Wednesday, 24 July 2019
Yesterday, I heard that a friend had a stroke and another friend’s husband had a heart attack. Another friend is recuperating from a surgery and another waiting for the results of a biopsy. As we grow older, our physical bodies require more attention and care. Our mental, emotional and spiritual conditions need attention too. While we pay attention to ourselves, we should also pay attention to people around us. We are created to form a community... No man should be left alone. If you are feeling lonely today, let me encourage you: The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you.
Apostle Paul wrote that he has no confidence in the flesh. He wrote about pressing on toward the goal – forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Paul’s focus is on the PRIZE for which God has called him heavenward in Christ Jesus. The prize is not a trophy / medal / money or anything that the world values. The prize is eternal. It does not rust or rot. It cannot be damaged or destroyed. It is unfathomable, glorious and wonderful beyond description.
Paul said with tears: many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18b-19)
Is your stomach your god? Is shame your glory? What are you pursuing? It is not wrong to eat when you are hungry but the Bible has a lot to say about gluttony and greed. Do you camouflage the wrong things you do with deception. It is good practice to remind ourselves that the enemy's strategy is deception. It is not wrong to work hard to earn a living or study hard to pass exams or set targets to do well. The question is; "What next?" What do you want to do with what you have accomplished?
Paul has no confidence in the flesh. Whatever was to his PROFIT he considered LOSS for the sake of Christ.
Money, assets and material wealth, success and fame, popularity and position (e.g. in politics, entertainment) – these things are accomplishments that the world applauds. Again, I must emphasize that it is not wrong to have money, assets or material wealth, success and fame, popularity and position. The Bible tells us that Abraham was very wealthy, Joseph was successful, David became king... What is important is the condition of the human heart.
Paul considers himself nothing as compared to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is single-minded and whole-hearted in gaining Christ, and be FOUND IN CHRIST, not having a righteousness of his own but that which is THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST – the righteousness that COMES FROM GOD. Paul wants to KNOW CHRIST and the POWER of His resurrection and the FELLOWSHIP of sharing in His sufferings, BECOMING LIKE CHRIST in His death.
It is the condition of Paul's heart that pleases God. I hear Paul boasting – boasting about his sufferings – he said that he is out of his mind to talk like this:
"I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spend a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. BESIDES EVERYTHING ELSE, I FACE DAILY THE PRESSURE OF MY CONCERN FOR ALL THE CHURCHES… If I must boast, I will boast of the things that SHOW MY WEAKNESS."
I seldom hear people share about their sufferings as an evangelistic testimony. Most people share about God’s blessings, healing, provision, protection and all the things considered ‘good’ in man’s eyes – testimonies that 'glorify God'. To the human mind, only ‘good’ things glorify God. Rarely do I hear anyone share about how much they suffer after becoming a Christian. Why? We do not want non-believers and pre-believers to ask: “What’s the point of believing in Jesus and still suffer?”
Yesterday, a friend commented that it is good to see the ‘light’ (visual) but it is ‘more important’ that the person did not die. Really? I have been thinking about this point… And I have a different opinion. One day, I will breathe my last and leave this world. At that wonderful moment, what is important to me is to ‘see the light’. I do not want to leave this world and go into darkness. I want to leave this world with contentment and peace. I am in the light. I want to remain in the light. I want to move from this world of darkness into the kingdom of light, although I am unable to describe what it will be like. But, I know that it will be a glorious moment. Hallelujah!
For now, everyone of us should seek to have a personal encounter with God, know where we should be going, doing the things that God calls us to do, surrender the outcome to Him and love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love our neighbour as ourselves.
Lam Yee Ling