Sunday, August 20, 2006

Let's Talk about God-sized Projects

Text: Gen 6:11-14, 18-20; Exo 3:10-14; Matt 1:21-23; Luke 4:18-21

Throughout history, God has commissioned certain people with God-sized projects, projects that can only be accomplished with His help. Noah has been tasked to save all living creatures from the flood, Moses in emancipating God’s people from slavery in Egypt and Jesus from saving the spiritually and physically lost.

About 20 years ago, I was a member of the Rotary Club of Johor Bahru. Every year, the club will organise an Installation night dinner. That is to for the outgoing office bearers to step down and to install the incoming board. In Rotary, the term of office is one year. The Sultan of Johor is the patron so he was invited and he always came for all the Installation dinners. I remember one dinner in particular. The Club was reporting on what they have done that year which is in building a bus shelter for Fong You (Two) school. Suddenly during the report, Tuanku indicated he wanted to stay something. This was unprecedented because he usually attends but do not make a speech. Tuanku said, “You are a Rotary Club. Do not be so proud that you have built a bus stop shelter. That’s ‘chicken feed’. Do some bigger projects. Don’t do anymore ‘chicken feed projects’.” I remembered it created a commotion among the members. After that, our projects were bigger and more ambitious- a dialysis centre, a hospice and medical projects overseas. We did not do any ‘chicken feed’ projects anymore.

In 2001, our church has spent many months studying Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. It has been a powerful experience on our church. We learnt that there are 7 realities of experiencing God:

(1) God’s work
(2) Relationship
(3) Invitation
(4) God speaks
(5) Crisis of belief
(6) Adjust
(7) Obey and experience

Henry Blackaby wrote, “Some people say, “God will never ask me to do something I can’t do.” I have come to the place in my life that, if the assignment that I sense God is giving me is something I know I can handle, I know it is probably not from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible is always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do, because he wants to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision, and His kindness to His people and to a watching world. That is the only way the world will come to know Him.”(p.116)

Let we talk about three God-sized assignment or projects from the Bible and see what lessons we can learn from them.

1. Saving all living creatures (Noah)
Genesis 6:11-14, 18-20
GE 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark--you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.

The people and the land was so corrupted that God has decided to destroy it and start again with Noah. In fact, if Noah was not around, God would have destroyed everything and restart again. Noah was around and the Bible said he was a righteous man (Gen 6:9). So God gave Noah a God sized project. Noah’s project was to save all living creatures! That was a massive project. God will destroy the world and its people by a Great Flood. Noah was to build an ark, a floating rescue ship. He was to put into the ark, a pair of all living creatures and keep them alive so that they can repopulate the earth after flood water receded. He was also to bring his own extended family on board and they will repopulate the human race.

God’s purpose: God’s judgment was to destroy all living creatures (including man) by a great flood.
Noah’s God-sized project: Save all living creatures.
Method: build an ark.

From Experiencing God we learn that:
1. God speaks when He is about to accomplish His purposes.
2. What God initiates, He completes. Isa 46:11

I did not know how Noah built the ark on dry land. The ark is a massive ship with three decks. It must have taken a long time and much effort. The narrative in Genesis did not give much detail of Noah’s ship building activities. It did record that he finished in time before the great flood came.

Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came. It rained for forty days and forty nights. The flood water rose and covered the mountain tops by more than twenty feet (Gen 7:20). The earth was flooded for 150 days. It took another 150 days for the water to recede. Then 70 days for the drying out of the earth. Here are some interesting statistics

One month equals 30 days.
Time lapsed in the ark = 1 year, 17 days = 360 + 17 = 377 days
Time waiting to go on land= 7 (days waiting) +150 (days of flood) +150 (days of water receding) + 70 days (earth drying) = 377 days
(Walton, John. Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament)

2. Saving God’s chosen people (Moses)
Exodus 3:10-14
10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

EX 3:11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

EX 3:12 And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."

EX 3:13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, `What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

EX 3:14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.' "

The second God-sized project was Moses’. As you remember, Moses was a Hebrew child who was brought up and trained as a prince in Pharaoh’s court. The Hebrew people were enslaved by the Egyptian. One day, Moses tried to lead the Hebrew people in a rebellion by killing an Egyptian overseer/slave driver. The Hebrews refused to follow him so he was forced to flee into the Midian desert. There he became a shepherd for forty years. Read Exodus 2. After that you may want to watch the movie, The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston or you may read the comic.

God’s purpose: To save His chosen people from slavery in Egypt
Moses’ God-sized project: To get Pharaoh to free his people
Method: Power encounter

Moses was understandably reluctant to go against the world’s only superpower at that time. Not only the Pharaoh was a political ruler, he was also worshipped as a god! It is interesting to that God sent Moses to Pharaoh with only His name, “I AM WHO I AM”. Names are powerful in those days because names reveal who you are. That’s why powerful magicians and sorcerers do not reveal their names. In Chinese tradition, one will name their children after animals to avoid the attention of their gods. Notice the number of children named ‘Ah Kow’ (dog) or “Ah Ngaw” (cattle). When God said “I AM WHO I AM”, He is revealing his name. He is the almighty God.

Moses’ God-sized project was basically a power encounter between “I Am” and the gods of Egypt. The 10 plagues were spiritual warfare. Moses would never have been able to defeat them on his own. It was only with God’s help that he prevailed.

(1) Nile turned to blood (Exo 7:14-25) against Khnum (guardian of the Nile; Hapi (spirit of the Nile); Osiris (Nile was bloodstream)
(2) Plague of Frogs (Exo 8:1-15) against Heqt (god of restoration)
(3) Plague of Gnats (Exo 8:16-19)
(4) Plague of Flies (Exo 8:20-32)
(5) Plague on Cattle (Exo 9:1-7) against Hathor (mother-goddess); Apis (bull of god Ptah-symbol of fertility); Mnevis (sacred bull of Heliopolis)
(6) Plague of boils (Exo 9:8-12) against Imhotep (god of medicine)
(7) Hail (Exo 9:13-35) against Nut (sky goddess); Isis (goddess of life); Seth (protector of crops)
(8) Locusts (Exo 10:1-20) against Isis (goddess of life); Seth (protector of crops)
(9) Darkness (Exo 10:21-29) against Re, Aten, Atum, Horus (all sun gods)
(10) Death of Firstborn (Exo 11:1-12:36) against Pharaoh; Osiris (giver of life)

In each encounter, “I Am” won. That is why the Pharaoh let the Hebrew people leave. Moses has a God-sized project in saving God’s chosen people. However, he can only do it with God’s help.

3. Saving the lost (Jesus)
Matthews 1: 21-23; Luke 4:18-21
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

MT 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."

Luke 4:18-21

LK 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,

LK 4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

LK 4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Jesus came to earth with a God-sized project too. It is to save the lost, to bring salvation to all people, not only the Jews.

By quoting Isaiah, Jesus was very focused on what His God-sized project is:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me (empowerment)
because he has anointed me (action)
to preach good news to the poor.(poverty)
He has sent me to proclaim (action)
freedom for the prisoners (spiritual bondage)
and recovery of sight for the blind (spiritual blindness)
to release the oppressed, (political oppression)
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (action)

Notice in these verses that Jesus’ project has a spiritual component and a physical component. Jesus is here to save the spiritual lost but also to help the poor and politically oppressed. In other words, spiritual ministry and community/compassion service.

God’s Purpose: To save those who are going to hell
Jesus’ God-sized project: To save the lost (spiritually and physically)
Method: Dying on the cross and obeying His Father.

Jesus has completed the first part of His project. He has died on the cross for our sins. Jesus is still continuing on the second part- freeing people from spiritual bondage and from poverty and oppression. You may argue that Jesus is not here, He is in heaven, beside God the Father. Jesus is still here. The Church is His body. The Church still carries on the work of freeing spiritual prisoners and community work. We are the church. That is also our project.

Lessons for us: our God-sized projects
God has been giving God-sized projects to His people- projects that are often so big that they can only do it with His help. Otherwise there is no way they can succeed. We have looked at the examples of Noah, Moses and Jesus. Now we shall look at some present day examples.

Rick Warren started Saddleback Valley Community Church also called Saddleback Church in Lake Forest in 1980. He has a God-sized project. He felt called to start a church for people who have never been to church and people who are not comfortable in traditional churches. He wanted to start a church for seekers- people who are searching for God. So without money, position or prospect but with faith in God, he drove with his wife to California in 1979. He settled in Lake Forest and started a seeker church.

In his first sermon on 30th March, 1980, Rick Warren shared his dreams for his church:
It is the dream of a place where the hurting, the depressed, the frustrated, and the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, and encouragement.
It is the dream of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the hundreds of thousands of residents in south Orange County.
It is the dream of welcoming 20,000 members into the fellowship of our church family --- loving, learning, laughing, and living in harmony together.
It is the dream of developing people to spiritual maturity through Bible studies, small groups, seminars, retreats, and a Bible school for our members.
It is the dream of equipping every believer for a significant ministry by helping them discover the gifts and talents God gave them.
It is the dream of sending out hundreds of career missionaries and church workers all around the world, and empowering every member for a personal life mission in the world. It is the dream of sending our members by the thousands on short-term mission projects to every continent. It is the dream of starting at least one new daughter church every year.
It is the dream of at least fifty acres of land, on which will be built a regional church for south Orange County --- with beautiful, yet simple, facilities including a worship center seating thousands, a counseling and prayer center, classrooms for Bible studies and training lay ministers, and a recreation area. All of this will be designed to minister to the total person --- spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially --- and set in a peaceful, inspiring garden landscape.
I stand before you today and state in confident assurance that these dreams will become reality. Why? Because they are inspired by God!

The church grew and grew and became a megachurch. It is a ‘purpose driven church’. They spent 15 years growing their church and another 10 years teaching other churches about being a ‘purpose driven church’. Thousands have come to know Jesus through their ministries. In their 25th anniversary Easter celebration, there were 45,000 people in attendance. Warren always felt that they were fulfilling only part of Jesus’ project, that of taking care of the breaking spiritual bondage of people. He felt they also need to meet their physical needs.

In 2004, Saddleback Church embark on a new phase of their ministry- to championing the eradication of AIDS, illiteracy and poverty with an ambitious project by defeating what Rick Warren calls the five “global giants”. These giants are spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

The goal of his project is PEACE.
Plant (or partner with) churches
Equip leaders
Assist the poor
Care for the sick
Educate the next generation

Warren launched the project in Rwanda in 2004. The challenges are staggering. reported there are more than 40.3 million Africans suffering from AIDS. 4.9 million new HIV cases were reported in 2005. Since 2003, 13 million children had lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.

Bill Hybels and his Willow Creek Community Church (20,000 members) and more than 100 Willow Creek Association churches has embarked on a racial reconciliation project. Willow Creek Community Church is in a mainly all white suburbs. It has reached across to the south side of Chicago to partner with James Meek and Salem Baptist Church. Salem Baptist is a mainly an African-American congregation. This first project was to co-organise a pilgrimage. A bus tour of key leaders were organised to revisit all the famous sites of the civil rights movement. They called it the Justice Journey.

Eric Reed and Tim Morgan, writing in Leadership Journal, Summer 2006 notes that, “Perhaps most important, these efforts are evidence that megachurches, the driving force in redefining worship and evangelism in the late 20th century, are reaching beyond unchurched Harry and Mary to redefine missions, urging churches of all sizes to get involved in causes larger than themselves.”

How about us here in Holy Light? Has God given us a God-sized project? I believe that He has. The project is not Hisland. The project is what you do with Hisland. That’s our God-sized project. Our God-sized project is to discern what God wants us to do with Hisland. Do we follow Jesus as His body to deliver people from spiritual bondage and bring them to know Jesus and also to help the poor and oppressed through community outreach?

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, August 14, 2006

Let's Talk about Commitment to God

Text: Numbers 13:26-32; 14:5-9; 14:20-24; Joshua 14:6-13; 15:13-19

Commitment to God is commitment to a Person. A person who is totally committed to God have a perspective of events from God’s viewpoint, is secure in his/her confidence in God’s promise, has a different spirit in following God and God alone, has a grounded faith in God’s providence and is very generous with God’s gifts given to them.

Dogs are known as man’s best friend. I assume they are also woman’s best friend too. I love dogs. My favourite breed is Alsatian or German Shepherd followed by Rottweiller. I had an Alsatian called Dickie. He was a big gentle dog. He used to look after my daughter’s smaller dogs. All my dogs have different personalities. My present Alsatian is named Schartzsky. He is intellectually challenged, that is, he is a stupid dog. One of the benefits of owning a dog is that they are totally devoted to you. To them, you are the centre of the universe. They love to be in your presence and are totally committed to you.

In Edinburgh, there is a famous story of Greyfriars Bobby. John Gray joined the Edinburgh Police Force. To keep him company John had a dog, a Skye Terrier, called Bobby. John died of tuberculosis in1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Bobby soon touched the hearts of the local residents when he refused to leave his master's grave, even in the worst weather conditions. For fourteen years the dead man's faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872. Bobby became Scotland's most famous and faithful dog. Bobby's headstone reads "Greyfriars Bobby - died 14th January 1872 - aged 16 years - Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all".

In the Old Testament, Caleb, son of Jephunneh was one of those whom Moses sent to search the land in the second year after the Exodus. He was one of the family chiefs of the tribe of Judah. He and Joshua the son of Nun were the only two of the whole number who encouraged the people to go up and possess the land, and they alone were spared when a plague broke out in which the other ten spies perished. All the people that had been numbered, from twenty years old and upward, perished in the wilderness except these two. Caleb means a dog.

Caleb is totally committed to God. We shall do a short character study of Caleb to discover what are some of the characteristics of a man who is totally committed to God. We shall see what lessons we can learn from him.

Characteristics #1: A Perspective from God’s viewpoint.

Numbers 13:26-33
NU 13:26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan."

NU 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

NU 13:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

Where others see obstacles, Caleb sees fulfillment of God’s promises

What the other 10 spies saw:
1.People are powerful
2.Cities are large and fortified
4.Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Canaanites
5.The land devours people
v. 33b We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

This is the perspective of the other 10 spies, they saw the obstacles and they saw themselves as grasshoppers. What is more, they think the people living in the land saw them as grasshoppers. No only did they think themselves weak, they thought other people think them weak. They have already lost the war before it started. In their mind they have already lost. That is why they were so keen to convince their people that the land is not worth having. Losing a war in ancient times means being killed and their wives and children being sold into slavery.

What Caleb saw:
1.God’s promise of the land
2.Land flowing with milk and honey
3.Fruitful land

NU 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

Caleb must have been fully aware of the obstacles since he spent 40 days spying the land. He must have seen what the others seen. However he also saw how good a land it is and that it is possible to conquer the land. That is because he is not looking to themselves- a weak, untrained nation of former slaves. He is looking at someone else. Someone who is bigger that all these obstacles. Caleb’s perspective came from looking at God. God has promised them the land. So it is up to God to deliver the land. How he does it is none of Caleb’s concern. That’s a God given perspective on events.

Characteristics #2: Secure Confidence in God’s Promises

Numbers 14:5-9
NU 14:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them."

What Caleb believes:
1.God promises to give them a land that is exceedingly good
2.God will lead them into land
3.God is with them, the enemy’s protection is gone
4.God is with them, do not be afraid

Caleb commitment to God means that he believed God’s promises. God had promised them the land. God does not break his promises. So the land was already theirs, even thought at that moment it was occupied by the Anakites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Canaanites, the Amalekites and the Amorites. God is stronger than their gods. They are no longer protected by their gods. So why should they be afraid to go in?

Characteristics #3: A Different Spirit in following God alone and God alone

Numbers 14:20-24

NU 14:20 The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, 22 not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times-- 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it

Spirit in the Greek ruwach { roo’-akh} which means moral seat or seat of mental acts.
Basically it meant what Caleb has chosen for himself; which was to commit himself to God irrespective of what the other people were doing.

Caleb’s spirit:
1.Is committed to God and God alone
2.Not to the promised land
3.Not to the general consensus of the people

Caleb had chosen to commit to a person. Hence though he valued the Promised Land, he knew that it was not important. What was important is his relationship with his God. Have you even imagined how much courage it takes to stand against the general consensus of your community? Here you have three persons versus the rest of Israel. Everyone was saying, “It is too difficult”; “The land is not worth the sacrifice” and “I wish we never left Egypt”. Caleb must have his self doubts too. However, he was committed to God and he knew that what God have promised he will deliver. Nothing is impossible for God.

Characteristics #4: Grounded Faith in God’s Providence

Joshua 14:6-15

JOS 14:6 Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, `The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.'

JOS 14:10 "Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said."

JOS 14:13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.) Then the land had rest from war.

Caleb’s faith:
1.Strengthened by his lived experience
2.At 85 years old, believes he will receive the land God has promised him
3.Wants to be tested further by choosing the most difficult territory to conquer

Caleb’s faith was not in his own strength but in God’s strength. He knew that there is no way an 85 years old man can fight to claim what God had given him. And what is more interesting is that he did not choose the fertile valley near the Jordon. He chose the hill country which it is difficult to fight. He also chose a territory where the warriors were fierce and big. Caleb was not getting senile in his old age. I believe that his faith has been strengthened by his 40 years of wandering in the desert with his people. He knew the limitation of his own strength but he also knew the strength of his God.

Characteristics #5: Very Generous with God’s gifts

Joshua 15:13-19

JOS 15:13 In accordance with the LORD's command to him, Joshua gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in Judah--Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 14 From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites--Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai--descendants of Anak. 15 From there he marched against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). 16 And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher." 17 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah to him in marriage.

JOS 15:18 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, "What can I do for you?"

JOS 15:19 She replied, "Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water." So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

Caleb’s response to God’s gift
1.Did not hang on to it as his own
2.Willing to share God’s gift
3.Generous to give away water rights

One of the tests we can use to see if we are committed to God or his gift is to see whether we are generous with God has given us. If it is easy to give away what he has given us, then we are committed to the giver and not the gift. If we find it difficult to give up what we have, then we are committed to the gift, not the giver.

In the desert, one of the most precious possessions is water rights. Whatever controls the water is right. Without water, no one can survive in the desert. Hence it was wonderful to note that Caleb gave his daughter, Acsah the upper and lower springs. It was a very generous gift.

Lessons for us

The characteristics of a person committed to God are:
1. A Perspective from God’s viewpoint
2. Secure Confidence in God’s promise
3. Different Spirit in following God and God alone
4. Grounded Faith in God’s providence
5. Very Generous with God’s gifts

It is important to emphasis that we are committed to a Person, not
· God’s promises
· Promised land
· God’s gifts
· Our mission
· Our community consensus

Our commitment to God comes before our commitment to the other items listed above. Otherwise we will fail and fail badly. The Israelite was focused and committed to God’s promise; the Promised Land, rather than to God. That’s why, when obstacles occurs, they crumbles. When you are committed to a Person, then things are different. This is especially if you know who that Person is.

Parker Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach and A Hidden Wholeness, spoke at the Michael Keenan Memorial Lecture in Berea College in Kentucky in 1993. His topic was “The Violence of Our Knowledge: Towards a Spirituality of Higher Education”. In his lecture, Palmer said there are 4 features of truth in learning:

1. Truth is personal
“In contrast to modern objectivism, the wisdom traditions say truth is personal, not propositional. The modem academy is very hung up on the notion that truth is to be found in our propositions about things. But the spiritual traditions drive our understanding of knowing to a deeper level where it is said, "Truth is personal and, yes, we need propositions to share our person hood with each other, but unless it is incarnate, unless it is embodied, unless we are attempting to 'walk the talk' or 'talk the walk', it cannot be truth."”

2. Truth is communal
“It means that our movement toward truth is a corporate movement in which we must wrestle with each other, we must have conflict with each other, we must reach consensus with each other - and then we must break that consensus because some new observation has been made or some more powerful interpretation has been offered. Truth emerges between us and among us and through us as we wrestle together with the great and small questions of life.”

3. Truth is reciprocal
“There is something powerful about the spiritual understanding that we are not only seeking truth, but truth is seeking us…At the heart of all great knowing is a sense that the "object" of knowledge isn't an object at all. It has some kind of personal quality to it that speaks to the knower, that reaches for the knower; great knowing is always involved in that mutuality, that reciprocal dance between the knower and the knowing.”

4. Truth is transformational

“I will be changed by truth, and there is no way to evade that. It will be a daily struggle with what I know, to live my life more fully and more deeply. Knowing, teaching and learning will transform me if my knowing, teaching and learning are guided by the images and norms that I have just been trying to articulate.”

Again our commitment is to a Person who is truth. It is not to an object or a program.

Another person, I would like to introduce is John Piper, author of Desiring God and preaching pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. You can download his sermons or join his mailing list where the last Sunday’s sermon will be emailed to you on Wednesday. You can also download and listen to his sermon on mp3. His website is I have been learning from Piper for many years because his teaching is Biblical and insightful. I studied his sermons every week.

He has just returned to his church from an 8 months sabbatical in UK which he spent in Tyndale house studying the doctrine of the justification by faith. Last week, he preached on “This Man went down to His House Justified” Luke 18:9-14. Using the observation of the Pharisee and the sinner, he brought across an important point. We should focus on God as the sinner did rather than the Pharisee who focused on what God has given him: his righteousness which is moral, religious and a gift of God. The Pharisee knew that his righteousness is from God. We often think of the Pharisees as legalist. This Pharisee was not. He knew his righteousness was from God. Yet, he was not the one who went home justified. He failed because he focussed on God’s gift rather than God. The sinner focussed on God and went home justified. Similarly, we must commit ourselves to God and not to his gifts.

In summary, commitment to God is commitment to a Person. A person who is totally committed to God have a perspective of events from God’s viewpoint, is secure in his/her confidence in God’s promise, has a different spirit in following God and God alone, has a grounded faith in God’s providence and is very generous with God’s gifts given to them.

Soli Deo Gloria