Giving Cheerfully - 2Cor.9:7

2Cor.9:7 "God loves a cheerful giver."
A cheerful receiver will also be a cheerful giver. He is first of all a grateful person, like the one leper who returned to Jesus to give thanks. Friendship involves both giving and receiving. A person who only receives but never gives is not being a friend. Beware of chronic borrowers, who only make you give but are unwilling to give. Beware also of those who give in order to make you indebted to give. God doesn't give to everybody that asks anything; so, you needn't. God receives; so must we: for, receiving indicates acceptance. God gives; so must we: for, giving indicates concern and care.
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Reverence in the Temple - Mark 11:16

Mark 11:16 "And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple."
Jesus didn't permit irreverance of any kind in the place of worship. But, modern day libertinism plays the game of grace to justify its irreverance... watsapping and fb-ing while the congregation is called to worship... choir members who retire away to chat off or roam about while the preaching is on... people who grudgingly wait for the service to be over and have no desire to pray....preachers who crack irreverant jokes... The place of worship is not a place of self-time, business, and entertainment. The church is not a building, but "wherever" (place) two or three gather in Christ's name, no irreverent and undisciplined conduct can be permitted. Honor God!
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Jesus Went Into The Temple (Matthew 21:12)

When Jesus came into the Temple there was:
1. Cleansing of Activities: He drove the ones who were turning God's temple into business center
2. Correction of Attitudes: He reminded that the House of God is a House of Prayer
3. Comfort to the Ailing: He healed the lame and the blind.
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Why Is It Triumphant Sunday?

It is "triumphant" because the King has entered in.

3 Distinctives of Christ's Triumphant Entry
His entry shows His
-Conviction of Mission
-Control over Self
-Commitment to Righteousness

1. He moved towards the Cross, not away from the Cross.
The Cross defined His mission on earth. He knew where He was going.

2. He was indifferent to both Criticism and Praise.
Some praised and some criticized but He committed Himself to no man. It didn't matter what humans thought or said about Him; He knew who He was and what He was supposed to do.

3. He did not Compromise with Truth, with Meaning--He Cleansed the Temple
The Temple could not be confused with the Market. Jesus established that. There was no overlooking the truth. The definitions could not be compromised. The Priest made distinction between the clean and the unclean, between the right and the wrong, between the holy and the unholy.
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Seeking the Lost: Luke 15:1-7

Luke 15:4 - I would ask, "What human shepherd would leave his 99 sheep all alone in the wilderness, where ravenous wolves were ready to devour, to go after one sheep that has wandered away? What man would risk the 99 for one and determine not to come back till he had found his lost one? I don't know if any human shepherd would, but God did. The lost state of a sinner absorbs more the attention of God than the state of 9999 un-lost righteous ones. I asked myself, where shall I find my God and I understood He's where the lost are to be found; for, He's gone out after them. A person who doesn't have a heart for the lost is far away from the heart of God. He is a stranger to the Shepherd. There cannot be mission without vision and passion. A man after God's own heart goes after the heart of God; and God's heart goes after the lost, seeking till it is found. The pharisees were not happy to find Jesus with the sinners, the lost; but, one cannot expect to find Him anywhere else when it comes to mission. He came to seek and save the lost. If you want to be with Jesus, you cannot but also go out where He goes, to the lost.

Luke 15:5-7 "When he found... sinner who repents." Christ finds his sheep when the sinner repents.

"And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing." The sheep on the Shepherd's shoulders is not a burden but an expression of great joy. The missionary is God's shepherd who goes out, constrained by the love of Christ, to seek the lost. Mission is not a burden but an unavoidable urgency to him. The missionary is not just a travelling evangelist or a cross-cultural mission base founder; he is a shepherd. Unless he has the heart of the shepherd, he cannot go out with the heart of Christ seeking for the lost. In fact, the missionary might not even look at "mission" as a mission as such. He simply does what the Shepherd does with a heart that follows the Shepherd's heart. Only a true shepherd will lay the lost sheep on his shoulders, rejoicing. The false shepherds only think of keeping their distance from the sheep, to be held in reverence, to be served, and to be taken care of properly: how false!! These will avoid the trouble of seeking the lost. "Aye, God will save them if He wants; or He will send someone," they will say. Some will even try to take the credit of saving souls when they have done nothing. These false shepherds don't have burden for souls, but look at souls as a burden to be avoided. They are, therefore, not sent by God. One cannot be a missionary unless he is first a shepherd, not necessarily in the sense of local church pastoring, but certainly in the sense of having a sense of belongedness towards, a reaching out to, and a joy connected with the salvation and bringing in of the sheep, laying it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15:6 - It displays the depth and width of rejoicing; it stretches out to share this joy with others. This joy us quite different from the modern day evangelist's reporting of how many made to the altar or how many decisions card were signed. Some of these reports are not reports of joy but reports to attract donations and gifts or to create a "great evangelist" image. How pharisaic! But, the heart of Christ is not like that. He is almost like a child in His joy, in fact more. I think we have here a picture of what brings the greatest joy to the heart of heaven. We tend to think that heaven is a place of joy, which it is. But, it is also a place of grief and weeping for the lost. But, when a sinner repents, there is joy in heaven.

Luke 15:7 - "repents". As we saw, God finding us is synonymous with we repenting of our sins. Repentance is the line of division between the old and the new. Repentance is what the NT means when it talks of being dead to sin and alive to God. The Calvinists have got it all wrong when they think that God constitutionally regenerates a person so that the person becomes capable to repent and believe. The NT declares repentance as the experience of mourning over sin, turning away from it, and turning to God in faith. Repentance  is the point where the Father declares "He was lost but now is found, was dead but now is alive again."

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Family

No formality, no pretence,
No fear of hurt or offence,
Where love nestles in trust,
And hope will not fall to dust,
Where in both sunshine and rain,
Joy and peace remain the same,
Where walls are for protection,
Not for obstruction...
We know it's a family not just because they say,
We know it's a family for as a family they forever stay.
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The Call of Moses: Exo 4:13-17

Exo 4:13 - "O Lord, please send someone else to do it".
How easy to say "No" and forego all hassles of mission! Moses recognized very well that the call of God involved a huge responsibility. Nobody likes to choose the complicated and risky road. Most Christians harbor a particular sense of happiness that it is not they who are out there in the difficult fields of missions. They are satisfied that they give some money or send some goods to help the missionaries out there. It always looks alright as long as it is not they but "someone else" out there. There are some who don't even give a dime to missions. They lack both vision and passion.

It seems that Moses too was very disconnected from the concern and passion of God's heart. He doesn't seem to feel the same way that God feels for them. But, God knows that this is the man who one day would intercede and cry out to God for the Israelites saying, "Blot me out, but spare them!" God knows whom He has chosen though His chosen vessel is still very unwilling when He calls. So, when Moses prays to God to send someone else, God doesn't grant his request. How many times have you been grateful that God hadn't granted your foolish prayers? 

Everyone has a call in his/her life. It may not be to Africa, Asia, or South America, but it is a call nevertheless, whether it be to serve, to lead, to give, or to do anything Christ's work calls for. Sometimes, what He asks us for may look too difficult and unwanted a task. But, we must be thankful that He chose us for it, among all, and we must say "Yes" to the Lord. Remember that it is He who first said "Yes" for us; He didn't say, "Send someone else", but He said, "Here I am, I come to do Your will!" (Heb.10:9)

Exo 4:14 - "Aaron..." Moses felt that he was all alone in this deliverance mission. He must have felt alone, with regard to this, since the time he had been rejected by his people some 40 years ago. At that time, his rejection meant also rejection by Egypt. He tried to save a Hebrew by killing an Egyptian, and when the Hebrews rejected him, he realized he belonged to no one there. But, God reminds him that he has a brother, Aaron. Some think that his name means mountain-like strength; others think it means illuminator. I think in a way he was both, despite his imperfections. And Moses needed him. Moses might have felt rejected by some; but to be rejected and to feel rejected are two different things; the former may be an incident, the latter, a choice. And, then rejection is never universal. One always has someone that will be happy to see him/her. Moses had Aaron his brother.

It is interesting that, as a principle, Jesus never encouraged mission to be a lonely task. Of course, there are times of being alone, but that doesn't mean God wants us to be alone in the work. Therefore, He brings together a team. He had His twelve and He sent His disciples two by two. Paul always preferred a team. Moses was not aware, but God had already chosen Aaron to be on his way to meet Moses before He began speaking to Moses. When God calls a man, He does it because it is time and He has already arranged all things for this moment.

Exo 4:15 -  "you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth." Moses had to speak anyway, and God knew that his confidence to speak would not fail before Aaron; he only had a problem with the others. But, in time that would also change and Moses would boldly speak. In process of time, this self-judgment of Moses, that he could not speak, would be overcome. But, aren't we grateful that God didn't wait for Moses to become homiletically proficient before He called him? How often we judge a preacher by his rhetoric abilities and are blind to the call of God over his life? Nevertheless, here, though Aaron was the one who could speak well, Moses was chosen to put the words in his mouth.

"And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do." God spells it out clearly that Moses is the leader. Yet, he is not a leader in his own capacity; he must only do what God will teach him to do. Of course, Moses could not do anything now unless he heard from God. But, sadly, towards the end of his journey Moses failed to meticulously obey and demonstrate his reliance on God at the waters of Meribah. God told him to speak to the rock and he struck it shouting "Should WE bring you out water from the rock?" He had by then somehow forgotten that it was not they but Christ that was to be glorified. So, God rebuked him. But, at the burning bush now, it was different. (Note: this burning bush would become a mountain enveloping fire in Exodus 19). God promises to teach Moses what he had to do.

But, at the same time, God would also be with the mouth of Aaron. Aaron was not a secondary team member. God had a purpose for him as well, an individual call. He was to become the high priest. But, he was also called to be submissive to Moses. Yet, he had a distinct call that he could not fulfill on his own. Every member in the mission team is individually a partner of God in the work; the cloven tongues of fire divide equally and sit on the head of each disciple. Even the deacons in Acts 6 had to be Spirit-filled. They were not exempted from the Spirit. Christ is the Head of all ultimately. We are members of His body (1Cor.12). Aaron needed God to be with his mouth in order to be a spokesman for Moses.

Also Aaron could not speak unless Moses had put the words in his mouth; similarly, not everyone is an apostle or teacher in the body. The mission team is not a disordered body where everyone is an eye or ear. They have different roles and places, and each is called to walk in accordance to his calling. Paul dealt with this issue several times, where people began considering themselves spiritually independent of all authority. It led to disorder and hindered growth. Peter called the separators who despised authority as carnal slaves of flesh. They were not spiritual. The missionary cannot partner with carnal people, even if these be rich or influential. He must be spiritual and ready to see divine connections, people that God brings into his life, even if these people are poor and weak by human standards. Like Samuel learned it, we must learn not to judge by human appearance but by the anointing of God over lives. Many times it is the smart, rich, and strong, that we have great hopes for, that fail and hurt. But, many a leader has to regret for despising God's truly chosen vessels. I think even Paul didn't make a wise decision when he separated from Barnabas over Mark, because Mark had left them half-way earlier. But, Barnabas was not willing to let go off Mark. Aren't we grateful for that? God had chosen Mark to write the Gospel according to Mark, an amazing Gospel of Action.

It is sinful to monopolize ministry as if God has chosen only one guy who sits on the top. God had chosen Aaron as well as Moses. However, Aaron had to know and abide in his calling even as Moses had to abide in his own, as far as authority and leadership was concerned.

Exo. 4:16 - "you shall be to him as God." Moses is not God but to rebel against Moses would mean to rebel against God. This, God did affirm many times during the journey of Israel. When Korah and his defection rebelled, God struck them. Even in the NT, when Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter, it was a lie not against men but against God, because when it came to the matter of authority, God's order of authority is never compromised.

Exo 4:17 - "rod" The rod was a shepherd's rod. It would remind Moses of many things, including this burning bush experience. It would also remind him that Moses was still a shepherd, but now shepherd of God's flock. However, this was not a magic rod. The rod had no power of its own, apart from the commandment of God. Yet, Moses could say, "This was all I had with me when God called me to His great work." For, it is not by funds or by diplomacy, but only by the Spirit of God that one can be a witness of Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. To lead Israel out of Egypt into Canaan was no small task. Modern missiologists might calculate it as a multi-billion project. But, God tells Moses to just take his rod. What is my rod?

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Should I Give Tithe?

Forthcoming in Christian Trends

The first place to start is by asking the Christian, “Do you want to give at least a tithe of your income to the Lord?” The question is not “Are you able to give?” but “Do you want to give?” To those who are searching for reasons not give, because tithing is a burden to them and not a joy, the recommendation of Jesus would be, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mat 19:21) But to those who wish to give to the Lord anything that they have that can be better useful for the work of the Kingdom, and are only willing to know if tithing is specifically mandatory in the New Testament, this article will try to provide an answer.

Tithing in the New Testament and the Early Church History

Temple Giving as Applied to Church Giving

Jesus did not forbid tithing among the Jews. In fact, He asserted that they ought not to neglect tithing (Matt.23:23). However, there seems to be no specific commandment that Christians should practice tithing in the local church as the Jews practiced tithing in the Temple. Yet, the New Testament does lay a theological rationale for Christian giving to ministry when it applies the Old Testament scripture related to support of priests to the support of full-time Christian workers in the church.
For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us…. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you.... Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (1Co 9:9-14 NIV)
Yet, it doesn’t seem at all that tithing was specifically made mandatory for Christians in the early church; on the other hand, the writings of the Church Fathers indicate that the early church did expect Christians to surpass tithing by considering all their possessions as belonging to Christ. Now, this was not just a matter of saying “All that I have belongs to Christ, so I don’t need to specifically tithe anymore.” Jesus rebuked this kind of an attitude in which a person refrains from practically giving anything to those he is due by declaring that all he was supposed to give is given to the Lord (Mark 7:11-13). To consider one’s possessions as belonging to God means to really use these possessions every day for the sake of the Kingdom and not just for personal use. We are told about the early church in the apostolic era that “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” (Act 4:32 NIV). Now, today, this kind of an attitude looks too difficult and almost impractical for Christians, especially in a very materialistic age. However, there is no denying the fact that this was the way Christians generally lived in the early church era. Of course, this did not mean that they didn’t have possessions of their own at all or they didn’t lock their houses; but, whatever they had they didn’t consider as theirs apart from Christ. We are told that “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Act 4:34-35 NIV).

Around AD 130, the Church Father Mathetes wrote about Christians: “As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners.” Similarly, in his Against Heresies, Irenaeus (AD 120-202) wrote:
And for this reason they (the Jews) had indeed the tithes of their goods consecrated to Him, but those who have received liberty set aside all their possessions for the Lord’s purposes, bestowing joyfully and freely not the less valuable portions of their property, since they have the hope of better things [hereafter]; as that poor widow acted who cast all her living into the treasury of God.
In fact, Irenaeus taught that Christ “instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, [He told us] to share (Matt. 19:21) all our possessions with the poor.”

Tithing as Minimum Standard

However, by the 3rd century, it seems that Christian giving had greatly declined and the Church Fathers began prescribing tithing as the minimum standard of Christian giving. Thus, John Chrysostom (AD. c.349-407) wrote in his Homily on Ephesians 2:10:
Woe to him, it is said, who doeth not alms; and if this was the case under the Old Covenant, much more is it under the New. If, where the getting of wealth was allowed, and the enjoyment of it, and the care of it, there was such provision made for the succoring the poor, how much more in that Dispensation, where we are commanded to surrender all we have? For what did not they of old do? They gave tithes, and tithes again upon tithes for orphans, widows, and strangers; whereas someone was saying to me in astonishment at another, “Why, such an one gives tithes.” What a load of disgrace does this expression imply, since what was not a matter of wonder with the Jews has come to be so in the case of the Christians? If there was danger then in omitting tithes, think how great it must be now.
A document called the The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, compiled probably between 375 and 380, gave instructions regarding the pastor/bishop:
Let him use those tenths and first-fruits, which are given according to the command of God, as a man of God; as also let him dispense in a right manner the free-will offerings which are brought in on account of the poor, to the orphans, the widows, the afflicted, and strangers in distress, as having that God for the examiner of his accounts who has committed the disposition to him.
However, again, there appears to be no specific reference in either the New Testament or in the writings of the early Church Fathers in which tithing was made mandatory for the church. Yet, there are several instances where it was expected that the Christian give more than the tithes; in fact, his all for the service of Christ.

Tithing by Law Vs Tithing as Grace

The above study showed us that tithing only emerged in church history when Christian giving declined, and the Fathers had to set the minimum standard of giving for Christians. Thus, tithing somewhat assumed a very legal nature in the course of history. But, from the beginning it was not so.

For certain, we know this that the commandments of Grace are tougher than the commandments of the Law. The Law only said, “Do not murder” but Grace teaches us not to even get wrongfully angry with our brother. The Law talked of tithes, but Grace demands our all.

Also, the divine institution of giving to the Lord did not cease with the fading away of the Old Testament era. The work of the Lord has not ceased. Both money and substance are still needed in the work of the Lord. If the Jews were obligated under Law to pay tithes, first-fruits, and free-will offerings towards the service of the temple and the support of the priests and Levites, Christians today are much more obligated to give towards the work of the Kingdom of God. But, they must not give out of legal compulsion but cheerfully, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor.9:7). Anybody who only calculates the minimal (tithe) that he can give to God and feels legally satisfied that he has at least fulfilled the Law and is not obligated to give any more towards the work of the Lord is not behaving as someone who has experienced the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; he acts as someone who is still under the Old Covenant of Law. Of course, one must give only as one is able and willing (2Cor.8:12; 9:7). At the same time, do not forget that the widow who cast the two mites, all that she had, was praised by Jesus as having given more than all others.

We must remember that even in the New Testament, giving to the work of the Lord and to the servant of God is the practical way in which one gives to the Lord (Phil.4:18). The Christian must not be thinking just of giving tithes; the Christian must give more than the tithes.

Where Should I Give?

Malachi 3:10 clearly commands to bring all the tithes into God’s storehouse that they may be food in the House of the Lord. In the New Testament, we see that the believers would bring their offerings and place it at the apostles’ feet. Scripturally then, the Christian is expected to bring his offerings to the local church that he belongs to and fellowships with. These offerings are then to be used by the church for the support of full-time workers, of missionaries, and for charitable assistance of the needy ones in the church (2Cor.8, 9; Phil.4:18; Jas.1:27; 1Tim.5:3-10). In case that the local church has specified tithes, first-fruits, and offerings to be given separately (for the sake of proper allocation; some allocating tithes to support of the pastors, and offerings for various other expenses in the ministry, for instance), it is noble and good to harmoniously cooperate with the order for the smooth functioning of the local body and for the work of ministry.

Conclusion

We must assert again here that the Christian must not look at tithing as a burden or as a legal obligation to grudgingly fulfill. Salvation is not dependent on tithing or not tithing. The Pharisee who tithed was not justified, but the publican who humbled himself and cried out for mercy was justified (Lk.18:9-14). However, a person who claims to be justified but is covetous about his possessions and has not gratefully understood and embraced the grace of God has no place in the New Covenant (Matt.18:21-35). Of course, the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant talks about forgiveness here; however, one must not forget that this servant was not willing to forgive in the first place because he was a covetous person—one who grabbed the immense free gift of God but was not willing to part with even a little for the benefit of others. He was alien to the grace of God. But, we ought not to be so; we are stewards of the manifold grace of God; let us be rich towards God (1Pet.4:10; Lk.12:21).
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The Call of Moses: Exodus 4:10-12

Exo 4:10 - "I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant..."

It is interesting to note, by the way, that in verse 10, Moses has begun to see God as "my Lord" and himself as "Your servant."

"I am not eloquent..." There are at least three ways in which this excuse has been interpreted by commentators. The first that Moses had some natural disability that made it difficult for him to communicate fluently. He got easily tongue-tied and tangled when trying to speak (NLT). But, Moses is not just worried that he is not eloquent, he observes that he is not eloquent even after God had started speaking to him and shown him these amazing signs ("nor since You have spoken to Your servant"). It seems he is saying, "Lord, it's okay with these external signs, but what about my own disability, my own thorn in the flesh?" We are not told if Moses was ever healed of this disability, if there was one. But, it is worth noting that what Moses considered to be a hindrance, a problem, and a disqualifier is not considered a problem at all by God. I remember the story of Smith Wigglesworth whom God used to deliver many people from sin, diseases, demons, and even death; how he used to travel around with his daughter, Alice, who had a hearing problem and had to use a "hearing horn" (a hearing aid). Once somebody shouted out to him and asked, "Wigglesworth, if you are such a healer in the power of God, then why does your daughter need a hearing horn?" Unshaken, Wigglesworth answered “When you can tell me why Elijah was bald, I’ll tell you why Alice needs a hearing horn.”1 The man of God is not shaken by the fact that he has a disability in the flesh that God hasn't miraculously healed. In anyway, whatever, this disability is not a hindrance to obeying the call of God.

But, there is a second way of interpreting this excuse. Some think that Moses was not able to eloquently speak, in the technical sense of eloquence. He was not an orator, neither naturally nor by practice. He was not at all good in the art of persuasion. He was a rhetoric failure. That may be one reason why he raises the concern again when the Israelites reject him, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" (Exo 6:12 NIV). But, Moses had to learn what Paul understood when it came to preaching the Gospel,
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God." (1Co 2:1-4)
For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and his speech contemptible. Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. (2Co 10:10-11)
But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things." (2Co 11:6)
Paul knew that this was no human mission, this was no human calling; and, when God calls and when God sends, human methods have no significance before the power of God. There is a story about D.L. Moody, who after his preaching was countered by a certain gentleman who tried to point out several grammatical mistakes in the preaching of Moody. Moody only asked back in answer, "That’s all right, brother. What little grammar I have, I use for the Lord Jesus Christ. What do you do with yours?"

Thirdly, some have seen it as Moses' inability to communicate fluently anymore in the Egyptian language, after having not used this language for about 40 years in the wilderness. If he can't speak the Egyptian language fluently, and could look archaic and comical in his communication, how could he authoritatively speak before the Egyptians, especially Pharaoh? Doesn't that seem to be a very poignant question? What would it look like to go to a foreign land and try to speak of God and His salvation when the missionary is not very fluent in the local tongue or dialect, as elite fluency may be considered? In one way, Moses seems puzzled that God should choose him when there were better people, as he thought, who were great orators and had strong confidence. Also, now he was 80 years old. But, God rules out all the disability, inability excuses as invalid; in fact, He ruled them out all as invalid before He called out Moses.

Exo 4:11 - "Who gave man his mouth?..." God knew Moses better than Moses knew himself. 

Often times, we behave with God as if He is doing things without knowing anything about us properly. Sometimes, this lands us in false self-pity that helps nothing. The servant of God must be confident that God sees all, knows all, and that God does what He wishes. The clay cannot say to the Maker, "What are you doing?"

Exo 4:12 - "I will be with your mouth and teach you.." Another promise. He will not only go with him but also speak through him. The same is promised in a much intimate way to the disciple. Jesus is with the Gospel bearer, He works through him, and through the Spirit teaches and gives what the disciple must speak.

1The quote seems to mistake Elisha for Elijah in Smith Wigglesworth on Prayer, Power, and Miracles, compiled by Roberts Liardon, p.9. In the Biblical narrative, it is not Elijah but Elisha who was bald.
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The Call of Moses: Exo 4:6-9

Exo 4:6-8 - It is interesting to see that all the three signs that God gave to Moses had symbolic affinities to the redemptive plan of God. The rod and the serpent, the leprous hand, water and blood, all these speak of human sin and divine redemption. I don't think this was accidental. But, what is more striking is the direct literal experience of Moses.

In this second sign, Moses' hand turns leprous, then is healed again. Leprosy was considered unclean in those days. It carried stigma and reproach. It was physically contagious and a threat to society. It symbolized hopeless alienation. Here, Moses experiences becoming unclean (of leprosy) and then becoming clean (through healing) in a moment. He becomes suddenly a man of reproach and then is restored to honour. In an instant, he becomes an outcaste and then is healed to be included. What went through the mind of Moses in the instant he took his hand out of his bosom and saw that he was now a leper? What went through his mind when he put it back in his bosom and took it out to see he was healed?

I think it is more like an internal catharsis, purging. This shocking moment of sudden pain should have freed him and healed him of his 40 years of guilt-ridden, reproach-filled life. His sudden intense experience of reproach and restoration, in a moment, must have delivered him from any sense of godless self-reproach.

It is interesting to see the divine move from rod to hand in sequence to the question, "What is in your hand?" For, even if Moses didn't have the rod, he had hands for God to use. No excuse is excuse enough before God.

Also, God's sovereignty is manifest here. We don't maintain as some of our brethren do that God's sovereignty includes human errors, that the sin of man was not beyond the sovereignty of God. We certainly believe that God is not the author of sin. But, at the same time we also know that the God who condemns us by the Law is also the God who has provided for us a way to be justified and be declared as clean in His sight by His grace.

The man called by God is clean, holy, and separated for the service of God; therefore, the missionary can say with Paul, "I labored... yet, not I but the grace of God that was with me." (1Cor.15:10).

Exo 4:9 - This was not the miracle of the plague that God intended for Egypt. In the plague, Moses had to strike the water with his rod (Exo.7:17); but, here he is told to take the water of the river and pour it on dry land, turning that water into blood. This sign is different from the first two in that it is a sign which is not exemplified here. In the former case, the rod was turned into a serpent and Moses' hand did become leprous as an example and proof of what God was about to do. However, turning water into blood is not given as an example. Of course, in one way, because the sign pertained to the Egyptian river. But, then, God didn't use an example of any water (say the bag of water Moses may have had) to illustrate the miracle. It seems that by this point, after the first two miracles, God is expecting Moses to move forward in faith with regard to the third. Also, this is the sealing miracle: it would be impossible for the people to not believe that God had appeared to Moses when Moses would have challenged the host of Egyptian poly-deities by turning the water of Nile into blood. The God who could challenge Nile (considered to be the source of all life) could not be just any Egyptian God; He had to be the God of Israel. The general and natural belief is that the water of the river, when it fell on the ground, made the ground fertile. Hapi (god of floods) was important to the Egyptians; for, the annual floods brought fertile soil. But, Moses was to take that same water and pour it on to the ground, turning the water into blood. In other words, the water that was considered to be life-giving now spelled death. This is not just a sign anymore, it is a proof of an anti-thesis; a proof of battle; a proof of conflict. The God of Israel was not actually the God who was sympathetic to the Egyptian gods. But, to challenge the Nile also meant to channel the life-source power of Egypt; to assert the supremacy of God's Kingdom over the powers of Egypt.

The missionary, on a deliverance mission, is not for a holiday trip; he is out for a spiritual battle, he is a challenge to the forces of darkness that hold humans in captivity (Eph.6:12; Exo.8:9; Lk.11:20). The missionary doesn't tackle pluralism by making the Gospel palatable to the poly-deities; the missionary speaks the truth in love (Eph.4:15) and brings all thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2Cor.10:5).

We are told that Moses did show these signs to the children of Israel when he and Aaron reached there (Exo 4:30) and they believed, though not for long.

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The LORD will perfect that which concerns me (Psa 138:8)

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me (Psa 138:8)

The LORD always finishes what He starts. Men may start works that they leave unfinished; but, God always finishes what He starts. However, when it comes to His work in our lives, He can't perfect it without our cooperation. There are three essential things:

1. Absolute Trust and Confidence in God's Working
"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phi 1:6)

Trust implies: (a) Faith in God's goodness and His work, to believe in Him even when everything looks the opposite. (b) Patience (James 1:4). To let patience do its work. To never compromise with anything that goes against the will of God.

2. Understanding of God's Will and Work in Our Lives
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Phi 2:12-13)

We can understand God's will and work in our lives through the living Word of God who separates the soul from the spirit (Heb.4:12) and helps us to discern the promptings of the Spirit (Gal.5:16,17).

In an unspiritual man, desires are confused and he isn't able to discern what is of the Spirit and what is of the self; but, in a spiritual man who is governed by the living word of God, and who is mature, the distinction is clear (Heb.5:14).

The spiritual man is able to see the work of God in his life. He knows that God is working even though it seems God is absent from the scene.

3. Casting all Cares on Jesus and Being Ruled by the Peace of God
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phi 4:6-7)

When God's peace rules in our hearts and minds, the world gets puzzled because it can't understand this at all; God's peace surpasses all understanding.

When God's peace rules in our hearts, all doubts and fears of the heart are quelled and the boat sails softly, carried forward by the gentle breezes of the Spirit.

The spiritual man doesn't worry, doesn't unnecessarily hurry, but spends time in prayer with thanksgiving. And, when he does that he lays aside his will and submits to the will of God, and God perfects what He starts, He perfects that which concerns us.
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Blessings of Sonship in Christ (Galatians 4)

God sent forth His Son...that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Gal 4:4-5 NKJ)

The poets asserted that we are offspring of God (Acts 17:28). But, like the prodigal son, we were lost, groping like the blind, in bondage to the elements of the world (Gal.4:1,2). Yet, when His Grace appeared, we saw light, we received the right to be called the children of God (Jn.1:12). He received us in loving embrace (Lk.15:20). He put His ring on our hand (Lk.15:22).He placed and positioned us as sons (Gk. huiothesia, "to place as son").

And with this placement as sons, this sonship, we received blessings:

1. The Spirit of the Son by which we call out "Abba, Father" (Gal.4:6)
He is the Spirit of prayer and supplication (Eph.6:18). He helps us in our weakness by praying for us (Rom.8:26). He is the inner witness (Rom.8:16) and the one who speaks the words of Truth in our heart (Jn.16:13; Rev.2:7).

2. Heirship. We became heirs of God through Christ (Gal.4:7)
We have received an eternal, imperishable inheritance; an eternal kingdom, and a bold access to all that belongs to God (Heb.9:15; 1Pet.1:4; Lk.15:31). What is ours is His and what is His is ours. We have free access and liberty in the house of God.

3. Spiritual Freedom. We became free from the elements of the world (Gal.4:8,9; Col.2:16,20-23).
He liberated us from the traditions of the fathers that put a hedge on us (1Pet.1:18,19). He liberated us from the dictates of human tutors (Gal.4:1-3). He brought us into the liberty of the walk in the Spirit, the Spirit of Freedom (Gal.3:4; 2Cor.3:17; Gal.5:1,5). He delivered us from false superstitions, false fears, false humility, false spirituality. He gave us spiritual freedom in the Spirit.

4. Family Likeness. We are transformed every moment into the image of the Son (Gal.4:19; 2Cor.3:18; Rom.8:29; Phil.2:5; 1Pet.2:21).

5. We are set apart from the world and the world of flesh conflicts with the children of promise (Gal.4:29)
The world cannot understand the sons of God (1Jn.3:1). The world persecutes the children of God as it persecuted Christ (Jn.15:20). But, by faith in Christ we overcome the world (Jn.16:33; 1Jn.5:4). We must learn to rejoice in persecution (Matt.5:11,12) looking to the joy ahead of us (Heb.12:1-4).


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The Call of Moses: Exodus 4:1-5

Exo.4:1 - Faith is integral to the mission-task. Faith in God is primary to Mission; whether people will believe or not is not what the missionary should worry about. Of course their unbelief is a hindrance to their salvation; but, the missionary is called first to begin with faith in God and must not allow fear of human rejection to prevent him from obeying the divine commission.

Also, God's missionary is not worried about credentials, recognition, security, and human support. The Call is his motivation, his direction, his qualification, his identity, and his goal. (Phil.3:13,14). A man recognized by God needs no recognition from men (Gal.2:6). He calls men to belief, but his calling is not affected by their response.

"Suppose..." This is Moses' lack of confidence in himself, which is good in a way because our confidence must be in God and not in flesh; however, here, Moses has not yet been able to replace lack of confidence in self with confidence in God. He is troubled by his low self-image because he is still not able to derive his identity from his relationship with God. While humility and meekness is a great virtue (for self-emptying allows God to fully work through our lives), self-humiliation and poor self-image that proceeds from not taking God into account can hinder a person from obeying God fully.

Also, Moses seems to feel very much unqualified for the task that God is calling him to. As much as we understand, Moses knew the Egyptians and also he knew the Israelites very well (Acts 7:21,22; Heb.11:24-27). God's task was not just to deliver out a people; it was to lead them, to bring them to the Promised Land. Any expert in politics will understand that to lead a people who have been in bondage for 4 centuries; to organize, to convince them to obey, and that without force or power (or by vile means of deception), was not humanly possible. Also, to convince the Egyptians to let these slaves go was a task equally difficult. And then, why should the people believe the words of Moses? Jonah didn't ask that question. He knew that if God was sending him, what mattered was whether people believed his words or not; and if they believed, they were going to repent and be saved; so, he fled because he didn't want God to have mercy on the Ninevites. In Moses' case, however, it seems to have been different. It seems that Moses, because of his experience in the past, knew that these people were a generation of unbelievers (Acts 7:27,28, 35,36,39,51) and the mission of salvation could not be accomplished if the word was not received with faith (Num 14:11; Heb.4:1,2; 3:16-19; Jude 1:5; 2Chr.20:20). The objective work of God must be received subjectively by the free exercise of faith. Unbelief is the barrier to Mission.

But, more definitely, Moses was thinking that there was nothing to back his claim to have listened from God. What if they said that Moses did not hear from God? How would he be able to convince them? Contrast this to the approach of Jesus: Jn.5:23-24, 30, 36,37,38; 6:44; 8:16,18,29,42; 10:36-38; 12:47-50; 20:21-22).

Exo.4:2 - God answers by granting Moses three signs to perform that He said would unquestionably convince the people that Moses was sent by God. First, he asks him what is in his hand. Moses replies, "A rod." The rod becomes God's first sign. In fact, it is a living sign; for the rod that became a snake becomes a rod again and would become a snake again if the people wouldn't believe. The rod was no longer a dead wood.

Also, there was a possessive transformation in the rod that till now belonged to Moses. In Exo.4:17, this rod is assigned a place in the mission-task; in Exo.4:20, it is referred to, henceforth, as "the rod of God".

When God calls a person, He takes all that belongs to him; he is no longer his own, all that he is and all that he has belongs to Christ.

Exo 4:3 - God's missionary has to learn to leave his false sense of security behind; he has only one security: God.

Moses felt very insecure about himself when God told him to go to Egypt. Here, in the wilderness, he felt secure with his rod in hand. He used this rod to protect himself and his sheep. The rod was a symbol of security to him. But, God tells him to cast it down. And, when he does that the rod becomes a serpent, the very opposite of security. Earlier, if Moses would have seen a snake, he would have killed it with his rod; but, what would you do when your only source of security becomes a threat? Moses fled from it.

Firstly, we can't just stay anywhere or go anywhere else and still be secure if we have rejected the will of God. If God desires me to go to Nineveh, and I think Nineveh is violent and dangerous, Tarshish can never be more secure.

Secondly, unless I let go off my present securities for Christ, I can never serve Him. Peter had to leave his secure business in order to become a fisher of men. But, before that he had an experience of true security in Christ that he never could forget--the fruitless toil of the night and the miracle of the fish catch at Jesus' command. Their business had loss risks, but with Jesus supernatural provision is assured. Jesus told the disciples whom He sent to carry neither purse nor extra baggage. In other words, He wanted them to learn that God's ministry can only be done with resources provided by God.

What is this rod that I think gives me security greater than God? What is this rod that I need to cast to the ground in order for it to become the rod of God?

Exo 4:4 God wants us to take hold of our object of fear by its tail. That is not the worldly way of doing it. That is foolishness in the world's eyes. You don't catch a serpent by its tail; you have to nib its head, demobilize it or crush it. But, God tells Moses to grab the serpent by its tail. Why? Because God holds the serpent's head. The serpent cannot harm the believer (Mark 16:17).

God doesn't rebuke Moses for his fear. God helps him overcome it. After this episode, Moses will never fear serpents. He is also going to overcome an inner fear more vicious than the external one. God's first sign addresses the problem of Moses' fear. I think it is a sign more useful for Moses than for the Israelites or for Pharaoh; for, Moses has to learn that God holds the head of our object of fear so that fear can have no power over us.

Exo 4:5 - Fearlessness is the primary virtue of the missionary. Fearlessness, courage, or boldness is an attribute of faith, hope, and love. The one who has faith doesn't fear because he knows the truth. The one who loves doesn't fear because love gives a person confidence before the beloved. This love is not that carnal love that is afraid of rejection and so is slavish. The love of God fearlessly and freely loves; the only fear is not of being hurt but of hurting (filial fear). Similarly, the one who has hope cannot fear because the future is not dark for him anymore. He has light, the light that hope lights in the darkness. Thus, the man of God is fearless with regard to the present and the future.

"The God of Abraham...." the only God who has ultimate creative power. The One who created the world can also turn a rod into a snake, a real snake that would eat up snakes of the Egyptian magicians. But, more specifically He is the God of Covenant, not a God that a tribe chose, but the God who chose the tribe and created her. He alone is worthy and able to redeem her.

In the NT,  it is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without the New Covenant of Christ, NT mission would have been impossible. Because Christ died, He is the Redeemer of the new Israel; but, as it was in the old so also in the new, only those who believe will enter the rest.

There is a Past rootedness (God of....), Present mission, and a Future vision (the Land).

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The Call of Moses: Exodus 3

Exo.3:1 - Under the shadow of someone, his father-in-law. Serving in waiting.

Exo.3:2 - The burning bush is anything that God uses to draw one's attention aside, to hear Him.

Exo.3:3 - To "turn aside" or be turned aside... how crucial it is, to turn aside to God (in Moses' case, unwittingly)! To turn aside from ones daily routine.

Exo.3:4 - He calls an individual specifically, He calls by his name. Calling is individual and specific.

Exo.3:5 - In the Old Testament, the veil was still there. There was a point of separation between God and man. In the New, He became flesh. The veil was torn. How much more privileged we are! We are not just near Him, we are in Him.

Exo.3:6 - The OT address: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob. NT address: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have no reason to be afraid to look upon God (1Jn.1:1-2).

Exo.3:7-10 - Mission starts with Divine Concern and Compassion, with the heart of God for His people. Mission also is connected to Divine Covenant (that He made with the fathers, by which Israel is identified as His people). Mission proceeds with Divine Choice, Call, and Commissioning (He chooses a person).

Exo.3:11 - Divine concern doesn't necessarily imply human sympathy and compassion. Moses doesn't seem to feel the same concern at this moment. Neither did Jonah feel the like concern. Nevertheless, God insists because it is His mission. Also, human incapability is not an excuse anymore when the Almighty calls forward.

Exo.3:12 - "Who am I" finds its answer in "Who goes with me? (action/mission language)" and "Whom do I serve?". "Moses, you are the one with whom God goes and you are the one who comes back to God here to serve Him." God is the Sender, the Companion, the Redeemer, the Master, and the Destiny. A Christian worker's identity is not contingent on human credentials; his identity is tied with the God who goes with him to do what He has purposed. One cannot serve unless one has learnt that "It is no longer I, but Christ that lives in me!"

"Serve God on this mountain". The end of mission is God Himself, and to serve and worship God is the only reasonable response that humans, especially the redeemed, can have. (Rom.12:1-2; Matt.4:10; Phil.2:10; Rev.4:10,11; 19)

But, worshiping God is not the end of missions. God's mission and work extends till He brings His people into the Promised Land, the Land of Rest, to the Lord of Sabbath (Heb.4:1ff; Phil.2:12,13). God's mission is not just to "bring out of" but also to "bring into" (1Pet.2:9; Col.1:13). Mt. Sinai is the beginning of the teaching, of the Law, of the Commandment (summed up as "Love" by Jesus). It is analogous to the didaske (the teaching of the Apostles received from Christ, Jn.1:17; Acts 2:42). The goal is rest in God (the Lord of the Sabbath), His Promised Land, His Kingdom. Worship is just our inevitable and reasonable response in which we present our bodies as a living sacrifice in service to Him. Mission exists because people are in bondage and oppression, and are cut off from God and the rest that is truly found only in Him. However, God brings us to "serve God on this mountain" because His salvation is only available to those who willingly choose Him ("Whoever is on the LORD'S side-- come to me." (Exo 32:26)). Salvation cannot be forced upon the oppressed; a forced salvation is just another form of oppression, not liberty (Jude 1:5; Rom.8:21; 2Cor.3:17,18).

Exo.3:13 - "Do we have a God of our fathers? What is His Name?" The Personal God in the midst of the pluralistic spirituality of Egyptian polytheism.

Exo.3:14 - Unlike the finite gods and goddesses of Egyptian polytheism, the God of Israel is the Great I AM - the Self-existing, Self-sufficient, Sovereign Almighty.

Exo.3:15 - Here God introduces His Personal Name YHWH. This is God's eternal Name.

Exo. 3:16-22 - Mission has a strategy. Moses had to go to the elders and declare to them God's word. Then, together with the elders, he goes to Pharaoh to ask for permission to take the children of Israel out of Egypt; but, God knows that Pharaoh will not let go, and God will work His wonders to redeem His people. Mission is nothing but God going with His servant to accomplish what He purposed; of course, He tells Moses to bring forth His people, but it is God Himself who alone can bring them out. A missionary doesn't have a strategy of his own, it is not he who saves; he is only the vessel by which God accomplishes His mission for His glory. In this working together with God is found the fulfillment of mission. Any mission that rules out the necessity of divine involvement is godless. At the same time, there can be no mission without human involvement and obedience (Heb.2:1-4).
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