Tuesday, February 23, 2010

God (+ Nourishing Food) => Faith, Hope, Love

Al Fresco Bath-tub, New Majestic Hotel
Was reminded recently that relationships are built on, inter alia, time. Just like grunting over the morning paper at breakfast doesn't quite make a marriage relationship, so that quick "Quiet Time" before the day starts isn't quite enough for our relationship with God.

While mere silent meditation is unfruitful, there is much nourishment in reading God's word, discussing his thoughts and plans and having them explained. It's instructive that Jesus' compassion for the people in Mark 6:30-56 is not directed at their poor health or demon possession but at their lack of knowledge about God and about himself (Mark 6:34); they were like sheep without a shepherd.

Already in Ezekiel's time, the shepherds of Israel were criminally negligent in caring for God's flock (Ezekiel 34): they had not strengthened the weak, nor healed the sick, nor bound up the injured, nor brought back those who strayed, nor sought the lost. Instead, they themselves were like the wild beasts that attacked the sheep (Ezekiel 34:10), and being themselves sheep, had sabotaged any opportunity for other sheep to know God - "Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?" (Ezekiel 34:18-19).

Thanksgiving Dinner for A Friend Three Slices of Tart from Fruit Paradise
There has been much discussion about church leadership in certain circles lately. Leaders, as David Jackman helpfully points out in relation to 1 Thessalonians 5, are not those designated as "pastor" or "elder" or "deacon" and the like. Perhaps first and foremost, they are shepherds of God's people. They have compassion on those who do not know God and, like Jesus the Promised Shepherd (Ezekiel 34:23-29), feed them with the whole counsel of God, encouraging the fainthearted and helping the weak etc (1 Thessalonians 5:14ff). It is to these that we should give our respect.

But the troublemakers referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2 are despicable. Instead of encouraging and strengthening, they discouraged and deceived, causing sheep to wander off the safe path into minefields by telling them that Jesus had already come secretly or that they had special knowledge of the date and time of his coming. Paul's comfort to the trembling sheep was: (i) anyone who claims to have had a secret visit from Jesus or to be able to predict the time and place of The Day is surely a wolf savaging the sheep because Jesus' coming will be really very obvious and (ii) only God knows the date he himself has chosen for this momentous event and Jesus will come suddenly, like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5).

So we sheep ought not to concern ourselves with trying to predict this future, and we are not to worry about it even when the man of lawlessness, the epitome of human rebellion against God, appears and seems unfettered. God is in complete control (2 Thessalonians 2). Rather, we should concentrate on the fact that this future is certain. Therefore, living in the steadfast hope of such a time of judgment and salvation, we ought to be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:5-10). Proper preparation for the Day is living in imitation of the King who is coming to save his people (cf Isaiah 59:17).

Mueller: A Walk of Faith
While all the hard work that went into Yio Chu Kang Chapel's Mueller: A Walk of Faith was appreciated, especially in the scoring and costume departments, the script didn't quite grab a big enough chunk of the mind-blowingness and heart-poundingness that is real faith. William Taylor of St. Helen's Bishopsgate though has just completed a series on Heroic Faith and Hebrews 11 which, being too much to do justice in summary, greatly repays listening.

Green tea and morello cherry cake, Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge, Ngee Ann City, Singapore
And as we were discussing what this world terms "love" - first "loves", serial dating, the multitude of reasons and circumstances that might cause one to dispose of a dating relationship and the meaninglessness of such relationships in the first place, it seemed that real love (that is, the unselfish patient love first shown by God to us as revealed in Scripture and that we thus show to others) in comparison was a beautiful nourishing thing, patient and kind, brimming with assurance not fear, and headed for a certain and perfect end.

Funan Weng, Maxwell Chambers Litchi Otokanoko, Chocolate Truffle Castle, Once Upon A Milkshake
Still, one is reminded time and again of the "both...and" that characterises so much of Christian life: that even if the shepherds aren't feeding frozen tv dinners to the flock or making lamb chops with mashed peas on the side, there will always be those whose sinfulness will excuse their idleness with a misapplication of godliness (cf 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). Because while the teaching of God's word is God's chosen way of growing his sheep and keeping them on the straight path, it is ultimately not our perseverance but God who perseveres us. For his glory.

And so because God has chosen us to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, calling us through the gospel so that we may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, so then, stand firm and hold to the teachings in the Bible...and also let us pray earnestly that our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort our hearts and establish them in every good work and word (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17).

May we not be like those who do not believe the gospel, refuse to love the truth about God and his Son and so be saved, for God will give them over to their delusion, that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)!

Earworm of the week:

Jesus, Thank You

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

Lover of my soul
I want to live for You

© 2003 Integrity's Hosanna! Music (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP). Words and music by Pat Sczebel. As recorded on Worship God Live.


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Fruit Paradise

Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge
391 Orchard Road
Takashimaya Singapore Department Store, Level 2
Tel: +65 6735 6833

Funan Weng Ipoh Ho Fun
32 Maxwell Road
#01-07 Maxwell Chambers
Tel: +65 6238 5038

once upon a milkshake
32 Maxwell Road
#01-08 Maxwell Chambers
Tel: +65 9823 3779

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2 Comments:

At February 27, 2010 9:55 pm , Anonymous オテモヤン said...

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At March 07, 2010 8:58 pm , Blogger Jaimee said...

Could you please e-mail me at tinysnowdrop@yahoo.com.sg? I would like to ask you something offline.
Thanks.

 

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