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The small step to a greater journey – by Tan Peixian

“I’m not good enough.”

“Maybe I should wait till I know more about the Bible.”

“What if I can’t answer the questions they ask?”

“But I’m already serving in other ministries!”

Those were just some of the few thoughts and doubts that went through my head when I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to serve in the Girls’ Home ministry (under the Salt and Light ministry). Honestly, I allowed these thoughts to win, and didn’t think about the next steps. It was not until I received a few more prompts from God, and started to feel a bit unnerved about not responding to them, that I eventually went about finding out how to serve.

I love that God knows me better than anyone else does. He knows that I am the type that needs to see the big picture, and so He helped me to understand that my obedience to saying yes to serving in this ministry is just a small step in the journey He wants me to go on. God waits patiently for us, until we are ready to tell our doubts to go away.

I’m not saying that those doubts will magically go away once you say yes. Trust me, I still find those thoughts popping up in my head – more often than I would like them to. However, I’ve learned that it is not about being good or “holy” enough. It’s about my heart of obedience, and allowing God to guide me to say the right things when in the midst of the girls I am serving. It’s never about me. I’m merely a vessel for God to use to speak to them, to be their friends, and most importantly, to be the light and show them God’s love.

So here’s a note of encouragement for you: Don’t ever tell yourself (or God) that you are not good enough, because the truth is – we will never be. That’s how we learn to depend on God.

 

If you are keen to serve in the Salt and Light ministry, speak to Shawn Lim.

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FGA Responds: Keep the flame alive – by Sueann Tan

Valentine’s Day is often commercially associated with romance, flowers, candlelit dinner, and many other lovely things that make your heart warm and fuzzy. But behind the flutter of lovey-doveyness we know that love is often much more than a feeling in the moment. It is an act of will, just like to choosing to love and follow Jesus. We have to want it. Valentine’s Day only takes place once a year, it is up to us to choose our partners for the other 364 days – for better or worse.

As a single and unmarried individual, I decided to seek the wisdom of married couples with a very important question:

What is the secret to keeping the flame alive in your relationship?

Here are their answers…

 

“Making time for dates, keeping regular communications with each other face to face, creating fun memories and doing little things for each other that the other person will love and appreciate.” – Joshua & Angie Sundram

“We are thankful that we both have the opportunity to serve God together in the church and in a way we become more aware of each other and we are able to love and serve one another much easier in spite of our differences.” – Cris & Cheral Aparente

“The oil of intimacy and love keep the relationship burning.” – Emmanuel & Josefa Firmacion

“The secret is quite simple actually. Keeping the other person alive. No life, no relationship, no flame. So practically I would say, learning CPR, how to clean bullet wounds, and staying away from cliffs. But really, it’s choosing to always see the best in the other person.” – Tham Mun Yang & Evie

“I cook.” – Dennis Low (married to Alicia)

“Laughing together.” – Mark John & Huis Hariman

“Intentionally doing things together, listening more, keeping communication open, and praying for each other. Hug and kisses everyday! Lastly, appreciate the similarities and respect the differences.” – Vincent & Jennifer Toh

“For us, it’s making it a point to hang out with each other after the kids have gone to bed and share about our day. It’s when we get to learn about what is on each other’s hearts and see how we can support each other. Knowing, like really knowing, each other’s concerns and intentions really helps us stay in-tuned to each other. It also helps that our love languages are very similar!” – Kevin & Aarika

“Being adventurous to take on new experiences together!” – Ian & Grace Lee

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Re:solution 12-day Fast and Prayer – Widya’s Experience

In January, FGA embarked on a 12-day churchwide fast and prayer. Together with a devotional focused on the book of Nehemiah, we waited on the Lord to show us the burdens He placed in our hearts, and provide direction and strategy on how to address these burdens.

One of our partners Widya shares her fasting experience with us.

“I was praying for breakthrough with children whom I deal with in my line of work. I fasted a dinner meal during the 12 day period. Initially, it created discomfort in my tummy for a few evenings but my system finally adjusted to it.
I discovered that fasting and praying is a good discipline and should be done on a more regular basis like weekly. It is very powerful when it is done with sincere intentionality to contend with God for breakthroughs over some strongholds. It’s amazing how we begin to hear more and more from Him, before witnessing breakthrough taking place gradually. Fasting teaches me how to persevere.

As I studied the devotional, what resonated most to me were the messages on days 4 and 8:

* FAST – PRAY – PLAN instead of the other way around, which most of us often do.
This requires much patience, humility and TRUST in His direction & timing!

* Valley experiences before the Fountain experiences.
Going through periods of uncomfortable/painful ‘pruning’ & ‘refining’ (purging out of any impurities) seems to take forever, but He is actually preparing us for greater work in the future. Understanding that what He’s working in us at all times will enable us to give thanks even in time of trials/valley moments. It is indeed true that only through trials, we’ll come out more refined in our characters and our faith in God.

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The Good Shepherd (Pt 4): Caring for the Shepherd

“Look, the Lamb of God!” – John 1:36 NIV

This short sentence caught my notice, “I pray, not wish because I have a God not a Genie.” God compared to a Genie, strange?  To think of it we could get easily confused.  I know of only one God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. But I know of at least two genies.  One was from the Middle Eastern folklore.  Aladdin had a magic lamp.  The genie appears when he rubbed the lamp.  The genie would compliantly appear saying, “What is your wish my master?”  And the genie would grant Aladdin his wish!

The other genie was from the American TV sitcom, “I Dream of Jeannie.” An astronaut, Captain Tony Nelson found a mysterious bottle.  He opened it and released a genie called Jeannie.  She was not quite the counterpart of the genie in Aladdin.  She just needed to wink and her master’s wish would be granted. She would of course try her best to please her master by giving him all might wish for except that she was an attractive woman and had her own mind.

 

That was how we sometimes treat our prayers. The prayer list is our wish list. But God is not a Genie. So keep your wishes for your genie and your prayers for your God. Put bluntly, whether you are thinking of Aladdin’s Genie or Nelson’s Jeannie you are talking about slaves serving their masters. Let’s be clear.  God is not our slave. God is our creator.  He is our Savior-Redeemer from our slavery to sin.  To help us get to know Him better, God describes himself as our Shepherd. He cares and provides.  The Apostle Paul says, “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.”(Philippians 4:19 MSG)

 

Why did God speak of Himself as a Shepherd instead of a fisherman or a hunter or whatever? In my view, it was because God saw us as his sheep, his lambs to be precise. This is a precious picture of our relationship with God.  You know what God calls his son Jesus?  That’s right, “The Lamb of God” – (John 1:29, John 1:36). It is a precious relationship because the Shepherd-Lamb relationship explains His Father-Son relationship with us too. God is Shepherd and we are His sheep, His lambs.  This Shepherd imagery establishes that father-son bond.  This can be found in the very first book of the Bible where the word lamb appears for the first time.  Remember this conversation between Isaac and his dad Abraham?

“Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”- Gen 22:7 NIV

Notice the words, “Father,”my son” and “the lamb.  There is no question, the Shepherd is about the Father, the son (the Lamb of God).  What a privilege that we should be God’s sheep or lamb along side Jesus, God’s Lamb and God Himself as our Shepherd.

 

The second mention of lamb in the Bible is in Exodus.  God instructs Moses and Aaron while they were still in Egypt, “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house… And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” – Exodus 12:3,7 KJV. This is the Lord’s Passover. The blood on the doorposts pictures the power of the blood (in anticipation of) the blood of the Lamb of God upon the cross).  In love, God shepherds an entire herd of sheep (the Israelites) from bondage out of Egypt.  The shepherd is responsible for his sheep.  When we think of God as our Shepherd we know that God cares for us, just as we find in John 10. Sheep without the care of a shepherd are exposed to all sorts of danger. God calls His leaders (priest, pastors, elders or cell-group leaders –shepherds) to feed His sheep, to be guardians of his flock.

 

The sad truth is, shepherds may fail. The prophet Ezekiel speaks clearly on this subject on God’s behalf, Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock… – Eze 34:7,8 NIV. Take note of the phrase my flock lacks a shepherd.

As a church pastor or group leader (no matter how humble that role may be) we are called to be shepherds. Ezekiel says that God’s flock lacks a shepherd, why?  Becausemy shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock.  You see, our church members, our flock of sheep may have problems. So, they go to their shepherd-leaders (to you and me) for help.  But what happens when the shepherd-leaders themselves have problems?  They lose their authority as shepherds.  So, their flock is left without a shepherd.  While we care for the sheep let us not forget that shepherds are appoint a part of the flock too. Here’s a great exhortation to all shepherds from the Apostle Paul,  28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock… 31 So be on your guard!  Acts 20:28 – 31 NIV. Shepherds need to keep watch over themselves.

 

Jesus himself took great care of his leaders (shepherds). Do you remember the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand?  Many of us would start from Mark 6:34.When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. We overlook the fact that Jesus cares for his shepherd-leaders – his apostles – the Twelve too.  We seem to forget why Jesus was on the other side of the lake. Let me take you to just three verses earlier, Then, because so many people were coming and going that they (the apostles with Jesus) did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”” Mark 6:31 NIV.  The apostle Paul clearly established this very same principle on the importance of not just the flock, but the under-shepherds when he says to the elders from the church at Ephesus, Keep watch over yourselves. The leadership (under-shepherds) comes first or we will have the situation of a flock without a shepherd. 

 

Then comes “all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God” – Acts 20:28 NIV.  It is Christ who appoints and gave us pastors.  John Piper concludes that, “The New Testament only refers to the office of pastor one time (Ephesians 4:11). It is a functional description of the role of elder stressing the care and feeding of the church as God’s flock, just as “bishop/overseer” is a functional description of the role of elder perhaps stressing the governing of the church.  Pastor and elder and bishop/overseer refer in the New Testament to the same office.” (John Piper, “Elders, Pastors, Bishops, and Bethlehem” Sunday Evening Message MARCH 2, 1987.)

While we expect our elders and pastors to care for our needs, may I urge you to stand by them.  Care for them.  They need your care more than you think!  It will make a big difference to have a caring flock; as it will be; for us to have a caring shepherd-pastor.  Believe me, your elders-pastors need your prayers most urgently than you may think.  It is your plea for God’s grace, that will provide us leaders with vision and a ministry that grow from strength to strength.

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Red Camp 2017: When God Showed Up

December is always a special month for our youth because this is when our annual Red Camp takes place. Amidst 4 days of gruelling games, worship, sharing, and blessings, the youth are challenged and encouraged as they build special bonds with the Lord, and each other. But Red Camp 2017 (RC2k17) was particularly special for all involved. Camp commander Natalie Ng reports.

A word released amidst our prayers for the camp was that God would bless the work sown into the camp, and it would bear fruit. As I reflect, I see clearly how He kept His promise.

21 youth signed up for RC2k17, making up 3 groups of 7 (the number of completeness and perfection). We booked 12 rooms at the campsite (12 being the perfect number symbolising God’s power and authority). I sensed this was not an accident; God was telling me that He was in control of the camp, and the camp would be perfection in His eyes.

Games were always a huge focus for the youth attending the camp each year, and they would discuss it with much anticipation as days lead up to camp. But as we found ourselves changing our camp programme by reducing the number of games planned, we understood that God wanted us to focus less on the games, and more on Him.

As we did so, His presence became so real in the campsite. Spiritual was brought into the physical as our youth experienced God in a brand new way, such as bursting out in tongues for the first time and singing prophetically. One of our youth even experienced the whiff of burning as they surrendered areas of their life to Christ, by writing prompted areas on pieces of paper and tossing them into a bin. God was taking these offered strongholds and bad habits, and burning them. Prophecies were released and God gave gifts to the youth.

I believe that God saw the hunger and desire from the youth and helpers to experience Him, and He honoured that by pouring out. He also honoured all the prayers that were sown into the camp from months before. Besides just the Red Camp team, I know that many people in the church had been praying for us, and I am so grateful for this. Thank you! Red Camp would not have been the same without these prayers.

My own prayer and desire for RC2k17 was simple. I just wanted God to show up, and He did. He was the Red Camp Commander, in  control of everything, in order to show us that His power, goodness and authority over our lives is real.

I pray that all of us at the camp, youth and all others involved alike, will remember that as life resumes to normal, He is always there and we need to look to Him. Even in days when we are not in church, days when we are feeling low and days when we don’t seem to feel His presence. He alone is our strength and He provides for us in every situation. He takes us safely through every situation and always wants the best for all of us. He is our Father.

And we cannot, and should not, fall back to normality and resume status quo for the Surge gatherings and future Red Camps in 2018 and the years to come. Let’s expect that God is going to pour out a greater measure from here on.

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Looking To Develop New (Good) Spiritual Habits? Consider These Before Trying To Get 10 Steps Ahead

The desire to improve and to grow is innate in many of us.  As we kick-start the New Year, many of us would have had made resolutions (whether consciously or not) to self-improve, grow and change some aspects of our lives for the better, be it to exercise, eat better, study harder etc.

What about spiritual habits such as prayer and reading the Word? Do any of you find it challenging and not-so-natural to develop/build them into the routine of your life? You are not alone.

Developing (good) spiritual habits is no different from developing any other habit we have formed over the course of our lives – it requires time and work. A habit is an acquired behavioral pattern formed by repetition. We are all creatures of habits and are shaped by them. As such, every routine and repetition has a formative effect on our being and how we then develop as a person.

Now take that and apply it to Christian discipleship and you will find that spiritual habits, if cultivated properly can enhance and add a lot to our spiritual walk and experience of God, His living Word and presence in our lives.

As we embark on the New Year, here are some things we can turn our minds to and work on in the course of developing new (good) spiritual habits together.

1. Posture

The Lord’s Prayer invites us to a posture of openness before God as our Father. Before undertaking anything in the name of discipleship and being a “good” Christian, know firstly that your Heavenly Father calls you and accepts you as His by sheer love and acceptance and not your works (Galatians 2:15 -21). Find that orientation in your heart in response to this truth, and you will find a different motivation to develop and build good spiritual habits in your life.

2. Motivation

We start each New Year with a resolve to better ourselves – there is an intuitive desire to be “better”, to improve, to change and to achieve our goals. It’s as though somewhere in every person is a deep conscience that directs that they should be living a “certain” way. How often do we beat ourselves up and feel like we can do better and that we should be better. But how much of it is driven by a different motivation, whether it is fear, the world around us or just us and our self-centred desires?

The gospel, however, compels us without guilt or shame. Instead, it gives us a new motivation by renewing us from the inside out, such that we desire change, growth and maturity. Not simply for ourselves, but for the good works that God invites us to partake with Him for the sake of others and this world we live in.


How can we be a solution for the sake of others and this world? We are currently undergoing a 12-day churchwide fast and prayer to seek God on this. Join us in the journey with this 12-day devotional.


3. Small, incremental change and repetition

Points 1 and 2 do require time and deep reflection for God and the Spirit to work in us. But there is nothing more beautiful and fulfilling than a deeply Christ-changed life consistent with our outward set of actions and virtue.

So if we are able to position our hearts accordingly and are willing for God to sift through our motivations, what practical steps can be taken to then build good spiritual habits in our day-to-day lives?

One of the best advices I have heard is “just start doing something”. While seemingly elementary, this is fundamental because we often easily complicate things and neglect the necessary building blocks to help us move forward effectively.

Set realistic and achievable goals. There is nothing worst than constantly feeling subpar for failing to hit the mark because we have set such high, lofty goals that are unrealistic. Have an honest assessment of yourself, your priorities and schedule.

Make tangible and attainable goals that you can genuinely commit to and do not underestimate the impact of the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from being able to stick to and complete something.

For example, before starting your busy day, you may consider sparing 15-30 minutes to read a passage from your Bible daily while having breakfast, because that is the most optimum time frame for you in a given day.

Once you have some “wins” under your belt, keep at it and repeat and eventually, you will hopefully find the practice a natural part of your daily life.

4. Find someone to do it with.

As alluded above, there are no short cuts and developing good spiritual habits require time, work and a healthy dose of accountability. However, it need not be burdensome and tedious and hopefully each of us, by His Spirit and grace will find the deep joy and motivation to build these spiritual habits into our lives.

Finally, in order to help us, there is no greater blessing than to have a community around us that can hold us accountable and help us develop these spiritual habits together, be it in prayer or opening up the Word together.

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Understanding The “Go”

When I was younger, the word “disciple” always dredged up images of dusty, bearded middle-aged men in robes, trudging along behind Jesus, as he moved from town to town preaching and healing people. The image is, of course, courtesy of the film Jesus of Nazareth, which I watched when I was about eight years old, possibly my first visual impression of what Jesus and his disciples looked like.

Jesus, ‘dat you? Image source: Pinterest

Of course now, some 35 years on, I am aware that the film, while eye-opening in many ways, did also put blinders on how I had viewed discipleship. It is also the shallow understanding of the Great Commission that many of us have, to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”. It seems like a daunting call, that requires a great sacrifice of family, career, income and often, life.

My key misunderstanding was with the word “go”. To me, it meant foreign lands, different tribes and tongues, time away from work, separation from family, poverty, hardship and even illness.

But the “go” in Matthew 28:18 does not mean any of those things. The word was written in the present continuous tense, and is meant to be read “as you go.”  That changed what discipleship meant to me. It meant that in the everyday things I do, working, taking care of my family, serving my church, I am called to be a disciple and to make disciples.

The call to discipleship that I received feels more like a mandate. I knew that above everything else that I could possibly do to serve the Lord, the one thing I had to always be doing is making disciples. The message of the Great Commission resonates with me personally, and I know that it is actually God doing the work, and I was in the privileged position of being allowed to help. It is like story Ps Rhordan shared in his book Marked to Magnify, about Ken Malmin allowing his small son to paint the fence with him (pg27). God is always looking for people to “help” him paint the fence, not because we are so good at it, but because He enjoys the relationship.

So, I am glad that I have been allowed to try and fail. I am only too aware that I don’t have all the answers and have made mistakes in discipling. In fact, I would be the first to confess that not everyone I had been in discipleship with still walks with the same fervour that they did when we first began. But I am grateful that I still have the opportunity to keep the friendship, to continue to speak life to them, and to pray for them with understanding. And through these things, God does His work. He hears, he heals, he restores, and in that, they know that there is a loving God who will always wait with open arms for his sons and daughters to come back to him.

 

If you don’t have a copy of Marked to Magnify yet, approach your LifeGroup or Ministry leader on how to get a copy. Alternatively, drop us a message here or email info@fgasingapore.org to enquire.

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5 Things Evangelism Is Not

We are commanded to go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15), but what is evangelism and how is it different from other spiritual conversations?

#1: Evangelism is not imposing your beliefs.

#2: Evangelism is not using social work and kind actions as bait.

#3: Evangelism is not attacking those who disagree with your faith.

#4: Evangelism is not sharing your testimony in hopes of immediate conversion.

#5: Evangelism is not dependent on you achieving results.

FACT: Evangelism is telling people about Jesus and modelling His nature through your words and actions. That’s our job, and the result is up to God!

Want to learn more about evangelism, and how to become an effective witness for Christ in the world today? Sign up for The Emmaus Way workshop! Learn how to share the Gospel using the bridge illustration, how to turn everyday conversations into spiritual ones, and how to lead a person to Christ.

The next class is on 3 Feb, Saturday, 10 am to 4.30 pm. Click here to sign up now!

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Taking Stock Before Setting Goals

In October last year, I sat down and did a timeline of the last 14 years of our family journey.  It was a time of reflection to see how the hand of God has carried us through our seasons, and to recognise certain milestones and challenges we have faced.

We reminisced the birth of each son, the major accidents my son Emmanuel had encountered; we even talked about the loss of baby number 3 before Nate came along – how God has His plans, and how everything happens according to His good purpose. And finally, we gave thanks for each milestone and crisis moment as we know our lives are in our Creator’s hand, and only He can orchestrate the miracles and teach us new things – through our faith and trust in Him.

These milestones and crises are worth celebrating and remembering, before we make plans to move forward as a family.


Timelines are particularly useful for studying history as they convey a sense of change over time.  Wars and social movements are often shown in timelines. If we look at the events that took place in 2017 – we would see the following:

January 20 – Trump’s election to the US presidency
March 29  – The UK government invoked Article 50 of the treaty of European Union – which put it on course to leave the EU on March 29 2019.
July 21 – Yemen, Southern Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia are predicted to lose 20 million people this year to conflict driven famine
August 25 – Start of genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar
August 30 –
Hurricane Irma’s devastation and damage of around $200 billion dollars…


As we approached the end of 2017, my boys and I discussed these events that took place. The most memorable event for them was Donald Trump’s presidency. How does God use new and unconventional leaders to shape his world? What are his plans for the US and how will that impact the rest of the world? Can we trust God when the economy and policies of global powers seem unfair?

I highlighted the plight of the Yemen, Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia famine, as these stirred my heart the most. We looked at internet pictures of the crisis and the people affected by the famine.  It is a difficult picture for young children to look at, kids who have never experienced hunger, let alone severe famine and war; what can we do to grow in empathy and compassion for the poor?

We also discussed the story of gratitude, and how Kevin and I were able to meet the people who had rescued my family when we were boat refugees, and what it means to truly be thankful. The outcome of that discovery has been a greater desire to pay it forward to make a difference and to always know that God can use terrible circumstances to bring out the best in us. And then we looked at what has happened more locally – and the one thing that struck us all was the family conflict between the Prime Minister and his siblings – how social media cannot be contained, and the problems that arise when bad press and family feuds overlap with the nation’s political agenda.

As we set goals for the year ahead, these discussions help set the stage as I guide the boys with leading questions so that they can form a deeper understanding of God’s hand in global and local situations.

We looked at our own lives and ask, “God, what are you doing in each of us – and in the family as a whole”?  Training children to see from God’s perspective requires an intentional effort to read His word and discern what God’s bigger story is and how we are called into His plans.


Our family goals for 2018 are still being formed, but we do know that this process of reflection is an important process for us to move forward for 2018, as only God can mark out our steps and though we plan – He is the one who will direct our paths.

 

 

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The Good Shepherd (Pt 3): Believing In Miracles

The Lord is my shepherd . . . 3 He restores my soul. –  Psalm 23 ESV.

 

Believing in miracles.

In the last verse of his Gospel John writes, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  John 20:31NIV. “These things,” in our verse above, refer to the works of Jesus, His life and His miracles.  Incidentally, do you believe in miracles? John 9, the chapter before the account of The Good Shepherd (chapter 10) is about miracles.  The religious Pharisees, have resisted believing that the blind man has been healed.  Here’s what the Bible says, They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents.” John 9:18 NIV.  They need to be given the evidence before they believed. So, how important is it for us to believe in miracles? It is common sense that we accept miracles when we encounter them firsthand, because then, we have no chance to deny them.  In the same way, the Pharisees believe in the miracle concerning the blind man receiving his sight, because that is what the facts say. The blind man of course also believes in the miracle because the miracle has happened to him.  He is not just a witness. He is the beneficiary of the miracle, the subject and object so to speak.

 

The Shepherd – looking for His sheep.

Now if our focus was on the miracle only, we might miss the point.  We would allow ourselves to be distracted from the main issue!  When Jesus heard that the Pharisees had thrown the blind man out, he went out and looked for the blind man.  Jesus found him.  Jesus did not ask him about the miracle, instead Jesus asked,  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” John 9:35 NIV. Why? Is there a connection between Jesus being the Son of Man and that miracle? Do, you remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and the goose that laid the golden eggs. Jack knew better. Jack wanted the goose that laid the golden eggs rather than the golden eggs themselves. The logic is simple, if you have the goose you would have the golden eggs. 

In the same way, we could be distracted by the miracles (the golden eggs as it were) and forget that it was Jesus that caused miracles to happen. To the question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” this was the answer: 36 “Who is he, sir?” the (blind) man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. John 9:36-38 NIV.  Receiving his sight meant so much to that blind man. Yes, the blind man worshiped him, worshipped Jesus.  His focus was on Jesus, his healer not on his newly found sight, the miracle.

Now, let’s slow down a little to gather our thoughts together. John 9 is about miracles. John 10 is about Jesus – the Good Shepherd. That is the connection between John 9 and John 10. John clearly and rightly shifts our focus from the miracles Jesus did (in John 9) to where our focus should really be, on the Shepherd, on Jesus (John 10). 

 

John the Baptist – looking for the Shepherd.

This was what Jesus said of John: “Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him.”Matt 11:11 MSG.

Now, John the Baptist was very interested in the miracles of Jesus.  Was it because John himself had never performed any miracles? – John 10:41.  Not really, you see, when John was in prison he heard about the miracles of Jesus.  He asked his followers to find out from Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” – Matt 11:3, Living Bible.  You see, John saw the connection between miracles as evidence of Jesus being the Messiah. 

4 Jesus replied, “go back and report to John what you hear and see 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.  6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”Matt 11:4-6 NIV.

This was what the prophet Isaiah had prophesied, Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. – Isaiah 35:5.  In fact the entire prophecy of Isaiah was about the miracle of healing and restoration; as stated in the headline of that chapter “Joy of the Redeemed.” – NIV.  The miracles were possible because of Jesus the Messiah. We need to establish our priorities on firm ground. Miracles are important because they point us to Jesus. The focus has to be on Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

Miracles – the Christ connection.

Here’s an example we can learn from.  Remember the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus?  This was the accusation, “Teacher (Jesus), this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. John 8:4-6 NIV. We write with a pen, a pencil or a Chinese brush perhaps, but Jesus wrote with his finger.  That was what his Father in heaven had done. Here was what Moses recorded “18 And he (God) gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets . . . written with the finger of God. – Ex. 31:18 ESV.  Yes, God also wrote with his finger the seventh Commandment, 14 You shall not commit adultery.” – Exodus 20:14.  But the Ten Commandments are not a part of the Laws of Moses.  And there was no mention of stoning to death for adultery anywhere in the Bible much less in the Ten Commandments.  However there was mention of punishment of death for adultery in the Laws of Moses: ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death’Lev 20:10 NIV. But there is no mention of the method, death by stoning.  So the Jews who claimed that the woman caught in adultery has to be stoned according to the Laws of Moses, were completely wrong. They were blind-sided by their own prejudice.    

Without going to town to argue whether the Ten Commandments were a part of the Law of Moses, let me just point out that the Bible had clearly made the distinction between the Ten Commandments and the Laws of Moses.  Here was what Moses himself commanded the Levites carrying the ark of God to do, “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.” Deut 31:26 ESV. The Laws of Moses had to be separated from the Ten Commandments – the covenant of the Lord our God!  The Ten Commandments were placed inside the ark of God and the Laws of Moses outside, by the side of the ark. Now, it was Moses who wrote The Lows of Moses as God had given him (Deut 31:24).  But God with His finger wrote the Ten Commandments. There was a huge difference!

Too often we are like the Jews who asked Jesus to pass judgment on the woman caught in adultery.  We tend to be self-righteous and judgmental. How did Jesus respond?

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”- John 8 NIV.

What a great example! 

 

Our trustworthy and dependable Shepherd.

If you were brought up with the King James Bible then you will be familiar with this verse from Hebrews.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Heb 12:2 KJV.

Now to a more contemporary translation of that same verse: 

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. – Heb 12:2 The Message Bible.

 

So, don’t lose sight of that exhilarating finish in and with God. Don’t be distracted by miracles.

 Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me

    all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

    forever.Psalm 23:6 NIV.

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