Many of today’s Christians don’t like it when a sermon based on Mt.16:24-27 is preached. We prefer the comforting stuff such as “for God soooo loved the world, that He GAVE…” wrongly interpreting the word “so” (Greek: houtos) to mean the extent of God’s love when it actually means “thus, in this way”. Jn.3:16 should therefore be translated “for God loved the world this way – that He gave His only begotten son…..”. Mt.16:24-27 speaks of denying ourselves of what we want, desire and love and instead embracing what God wants, desires and loves. It warns us of the consequence of being self-indulgent and having a form of Christianity that is focused in ME – how much God loves ME, wants to bless ME, etc. Following Christ is never about serving our needs but serving God’s Kingdom purposes and the needs of others. And in so doing, God meets our needs. Have a great day!
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”
Matthew 16:24-27 ESV
by Rev Jason Phua
Readings: Numbers 6:1-7:89; Proverbs 11:20-21
READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Numbers 6:22-27 “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
The “Aaronic blessing” that we know well was given to the whole of Israel when they were about to journey to the Promised Land. A study of the “blessing” noted the triple occurrence of “the LORD”; where a single occurrence should normally suffice in such a passage. Here, God wanted Israel to be strongly (threefold) reminded that He was to be the source of their grace, peace and strength. Israel was not to look at any other during the journey. They were to walk in faith of “the LORD” who rescued them out of Egypt and were to provide for their every need. The Hebrew grammar (jussive verbs) that is used in this passage illustrates that God desired these blessings for His beloved nation. Such an understanding of the Aaronic blessing provides a deeper appreciation of how God was angry and disappointed with His people when not long after they were on the journey; grumbled, rebelled, wanted to go back to Egypt and even involved themselves in idolatry.
It is easy for me to blame Israel for their grumbling, rebellion and idolatry in spite of God’s strong promises through the Aaronic blessing. However, when I look at my own Christian walk with the Lord, am I necessarily any better? There are also times I grumbled and rebelled against His will even though I am constantly reminded that Christ is now my Savior and Lord. Christ is much better than the Aaronic blessing because His sacrifice has not only blessed me with all my needs; but even cleanse my conscience to live in freedom for His works. Such a spiritual freedom is precious. It is something which Israel had a taste, but never got to embrace in the fullness of Jesus.
The days I spend now on crutches reminds me of my daily need for the Lord and how at times, I have taken my own physical health for granted. May the Lord help me to learn in humility from the mistakes of Israel who despite the Aaronic blessing, rebelled against the Holy One. May the Lord convict me of the need to die to Him daily so that I can live the life that He desires.
Help me Lord, to live a life pleasing to You. This is because You are a good good Father to all. Amen.
by Rev Joel Yong
2 Timothy 1:3
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did with a clear conscience as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
Paul prayed constantly for Timothy. Timothy was like a son to Paul, and was also a co-worker and leader in the church.
Though the two were separated – they were united in prayer.
We should pray too – for those we have discipled or are in the process of doing so. We should also pray for the brothers and sisters in Christ that we have in the church – not only when they are sick or in crisis – but also in regular times, that they will remain faithful to Christ and walk strong in Him.
Who can you pray for today?
Don’t wait till nightfall – do it right now!