The actual meaning of ‘Love your neighbour.’

Posted by admin on 9 May 2021 in Luke |

Luke 10:25-37

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’

27 He answered, ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’

28 ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’

30 In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

36 ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’

37 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ [1]

An expert in the law tested Jesus by asking, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ (25).

Jesus answered by asking back, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ (26). Here we can learn that asking back is the best way to answer those who want to test or trap us.

The expert in the law answered: ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (27)

Jesus replied, ‘You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.’ (28)

This revealed that the expert of the law knew the answer. Therefore he didn’t have to ask Jesus for the answer. He wanted to justify himself and asked another question so that Jesus might answer. His question was, ‘ And who is my neighbour?’ (29).

Jesus told him the parable of the good Samaritan. See v30-35.

‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”’

We could think that the person in need in this parable was ‘my neighbour’. However, Jesus taught ‘my neighbour’ was ‘a Samaritan’. Two among three (a priest, a Levite, a Samaritan) didn’t become a neighbour in the parable. Jesus asked, ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ (36)

By answering this question, we realise

  • Being a neighbour is not determined by a physical distance as a priest, and a Levite didn’t become a neighbour when they came close to the person in need.
  • We can be a neighbour to the person in need by ‘deliberately (or actively) becoming a neighbour’.

Then we realise ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ has a new meaning.

That is, ‘Love the one actively becoming your neighbour as yourself.’

The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ (37a)
Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ (37b)

37a and 37b give us, ‘Actively become a neighbour to a person in need by having mercy on the person.’

In this parable, a priest and a Levite avoided the man victimised by robbers despite their religious responsibility in society. It is ironic, but such irony is repeated throughout the books of the Gospel. Those who were against Jesus and tried to kill Him were also priests and religious leaders. Also, ironically the true neighbour was the Samaritan[2], who other Israelites most despised for their religious standards compromised by the influences such as the Assyrian culture. What did the Samaritan do for the man who met robbers?

The Samaritan

  • took pity on him.
  • provided him with first aid.
  • provided him with transport.
  • provided him with hospitality.
  • took responsibility for the future cost.

In summary, let us put down our titles. Based on the books of the Gospel, it is obvious that Jesus wants us to put them down. It is not about whether we have the title like ‘Christian’. But it is about the truth, about love, and about being a true neighbour.

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition, Lk 10:25–37). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] The Samaritan region was invaded by the Assyrians and mixed with them. As a result, Israelites in the region lost their pure blood and were called the Samaritans.

Love one another

Posted by admin on 2 May 2021 in 1 John, Matthew |

1 John 4:1-21

       1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

    4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

    7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
      God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

I. Test the spirits (1-6)

See v1a.

1aDear friends, do not believe every spirit,

We know that faith and trust are important. But this time, John warns us, “do not believe every spirit.” Why John asks us, “do not believe”? See v1c.

1cmany false prophets have gone out into the world.

Many false prophets pretend they are from God and actively look for people to deceive (1c). They look like prophets and sound like prophets. We are very used to believe based on what we see and hear. So we may easily be deceived by lies from these false prophets if we ignore this warning sign -  do not believe every spirit. But as mature Christian, we shouldn’t rely only on what looks and sounds. Instead, we should carefully verify the spirits behind it. We must train ourselves to see behind the scene. We must train ourselves to see behind the words. What is behind the scene? What is behind the words? There are spirits behind. As we know, the spirit is invisible and inaudible. Then how can we know whether the spirit is from God or not? See v1b.

1bbut test the spirits to see whether they are from God.

V1b teaches us to TEST the spirits to find out. v2-6 teach us the guidelines of the test.

Test 1. Does the spirit acknowledge Jesus?

See v2.

2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,

The fact that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is the essential part of Gospel, which shows God’s love toward us. This truth is what the devil wants to deny or alternate. See v3.

3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

So every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God but the spirit of the antichrist (3).

Test 2. Do they speak in the viewpoint of the world, and does the world listen to them?

We have overcome the false prophets because God who is in us is greater than the devil (4). The false prophets are from the world and speak from the viewpoint of the world and the world listens to them (5).

Test 3. Do they listen to us or not?

Whoever knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us (6a).

II. Love one another (7-21)

We learned how we could test the spirits to see whether they are from God. We find there are three ways to test the spirits. Now John teaches what we ought to do as people who have the Spirit from God. See v7-8.

    7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Whether we love one another shows whether we know God (7c) and whether his love is made complete in us (12b). Love comes from God (7b), and God is love.

John reminds us of how God showed his love among us between v9 and v10.

9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Here we find many things about love.

  1. The action of love was initiated by God, not by us (10a). This means we can love others because we received love from God first. So when we love others, we must initiate to love them with the love we received from God. We love others not because others showed love first.
  2. God gave us his one and only Son. We know one and only Son is so precious to the Father. So we learn to love others with what is precious to us.
  3. God sent his own Son into the world in the likeness of sinful man (Romans 8:3). We are human beings. So we can understand another human being well. Especially we understand others who are in similar situations that we have already gone through.
  4. God made his own Son an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus took over our sins instead of us. Even though Jesus was not responsible for our transgressions, he bore the consequence of the sins instead of us. So we can learn to forgive others’ mistakes and take care of others.

No one has ever seen God, but when we love one another, people can see God through us (12).

Again, John repeats and emphasizes that the origin of love is God.

God gives us his Holy Spirit (13b) when we acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God (15). So we know and rely on the love God has for us (16a).

Therefore it is important to refresh our faith in Jesus.

John emphasizes love again in v16b. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (16b).

Now John talks about judgment and fear in relation to love.

See v17-18.

17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Fear is the factor to test whether we are made perfect in love. Also, v17b says confidence comes from the fact that we are like Jesus in this world.

V19 repeats the fact God initiated love. See v19. We love because he first loved us.

We love God because of his love and forgiveness. So we confess to God, “I love you”. What can make this confession a lie? See v20.

20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

This verse teaches us that, in fact, we don’t love God if we don’t love our brother.

Even though we are saved by God, not by brothers, Jesus died for them. And Jesus considers them as himself.

Jesus said in Matthew 25:45,

‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

It is Lord’s command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother (21). Amen.

Discipleship

Posted by admin on 25 April 2021 in Luke, Mark |

Luke 9:18-27

18Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

    19They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

    20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
      Peter answered, “The Christ[a] of God.”

    21Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

    23Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

After Peter confessed his faith on Jesus as “the Christ of God” (20), Jesus predicted his death & resurrection (22). Then Jesus taught them “discipleship”. See v23.

23Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Jesus didn’t entice them for a comfortable, easy-going & happy life. Discipleship is not such an easy way. We just heard Jesus saying about His passion, death & resurrection at v22. Therefore we must put down any preoccupation about discipleship. Do you attend the church just to find friends? Read v23.

What is ‘denying himself’ & ‘taking his cross’ daily?

 

Denying himself

‘Denying himself’ means denying own thought & emotion. I will speak on this in more details because it is important, easy to forget and easy to misunderstand.

For example, someone hates you just as enemies of Jesus hated Him whom God sent to the earth. We usually will like to hate back. But as Jesus asked to deny self, we got to stop responding our usual way. Such response is from our own thought & hurt emotion.

 

Taking his cross daily

Jesus was completely a human being as true as he was completely God. He didn’t want such a painful death on the cross[1]. But he took it because it was ‘the cross’ God gave Him so that all sinners can be forgiven when they believe him. When someone hates you, what is your cross? Read Luke 6:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” “To love & do good to that person” is the cross we should take. Yes, you may be upset for the hatred but should deny such emotion; otherwise, you would not be able to take the cross. Now we know what it means by denying self & taking the cross.

How about your study? As a student, is the study your cross? If you believe the study being God’s will for your life, yes, it is your cross to take. In this world, studying is the default, but not every student thinks about whether the study is God’s will. Pray & ask God. He will answer you & give you a direction.

What is your cross? Ask God. You will know what it is. Whatever God gives you to do is your cross.

 

The example of Peter

In Luke 5:4-7[2], Simon, a professional fisherman, denied his thought, experience, knowledge, tiredness, and common sense when Jesus asked him to put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.  And Simon obeyed His Word (took the cross). As a result, Simon experienced the miracle.

 

See v24.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it”.

Let us meditate on this verse. In previous verses, Jesus was talking about taking the cross. Let’s think about what ‘the cross’ really means? The cross, in fact, is a large wooden structure where a convict is nailed & killed shamefully, painfully & slowly. When your cross is ‘taking care of someone who has hated, malice or anger’, you may want to avoid the cross. Jesus expresses it as “wanting to save one’s life”. If you avoid your cross, that is, if you don’t lose your life,

  1. You will not be raised to life in glory
    In other words, you do not have the guaranteed salvation. Jesus expressed it as “will lose one’s life”.
  2. You still die one day in shame.

 

 “Whoever loses his life for me will save it” (24b)

Here, we can know “losing one’s life” means “taking the cross” (up to death). But this time Jesus added “for me”. This makes it clear that “taking one’s cross” means “following Jesus” itself.

“will save it” means salvation is guaranteed.

See v25.

25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

What is “gaining the whole world”? Why did Jesus talk about this? And what is losing one’s very self? As we know, “gaining the whole world” would take a lot of efforts. Through this Word, Jesus made it clear that “gaining the whole world” is not the cross Jesus mentioned. Instead, this is the aspect of “wanting to save one’s life”, which equals to “avoiding one’s cross”. Now it is clear that the cross is not just “hard work”, or “doing lots, lots, lots of works” if the work you do is for gaining the whole world or saving one’s life. One’s cross means more the cross Jesus took! -  obeying God’s will. “The real cross” is “following Jesus”.

Losing one’s very self is losing one’s life – no eternal life, no salvation.

Note that here Jesus contrasted the whole world and one’s very self in ownership & possession perspective.

He emphasized that saving one’s very self is more important than gaining the whole world. Life is more important than the entire world.

It is an important fact that Jesus taught this after disciples’ mission trip (Luke 9:1-9) & confession of faith (Luke 9:20). Through mission trip, they exercised divine authority to heal diseases & expel demons. So the authority & the cross both should be acknowledged by us (not only authority!).

See v26. This time Jesus deals with the same issue. If we don’t gospel others because we feel shame, as Jesus said in this verse, He will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Such shame is utterly unjust because this world is adulterous and sinful (Mark 8:38[3]). Therefore we must be ashamed of this world instead. Do you feel shy because you are the first to speak about Jesus in front of others when no one talks about Jesus at that moment? Is it because talking about Him is not related to ‘earning money’ or ‘passing the exam’ type of stuff that everyone looks forward to doing?

I want to tell the truth & the reality based on His Word & what we know. This world is adulterous & sinful! Therefore we should feel honoured when we represent Him, preach His Word, and testify about Him & what He did for us.

In v27, Jesus says some will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God. Jesus is reminding us of the existence of the kingdom of God. In fact, the disciple John is one of the people who didn’t taste death before seeing the kingdom of God. John wrote the book of revelation because he saw the kingdom of God.

Now I review the whole paragraph & summarize the points and conclude as below.

Imagine the situation that Jesus was in. If we are in such a life-threatening situation, it may shake us. Then what Jesus said in this paragraph lead us to keep our faith. Amen.

[1] Mark 14:36 36"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

[2] Luke 5:4-7 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."

5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."

6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

[3] Mark 8:38 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

Extending Mercy Without Limit

Posted by admin on 11 April 2021 in 1 John, James, Luke, Matthew |

Dying in order to live

Posted by admin on 4 April 2021 in Corinthians, John, Resurrection |

Jesus, the Light of the World

Posted by admin on 28 March 2021 in John |

John 9:1-12

See v1.

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

There are many types of handicaps – lame, deaf, blindness, and others. A lame man is miserable because he cannot climb rocky mountains. A deaf man is miserable because they cannot hear birds’ singing. But a blind man is more miserable because he cannot see the wonderful nature God created. Moreover, this blind man Jesus saw was born blind. This means he could never see anything since his birth. So he couldn’t know how his mother looked like. In addition, he was poor. He was a beggar based on v8. See v2.

2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Disciples of Jesus asked Him the cause of the misery. They thought the cause was basically ‘sin’. So they asked Jesus whose sin caused the misery. The thought of disciples was based on retribution, which is the typical way of thinking in many cultures in the world, including Buddhism. Retribution is embedded in the consciousness of human beings. The point of view based on retribution makes misery a fate. The person with this point of view would think the miserable man is the sinner who deserves the misery and condemn the miserable person. This will make a miserable person even more miserable. But what was the answer of Jesus? See V3.

    3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Jesus’s answer to the reason for the misery was ‘The glory of God’. Jesus says the misery was not because of sin, but the misery happened for the glory of God. This means when the miserable person overcomes the misery, that person will glorify God by his victory. The more miserable person can give God more glory through his victory over his misery. While retribution is negative, the reason for the misery Jesus taught is bright and positive.

Do you have any misery in your life? People might condemn you for the misery, but Jesus is different. He says to you that your misery is to display the work of God in your life. Amen.

Buddhism does not tell them about God. And Buddhists do not know this good & positive reason for misery. Your misery may be given by God to display the work of God in your life! And the time will come when you overcome your misery in the light of Jesus, and that will glorify God. The remaining verses teach us the details.

See v4 & 5.

 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

Now Jesus explains how the misery can be transformed to the glory to God:

This is how: by doing the work of God who sent Jesus (4a). Jesus says we must do the work of God during the day (4a). Without Jesus, it is night (darkness), and no one can work (4b). Jesus declared that He is the light of the world (4b).

In other words, we must do the work of God, and only Jesus makes this possible. Without Jesus, this world is in darkness, and no work of God can be done. And the work of God will transform the miserable people, and it will glorify God. See v6 & 7.

    6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Now Jesus performs the transformation: Misery to Glory.

The born blind man did not ask for healing. This man already accepted the blindness as his life-long reality. So, Jesus healed him in the following procedures so that he might have the desire to be healed first.

First of all, he mixed his saliva and soil to make mud and then paste it on the man’s eyes.

The mud could make him blinder because mud would block sunlight. The mud could cause discomfort and might give him the urge to wash his face.

Secondly, Jesus commanded him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. “Siloam” means “sent”. The blind man might have a hard time walking to the pool. But this might give him the desire to have the ability to see. This man obeyed Jesus, and his blindness at birth was healed when he washed the mud away from his eyes in the pool of Siloam.

When we are in misery, we may not even know or desire the healing from the misery. But Jesus loves us and gives us a situation so as for us to have the desire for the healing. Halleluiah! Thank God!

Remember, there is no fate in the true light, Jesus. Anything can be changed because of Jesus and God almighty. Don’t listen to fortune-tellers. As written in Acts 16:16, fortune telling is done by a person possessed by a spirit, and it will defile you as written in Leviticus 19:31.

See v8 & 9.

    8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, "No, he only looks like him."
But he himself insisted, "I am the man."

As a result of obedience, the born blind man opened his eyes. And the result of the obedience surprised others. Now people couldn’t believe their eyes. But he himself insisted that he was the beggar. It is not easy to admit the past. But this man did. It is important to admit the past to glorify God for what you are now. See v10 - 12.

    10"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.

    11He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."

    12"Where is this man?" they asked him.
"I don't know," he said.

When people asked him how his eyes were opened, he testified what Jesus did for him. We can learn how we should testify what Jesus did for us.

Hallelujah!

Jesus is the light of the world! In Him, our negative and dark mind can become positive and bright, and misery can become the glory to God!

I pray we all may experience this transformation in the light of the world, Jesus.

Also, let us transform people’s lives as well as ours by doing the work of God who sent Jesus.

Amen.

Humility before God and Confidence in His Grace

Posted by admin on 21 March 2021 in Galatians, Hebrews, Matthew, Philippians, Proverbs, Psalms, Revelation |

Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness

Posted by admin on 14 March 2021 in 1 Timothy, Ecclesiastes, Luke, Matthew |

Key Verse Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:19-34

    19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

    24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

    25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

    28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I. Treasure in heaven (19 – 24)

See v19a.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,”

Jesus says the reason at v19b.

“where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.”

Here, moths are major agricultural pests, which cause severe damage to forests and fruit farms. Also, moths destroy clothing by eating holes in it. Rust is iron oxides formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture, which destroys iron metal. Someone may say gold and silver are treasures that are not destroyed by moth or rust. But thieves may break in and steal such treasures.

Storing treasures on earth gives us great frustration, affliction and anger.

Have you been frustrated because you try to store up treasures on earth?

Then what does Jesus command us to do? See v20. He asks us to store up our treasures in heaven, where there is no moth, rust or thieves.

See v21.

21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “

Amen.

The Message Bible [2] translated v21 as follow.

It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

 So if heaven is the place you most want to be, store treasures in heaven. If you want to end up in heaven, store treasures in heaven. It’s for you. Your treasures in heaven are safer than on earth. Your work for God is more rewarding than anything you invest in the world.

 

The lamp of the body (22 - 23)

Jesus says in v22a,

“The eye is the lamp of the body.”

If your eyes are good, your body has good lamps and is full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your body has bad lamps and is full of darkness.  If we have good knowledge of the Bible, we can have an excellent biblical point of view. This will be like the light in our lives. If we have poor knowledge of the Bible, we may have an incorrect point of view. Some people make other sources rather than the Holy Bible as their knowledge base. Many people believe and follow falsehood. Many people believe in the power of money. This is like making darkness their light. Jesus warns, “If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (23b). When they follow false lights, their darkness is great.

 

Two masters (24)

See v24. Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters.”(24a). The reason is, “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Then, what are the two masters in our lives? Jesus says, “You cannot serve both God and Money.” They are God and Money.

Some people think they can manage their lives without recognizing God. So they don’t believe in God. To them, money looks practical and first. Their master is money.

Some people believe in God but serve money as the master. The Pharisees are such examples.

When Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and money.” in Luke 16:13. It is written in Luke 16:14,

14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.

The Pharisees were religious leaders. But they were devoted to money and despised the son of God, Jesus.

When they loved money, they were against God, and they were evil.

Paul says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

See 1 Timothy 6:9,10.

9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 teaches us to be content.

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Solomon, the king of Wisdom, said in Ecclesiastes 5:10-20,

      10 Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.

    11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owner
except to feast his eyes on them?

    12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man
permits him no sleep.

    13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,

    14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when he has a son
there is nothing left for him.

    15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb,
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand.

    16 This too is a grievous evil:
As a man comes, so he departs,
and what does he gain,
since he toils for the wind?

    17 All his days he eats in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.

    18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

Amen.

II. Do not worry about life (25 – 34)

See v25a. “…do not worry about your life”, and Jesus says the reason at v25b-32.

Jesus showed an example of birds that God feeds them even though birds do not sow, reap or store. We are much more valuable than birds. Also, he showed an example of lilies that God clothes them even though they do not labour or spin. Jesus says God clothes them, which could be here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, then how much more will he clothe us. Our heavenly Father knows all our needs.

Food, drink and clothes are our basic needs. So if we don’t have faith in God and worry about them, our priority in life will become ensuring these things. But instead, what does Jesus ask us to do as the first priority? See v33.

33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

This word teaches us the priority of our life. What is the highest priority in your life each day? It is “seeking God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness”. This is the 1st priority among all other things every day. If you do so, Jesus promises “all these things will be given to you as well.” (33b) This is a promise of God.

While you will experience frustration if you try to store up treasures on earth, you will experience God’s provision if you seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

I pray that everyone here today may seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness every day, live on God’s amazing provision every day and store treasures in heaven every day!

Amen.

 

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Mt 6:21). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

O: NavPress.

The LORD is my shepherd

Posted by admin on 8 March 2021 in Psalms |

      Psalm 23:1-6

      1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

    3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

    4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

    5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

    6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

The author sings,

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (1a)

In other words, he sings, I am a sheep of the Lord.

Let’s think about the characteristics of sheep. Sheep are mild and gentle animals. But they are stubborn, stupid, short-sighted, coward and easy to fall, and not easy to get up. So sheep cannot survive without a shepherd. Without a shepherd, sheep easily go astray, starve, thirst, fall to the pit, are unable to get up, attacked and eaten by wolfs, fight with & hurt by other sheep. The welfare and destiny of sheep depend on what shepherd they have. We are short-sighted and stupid sheep before God. But the author sings that God is his shepherd.  How does God as his shepherd treat him? Look at v2.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,” (2)

The author of Psalm 23 sings that the Lord makes him lie down in green pastures (2). Sheep need green pastures because the grass is their food. As sheep eat the grass, the grass gets shorter. As time flows, sheep will be getting harder to eat from short grass and become hungry and tired. So shepherd regularly needs to take sheep to new green pastures where the grass is long enough so that sheep can eat them with ease. If the grass is long, it is easy to eat and provide a good cushion to lie down on them.

Higher ground has more grass and freshwater. So shepherd needs to take the sheep to higher land.  It is hard for the sheep to follow the shepherd to go higher ground of the mountain. It may be steep. It may be far. But the shepherd knows that there are better grass and water over there.

Sheep are stubborn animals. In the middle of the way to the higher ground, sheep may insist not to go further. When sheep feel thirsty and find the water on the ground, sheep may insist on drinking from it. But sheep do not know it is deadly. Dirty water on the ground has many harmful and deadly bacteria that make sheep seriously sick or dead. So the shepherd forces the sheep not to drink from the dirty water and drag them to the higher ground.

Sheep are short-sighted animals. So the sheep get lost without the guidance of the shepherd. It may walk far away in the wrong direction. So shepherd may walk far to look for the lost sheep here and there, find it and take it back to where it should be. Sheep would be content with what they have nearby. Only the shepherd can see far away and know wonderful green pastures and fresh waters on the hill and guide them there.

Sheep fall and are flipped upside down easily and cannot get up by themselves. Shepherd needs to raise it. Otherwise, sheep cannot get up by themselves and could die in that condition.

Once they arrive at the higher ground of the mountain, the shepherd needs to pour out waters from the river so that the sheep can drink from it. How much water the sheep can drink depends on how much water the shepherd draws out from the river.  Now we have Jesus as our shepherd. And we are His sheep. He knows what is best for us. If we continue to follow Jesus, we will see the best plan he has for each of us to come to reality.

See v3.

“he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

He restores my soul (3a).  The soul is more difficult to be restored than the physical body. Proverbs 18:14 says

14 A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

For example, in physical sickness, we can fall back on the will to live; but in depression, even the will to live could be gone.

Before I met Jesus as my shepherd, I was a lost sheep. I despaired, and I thought no one loves me. I didn’t know why I should carry on to live. But my relative sister, who was a good Christian, told me that God loves me. And she said to me that God has a wonderful plan for my life. I met my shepherd, Jesus. Only Jesus saved me from my despair. He gave me the reason to live. He fanned into flame my programming talent at work. Also, Jesus gave me the mission to take care of and feed his sheep (John 21:15-17).

Jesus restores our souls from depression, emotional pain, broken will, and a loss of vitality. It is important to keep a close relationship with Jesus through Bible reading and prayer so that Jesus can use us to restore others’ souls.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (v3b).

Proverbs 12:28 says

28 In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.

Shepherd’s primary concern is on sheep’s life and wellbeing. Therefore Jesus as our shepherd will keep us on the paths of righteousness where there is life as proverbs 12:28 says. The Bible says righteousness is from the faith in what Jesus has done on the cross for us. By faith, we are justified as righteous men. Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Therefore we simply need to listen to the shepherd’s voice and follow the shepherd. Then we are on the right paths.

See v4.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Rod and staff are weapons used by the shepherd when wild animals attack his sheep. Rod and staff are extremely powerful when thrown directly, and the wild animal can die immediately in one strike.

See v5.

The shepherd prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Our enemies are those who want us to fail. They hurt and try to destroy us. But our shepherd prepares a feast before us in the presence of them. This is a wonderful and victorious experience.

See v5b.

You anoint my head with oil.

Sheep sometimes are angry at each other and hit each other with their heads.  As a result, sheep can be injured and bleed. The shepherd needs to put oil on their head so that their oily heads may not cause injuries because oil makes their heads slippery. So his oil will smooth our relationship with others. His spirit will make you wise and flexible to cope with different people with different characters.

In Hebrew, they pour oils on the head of the person who is appointed as king, priest, or prophet. Anointing the head with oil means being appointed for an important position, which is respectable and influential. So his oil honours you.

See v5c.

My cup overflows.

God blesses us to our full capacity for His blessing.

See v6.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

The author of Psalm sings that “goodness and love will follow me”. Sheep are supposed to follow the shepherd. But here, in return, goodness and love follow sheep. This happens where there is a deep and enduring commitment between the two. Jesus continues to provide as the shepherd while we, as sheep, are needy but unable to help ourselves.

Who is your shepherd? Are you living your life without a shepherd? Then you are a sheep without a shepherd. You are vulnerable and lost. Accept Jesus as your shepherd.  Jesus said at John 10:11 that

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Jesus laid down his life for us. He died on the cross to forgive our sins. Accept Jesus today and become his sheep. He will guide your life to life in its fullness. Amen.

Reference

"A shepherd looks at Psalm 23" by Phillip Keller

Enter through the narrow gate

Posted by admin on 28 February 2021 in Matthew |

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