wanted the praise of men. But God sees the heart (l Sam. 16:7). When God looked within, He saw "greed and self-­indulgence" (Matt. 23:25, NIV).

Jewish people were careful not to touch dead bodies or anything relating to the dead, because this would make them ceremonially unclean (Num. 19:11ff). They would whitewash the tombs lest someone accidentally get defiled, and this was done especially at Passover season. What a graphic picture of the hypocrite: white on the outside, but filled with defilement and death on the inside!

"Blessed are the pure in heart," was our Lord's promise. "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" (Prov. 4:23, NASB). D. L. Moody used to say, "If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself ". The Pharisees lived for reputation, not character.

Friday – 10th May
Topic: The King’s Denunciation
Read: Matthew 23:29-33 

Peacemakers and persecuted are God's children-persecutors are the devil's children (Matt. 23:29-33; 5:9-l2). When Jesus called the Pharisees "serpents ... generation of vipers," He was identifying them with Satan who is the serpent (Gen. 3:1ff). In His parable of the tares, Jesus made it clear that Satan has a family (Matt. 13:38). Satan was a murderer and a liar (John 8:44), and his children follow his example. The Pharisees were liars (Matt. 23:30) and murderers (Matt. 23:34).

It was traditional for the Pharisees to build, improve, and embellish the tombs of the martyrs. But it was "their fathers" who killed the martyrs! Not their biological fathers, of course, but their "spiritual fathers' '-the hypocrites of the past ages.

There have always been counterfeit believers in the world, starting with Cain (Gen. 4:1-15; 1 John 3: 10-15). The Pharisees and their kind are guilty of all the righteous bloodshed in the name of "religion." The first martyr recorded in Old Testament Scripture was Abel (Gen. 4), and the last one recorded was the prophet Zechariah (2 Chr. 24:20-22-the Hebrew Bible ends with 2 Chronicles, not Malachi).

What will be the result, of this long history of murders? Terrible judgment! "This generation" (the "generation of vipers," Matt 23:33) would taste the wrath of God when the cup of iniquity was full (Matt 23:32; Gen. 15:16). Some of this judgment came when Jerusalem was destroyed, and the rest will be meted out in eternity.

As we review these tragic woes from the lips of our Lord, we can see why the Pharisees were His enemies. He emphasized the inner man; they were concerned with externals. He taught a spiritual life based on principles  while the Pharisees majored on rules and regulations. Jesus measured spirituality in terms of character, while the Pharisees measured it in terms of religious activities and conformity to external laws. Jesus taught humility and sacrificial-service; but the Pharisees were proud and used people to accomplish their own purposes. The holy life of Jesus exposed their artificial piety and shallow religion. Instead of coming out of the darkness, the Pharisees tried to put out the Light; and they failed.

Saturday – 11th May
Topic: The King’s Denunciation
Read: Matthew 23:37-39 

Lamentation over Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37-39) 
Jesus spoke these words of lamentation as a sincere expression of His love for Jerusalem, and His grief over the many opportunities for salvation that they had passed by. "Jerusalem" refers to the entire nation of Israel. The nation's leaders had been guilty of repeated crimes as they rejected God's messengers; and even killed some of them. But in His grace, Jesus came to gather the people and save them.

"1 would have ... ye would not" summarizes the tragedy of final rejection of the truth. There is no argument here about divine sovereignty and human responsibility for both are included. God could not force His salvation on the people; neither could He change the consequences of their stubborn rejection. You will not come to Me that you may have life" (John 5:40).

The image of the mother bird gathering and covering her brood is a familiar one. Moses used it in his farewell sermon (Deut 32:11), and it is found in other places in the Old Testament (Ruth 2:12; Ps. 17:8; 36:7; 91:4). It is a picture of love, tender care, and a willingness to die to protect others. Jesus did die for the sins of the world, including the nation of Israel; but "His own received Him not" (John 1:11).

"Your house" probably means both the temple and the city, both of which would be destroyed in A.D. 70 by invading Roman armies. The temple was "My house" in Matthew 21:13, but now it has been aban­doned and left empty. Jesus left both the temple and the city and went out to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 24:1-3).

Yet, Jesus left the nation with a promise: He would one day return, the nation would see Him and say 'Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!" This is a quotation from Psalm 118:26, that great messianic psalm that was quoted so many times in His last week of ministry. The crowds had used those words on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:9).

When would this promise be fulfilled? At the end of the age-when Jesus Christ returns to earth to deliver Israel and defeat their enemies (Rom. 11:25-27; Zech. 12). The fact that Israel rejected the King would not hinder God's great plan of redemption. Instead of establishing His glorious kingdom on earth, Jesus would build His church (Matt 16:18; Eph. 2:11-22). When that work is finished, He will return and take His church to heaven (1 Thes. 4:13-18). Then there will be a time of judgment on earth ("the day of the Lord," "the time of Jacob's trouble"), at the end of which He will return to deliver Israel.

We cannot read this severe denunciation without marveling at the patience and goodness of the Lord. No nation has been blessed like Israel, and yet no nation has sinned against God's goodness as has Israel. They have been the channel of God's blessing to the world, for "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). Yet they have suffered greatly in this world.

Jesus was born a Jew, and He loved His nation. We who are Gentiles ought to thank God for the Jews, for they gave us the witness of the one true God, they gave us the Bible, and they gave us Jesus Christ the Saviour. Like Jesus, we ought to love the Jews, seek to win them, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and encourage them every way we can.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sunday Sermon (28th April 2013)

Living Without Regrets 
by Dr. Angelina Boots

To listen to this timely sermon, please click here.

To view a whole list of sermons from Rivers of Water, click the podcast button on the right pane of this blog.

Daily Bible Commentary (29th April-3rd May 2013)

Monday – 29th April
Topic: The King’s Defense
Read: Matthew 22:15-22 

On Tuesday of Passover week, our Lord's enemies tried to trap Him by using a series of' 'loaded" questions. These men were still smarting from the treatment they had received in the series of parables He had given. He had exposed their evil intentions and warned them that they were, only asking for judgment. The religious leaders did not enjoy being humiliated before the crowds. They were wholeheartedly bent on destroying Jesus, and they hoped to trap Him into saying something that would permit them to arrest Him.

But there was another reason for the questions, one that' His enemies did not realize. Jesus was going to die as the Lamb of God, and it was necessary for the lamb to be examined before Passover (Ex. 12:3-6). If any blemish whatsoever was found on the Lamb, it could not be sacrificed. Jesus was examined publicly by His enemies, and they could find no fault in Him.

Of course, this personal interchange between our Lord and the reli­gious leaders was also an opportunity for them to believe and be saved. In fact, one Pharisee came very close to the kingdom (Mark 12:32-34). Even at the last minute, there is hope for the lost sinner, if he will receive the truth, repent and believe.

There are four questions involved in this public discussion, three of them from the enemy, and one from Jesus Christ.

A Political Question about Taxes (Matt. 22:15-22)
The Pharisees and the Herodians were enemies; but their common foe brought them together. The Pharisees opposed the Roman poll tax for several reasons: (I) They did not want to submit to a Gentile power; (2) Caesar was revered as a god; and (3) they had better uses for the money than to give it to Rome. Since the Herodians were the party supporting Herod, they were in favor of the tax. After all, Herod's authority was given to him by Caesar; and Herod would have had a difficult time staying in power without Rome's support.

Palestine was an occupied nation, and the Jews had no special love for their conquerors. Every tax the poor people had to pay was another reminder that they were not free. The Zealots, an "underground" organi­zation of fanatical Jews, often staged protests against Rome. They would oppose any Roman tax.

It is easy to see why the Pharisees and Herodians chose the poll tax as the bait for their trap. It appeared that no matter which side Jesus took, He would create problems for Himself and His ministry. If He opposed the tax, He would be in trouble with Rome. If He approved the tax, He would be in trouble with the' Jews.

Jesus immediately saw through their scheme. He knew that their real purpose was not to get an answer to a question, but to try to trap Him. They were only acting a part, and this made them hypocrites. On this basis alone, He could have refused to answer them. But He knew the people around Him would not understand. Here was an opportunity for Him to silence His enemies and, at the same time, teach the people an important spiritual truth.

Each ruler minted his own coins and put his own image on them. The "penny" (denarius) had Caesar's image on it, so it belonged to Caesar. "Give hack to Caesar what belongs to Caesar," was His reply. "And give back to God what belongs to God." In this simple, but profound reply, Jesus taught several important truths.

Tuesday – 30th April
Topic: The King’s Defense
Read: Matthew 22:23-33 

Christians must honor and obey rulers. This is taught elsewhere in the New Testament (Rom. 13:1 Peter 2:13-17; 1 Tim. 2: 1ff). Christians have a dual citizenship, in heaven (Phil. 3:20) and on earth. We must respect our earthly rulers (or elected leaders), obey the law, pay taxes and pray for all who are in authority.

Christians must honor and obey God. Caesar was not God. While governments cannot enforce religion (Acts 5:29), neither should they restrict freedom of worship. The best citizen honors his country because he worships God.

Man bears God's image and owes God his all. Caesar's image was on the coin; God's image is on man (Gen. 1:26-27). Sin has marred that image, but through Jesus Christ, it can be restored (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3: 10).

The relationship between religion and government is personal and individual. It is right for the people of God to serve in government (remember Daniel and Joseph). But it is wrong for government to control the church, or for the church to control government.

A Doctrinal Question about the Resurrection (Matt. 22:23-33)
In spite of the fact that the Pharisees and Herodians had been worsted, the Sadducees entered the field and tried their attack. Keep in mind that this group accepted only the authority of the five Books of Moses. The Sadducees did not believe in a spirit world or in the doctrine of the resurrection (Acts 23:8). They had often challenged the Pharisees to prove the doctrine of the resurrection from Moses, but the Pharisees were not too successful with their arguments.
The Sadducees' hypothetical illustration was based on the Jewish law of "levirate marriage" from Deuteronomy 25:5-10. (The word levirate comes from the Latin word levir which means "a husband's brother." It has nothing to do with the tribe of Levi.) The purpose of this custom was to preserve a man's name should he die without a male heir. In a nation like Israel, where family inheritance was a major thing, it was important that each family have a male heir. It was considered a disgrace for a man to refuse to raise up a family for his dead brother.

The Sadducees based their disbelief of the resurrection on the fact that no woman could have seven husbands in the future life. Like many people today, they conceived of the future life as an extension of their present life-only better.

But Jesus told them that they were ignorant. They did not know the Scriptures, nor did they know the power of God, which inferred that they really did not know God. There will be no need for marriage in the next life because there will be no death. Therefore it will not be necessary to bear children to replace those who die.

Jesus did not say that we would be angels when we are glorified in heaven. He said we would be "as the angels" in that we would be sexless and not married or given in marriage. The foolish stories we hear and the cartoons we see about people dying and becoming angels are certainly unbiblical.

Wednesday – 1st May
Topic: The King’s Defense
Read: Matthew 22:34-40 

OUR Lord was not content to refute the Sadducees' foolish views about the future life. He also wanted to answer their claim that there was no resurrection; and He did it by referring to Moses! He knew that Moses was the only authority they would accept. He reminded them of Exodus 3:6 where God said to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." He did not say, "I was the God of Abraham . . ." for that would mean that Abraham was no more. By saying" I am," the Lord made it clear that these three men of faith were at that time alive. And by repeating "the God of," the Lord was saying that He knew them and loved them personally and individually.

It is a dangerous thing to speculate about the future life. We must rest upon the authority of the Word of God, for only there do we have truth that answers man's questions about the future. The Bible does not tell us everything about the future life, but is does encourage and enlighten us. Jesus answered the foolish, ignorant Sadducees so completely that they were "muzzled" (the word silence in Matt. 22: 34). Even the crowds were astonished and amazed at His answer.

An Ethical Question about the Law (Matt. 22:34-40)
The Pharisees probably enjoyed the embarrassment of their enemies, the Sadducees. One of their number showed respect for the Lord and His answer (Mark 12:28) and asked a question of his own: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (Matt. 22:36, NASB). We have every reason to believe that he asked the question in sincerity and with a humble attitude.

This was not a new question, for the scribes had been debating it for centuries. They had documented 613 commandments in the Law, 248 positive and 365 negative. No person could ever hope to know and fully obey all of these commandments. So, to make it easier, the experts' divided the commandments into "heavy" (important) and "light" (un­important). A person could major on the "heavy comandments" and not worry about the trivial ones.

The fallacy behind this approach is obvious: You need only break: one law, heavy or light, to be guilty before God. "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).

Jesus quoted the "Shema" (Deut. 6:4), a statement of faith that was recited daily by every orthodox Jew. (The word "Shema" comes from the Hebrew word which means "to hear." The confession of faith begins with, "Hear, 0 Israel!") The greatest commandment is to love God with all that we are and have-heart, soul, mind, strength, possessions, service. To love God is not to "have good feelings about Him." for true love involves the will as well as the heart. Where there is love, there will be service and obedience.

But love for God cannot be divorced from love for one's neighbor; so Jesus also quoted Leviticus 19: 18 and put it on the same level as the Shema, All of the Law and the Prophets hang on both of these command­ments. We might add that the teachings of the Epistles in the New Testament agree with this statement. If a man really loves God, he must also love his brother and his neighbor (1 John 3:10-18; 4:7-21).

Thursday – 2nd May
Topic: The King’s Defense
Read: Matthew 22:41-46 

If we have a right relationship with God, we will have no problems with His commandments. Love is the basis for obedience. In fact, all of the Law is summed up by the command to love (Rom.1 3:8-10). If we love God, we will love our neighbor; and if we love our neighbor, we will not want to do anything to harm him.

But Jesus had a deeper meaning to convey in this marvelous answer.

The Jews were afraid of idolatry. When Jesus claimed to be God, they opposed Him because they could not believe it was right to worship a creature. Jesus received worship and did not rebuke those who honored Him. Was this idolatry? No, because He was God! But if the Law commands us to love God and our neighbor then it would not be wrong for the Jews to love Jesus. Instead, they were plotting to kill Him. He had said to them one day, "If God were your Father, you would love Me “ (John 8:42). They accepted the authority of the Law, yet they refused to obey it in their lives.

The scribe who had asked the original question seemed to be an honest and sincere man. Not all of the Pharisees were hypocrites. He publicly agreed with Jesus (Mark 12:32-33). This must have given his fellow Pharisees a fright. Jesus discerned that the man's heart was sincere, and He commended him for his intelligence and honesty. Did the man ever get all the way into the kingdom, when he was so very near? We trust so.

Jesus had now answered three difficult questions. He had dealt with the relationship between religion and government, between this life and the next life, and between God and our neighbors. These are fundamental relationships; and we cannot ignore our Lord's teachings. But there is a question more fundamental than these, and Jesus asked it of His enemies.

A Personal Question about the Messiah (Matt. 22:41-46)
Jesus did not phrase this question as He had when He asked His disciples, "Whom say you that I am?" (Matt. 16:15) These men who had been arguing with Him were not sympathetic with His cause, nor were they honest in their assessment of His credentials. Jesus had to take an indirect approach with His enemies. He made this sound like another theological question, when in reality it was the most important personal question they would ever face.

"Whose Son is the Messiah?" He asked them. As trained experts in the Law, they knew the answer: "He is the Son of David. " Had they been asked, they could have referred to numbers of Old Testament Scriptures, including 2 Samuel 7:12-13, Psalm 78:68-72, and Micah 5:2. Once they had given this answer, Jesus asked a second question, this time quoting from Psalm 110:1ff"The LORD [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [Hebrew "Adonai"], 'Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.' "
Every orthodox Jewish scholar interpreted this to refer to the Messiah. Only the Messiah could sit at the right hand of Jehovah God. Jesus believed in the inspiration and accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures, for He said that David spoke these words "in the Spirit" (v. 43, NASB). Nobody dared to question the accuracy or the authority of the text. .

"If Messiah is David's Son," Jesus asked, "then how could Messiah also be David's Lord?" There is only one answer to this question. As God, Messiah is David's Lord; as man, He is David's Son. He is both "the root and the offspring of David" (Rev. 22:16). Psalm 110:1 teaches the deity and the humanity of Messiah. He is David's Lord and He is David's Son.

Friday – 3rd May
Topic: The King’s Defense
Read: Matthew 22:15-22 

When He was ministering on earth, Jesus often accepted the messianic title "Son of David" (see Matt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15), The rulers had heard the multitudes proclaim Him as "Son of David" when He rode into Jerusalem. The fact that He accepted this title is evidence that Jesus knew Himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God. As God, He was David's Lord; but as man, He was David's Son, for He was born into the family of David (Matt. 1:1, 20).

The scholars in that day were confused about the Messiah. They saw two pictures of Messiah in the Old Testament and could not reconcile them. One picture showed a suffering servant, the other a conquering and reigning monarch. Were there two Messiahs? How could God's servant suffer and die? (See 1 Peter 1:10-12.)

Had they listened to what Jesus said, they would have learned that there was only one Messiah, bur that He would be both human and divine. He would suffer and die as a sacrifice for sins. He would then rise from the dead in triumph, and one day return to defeat His enemies. However, these religious leaders had their own ideas, and they did not want to change. If they had accepted His teaching, then they would also have to accept Him as the Messiah; and this they were unwilling to do.

The result of this day of dialogue was silence on the part of His enemies, They dared not ask Jesus any more questions, not because they had believed the truth, but because they were afraid to face the truth. "For they did not have courage to question Him any longer about anything". (Luke 20:40,NASB). But neither did they have courage to face the truth and act upon it.,

Making a decision about Jesus Christ is a matter of life or death. The evidence is there for all to examine. We can examine it defensively and miss the truth. Or we can examine it honestly and humbly, and discover the truth, believe, and be saved. The religious leaders were so blinded by tradition, position, and selfish pride that they could not-and would not-see the truth and receive it.

We dare not make the same mistake today.

Saturday – 4th May