Saturday, 18th April 2020

Proverbs 18: 10
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

How comforting this verse is for all of us as we face Covid 19 with so many questions with no apparent answers and multiple uncertainties – the safety of family members abroad and some working as front-liners, job securities after the lock-down, health issues, finance, relationships, studies and so many more – these questions and uncertainties can go on and on and different for different families – we ask and worry and anxious because we are only human.

But this verse tells us that our Lord is fully able to protect us for He is our “strong tower” where we can “run” to and feel safe. The first line establishes this truth, and the second focuses on the trust of the righteous. This is the only place in Proverbs where “the name of the Lord” is found; it signifies the attributes of God, here the power to protect (Exodus 34:5-7). The metaphor of “strong tower” (migdaloz) sets up the imagery of the second clause: “running” metaphorically describes a wholehearted trust in God’s protection (see Isa 40:31) and “safely on high” (nisgab; NIV, “safe”), a military term, stresses the effect. Other Scriptures also tells us how our God and Heavenly Father actually protects His people in a different circumstance.

Let’s all be reminded it’s a “wholehearted trust” in our Lord’s protection. Same with the greatest commandment “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt 22:37). The dictionary says whole-hearted means “without doubts or reservations”. Completely trust Him with everything we have, with no reservation, no questions.

Again, because we are human, it’s easier said than done. Even for a Pastor like me. Our eldest daughter Grace is studying in Taiwan and almost every day we call her up to find out how she is doing. Our daughter-in-law and grandson are in Shangdong and every day my son Simon would video call to see how they are doing. Our younger son Alex had the high fever the other day and even after calling so many of you to pray that it would not be Covid 19, we still spent a sleepless night praying for him. Thanks for all your prayers who our God answers and the next day he was tested negative for Covid 19. Yes, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, we are all still learning to trust our God “wholeheartedly”, completely in every area of our life. It’s a process none of us can say we have “arrived”.

If the Apostle Paul can say “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3: 12-14). If Paul who wrote almost half the New Testament and so mightily used by God for the furtherance of His Kingdom especially among the Gentiles and still considers himself the chief among sinners can say he has not “arrived” or in his own words “not already been made perfect”, how far are you and I? Yes, dear brothers and sisters, none of us will ever “arrived” this side of eternity.

Someone had put it nicely in layman’s term: Sanctification is a process whereby we sin less and less and slowly but surely becoming more and more like Christ. Yes, dear brothers and sisters, sanctification is a process, a step by step process, a day by day process. And thus in our walk with Christ, we may falter, we may fall, we may back-slide, we may sin, we may rebel and we may even walk away from God. But like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, He is always looking out of His window hoping to see us coming back to Him. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20). That’s what our Heavenly Father would do for all His wayward children, you and I.

God is always a God of second chance. If the Apostle Peter can deny Him not once, not twice but three times and yet be forgiven and restored, I know and believe our God would do the same for us. On Peter’s third deny, when the rooster crowed. “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22: 61-62) Those tears of Peter were tears of repentance.

For those of you who have for whatever reason not been going to church, or reading His Word, or praying or having any fellowship with brothers and sisters in the Lord, dear brothers and sisters, your Heavenly Father is calling you home right now. For those of you who don’t feel like going to church, that is when you need to go to church when you don’t feel like reading His Word or praying, that is the time you need to read His Word and pray. In times like this, our verse today reminds us that the name of our Lord is the “strong tower” where we, His children can run to for safety. Come back to our Lord dear brothers and sisters.

There is no perfect Church in this world. The reason is the Church is you and me, “called out people” of God, we are all not perfect, even though we are His children. If our Church has failed you in any way, we apologise and pray and hope in God’s grace, you can forgive us and give us another chance to love and care for you. If you are already happily worshipping and serving in another Church, our blessings go with you. Wherever we are, as a believer, we need to find a Church whereby we can grow and serve Him with all that God has bless us with. Then one day when we stand before the Lord, we can say like the Apostle Paul “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearance.” (2 Tim 4: 7-8).

PRAYER

Dear Lord, in times like this, we thank you for reminding us that You will always be our “strong tower” and you will always be there where we can run to for safety and protection. We know deep in our hearts that You will never leave us nor forsake us.

Dear God, we want to commit all our front-liners into your hands. Protect them and keep them safe as they risk their lives to save so many others. We pray for your peace that transcends all understanding to be with them and their wholehearted trust in You for all their family members. We want to pray also for all those who are being affected one way or another by this lock-down – the elderly; the home-bound; the sick; those separated from their family members – some here, some oversea; employers whose business are affected; employees who may face a pay-cut or even lose their job; those facing so many uncertainties after the lock-down; those who have lost their loved ones recently.

We also want to remember those who are not well physically and ask for your healing to be upon them. We also want to pray especially for those who are down with Covid 19 for their speedy recovery and protection for their family members. We want to pray for our government to have the wisdom to make all the best decisions for the safety and welfare of all Malaysians.

Last but not least Lord, we also want to remember those for whatever reason may not have been to church for a while. May the Holy Spirit in them prompt them to go back to You as they need You now more than in any other time of their life. Speak to them Lord and bless and protect them and their family members.

In Jesus name we pray all this, AMEN.

Pastor KKSoong

xxx

每日灵粮
18/4/20
作者:宋国基牧师
箴言 18:10

“耶和华的名是坚固台,义人奔入便得安稳。”

当我们面对这问题重重且无显着解决方法,同时又充满许多不确定性的新冠病毒时,这句经文对我们来说是多么的令人欣慰。在国外的家庭成员和前线人员的安全、就业保障、健康问题、财务、人际关系、学业等等,这些问题和未知数可能会不断地发生在不同的家庭。我们会提问、担心、焦虑、因为这都是人之常情。

但是这节经文告诉我们,我们的主完全有能力保护我们,因为他是我们的“坚固台”,我们“奔入便得安稳”。经文的上文证实了这个真理,而下文关注义人的信心。这是箴言中唯一能找到”耶和华的名”的地方;它意味着上帝的属性,能保护的力量(参出埃及记34:5-7)。“坚固台”(migdaloz)这个比喻设立了下文的另一个意象:“奔入” 隐喻全心全意地信任上帝的保护(参赛40:31)。“安稳”(nisgab) ”是军事术语,以此强调效果。根据其他经文,我们也晓得神和天父实际上是如何在不同情况下保护他的子民。

让我们再次被提醒,要“全心全意地相信”主的保护。这也相同于遵循最大的诫命“尽心,尽性,尽意爱主你的上帝”(太22:37)。字典对“全心全意”的定义是“毫无疑问或保留”。毫无保留,毫无疑问地完全相信祂。

我们只不过是凡人,要全心全意依靠上帝,谈何容易。身为牧师,我也一样。我们的长女Grace正在台湾念书,几乎每天我们都会打电话给她,了解她的生活状况。我们的媳妇和孙子都在山东,我儿子Simon每天都会跟他们视讯。前几天,我们的小儿子Alex发高烧,即使已召集了许多人为他代祷,希望病因不是新冠病毒,我们仍然彻夜未眠为他祈祷。感谢大家的祈祷,上帝应允了祷告,测试结果呈阴性。是的,主里亲爱的弟兄姐妹,我们所有人都在学习,在生活的各个方面,全心全意地信靠我们的上帝。在这个过程,我们没人能说我们已经“抵达终点”。

使徒保罗说:“这并不是说我已经得着了,已经完全了,而是竭力追求,好使我可以得着基督耶稣所以得着我的(“所以得着我的”或译:“要我得着的”)。弟兄们,我不以为自己已经得着了,我只有一件事,就是忘记背后,努力前面的事,向着目标竭力追求,为要得着 神在基督耶稣里召我往上去得的奖赏。 (腓3:12-14)。如果保罗写了近一半的新约圣经,并且上帝如此重用他,特别是在外邦人中扩展神国,他却觉得自己是罪人中的罪魁,认为他还没有“抵达终点”或“已经完全了”,那你和我呢?是的,亲爱的弟兄姐妹,我们谁也不会“抵达”永恒的这一面。

有句俗话说得好:“成圣是一个过程,在这个过程中,我们越来越少地犯罪,但必定变得越来越像基督。”是的,亲爱的弟兄姐妹,成圣是一个过程,一个逐步的过程,一个日复一日的过程。因此,与基督同行时,我们可能步履蹒跚,我们可能跌倒,我们可能倒退,我们可能犯罪,我们可能叛逆,甚至可能离开上帝。但是,就像浪子和父亲的比喻,天父总是望窗外,希望看到我们回到他身边。 “于是起来,往他父亲那里去。相离还远,他父亲看见,就动了慈心,跑去抱着他的颈项,连连与他亲嘴。”(路加福音15:20)这就是我们的天父会为所有奔向他的孩子,也就是你和我,所做的。

上帝永远是给第二次机会的上帝。如果使徒彼得一次、两次、三次地否定他,却也得到主的原谅,关系也被修复,我知道并相信我们的上帝会为我们做同样的事。当彼得第三次起誓否认主时,鸡就叫了。“主转过身,直望彼得。然后彼得想起了主对他说的一句话:“主转过身来看彼得,彼得就想起主对他说过的话:“今天鸡叫以前,你要三次说不认得我。” 他就出去痛哭。(路加福音22:61-62)彼得流下的眼泪是忏悔的眼泪。

出于任何原因没有去教堂、读圣经、祈祷、团契的弟兄姐妹,天父正呼唤你回家。对于那些不想去教堂的人,就是当你需要去教堂,但你却不想,也不愿意读经或祈祷时,那正是你最须要读经并祈祷的时候。在这样的时代,今天的经文提醒我们,主的名字是“坚固台”,我们的孩子们可以安全地奔入。亲爱的弟弟姐妹,回家吧。

这个世界上没有完美的教会,因为教会是你和我。虽然我们是上帝“所拣选的”,是他的儿女,但我们都不是完美的。如果我们的教会在某方面令你失望,我们深表歉意并祈祷,透过上帝的恩典,你可以原谅我们,并给我们另一个机会去爱护你。如果你已欢喜地在另一个教堂里崇拜和服事,我们也祝福你。无论身在何处,作为一个信徒,我们都需要在一所可以帮助我们成长的教会,用我们的恩赐服侍主。那么有一天,当我们站在主前时,我们可以像使徒保罗一样说:“总要弃绝世俗以及老妇的无稽之谈;要操练自己达到敬虔的地步。因为操练身体,益处还少;唯独操练敬虔,凡事有益,享有今生和来世的应许。 (提摩太前书4:7-8)。

今日祷告

亲爱的上帝,在如此时刻,我们感谢你提醒我们,你将永远是我们的“坚固台”。当我們寻求平安与保护时,你永远都在那裡。我们深知,你永远不会离开我们,也不会抛弃我们。

亲爱的上帝,我们将所有的前线人员交托在你手中。保护他们使他们安全,因为他们冒着生命危险去拯救许多人。我们求上帝你赐给他们那高過一切理性的平安,求主让他们及他们的家人能够完全信靠你。我们也要为所有受封城所影响的人祈祷,不管是年长的,在家隔离的,生病与家人分离的 (国内和海外),受其业务影响的雇主;可能面临减薪甚至失业的员工;那些在封城之后将面临许多不确定性的人;那些最近失去亲人的人。我们也记念那些身体不佳的人,求主使他们康复。我们也特别为那些患上新冠病毒的病人祈祷,求主让他们迅速康复并保护他们的家人。我们也要为政府祈祷,有智慧为所有马来西亚人的安全和福利做出最佳决定。

主啊,最后,我们记念那些可能有一段时间没去教堂的人。愿圣灵感动他们回到你身边,因为他们现在比一生中任何时候都更需要你。求主与他们说话,保护他们和他们的家人。
奉耶稣的名祷告,阿们。

巫惠如译

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