The word "new" is used in the Bible over a 100 times. For example, new song, new covenant, new commandment, new creature, new heaven and new earth. In the natural, many of us like new things such as new clothes, new furniture, new car and new house. In a technologically-advanced nation like ours, some of us may even buy new mobile handphones and new computers so often that we don't remember how many of them we have had put together since we bought our first one. We spend so much of our energy, time and money to acquire them that if we're not careful, we begin to think that our self-worth and value to others depends on having these possessions. Slowly, subtly but surely, our soul becomes dry when we focus so much on the material that we neglect the spiritual. No, there is nothing wrong with physical blessings and prosperity but when they become our primary preoccupation, then we are missing out on the true treasure and wealth and that is, to be strong in the inner man. As our hearts are open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit, God is seeking for vessels to manifest His glory to a suffering and sin-bound world. Throughout the church age, there have been a number of Holy Spirit revivals. However, the final great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is yet to be completely fulfilled. It will be fully realized during the Millennium reign of Christ. In recent times, we see the rise of "famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes" (according to Matthew 24:7). Persecution is intense and terrorism is rampant in many places. All these events have caused fear to grip the hearts of many. These are just a few signs of what the Bible calls "the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8). However, as these troubles hit our world, the Church of Jesus Christ will arise with greater manifestations of God's glory that will bring in the great harvest of souls into His Kingdom. As vessels of God's glory, we have a call and commitment to deliver a life-changing message of the gospel that will never lose its power. The only answer to the spiritual epidemic and social upheaval of the world today is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ performed on the cross of Calvary. When the Word of God, delivered under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit, men and women will be led to the fire of the altars and the cross of Calvary, "...I indeed baptize you with water; but one that is mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Luke 3:16). As stewards of the Gospel, all we can do is, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine ... do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (2 Timothy 4:2, 5). Friend, the victory of the cross enables us to proclaim that "Jesus saves, heals, fills us with the Holy Spirit and is coming again!" This is a glorious gospel message! Hallelujah!
A New Heart And Spirit
To Be And Not To Be: Be Separated, Not Isolated
We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. Yes, we continue to live and work on this earth, but we are not to be influenced by the spirit and system of the world. In other words, we are not to seclude ourselves in some isolated communities, unless God has specifically called as such. We cannot escape the bombardment of the culture in our society, which is often ungodly. Yet, we are called to be set apart, reflect Biblical values, to live and shine as lights in the world. When we are born of the Spirit and produce the fruits of the Spirit, we will face hostility from people who are in the flesh. When they are antagonistic toward God, they will hate His children too. This is the age-old conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. Sometimes, even the religious people oppose those of us who walk in the Spirit. Just as the Pharisees hated Christ, sadly, the apostate and backslidden church also hinders and rejects those who are following the Lord. In the Bible, “Egypt” is a type of the world. It looks attractive but it is not the Promised land. Consider the faith and life of Moses, who is an example for us. He could have stayed in Egypt, but have chosen to renounce Egypt. We need God’s protection. We must live by the Word. We do not compromise by using worldly methods to reach out to the lost. What I am going to say will be controversial. I say it not with joy but with grief and burden. In some churches, they are using worldly music, and in other cases, so-called modern contemporary Christian rock music to try to reach out to the lost. Now, I am not judging the motives of these artists and musicians. They may be sincere but such methods are foolish and fleshly! They try to be seeker sensitive to the crowds but they may grieve and quench the Holy Spirit! The gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit moves, it will convict hearts of “sin, righteousness and judgment!” We don’t win the drug addicts by taking drugs. We don’t win the gamblers by gambling. Jesus is a friend of tax collectors and sinners, but He does not adopt their lifestyles or incorporate the ways of the world! We need a supernatural transformation of our mind and spirit! The world likes to boast and display outward expressions of success. For Christians, it is the renewing of our inner heart that is true worship. Our thoughts, words, behaviours and habits are not to please men, but to honour and glorify the Lord! God is our supreme interest and affections in our daily life! May our lives conform to the Word of God, and our hearts transformed by the Spirit of God!
To Be And Not To Be: Be Contented, Not Complacent
We can and should be contented with what we have materially. We are thankful for the blessings of food, clothing and shelter. However, spiritually, we ought to be discontent and dissatisfied, if we have left our first love for the Lord, if there is no desire to grow closer to Him. We should never be complacent, indifferent and lukewarm to the things of God. Do not be satisfied with going through the motions of the Christian life as usual. We need to wake up from apathy and lethargy, be hungry for the Word and thirst for a close and vital relationship with God. We need more of Jesus, more of His grace and glory in our lives! Do we seek His face constantly? If I can illustrate, when we come before His Presence, do we in essence, stand at the outer court, or draw nearer to the inner court, or move into the innermost place of the Holy of Holies? Put it in another way, in today’s context, when we come to church, do we have a mentality of being an audience, “Let the worship leader and the preacher minister to my needs!” Or do we desire to worship the Father in spirit and truth, and encounter Him in a real and intimate way, in the beauty and splendour of His holiness? Often, the Church equates material wealth with spiritual blessings! Now, in 1 Timothy 6:6, it does not say “gain is godliness” but “godliness with contentment is great gain”. We can be materially wealthy, yet be in spiritual poverty! There are dangers in coveting riches. It is the love of money – not money itself – that is the root of all evil. Greed is deceitful, especially when the poor are being exploited. Often, accumulating wealth causes selfishness and pride, and destroys relationships with others. Character and values are compromised when we focus on possessions, and not God. The passion and lusts for self-gain will wreck the mind and body, and eventually ruin the soul. Our fulfilment, identity and destiny is in Christ, not our position or possessions. We believe that God wants to bless His children, in order that we can be a blessing to others. Do we bless our brothers and sisters who are in need? Most importantly, are we generous with giving to the work of God, in fulfilling the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus Christ! Let us eagerly and earnestly pursue, “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
To Be And Not To Be: Be Childlike, Not Childish
In this world, many think of greatness as having wealth, power and position. The spirit of pride, personal ambition and self-importance consumes many. In God’s Kingdom, the qualification for greatness is opposite of the standard of the world. Look at children. They are dependent on their parents or guardians. They are generally humble, without lust for money, power and fame. As Christians, while we are to grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must never become self-righteous and self-sufficient. While we are to become spiritually mature and put away childish words and thoughts, we must remain childlike in our faith and trust in Christ. We need to humble ourselves before God, recognizing that we are nothing without Him. Pride hinders many unbelievers from entering the Kingdom of God. Even after becoming Christians, we need to guard ourselves against moral and spiritual pride. In particularly, if we have great knowledge of God’s Word, or that God is using us mightily. We move in the gifts of the Spirit, we see signs and wonders in our lives and ministries. Casting out demons and moving in the gifts of the Spirit are wonderful, and are important as we exercise delegated authority in Jesus name. Yet, the salvation of souls and seeing them entering the Kingdom of God should be our greatest joy.