#02 What Does Scripture say – on Gossip?

I am not sure about you, but I sometimes struggle to find myself participating in gossip, be it actively contributing to one or being a bystander. With the popularity of group chats on messaging platforms, I find them more prevalent simply because when I let my fingers do the typing, I can truly get carried away. I had a good discussion with a colleague, Alex, recently, and I also wanted to reflect on it more deeply.

What is gossip?
According to Psychologists – “Gossip is any talk about someone who isn’t present”. Hands to heart, our God-given conscience (Rom 2:15) will all convict us for doing so. Most times when we engage in gossip, we speak of things (content) or even in a manner (delivery) which we will be embarrassed to speak in front of the person. Even psychologists do not deny it as Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, explicitly says, “Everyone gossips.”

Why do we gossip?
Knowing that we all participate in it, we need to find out why we do it, to rid ourselves of this problem (assuming we want to). Psychologists say gossips are a means to build relationships, a means to get ahead in the rat race, to gain acceptance, to feel better about ourselves, or even merely for entertainment purposes.

We need to realize; however, all these are at the expense of speaking ill of someone behind their backs.

World’s Solution
Unfortunately, the world is divided on whether gossip is good or not, right or wrong. Some think it is a social skill that needs to be honed. At the same time, there is a multitude of sites that gives tips on “how to stop gossiping.” There is no consensus.

But if we ask our conscience, we know that gossiping is wrong, but how do we stop ourselves? Two main themes of solutions stand out to me through my conversations and readings. First, it is to consider how gossiping may affect yourself. In his popular 7 Habits books, Stephen Covey says that “One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those not present. In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present. When you defend those who are absent, you retain the trust of those present.” Essentially, do not gossip because it may affect your reputation. Secondly, focusing on a common denominator helps reduce gossip. We inherently know that we should not gossip about others “on the same team.” We sometimes remind each other “we are in this together, so let’s stop talking behind his back.” Even in families, we do not frequent gossip among each other. Essentially, it is self-preservation as a team.

But at this point, it pays to ask, “What Does Scripture Say?” (Romans 4:3)

What does scripture say?

Thankfully, scripture is undivided on this issue. God hates gossip (Proverbs 6:16-19), labeling those who participate in it wilfully are wicked (proverbs 17:4). Paul also admonishes the Corinthian Church in 2Cor 12:20 for engaging in gossip.

Once I am clear on the above and intend to submit to God’s perspective on gossip, then I can move on to finding the solution to my problem. As I sought to think of the Biblical solution, it is multifaceted and comprehensive, but Alex and I observed that undergirding all is Christ’s love for us as Christians. The diagnosis of us engaging and not speaking up against gossip is that we do not love the person in question. We do not gossip about our spouses. We will stop gossip about our parents. But yet we participate and watch gossip going on around us. As such, the real reason is that we do not love the person enough.

Thus, if the biblical diagnosis is lovelessness, then the solution is God’s Love. As a Christian, I can know true love because according to 1John 4:19, We love because he [God] first loved us. What does that look like practically? Meditating on how Christ has died for me even while I was still an enemy (Romans 5:8) makes me think of how undeserving I am for this great gift of salvation. Such perfect love truly drives me to try to love others around me. To participate in gossip, which God hates, for which Christ’s blood has been shed, makes me want to obey Him and watch my tongue. Such has to be my motivation.

Some may insist one does not need God or anyone to tell them how to love people. This idea goes against common observation. The fact that scientists need to find reasons and benefits, governments need to run campaigns, and schools need to reward students, all to encourage us to do good, proves that loving people is not inherently natural and requires substantial motivation.

We all need the motivation to eliminate gossip, but the source of motivation is vastly different. It will either come from knowing the perfect love of God or from the desire for self-benefit.

As such, the fundamental question I need to ask myself when I am about to open my mouth is that do I love that person enough to not participate in gossip? Do I desire to love that person like how Christ loved me and died for me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8)? It is difficult, I fall often, but at least now I have found my motivation.

What Does Scripture say – on burnout?

Burn-out is a prevalent problem, not just at the workplace but in all facets of life. I recently attended a course at work, and we spoke about preventing it in ourselves and our peers. I have friends who have quit residency and medicine altogether, some citing this being the driving cause. These incidents made me want to think of it more deeply. According to PubMed, The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s and can affect anyone who faces the consequences of severe stress and high ideals. There were times I felt that too, and the desire to get out of that emotional state can sometimes be desperate. To start, we need to come to a diagnosis. 

Diagnosis

“Burnout” as a word does not occur in the Bible. But as I read scripture, I found that the emotion expressed that closely resembles burnout is hopelessness. And as I pondered further, I realized that burning out and hopelessness are indeed inextricably linked; even scientists have drawn their association. Some causes of burnout may not initially look like hopelessness, but on further introspection, they are. 

World’s Solution

As we all know and have experienced, burnout and hopelessness come with many physical and emotional consequences – e.g., fatigue, insomnia, somnolence. Most of the advice I have come to read is to treat these symptoms. For example, Mayoclinic advocates that we “try a relaxing activity,” “get exercise,” get some sleep,” and “practicing mindfulness.” Some of them are good advice: to have open communication with our spouse of employers to change expectations or set goals that are reasonable and seek support. Ultimately, the final option is to move on.

This is not to say practical help and action are not helpful and that quitting is never the option. But to only focus on the symptoms and practical needs is like only giving paracetamol to a cancer patient while withholding the chemotherapy. To avoid doing so, I need to address my root issue of hopelessness. I need to ask again, “What Does Scripture say – on burnout?”

Bible’s Solution

To me, one of the best examples of how the installation of hope can address burnout and hopelessness is the narrative of the two disciples on Emmaus Road, as recorded in Luke 24. In context, the Jews have been facing silence from God for 400 years since Malachi and were under Roman rule and oppression. They were the outcasts, in poverty, literally seeing no end in sight in their lives. They had high hopes for Jesus, who claimed to be the Messiah, thinking that He will march them out of such dire straits. But when Jesus died on the cross, they were dejected and left for home. Essentially, they quit in hopelessness.

What happened next that led them to go from their hometown back to Jerusalem? There, I think, lies the solution to my hopelessness. In Luke 24:24-27, Jesus diagnosed their sense of hopelessness as being foolish and slow of heart to believe. According to Jesus, hopelessness is not primarily a practical problem but a spiritual one – it is an issue of faith. To address this, Jesus did not offer any practical help like money or food. Instead, He “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” 

Jesus is making it clear that whenever I am amid hopelessness and “burnout,” indeed, besides addressing immediate needs, I have to address my faith in Christ. And the means to addressing the faith is through His Word given to us in His grace because faith comes from hearing (Rom 10:17). His word is my source of strength and hope to overcome “burnout”. For example, in 1Cor 10:13, He provides the way of escape through trials, that he may be able to endure it. Such are the promises he gives to those who love him. 

So What?

I need to guard myself against following the world’s myriad of advice on distracting myself from the root problem of hopelessness and pursuing vacations, toys, and activities. Not that these in themselves are “bad,” but to pursue them without Christ will only obscure the hopelessness I face. God’s solution to burnout is to trust in what he said in Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. It pays well that I heed the advice of Peter in 1Pet 1:13, to set my hope, not on the things of this world, but fully on the grace that will be brought to me at the revelation of Jesus Christ – it is a hope that is unshakeable and eternal. 

Proverbs 3:1-12 Christian parenting

Today’s sermon by Andrew Purchase was a great refresher on Christian parenting. It made me realise that parenting is not just about providing needs. It is addressing the heart and soul of a child. Like a preacher once said, successful parenting brings the child to Heaven; not necessary Harvard. I encourage you to view the recording of the whole parenting series on www.rhc.org.sg

Introduction

  • The responsibility of the parent is to teach
  • Can be father or mother. Prov 1:8. Both voices are vital
  • Parents must not forget to teach. Children must not forget teachings
  • Even if you have no natural children, consider that we are all called to be spiritual parents to Christians, and we may also be future parents

5 key points.

Where is the teaching directed?

What must the parent first pay attention to?

What should be on the parent’s heart?

How to view discipline from a biblical perspective?

What are the promises?

  • Where is the teaching directed?
    • The first revealed secret is knowing where the teaching is to be addressed to – the heart.
    • Successful parenting strike the children’s heart
    • We train the soccer player’s feet, the runner’s legs, and the photographer’s eyes. But parents address the child’s heart.
    • To focus on behavioral change is not addressing the heart.
  • If teaching is directed to the heart, the parent first needs to pay attention to his own heart
    • A swimming coach cannot teach swim techniques if he is unaware of his technique.
    • Who you are before God in the shape of what you instruct your child. Your vertical relationship with God is the basis of teaching your child in the horizontal relationship.
    • Do not worry that your son is not listening to you, but worry that your son is always watching you.
  • What then must be on the parent’s heart?
    • The swim coach knows the intricacies of the swim technique. So must the parent know what should be on his heart
    • Verse 3. God’s Steadfast love and faithfulness.
    • As we trust in God’s love, the parent must first learn to stop trusting in himself. Require you to admit you are helpless and limited.
    • This heart is to be imprinted to the Child through our consistent words and action. – “in all things.”
  • Where does discipline play a role in parenting?
    • Discipline is evidence of God, our father’s love. It is an act of justice and love.
    • We can only know how to discipline Children if we understand the discipline of our Father intimately.
    • Being disciplined is proof that we are loved by the disciplined, and our ultimate Father is God.
  • What are the promises?
    • Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
    • Proverbs 3:2, 3:4, 3:8, 3:10
    • “The Old Testament manifested spiritual blessings in a much more material form, mainly because the church was still in its infancy. Although God still blesses in material ways, the focus of Christ and His Apostles is much more on spiritual and eternal blessings” – Ligonier

Application

It is great to renew my mind with the biblical perspectives of parenting. Without the guidance of scripture, I would be lost. Every one has an idea on parenting. I just thank God for His grace on my life, that I have His word as my ultimate source of guidance. I am excited nonetheless to put these advice into action.

Church: Redemption Hill Church

These notes are a summation of truths taught by the Preacher and my reflections from the sermon. It does not reflect the full message and intention of the Peacher.

#6 “So Far, So Good”

Today was a great conversation with Sunny. His name was apt for his vibe he exuded – he was a sunny, cheerful person. He was openly Buddhist, as evident from the ornaments on his dashboard. Some small talk on how what time he started driving (3 am!), how business is (getting worse), and how many years he has been driving (6 years), I went straight into the gospel.

Me: 6 years – has anyone shared with you the good news of Jesus Christ?

Sunny: Yes but I’m a Buddhist, you know and all religions teach us to do good things.

Me: Alright, what is the purpose of religion then?

Sunny: It is so that God can help us when you’re in trouble.

Me: Absolutely. But how about the life to come? The afterlife?

Sunny: We either go up or go down.

Me: Great. So you believe there is a heaven and hell. The Bible does say so too. So do you know if you are going to heaven or hell?

Sunny: God will help us, you know?

Me: If you don’t mind me asking. Do you think you are a good person?

Sunny: No, I’m not. No one is perfect.

Me: Correct. Me too, right. Have you ever told lies?

Sunny: Yes

Me: Have you ever stolen something?

Sunny: Yes, of course.

Me: The Bible says that looking at a woman with lust is considered adultery. Have you ever done that?

Sunny: Yes, definitely.

Me: So let me ask you, sir. If God judges us by the ten commandments, where are we going?

Sunny: God will teach us how to do the right thing when we do these things

Me: Now, if you imagine you are in a courtroom, and the judge is sentencing you for stealing something. Do you think it is reasonable to say, “You have to teach me?”

Sunny: Hmm… No. He will still punish us.

Me: Exactly. Both of us are headed for hell. But here is the good news of Jesus Christ. God is love, and God is. He needs to punish the wrongdoers, but He does not want to punish all. So He sent His Son Jesus to come to earth, not break a single law, and then was killed on the cross. When He did so, He cried, “It is finished,” meaning the fine has been paid. If you believe in Him, your guilt is washed away. What do you think?

Sunny: So far, so good.

There was silence for half a minute. Because, unlike my past few rides, Sunny had no “arguments” against this good news.

Me: So you have friends who are Christians?

Sunny: Have, my neighbor.

Me: Ok, Sunny, thanks for listening to me. Will you go back to think about what I told you?

Sunny: There is no need to “go back” and think. I can think right now while driving. Thank you; have a good day!


Father, we pray for Sunny to come to know You.

Psalms 1

Psalms 1 is a comprehensive outline of all humanity. According to this text, there are only two kinds of people on this earth. They are the Righteous and the Wicked/ Sinner. We are all either one of these. There is no in-between, no grey areas.

The most significant verse to me is verse 5. “Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” At this point, it is essential to realize that in the Bible, the word “sinner” is used in a very technical way. It is ALWAYS used to describe the unregenerate, never the believer. It is, however, used very loosely today sometimes to refer to someone who sins. For a comprehensive break down refer to John MacArthur’s article: https://www.gty.org/library/bibleqnas-library/QA0190/turning-back-a-sinner)

The believer, who is a saint, cannot be a sinner. A saint can sin. But it does not make him a sinner. A sinner is without God and Christ. If we are unclear of this definition, then verse 5 will confuse us because it links the wicked to the sinner. If we go around calling ourselves as sinners while we believe in Christ, then we will be stuck with the interpretation of this verse.

Verse 5 tells me a few truths:

  1. There are non-believers of Christ right next to us in our church congregation
  2. While on the surface they appear to believe, this text tells me that God knows who they are. He “knows our ways.” We cannot fool Him.

Application

  1. The gospel must be at the center of every conversation at church. Because it is deadly to assume everyone at church is saved. The Gospel must be preached. Even as I speak to friends at church, it is an important reminder for me to keep Christ at the center for the sake of our souls.
  2. The warning that God knows all our hearts must be preached. Warnings are a gift from God to keep us on track. His sheep will respond to his warnings and return to Him. Non believers in our midst will hear these warnings, and we hope that God will turn their hearts towards Him. This means that it will be utterly irresponsible of me to assume all who comes to church and community group is saved and ignore the warnings in scripture. It is uncomfortable to read and share about warnings, but if we do so, we are risking souls. Warnings must be taught as per scripture as much as comforting truths of God’s love and mercy. Half-truths must be avoided at all costs. (Matt 7:21-23)
  3. This text tells me what I have to do to be blessed. God’s word is clear on what actions I need to undertake. It is on my onus to obey his commands.

Father, help me love your word and meditate on it day and night. Without your spirit, the flesh is weak.

#5 “From young, I know I am not a good person.”

Today’s conversation gave me a glimmer of hope. I started the conversation by asking him how business is, and Mr. Ong said it is terrible. He used to drive the regular taxi but transited to driving Grab, and he admits that it was much better in the past.

Nevertheless, I started to share the gospel.

Me: Has anyone shared with you about Jesus Christ in your years of driving the taxi?

Ong: Of course. My wife goes to church, and sometimes I go with her.

Me: So, do you believe?

Ong: It’s not that I don’t believe. But everyone can choose to accept what they want.

Me: Okay, then do you know the good news of Christianity.

Ong: No, I don’t know.

Me: If you don’t mind me, let me tell you the good news. But first, let me ask you if you think you are a good person?

Ong: I know from young I’ve always been a bad person.

Me: Absolutely, the Bible says we all are. Do you lie?

Ong: Of course.

Me: Do you steal? Even small things?

Ong: Yes, when younger, I did.

Me: Do you look at a women and…

Ong: [Before I could complete] Of course.

Me: Exactly, The Bible says that when God judges us based on the 10 commandments, all of us cannot meet His standard. And therefore, we are all destined for eternal punishment. So if God judges us based on this, where do you think you will go.

Ong: Hell.

Me: Correct. But do you know what the good news of Jesus Christ is?

Ong: No.

Me: Ok, let me tell you quickly. God is love, and God is just. He needs to punish the wrongdoers, but He does not want to punish all. So He sent His Son Jesus to come to earth, not break a single law, and then was killed on the cross. When He did so, He cried, “It is finished”, meaning the fine has been paid. If you believe in Him, your guilt is washed away.

Him: I don’t think so much, la. Just be happy, you know

Me: You know, I am a doctor and, you know many patients have cancer, and I tell them that their cancer is treatable, but they refuse treatment until it is too late. Like you, they say, “just be happy.”

Him: You know I have a friend with breast cancer. She was told she would die, but then she ended up living for 60 years. So science is not accurate.

Me: Sure, sometimes we get the prognosis wrong. But I am just giving you an analogy, let us not get distracted. I am telling you that you and I have a condition of Sin that is 100% treatable, and I am offering you the solution. You are responding the same way as these cancer patients. Anyway, do you have a bible?

Him: Yes, of course. I have it right now on my phone. Every day, my friends will message me also.

Me: You are very blessed that you have friends who care about your eternity. I am also very concerned for you, that’s why I am spending time talking to you about this. My life has changed 100% Since I came to faith about three years ago.

Him: How did it change?

Me: I think there is so much more clarity in my life now—the meaning of struggles and so on. When humans are faced with uncertainty, and we do not understand the meaning, we are confused.

Him: Such struggles are sure to happen.

Me: Alright, I have to go. But please read the Bible for yourself and pray that God will open your eyes. You can start with the book of John.

Him: Ok, man. Thank you!


Father, Mr Ong is humble at heart and he knows he has failed your 10 commandments. Please open his heart to Your saving grace.


I frequently take the Taxi to work. My activity of comfort is usually to plug in my headphones and listen to sermon podcasts. But I have been moved by the Spirit to spend this time in talking to the driver in 7 minutes. I have recently been exposed to the works of Ray Comfort and Living Waters ministries and they desmonstrate a model of evangelism that is faithful to the gospel. Do check them out if interested.

Luke 24:1-12 Antidote to Perplexity, Fear and Dismay

As I read Luke 24:1-12 in preparation for this weekend’s sermon at Redemption Hill Church, I am blown away by the clarity of God’s word. In these short 12 verses, the Spirit tells me:

  1. The reason for our perplexity, fear, and dismay
  2. The solution to these emotions is to remember God’s words
  3. Remembering God’s word is not enough. there are two responses after remembering God’s word
    • If we read them as if they are “idle tales” and not believe in them, then it will not have any impact on our lives
    • However, if we remember His word and believe in them, it will leave us “marveling” like Peter.

1. The reason for Perplexity, Fear and Dismay

It is recorded that Joseph and his men were perplexed, frightened, and had their faces bowed to the ground when they went to Jesus’ tomb, planning to embalm him and see Him missing. (v 4-5). The reason is that they have forgotten what Jesus has said.

2. Solution is to Remember what Jesus said.

Two men, dressed in dazzling apparel, clearly some divine beings/ angels, appeared and addressed their emotions by asking them to remember what Jesus had said. (V6) Once they remember (v8) that what they are witnessing has already been prophesied by Jesus Himself, they stop letting their emotions of fear, perplexity, and dismay hinder their action. In other words, truth dictated their action, not their feelings. They proceeded to “tell these things to the eleven disciples and the rest” (v8).

3. Two possible responses after remembering God’s truth.

  1. We can receive it as “idle tales” and not believe in them. The result of this is unbelief and a lack of joy. (v11)
  2. We can be like Peter who believed in it. The result of this is the sense of marveling and awe at God’s work (v12)

Application

These verses have profound applications in my life. Am I experiencing fear, perplexity, and dismay in my life? Of course. I have such emotions at work, in my marriage, and parenting. All of us do. This text clarifies that I am to approach such feelings by remembering what God has said about such challenges. Let me remember John 16:33, where Jesus clearly states that I will have tribulations in this world. Just like Joseph’s men, knowing that the trials I am experiencing are not out of God’s control but perfectly foreknown by Him, I am to remember he is in perfect control of these situations and thus focus on taking action and not be emotionally driven. When the subsequent truths of Rom 8:28 come into the picture, that “all things (including trials and tribulations) God works for the good of those who love him.” Am I merely reciting this like a memorable phrase, or do I believe in it wholeheartedly? If I find myself not marveling at this truth like Peter, today’s text is telling me that to some extent, I do harbor doubts on His Word.


Father, help me believe in You wholeheartedly. Remove all doubts that I have in your Word and make me marvel at You once again.

#4 “All religions are the same”

Today I did more listening than speaking. I first learned that driving Grab Car is hard work. Mr Ang told me that on a Sunday, he drove for 10 hours, and after taking into account rental and petrol, he only earned $40! He said to me on the good days, he can make about $10 an hour, but that requires hard work and minimal breaks.

Just like how in a doctor’s clinic, one must, at some point, stop talking about the weather and asked if the patient has undergone his health screening, I started by asking if his passengers have spoken to him about Jesus Christ.

Ang: “Sure have. I am a Buddhist. But if you don’t mind, let me tell you about religions. They are all the same because they teach you to do good. No faith is bad. I worship Buddha, Jesus, Hindu God; they are all the same.

Me: “Ok. But let me ask you if you are a good person?”

Ang: “Of course, I am not a good person. if I were a good person, I would be God. “

Me: “You are right. The Bible says, then none of us are good people. You lie, steal and commit adultery with your eyes right. If you agree we are a liar, thief, and adulterer based on God’s standards, then will you go to Heaven or Hell?

Ang: “Sure is Hell”

Me: “But do you know what is the good news of Christianity?”

Ang: “No, you say.”

Me: “Ok, let me tell you quickly. God is love, and God is just. He needs to punish the wrongdoers, but He does not want to punish all. So He sent His Son Jesus to come to earth, not break a single law, and then was killed on the cross. When He did so, He cried, “It is finished,” meaning the fine has been paid. If you believe in Him, your sins are forgiven.”

Ang: “But that’s what the Christian Bible says, well you think about it, the Hindu they do the Thaipussam and they feel no pain with the needles in their body. The Hindu God is real as well because they feel no pain. So how can you say that one is real, or the other.”

Me: “I see. Let me just share one thing. All the great religions in the world that you mentioned have one thing in common that is the direct opposite to the good news I just shared. They are what is known as “works righteousness”, meaning, they teach that one must do something to make it to Heaven. But like I shared and which you agreed, that no one is good and can meet God’s standards of perfection no matter how hard we try. And thus the good news of Christianity is that it is not about working our way in to heaven but only through the faith in Jesus.

Ang: “I also have a cousin who was a Buddhist, and he became a Christian. I see a massive change in his life and attitude. He is also a Grab Driver. He seems to have to have this joy in him, even though we both have these challenges with earning money from driving. But then I also see others who became Buddhists and changed. So again, I cannot be sure.

Me: “I see. Do you have a bible? “

Ang: “Yes, I have”

Me: “You should go take a look and also chat with your cousin about it, ok?”

Ang: “Thank you ah. Hope you not offended.”


Father, we pray for Mr Ang for him to know about You through his family.


I frequently take the Taxi to work. My activity of comfort is usually to plug in my headphones and listen to sermon podcasts. But I have been moved by the Spirit to spend this time in talking to the driver in 7 minutes. I have recently been exposed to the works of Ray Comfort and Living Waters ministries and they desmonstrate a model of evangelism that is faithful to the gospel. Do check them out if interested.

Exo 14:11 Forgetting and Blaming God

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?

Exo 14:11

The Holy Spirit records the sarcasm that the people of Israel spoke with to Moses, a messenger of God. We need to read this in context. The Israelites had just seen with their own eyes the ten miracles that God did through Moses. The final one being the Passover. They saw and heard with their own eyes how the scientific impossibility of only all of the firstborn of a community killed with the rest spared, executed remotely without drugs and weaponry, and at the same time. They survived by listening to the instructions of God through Moses.

Yet, soon after, when they faced hardship and the looming threats of the Pharaoh coming, they seemed to have forgotten what they have literally just experienced, and they succumb to fear.

Not only did they fear, but they blamed God for bringing them out. They pointed fingers at God for putting them in this predicament.

Why so? It is because we have short term memory. Like the Israelites, we forgot what Jesus has done for us on the cross and then we see the struggles we have today and somehow blame God for them.

Application
Have we ever felt this way? We may not be so vocal in our blaming of God but do we think this way in our hearts? I tend to forget the goodness of God quickly. I forget how much He has given me that is waiting for me in eternity, and yet I look at the present and feel bitter that it is not going according to my plan. It is frequently all about me, myself and I. When I forget what He has done, then obviously, I will not remember what He can do and what He has promised already.

It is frequently all about me, myself and I.

The natural question to address is then, “how can I remember better?” Peter and Paul often use the word “remind” (2Tim 1:6, 2Pet 1:12) in their letters. Clearly, my issue of forgetting is not a novel one. It is one that Christians battled with from day one. We are all forgetful people. Through them, Peter and Paul know that too, and the Spirit has given us the Scripture to be reminded of what God has done on the cross to redeem us from death and into life.

Such is what I want to meditate on forever.

Luke 23:18-43 Power of Jesus’ Love

Today’s sermon by Simon was mindblowing and brutally honest for all listeners. Totally worth listening to if you have not. It is about the use of Power and now Jesus perfectly uses His.

How do we use our power?

If I reflect truthfully and honestly, I frequently use my power and influence in a self-centered manner. I seek to gain progress for myself. Sure, I sometimes appear to use my ability to lift people, but deep down, I make sure I do not lose out while doing so. I see myself in Pilate, who had the power and authority to release Jesus. He affirmed that he has found Jesus not guilty. But yet he decided to use his control to fortify his political position. Deep down, we have this tendency to use our power to “save ourselves.”

Deep down, we have this tendency to use our power to “save ourselves.”

The scoffers also encouraged Jesus to use His power in this exact humanly way. Thrice, they exhort Jesus to use His power to “save yourself!” (V35, 37, 39). But yet we see Jesus respond in a countercultural manner, opposite from what we expect.

How does Jesus use his power?

  1. Powerful love that looks to the interest of Others.
    • The human impulse, if we are to be in the place of Jesus, will be to use our power to get ourselves out of the cross
    • Jesus did not. He submitted to God’s will, prayed for the very people who persecute Him to be forgiven, and then proceeded to die for them. There was nothing about self-love.
  2. Powerful love that gives itself in place of its enemies
    • It is one thing to die for your friends and comrades; it is another to did for your enemies. Jesus died for his enemies. (Rom 5:10)
  3. Powerful love that brings sinners into His Kingdom
    • According to Heb 9:22, without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin. Out of love, Jesus has shed his own blood for the forgiveness of our sin and to rebirth us into His Kingdom.

How are we responding to Jesus’ power?

It is natural for humans to give our lives to people whom we know have the power to influence our situation. We call this process “networking”. Everyone knows and does this. How much we give our lives to that person depends on how much power we think he has.

We call this process “networking”. Everyone knows and does this.

Now, knowing the power of Jesus through scripture, we are faced with a choice, of which there are only two options. The two thieves exemplify these options on the cross. Note that both asked Jesus to save them. However, the first wanted Jesus to save him from his temporal pain on the cross. The other went to Jesus with the understanding of a spiritual reality of salvation from eternal condemnation.

If, like the first thief, we come to Christ primarily for circumstantial issues, and do not understand the core of the gospel, then it is to misunderstand Jesus Christ entirely. According to this text, this will lead us to be excluded from His Kingdom. We can do all sorts of things in the name of Christ, but on the last day, Jesus will proclaim that “he does not know us.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Application

This sermon reminds me that even though I know I am safe and secure in His hands, we are prone to forget what exactly Jesus saved us from. I can be too fixated on getting things right in this world and neglect the greater perspective. This results in me being less grateful to Christ. The solution is to remember the centrality of the gospel and what exactly Jesus has done for us.

Practically the text also mirrors to me how selfish I can be in stewarding my power and influence. I ought to learn to steward them to benefit others, not just in a temporal way but to focus on the spiritual aspect of other’s growth in Christ.


Church: Redemption Hill Church

These notes are a summation of truths taught by the Preacher and my reflections from the sermon. It does not reflect the full message and intention of the Peacher.