Sunday, October 13, 2013

Soldier with a Book and a Tie

When I preach I wear a tie and today was no different. Usually even with many e-books and articles saved in my tablet I will still carry a book and today's choice was Studies in John. I spent the usual 1.5 hours or so in prayer and devotions before setting out at 7:10am. I knew it was going to be a long journey and I had to transfer from bus 67 in the East coast to an MRT station before walking to the church. As it was my 2nd time to this place in 3 years I lost my way a little and had to ask a few people walking by before I found my way to the school when the meeting was held. By the time the meeting started I had spent almost 2 hours on the road and I was feeling a little tired as I stood and worshipped. It was vibrant and lively being among the youths and I felt refreshed as I sang some of my favourite songs. I saw the Lord lifted high, checking on his army in heaven - the Lord is ready to come as we his people are prepared for the Lord's coming - Straighten the crooked paths, fill up the valleys and blow the trumpet in Zion. I was asked to preach quicker than I thought at 9:35am and I preached for 34 minutes until 10:09 and the meeting ended at 10:22 after the collection and song of response. But I felt a sense of disconnect with the congregation today. I could not say what I wanted to say for that would be giving too much solid food when they were only ready for milk. I spoke about dying to self, and ridding ourselves of attachments to the things of the world by dying with Christ - I have been crucified with Christ nevertheless I live but yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. Unless we die to self, we will be alone, like a kernel of wheat, unfruitful. If we die, saith Scripture, it will bear forth much fruits (John 12). I talked about the glorification of the Son of Man in his death. The world's view of glory is different - wealth, power, prestige and social rank. I quoted the verse in the Lukan temptation account that the devil took Jesus to the corner of the wing of the temple and in a moment showed him the glory of all the kingdoms of the world and offered to give to Jesus all worldly glory if he would worship Satan.

But Jesus retorted "You shall worship the Lord God and serve Him alone!" Worshipping Jesus is serving him and following him. My servant will follow me where I am there my servant will be. I spoke about giving our lives to Jesus. I challenged the young people to give their lives to serve Jesus and not seek worldly glory and wealth. I told of the example of how a Singaporean doctor spent more than 10 years up a mountain village in China treating village folks of their ailments. He left creaturely comforts in Singapore and served the Lord with his talents. I spoke about short term mission trips and not glorifying in them but be prepared to serve for a longer term in the mission field as the Lord may lead. I spoke about having a larger vision beyond our island state, the little red dot while surrounded by 17,000 islands of Indonesia and 300 million people who spoke Bahasa Indonesia or Malay. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him - no worldly honours perhaps but eternal rewards. I spoke about God choosing the poor of this world to be rich in faith and cited Luke 6:20, Blessed are you poor for yours in the kingdom of God and denounced those who claim otherwise as if it is the rich who are blessed - O how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of the needle! It was cold comfort that the congregation gave me a polite response but many sat stone-faced and I was glad that I was not stoned for my sermon like Jesus was when he was ushered out onto the cliff to be thrown down after rebuking his hometown folks (Luke 4). At the end of the service, not a single youth came up to say thanks (not that I was expecting it) but at least one parent said that the sermon was "interesting" and shared a cup of tea with me. I left knowing that I had achieved little. I am a soldier of the Lord, waging war for His kingdom with the power of God's Word - whether they listened or not, they will know that there is a prophet in their midst.

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