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應當恐懼戰兢做成得救的功夫

〈馬太福音〉7:21-23 「凡稱呼我『主啊,主啊』的人不能都進天國;惟獨遵行我天父旨意的人才能進去。當那日必有許多人對我說:『主啊,主啊,我們不是奉你的名傳道,奉你的名趕鬼,奉你的名行許多異能嗎?』我就明明地告訴他們說:『我從來不認識你們,你們這些作惡的人,離開我去吧!』」

感謝上帝,從馬太福音第五章開始,耶穌把天國子民、真正屬上帝的人所要領受的福氣,所要領受的應許、恩典,一一地擺列在我們眼前,即我們所知道的九福,並把許多教訓告訴我們。到了馬太福音第七章,耶穌基督告訴我們相當可怕的警誡性的話語,前面提到你們要進窄門、走小路(參:太7:13-14),要尋找這一條遵行上帝旨意的道路,接下去,提到要結出好果子,因為只有好樹才能結好果子,壞樹不能結好果子,我們從一個人的行為得知一個人的品格、為人的程度、生命的根源(參:太7:15-20)。

從謙卑的心志到為主受苦的心志

  講完這兩段以後,耶穌就提到今天我們所讀的這幾段經文,「凡稱呼我主啊,主啊的人不能都進天國」(太7:21)。耶穌最先提到:「虛心的人有福了,因為天國是他們的」(太5:3),把上帝國度的權柄、恩典、旨意賜給虛心尋找上帝、渴慕上帝真理的人,並在第九個福氣提到:「為義受逼迫的人有福了!因為天國是他們的」(太5:10),表明天國的子民一定是從謙卑的心志做出發點,到最後定下為主受苦的心志,以順服上帝的旨意,與世界大逆不道的潮流相抗衡,這是天國子民的品質。

Jesus = Prophetic, Powerful, Protecting…

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 18:1-11.  Let’s go!

John 18:1-3 (NIV) 
1  When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. 
2  Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 
3  So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

On verses 1-3:  The first time the Kidron Valley is mentioned in Scripture, King David is crossing it at a time when he is being betrayed by the son he loves and his life is in jeopardy (see 2 Samuel 15, especially verse 23).  The last time the Kidron Valley is mentioned in Scripture, Jesus the Son of David is crossing it at a time when he is being betrayed by a disciple he loves and his life is in jeopardy.

誰是元帥

〈約書亞記〉 5:13-14   約書亞靠近耶利哥的時候,舉目觀看,不料,有一個人手裡有拔出來的刀,對面站立。約書亞到他那裡,問他說:「你是幫助我們呢,是幫助我們敵人呢?」他回答說:「不是的,我來是要作耶和華軍隊的元帥。」約書亞就俯伏在地下拜,說:「我主有甚麼話吩咐僕人。」

經文:〈約書亞記〉 5:10-15

以色列人出埃及的第四十年正月初十,以色列人過了約旦河,接著約書亞做火石刀,為以色列人行割禮,緊接著就是逾越節了。約書亞的動作真的很快,三天之內,把這些事都擺平了。正月十四日晚上過逾越節家家戶戶烤羊羔,那是一個怎樣的場面啊!到處都是香噴噴的烤羊味,令人垂涎三尺。逾越節的第二天,他們吃了當地的出產,無酵餅和烘的穀;逾越節的第三天,嗎哪就不再下降,再也沒有嗎哪了。這時,以色列人才發現,在曠野裡讓他們感到厭煩的嗎哪,原來在世間找不到,原來那是稀奇之物,原來那是上天之珍。他們竟然身在福中不知福。很多東西都是沒有了,我們才會感到它們的寶貴,神的恩典之奇妙。

但是他們剛剛渡過約旦河,哪裡來的穀物和當地的出產呢?從這裡,我們就可以看到《聖經》記載的真實和連貫性。前兩章都提到,那時正是迦南地收穫大麥和亞麻的時候,因為約旦河谷的氣候比較熱,也是穀物最早熟,最先收割的地方。所以有可能當地人去向他們兜售土產,也有可能當地人聞風而逃,以色列人就自便了。那一年,他們開始吃人間煙火,再沒有天上的食物嗎哪了。我們住在自由地區,可以很方便地敬拜神,但是有很多地方沒有這樣的自由。我們也看到,在北美信仰基督教的自由,莫明其妙地在縮小範圍,從不許公開傳福音,不許用《聖經》的觀點表達意見,不許按自己的信仰原則去作生意,經常看到有新聞提到因為基督教的信仰而被告上法院,而且還被判輸了。所以要珍惜神給我們的一切,不要視為理所當然。

The Heart of Jesus

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 17:13-26.  Let’s go!

John 17:13-16 (NIV) 
13  “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 
14  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 
15  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
16  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 

On verses 13-16:  In a world where followers of Jesus will have trouble (John 16:33) and will be misunderstood by many (John 15:18), Jesus does not pray that the Father remove his followers from this world.  Rather Jesus prays that the Father would protect them from the evil one (v15).  Jesus’ heart is that his disciples would have the full measure of his joy within them even as they go through hardship (v13).  What can we learn from this? 

The Way Jesus Feels about You and Speaks about You

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 17:1-12.  Let’s go!

John 17:1-2 (NIV) 
1  After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 
2  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.

On verses 1-2:  Here John quotes Jesus as praying to the Father.  Chapter 17 of John is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in Scripture.  Verse 2 says that the Father granted authority to Jesus over all people so that Jesus might give eternal life to people.  When the Father gives you authority, it’s not so that you can personally be famous, wealthy or powerful.  God gives you authority so that you can give, help and be a blessing to others.

John 17:3 (NIV) 
3  Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

On verse 3:  Eternal life is not about our performance, our hard work, or our merit.  Eternal life is about knowing the Father and knowing Jesus Christ.

進迦南的第一刀

〈約書亞記〉 5:9   耶和華對約書亞說:「我今日將埃及的羞辱從你們身上滾去了。」因此那地方名叫吉甲,直到今日。

閱讀經文:〈約書亞記〉 5:1-9

大敵當前,在耶利哥人和其他迦南人的密切「監視」下,神竟然要求以色列人先對自己的壯士們動刀,行割禮。我們都知道成人行割禮後,要忍受幾乎一星期的疼痛和坐立不安。雅各的兒子利未和西緬可殺盡示劍城的人,就是叫他們行割禮,才允許妹妹底拿和示劍結緍。示劍人不察,行了割禮(割包皮手術)後,大家疼痛不已時,利未和西緬便把他們都殺了。可見行了割禮之後,這些大男人是不能打仗的。神為何會在他們的敵人面前,讓他們變得如此軟弱,豈不十分危險?

但是我們看到神挑選了一個好時機,「約旦河西亞摩利人的諸王和靠海迦南人的諸王,聽見耶和華在以色列人前面使約旦河的水乾了,等到我們過去,他們的心因以色列人的緣故就消化了,不再有膽氣。」他們看到以色列人走過洶湧的約旦河如走乾地,大家都嚇破膽了。即使以色列人痛得哇哇叫,他們也不敢越雷池半步。因為以色列人的神太厲害了!

摩西時,世界已經進入晚銅器時代,即將進入鐵器時代。摩西在曠野裡就曾經做了一條銅蛇。既然已進入銅器時代,為何神要約書亞用「舊的新石器時代技術old neolithic technology」去做火石刀呢?火石刀是一種用燧石磨成的平面雙面刀片,這種燧石刀刃很鋒利,其鋒利足以用作外科器械,並且比青銅刀更銳利。青銅刀的硬度不如火石刀,比較柔軟。火石刀的刀片因為鋒利又有足夠的硬度,可以割得更好,減輕疼痛,使傷口復原得快一點。

立石為記

〈約書亞記〉 4:24要使地上萬民都知道耶和華的手大有能力,也要使你們永遠敬畏耶和華你們的神。

閱讀經文:〈約書亞記〉  4:1-24

摩西帶領以色列人過紅海已是一件令人爭議許久的神蹟,約書亞率領另一代的以色列人走乾地、過約旦河,更是讓人驚訝得難以置信。有可能嗎?有人說,約旦河並不是一年到頭河水洶湧,漫過兩岸,但是在旱季時,有多處地方都可以涉水而過。根據史丹福大學的阿摩司教授查考歷史,約旦河在1160年、1267年、1546年、1834年、1906年、1924年、1927年曾數次因地震而河堤陷塌,大量的泥沙充塞河道,興起一道攔河壩,因此有人認為,約書亞帶領以色列人渡河時會不會就是這樣的自然現象?

但是根據《聖經》的記載:「那從上往下流的水…撒拉但旁的亞當城那裡停住,立起成壘;那往亞拉巴的海,就是鹽海,下流的水全然斷絕…以色列眾人都從乾地上過去.. 」。可見當時的水流甚急,一不是乾旱,二也沒有地震發生。因為若有地震,百姓必然驚惶失措,哪還敢走到河中間?若是地震引起的攔河壩,河底也不會立即變成乾地,一定非常潮濕泥濘,難以行走。更何況抬約櫃的祭司腳踏進水中,河水就停;踏上乾地,河水就又流了,這豈是自然現象可以解釋?

人是有限的,人的認知都在自己的經驗和知識範圍裡,若是超越了自己的經驗和認知,他就覺得不可相信,要找很多理由來把它合理化,這是人的自大。人也是健忘的,得了好處很快忘記,被人得罪則記一生一世。因此,神要妁書亞選十二個人,在祭司的腳站定的地方,取十二塊石頭帶上岸;十二塊石頭代表以色列的十二支派。這些石頭要扛在肩上,可見不是小石頭,而是有份量的大石頭。

Look to Jesus

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 16:23-33.  Let’s go!

John 16:23-24 (NIV) 
23  In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 
24  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

On verses 23-24:  When Jesus says “In that day” what day is he referring to?  Jesus is referring to the time after his death and resurrection.  Jesus is talking about the amazing access his followers will have to the Father “in that day”.  As part of that access, Jesus promises that we will receive whatever we ask for from the Father in Jesus’ name.  What does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name?  It doesn’t mean that we can pray for anything and simply tack on the words “in Jesus’ name” and expect to receive it.  As we discussed in John 14:13-14, to ask in Jesus’ name means that we ask for what Jesus would ask for in that situation and that we believe in the authority of Jesus’ name to accomplish what we ask for.  When we ask in Jesus’ name, we will receive what we ask for and we will experience a joy that the world cannot give.

John 16:25 (NIV)
25  “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.

約書亞率民過約旦河

〈約書亞記〉 3: 5    約書亞吩咐百姓說:「你們要自潔,因為明天耶和華必在你們中間行奇事。」

閱讀經文:〈約書亞記〉  3:1-17

四十年前,當摩西率領以色列人來到紅海邊時,前無去路,後有追兵,摩西完全不知道當如何行。百姓起哄,懼怕萬分。耶和華對摩西說:「你為什麼向我哀求呢?你吩咐以色列人往前走。 你舉手向海伸杖,把水分開,以色列人要下海中走乾地。(出14:15-16)」摩西按著神所說的向海舉杖,東風吹了一夜,海水才分開,變成乾地。摩西經歷過之前的十個神蹟,已經曉得只要神說什麼,他做什麼,就對了。約書亞雖然也經歷過那些神蹟,但還不是輪到他舉杖的時候,他還沒有感受到那種心理上的壓力。直到要過約旦河之前,他開始經歷第一個考驗。

以色列人都知道要過約旦河,但是沒有人知道要怎樣過河。在喇合救探子的故事裡,我們曾提到那是收割大麥的季節。在巴勒斯坦,也就是迦南地,三四月份是收割大麥的時期。他們在秋季下種,春季收割。那時正是雨季結束,北方黑門山冰雪消融,河水氾濫,漲過兩岸的時期。沒有人建議造船,也沒有人建議等到河水緩流再過去。沒有計劃。

有位弟兄曾作被解雇四次的見證。他每次禱告交託後,總是很樂觀地相信事情會有轉機,但每次都免不了被解雇。在最近一次的解雇裡,公司提早通知兩個月,所以在接下來的兩個月裡就沒什麼事好做了,等於停職領薪。正好老家有朋友來,他便帶著他們玩了四十天。朋友前腳搭機離去,他後腳也搭機去面試。正好在領到解雇書的第二個星期,他就搬到美國另一個州去工作了。這就是基督徒的生涯,我們不知道明天將如何,但我們相信神知道,祂必帶領我們的每一步。

Joy Is Coming

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 16:12-22.  Let’s go!

John 16:16-22 (NIV) 
16  “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17  Some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
18  They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19  Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’?
20  I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
21  A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
22  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

On verses 16-22:  What did Jesus mean when he would tell his disciples, “in a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me” (v16)?  Jesus was pointing to his death and resurrection.  The darkest night – when Jesus Christ would die – was coming, but it would be superseded by a brighter day: when Jesus rose again.