Sunday, December 13, 2015

Work, Sabbath and Rest - Learning from Tim Keller

Do you know how to rest well in the Sabbath? Have you ever truly enjoyed the Sabbath rather than treating it as a boring routine to be dutifully followed? Discover the purpose and joy of Sabbath Rest.
Over the years, Tim Keller preached a number of sermons on work, rest and sabbath. Some Internet sources are Wisdom and Sabbath RestWork and Rest | Gospel in Life, and a short post on » Sabbath Rest Daily Keller. You can probably find more yourself. The groups met to study his messages. We have summarized our discussion below:

1. Stewardship of Time - Knowing God's Will first
The greatest resource that are all given equally is time. We may differ in our natural gifts and inheritances, but a 24 hour day is given to all fairly. The impact one makes in this world depends not on how long we live but how we manage our time.  However, time management is a misnomer. We cannot manage time directly. We can only manage our activities. Managing our activities begins with knowing our purpose in life, which in turn, is about God's will for us. That is taught to us by Paul in “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” —Ephesians 5:15–17.  How can we know God's will? v18 gives us the answer ... to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not with wine. How can we be filled with the Holy Spirit? v19 tells us to get together in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and worship heartily. Then we can be, as in v20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and v21  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Being filled with the Spirit is not just an activity done alone but also with a community.

2. Work Well and More Importantly Rest Well - The Sabbath Way
The origin of the Sabbath is given in ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God’ (Exodus 20:9–10)
Firstly, we see the work-rest formula here ... 6 days of work and 1 day of rest.  Most countries have a 5 day work week and 2 day of rest. However, due to globalization and technology that brings the world ever closer together, there is increasing competitions and thereby forcing people to work overtime. In Singapore, our wages are much higher than the surrounding countries, including China and India, and hence we are pressured to produce more valuable work and to work overtime more to justify our higher wages. Also, with the higher costs of living, we have to work longer hours to achieve some standards of living. However, our bodies are not built to work without rest. Working without rest in the long term will reduce our productivity, creativity and damage our health. We can easily see that 'Sabbath' is needed for us and not for God. God does not need rest like us. Yet, it is interesting to note that the commandment cited above says that "the Sabbath is to the Lord your God". In CEV translation, it says the seventh day of each week belongs to me. It is as if God needs a day from us. But the actual fact is that we need a day of rest rather than God. But for our protection, and against our over-working tendency to make a living or to satisfy our greed, God makes it a commandment and also tells us not just to rest but how to rest well.

We can see that Sabbath is for man as seen in Mar 2:27-28  And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." 

3. The Meaning of Sabbath and the What to do
  1. Freedom - Freedom from Slavery for the Israelites and Bondage of Making a Living or Other Man made  idols like Money and Self-Glory for our modern men. The Sabbath Law was given after they were freed from slavery. It is the new life-style for the freed people. We need to put our trust in our Heavenly Father who will take care and provide for us and not in our over-exertion of effort. Don't be too quick to jump to other conclusion that we should not work and rest in the providence of God. Please note that the commandment as we pointed out is 6 day of work to 1 day of rest.
  2. Rest - Rest from our typical vocational activities. As we are a tripartite being of body, mind and spirit, our rest will not just be inactivity of the body and mind, but engaging our body, mind and spirit in things beside our normal work. If we rest with our mind still thinking and worrying about our work, we are not really resting but worrying. We are taught in Mat 6:25  "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life..."
  3. Engaging God - The key purpose of Sabbath, that we may rest well and reap its total benefits is to spend time with God.  The commandment is clear, Sabbath is the Lord's day. It is for our utmost benefits to spend time with God in this day. It includes the Sunday Worship in Church with fellow believers but also our own personal reflection and contemplation. 
  4. Enjoying God's Creation, Your fruits of work and Life in General - In Gen 1:31  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth dayGen 2:2  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  God rested on the 7th day not because he was tired but rather because the work has been completed very well. The 7th day is not for creating any more but for enjoying it as in Gen 2:3  So God blessed the seventh day. So, on this day, we should enjoy God's creation, the great wonder of nature, and our fellowship with other men, His greatest creation, the fruits of our work and our family that God has given to us. The most restful way is given in Mat 11:28  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mat 11:29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Mat 11:30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
  5. Recognizing the Seasons of Life. We are aware of the seasons of our life - baby, child, student, career, marriage, family, empty-nest, retirement and death. People that just enter into the workforce, new career may need additional time and effort for the training and adjustment, such such time, may be the Sabbath day rest can be shortened for a short period of 1 to 3 years. It is better if we can keep the Sabbath but Medical Interns and such may have little choice. We can perhaps make it up but bringing Sabbath into our daily short resting period and even into our work itself.
4. Guard Against Making Yourself as Centered of Your life.

Most importantly, we have to ask ourselves whether our overtime work are really due to our lack of trust in God and hence of making our living by ourselves or worse, having money or our status as our idols instead of God and pursuing them madly against the Sabbath rest command. 

Consider Psalm 127v2:
  • (BBE)  It is of no use for you to get up early, and to go late to your rest, with the bread of sorrow for your food; for the Lord gives to his loved ones in sleep. 
  • (CEV)  It is useless to get up early and stay up late in order to earn a living. God takes care of his own, even while they sleep.
  • (CJB)  In vain do you get up early and put off going to bed, working hard to earn a living; for he provides for his beloved, even when they sleep. 
  • (ERV)  It is a waste of time to get up early and stay up late, trying to make a living. The Lord provides for those he loves, even while they are sleeping. 
  • (GNB)  It is useless to work so hard for a living, getting up early and going to bed late. For the LORD provides for those he loves, while they are asleep. 
After we have done our part of working faithfully and wisely for 6 days, let us put our mind off our work and trust that the Lord will work out for us those that we could not. Let us rest in faith without anxiety to have a good sleep. Because we trust that our Heavenly Father will provide, therefore we can sleep well. Rest well and trust that God is working behind you even when you are fully asleep. 

Enjoy your Sabbath and be refreshed in the body, mind and spirit.

Lim Liat (c) 14 Dec 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lessons from The Seven Churches of Revelation

The Seven Churches of the Book of Revelation tells us the different kinds of churches that we have learn much from and be a mirror for us to review our own church. It shows us the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church. The good and bad of the churches. and the call for repentance and correction with promises of rewards were given by Jesus. It gives us great comfort and encouragement in this challenging times. What kind of church do you have and how can you make improvement for the church and your spiritual walk with Jesus?
The Overview of Seven Churches
We can study the seven churches one at a time. We can also study them as a group. We will do both in this post because there are many benefits to gain by taking these two different viewpoints. Some people think that the seven churches represent the seven stages of the history of the church. Others think that they are the seven types of the church at the end times. The important thing for me is --- what can we learn from each of them and as a collection of them. Here is the summary:
I. The Study of Individual Church

For each church, we can see the pattern given, Jesus described some attributes about Himself, then praised them for the good work, pointed out their bad things, called them to repent, warned them of the consequences if unrepented and promised them of the rewards.  We will go through each of the church as shown in the sequence of mind-maps.

1 Ephesian Church - Lost of 1st Love - Truth overrides Love.

2 Smyrna - Persecuted but Living Church
As Christ has suffered for us, we shall also be willing to suffer as Him for the sake of His church.
  • Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
  •  Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
  • Mark 8:36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

3 Pergamum - Compromised Church

4  Thyatira - Misguided In Darkness Church

5 Sardis - Appearance Only, Form without Substance Dying Church

6 Philadelphia - Obedient Powerful Church

7 Laodicea - Materialistic Church

II. Studying them as a Consolidated Group:

Jesus and the Church:
See also: Knowing Jesus through the Seven Churches of Revelation

The Good of the Churches:

The Bad:
See also: The Qualities of Good Believers from the Seven Churches of Revelation

The Corrections:

The Warning:

The Rewards:

See also: Your Eternal Rewards in Heaven according to the 7 Churches of Revelation

The Key Truths:
See also: Lessons from The Seven Churches of Revelation
and 7 Management Principles of Jesus in His Letters to the Seven Churches

III. Applications:

Which kind of church do you have?
Most likely, you have some of this and that. The key thing is to examine ourselves and our church and make corrections before it is too late.

May God bless you and your church that they may be God's shining light on this earth pointing others to Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

Lim Liat (c) 12 Oct 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

Religion vs The Gospel - Learning From Tim Keller

Is your Gospel a religion or a good news? What is the difference? How are you living out the Gospel?
Our Bible Study group has a discussion based on Tim Keller's Sermon on Losing Our Religion which in summarized in a mind map at Loosing Our Religion and Knowing Jesus Rightly. Recently, Tim Keller podcast has a related sermon called Inside-Out Kingdom which covers the attractiveness of the Gospel and we included that in our Bible Study as well. The key bible passage referred is Luke 18:9-14 - The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. 

Religion - A Set of Standards to Earn Your Acceptance (salvation by work).
What is a religion? A religion is a set of rules for good behavior that you obey to earn your rights for acceptance and justification. It is salvation by work of the laws (the rules of good conduct). You start with nothing and do to get right. Your worth is defined by what you have done externally. You are very self-conscious and also insecure. Insecurity comes from having to obey the laws. If you think you have obey them, you feel proud. If you fail to obey them, you feel condemn. To make you feel better, you will be looking for others sins and be quick to condemn them to make yourself feel superior and better. This is exactly what the Pharisee did. Luke 18:9 ...trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.

  • 18v11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee,
    While he addressed God, it is all about himself. He is telling God how good he is. He is thanking God not about how good God is but how good he is. He proudly stood in the center for all to see and hear his prayers of how good he is doing.
  • that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican (tax collector)
    He is saying he is better than others , they are sinners, especially the tax collector in the corner. A religious self-righteous person is quick to prejudge and condemn others to show his superiority. A loving person is sensitive to others needs and see if he can help. He/she see their sufferings and needs due to their bondage to sins.
  • 18v12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
    While such acts are good, the motivations behind such acts are more important. God sees and judge by the hearts and intentions of man. Jesus said hatred and lustful thoughts towards others are already committing the sins of murder and adultery correspondingly. Religious people do good work not for the good of the work but for the show-off and the earning of good points for oneself. 
The Gospel - Begins with Repentance and Acceptance

A believer on the other hand, begins with knowing one's sins and be repentant to receive the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ who paid the price and gives the new life. The Good News of the Gospel is there is hope and assurance for anyone who repents.  It is not by our good work; we could not save ourselves because we are conscious of the sinfulness within. Not that we cannot do good work. It is just that our good work on the outside cannot change the sinfulness within us. We need a rebirth of a new life. The Gospel is not about making bad people good but rather making dead people alive. A transformation of a new life is needed. But its reception begins with repentance ....
  • 13 And the publican(tax collector), standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
    We see the shame and repentant heart of the Tax collector. He acknowledged his sins (may be he cheated by over-collecting taxes from others and under-declaring on his submission to the higher authority.). He is asking God for forgiveness. 
  • 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
    Jesus proclaimed the forgiveness for the tax-collector. Without Jesus' redemption on the cross, repentance is of no use. The OT sacrifices of animals for men's sins have no effect without Jesus' payment. The cross of Jesus in the NT actually rectifies the sacrifices of the OT.
The Gospel is so much better ...

Here is a mind-map summary of Tim Keller's Inside-Out Kingdom that shows the goodness of the Gospel.

Some key points to emphasize:
  • Believers are salts --- salts focus on making others taste better. They bring out the beauty and strengths of others rather than itself. Believers make others look better.
  • Believers righteousness exceeds that of Pharisees --- How? Believers are internal driven whereas Religiosity is outward driven.
  • Turning the other cheek is not about offering to be slapped again but rather expecting to have a kiss of friendship from animosity. (The Middle Eastern Customers of friendship is about touching of cheeks or kissing of cheeks). Believers go the extra mile to turn enemy into friends by the love of Christ. This is the real meaning of being more than conqueror.See The Meaning of "More than Conquerors.
  • Don't go over to other extreme to neglect the Laws.
    We are all quite aware of the danger of  'legalistic" Christianity. However, many, the seeker friendly and prosperity gospels preachers, preached it as if obeying the Laws of God is bad. On the contrary, " one of the ways you know you’re a Christian is that you love to study the law of God and obey it. Ps 1v2"
See also Legalism or Discipline

Lim Liat (c) 10 Oct 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Making of False Teachers

In Spiritual Warfare - Learning from Tim Keller, we learn about the two strategies of the devils. The first is to tempt you with lies, emphasizing on the grace and forgiveness of God, to get you to commit the sin and the second is to follow-up with condemnation of you, emphazing the holiness of God, and keep in self-condemnation and guilt.

Lie is a powerful method of the devil.  Lie will bind you whereas truth will set you free. So it is no surprise that the devils will raise up many false teachers to deceive you to believe in such lies and keep in bondage.  In the talk by Keller, he refered to an older book, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, and the part on the making of false teachers is given below in the mind-map.

In this present age of post-modernism, the pure doctrines of the gospels are under attack and corruption. It is important that we know the truth well and be able to discern the lies of the devils.
Know the steps of the development of the false teachers and be ready to expose their lies.

Lim Liat (c) 10 Sep 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Resolving the Problems of Suffering - Elihu Job 32-37

In A Better Reason for Suffering - Learning from Elihu..., Elihu presented a different view on suffering and point towards the hope of having a mediator, an intercessor between God and man. Here is mind-map that summarized the debates between Job and his three friends, Elihu's defence of God and the other purposes of suffering.

Job and his three friends shared the same theology of God. They thought only of God as the just judge, punishing sins and rewarding obedience. Job obeyed God out of fear of punishment and not of love. A performance based type of relationship with God. This runs the danger of self-righteousness. He only has a hear-say concept of God and not a real encounter with God. So Job did a lot of sacrifices for sins, even for his children wide partying. With such a concept of God of justice, he could not see his error and accused God for not being fair to him. His three other friends could only infer Job's suffering must have been due to his sin but they could not point out exactly what it was. They could only asked Job to check it himself and to repent. That really upset Job who considered he had no sin at all.

Elihu presented a different version of God. A God of not just just, but of utmost wisdom and love. God is so wise that he could not be fooled into being unjust. God is so loving that He will speak to man to that they may correct their mistakes and be rescued to live well. There is a purpose in suffering. While a key purpose of suffering or pains is to get attention that we may make changes, the Bible also show us other purposes for suffering. They are captured in the green portion of the mind-map above.

The question about the meaning and of life is not whether we suffer or not but rather are we living out the purpose that God has created us for. Are we even willing to suffer, if it is to be our purpose? (e.g. consider the martyr for God). Are we willing to be God's little dot, or a little piece of puzzle, that connect other dots and make up the total beautiful picture of God's creation? Even so, God did not designed us for suffering and our suffering is but for a while that we may step up to a higher place.

May we have the right attitude towards suffering and be sure of our calling.

Lim Liat (c) 15 July 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Job answered his critics and showed us the differences between losers and winners Job 6-7

From Job's answers to his critics, we can learn about how to answer our accusers, and also to discover the ways of the losers and winners. The losers find excuses for his failures and suffering and blame everything else. He changes not and remains in his suffering. The winners examine the causes, rejects the false accusations, find lessons and purpose for his failures, and make changes. We see how Job changed his position from blaming to asking a deeper question of about the meaning of life.  While Job has not found his answer about a life of suffering, it prepared him well to gain understanding later from God Himself.
Job in Job Chapters 6 and 7 gave his answers to his critics described in Chapter 4 and 5. Below is a mind-map that summarized his main points of his rebuttals.

Step 1 Identity the Causes
We can learned much from him to identify the various factors that are likely to be the causes of our failures or sufferings.
Step 2 The Ways of Losers - Blaming 
The ways you handle the identified causes show you whether you are a loser or a winner. The way of the loser is 'blaming'.  Job started that way. He blamed his behavior of 'complaining' to God and to his friends on nine factors from J1 to J9, the terrible pains of suffering (quite an exaggeration too), on God, a common practice, if only, born weak, horrible friends, false accusations, meaningless life of pains only to die, and of all people why me? The losers can find faults in everything else except himself. If the faults lie with others and not with him, then there is nothing with him that need to be changed. The losers change not his ways and therefore remain in his sufferings or failures.

Step 3 The Better Ways of the Winners - Learning
The winners take a different mindset towards the causes of sufferings or failures. He classifies and differentiate the causes. Firstly, are the causes true? If the accusations are false and without evidences, then the winners ignore them. Secondly, are they within control or not. For factors beyond the winners control, he must learn to accept them and adapt to them. Making the best out the uncontrollable situations. For factors within their control, they accept the responsibility to learn and change. A key question that the winners ask is "What is the purpose of this sufferings or failures?" or "What can I learn from it?"  Winners learned the lessons, make the change and breakout of the sufferings or failures.

By the way, ancient Chinese considered the eight pains of life as shown in the mindmap below:

The Awakening of Job - What then is the meaning of Life and of Suffering?
Job started like any normal human being, blaming everything including God. He considered God had been unfair to him. He sin not and yet suffered much with sickness, loss of children and wealth. He forgot the many good days of the past. But in the process, he asked a very important question about life. Is life just about suffering and then die without any hope or good ending? Life shouldn't be just full of pains. Life must be of some good else Job should not complain about life being short. If pains is life is all about, the shortness if a good relief as Job has desired. In the gut of Job, Job feels something is not right. Life should not and could not be just suffering. He shifted focus for a short while from his sufferings to the goodness of God. He asked, even if he did sin, could not God has forgiven him? (His expected answer was surely Yes.) How much more should not God treat him well when he did not even sin? What is the purpose of suffering under a good and merciful God? Could suffering has other purposed besides being just a punishment from God for our sin?

Job did not find the answer here. He found it later in when he met God personally.

What about you?
What have you learned from this study of Job chapters 6 and 7?
Do you know the ways of winners?
What are other purposes of sufferings?

Lim Liat (c) 18 May 2015

Sunday, March 15, 2015

3 Life Lessons from the Last Chapter of Job

The last chapter of Job, chapter 42, is the restoration and happy ending for Job. But there are 3 critical life lessons for everyone to learn. They are, firstly, personal experience is better than hearsay; secondly, the right way to apologize and to forgive, and lastly blessings as by-product of true worship.
Personal Encounter with God

A key verse for this last chapter is:
  • Job 42:5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
Job only know God in the past by hearsay or traditions. He has a partial view of God. A God of justice that rewards the righteous and punishes the evil. Now he has a first hand experience with God and his life was totally changed. Can you do a comparison of before and after experience for Job? What about your own story of a personal encounter with God? 
There is nothing more powerful than a genuine encounter to expose the falsehood. Repentance comes not by citing the Laws but by a touch of grace and love from God. Job's reaction cut deep into his heart:
  • Job 42:6  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
Before, Job was demanding God to vindicate him and accusing God of not being fair to him. Now he said that he had spoken like a fool. 

The Right Way to Apologize 
Here a the key points for a right apology:
  1. Name the error committed.
    Job 42:7b for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
  2. To the Person wronged.
    Job 42:8  Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. 
  3. The Offering for Restoration - making good the wrong.
    The sins were against Job and against God. So the offering was for God and for Job.
The Right Way to Forgive:
The forgiver shows his forgiveness by praying for them. The ability to pray for them shows that there is no bitterness in Job against his accusers.
  •  Job 42:9b .... and the LORD accepted Job's prayer
Blessing as By-products of Righteousness - God's Restoration for Job:
Note that God restored Job blessings after he prayed for his friends.
  • Job 42:10  And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. 
If Job still hold bitterness against his friends and pray not for them, I do not think God will restore Job's fortunes. Precisely because Job had forgiven and there are no accuses for the devil to exploit, Job fortunes was restored.

The Restoration Process:
It is not clear how God restored Job's fortunes. May be God first healed Job of his sickness and then through the giving of his brothers and sisters(42:11), multiplied their givings many many folds to double the fortunes of Job. 

God also double Job's children. Another 7 sons and 3 daughters. This is doubled because the first 10 are still in heaven. There is the extra blessings of the daughters being the most beautiful and being treated as sons to share in the inheritance. 

Other blessings for Job included the good life of another 140 years and seeing 4 generations of children. Using the doubling formula, perhaps we can make a wild guess that Job suffered when he was 70 and God added another 140 years to his life. So Job lived for about 210 years. This 210 years life span put Job in the era of time around or just before Abraham.

The key lesson for us, the theme of Job, is about seeking and worship God first and all other things will follow. This is emphasized again by Jesus in Mat 6:33 seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you. If however, we get the order wrong, by putting the blessings, though good things, like wealth, health and popularity as first, we will end up putting as idols and replacing God. But those things will never satisfy you but enslave you. Break free from pursuing such idols and come back to worship the true and living God in Jesus Christ. Measure your success in life not as how much you possess or how great you are but how you have live up to and live with God. True wealth and success is having God and enjoying Him only. Enjoying God is also reflected not just in our time with Him but also how He expressed through us to helping and being with others.

Hope you enjoyed and learned much from the study of the book of Job. 

May God bless you richly in the study of His Words.

Lim Liat (c) 15 March 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Meaning of Life from Job 3 Job Cursed His Birthday

Job's suffering was so great that he cursed his day of birth in Job chapter 3. He revealed his deepest fear too. His suffering and desires for death become a good time for reflection for the meaning and purpose of life. Then, we can be better prepared to handle any challenges and even suffering in our own life.
With such great suffering, Job's mind can only focus on his present sufferings and pains. He cursed his day of birth, wishing that he be not born. If not, he wished he could die at birth and needed not to suffer. He then proceeded to tell us what he feared most had come to past. This 'fear', said many Word of Faith preachers, was the excuse that Satan used to attack him. They claimed that fear will bring forth that into reality. In some sense, it is true. But fear is given to us that we may take heed to prevent what we fear to come to pass. Fear is a good trigger for us to wise up and to run to God for guidance and solution.

Here are some questions and some answers for us to reflect on our own life:

1 Why did Job want to die?
  • too painful to live
  • not seeing any hope for the future

2 Why did Job not commit suicide?
  • don't have the permission from God?
  • still have God in mind and God is in charge of one's life and death
  • may not have the guts to do it?
3 What do you think is Job's view or purpose of life?
  • life is meant for joy and not suffering
4 What were the benefits of death according to Job's complains?
  • rest from all troubles
  • equality for all ranks and types
  • no more bullying?
5 What does it tell us about Job's view of life?
  • death is non-existence: no feeling, on knowledge?
  • there is no after-life?
  • there is no judgment after life?
  • There was no mention of heaven after death.
6 Did Job believe in a God? Why?
  • it shows his struggles - the present suffering from a good God
7 What are the important things in your life?
  • I do the right things to be worthy of God
  • I hope my family will be saved
  • Live life without any regret.
  • our life affects others, the legacy we left behind
8 What does a good life mean to you?

9 What is the most important thing in life?

10 What is the meaning and purpose of life?
  • worship & enjoy God
  • god as 1st
  • no idols. Idols are usually good things that become our top priority in place of God, such as:
    • pleasures
    • wealth
    • self-righteousness
    • children
    • reputation
    • legacies
    • health
    • work and living as worship, testimony
11 What is the area of Job's life that was used by Satan to attack him?
  • Fear. More specifically:
    • losing all his blessings
    • his blessings have become his god?
  • But by going through the sufferings, losing all his possessions and children, and yet without cursing God, he actually put God above the blessings. Through his suffering, God reveals to Job what Job had it all the time... Job worshipped God purely because God is Job's God. 

12 What is a good ending in life?

13 How to live life without regrets?

14 How should we handle disappointments and suffering in life?

  • If our sufferings are caused by our own sins, then early repentance will do.
  • But there are many sufferings are beyond our control, and we need to know how to accept and deal with them. If God allows it, there are purposes and lessons that we should learn.
  • Can we die to self and be more of and for God? Will we be able to submit to God's greater plan for the whole that we are willing to be sacrificed for the benefits of others such as the martyred for God?

Lim Liat (c) 13 Mar 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

God Answered Job with Questions - Job 38-41

Most people are upset with God's answers to Job. They felt that God did not directly explained to Job the reasons for his sufferings. God answered Job with a series of questions starting from the creation of the earth and the universe, then the living animals, and ended with the descriptions of two giant and powerful animals, one on land and the other in the sea. It shows the love and wisdom of God for His creations. The creations operated wonderfully and ceaselessly without the help of men. The animals live freely and reproduce abundantly. If God so cares for the weak and giant animals, will God not care for men? The world was so created for men. God showed Job his ignorance of the creation and of the heart of God. Job was satisfied of God's answer. Job was assured of God's love and wisdom and knew his suffering was not because of his sin but of higher purpose of a testimony to the accuser the devil and to himself that he worshipped God because of God and not for personal gain. Job was given the background to his trial by God for him to have written down Job 1 and 2.
Here are some key points on Job 38-41
  1. God said Job was ignorance and understand not His purpose 38v2. In 40v8, Job should not blame God to show his ow righteousness.
  2. God questions Job to let Job know his own ignorance. It is better to answer a question with question. Questions cause the people to think and reflect about the key points and gain understanding. Jesus often used question and parables to awaken our understanding indirectly. If we just give straight answer, we may just invite more defensive arguments. 38v3.
  3. God uses Job ignorance mindset to phrase His questions. Such as 38v6 where is the foundation of the earth? What holds the earth? We now know that the earth suspended in the universe through gravitational forces. But Job did not know.  In 38v22, God asked if Job ever entered the storehouses of snow and hail. We know of course that there are no such store houses. Snow and hail are but frozen water vapour that has always been in the sky. 38v28 Does rain have father? 38v32, how are the stars tied together? How are their patterns fixed? The movements of the stars in the universe go on orderly and endlessly without the help of man. Man does not wake up the sun every morning, does he? Chapter 38 is similar to Genesis 1 in many ways. 
  4. Chapter 39 covers the animals. Who feed them? How they give births? How they grow? How they live freely? Even the 'foolish' Ostriches can laugh at horses and men and survive till present. The strength of the horse, the flight and life of eagles are covered. It shows how God provided for the living of different types of creatures. If God so care for them, will not God care for men?
  5. Chapter 40v3 recorded Job acknowledgement of his ignorance. If Job could not answer the simpler questions on the how of creations, could he answer the deeper question of why?
  6. 40v15-24, God described a powerful land animal, wrongly translated as the hippo in some versions of the Bible.  40v15 told us that God created it as he created man. Man and animals are made from the materials. It does not mean, as some evolutions think, that man evolve from animals. It is just God uses the same materials and same ways to make man and animals. Man and animals are alike. The description fit a brachiosaurus better than hippo. They are more powerful than men yet men live on
  7. Chapter 41 describes the Giant animal in the sea. Its description fit the Chinese Sea Dragon better than the crocodiles. It can breathe out flames! It was the king of all animals. In spite of such powerful giants living on the earth and in the sea, the diversity of animals remain and living freely. 
  8. We see that God first created the universe, the stars, and the earth, the conditions fit for living, then the animals and then the men to live on the wonderful earth. The abundance of lives of diversity are designed and created by God. God's purpose is for men for live happily on earth. So the suffering of Job is not about punishment for his sin. God did reveal his purpose to Job so that Job could write down chapter 1 and 2, giving us the background and the happening in the spiritual world that gave rise to the suffering of Job.  Job became the testimony for God to show than though Job as man, was created weaker than the angels, he could sin not and worship God as God, unlike the devil, who rebelled against God. It shows devil's rebellion is the devil own choice. God did not create evil. Evil is from the devil. The test proves to Job that his worship of God is genuine and not for wealth or health or other blessings. Devil, the great accuser was proven wrong.
Lim Liat (c) 9 Feb 15

The Higher Purpose of Sufferings (Added on 16 Aug 2015)
While many of our sufferings and sicknesses could be due to our own sins (in which case, we need to just repent, receive our healing, and go on with our walk with God), there are at times, for the good of other people. Like Job in this study, he becomes the example and lessons for us through time, to know God in a deeper way, not just of justice but of love, and that we can, just as Job, love God more than our wealth, family and life. We can put our trust in a loving God no matter what. Suffering for others is the higher purpose. It is best illustrated by God Himself, who sent His Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die on the cross to save us from our sins. Jesus' sufferings solely for us and for no other purpose but to reconcile us back to God.  Will we be willing to suffer that the will of God be accomplished through us that others may benefit from it? Will we be willing to be the connecting dot or the piece of puzzle that complete the great plan and picture of God? Jesus suffered for us. Paul suffered to bring the gospels to us. Jim Elliot died to bring the gospels to the Ecuador's Quechua Indians..... What about us? Are we willing to be used of God even with the sufferings?

Job (and his friends) understand a God of performance - do right get bless and do bad get punish which leads to a relationship of fear. God corrected to a relationship of love and trust and bring Job to a higher level and purpose of suffering, to accomplish a greater purpose more than ourselves.
Job finally realize that:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 38-39 

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. 2 Cor 1:4-5

Do not doubt God's love base on your circumstances. But rather, discover God's plan and purpose for you and receive His grace and comfort through the suffering to attain greater height and fulfill His purpose for your life.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Better Reason for Suffering - Learning from Elihu Job 32-33

From Job 32-33, we can learn 3 things from the young Elihu. They are how to present your idea, our loving God and the better reason for our suffering, and thirdly, the hope of salvation - wishing for the mediator between God and man.
Job's three friends insisted that Job must have sinned to incur the punishment from God but they could not point out the particular sin that Job had committed. Their reasoning and insistence only increased Job's suffering. A young man, Elihu, presented a different view on suffering and point towards the hope of having a mediator, an intercessor between God and man.

Here is the mind-map:
The 3 things that we can learn from Elihu:

1. On Debate:  How to Present Your Case

  • 1 Respect Others - let them say first 32v7
  • 2 Listen carefully first. 32v11-
  • 3 Say what the other say. 33v9-11
  • 4 Let the other confirm
  • 5 Say why you want to say 32v12,v17,18
  • 6 Say without prejudices and bias; not to praise nor condemn.
  • 7 Speak truthfully and sincerely 33v3
  • 8 Give other the opportunity to ask 33v5
  • 9 Speak on equal standing, not higher or lower 32v9, 21-22; 33v6
  • 10 not threatening and pressuring 33v7
  • 11 Encourage people to listen, accept v31
  • 12 Giving other the opportunity to challenge, expressing one's willingness to listen v32
  • "Seek first to understand and then be understood." ----Stephen Covey's 5th Habit for Effective People
2.  Our Loving God Saving Man from their fatal sin
  • God speaks twice, but men listen not 33v14
    • God speaks thru dreams and visions 33v15
    • through their ears and heart 33v16
  • God 's purpose: 
    • prevent man from following their evil plan out of pride 33v17
    • to keep them from falling into the pits, or killed. 33v18
  • But Man hears not 
    • God speaks thru their sickness - in bed, pains in bones 33v19, no apetite v20 weigt loss v21, nearness to death v22.
    • C.S. Lewis — 'Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains.
3 The Hope of Salvation Coming of Mediator 
  • God sends an messenger from His presence to teach man the way v23
  • With the intercessor, God will save man v24.
    • foretell of Jesus Christ
  • the restoration of body and life v25
    • The Result of Salvation - A New Life & New Body
  • the return to God's acceptance, presence, and righteousness v26
    • Reconciliation of God and Man
  • Sharing of Salvation and enligthenment v27-28
    • The Command to Spread the Gospels
  • God saving man 2-3 times v29-30
    • God tries many ways to save man.
Lim Liat (c) 11-1-15

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Job 2 The Deeper Test & Lessons Learned

Many people are upset when they read Job. They think God is toying with man and betting man's life to play game with Satan. The truth is far from such misunderstanding. Read on to find the truth.
Here is the mind-map that summarizes the lessons learned from the study of Job chapter 2:

  1. God is in charge of all, no matter what one may think.
    • Satan has to report to God and seek permission for what he wanted to harm
    • We should be comforted with this thought. The righteous and the good will win out. Please seek the purpose, put the trust in God and walk with Jesus through this valley of shadow of seemingly death.
  2. God is not betting with Satan. Neither is God playing with man as a chess piece.
  3. There are many ways to understand this suffering of Job
    1. It is about worship of God as the chief goal of man.
      • In chapter 1, Satan accused Job of worshipping God for personal gains - wealth, protection, family etc. and health in this chapter. Man just uses God as a means to gain wealth and health.
    2. God understands Job's true heart of worship.
    3. But there is no proof to show, especially the accuser Satan (whose job was to find faults) will demand the proofs.
      • Even Job was unsure, see Job 3:25 For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.
      • Job stayed away from evil.
        • He followed God commands.
        • He sacrificed for his children, just in case
        • He worship God first at his loss of children & possessions. This show Job's 1st thought is always on God.
      • Job put God above family, wealth and now even his own health. This is seen in 2v10 Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?"
    4. See suffering not as punishment but as training for maturity.
      • All champions go through intense training - to outsiders, they are torturing themselves!
      • Suffering and pains develop our character.
    5. God knows 100% that Job will pass the test.
      Only Satan does not know. It is not a bet but a sure win for Job and of God.
    6. As explained in the previous chapter notes, Job is God's ground to punish Satan's rebellion as Satan was created with greater ability than man. If the lower man can worship God how come the wiser and greater Satan can't?
  4. Just Curse God and Die for a Relief.- It is just a temporary but bad solution
    • Job's wife, being so close to Job and seeing his righteous life and the sufferings could not take it and suggested to Job to curse God to get relief from his frustrations and then die, as the punishment from cursing God, yet gaining relief.  If Job took his wife advice, it will just prove that Satan was right i.e. Job worships God for health and blessings.
  5. Job made God's Day
    • Job was able to stay calm and rebuked his wife. One should be able to take anything, good and bad, from God. God has His purpose. However, in the next chapter, Job wished either he was born or be dead.
  6. Job's Sickness is Great -It is no simple matter
    • Job's sickness was very great, a deformation and great pains, that his friends could not recognize him and they stayed with him quietly for seven days and nights.
  7. Presence is Great Comforting
    • Comforting our suffering friends need not be in words but just in presence will be good. In fact, his friends' words later, did not comfort but angered Job instead.
  8. Understanding the Purpose of Suffering will be Helpful
    • Job did not understand the purpose of his suffering. This made his suffering extremely tough that he cried to God for justice and understanding. Paul and other martyrs for God at least understood their purpose as suffering for Christ, as testimonies for Christ. 
by Lim Liat (c) 6 Jan 2014