Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 21 - Sensitivity and Reaction to God's Word

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 22nd July 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 18:1-15

Abraham was very sensitive spiritually. When he saw three men coming to him, he immediately knew that it was a visitation from God. When God reveals Himself, could we discern it? When God wants to speak to us, are our hearts ready to listen, are our ears sensitive to hear His voice? When God calls us, are we ready to respond and obey? A teachable ear, teachable tongue and teachable heart are very important to walk a good Christian life. A good Christian has sensitivity to understand God’s word and His will and to obey His command.

We need to learn to work hard and study heavy stuffs since our youth. When we listen to sermons, we should learn to listen to the difficult ones and to think hard until we understand. When we are used to carrying heavy burdens, many troubles become easier to bear. When we find difficulties in understanding God’s Word, we should not run away and carelessly interpret. True spirituality is manifested when we are able to take the total principle of the Scripture to face all life difficulties in the world. Experience should be understood as the interaction between challenges from the outside and courage from the inside that rests on faith in God to break through and overcome all difficulties.

We need to deny ourselves and carry the cross to become Christ’s disciples. We need to know how to live and how to die, how to trust God and how to obey His calling to finish the race of our life. When we understand this, we will have tremendous courage. Christians know that Christ has carried the heaviest burden on our behalf, and by His grace we are given the privilege to share some burdens and He gives us strength to carry them. So we should learn to become sensitive to hear, to be willing to understand. Abraham immediately knew God had visited him, so he bowed down in reverence when he saw the visitors. But often times we are not ready to receive the grace of God when it comes to us, so the grace of God bypasses us again and again. Many people have access to the means of grace but do not appreciate them. We are so foolish that we often close our ears to God’s Word. The Bible says blessed are those who are poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Abraham quickly asked the visitors to wait while he prepared to serve them. He asked to wash their feet and to prepare a meal for them. This is the kind of service that fears to be rejected. So in the church there are two kinds of attitude towards ministry. There are those who think that God needs them and that the church would collapse without their contribution. And there are those who are like Abraham who begged to be received of his service. He went through all the hassles and thought not much of the sacrifice, but only that his service might be received. This is the right attitude towards ministry. We must be thankful if God is willing to receive our offerings and ministry.

Unfortunately many ministers act as beggars on God’s behalf, and when they are given money by the rich people, they are insulted like dogs. There are so many instances where churches’ prayer lists are money begging in disguise. With such attitude, the work of God is done flippantly. We should always ask ourselves whether we are doing our best and giving our best to the Lord. We should learn the attitude of Abraham, who was so sensitive towards his Lord and yearned that God would be willing to receive his service. Many good Christians want to serve, to sacrifice and to give, but they do not see where the altar is and they do not know where they should put their offerings. Let us all work our best, deny ourselves with all our strength, with the spirit of willingness that is pleasing to God.

After finishing the food, one of the visitors told Abraham that he would come back again next year, and when he returned Sarah would have a son. This statement is not very logical because Sarah was already 90 years old and her menstruation had stopped. At this time Abraham had built a habit to accept what God said without debating, questioning or protesting. But when Sarah heard that from her tent, she laughed in her heart. One of the visitors immediately asked why Sarah laughed. Sarah denied that she laughed. It was true that nobody could hear her laughter, because the Scripture said she laughed within her heart. However, the Scripture also said that men look at the appearance but God looks at the heart. Men judge us externally. But God judges us based on our inward motivation. We need to learn to fear the Lord because He sees everything in our heart and all we do are inspected by Him. The judgment from the Lord cannot be denied because He judges our heart.

Abraham took God’s Word with faith but Sarah received it with the eyes of her experiences and rationality. God was not satisfied with Sarah’s reaction. Hence God rebuked her, saying that there is nothing impossible with God. Like Abraham, we should learn to be sensitive to God’s Word and to be obedient to His guidance.


At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But God judges us based on our inward motivation. We need to learn to fear the Lord because He sees everything in our heart and all we do are inspected by Him.

It is scary. Sometimes, I thought I acted based on a good motivation. When I looked at my heart it looked good, but deep below, it was not that clear, good or bad. That means, I didn't really know my heart. But God knows my heart and judge me based on what is really in my heart.



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