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Why Do I Need God?

Why Do I Need God?

Have you ever thought about God? Or is He a faraway person, someone whom you’d rather not think about…?

One cannot run away from the question of why we need God — all of us need God.

Come and find out more at the Truth BPC YF Gospel Rally, held on March 30, 2013, at 5pm, in 201 Pandan Gardens, #03-08.

For more details, please email truthyfblog@gmail.com.

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06.06 Readings for Good Friday week

The following are a series of readings that will take us through the journey of Christ, beginning from the triumphal Palm Sunday — where Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey — to the death of Christ on the cross, to the resurrection of Christ from the dead. May we use this set of readings to remind us of Christ’s journey upon this earth, even as we meditate upon His sacrifice for us.

Sunday

The Triumphal Entry

Mark 11:1-10, Matt 21:1-9, Luke 19:29-40, John 12:12-19

Lament over Jerusalem

Luke 19:41-44

Visit to the Temple

Matt 21:10-11, Mark 11:11

Monday

Cursing of the Fig Tree

Mark 11:12-14, Matt 21: 18-19

Second Cleansing of the Temple

Mark 11:15-18, Matt 21:12-13, Luke 19:45-48

Healing in the Temple

Matt 21:14-17, Mark 11:19

Tuesday

Death of the Fig Tree

Mark 11:20-26, Matt 21:20-22

Christ’s Authority Questioned

Matt 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8

The Olivet Discourse

Matt 24:1-25:46, Mark 13:1-37, Luke 21:5-38

Christ’s 5th Prediction of His Passion

Matt 26:1-5, Mark 14:1-2, Luke 22:1-2

Wednesday

Mary of Bethany Anoints Jesus

Matt 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:2-8

Judas Iscariot Betrays Jesus

Luke 22:3-6, Matt 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11

Thursday

The Final Passover

Luke 22:7-18, Matt 26:17-20, Mark 14:12-17

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

John 13:1-20

Jesus Identifies His Betrayer

John 13:21-35, Matt 26:21-25, Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:21-23

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

Matt 26:31-35, Mark 14:27-31, Luke 22:31-38, John 13:36-38

Friday

The Agony in Gethsemane

Luke 22:39-46, Matt 26:30-46, Mark 14:26,32-42, John 18:1

The Betrayal and Arrest

Matt 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12

The Trials

Jewish- John 18:12-27, Matt 26:59-68

Roman- John 18:28-40, Luke 23:6-12

Remorse and Suicide of Judas Iscariot

Matt 27:3-10, Acts 1:18-20

Jesus Tortured by the Roman Soldiers

Matt 27:26-30, Mark 15:15-19, John 19:1-3

The Way of Sorrow

Luke 23:26-33, Matt 27:31-34, Mark 15:20-23, John 19:16-17

The Cruxifixion (1st 3 hours)

Matt 27:35-44, Mark 15:24-32, Luke 23:33-43, John 19:18-27

Second 3 hours

Mark 15:33-37, Matt 27:45-50, Luke 23:44-46, John 19:28-30

Immediately after His Death

Matt 27:51-56, Mark 15:38-41, Luke 23:45,47-49

The Burial

John 19:31-42, Matt 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56

Saturday

Guarding of the Tomb

Matt 27:62-66

Sunday

The Resurrection

Matt 28:1-4, Mark 16:1, John 20:1

Visit of the Women

Luke 24:1-3, Mark 16:2-4, John 20:2

Appearance of the Angels

Matt 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8

1st Appearance of Christ

Matt 28:8-10, Mark 16:8

2nd Appearance

John 20:11-18, Mark 16:9-11

3rd Appearance

Luke 24:13-32, Mark 16:12

4th Appearance

Luke 24:33-35, Mark 16:13, 1 Cor 15:5

5th Appearance

Luke 24:36-49, Mark 16:14-18, John 20:19-25

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06.05 A walk through history…

Golgotha

Garden Tomb

This site north of the Damascus Gate is believed by many to be the place of the Crucifixion and the Burial of Christ, as opposed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In 1883, the British General Charles Gordon noted this rocky hill, which resembled a human skull – with caves marking the eyes, nose and mouth, and suggested that this might be the true Calvary. Galgotha means “place of a skull” and this site is known as “Gordon’s Calvary” where Jesus’ crucifixion took place.
The presence of a nearby rock-hewn tomb, believed to be first century, helped to strengthen the idea. An Association was formed and by 1892, sufficient money was collected to purchase the tomb and its surroundings and have it cared for by a resident warden. The Garden Tomb gives a clear picture of what the place of Crucifixion and burial of Christ must have looked like at the time of Jesus.
Read up on the Garden Tomb (John 19:38-42), the Roman watch set before the tomb (Matt 27:62-28:4, 11-15), the women before the tomb (Matt 28:1-5; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-8) and Risen with Christ (Col 3:1-10).

Garden Tomb

Golgotha

Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa is the traditional pathway Jesus followed carrying the cross from Pontius Pilate’s judgment hall, where he was condemned to death, to Calvary where he was crucified. The events of this sorrowful way are commemorated by 14 stations of which 9 are related in the Gospels and 5 are tradition.

Station 1: The First Station is near the Monastery of the Flagellation, where Jesus was questioned by Pilate and then condemned. “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him with their hands” (John 19:1-3)

Station 2: This station is near the Arch of Ecce Homo, in memory of the words pronounced by Pilate as he showed Jesus to the crowd. On some stones of the preserved part of the arch are the signs of an ancient dice game, which has given support to the hypothesis that this was the place where the Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus’ clothes.

Station 3: (tradition) This commemorates Christ’s first fall on the Via Dolorosa, marked by a small chapel belonging to the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate.

Station 4: (tradition) The meeting between Jesus and his mother is commemorated by a small oratory with an exquisite lunette over the entrance.

Station 5: An inscription on the architrave of one door recalls the encounter between Jesus and Simon the Cyrenian, who was given Christ’s heavy Cross to carry to Galgotha, the place of the Crusifixion.

Station 6: (tradition) A church belonging to the Greek Catholics preserves the memory of the meeting between Jesus and Veronica, whose tomb may also be seen here.

Station 7: (tradition) The place of Jesus’ second fall is marked by a pillar, which rises at the crossroads between the Via Dolorosa and the picturesque and lively Market Street.

Station 8: On the outer wall of a Greek Orthodox monastery is carved a small cross blackened by time. It was at that point that Jesus talked to the women of Jerusalem.

Station 9: (tradition) The third fall of Jesus is commemorated by a column of the Roman period at the entrance to the Coptic monastery.

Station 10-14: These are situated inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was stripped of His garments, nailed to the cross, crucified and died, His body removed from the cross and buried in the sepulcher.

(Written by Hadassah Chew)

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06.04 “Go to Dark Gethsemane”

Go to dark Gethsemane,

Ye that feel the tempter’s power;

Your Redeemer’s conflict see,

Watch with Him one bitter hour.

Turn not from His griefs away;

Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

This sharing is not the usual excerpt from Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan, but rather, a personal reflection on this song that pertains to Good Friday. In light of the theme of this newsletter – spiritual lethargy – the writer of this hymn has much to encourage us to put off our fatigue and procrastination. He urges us to consider the agony of Christ as He approached the Cross, and how He suffered greatly for us.

If at this point you still have no idea on how to battle spiritual lethargy, I ask you to picture this in your mind – imagine Christ in Gethsemane, praying, and sweating as it were great drops of blood. Was Christ relaxing? Certainly not! Do you then think that you can get rid of spiritual lethargy without a fight? Certainly not! It is a struggle, a battle, an intense fight against the temptation to be sluggish. If you are determined to get rid of this sin that often besets us, and wastes away the most precious hours of our time, then we must be ready for a fight. We must “watch and pray” – as Christ asked of the disciples to do as He was in great agony.

As though expecting many to do so, the writer of the hymn cautions us “turn not from his griefs away” – so many of us turn away from this fight! We cannot battle with our slothfulness, our lethargy, or laziness simply because we are not ready to fight! And what is the solution to this problem? It is but one – to pray, and to ask God for strength to fight. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). Here, Christ tells us to ask for what we want, according to His will. So we must ask, and it will certainly be given to us.

The only question remaining is… do you have such a desire? Do you have the desire to rid yourself of spiritual lethargy? We must hate sin, and hate sin so greatly, that nothing will stop us from casting it aside – only with such a heart will we be ready to fight against sin, and fight against spiritual lethargy. Keep praying! 

(Lyrics of Go to Dark Gethsemane by James Montgomery; article written by Joan Loo)

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06.03 A checklist for spiritual lethargy

Having read about spiritual lethargy, do you think that you are spiritually lethargic?

Quiet time

  • Does my heart long for God’s Word, such that I must set aside time each day to spend reading God’s Word? Or is it a mere routine that I follow for duty’s sake? (Ps 42:1-2)
  • Do I do my quiet time regularly? How much time do I spend on it?
  • Do I just skim through reading God’s word because I feel tired?

Service

  • Do I take time to prepare my heart before going to God’s house? Do I come to church or YF just to fall asleep during service? (Eccl 5:1-2)
  • What do I learn from messages? Can I remember what I’ve learnt after the service or YF has ended?
  • Do I take time to prepare for my duty when my group is chairing?
  • Do I serve reluctantly? (2 Co 9:7)

Relationships

  • Do I lose my temper easily when I talk to my family members? (1 John 4:12)
  • Am I forgiving to the people around me? (Matt 18:21-22)
  • Do I try to share the gospel to my unbelieving friends around me?
  • Do I show a good testimony to the people around me?

(Written by Hadassah Chew)

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06.02 Warnings against spiritual lethargy (Part I)

What is spiritual lethargy? If you would just do a check in the dictionary, you would find that the definition of lethargy or being lethargic is an attitude, or a state of laziness, sluggardness, tardiness. You feel very weak, as if you have no energy and no passion. Sometimes we would describe such a person as feeling dry, worn out, burnt out or weary. Then when we describe spiritual lethargy, we carry this attitude over to our spiritual life in terms of our relationship with God, our relationship with fellow men, in our service, in our own spiritual walk. There is this attitude of laziness, sluggardness, tardiness or slothfulness. A spiritually lethargic person is one who is spiritually dry, or spiritually weak. There is no passion and energy in our Christian life. This is what spiritual lethargy is.

Sometimes when we think of what is displeasing to God, or what God dislikes or what would cause God grief, we think of the things we would commit which would displease him. We know we have done so when we have committed and done sinful and wicked things like hating somebody, losing our temper or getting unreasonably angry with somebody. We know that God is displeased and disappointed with us. We know that these are wicked things and these are sinful things. If we have stolen something, have committed even adultery in our minds, have broken the Lord’s day, we know that we have done wicked things before the Lord. But somehow to many of us, as long as we do not do anything bad or wicked, and we do those things that are enough, God will be reasonably pleased with us. That is what we think.

As we have studied in Isa 43, you would realise that sin is not just something we do, but also not doing what we ought to do. This is also displeasing before the Lord. Spiritual lethargy is a state and an attitude where Christians do just enough (they think) to fulfill their responsibility as Christians but they do not do what they want to do in loving God and in loving others. They do not serve; they do not give of their lives; they do not consecrate themselves. They do just what is enough in order to do what they think is pleasing before the Lord. However we read in the Scriptures that spiritual lethargy is actually a very wicked thing. It is a thing which the Lord hates. It is a very sinful thing. It is a thing which displeases the Lord the most. In the Old Testament, Solomon gave a lot of warnings about it. In the book of Proverbs, he described the slothful and the sluggard. These are the lazy people. He said that they hide their hands, and that the slothful must learn from the ant. He described all these people in the Old Testament especially. And we know that the bible is a spiritual book so it could not be he was just describing physical or external laziness. Rather he was describing the laziness of a spiritual child of God. And when we go to the New Testament, we see a lot of warnings against spiritual lethargy. Remember the Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. He told His disciples, “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (Matt 26:41). And then the Apostle Paul throughout his epistles exhorted the Christians to walk worthy of their vocation wherein they had been called. In the book of Romans chapter 13, he gave a strong declaration, telling Christians to awake out of sleep – “it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom 13:11).

So spiritual lethargy – this attitude of laziness and sluggardness – I believe, is an attitude which plagues many a Christian. And it’s so deadly because sometimes we have this state of laziness, tardiness, spiritual dryness and we do not even realise it. We feel so dry, yet so comfortable in the way we are – just going to church once a week, fulfilling our duties in going for fellowship group meetings and prayer meetings. This is just about it that constitutes our Christian life. But in the text we see this morning in Isa 43, spiritual lethargy is a most wicked and deadly thing. Why is this so? First of all, consider what we have read. In Isa 43, from verse 1 all the way to verse 21, Isaiah reminded the people of who God is. When we talk about spiritual lethargy, we are not just talking about laziness or tardiness before another person such as your school teachers. Maybe you are lazy at home where you do not do your dishes, you do not do your laundry, which causes your parents to say, “I have a very lazy child.” When you are lazy at home, you are doing wrong to your parents. When you are lazy in school, you are doing wrong perhaps just to your teachers and then later to your parents as well. That is just about it.

But when we are talking about spiritual laziness, we are not talking about doing wrong before another man. We are talking about the attitude of laziness before God. We all love Isaiah 43, isn’t it? This passage is much quoted in cards when you want to encourage another brethren. We often would quote v2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah brought and carried the Israelites through the past, through history, reminding again of what God had done for them – how He delivered them from Egypt, how He delivered them when the Egyptians were chasing them and they went to a dead end. It seemed like a dead end – the Red Sea. Then the Lord parted the Red Sea so that they could cross over. They faced many enemies; they faced a lot of challenges but the Lord delivered them out of them all.  Then the Lord defeated all their enemies in the Promised Land. He defeated all the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Edomites and the Canaanites. He defeated all their enemies for them, and He gave them the Promised Land. Isaiah wanted the people to remember again what God had done for them in the past.

You may say that is all. Do not just think of God in what He has done, but also think of God for who He is. That is why in v11, Isaiah says that God declares this “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.”. You know, in your King James Bible, you notice that the ‘even’ and the ‘am’ here are in italics. So in the Hebrew bible, this verse can be read literally this way “I, I the Lord”. It is a declaration of who God is. God Himself says that He is the LORD. Who is the LORD? He is the covenant God – the covenant-keeping God; the one who has established and made a covenant with the nation of Israel. He had given His promise to the nation of Israel and He said that He would take upon Himself to fulfill all these promises to His people. He is the LORD. He is the self-sustaining God. He is the self-sufficient God. He is God eternal, He is God omnipotent – He is the LORD. Think upon who He is.

Then He says that the children of Israel were witnesses, and they were not just witnesses to what He had done but also witnesses to His glory. They would remember the time when the LORD appeared before Moses and the children of Israel in Mt Sinai, how they were fearful of Him because they had seen a semblance of just but His glory. Now I like us to think what we know of who our God is and what God has done for us. Christmas is over… is it? Yesterday was Christmas but the meaning of Christmas is not over. We know the meaning of Christmas – God giving us a Saviour. We have seen His greatest work in His redemptive plan for all of us sinners. We have tasted of it. You have tasted of it. You have seen how God had delivered you in time past when you  were in the miry clay, in the horrible pit. When we were burdened with the filth and weight of sin, feeling so dirty, so unholy, and so wicked because we know the sins we have committed in our lives God gives us a Saviour and He has saved us. Unworthy as we are, the Lord delivered us. We have experienced and tasted the glory of God Himself. Have we not? When we read of His works in Scripture, His workings in our lives, God’s providence in very little things in our lives, we experience His glory.. Sometimes when we pray, the Lord answers us – the Lord answers us immediately, sometimes maybe the Lord may take a few years working His wonderful plan, but we see everything unfolding before our eyes. We taste of His glory. We experience the sweetness of a close communion with God. We experience the sweetness of  fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ. These are things which the Lord has done in our lives. As it were, as Job would say, our eyes are opened and we have seen the King. God has done all these things for us.

Yet do you know what the Lord said to the children of Israel? When we read of all these things, the Lord said ‘please, do not look at history, do not just look at the past, because I will do more for you…’ (to be continued)

(An excerpt from Pr. Joshua Yong’s message, the first in a series on ‘Warnings against spiritual lethargy’, preached during True Life 2012 YPF Camp)

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06.01 Editorial: Spiritual Lethargy

Q: What do the worm and pig have in common?

A: They are used to describe lazy people ( e.g. 懒惰虫,懒猪,lazy pig).

worm+pig

Should these metaphors find its way into the Christian’s reputation? Do you really want to be known and remembered by others as a sloth, even though you admit that you are a procrastinator, loafer and couch potato?  If your answers are ‘no’, I beseech you to snap out of your world and get into action RIGHT NOW.

To put it plainly, laziness is a sin. The world makes light of laziness and terms it a trait or a habit. On the other hand, the Bible which is our sole and final authority on all matters in life, calls laziness a sin. Laziness displeases God to the core; it disgusts Him and is totally contrary to the nature of God. Jesus said “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). Jesus worked like no man ever worked. He was tireless in his travels-preaching and teaching everywhere He went, to whoever was present with Him. When night fell, He prayed for hours. Before the sun rose, He was already up communing with His Father.  The life of Christ was a life of service. Therefore, lazy Christians are a disgrace to God. They are also useless in the kingdom of God and send out a live message that the blood of Christ cannot wash away the sin of laziness.

Maybe you are thinking “You have no idea how hopeless I am. I have been trying but I always end up lazy… again. I just want to give up.” There is only one thing to do: run to the cross and truly weep over your sins at the feet of Jesus. The curse of sin in your life has already being lifted by Christ’s work on the cross. Victory over sin is already guaranteed because Christ rose from the dead. Why then should you be hopeless and helpless? We have all that we need in Christ Jesus.

May you have a blessed Easter, and a blessed time with God.

(Written by Eileen Chee)