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Don’t Waste Your Time!

By David Wong, 21, Singapore

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” —1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

Many things dominate our lives, whether we are in high school or university. We could spend all day in front of the computer, or stay up into the wee hours of the night going through piles of readings. Other activities could include: hanging out with friends, blogging, playing sports, shopping, reading novels, watching movies, listening to music, eating, studying, more eating, facebook-ing, catching up on your favorite television dramas, etc.

Face it! We do not like doing nothing. We fill our time with activity after activity (whether mentioned above or not). As Christians, however, we should consider what God thinks of these activities, and the way we use our time.

Just a couple of days ago, God reminded me of something my youth pastor mentioned a long time ago. Though I cannot remember the exact words, the principle behind it is that we need to be intentional in glorifying God. I took this to mean that it is not possible to glorify God by accident; we have to make it a point to glorify Him in everything we do.

If we were to take this principle and put it alongside 1 Corinthians 10:31 which basically tells us that the purpose behind all the things we do is for “the glory of God”, we will see that we fall short in many ways. For glorifying God is simply not a consideration in most of the activities in our busy life.

I don’t think we can glorify God by accident (though I acknowledge that in His sovereignty, He can cause all things to work for His glory. However that is not the point here). I believe that if we truly want to live for God, then the purpose behind all our activities must be to the glory of God.

So what are some practical implications? It would mean that we eat to the glory of God (personally I don’t see how snacking glorifies God); we love to the glory of God; we watch television to the glory of God; we use our money to the glory of God (yes that means shopping too); we dress to the glory of God (yes, both guys and girls); we get into a relationship to the glory of God; we spend our time to the glory of God, and the list goes on, as it has to encompass every aspect of our lives.

To take it one step further, I believe that unless what we do glorifies God, we should not do it. Why? Simply because the Bible tells us to “do all to the glory of God.” Doing things that do not have the glory of God in mind will simply be a waste of effort and time, with little or no significance.

In Ephesians 5:8,10,15-17, it says, “Walk as children of light… and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord… Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (emphasis added).

My friends, let us use our time wisely to the glory of God. Let us not waste time surfing the net aimlessly, or spend hours watching videos on YouTube mindlessly. Instead let us always ask ourselves how we can glorify God with the time that we have now. Always remember that there is an opportunity cost to whatever you decide to do with your time.

In closing, I would like to encourage you to put aside the things that do not glorify God—be it implicitly or explicitly wrong—by asking yourself: “Does this glorify God?” and “Does it give God the greatest glory?”

I acknowledge that many of the things I have said today may sound very restrictive and conservative, and choosing the God-glorifying way will definitely cost you something. In fact, as you are reading this post, you may have realized that some things you are doing (or are about to do) may not glorify God at all. They may not be wrong per se, but they do not glorify God. Friends, let me encourage you to put them aside for His sake. The world is full of temptations, but the Bible tells us to put off our old self which is corrupted by deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22). These desires lie to you, they deceive you. Choose God, for there is certainly fullness of joy and everlasting pleasure in Him (Psalm 16:11).

It is definitely not easy. I can testify to the struggles it brings. But despite this, let us strive for it. Let not the immense difficulty deters us, but let us do it in God’s strength. Know that God will not leave us alone in this, but promises that He “will circumcise your heart… so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6, emphasis added).

May the Lord lead you, and may you be sensitive to that leading, so that you may do all things to the glory of God.

Let’s Talk About Girlfriends & Boyfriends, Choosing Which School To Go To, And God’s Will

By David Wong, 21, Singapore

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” —Deuteronomy 29:29 (niv)

“O God, I feel attracted to him (in my case, her), and I think he’s a great godly guy, but is he the one for me? Please impress upon my heart what I should do.”

“Father, I just got my results, and I don’t know which college I should go to. Please tell me what I should do!”

If you’re eager to live a life that pleases God, then at some point of time in your life, I believe you would have prayed these types of prayers before. In fact, you may have just uttered a prayer like that during your last quiet time! All too often, as Christian eager to live life according to God’s will, we desire to know His will. And this is not consigned only to relationships and schools. We pray for God to reveal to us what ministry we should serve in, which church to go to, what job we should apply for, etc.

I think it is good that we as Christians desire to live in the will of God. However, does God really want us to be asking Him what choice we should choose at every point of decision? Do we really need to get a resounding and affirmative “YES!” before we take the plunge and make a decision? In his book, Just Do Something—A Liberating Approach To Finding God’s Will, Kevin DeYoung writes:

“If God has a wonderful plan for my life, as the evangelistic tract tells us, then why doesn’t He tell me what it is? . . . I’d like us to consider that maybe we have difficulty discovering God’s wonderful plan for our lives because, if truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is.
And maybe we’re wrong to expect Him to.”

Could it be that perhaps God intends for us to make a decision for ourselves—whom to marry, which course to take, what ministry to serve in, etc.? I agree with you that we should be praying and seeking to live life according to God’s will. I also agree with you that God has someone out there planned for you. But is it possible that God may not actually tell you what to do, and expect you to decide for yourself?

When I first encountered such a “liberating approach to finding God’s will” in one of my youth services, I balked at that idea, and considered the speaker who preached it to have a low-view of the sovereignty of God. But as I read DeYoung’s book on the nature of God’s will, and stumbled upon Deuteronomy 29:29 within the context of discovering God’s will, things began to take a different slant.

Consider with me first the sovereignty of God over all things. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care” (Matthew 10:29); “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10b). God controls and wills all things. His purposes will stand. Nothing can stop His plan. Thus in one sense we cannot live outside of God’s sovereign will.

Next, consider with me some aspects of God’s revealed will in the Bible—where we read clear instructions on what He wants us to do. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified . . .” and in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image ofHhis Son . . ..” And 2 Corinthians 6:14 commands, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but if you look at it, instead of telling us exactly what choices to make, God gives us certain principles to follow and live by.

Now here is where it all comes together: “The secret things (God’s sovereign or absolute will) belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed (God’s revealed will, i.e. what the Bible says) belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Let this just sink in for a moment.

God does not intend to reveal to us His sovereign purposes before we actually do them. He gives us principles to live by, and if we are living by them, whatever choices we make—be it between different colleges; between an economics or literature major; between serving in the worship or evangelism ministry—it will be His will. For God is directing behind the scenes, working in us “to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). This, however, does not negate the importance of praying for wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-6; James 1:5-8) and seeking godly counsel (Proverbs 1:5, 12:15, 15:22, 19:20) from people like pastors, mentor, fellow Christian friends, and yes, parents (especially in decision concerning relationships!).

To end off, I shall leave you with another quote from DeYoung’s book, which was the inspiration behind this article:

But while we are free to ask God for wisdom, He does not burden us with the task of divining His will of direction for our lives ahead of time . . . God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision. I’m not saying God won’t help you make decisions (it’s called wisdom . . .). I’m not saying God doesn’t care about your future. I’m not saying God isn’t directing your path and in control amidst the chaos of your life. I believe in providence with all my heart. What I am saying is that we should stop thinking of God’s will like a corn maze, or a tightrope, or a bull’s-eye, or a choose-your-own-adventure novel.

So let us not abuse His love by failing to pray and choosing to live for yourself. At the same time, let us be freed to live God’s will for our life.

Jesus Died for King David | King David & King Jesus

By David Wong, 21, Singapore

David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.” —2 Samuel 12:13

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Imagine you were Uriah’s parents. Imagine you were in the king’s courts when prophet Nathan confronted king David of his sin. You hear Nathan’s searing indictment, “You are the man!” Just then, your heart sinks. You come to the bleak realization that the death of your son was not merely the result of being killed in battle. Instead, it was a carefully orchestrated murder plot by the king to cover his adultery with your daughter-in-law.

Shock gives way to anger and hatred toward David. You hear David acknowledging his sin, but that’s not all you want to hear. You want to hear Nathan pronouncing God’s judgment and justice upon David’s life. Instead, you heard the most ridiculous and unjust statements ever: “The Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin” (v.13). A mere acknowledgment of sin resulted in God’s forgiveness. At this moment, your anger turns toward God. You cry out, “Where is the justice? How can You forgive him just like that? Don’t You understand that he killed my son?”

How can God be just and yet forgiven David just like that? This is radical grace. But it was also unjust grace… or so it seems.

The Old Testament points to Jesus in various ways. One way, as we saw in the study of David’s love for Mephibosheth, is that some bible characters reflect Christ and portray some aspects of God’s character. Another way, as we have seen last week, is by giving us an imperfect picture so that we would look beyond for someone much better. Similarly in today’s story, the forgiveness of King David gives us an incomplete picture of which the New Testament will complete.

So how was it that David could be forgiven? The Bible tells us that David’s forgiveness was made possible only because of Jesus. In Romans 3:23-25, it says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.” [emphasis added]

David was forgiven not because he was a man after God’s own heart. It was not because he had an excellent record of good deeds. Such thinking will only create legalism and moralism in the church and in our life! David’s good deeds count as nothing! God could justly forgive David because one day, God would punish David’s adultery on Jesus. Jesus died for David’s adultery and murder.

Likewise, Jesus has died on the cross for our sins! This is the good news! Rejoice because if you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you and make you clean (1 John 1:9). In the same way David’s confession was followed immediately by forgiveness, so it is for us! Our confession of sin, in Jesus’ name, will immediately be followed by forgiveness from God! Rejoice, and give praise and glory to Jesus!

As we end off this series, my hope and prayer is that these articles will lead you to greater praise and greater treasuring of Jesus. May it also prompt you to consider how the stories of the Old Testaments fit into God’s bigger story of redemption.

Soli Deo Gloria; Glory to God Alone.

Read the entire series!

An Introduction
Part 1 – Crippled but Accepted
Part 2 – Brought Near
Part 3 – David and Mephibosheth
Part 4 – I am Pregnant

I am Pregnant | King David and King Jesus

By David Wong, 21, Singapore

Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.” —2 Samuel 11:5

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Samuel chapter 11 opens with David neglecting his kingly duties. It leads to adultery, and culminated in the murder of an innocent man. This week, we will briefly examine the fall of king David, and how it points to Jesus.

King David wanted to satisfy the lust of his eyes (2 Sam. 11:2). He threw caution into the wind and sent his men to take Bathsheba to him. After the one-night dalliance, Bathsheba became pregnant. At that time, Bathsheba’s husband Uriah was fighting a war against the Ammonites. There was no plausible explanation for the pregnancy except adultery. David devised a plan to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba in order to hide the cause of the pregnancy. When this failed, David connived to murder Uriah in the battlefield. He then married Bathsheba quickly to cover up his sins. Months later, Bathsheba gave birth to a son, and the chapter ends with the only reference to God in the entire chapter: “But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.”

In this chapter, we see the man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) running after the lust of his own heart. We see the shepherd of Israel, the man who looked with godly kindness upon Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9), becoming a selfish and ruthless murderer.

This is an accurate reflection of us. Some times, when passion and love for God abound, we do costly sacrificial acts of love for God and others. Yet, often times, we fail to reflect Him. We stumble. We are weak. Though we may not commit adultery or murder physically, we have committed them in our hearts and minds and are likewise guilty (Matt. 5:21-30).

Our leaders—be it our youth leaders, cell group leaders, or pastors, fail too. We could at times be disappointed or even disillusioned by their bad conduct or behavior.

The insufficiencies of David point to another King that will come. One that will be the perfect Ruler. One that is sinless who obeyed God fully. One that promises to be faithful to us even when we commit adultery against Him and act like whores by running after idols (Hosea 3).

This is our Savior and King, Jesus. This is our Perfect Leader. Yes, we are weak and frail. But we have a Representative that stands on our behalf before God who never fails. Yes, we have leaders that stumble. But we have a Leader that will lead us in perfect righteousness.

As we look at the failings of David, may it stir within you a yearning for someone better—this person is Jesus.

Stay tuned.