Calling All at KL St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church!

With great delight, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is organising the first of the `Day Trip’ to one `learning centre’ for refugee children on Wednesday, 5th July 2017. The date is scheduled to enable us to meet with the refugee children,
~60 kids, who will only be present when there is `school’.

With the vision to share Jesus’ love and give support to these marginalised and needy children right in our backyard, we invite you and your family to be part of this Mission outreach and ministry, bringing joy and hope to these children that our Lord Jesus Christ loves them through you. A time of `Singing and Praise’ and `Getting to know you’ with the children will be included in the visit.

We shall meet at St Andrew’s at 9.30 a.m., and together car-pool to the centre, which is in the vicinity of Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur. The visit will be for about 2-2½ hours. Please pre-register at the designated counter provided at the back of the Sanctuary.

The following are the `Hope-for Items’ that will be greatly appreciated by the children and the centre, which provides the children with a hot meal each day. The Church will start collecting these from this week till 2 July, 2017. (Please hand them to Jaya/Robert in Church).
They will be love-gifted at the day of the visit:


a) Toys, Lego, Blocks (all can be pre-loved)
b) Crayons, Colour Pencils, Colouring Books, Backpacks.
c) Toiletries – Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Face Flannels,
Soap, Shampoo
d) Food Supplements – Vitamins
e) Pre-loved children’s clothing


a) Provisions – Rice, Milo, Milk Powder, Dried Noodles, Bee Hoon and the like
b) Stationeries – Exercise Books, Sharpeners, Erasers, Markers,
A4 papers and the like

For enquiry, please contact:
SC Yong (WhatsApp: 016-3228829/e-mail: ),
or Kay Yip (011-12322888),
or Irene (e-mail: )
or Siew Lin (e-mail: )
or Lee Hoon (e-mail: ),
or any other members of the M&CO Committee.

Mission and Community Outreach (M&CO) Committee


Exodus 20:1-3

Bob Weniger

Are you by nature a competitive person? Some people are; they compete at everything and have to win at everything, even simply playing board games with family. Others are not so competitive; for any number of reasons they simply are not so driven to have to always come out on top. But the fact is we live in a very competitive world, don’t we?

Sporting events are all about competition. Sure, they also may emphasize good sportsmanship and teamwork and perseverance, but in the end teams, players, and coaches are competing to win. Whether it’s the World Cup, the Super Bowl, or the Olympic finals, teams and individuals compete until finally there is but one winner.

Maybe you’re not a sports fan but you enjoy watching other programs on television, such as Dancing with the Stars, the Voice, any of the various talent shows, or beauty pageants. The competition goes on as contestants are eliminated until there is only one winner.

Even if you are not a competitive person by nature, all of us have to compete at different times. Students compete for a limited number of slots at a university, then they compete for scholarships to pay for their education, and after school we compete for jobs. If you are one of 50 people applying for a job, you are competing against the other 49. Regardless of whether or not we like to compete, we all at various times must compete.

There is one competition we are all a part of. This competition is a little different because while this competition involves us, we also get to choose who wins. It’s up to us to decide who or what comes out on top. And we must be clear – only one can come out on top. There is not room for two or three. This is the competition for our hearts. Who or what will reign in our hearts?

Actually, all people from every generation have had to face this competition for their hearts, including the ancient Israelites. We see this in the first of the Ten Commandments. Last week I introduced the Ten Commandments and the main point I made was that the commandments are based in the grace of God. The commandments begin with the first two verses of Exodus 20: “And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’”

God did not begin by giving the Israelites a list of commandments to obey which if and only if they obeyed would God be their God. No, first God acted graciously toward the Israelites. Before the Israelites did anything to earn God’s love or acceptance, God demonstrated His love for them by choosing the Israelites as His special possession and then rescuing them from their slavery in Egypt. Keeping the commandments was how the Israelites could show their gratitude to God for the grace and mercy He had already shown them.

The same is true for us. God has shown us His grace in accepting us and forgiving us through Christ apart from any good works by us. Obeying and following His directions is how we live in response to God’s grace.

There is another sense in which the Ten Commandments are evidence of the grace of God. The Israelites had just come out of 430 years in Egypt, many of which they spent as slaves. How were they now to live as a free people? For at this time, with their background they knew little of the true God or what He expected of them. They didn’t know how to live together as a free people striving to be a community. God didn’t want them controlled by things such as stealing, killing, lying, and trusting in false gods, all of which would be destructive for their life together. So God graciously gave them the Ten Commandments, a set of directions to guide them in wholesome living, especially as it related to their key relationships – their relationships with God, with themselves, and with others.

And that is true for us as well. How are we to live? What is the meaning of life? The purpose of life? Who is God? How are we to relate to God? How are we to relate to others? What values should guide us in the decisions we make and the life we live? What would a “life well-lived” look like? Sometimes life can be confusing.

But life does not have to be confusing, for in His Word God has graciously given us a set of directions, a guide for living. A central aspect of these directions are the Ten Commandments. They tell us about God and His rightful place in our lives, as well as how we are to live in relationship with others. They tell us not only how to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God, but also how we can really thrive as individuals and as a community. When people abide by the commandments, life goes better for everyone. The commandments are evidence of God’s grace, for through them God has revealed to us life as it is meant to be lived.

That is a key point. The commandments are about how we live, not just what we know or believe. For instance, Ps. 119:1 states: “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law (Torah) of the Lord.” The commandments are not just a list of religious principles to study, reflect on, or memorize. Rather they are dynamic in their nature. They are about life. Thus, you don’t just learn the law – although obviously that is the first step, but then you walk in it. In giving the commandments God was graciously pointing the way in which we should go, the path we should follow in order to live a full, meaningful, and authentic life. The Ten Commandments are a kind of map to direct our journey through life.

The foundation of this guide for living is the first commandment, in which we see the competition for our hearts. Here God says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

First, a note of clarification. God said, “You shall have no other gods before me.” When we hear that or read that, we can easily get the wrong impression, for when we hear that word “before” we tend to think of things in order of importance or priority. No one walks before the president or the queen; they follow behind for their position or status isn’t as important as that of the president or queen. And so some may conclude it’s okay to have other gods in our lives, as long as none are before God in terms of importance or the place we give them. Actually such a religious system would not be unusual for throughout history different cultures have had a hierarchy of gods, esteeming one god above others but they also honored those they considered lesser gods. But obviously God did not mean that He was simply to be first among others.

To correctly understand this commandment, we must first consider it in its historical context. At the time, when a nation would conquer another nation, it was common for them to take the gods and idols of the group they defeated and bring them into their own temple or place of worship. They would then place these gods before their own god – that is, in the presence of their god, and celebrate because their god(s) was stronger than the god of the people they conquered.

So the word “before” has the sense of being in the presence of, just as when someone is arrested for a crime they must go before the judge, meaning they stand in the presence of the judge. Thus, when God commanded the Israelites to have no other gods before Him, He was saying that they were not to bring any other gods into His presence. Since God abided with His people, there were to be no other gods in their midst or in their lives. For God is true, and they are false. God is holy, and they represent what is evil. So they were not to be in His presence. The Israelites were to have nothing to do with them.

Where is God’s presence today? It’s within us. I Cor. 3:6 states: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” So God’s message to us is, “I dwell in you. Don’t bring any other gods before me – that is, into my presence.” In other words, “Don’t have any other gods in your life – at all! Because I live in you, and I alone am God.” So this is not about the order of importance or priority, but rather exclusion – no other gods besides the true God.

Well as I said, this first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” is really the foundation for the others. It’s not likely that we will be interested in following the other commandments God has given us if we don’t pay attention to this one, if we have not first surrendered our lives to God so that He is indeed our Lord. Allowing God to truly be God in our lives sets the stage for following the others.

This is probably the biggest challenge all of us face, isn’t it – keeping God first in our lives. So many other things try to usurp God of His rightful position in our lives, and at times it can be an intense competition. Just think of the competitors for our hearts: money, pleasure, sex, power, prestige, other people, recreation, entertainment, career, physical fitness, living only for ourselves and our goals and desires. Anything, including many good things, can end up becoming the god we serve if they define our attitudes and determine our behavior, if they are what we trust in and look to for meaning and fulfillment, if they become the most important thing in our lives, what the rest of our life revolves around.

It may be that we make a willful, deliberate decision to exalt one of these aspects of life to the place that only God truly has a right to. But more often it happens gradually, subtly, without us making a deliberate decision and maybe without us hardly being aware of it.

Preacher and author George Buttrick describes a time when he came upon a farmer who had just retrieved a lost sheep. He asked the farmer how it is that sheep wander and get lost. The farmer replied, “They just nibble themselves lost.” He explained that with their heads down, they just go along nibbling from one bit of green grass to another and then another without really paying attention to where they are going until finally they are lost. The sheep never decide to explore what’s on the other side of the mountain; they just nibble a bit here and there until finally they are lost.

That can easily happen to us, can’t it? We never intended to make money our god. It was never our plan that our career be the thing that defines us. We never made the conscious decision to live for pleasure. It was not our goal that our prestige be the most important thing in our life. But gradually over a period of time of not really paying attention as we nibbled a bit and then a bit more, almost unconsciously giving it a little bit more of our hearts, it became something that we had not planned on, for it became in fact the most important thing in our lives. And now it consumes our time, dominates our thoughts, drives our desires, and determines our behavior. In short, it governs our lives.

The problem, of course, is that all of these are nothing but false gods and thus they are not worthy of being at the center of our lives. We were not created for money or entertainment or our career. Yes, they have their place, but if we live with such things at the center of our lives, we are like a confused mother laying aside her baby and clinging to a rag doll instead. Imagine a mother paying more attention to a doll than to her baby! The idea of that is absurd, isn’t it! Yet often we do the same thing when something other than God rules our hearts. We trade the real thing for a cheap imitation that can’t deliver. Our values, our sense of what is ultimately true and meaningful has gone haywire.

For we were created by God and for God. When we elevate anything or anyone other than God to the supreme place in our hearts, not only do we overvalue those false gods but we also underestimate our own value. If we live as if we were made for money or having a beautiful body or worldly success or whatever, we devalue the meaning and worth of our lives, for we were made for so much more than that.

We were made to enjoy the richness of a deeply personal relationship with the God who loves us so much He not only created us but He died in our place on the cross. We were created so we can know His presence and experience His faithfulness in our lives daily, and so we can reflect His glory and be His representatives in the world as we make God and God alone Lord of our lives. Don’t underestimate the value of your life by living for anything less.

So when God said, “You shall have no other gods before me,” He was not just giving us a rule to follow. No, God was telling us that He alone is the true God, and so He alone is worthy of reigning in our hearts. And God was also affirming the value of our lives by saying we were not made for the things of this world but for something far more important. So included in that statement was the most profound thing we can imagine. For in saying, “You shall have no other gods before me,” God was also saying, “But you shall have me. I, the only true God, the Creator of the universe and the Giver of every good gift will come to you to live and reign in your heart.” How incredible!

This comes back to the grace of God in giving us the Ten Commandments. For in this first commandment, God was not only exhorting us to have no other gods in our lives. He was saying that of course, but He was also telling us that He wants to be actively involved in our lives, upholding us in His love and directing us toward a meaningful, satisfying life as we seek first God and His kingdom. Isn’t that amazing! No matter who we are, no matter our past, no matter how much we have ignored or disobeyed God, the Creator of the whole universe wants to be involved in our lives.

God was saying, “I, the only true God, am available to you. You can know me. You can find your sense of meaning and worth in Me and My love for you. Don’t settle for anything less.” God demands that He be first in our lives because of course, He alone is worthy of that distinction. But God also demands that because we will never be truly satisfied until He is first in our lives. And thus it is an invitation to experience His grace.

This commandment also speaks of God’s grace because of the hope it gives us for our lives. About 600 or 700 years after God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and long after the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, the Israelites were not serving God above all. And so through the prophet Jeremiah God said to the Israelites (Jer. 2:2), “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert.” For a brief period the Israelites were devoted to God. God was first in their lives and they enjoyed a love-filled relationship with God. But then they lost their love and devotion. Actually, they went back and forth a number of times.

So God went on to say in this passage (vs. 5), “What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” The Israelites forsook the living God who delivered them from their slavery and instead embraced the worthless idols of their neighbors and in the process became worthless themselves.

Imagine, exchanging the only true God – who in His wisdom and power brought the whole universe into existence, and in His love brought the nation of Israel into existence, delivered them from slavery, led them on their journey, and gave them the privilege of representing the true God to the surrounding nations – exchanging this great God for statues and idols made of wood and stone, bowing before fertility gods and goddesses. They participated in empty and often perverse rituals in celebration of these worthless idols. And as they gave themselves to these worthless idols, they became like them – perverted, misguided, filled with fear, trusting in what was false. Like these false gods they followed they became worthless, for now they could not fulfill God’s high purpose for them in living as a holy nation and a kingdom of priests, as those who represented the true God to those who did not know Him.

We always become like that which we follow. Whether it is the true God, false gods, the values of society, or a person we idolize, we always end up becoming like that which we follow. So as we make God first in our lives and follow Him wholeheartedly, we are given the real opportunity for character transformation. Over time we come to resemble more and more the character of Christ, for by His grace and power we will become like the One we follow.

Just think of that. Our temper that hurts others and embarrasses us can be overcome. Our self-centeredness that drives others away can be replaced with a genuine concern for others. We can gain control over our quick and sharp tongue. Resentment and bitterness no longer have to rule our hearts but can give way to forgiveness and acceptance. Habits that held us in their grip can be broken. It doesn’t happen all at once, but over time as we give God first place in our lives, by His grace we can be victorious over these negative qualities and take on the character of Christ. We will become like the One we follow, and thus we will be much happier and satisfied with who we are.

This commandment to keep God first in our hearts is a sign of God’s grace, for it protects us from what is false, from those things that may look like they’re real and can satisfy us but they are fake. They are worthless, and certainly not worthy of being at the center or our lives. They are like counterfeit money, looking authentic, but in the end worthless. If you try to buy something with counterfeit money, you won’t be able to for it has no value. So this commandment protects us from counterfeit gods that may look promising but ultimately they can’t provide us with anything. They can’t provide us with true joy, with the hope of personal transformation, with a satisfying sense of purpose, or with the assurance of eternity. Only God our Creator can provide us with these. Only He is worthy of being first in our hearts.

God knew that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land there would be a lot of competition for their hearts. They would be surrounded by people who worshiped all kinds of false gods. And so God gave them this command as a part of the roadmap for their journey. With it they could navigate their way through life safely. With it they could reach the goal of their journey – not only the Promised Land on the other side of the desert, not only heaven when they died, but also a life in this world that would match God’s design for them.

By keeping God first in their lives, by not giving space in their lives to any other gods they could know the true God and understand the meaning and purpose of their lives. They could experience the presence, love, and faithfulness of God. They could fulfill their calling of being a holy nation as they were transformed in character, and thus they could represent the true God to the rest of the world.

We, too, more than 3,000 years later and living in a drastically different culture face a lot of competition for our hearts. We struggle with the pulling and tugging at our hearts everyday from things that would rule our hearts. But only One is worthy of reigning in our hearts. That is the One who created us, who died for us, and who is with us now to help us become all He designed us to be. Only when God is first in our lives can we honor God and live up to our full potential. Only when we seek first God and His kingdom, which means His rule in our hearts, can we experience the fullness of life God alone can offer us. So let’s be sure that God and God alone reigns in our hearts.

Living Under Grace

Exodus 19:1-3

George Burns was a famous American actor and comedian who died some years ago at the age of 100. He was also known for his love of cigars. When he was 95 years old, he found himself at odds with one of his favorite hangouts – the card room of the Hillcrest Country Club of Beverly Hills where he went to play bridge almost every afternoon. For when he arrived one day he saw a newly posted sign that said, “No Smoking.” So Burns fired off a letter to the country club board of directors informing them that as a Hillcrest member for more than 50 years, he had no intention of giving up smoking his cigars during his almost daily bridge games.

The next day Burns walked into the card room of the country club, defiantly toting his lit cigar. And there was the sign, only this time it had been changed to read, “No Smoking, except for members 95 and over.”

Rules and laws; we’re not crazy about them. In fact, like George Burns, we all have our special reasons why we think rules and laws should not apply to us. “I’ve been a member for over 50 years.” “I know I was speeding officer, but I’m late for an important meeting.” “I know it’s wrong to cheat, but everyone else is doing it, so what choice do I have if I want to get into graduate school?” “I know I was out past my curfew, but mom, dad, do you know I have the earliest curfew of anyone in my class?” “I know adultery is wrong, but my husband and I are like strangers, and finally I met a man who really cares about me.” We all have our reasons why we think rules and laws don’t apply to us.

In fact, there is a part of us that just plain rebels against rules and laws and any source of authority. Just consider some advertising slogans that have been popular in recent years. For awhile Burger King had an advertisement that proclaimed: “Sometimes you gotta break the rules.” A Neiman Marcus ad declared: “Relax. No rules here.” Don Q rum proclaimed: “When you have a passion for living, nothing is merely accepted. Nothing is taboo. Break all the rules.” And in extolling the benefits of Rejuvex, Lauren Hutton announced: “We’re the generation of women who broke all the rules.”

Why have so many advertisers picked up on this theme of breaking the rules? Those marketers get paid top dollar to discover the themes and images that somehow connect with the consumer regardless of what product they’re trying to sell. And they know that there is a rebellious streak in all of us. It may be more pronounced in some that others, but within all of us there is this desire to break the rules, or at least break some of the rules. And so they want to make the connection in our minds between our rebellious desires and their product so that we will be more inclined to buy what they’re selling.

Then we could also add the spirit of relativism so prevalent in the world today. Many refuse to acknowledge anything related to absolute right or wrong. What was right or true or moral in a previous era is not necessarily so today. If it’s right for me, that’s all that matters. Don’t try to impose your morality on me! A recent survey in the United States revealed that 93% of Americans look to themselves and no one else in determining what is and is not moral.

So in light of our tendency to excuse ourselves from rules and laws, in light of the rebellious streak in all of us, and in light of the pervasive relativistic thinking that surrounds us, I’m going to do something that may seem totally ridiculous. For the next few months I want to lead us in an examination of some of the oldest laws in the books – the Ten Commandments.

Why would I do this? I mean, those things are more than 3,000 years old; what could they possibly have to say to us living in the 21st century? Besides, who wants to hear about commandments, rules, and laws? In addition, we’re Christians. We’re not bound to the law. This is the age of grace. So why burden us with these stifling restrictions?

Well, maybe there is more to the Ten Commandments than first meets the eye. And just because they are more than 3,000 years old, maybe they still have value for today. And even though we don’t like rules, maybe sometimes we need them. And while we are Christians living by grace, maybe they still apply to our lives. So today I want to introduce the Ten Commandments, what they meant for Israel and what they mean for us,and then we will consider them one-by-one in the coming weeks.

As we’ve seen so far in our study of Exodus, and as you well know, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for several hundred years. But God had not forgotten them. Through a series of miracles God worked through their leader, Moses, God delivered them from their oppressors. This took place around the year 1290 B.C.

But now the people faced a crisis. The crisis centered on the question: How would they live as free people? Up until now they never had to think about how to live, for they were just slaves. They had no choice but to follow whatever laws and customs were imposed on them by the Egyptians. If they got out of line, the taskmasters would quickly and probably forcefully let them know.

But now they were free. No one was telling them what to do or how to live. So would each person become a law unto him/herself, declaring: “No one is going to tell me what to do or how to live. I’ll decide what is right for me.” That, of course, would lead to moral chaos and the disintegration of the community.

So what morals would guide their personal lives? What laws would shape their life as a community? How would they live in relationship with God and with one another?

Fortunately, God took care of this matter for them. Three months after escaping from Egypt, the Israelites were camped in the desert of Sinai. God called Moses up the mountain where God gave him the Ten Commandments, which Moses then brought down to the people. God provided the guidelines by which they could live under His gracious rule. They would not only be a people; they would be God’s people. Shortly before giving Moses the Ten Commandments, we read in Exod. 19:3-6:

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.

God had a purpose for the people of Israel, an incredible purpose. God’s purpose for them was that they would become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. A priest is someone who represents God to the people as he communicates the truth and will of God to the people, and he represents the people to God as he presents the sacrifices, offerings and needs of the people to God.

While Israel had a limited number of people who functioned specifically as priests, God wanted the people as a whole to become a kingdom of priests, His representatives. For in choosing Israel as His special possession, God was in no way limiting Himself to just that one small group of people. God also had dreams for all the nations of the earth. As is clear from Scripture, God desires to bless all the nations, all the peoples with His gift of salvation.

When God called Abraham, the father of the Israelites, God said to him in Gen. 12:3, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

When David was king he had the Ark of the Covenant, which represented the presence of God, brought back to Jerusalem. Then they had a festival to celebrate, during which David proclaimed in I Chron. 16:8, 28 & 30:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name, make known among the nations what He has done…Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength…Tremble before Him, all the earth.”

When King Solomon finished building the temple to the Lord, he offered a prayer of dedication, and prayed this in II Chron. 6:32-33:

“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm – when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, Your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of You, so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears Your name.”

And God declared in Is. 49:6, a prophecy of the coming Savior, “It is too small a thing for You to be My servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make You a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” God cares about all the peoples, all the nations of the earth. But due to the sinfulness of the human heart, our understanding of God is distorted and our desire for the true God is suppressed.

And so God’s purpose for Israel was that they would become a kingdom of priests. God chose them, delivered them from their bondage, and shaped them into a nation in order that as a kingdom of priests they might represent God to the other nations. That’s one of the things priests do, they represent God to the people. If they would live as a holy nation – which was radically different from the way the other nations surrounding them lived – then those nations would see not only God’s miraculous hand upon the Israelites but they would also see the nature of God revealed through them. For the Israelites would be living in a way that represented and honored God. And the Ten Commandments were to be their guide in holy living so they could fulfill God’s purpose for them. The Old Testament is clear that the Israelites did not always do a good job of fulfilling that purpose, but that was God’s purpose for them.

God’s purpose for them was not simply that they would keep a bunch of rules, but rather that as they lived according to God’s instructions, they would first of all experience life at its best for they would be living the way God intended life to be lived. Furthermore, they would have the privilege of representing the true God to a world that did not know God. The world would see God and God’s good ways through their behavior. What a privilege!

So if there is one thing clear about the Ten Commandments it is this: their purpose is not primarily about keeping the law but living in God’s grace. Ultimately, Israel’s relationship with God was not rooted in their keeping the commandments but on the grace of God. That’s where it all started.

God said to the people, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” And in the next chapter where the commandments are listed, they do not begin abruptly with the first commandment. They begin with this introductory statement by God: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Exod. 20:2) And then comes the list of commandments.

God did not give the Israelites the Ten Commandments so they could then earn His love or acceptance. No, the commandments are rooted in God’s grace. For God first, as an act of grace, chose Israel, delivered Israel out of slavery, and called them to be His special people. They did nothing to earn that. Then, in response to God’s grace, God instructed them as to how they were to live as His people.

Recall how God chose Abraham more than 500 years before. Abraham didn’t earn that; God simply chose Abraham. That was an act of grace. God promised to give Abraham a multitude of descendants and to make them into a great nation. That was grace. During their 400 years of slavery God did not forget the children of Abraham. At the right time God came and delivered them from their bondage. It’s all about grace.

Before Israel ever did a thing, God chose them and delivered them. So the commandments are not about earning God’s approval or acceptance but rather they’re about living as those whom God has already accepted. Yes, the commandments are sometimes referred to as “the Law,” but they are not so much about living under the law but living in light of God’s grace.

And as Israel kept the commandments in response to God’s grace, they would experience even more of God’s grace. For the commandments reveal the best way to live as a community. Just think, they could be a community in which there would be no fear, but only trust, for no one was stealing, lying, killing, and everyone would know God and experience His goodness. The commandments are all about grace. God called Israel, delivered Israel, and showed them a better way to live. And the commandments gave the Israelites the incredible privilege and high calling of representing the true God to the surrounding nations. The commandments are all about grace. That doesn’t lessen the importance or the seriousness of obeying them; it just puts them in the right perspective. God’s love and grace always precede our acts of obedience.

“But,” you might interject here, “that all sounds well and good for the ancient Israelites. They are the ones who received the commandments. The commandments were not about living under the law but under grace. God had a marvelous purpose for them that would be fulfilled as they followed God’s instructions. Great! But what does that have to do with us? We’re not the Israelites. We were not delivered from slavery. We’re living more than 3,000 years later. We are Christians. What do these Jewish commandments have to do with us?”

Well, in the first place the commandments – if we take them seriously – force us to recognize our need for God’s grace. Thus, we will trust in God’s grace for salvation instead of mistakenly trusting in ourselves. Paul wrote in Rom. 7:7: “Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’” The commandments tell us what God expects of us, and as we honestly examine our lives, we are forced to admit that we do not measure up. They force us to acknowledge that we can never earn God’s approval on the basis of our performance. Through the law we come to know the depth of our own sin. And so the law, or the commandments, drives us to trust only in the grace of God for we now see there is no other way. Giving us the Ten Commandments is an act of grace because by them we are delivered from the false understanding that we can earn God’s acceptance, and instead they direct us to God’s grace.

And, of course, God has showered His grace upon us in Jesus Christ. We are forgiven and restored to God because of what God in Christ did for us at the cross. Once we receive God’s grace and trust in Christ, the commandments become our instructions regarding how we are to live. We do not keep them to earn God’s acceptance, but in response to God having already accepted us through Christ we live this way. Then we can experience life at its best, a life with no regrets, and we can represent God to the world.

Just because we are Christians rather than Jews, does not mean the commandments do not apply to us. Jesus said in Mt. 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” The commandments have not been done away with just because we are living in the Christian age. In fact, as we will see in the coming weeks, Jesus intensified their meaning and broadened their application for us.

Furthermore, when Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He replied (Mt. 22:37-40): “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

All that we find in the Old Testament Law and Prophets, said Jesus, is summarized by these two commands: love God and love your neighbor. And as we look at the Ten Commandments we see that the first four of them deal with our love for God and the next six concern our love for others. So in response to the question: “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus essentially said that all ten commandments are equally important, for if you love God and neighbor, you will do these things.

Obviously, the Ten Commandments have not been done away with or in any way watered down for us as New Testament Christians. They, along with what we read in the New Testament, are to guide us as we daily live in response to God’s grace. They are to define how we live in relationship with God and with other people. Keeping the commandments – as best we can and by the grace of God – is an important way we express our life in Christ and our love for Christ. Jesus said in Jn. 15:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” As we just saw, what Jesus commanded in essence was that we keep the Ten Commandments; that’s how we love God and neighbor. Jesus said keeping these commands is the most basic way we demonstrate our love for Him.

But we must keep the order straight. We don’t keep the commands in a legalistic fashion and then conclude we must love God because we’ve done these things. Rather as God’s love fills our hearts, we live in a way that is characterized by the commandments. So sincerely trying to keep the Ten Commandments, by God’s grace and response to His grace, is really central to Christian discipleship.

The fact is, if we truly experience and understand God’s grace, we will want to live this way. Keeping God’s commands is not a burden, nor is it a joy-killer. It is good news, for the commands show us the best way to live.

Not to trivialize this, but we can picture the Ten Commandments somewhat like a car owner’s manual. You buy a car and the owner’s manual comes with it. So you go home and start reading the manual, and you start to become disturbed, for the manual is telling you all these things you should do. It says you should get the oil changed every 3,000 miles. At certain intervals you need to flush the radiator, and then you’re supposed to change the transmission fluid.

You’re upset because you realize this is going to cost you time and money. “Besides,” you think to yourself, “this is my car now. Who are these people to tell me how to take care of my car?” So in defiance, you ignore the instructions of the owner’s manual. You can have that attitude if you want, but it will probably lead to trouble. But if you follow those instructions you will save in the long run. Your car will run better. You will spend less on repairs. The car is not as likely to break down in the middle of nowhere because things will have been fixed before they became a problem.

So it is with the Ten Commandments. Yes, some effort is required. Some self-denial is called for. But if we abide by them, life will go a lot better for us. So they really are all about grace. They begin with grace, for God has already received us in Christ before we ever keep even one commandment, and then the commands guide us in the way of living that is best for us and for the whole community.

And as also was true for the Israelites, God has a purpose for us as Christians. It’s basically the same purpose God had for the Israelites. We read in I Pet. 2:9; “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Notice the similarities between this New Testament passage and the one we read earlier from the Old Testament book of Exodus. To the ancient Israelites God said, “Out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession.” In I Peter we are called “a chosen people…a people belonging to God.” The Israelites were to be a “kingdom of priests.” As Christians we are to be a “royal priesthood.” The Israelites were to be a “holy nation.” As New Testament Christians we are called to be a “holy nation.”

God sees us very much the same, and His purpose for us is very much the same. The Israelites, as a kingdom of priests, were to represent the one true God to their pagan neighbors. Our task, as a royal priesthood, says Peter, is to “declare the praises of him who called (us) out of darkness into his wonderful light.” We are to declare the praises, or literally the “excellencies” of God to the world. To a world that does not know God, we have the privilege of declaring the excellencies, the greatness, the truth about God.

God’s purpose for us is that we will be a royal priesthood, that like Israel we represent God to those who do not know Him. What a high calling and great privilege we have! And we do that not only through our words, but also through our lives – which gives credibility to our words. The way we do that is by living as a holy nation, a holy people. And our guide in living that way is the Ten Commandments. The point isn’t that people would see us and think how good we are, but that we’ve experienced God’s grace and have been transformed by His grace, which is available to all.

So in the weeks ahead, let’s commit ourselves to not only learning more about the Ten Commandments, but also to learning more about and experiencing more of the grace of God which He has showered upon us in Jesus Christ. And then, in response to God’s lavish grace, to live as a royal priesthood, a holy people, as God’s representatives in the world.

So you think you know Greek ?

Come join us to learn 10 new Greek words Christians can’t miss with free food and fellowship !

We start the event with a potbless and finish with a simple dinner at a restaurant. Registration is required for security clearance at the gate, please Whatsapp 012 3345348. Bring a simple disk to share. We can only accommodate 25 adults. Please reserve you spot by 12 June 2017.


Date: 17 June 2017

Time: 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Speaker: Elder SC Yong

The Westside One,
No 1 Residence Utama
Desa Park City

RECEPTION OF NEW MEMBERS – Sunday 28th May 2017

At the 11.00 am Service this morning, we warmly welcome our new members:
Julia & Marian Copilet
Theresa Sim Bin Pei

We hope you take advantage of the many opportunities to serve the Lord our God in your new spiritual home.
Membership Committee

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