Sunday, 17 January 2021
Title: Live the Life in Church
By Elder Tan Seng Kee
Passage: Matthew 4:3
PBC’s church theme for 2021 is “Live the Life”. It simply means we adopt a life-style that befits our calling as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Another way to put it is, we practice what we preach or we live a life that draws people to Jesus. I will share a monthly devotion from January 2021 onwards, first one to live the life in church, then to live the life in the world and finally to live the life in the family.
Living the life in church seems easy. There are many others in church trying to live the Christian life and hence we can just emulate others. So if we see many dressed their best for church service, we can do likewise. We try not to be angry in church and smile more because that is an oft trait in church. Of course we also find areas to serve which offer visual prominence.
Matthew 4:3 reads “Then the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.” The devil is challenging Jesus to doubt whether God really cares for Him; as it seems strange that a loving father would allow his son to eat nothing for 40 days and 40 nights, and did not feed him when he became very hungry. If Jesus doubted the Father’s love for Him, the resilience to carry the cross and be the complete sacrifice for our sins may be precariously perched. How often in church in the midst of a majestic hymn proclaiming the greatness of God, the devil intrudes into our mind with unholy thoughts or jars our memory of a past sin (which we have confessed, repented and been forgiven). Doubting God’s love incapacitates our witness and distracts our worship and service of God. Let’s not in a moment have any second thoughts of how much God loves us. Many of us who have been Christians for some time, would time and again see, watch and experience the reality and goodness of God and in our times of momentary doubts, let us reminiscence and remember, recall and be grateful that our God has always loved us and will continue to love us the same yesterday, today and forever.
The devil then asked Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread. Eating bread to be relieved of hunger is not a sin nor a wrongful act. However, in this instance, the devil is asking Jesus to rely on his timing and power/ability to get the bread and not to depend on God. God, who created the heavens and the earth, could in an instance relieve Jesus of his hunger but at this moment in time, this was not to be so. The devil then came in and tell Jesus to go ahead and resolve the problem (his hunger) his way instead of waiting and relying on God for the resolution. In church, to live the life requires us to wait upon God for the go ahead. I recall in PBC, numerous directions were fraught with perils whilst others proceeded smoothly. In all instances, it is necessary to take time to pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance. Waiting on God may seem ‘kiasu” but to charge ahead where perils lie would be foolish. So as for me, I’d rather wait for God to show the way and to open doors than to rush ahead on my own and struggle.
We call this account in Matthew 4:3 as the temptation of Jesus but it is even more true to call it the temptations of the devil. The devil was trying to draw Jesus away from absolute obedience to God. In church, the devil tempts us to walk away from Jesus all the time. To live the life in the church we need to stop struggling with our own perceived unworthiness. You and I are fully justified and hence completely worthy to come into the presence of God to worship and to serve Him. Luke 18:19 tells us God alone is good and because God is good, all His ways and plans are for our benefit and our good. Travails of living continue to assail us but because God is good, we can be confident Jesus prays for us and that God hears all our prayers and will give us the grace and strength to endure and finish well the journey of life in church. His ways are always the perfect timing for us.
Lord, please help me not to doubt You. Let me be assured and confident that I can fully trust You when You said, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) In the uncertainties of life, help me have the assurance that You love me and You will answer my prayers and give me the grace and peace to endure the times. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
今年， 2021年， 教会的主题是“活出生命”。这仅仅意味着，我们应该采用一种适合被呼召耶稣基督门徒的生活方式。另一种表达方式是，我们实践我们的讲道分享，或者过着引人归向主耶稣的生活。从2021年1月起，我将每月分享一次，首先是：在教堂里“活出生命”，然后是在世界里“活出生命”，最后是在家庭里“活出生命”。
马太福音4：3写道：“那试探人的进前来，对他说：“你若是神的儿子，可以吩咐这些石头变成食物！” 魔鬼正在挑战耶稣，怀疑上帝是否真的在乎祂： 一个充满爱心的父亲允许儿子40天40夜里什么都不吃，而当祂非常饥饿时却不喂祂，这似乎很奇怪吧。如果耶稣怀疑天父对祂的爱，那么背负十字架并为我们罪孽的牺牲的任务就会陷入危险。在教堂里圣诗大声宣扬上帝的伟大，魔鬼常常以不圣洁的思想侵入我们的脑海，或震撼我们对过去的罪恶的记忆（我们已经承认，悔改并得到宽恕）。怀疑上帝的爱会使我们的见证失去能力，并分散我们对上帝的崇拜和服侍。我们不可对“上帝有多爱我们”有着任何的想法。在我们当中信主已久的基督徒，他们会一次又一次地看到和体验上帝的真实和善良。当我们一时疑惑，让我们怀念和回忆并感激我们的上帝一直爱着我们，像昨天，今天的爱我们， 并将继续永远的爱我们。
魔鬼然后要求耶稣把石头变成面包。吃面包来减轻饥饿既不是罪过也不是犯法。但是，在这种情况下，魔鬼要求耶稣依靠他的时机和能力来获得面包，而不是依靠上帝。创造天地的上帝可以随时减轻耶稣的饥饿感，但在当时，事实并非如此。然后，魔鬼来了，告诉耶稣以自己的方式解决问题（祂的饥饿），而不是等待依靠上帝来解决。生活在教会里，我们就需要等待上帝的指示继续前进。我记得在教会中，许多工作方向充满着危险，而其他工作方向进展顺利。在任何情况下，都需要花时间祈祷并向上帝祈求智慧和指导。等待上帝似乎是 “ kiasu” （闽南语：怕输），但是要提前向危险冲锋是愚蠢的。因此，对于我来说，我宁愿等待上帝指明道路并敞开大门，也不愿独自奋斗前行。
我们在马太福音4：3中，称这种说法为耶稣的试探，但称它为魔鬼的试探更为真实。魔鬼试图把耶稣从绝对的顺服中拉出来。在教会里，魔鬼总是诱惑我们离开耶稣。为了在教会里“活出生命” ， 我们需要停止为不值得的东西而挣扎。您和我已经称 义了，因此完全值得在上帝面前敬拜和事奉上帝。路加福音18:19告诉我们，只有神是良善的，因为神是良善的，所以祂的一切方式和计划都是为了我们的利益和好处。生活的苦难继续向我们袭来，但是由于上帝是善良的，我们可以确信耶稣为我们祈祷，并且上帝听到了我们所有的祈祷，并将赐给我们恩典和力量，以承受并顺利完成活出教会的生命。祂的方式永远是我们的最佳时机。