October 24, 2021
What If…We Do Something Extraordinary?
Mark 10: 46 – 52
Today’s Scripture Lesson is about a blindman named “Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus,” a blind beggar (v. 46). He was a minority who lived on the edge of society. He probably was sitting in the same spot begging for money or food for most of his life. I’m sure some people just ignored him and did not realize this blind man was sitting there day after day. In other people’s eyes, Bartimaeus was a very unimportant, insignificant, and even unpleasant person which our society now calls a parasite.
During that first century, people with disabilities did not receive any benefits from their government because the government did not offer any help to them. People with disabilities simply lived under the mercy of the people around them. If their neighbors failed to help those who were not able to work for a living for various reasons, those in need simply died away from hunger. During Jesus’ ministry, Jesus really encouraged and even demanded people to look out for those in need. We still need to look out for the families in need around us.
For such an unimportant and insignificant person, Bartimaeus’ name got written in our Bible and the whole world is learning about him. Why and how? Bartimaeus did something extraordinary or should we say that he did something crazy. I’m sure people were not very thrilled to have this blindman begging in their neighborhood. They probably wanted him to stay low and stay quiet. Don’t cause any problems. Don’t make us look bad. And we will let you stay there and beg. I had people doing that to me before. I have been told by some where my place in different areas of society is and encouraged to stay there. When I get out of my place, they get mad.
Well, this blindman, Bartimaeus, went out of his given place and made himself known to everyone. Bartimaeus started to shout as loud as he could, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 47). Of course, “many sternly ordered him to be quiet” (v. 48). How dare he raise his voice in a public place to be heard? Bartimaeus forgot that he was not allowed to get out of his given place.
Bartimaeus did not care about what anyone else said or thought of him. Because his aim was not to get their attention, but to get Jesus’ attention, to be recognized by Jesus. He couldn’t see anything, but he knew that Jesus was nearby. He probably sensed that there were a lot of people surrounding Jesus. So, what did he do? He shouted even louder saying, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (v. 48).
Calling out to Jesus so desperately in that unexpected, uncomfortable, embarrassing place, he surely received the attention of Jesus. Bartimaeus receives sight from Jesus and also receives a compliment from Jesus saying, “your faith made you well” (v. 52). Jesus is saying to him, “Without your faith, you would not have been well. Because you have such faith, you have received the sight as you wanted. You did good!” No wonder Bartimaeus’ name is recorded in our Gospel. Sometimes, our radical, nonsense, and even foolish act of faith according to this world will force God to take an action in our favor. The world calls that a miracle!
In Korea’s recent history, meaning within 100 years, we had a group of Christians who acted very foolishly in their faith, according to the world. You have heard some TV pastors saying, “God told me to raise two million dollars by next month. Call us right now.” Well, something like that happened in Korea. I was told that it was a Methodist Church.
One Sunday, the pastor told the congregation, “God has spoken to me. God wants you to keep one week’s worth of money from this month’s paycheck and give the rest to our Church.” How would you feel and act if I stand here before you and tell you this one Sunday? “Keep only one week’s worth of money to survive and give the rest to God through this Church from your paycheck this month.” The congregation acted the way one would expect. Some embraced the idea, others rejected the idea.
Half the congregation left that Church and the other half stayed and did what the pastor asked them to do. That happened a long time ago. I’m sure some of them went home to the LORD and some are still here with us. However, according to the records in Korea, every one of those who gave the LORD what God demanded them to give, has their names on the list of millionaires. Every one of those who gave to the LORD became millionaires in the years to come.
I’m sure some people called them fools when they gave to the Church so foolishly. You could have questioned the pastor thinking that the pastor is robbing the people. However, did you know that it matters little what the pastor does with that money? What you do before God, in the Name of LORD is important, that is what counts to our God. If the pastor does something ungodly with that money, then that pastor has to answer to God him or herself.
You will receive from God according to what you have done in the Name of the LORD. Other persons will receive from God according to what they have done. You will only be responsible for your own actions before the LORD. So, no matter what others do, you have to make sure that you are right with God.
Well, that Church still exists in Korea and is still growing. That Church put a mark on Korean history in the Name of the LORD through their radical obedience to God’s commands. Do you think their names are only marked on that historical record in Korea? Most importantly, their names are written in the Book of Life.
How can people act this crazy? Bartimaeus acted foolishly by shouting like a crazy man in front of all those people. Those Church members acted foolishly and irresponsibly by giving the money that they needed to survive, to support their family. My parents did the same. They gave most of their money back to the Church when they were responsible for raising four teenagers.
How can they dare to act so crazy, foolishly, and radically against the logics, understandings, and intelligence of this world? They are able and willing to take on such unthinkable challenges because of their faith in God. Our faith is such a powerful thing. Your faith can and will move the heart of our God, the Almighty God.
What did Jesus say to Bartimaeus? Jesus said, “your faith has made you well” (v. 52). What did Jesus say to a woman who bled for twelve years for touching the tip of Jesus’ robe in the crowd? Jesus told her, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you” (Matthew 9:22). What did Jesus say to a woman who had been called a dog by Jesus? Jesus told her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:28). And her daughter received healing right away.
What did Jesus say to Jairus when this gentile centurion came to Jesus to ask for healings for his servant? Jesus told him, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9). Jesus gave every single one of them the credit for receiving such healing. Jesus told them all that “Your faith has healed you.” Whether healing them was in Jesus’ plan or not, Jesus healed them because of their faith. Their faith moved the heart of God. Your faith will move the heart of our God for sure.
So, be more daring in your faith in God. Do more in the Name of the LORD. Give more in the Name of the LORD. Let people laugh at you as you humbly, radically, extraordinarily follow and obey God’s commands. Later on, later on, we will see who is laughing and who is not.
Remember Jesus said to the devil in the wilderness, “Do not put the LORD our God to the test” (Matthew 4:7). However, there is one place where God tells us to “Test ME in this” (Malachi 3:10). What does God want us to test God with? God said to test God with tithings. God said that those who do not give God what rightfully belongs to God are robbing God. God is talking about tithing, giving God one tenth of what we earn and receive.
God said that those who fail to give God the tithes are robbing God. God said, “Yet you rob ME” (Malachi 3:8). You want to hear even more scary things said by God? God said, “You are under a curse – your whole nation – because you are robbing ME” (v. 9). Our God takes tithing pretty seriously.
Does God want to make our lives miserable by putting a lot of pressure on us and force us to give God one tenth of what we earn and receive? No. Our God does not look for ways to make us miserable, but to bless us. When our God demands us to tithe, God is looking for ways to bless us even more. God tells us,
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. TEST ME in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe. Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land. (Malachi 3:10-12).
This is what happened to those who tested God in their faith with what they have. With this promise from God, my parents did more than survive during those tough times. God has promised them a dream home right here in Chesterfield. I want you to come and see what God has done in my parents’ lives because of their faith in God once they finish building their home.
With this promise from God, those believers in Korea who invested their lives through their money in God became millionaires. Holding onto this promise, David and I received more than enough for our Honeymoon. Because we believe in God’s promises, because we have chosen to believe in God radically over and against what this world says, we have come out more than victorious. People who have laughed at us when we acted foolishly are no longer laughing.
Psalm 23 tells us, LORD, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (v.5). When God brings victory into our lives, God will not do this in secret. As the Bible tells us, God will do it in front of our enemies. All those who laughed at us because of our radical act of faith will be shocked, envious, and will regret how they behaved and treated us.
So, put your trust in our God and nothing else. Nothing in this world deserves your trust except our God. Do not listen to what the world says to you, but listen to our God. Stop being influenced by this world. Instead, influence this world in the Name of our LORD Jesus Christ. Teach the world how to put their faith in our God through your life of obedience to God’s Word. In this way, we all can come out victorious in the Name of Jesus.
And invest everything in our God. Invest your heart, your time, your talents, your hope, your money, your everything to our God. Then wait, “taste and see that the LORD is good” because “blessed is the one who takes refuge in the LORD” (Psalm 34:8). Amen.
October 17, 2021
What If … We Seek God First?
Job 38: 1 – 7 (34 – 41)
We talked about Job the other Sunday. Today’s Scripture Lesson is where God responds to Job’s demand to tell him why God has allowed all those bad things to happen to Job. Does God give Job the answers which Job wanted to receive? No. Job does not receive the answers that he expected to receive. Instead, God tells Job about all the mighty things that God has done which Job absolutely could not have done in a million years.
Is Job upset about this? No. Job is more than satisfied and grateful that God came to Job in Person to let him know that everything Job has said had been heard by God. Job knew that he had not been ignored by God. God heard everything that Job had said. And God was right there with Job through it all. Even though Job was hurt and angry, he sought after God through it all.
Today’s sermon title is “What if…we seek God first?” Matthew 6 tells us to “seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (v. 33). In his pain, Job sought after God. What happened to Job? Job received a double portion of what he had lost as God promised through Isaiah.
God said through Isaiah, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so, you will inherit a double portion in your land and everlasting joy will be yours” (Isaiah 61:7). So, what will happen to those who seek God first? They will receive a double portion of blessings.
God is clearly promising us a double portion of God’s blessings when we seek our God first and put our trust in our God. However, in our lack of faith, we fall into doubting, which causes fear in us. Standing in the middle of trusting in God and fears from doubting, we have to make decisions. In our decisions, we must choose our God every time.
When David and I got married, we had to watch what we spent on the wedding. We didn’t have a lot of money at all. A part of David’s personality is that he is overly, extremely responsible. He always wants to make sure that we have enough money to pay the bills and meet our obligations. Not having enough money for whatever makes him very nervous. When we calculated everything, we had three hundred dollars left for our Honeymoon.
That three hundred dollars was supposed to cover all our gas, meals, tickets, gifts, etc., all the way to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a week. Three hundred dollars was supposed to cover them all. You know everything is more expensive in tourist areas. We knew that three hundred dollars would have barely covered our very basic needs. To make sure that we have enough money for our Honeymoon, what did we do? I suggested that we invest that money in our God.
Out of three hundred dollars, we gave God two hundred dollars. This world will call us fools and crazy. In our possessions, we had one hundred dollars to spend on our Honeymoon for a week in Tennessee. David was very nervous about this. We trusted in God. However, in our humanness and lack of faith, we did get a little nervous or maybe more than just a little. We did not know where we were going to get more money to supply our needs for our Honeymoon. We just did not have any other sources to draw money from.
Both David’s home Church and my three-point-charge Churches gave us two separate huge wedding showers. We had gifts after gifts given to us. However, we still did not have any extra money. The wedding day came. Yet, we still only had one hundred dollars for our Honeymoon. We received even more gifts during our wedding ceremony. We realized that we received some monetary gifts.
Remember that we gave two hundred dollars to God and kept one hundred dollars for ourselves? Through the generosity of our families and friends, God gave us back one thousand dollars which is ten times more than what we had. Our one hundred dollars became one thousand and one hundred dollars. That is a whole lot more than double portion but ten times more. This is what we called a miracle of the LORD. We did not spend them all on our Honeymoon. We certainly had more than enough for our needs.
When we seek our God first, God gives to us much more than what we need. When we trust in our God, God performs miracles in our lives. Miracle is the only word we can use to describe what happened to us. I knew and hoped that God would bless us when we put our trust in God. However, I did not know that God would bless us that much. That was way more than what I was hoping to receive from God.
I have seen how God comes to rescue in our times of need with my parents so many times. Because my parents only had $400 to survive each month with four teenagers by choice, they would not have made it through those tough times without God’s miracles.
One time, we only had one car and that car needed fixing badly. A pastor without a car is a huge problem. Anyone without a car is a huge problem. We didn’t know how we were going to get it fixed. We took it to this body shop which is run by Korean people. It took hundreds of dollars to get it fixed. However, the owner of that body shop refused to charge us. My parents were planning to make monthly payments. However, they absolutely refused to receive any money from my parents. They had no idea that our parents had $400 to survive every month because my parents were giving the rest of their salaries back to the Church to build our Church.
Did you know those folks were not even Christians? They were Buddhists. They go to Buddha temple to worship Buddha. They did not know our financial situation whatsoever. However, God placed in their hearts such generosity toward us. Just like those strangers who brought the wood heater when our heater died, our only source of heat. Remember that those strangers left in a hurry without receiving any payment? Same thing happened again by another family of total strangers.
What did my parents tell us? My parents said, “When the believers fail to help their fellow believers such as us, God will raise up the total strangers to come to meet your needs when you put your trust in our God.” This was another amazing incident to praise our God. One good thing about not having much is that you are forced to trust God for many things because you just don’t have any. Those tough times were our golden opportunities to learn so much about our God’s power, God’s love and generosity, and God’s miracles. I could not help myself but to put my trust in our God for all our needs.
Even though we learn about God through the Word of God, the way we come to know God personally is through our personal experiences of God. The more you experience God in your personal life, it gets easier to put your trust in God. Because you have seen God at work in your personal life over and over again. So, you have to keep creating opportunities to experience God at work in your life. Even though it may be challenging and hard, put your trust in God in your most crucial times. Keep practicing seeking our God first in everything. And experience how God comes to your rescue. You will get to a point where you absolutely cannot deny our God’s mighty power.
When Queen Esther was in a place where she and her people were about to get killed by the hand of Haman, she had to make a choice. She could have asked her king to save her and her people’s lives. However, she knew that she could get killed instantly if the king was not pleased with her. What did she do? Esther asked all her people to fast and pray for her (4:16). She did not just go see the king, risking her life. She sought God first by asking her people to do all they can to pray to God for God’s favor upon her before she went to see the king.
Esther did all she could to seek after God, to rely on God, to trust in God. After placing all things in God’s hand, Esther said, “If I perish, I perish.” What does this mean? Esther was saying, “I seek after my God. I have placed all things in God’s hand. I have done all I could to put my trust in God. I’m going to the king now. If I die, I will die. May God’s will be done through my life.” Esther trusted God with her life and the lives of her people. What did God do? God moved her king’s heart. God not only saved Esther’s life but also the lives of all her people.
Please, never forget that our God is very powerful and extremely loving toward you. You do not want to go after any of those worthless idols. You really want God on your side. Our God really does have the power to rescue you and to come to meet our needs and do more. You really do not want to seek after anyone or anything else except our God. Teach yourself, encourage yourself to seek our God first in everything and see what happens. Put your total trust in God, whether it is with your concerns, time, talents, or your money. The more you experience our God in person, you won’t be able to help yourself but to put your trust in our God first before anyone or anything else.
May our God continue to bless you with such faith in our God. May the Holy Spirit empower you to seek after our God first in all things. May our LORD Jesus Christ continue to be your true LORD and Saviour in your everyday life. May your life be filled with testimonies of wonders of our God. May you always walk in the favor of the LORD. May your life be pleasing in God’s sight until we see our God face to face. Amen.
October 10, 2021
What if … We Humble Ourselves and Pray?
Mark 10: 17 – 31
Today’s Scripture Lesson talks about a rich young man who earnestly sought the way “to inherit eternal life” (v. 17). This young man is not a bad person. He faithfully lived the life of obedience to God’s Word. Jesus actually was happy with this young man. The Bible tells us that Jesus “loved him” (v. 21). However, Jesus told him, yet, “you lack one thing” (v. 21). Jesus told him to “go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (v. 21).
Jesus did not say that “once you give your possession to the poor, you might receive treasure in heaven.” What Jesus said was a promise, a guarantee saying that “You will definitely receive treasure if you share your possession, your money with those in need.” Jesus, our God, made a promise to this young man in Person. Not only that but also called him to follow Jesus saying, “them come, follow ME” (v. 21). This young man could have been the thirteenth disciple of Jesus who had been called by Jesus in Person.
Why? Why did he refuse this opportunity of his lifetime in this world and in that everlasting life? What drove him to make such a horrible choice? Do you think he made such a foolish mistake because he is rich? Are all rich people foolish and not deserving to enter the Kingdom of God? No! Not at all. Being rich is a blessing. You can do so much with what God has given you for many others out there.
Being rich is not a sin at all. Money itself is not sinful at all. That’s not what the Bible tells us. The Bible says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money in itself is not sin or evil. Having a lot of money certainly is not sinful. However, “the love of money” will lead to sinfulness. This does not mean that we should not work hard for money or work toward securing your future. That is not sinful, but being responsible.
“The love of money” becomes sinful when your love for money becomes bigger than your love for our God. This young man in today’s Gospel loved God. That is why he obeyed God’s commands all his life. However, his love for his money was much greater than his love for God. That is why he chose his money over Jesus, our God. That is sinful. Such sinfulness will make it difficult to inherit eternal life.
Then what should our attitudes be? What do you think God desires from us? 2 Chronicles 7 tells us,
If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. (vv. 14-15).
How can we live the life that is humble before God and constantly seek God’s face? This means to trust in God with all things, including money. I have a perfect example for this. Let me tell you about my parents.
My parents served at Korean Methodist Church in Richmond, which later became United Methodist Church. We were renting a part of an American Church building to worship. We were working toward building our own Church building. So, what did my parents do? They decided to keep $400 from their salary and gave the rest back to the Church toward building the Church.
Now, our Church did not have a parsonage. My parents bought a home in Hopewell, VA. They were paying a little over $300 for a mortgage every month. They were raising four teenagers at that time. How did they survive with $400 every month? Four of us were born within five years. My parents could not keep anything in our refrigerator because we ate up things so fast. I lived through that time. However, I have no idea how we survived with $400 a month.
We really did not have much money at all. In order to feed four teenagers, my Mom made friends with anyone who had fruit trees in the neighborhood. I must tell you that she does not speak English at all. The only English words she knows are like “OK, thank you, sorry, hello” and stuff. However, she made friends with those who have apple trees, pear trees, chestnut trees, etc. and brought home bags of seasonal fruits to feed us.
Once a year, there was a spot on the James River where the fish gathered so much. You can pretty much dig them out with nets just standing in the water. My parents would go there and bring home bags and bags of fish from the James River. And that was our main protein for a big chunk of the year. My parents struggled to feed us and to raise us.
However, whenever they get a brand new bill, whether that is $1 bill or $20 bill, my parents would get all excited saying, “We can give this to God as an offering.” We had a place up on the refrigerator where my parents put God’s money. Whenever or however they receive money, the first thing they do is to take out tithing for the LORD. We call that “God’s money.” My parents put God’s money on the refrigerator ever since we were little. We knew not to touch that money. Whenever my parents receive money from hard work, they will say to us, “Look what God gave us!” They make it sound like the money just dropped from the sky. And they did nothing to deserve it.
We had a wood heater that was not built into the house. That was our main source of heat. One day, it died on us. My parents looked into the newspaper to find a used one for a cheaper price. My parents called and made arrangements for them to bring it to our house. My parents were going to set it up and all. However, when those strangers came, they set it up for us. They had to go back to their home to get more tools and stuff. It took hours for them to set it up. When it was finally done and was working, my parents looked for them to pay them. They were gone. We did not know where they lived. We could not reach them through the phone. They just disappeared. What did my parents tell us? They told us that they were angels sent by our God. Our parents praised the LORD for God’s amazing blessings.
My parents truly humbled themselves before God and clung to God through prayers and sought God’s face in everything. Because they trust in God, we experienced numerous miracles of how God came to meet our needs. My parents were grateful to God for everything whether we had enough or not. I learned by watching my parents that no matter what happens, God will take care of us when we put our trust in God.
My parents are now not doing too well with their health. However, they cannot believe how much God has blessed them in their old age. I believe that God has blessed us, their children so much because of their hard work and faithfulness in serving God. We are being blessed through their faithfulness before God.
You know that Roses store in Hopewell? One time, my sister and I went to Roses with Mom. My sister wanted to buy this pair of shoes which cost $3 back then. However, my Mom could not afford to get them for her. That still hurts my Mom. She still talks about that with tears like it just happened yesterday. But I have to tell you that my sister has so many shoes that she needs extra room to store them.
The life we are living is so luxurious compared to what we lived through during our teenage years. My Dad’s friend pastors truly envy my parents for the blessings God has given to them, not only financially but also with children. God has taught us to be the children who take care of our parents with love. Now, they are working on building a house in Chesterfield so we can all live closer together, which is all our dreams. God has blessed us so much, so very much. I believe that all these blessings came to us because my parents truly humbled themselves before God, and sought after God’s face through prayers and obedience to God’s Word all their lives. We, their children, are gathering the fruit of their lifetime of faithfulness to God.
Did you know that when you remain faithful to God and trust God with everything including your time, money, talent, future, etc., your children will benefit from your work in the LORD? The way we survived in the past truly was a miracle from our God. There are no other ways to explain how we survived. I have to say that we did more than just survive. We came out better, richer, and happier than ever because our parents trusted in the LORD with everything and taught us to do the same.
What if we humble ourselves and pray? You will be blessed more than you can measure. You teach your children to humble themselves and to pray to God over anything and everything by living out what you want them to learn. They will be blessed more than you can ever hope for. Continue to seek after God with prayers. Continue to “turn from wicked ways” and obey God’s Word. Continue to remain in God’s favor. And all your children and your loved ones will be blessed because of you. Praise the LORD! Amen.
October 3, 2021
Have You Considered My Servant Job?
Job 1: 1 – 2: 1 – 10
The story of Job starts out almost like a fairytale saying, “There was once a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job” (1:1). Doesn’t it almost sound like the story of Wizard of Oz, a fairytale. Also, the one who wrote this Scripture Lesson has the knowledge of what is happening in Heavenly Throne. It looks almost like a council meeting where all the angels and even Satan comes to God to report to God about what is going on down on earth.
During this heavenly council meeting, our God brags to Satan about God’s servant Job (1:3). God says, “Have you considered My servant Job? There is no one like Job on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil” (1:3). By now, God has given Satan permission to take all the possessions away from Job. Also, Job and his wife have lost all their children to death as well. According to our God, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (2:10)
On the other hand, Job’s wife is not so understanding. She is another nameless lady in the Bible. We only know her as Job’s wife. When I go to Heaven one day, there are number of ladies that I am going to look for. Once I find them, I want to ask them what their names are. Job’s wife is one of them on my list. I bet she has a beautiful name.
Job’s wife is clearly hurting, angry, and even bitter sounding. She is not as understanding as Job about all that happened to them, including their children. What happened to them is not included in today’s Scripture Lesson. When you go home, please read at least the first chapter of Job. It will tell you all about what happened to them. If you think that you are having a bad day, consider Job. I’m not sure anyone can claim to have a day as bad as Job and his wife had.
Job and his wife started out really well. Women gained significance after giving birth to a son. Job’s wife gave birth to many sons and daughters, which gave her significance. However, women were still considered a part of property. The real owner of all things is the man of the house, which is Job. So, let’s say that Job owned all things. The Bible tells us that Job “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (1:1). Clearly, Job was a good man, even approved by our God. God was so proud of Job and so happy with him that God blessed him tremendously. According to the Bible,
Job had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep,
three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys,
and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the
people of the East. (1:2-3).
While Job enjoyed all his fortunes, he did not forget God. He was always mindful of God. Th Bible tells us,
When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for
[his children] to be purified. Early in the morning Job would sacrifice a burnt
offering for each of them, thinking, “perhaps, my children have sinned and
cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. (1:5).
No wonder God was bragging to Satan about Job. Satan tries to make everyone look bad before God. However, Satan could not do that with Job. In an attempt to prove God wrong, Satan suggests something so mean to God saying that the only reason Job is being so faithful to God is because God has blessed Job so tremendously. So, Satan suggested, “But now stretch out Your hand and strike everything Job has and he will surely curse You to Your face” (1:11). Satan is so mean. I just cannot empathize with the devil.
As many of you know, God gives Satan permission to take away all of Job’s possessions, including all of Job’s ten children. God said, “However, on the man himself do not lay a finger” (1:12). Satan was not allowed to hurt Job’s physical body. However, with permission, Satan attacked and took away everything from Job, including all his children, with the exception his wife. Did you know that Job and his wife lost everything, I mean everything including, all their children in one day?
Can you imagine living luxuriously all your life, then one day, you lose everything? You have nothing. More than anything, all your ten grown children were killed for no reason, in one day. All their children obviously got along really well. They constantly came together for birthdays and other events to celebrate each other together. Losing one child is unbearable. They lost all ten children in one day. To me, that is harsher and crueler than anything else. That is beyond cruel.
What was Job’s response? Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the Name of the LORD be praised” (1:21). I cannot imagine saying something like this in his situation. I would have been depressed, hurt, and angry, so angry at God more than anything. No wonder God brags to Satan once again, “Have you considered My servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (2:3). Nothing has changed even though Job’s circumstances had changed completely for the worse. God continued, “And Job still maintains his integrity, though you incited ME against him to ruin him without any reason” (2:3).
This is where people often think that when bad things happen to good people, they will say that God is testing you. That can possibly be a test from God. However, you will never know unless you are God. So, be very careful not to speak on behalf of God when you don’t know exactly what God is doing. Just be a good brother and sister in Christ and be there for those in trouble, with prayer.
Satan told God again saying that Job is still faithful because God allowed Job to have a healthy body. That is when God allowed Satan to attack Job’s health but did not allow Job’s life to be taken. Job becomes too hideous to look at with all the skin conditions. This is when Job’s nameless wife came forward and spoke for the first time saying, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” (2:9). Of course, Job rebuked her saying, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (2:10).
If you ask me, she wasn’t talking like a foolish woman. She was talking like a woman who is so deeply hurt and dying inside. Honestly, if I were her, I would have said something a lot worse than what she said here. I would not have stopped there. I would have gone on and on about this horrible life and how mean God is to allow all these things to happen to them. Losing all ten grown children in one day might have taken away my reason to live. Who knows? Some people do not realize the severity of their situation, how devastating their situation is.
To me, Job’s wife is the real victim here. She spent almost ten years giving birth to those children that she lost through death. She spent half her lifetime raising them. Yet, they all died. The Bible tells us that God blessed them with ten new children. God must not have been upset with what she said to Job. Because Job’s wife also received all the blessings twice as much. However, here she is at her older age spending ten more years bearing ten more children and spending rest of her life raising them. By the way, just because you have received ten more children, the pain of losing ten previous children doesn’t go away. She probably lived with that pain for the rest of her life.
Many people think that Job remains quiet about what happened to them and just simply praised God. Well, that is far from the truth. When you get a chance, please take the time to read the entire book of Job. Starting with chapter three, Job begins to complain and curse the day he was born. Throughout the book, Job uses the language of a legal court, like he is bringing God to a courtroom demanding God to explain to him why all these bad things happened to him. Job never asked God to give everything that he lost back to him. However, what Job really wants to know is, “What have I done to deserve such punishment? Tell me, God, what did I do to upset You so much?”
Job openly complains to God in front of all four of his friends. According to the Bible, for first three chapters which covers seven days, Job’s friends were wonderful counselors to Job by keeping their mouths shut and allow Job to complain. However, the moment they opened their mouths, they started to criticize and attack Job without mercy.
When you read what they said, you will think that they are not so wrong. They sound very religious and sophisticated, defending God against this poor and helpless Job. However, at the end, God gets so upset with them. God wanted to kill them all. Job had to come forward and pray to God for them to save their lives. What is it they have done wrong to upset God so much when all they did was to defend God against Job?
What did they do wrong or should we say how have they sinned against God? First of all, they spoke on behalf of God when God did not speak to them. And they acted like they know exactly why all these are happening to Job and his family. They pretty much told Job that Job’s children died probably because they sinned against God. God took their lives because they sinned against God. To have such tragic death for no reason does not make any sense. Therefore, they deserve to die somehow.
One of my favorite professors from my seminary told us that one of his friends came to him right after the Funeral Service for his eight-year-old daughter. His friend told my professor, “If you had prayed a little harder, your daughter would not have died.” This so-called friend pretty much told my professor that my professor’s eight-year-old daughter died because my professor did not pray hard enough. My professor said that it would have hurt him much less if someone took a knife and stabbed him through his heart than to hear that from his friend.
Did you know that our God does not make sense to us many times, especially to the world? God did not call us to make sure that you explain everything to people about God logically. God did not say that we always have to be right. Even Apostle Paul said the for the sake of others, especially for other believers, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). These friends of Job were so focused on correcting Job about everything Job said in his pain without love of God that it caused God to burn in anger. As the Bible tells us, no matter how awesome and great what you are doing is, if you do it without Christ’s love, everything you are doing is in vain (1 Corinthians 13). That does not please God.
Job’s friends simply could not believe Job was openly blaming God for what was happening to Job. How do you blame God? Do we dare to blame our Almighty God? Yes! You can blame God. In fact, you can tell God anything, absolutely anything and everything. Of course, God rebuked Job for demanding God for answers. God never gave Job the answers that Job desired. However, Job was more than grateful that God heard his prayers and came to him in Person to vindicate Job before Job’s friends. When God came to Job in Person, God honored Job for his honesty before God.
So much happened when I was attending college. One time, we almost lost our mother over am aneurysm. I became so bitter, hurt and angry toward God. I clearly know that God has the power to stop any bad things from happening. However, to me, God was allowing all kinds of bad things to happen in our lives, in my life. So, when I went to the practice room in the music building, I spent many of my hours crying and getting angry at God.
I would say, “God, I hate You. You are so mean to allow this to happen to me, to us. I am so angry at You. I hate You.” I feared as I was saying this to God. But I was so hurt and angry. I didn’t mind dying. Every time I said this, I pictured God sending lightening to strike me dead. But God didn’t. In seminary, my sister, Rhoda sponsored me to go to Walk to Emmaus. Walk to Emmaus is the retreat that you can only go to once in your lifetime. Once I went there, I experienced so much grace of God. I thought God had made a mistake and sent that grace to me by accident. But it was no accident. Instead of punishing me for being daring to God without respect, God honored me for trusting God’s love enough to be utterly honest before God.
When I said, “God, I hate You,” God did not say, “Really? You hate ME? I hate you, too.” That’s not how God took my anger. God took it as, “I know you are hurting and in lot of pain.” Instead of punishing me, God accepted me as I am and healed me and loved me. Did you know that our God is much bigger, much stronger, and so much more loving than you can ever imagine? Did you know that our God is big enough to take all your troubles, problems, hurts, pain and everything else and still loving enough to accept you and heal you? Our God can handle it all in love and still love you no matter what. Trust in God’s love.
You know some kids will behave so nicely when they are at school. Yet, they misbehave when they come home. Why is that? Because those smart kids know that they will get in trouble if they misbehave at school. However, they also know that their parents will love them and accept them no matter how they behave. They may receive punishment from their parents, but they know their parents will never stop loving them.
Have that same faith in our God. God loves you so much more than you think. You can go to God and tell God anything. God will still love you and accept you, always. I pray that you will learn to totally and completely trust in our God and learn to dwell in our God in all and every situation. As this one pastor said, “Trust in God in all situations and enjoy your life while God solves your problems.” Praise the LORD. Amen.
September 26, 2021
Pray for One Another
James 5: 13 – 20
Today’s Scripture Lesson talks about Prayers! We, Christians, need to know how powerful our prayers are. Prayers are not a requirement that we must practice. Prayers are a gift from God to us. Prayers are our direct access to God’s heart. Our prayers have the power to move God’s heart, especially when we pray as a family in Christ.
James instructs us to come together and pray when there is sickness or any problems in the body of Christ. Because “The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the LORD will raise them up, and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven” (v. 15). Miracles happen when we pray.
There is a movie called “Little Boy.” This movie takes place during WWII. A little boy is desperately waiting for his father to come home from the war. He asks a priest for help to find out what he can do to make sure that his father comes home safe. The priest explains to the boy how God works in our lives.
The boy just went to see the great magician and saw how he moved the bottle without touching it. The priest asked the boy to move the bottle without touching it. The boy tried, tried, and tried, but couldn’t do it. Watching the little boy trying so hard, the priest moved it for him with his hand. Then the priest said, “There, you moved it.” But the little boy was puzzled. He said, “No, I didn’t. You moved it.” Then the priest said, “You were working so hard that you moved my heart to move it for you.” The priest said, “When you pray and try so hard, that will move God’s heart and God will move it for you.”
That’s how it works. When we pray honestly and faithfully while living our lives devoted to God, in obedience to God’s Word, God will do what we cannot do for our benefit. While you do what you can in God, God will do what you cannot do. I had a lay leader in one of the Churches I served in the past. He was telling folks not to bother God too much. Because God doesn’t want to be bothered. I had to have a talk with him. He was speaking against what was written in the Bible.
According to Revelation chapter six, there is a sheer silence in Heaven while the angel brings the prayers of the people to God. This is what the Bible says,
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand (Revelation 8:3-4).
According to the Bible, God anxiously waits for our prayers to arrive. You know, Heaven is a place of celebration. There is a constant celebration taking place in Heaven with praises and Worship to our God. People are constantly partying and having fun without an end. However, when our prayers are brought to our God, everything stops in Heaven. All the parties and celebrations stop completely so that God can give all God’s attention to our prayers. There is a sheer silence throughout Heaven when we pray. That’s how important, how precious our prayers are to our God.
When I was a teenager living in Hopewell, I wanted to test the power of prayers. I had just learned about prayers of blessings and cursing in Jesus Name at Church from my Dad. I wanted to see and to experience the power of prayers and the power of curses. In my childish mind, it was going to work. We had two fruit trees in our backyard. We had an apple tree and a peach tree. They didn’t have fruit yet, but were growing beautifully. Every chance I had, every time I saw the apple tree, I cursed it. It was mean, I know. And every time I saw the peach tree, I blessed it. I did that for a while. Nothing happened right away.
I don’t know exactly how long it took to see the results of my prayers. However, that summer we gathered buckets full of huge juicy peaches, I mean huge juicy sweet peaches. After that, we didn’t see any more peaches. By the end of fall that same year, that beautiful apple tree lost all its green and became a long dead stick. We never saw one more green leaf from that apple tree ever again.
We should not test God in such a way. I know I was acting like Gideon from the Book of Judges. I really don’t like Gideon. He is the chicken of the Bible. Even though I acted like a biblical chicken, God allowed me to experience that power of prayer. Why? Because God loves me. I will never forget that experience. I know that I didn’t totally believe that it would happen. However, it was God’s mercy for my soul that God allowed me to experience such results.
My Mom used to go everywhere to preach. She led so many Revival Services while in Korea and here in the United States as well until she couldn’t physically do it anymore. When Mom was still single, she was asked to lead a Revival Service which happened three times a day for a week. She said that there were hundreds of people at each Service. People were so fired up and in high spirit. During one evening Service, they brought a blind man to Mom and asked her to pray for him, to heal him.
She did pray for him aloud saying, “LORD, we know that You are a Great Healer who has power to do all things. LORD, we lift up this man to You trusting that You will heal him…” However, in her heart she was thinking, “God, this is crazy. What are they thinking? I am not God. I can’t heal anyone. I’m dying here. What am I going to do? How am I going to heal a blindman?” But she continued to pray saying “LORD Jesus, we trust in You. We trust that You will heal him.” And those hundreds of people prayed with her.
Next day, a young man came to see her before the Worship Service. He came to tell her “Thank you.” Mom didn’t know who he was. When Mom asked, he said, “You prayed for me last night. Remember, I’m the blind man from last night.” She could not believe it. That blind man was healed. He was able to see like non-blind people. Mom said that she knew right then and there that it wasn’t her faith that healed this man. Mom told me the prayers of the people are what moved God’s heart. God heard and answered their prayers.
When Korean people pray to God, they literally cry out to God in loud voices. They don’t care who hears them or what others think about the way they pray. They cry out to God as loud as they can. Do you think that when you cry out to God whether you do it out loud or silently, God will say, “I AM too busy. I AM not in the mood. I AM not answering your prayer because you are not perfect”? When we cry out to God, we get God’s full attention every time no matter what.
This one father was busy working in his office at home. However, his young boy came in and begged him to go out and play with him. The father couldn’t resist his son. They played around a big tree in their backyard. The father told the son as he was going back to his office not to climb the tree by himself. The boy said, “Okay, Daddy. Don’t worry.” What do you know? As he looked out the window in his office, his son was hanging on the branch crying out, “Daddy! Daddy!”
Now, do you think that the father of that boy was standing there thinking, “I clearly told him not to climb the tree. But he didn’t listen to me. So, I need to let him learn the lesson on his own.” Or could he be thinking, “He did not do the chores last night. So, I should not run and help him.” Do you seriously think that’s what happened? This father did not spend a moment to think of anything. As soon as he saw his son hanging on that branch with two hands, he ran out as quickly as he could to catch his son before his son dropped to the ground. If the father could, he would have run through the walls to get to his son. What did the son say? “What took you so long?” That didn’t matter to the father. The most important thing to the father was that his son was safe.
Do you think that God will listen and answer our prayers only if we are perfectly good? If we don’t fully believe, do everything right, and make God happy all the time, do you think that God will love us less? At any point in our lives, God cannot possibly love us more than the way God loves us right now. Because our God is always loving us fully and completely.
Did you know that there is a power in obedience to God’s Word even though you struggle to fully believe in what God is telling us? Let me ask you a question. Remember the first Passover night? God commanded the Israelites to paint the doorposts with blood of the lamb. Then the spirit of the dead will pass over the houses with blood of the lamb. Now, there were two houses side by side. They both put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. One house was having a celebration over God’s salvation believing that God will save their firstborn son because they did what God told them to do. However, the second house was filled with grief and tears because there is a chance that they might lose their son that night.
Now, whose son do you think was saved that night? Do you think that only the son of those who believed was saved? No! Not at all! What did God say to them? Did God tell them to put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and if you don’t believe in what I say, your son will not be saved? No. God simply told them to put the blood on their doorposts then the spirit of the dead will pass over your houses. Your sons will be saved. Whether they believed and celebrated or doubted and cried, they were all saved because they obeyed God’s commands.
There is power in obedience even though you may have a hard time believing in God’s promises. When you pray to God, do you always believe that God will answer your prayers? When my baby sister, Hae Na, was sick with low platelets, I really had a hard time believing what God was telling me. God kept telling me, “Don’t worry. Hae Na will come out of this healthier and stronger than ever.” However, the doctors were telling me that she could die any minute. Even though God kept telling me that Hae Na will get all better, I really had a hard time believing what God was telling me.
However, I continued to pray. I continued to ask everyone, absolutely everyone to pray for Hae Na. Because the Bible told us, “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the Name of the LORD. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the LORD will raise them up” (vv. 14-15). Even though I struggled to believe in what God was promising me, I continued to do what God was telling me to do. So did my mom. She honestly did not believe that the blind man could see again. But she prayed to God anyway and the people of God all prayed to God together.
What happens when we pray to God because God tells us to pray even though we have a hard time believing in God’s promises? God will answer our prayers as God promised. God’s answers may not be exactly what you want to hear, but God will not ignore your prayers. God honors your prayers. God cherishes your prayers. When you pray, there is a sheer silence in Heaven in your honor.
God is not obligated to do what you say. However, God is obligated to do what God has said. God is obligated to keep God’s Word, God’s promises. God told us to pray, pray for the sick and pray for one another. God clearly said that the prayers have the power to heal the sick. Sometimes, that healing is not exactly what we think healing is. But God will do whatever is best for us because God loves us.
So, whatever you may be going through in your life, you make sure to go to God and cry out to God. You may not have a perfect relationship with God. You may not fully believe in everything God says. However, do not let that stop you from obeying God’s Word. You continue to pray for one another and do all you can according to God’s Word. And God will do what you cannot. Praise the LORD. Amen.
September 19, 2021
Love At All Times
James 3: 13 – 4: 3, 7, 8a
I am sure you are aware of the conflict the United Methodist Church has been facing in recent years. We are on the verge of getting split into two separate denominations. I feel that both sides are trying their best to do what they think is God’s will and what God desires from us. Both sides are trying to be faithful to God in their own ways. Since we, humans, cannot determine God’s will on our own, I am choosing to stick with the Word of God.
We can decide all we want on what the most important thing in our faith walk is or what God desires from us. Even though we may come up with answers on what God’s will is, God’s will might go in a totally opposite direction than what we have decided. Therefore, to me, it is best and safe to stick with God’s Word in order to live according to God’s will. I believe this because God will not do -anything against what God has spoken to us; what God has commanded us. Which ever way God is telling me to go, I always have to be ready to go with God, regardless of what I think or want to believe.
One of the things that hurt me so badly in this process of getting split up is the anger. There is so much anger towards one another. Whatever we decide here on earth will be clarified and judged by Jesus on that judgment day. We can fight over many things here on earth all we want. However, when Jesus comes back, Jesus will judge us according to God’s will regardless of what we think or believe. No matter what we say or fight over here on earth, Jesus is the One who is going to decide what is right and wrong.
Instead of hating each other because the other side is believing things differently, thinking differently, or doing things differently, we just need to focus on living out God’s calling whatever that may be and do our best to be faithful to God. And let God be the judge. God will tell us at the end whether we lived our lives according to God’s will or according to our will. We need to focus on living our lives according to God’s commandments and calling. God is calling me to stick with God’s Word no matter what happens. So, that’s what I am doing, sticking to God’s Word.
However, so many Christians are passionately mad at one another because the folks on one side are refusing to agree with everything they want the other side to believe. Please, tell me and help me to understand this. Which human being in this world actually believes everything that he or she hears? People actually do that?
I have to tell you that I love my family. I am ready to die for them, especially for my children, any time if I have to. However, I do not agree with everything that they want me to believe. They also do not agree with everything that I want them to believe. It is the same with my husband. However, we do not stay passionately angry at each other with bitterness only because we do not agree on everything. We still love each other and will continue to love each other and respect each other’s beliefs. As parents, we will continue to encourage, influence, teach, correct, and guide them to the way that is given to us through the Bible in Christ’s love.
As 1 Corinthians 13 tells us, no matter how right we may be, if we do all things without love, it means very little to God. This Scripture tells us that no matter how great your accomplishment may be, doing it without love is nothing. When people refused to welcome Jesus, the disciples asked Jesus, “LORD, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54). What did Jesus do in response? “Jesus turned and rebuked them” (v. 55). Why? Jesus did not come to fight against all the people who refuse to believe in Jesus. Jesus said, “For the Son of man is not come to destroy human lives, but to save them” (v. 56, KJV).
Jesus clearly told us, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than one’s master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent one. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:15-17). Jesus told us this right after washing disciples’ feet. Jesus humbled Jesus-self this much and served the disciples. Then why are we not serving each other in love?
The Bible tells us, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27). The Bible is not telling us not to get angry. However, when you do get angry, “do not sin” “in your anger.” According to Bible, not loving each other is sin.
Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:2 to “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 tells us, “Now I exhort you, brothers and sister, by the Name of our LORD Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Which part of these Scriptures are we keeping by staying angry at each other?
Paul knew that no human being will agree on every matter. We are allowed to disagree on things. However, we have to do it in Christ’s love. We have to agree to disagree. Remain faithful to live out God’s calling. And let Jesus be the Judge on how we lived our lives. It is okay to go separate ways. Sometimes, that is the best way when we do it in Christ love. Remember what the Bible tells us? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to God’s purpose” (Romans 8:28). We have to believe that our God has the power to make all things for good no matter what the complications and problems may be.
When Apostle Paul and Barnabas was getting ready to go on their second missionary journey, they ran into a huge disagreement (Acts 15). Barnabas wanted to take John-Mark with them. However, Paul was against it because John-Mark deserted them in the middle of their first missionary journey for no good reason and never came back. Apostle Paul refused to take him, but Barnabas wanted to take him. So, what did they do? They went separate ways. The Bible tells us that “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the LORD. Paul went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the Churches” (Acts 15:39-41).
Did this disagreement leave them as enemies who stayed angry at each other? Not at all. They continued to served in ministry together in Christ’s love. When Paul was under house arrest, imprisoned in a house, it was getting more dangerous to stay with him. So, some of those who were working with him left him cold. Paul writes a letter in 2 Timothy 4 saying, “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get John-Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (vv. 9-11). John-Mark is the one that Paul refused to take with him on his second missionary journey. However, we can clearly see that Paul is asking for him saying that “John-Mark is helpful to me in my ministry.” Does it sound like they hate each other and stayed angry at each other all the time?
Disagreement is allowed in ministry or in any relationship as long as we do it in love and in respect for each other in Christ. Just because a person disagrees with you, it does not mean that this person hates you. Before you get into arguments, you all need to agree to disagree. So that we can continue to be obedient to God’s Word given to us in the Bible. As Paul urges us in Philippians 2, we need to make our God happy “by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and on one mind” (v. 2). No matter how we do things, we have to be the ones who are “like-minded, having the same love” and “being one in spirit and on one mind” because we are the ones who have the same goal in our lives to go into that Everlasting life. How can we stay as enemies or stay angry at one other in this life when we are destined to spend eternity together in that Heavenly Kingdom?
We cannot afford to have divisions as a body of Christ. There was a time in the Church of Corinth when they were so divided. The members at that Church were fighting over who is right and who is wrong, who they should follow and who they should not follow. It made Paul passionately upset. Paul said, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). Our God is not God of division, but God of unity. We may be forced to go separate ways to do ministry in order to remain unified. However, whatever we do, we must do it in Christ’s love for each other. What is Christ’s love? It is the love that comes with the willingness to die for the other in order to save the other. Bible reminds in 1 Corinthians 10, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (v. 31). Are we doing it all for the glory of God? Or are we letting our emotions to get the best of us?
What is the greatest commandment given to us by our LORD Jesus Christ? Jesus said, “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 similar: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40). We don’t want people to stay mad at us all the time. Then why would we stay mad at others all the time because of our disagreements? Praise the LORD that there are folks who are working toward reconciliation and healing for both groups. There are tons of pastors who are preaching love for each other even in our disagreements.
Did you know that our God grieves? God even regrets. When we fail to do what God truly desires from us, our God does grieve and even regrets. After God created the world, people went crazy. It hurts our God so deeply when we sin against God, especially when our lives get corrupted with sexual immorality. These days, people cannot even tell the differences from good and bad when it comes to morality. Every time, people get so corrupted sexually and very little faithfulness is found among them, that’s when the destructions came. The first destruction was worldwide.
The Bible tells us, “The LORD saw how great the wickedness the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that the LORD had made human beings on the earth, and God’s heart was deeply troubled” (Genesis 6:5-6). God regretted the good that God has done because of sinfulness of humans. What happened? Flood came and destroyed almost everything. When the king Saul refused to obey God’s commands, God said, “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from ME and has not carried out my instructions” (1 Samuel 15:11).
Honestly, I did not know that God grieves and regrets. Someone told me that God is so perfect and powerful that God never makes mistakes. Therefore, God does not grieve nor regret. Well, that understanding goes against what Jesus has done for us. Because God loves us so much, so much more than we can ever imagine that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. God who is All Powerful, Almighty, and All Knowing becomes vulnerable when it comes to God’s children. God continues to give us chances to repent and to be right with God clearly knowing that we will sin against God over and over again.
In college, I went to a Christian retreat with other students. I was one of the leaders. Students were divided into little cabins. My cabin had a handful of students. After turning the lights off inside the cabin, I came out and sat right outside the door to read the Bible because the light was there. It was dark and bugs were there. I was scared. But I had to read my Bible. I can’t remember exactly which part of the Bible I was reading. It was a part where people were sinning against God and God was hurting from it. While I was reading it, I felt this excruciating pain in my heart. It was not the kind of pain from getting physically hit, but the pain from a broken heart. I said to God, “God, is this how You are feeling about Your people when they sin?” I couldn’t help myself but to cry. I wept and wept. I still remember that pain, that excruciating pain.
Did you know that those Pharisees and Sadducees were not rebuked for being disobedient to God’s Laws, but for failing to love? They emphasized the Law so much that they totally failed to love as God called us to love. Let us not make that same mistake. In one of Keith Green’s messages, Keith says to “Hate sins passionately with everything that you have. Also, love the sinners, God’s people, with that same passion.” If we fail to love, all our efforts come to nothing, useless. You do all you can to teach, instruct, correct, and guide others according to God’s Word while you love them with Christ’s love who died for us all.
Jesus said in the Bible,
Not everyone who says to ME, “LORD, LORD,” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to ME on that day, “LORD, LORD, did we not prophesy in Your Name and in Your Name drive out demons and in Your Name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Depart from ME, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23).
What is God’s will? God will is to love our God with everything that we have, with everything that we are and love our neighbors as ourselves. If you keep all the laws, yet fail to keep this law and fail to love, everything you have done is in vain. So, let us be faithful to do what God truly desires from us, which is to love our God with everything and to love each other as ourselves. Then our LORD Jesus will tell us when Jesus comes back to take us home, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful…Come and share your Master’s happiness” in that Heavenly Kingdom (Matthew 25:23). Amen.
September 12, 2021
Tongue Is a Fire
James 3: 1 – 12
Today’s Scripture Lesson talks about the importance of the words we speak and sign (Sign Language) and also the importance of wisdom. Words are a powerful thing in Christian faith. Words are more than just a tool for communication. Words have power to create, to destroy, to give life and to take it. In our Christian faith, the Word is Jesus, who is God. The Word, who is Jesus, was present when God the Father created the world.
The Bible tells us,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2
According to the Bible, there was a large body of waters, “the deep”, in the beginning and “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Water symbolizes chaos. When the world was in a chaotic state, God put all things in order with the Word. With the Word, God created the world. In that heavenly Kingdom, the water, or “the chaos” will disappear completely, except the Living Water. The Bible tells us that in that New Heaven, “Before the throne, there was as it were, a sea of glass, like crystal” (Revelation 4:6, 15:2). There will be a crystal sea. There will be no more confusion in chaos, no more drowning into that chaotic sea. God put all things in order and created this world with the Word.
We, human beings, are created in God’s image. We have emotions as our God has. God has given us intelligence. We are able to create life, which is one of God’s greatest gifts, though we experience pain in the process of giving birth. Our words also have power. We may not have the power to make things appear and create with words of demand. However, we can help create or to help destroy.
Korean people say that words of encouragement and cheers can make the whale dance. When I am down and depressed, I constantly look for the words of encouragement and hope. Did you know that the state of mind plays a huge part to those who are waiting for healing? If you say a lot of hopeful and encouraging words to one who is very ill, those positive words can actually give hope to that person. With that hope, that person will have a much better chance of getting better. If you constantly tell a healthy person of all the illnesses that he or she can possibly catch all around us all the time, that person might really get sick.
I’m going to tell you something very hurtful. Did you know that with written words, we are given the rights and the power to kill fully grown newborn babies? Abortion at somewhat beginning stage of pregnancy because of some kind of complications, though it hurts, I can empathize with that. However, carrying the baby inside of the mother’s womb for nine months, (ten months according to the Lunar calendar) give birth, then killing the baby is something I really have a hard time accepting.
If a person really does not want the baby, that person should do something about it as soon as she finds out that she is pregnant, instead of waiting for the baby to fully grow, then kill the baby. Did you know that we Americans kill over 3,000 babies every day? A lot of those babies are fully grown babies. It hurts me so deeply to think about it.
People do not realize how much God loves little children. God is obsessively in love with those little ones. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to ME, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:4, Luke 18:16). God was extremely angry every time people sacrificed little children to idols. I’m sure God, who was passionately angry at those who were killing little children way back then, is still angry and hurting for those lives of little ones who are being killed today. We need to learn to use our words to help save and to heal and not to destroy lives.
The Bible clearly tells us that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7, 2:5, 8:13, 9:10, 15:33, Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10). To be wise is to fear God. This fear is the holy fear, the holy respect. It’s like this. I used to love some of my professors. I loved and respected them so much that I refused to take any of their classes. Because I was so afraid to disappoint them by not getting A’s in their classes. My love and respect for them was so great that it almost looked like fear. When we love and respect our God so much, it will look like fear.
To be wise is to do what God wants us to do and to do what makes God happy. We do this because our God is the One who has the power to give us life in this world and in that world everlasting and to bless us. In order to fear God so to be wise, we have to know God’s Word. Today’s Lectionary reading from Psalm is all about God’s Word of how God’s Law is “perfect” and “sure” (v. 7), “right” and “clear” (v. 8), and “pure” and “true” (v. 9). According to the Bible, God’s Word “revive the soul,” “making wise the simple” (v. 7), “rejoicing the heart,” “enlightening the eyes” (v. 8), “enduring forever,” and “righteous altogether” (v. 9).
So, we need to learn to use our words with power and wisdom given by our God. Our words need to be used to “revive the soul,” “making wise humble,” “rejoicing the heart,” “enlightening the eyes” because God’s Word is true and “endures forever.”
To speak wise words, you don’t have to use many words. You just have to mean it. You really must believe what God tells us and say what you have to say in faith in Jesus. I heard this story in one of the sermons. The pastor’s daughter was sick. And the daughter’s son, who was three or four years old, came into the room. He put his hands on Mommy and prayed for her saying, “Jesus, Mommy ouch. Amen.” You know that prayer has been heard by God. The mother said that she felt better after her son prayed for her.
When we sincerely pray to God and long for God, that will move God’s heart and cause God to leave that heavenly throne to be with you where you are. Jesus already proved this love to us. We don’t realize the power God has given to us. God’s love for us is a power and also a weakness for God. Did you know that the one who loves more is the weak party? That’s why Korean people say that the parents can never win when it comes to kids. Because parents love kids so much more than kids can ever love their parents. We all know that God loves us more than we can ever imagine.
God truly has given power to your words. In order to speak such words, we must trust in God’s Word. Only through God’s Word, we are able to speak with such power. There are Christians out there who speak against God’s Word claiming that the Bible is not God’s Word, but only a book written about God. That is why that one pastor was able to say that Jesus has misspoken. For them, God’s Word has to be wrong in order to make their claims acceptable. Because God’s Word is speaking against what they claim. God’s Word has to be wrong in order for them to be right. Therefore, God’s Word, the Bible has no power to them.
God does not force us to believe, but has given us choices. If you want God’s Word and promises to take place in your life, you have to, you must believe in what God has said. When you believe in, when you trust in God’s Word, God’s commandments and promises, God’s power is given to you. God’s wisdom is given to you. God’s power is revealed, performed, evident, proved, witnessed, and released in the lives of those who believe. When you look at the Bible, it’s a book like many other books. However, the Words given to us in that Book is the power of God.
We need discernment when we speak to others. Sometimes, we mean well, saying things in love to others to help them. However, what we say can be hurtful without realizing it. We, Christians love others and don’t want them to hurt. So, we are sometimes in a hurry to make them feel better. When someone is crying over the one he or she has lost, what do some people say to them in love in Christian faith? One might say, “You shouldn’t be sad, but rejoicing. Your loved one is with the LORD, now. You should be happy for your loved one.”
I’m sure they mean well when saying such things. As a Christian, one wants to remind the grieving ones about the Heavenly Kingdom and how happy the ones who have died must be. But did you know that we human beings need to grieve? The best gift that you can give to a hurting person is to give that person the permission to hurt, the permission to feel bad. Instead of saying you should or you shouldn’t and make that person feel guilty and bad for feeling bad, tell that person, “It must be hard for you. How frustrating that must be for you. I am so sorry. This is so sad.” They have to feel bad first in order to get over that sadness.
How about when people say, “God took you child because God needed an angel in Heaven.” The image of an angel is such a positive thing that relating a lost child with an angel must be something positive. But doesn’t God sound so selfish here? God just took your child away from you so that God can have another angel in heaven? This is not exactly biblical. There is no place in the Bible where it says that when we die, we become angels. No place. And our God is not that selfish.
How about when people say, “Don’t feel bad. Somebody’s got it worse than you.”? During my pregnancy with my daughter, we thought we lost our baby. I had this horrifying incident. The ER doctor told us that we lost our baby. He was so cold and said, “You lost the baby.” I did not like that man too much. I cried and cried until the next day when we found out from our midwife that there was still a healthy heartbeat there. While I was crying all night, one Church member who is a funeral director called me and told me all about all other mothers who have lost their children while they were teenagers and older. He said, “It’s much better this way. Losing a child when he or she is older is so much worse. It’s less painful this way. You should be grateful.”
That really hurt me. Here I am as sad as I can be. I just wanted to cry. Yet, this person is telling me that I should be grateful that I lost my child at an early stage. He really made me feel guilty that I was feeling bad for my child that I thought I lost when other parents are crying over losing their older children. I would have been much more comforted if someone just told me, “I am so sorry. I can’t imagine how hard this is for you. You must be heartbroken.” This describes how I feel and justifies my feelings without making me feel guilty for feeling bad.
This person’s son was in a hospital because of a bad accident. When I went to see him and asked him, “Are you okay? How are you doing?” He said, “You are the first person who asked me that. I had all these Christian friends telling me all day long how God is testing me, I should be happy because good things are going to happen after this, don’t worry God is going to make everything alright, etc. Not one person asked me how I feel about all of this.”
We, Christians need to be careful not to play God. We should not speak on behalf of God if God has not spoken to us. We should not speak of something we do not know. Sometimes, a quiet presence says a whole lot more than many words. Even though we mean well, we need to be careful what we say to others even when comforting them. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to witness Jesus through our words as well as deeds.
Continue to put your trust in God and in God’s Word. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you up with God’s wisdom that through your words and deeds, and sharing of your wisdom from God, people may come to know our LORD Jesus Christ. May your sharing be a starting fire of God’s ministry which will reach to the end of the world. When Jesus comes back, may the LORD call you, “My faithful servant. Come and join ME in My Father’s Kingdom.” Amen.
September 6, 2021
Even the Dogs
Mark 7: 24 – 37
While Jesus was physically with us here on earth doing ministry, a huge part of Jesus’ ministry was to proclaim the good news about salvation and everlasting life through Jesus. Another major part of Jesus’ ministry was pastoral care. Jesus was constantly teaching others. The ones Jesus spent so much time and energy teaching was not the whole crowd, but the disciples. Jesus spent a lot of time training disciples for the ministry which will continue after Jesus ascends into Heaven in front of them all. The crowds happened to be there witnessing and overhearing the teachings which were directed to the disciples.
Hungry and sick people were constantly coming to Jesus. This was because Jesus continued to feed and heal them. In today’s Scripture Lesson, a non-Jewish woman, a nameless Gentile woman comes to Jesus and asks Jesus to heal her daughter (v. 26). I’m sure she heard about the miracles Jesus performed. She probably came with great expectations or should we say, desperate expectations and hope before Jesus. Jesus probably was her last hope even though Jesus should be our only true hope for us everyday.
Jesus, who generously fed thousands of people and healed many sick people freely, was not very generous or kind to her. When she came to Jesus, she did not ask, but begged Jesus to heal her daughter (v. 26). She probably was so sad, desperate, and even pitiful begging Jesus to save her daughter. To this desperate woman, Jesus said, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs” (v. 27).
Did you notice what Jesus called her and even her daughter? Jesus called them, “dogs” (v. 27). Jesus really called them dogs. Can you imagine if Jesus did this today? The press will go crazy saying, “Jesus called a helpless woman and her daughter, dogs! Jesus is so cruel and mean. Jesus has no love.” News on every channel would talk about this every day. Facebook and social media would have a field day over this. The woman who had been called a dog would receive so many phone calls from news channels and talk shows to come and talk about how mean Jesus was and her horrible experience with Jesus.
No matter how desperate I may be, if someone insults me like this, I will just walk away. Even though they want to help me, I will walk away from them and never come back. However, things are different when it comes to our kids. If it means to save my child’s life, I will kiss his feet if that’s what it takes. I’m sure she was willing to endure any kind of insults if it will help her daughter to get better.
She responded to Jesus saying, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (v. 28). What is she saying here? She is telling Jesus, “Sir, You can call me whatever you want. You can insult me all You want. But Sir, please, have a heart to save my daughter. With little pity, please, save my daughter.” As a mother, I can totally empathize with her. But I cannot deny that Jesus was not nice nor gracious here to her at all. It breaks my heart to listen to her. But why? Why would Jesus treat this woman like this when Jesus came to die for absolutely all people?
This proves that Jesus is God and we are not. Jesus who knows all things probably knew how desperate she was, how sincerely she was asking Jesus to heal her daughter. Knowing Jesus, Jesus probably was hurting for her and for her daughter. Then why would Jesus act like this to her? There can be many reasons. I heard one pastor saying that Jesus was testing her faith. It’s possible that Jesus wanted to see how far she was willing to go to save her daughter or how much she really trusted in Jesus.
Honestly, if I was not convinced that Jesus had the power to heal my child, I would not have put up with that kind of treatment toward me and my daughter. She must have known and believed that only Jesus could save her daughter’s life. That is why she lowered herself even as a dog in order to receive Jesus’ healing touch upon her daughter. She was willing to receive even the crumbs fallen from the table if it was coming from Jesus. She knew that only Jesus had the power to save her daughter’s life.
Her faith in Jesus was clearly shown in her confession saying, “LORD, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (v. 28). According to Mark, Jesus said to her, “For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter” (v. 29). But according to Matthew, Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted” (Matthew 15:28). According to Matthew, Jesus praises her faith.
This is what I see happening. If Jesus simply healed this woman’s daughter without any complications or challenges, she would have gone home happy. However, through this challenge, she was given a chance to confess her faith before Jesus. Through her confession, she received not only healing for her daughter, but also received encouragement and even praises from Jesus in Person.
If it was a test, because she endured this test, she received so much more than she was hoping to receive. This experience probably helped her to continue to put her trust and faith in Jesus and to teach her daughter to do the same. Their faith in Jesus not only saves them physically but also spiritually which means new life here on earth and also new life in that Everlasting Life. Through her testimony, many others probably came to put their trust and faith in Jesus as well. Because Jesus is God, the Almighty God, Jesus made this happen for this woman, for her daughter, and probably for many others through them.
What an amazing story this is! This was possible because Jesus is God, our Almighty God. However, we are not, not even close to being God. Therefore, we have no right to call anyone a dog or any of belittling, insulting, or mocking names or comments to anybody. Whatever we do, we have to make sure to do it in
This does not mean that we let others get away with whatever is wrong according to God’s Word. God does not want us to be an evil doer nor a pushover and get stepped on all over by whoever. God gave us intelligence to know what is right and wrong. Jesus said, “I AM sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). God wants us to use the wisdom which God has given us for good. The important thing here is that whatever we do, we have to do it all in Christ’s love.
As we treat everyone in Christ’s love, we also have to learn to endure all things in Jesus. This Gentile woman knew what she wanted and needed. When Jesus insulted her, she could have turned around and walked away from Jesus. However, she wasn’t going to leave until she received what Jesus has for her. She was willing to endure hardships and even harshness to receive everything that Jesus has for her. That’s easier said than done.
When I went to California for work, I saw one Church in San Francisco called, “The Perfect Church.” That really made me think. What is their definition of Perfect? How can any Church dare to call themselves Perfect? We all know that all Churches go through some type of conflicts and problems. I have not yet seen one Church without any problems.
I heard of one Church in Baltimore, MD. That Church split up over a chair. They could not agree upon where to put that chair up in the front near the pulpit. So, they went two separate ways. One time, one of my previous Churches had a huge conflict over cleaning the Church. It doesn’t take much for folks to get upset and stop coming to Church. How many people do you know who have stopped coming to Church over some type of conflict? How about you?
One time, this man who only comes to Church a couple of times a year came to Church during an Easter Egg Hunt. He yelled at my children while they were still young because of what his grandson did. Our children ran to our car crying. If I was not a pastor, I would have punched his face and never have gone back to that Church again. I had to go to the next Church to preach. I was so emotional, angry, and hurt, I preached in tears. It was a nightmare. I still do not like that man.
Because we are all human beings who are not perfect, we make mistakes. We hurt each other consciously and unconsciously. Did you know that the Church is full of sinners? Sometimes, our sin gets so bad that we stink to high Heaven. We all are in desperate need of salvation through our LORD Jesus. If we don’t receive that salvation in Jesus’ Name, we cannot make it to Heaven. We need to become like this Gentile woman who was willing to endure through any kinds of hardship in order to receive what Jesus has for her.
My first college was Richard Bland College in Petersburg. Then I transferred to VCU in Richmond. Richard Bland College really did not have Christian Fellowship on campus until much later. So, I went to VCU looking for Campus Ministry for students. It was close to Christmas. I was working at a clothing store called Merry-Go-Round at Southpark Mall. They sold all kinds of different clothes. Workers had to wear clothes according to a weekly theme. That week was miniskirts. I was about 50 pounds thinner back then. So, I looked good.
I rushed to VCU campus after work. I didn’t have time to change to regular clothes. I had a pretty shirt, miniskirt, and high heels on. I ran to the classroom where they were having a Friday Service. One boy was sitting outside the door welcoming everyone. When he saw me, he was not very happy at all. He looked at me from top to bottom like saying, “Why are you here?” He didn’t even say Hello. He just opened the door for me.
I went inside to worship with everyone. I really had a hard day. People were giving me a hard time at work. So, when we had the closing prayer, I prayed a little longer than others. When I opened my eyes, everyone was altogether to one side, fellowshipping. And I was sitting there all alone. What was my first thought? This is not a place for me. I don’t think I’ll be coming back here again.
What did God say to me right there and then? God said, “Remember, you are not here because of them. You are here because of ME. Focus on ME. You are here because of ME, not because of them.” God told me this so loud and clear. I came back the following week and every week. Eventually, I transferred to VCU and lived on that campus permanently for a couple of years.
In time, my nickname became Apostle Paul of Campus. I led seven Bible Studies a week. I led the Praise Band for that Campus Ministry while I was working with youth and the women’s group at Church, where my parents were serving. I also received God’s calling into full time ordained minister while I was serving there.
What would have happened if I left and never came back to that Campus Ministry again? What if I have never gone back there again thinking, “You treated me like a dog and call yourself a Christian, you hypocrite? I will not be treated this way by you or anyone else. You hurt my feelings and I will never forgive you. I’m never coming back here again”? If that really happened, I may not be here today. My life could have changed drastically. Who knows which way I could have gone?
Thank God that God directed me to God and not to those mean people. Sometimes, we forget why we are here. We are not here to impress others. We are not here to judge others. We are not here to get accepted by others or to receive approval by others. We are here because of our God. We are here to Worship our God. We are here to glorify our God. Also, we are here to receive absolutely everything that God has for us.
Be like that nameless Gentile woman. “You can call me a dog or insult me or hurt me all you want. But you are not going to make me leave this place and make me miss out on all that God has for me. Nothing that you do or say to me will make me quit or give up serving My God! Devil, you stir me up through these people, but you will never win. Because my God is with me!”
No matter what happens to you, put your focus on God, not on people or on situations. Your focus always needs to be on God. Those people do not have the power to give you that Everlasting Life, only God does. Out of the whole Bible, not one verse tells us to make everyone happy. That is not in God’s will. Jesus could not even do that. Jesus made a lot of people mad. The only One you need to focus on making happy is our God. You are called not to make everyone happy, but to love everyone in Christ’s love. So, you continue to love everyone in Christ’s love and do all you can to make our God happy and receive everything that God has for you in this life and in that life Everlasting. Amen.
August 29, 2021
Traditions That They Observe
Mark 7: 1 – 8, 14 – 15, 21 – 23
Today’s Scripture Lesson deals with God’s Law versus human made laws. The Bible tells us that there were Pharisees and scribes criticizing Jesus for not following their laws. Though they were experts of the law, they were still clueless about God’s law in Jesus’ eyes. Of course, Jesus taught them what it means to follow the law that is acceptable to God.
So, who were the Pharisees and scribes? Both Pharisees and scribes had a lot to do with laws. They were all law experts. Many citizens during the time of the first century were not that rich. For example, the disciple Peter was a fisherman. He would go out to fish everyday. Whatever he caught on a given day was what he used to survive, whether he sold them or ate them with his family.
During the first century and before that time, women without a man in their lives, such as a husband or a son, did not have any other way to make a living besides begging or gleaning at a field, where the owner of the field already had finished harvesting. There was no government fund or anything to support them. They simply survived at the mercy of their surrounding neighbors.
Pharisees were a little different. While others worked to survive day to day, morning to night, Pharisees were one of those who had a little more money. They could afford not to work from sunrise to sunset. They had the luxury of taking time off from work in the middle of the day to discuss the Law of the LORD. They would sit around the table and have big discussions.
The biggest difference between Pharisees and Sadducees was that Pharisees believed in resurrection and Sadducees did not. They agreed upon most of the things in the Holy Scriptures, except resurrection. The issue of resurrection was what separated them. Now, the scribes were like lawyers of today. They were the experts of both religious and civil laws. Sometimes they were called the teachers of the law.
Let’s talk about laws. Jews had two different kinds of laws. One was the Law given by God. The other one was human made laws. If we look at the Ten Commandments, God has given us Ten Commandments to follow, to keep. However, in order to keep the God given Ten Commandments, those religious leaders came up with hundreds of other laws to support those Ten Commandments and to make sure that people kept those Commandments the way that they wanted people to follow.
For example, God said in the Fourth Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). God said not to work but rest because “God rested on the seventh day” after creating the world (Exodus 20:11). In order to make sure that people follow this commandment, these law experts came up with all the lists of what they considered work and what was not, which goes beyond what God said.
In the religious leaders’ minds, if people refuse to follow their human made laws, then these leaders would accuse people of sinning against God. If people follow the laws which religious leaders laid out, then they will consider people righteous. That is why these religious leaders criticize Jesus for not following their laws. In their eyes, Jesus is a sinner.
Jesus, our God, our LORD and Saviour is the Law Giver. We are called to obey the laws and commandments given by our LORD and God, Jesus. Here they are criticizing Jesus for not following their laws, “the tradition of the elders” (v. 4). Really? Who is greater here, Jesus of their ancestors? Seriously.
People still do that, don’t they? Nowadays, people are getting into a habit of choosing which Law of God they are going to follow and which ones they are going to throw out the window. One pastor put it on Facebook saying that in one of the things Jesus taught, Jesus had misspoken. That just shocked me hearing such a statement, especially from a pastor. So, if Jesus does not agree with one’s idea or belief, then Jesus is the One who is wrong. Because they cannot be wrong, correct? Jesus has to be the wrong party in order to justify what they want to believe. I had to say to that pastor, “Should I believe in Jesus or you? I’ll go with Jesus.”
Thanks to our father, John Wesley who taught us this. There are four sources of authority which help us to grow in our walk with God. They are tradition, intellect or reason, experience, and Scripture. Each one of them is very important. However, the only source of authority that we can fully rely on is the Scripture, the Word of God, that is the Bible.
Tradition is very important. Tradition and different understanding of Scripture and theology divided us into different denominations. We cannot say that one is right and the others are wrong. You have to find the one that is right for you. The reason I am United Methodist is because of theology. Our theology is based on John Wesley’s understanding of Holy Scripture. So far, I have not found anything that I disagree with in John Wesley’s theology.
Tradition can take place with different understanding of Scriptures or circumstances. For example, the Bible tells us that “As soon as Jesus was baptized, Jesus went up out of the water” (Matthew 3:16). When your whole body is under the water and you are coming out to dry land, you are coming “up out of the water.” When you are standing in the shallow part of the water where the water comes up to your knees or waist then coming out to dry land, you are coming “up out of the water.”
With this statement where “Jesus went up out of the water” after baptism, we do not know exactly how Jesus was baptized whether Jesus’ whole body was under the water or Jesus was standing on a shallow place of the water while Jesus was being baptized.
The Baptist denomination took it a little more literally. When they baptize someone, they make sure that person is fully immersed in the water for baptism. The Methodist took it more symbolically. Methodist does all different ways of baptizing individuals, depending on whatever that person is comfortable with such as immersion, sprinkling, or pouring water on the head.
Why? Because we, Methodist, focus more on the state of your heart and commitment before the LORD and God’s people than the actual act of baptism. I have no doubt that Baptist focuses on that personal commitment before God as well. Should we say that Methodist is right and Baptist is not or to say that Baptist is right and Methodist is not? No. Absolutely not. You just continue to be faithful to what God has placed in your heart and let God be the Judge.
Talking about tradition, I went to this one Church to preach as a special preacher. During the Worship Service, everyone turned and stared at the wall behind them while reciting the Apostle’s Creed. I just could not figure out why. I asked a number of folks, but no one seemed to know why. They just said, “We always did it this way.” Finally, I found one much older gentleman who knew why.
Long time ago, their Church could not afford to buy Hymnals for everyone for Worship Services. So, the Church wrote the Apostle’s Creed on the back wall so that everyone can recite it together without using the Hymnals. Later, the Church grew and had Hymnals on every pew. The Church painted over that Apostle’s Creed on the back wall. However, people still turned around and stared at the back wall, that blank wall, while they recited the Apostle’s Creed. Many of them do not even know why they do what they do. This proves that tradition is not totally reliable in our walk with the LORD.
How about experiences? Our personal experiences and experiences as a group will help us to grow spiritually and help us to come to know God more intimately. However, we cannot rely heavily on experience to know our God. Truly, we cannot learn about our God and God’s will with experiences alone. Our personal experiences have to do with our emotions. I’m sure you agree that our emotions are extremely fickle.
We feel like doing one thing in the morning, then we change our minds several times before lunch. If we only rely on emotions and experiences in our walk with the LORD, we will be constantly disappointed, like that lady who comes to Church to experience a burning sensation in her heart every time she hears the sermon. Being touched by God through sermons or through anything, has more to do with your personal relationship with God than what is happening around you.
How about intellects, the reasoning? How many times have our intellectual facts changed? Did you know that Galileo Galilei was accused of heresy and almost got himself killed because he declared that the earth was round while everyone else believed that the earth was flat? Did you know that we still have a large group of people who still believe the earth is flat?
How about eggs? I remember, one time it was announced that the study proved that eggs have too much cholesterol and are bad for you. When eggs did not sell too well, a new study said, “Wonderful, Incredible, edible eggs. It’s so good for your body.” One time, a study proved that coffee was bad for you, causing cancer. Then later on, it was scientifically proven that several cups of coffee a day was actually good for the body.
Thirty some years ago, Katalin Kariko, a Hungarian scientist woman wanted some financial support to study viruses. She asked different universities to fund her research. She got rejected so many times that she came to America. She received rejections numerous times here in the U.S. as well. However, she managed to continue with her research for 30 plus years.
Because of her thirty some years of studying viruses, we were able to come up with vaccinations such as Moderna and Pfizer in such a short time against coronavirus. So many people called her a fool and crazy not knowing that her study one day will help save millions of people from deadly viruses. To those intellectual people, this lady scientist, Katalin, was out of her mind. What does this tell us? Intellect is not too dependable. It is ever changing constantly.
Only authority that is always dependable, trustworthy, and never changing is God’s Word, the Holy Scripture. Throughout the Bible both Old and New Testaments, we are reminded that God’s Word will always remain the same and will never change. Isaiah 40:8 tells us, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
Jesus tells us in the Book of Matthew 5:18, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Jesus assures us that God’s Word will never change nor fail us.
Therefore, whatever you have learned intellectually, whatever you are practicing through your tradition, whatever you are experiencing in your faith walk, you always have to bring whatever you have learned, practiced, or experienced to the Word of God. If they go with God’s Word, it is from our God. If whatever you have gained does not go with God’s Word or goes against God’s Word, then you will know for sure that it is not from God.
A lot of people will come to you in the Name of Jesus. You have to learn to discern what is true from God and what is not. 1 John 4 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (v. 1). What does this tell us? There are a lot of false teachers who are teaching what is not from God. If you don’t know the Word of God, you will fall for them every time.
In order to discern in your intellectual learning, in practicing your tradition, and in your experiences, you need to know the Word of God. If you practice all those things without God’s Word, you will become like Pharisees and scribes who were criticizing Jesus for not following their human made laws instead of following God’s true Law. We need to know the Word of God and be obedient to God’s Word.
As a pastor, I can only tell you what is in the Word of God. I may share my own interpretation of what the Bible says, but I will always stick with what God says in the Bible. Pray for me that I will not walk away from God’s Word to make this world happy. I will always pray for you that you will always stick with God’s Word and receive absolutely everything that God has promised you through God’s Word in this life and in that life everlasting. Amen
August 22, 2021
Take Up the Whole Armor of God
Ephesians 6: 10 – 20
Today’s Scripture Lesson talks about putting on the Armor of God. Putting on the right outfit for the occasion is very important. I’m sure you look good in your bathing suits while at the beach. But certainly, you would not wear your bathing suits to Church or to fight a battle. Putting on the right outfit, the right armor, will save your life.
Have you seen those who work in the medical field with covid patients? I’m sure it’s hot, sweaty, and very uncomfortable inside those hospital gowns. However, those medical workers wear layers of protection before they walk into the rooms of Covid patients. Why? Because those layers of gowns, masks, hats, gloves, shoe covers, etc., will save their lives from deadly diseases. Putting on the right outfit or the right armor will definitely save your life, both your physical life and spiritual life.
Why do Christians need to put on the Armor of God? Because we have this very unusual enemy. The Bible tells us that our enemy is not against “flesh and blood,” “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (v. 12).
If we can physically get a hold of this enemy, we have a greater chance of destroying it completely. However, this enemy is not a physical being, but a spirit one. Our fight is not a physical battle, but a spiritual battle. We alone cannot fight against this spiritual monster and win. We absolutely need God’s help to fight and win this battle. Who is our enemy? Our enemy is the devil, Satan. And yes, the devil does exist. Denying it will be our downfall.
What is the devil’s job? What this enemy wants the most is to make sure that we don’t spend eternity with our God. The devil will do whatever it takes to take us away from our God. This devil will sneak into our hearts and lives to bring divisions in homes, and in the life of our Church in order to break us, to defeat us, and to destroy us.
How many people do you know who are mad at a person or at what happened in Church and refuse to come back to Church again? It happens everywhere in every Church. We have to remember that it is the work of the devil, not of the people. When we are divided and stay angry at one another, the devil has succeeded, has won.
When we get upset with each other, we must remember that our enemy is not the person in front of us. Our enemy is the devil, who is working through that person and through the situations. No matter how much we argue or scream at each other, we will never win. We must pray to God and ask God for help if we want to come out victorious against our enemy.
The easiest way the devil gets to us is through our minds. Did you know that your mind is so flexible and so fast, and wide? Even though you are physically sitting here, your mind can travel to the end of galaxy three times then come back here to the earth, to this place, in a matter of seconds.
Let’s be honest. You don’t have to raise your hands, but really look into your hearts. How many of you during the Worship Service whether we are singing hymns, or listening to the sermon, or listening to prayer concerns of others, fined your mind is already out there in the parking lot, thinking about what else you have to do this day? Your body is physically sitting on the pew, but your mind has already left the building. Honestly, it happens. That would be the work of the devil.
We must recognize the works of the devil, or we will always be defeated. Anything that does not go with or goes against the Word of the LORD is the work of the devil. Our God, who forgives all our sins, will never encourage us to hate one another and hold onto the wrongs we’ve done one another. Our God will never tell us to bring divisions into our Church. Our God will never tell us to pay back for what they did. Our God will never tell us to ignore the needy. Our God will never tell us to cheat on our loved ones.
Our God will not, WILL NOT, do anything against what God has already told us through the Word of God. If you truly want to live according to God’s will, you have to know the Word of God. Living according to God’s Word is to live according to God’s will. Knowing God’s Word will help you to fight the devil.
The Bible tells us of all kinds of Armor which we need to put on. They are “the belt of truth,” “the breastplate of righteousness,” “shoes” of readiness “to proclaim the Gospel of peace,” the shield of faith,” “the helmet of salvation,” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (vv. 14-17).
Did you notice that most of these things are only for protection, such as belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, and helmet? We put those on for our protection from flying arrows or coming swords or whatever. The only thing that you can use to fight back the enemy, even to kill the enemy is the sword. What is the sword? The sword is “the Word of God” (v. 17).
Remember when Jesus was tempted by devil three times in the wilderness? What did Jesus use to fight the devil back? Jesus used the Words of God to fight the devil back. After fasting for forty days, Jesus was hungry. What did the devil say to Jesus? “If You Are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus replied, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (v. 4).
When the devil said to Jesus, “If You Are the Son of God, throw Yourself down” from “the highest point of the temple,” (v. 6) Jesus replied, “It is also written; Do not put the LORD your God to the test” (v. 7). When the devil said to Jesus, “worship me,” (v. 10), Jesus replied, “Away from ME, satan! For it is written: Worship the LORD your God and serve God only” (v. 10). After this “the devil left Jesus and angels came and attended Jesus” (v. 11). How did Jesus fight this spiritual battle? Jesus cast this devil away with the very Word of God.
How did God create the whole world? Did God use a magic wand to create this world? No. God created this world with the Word of God. God simply said it and it happened. Why? How does that work? God’s Word works because God’s Word is a Living Word. God’s Word has the power to create and to destroy, to make things happen, to accomplish things, and to give and to take life. God’s Word has the power to do all things.
According to the Gospel of John chapter one, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1). This “Word became flesh and made dwelling among us” (v. 14). Then who is this Word who became flesh? This Word is our LORD, Jesus Christ. So, if God’s Word is in you and you are living by the Word of God, then Jesus is definitely living in you, dwelling in you. When Jesus is living in you, the Holy Spirit is living in you. Then you have the Armor of the LORD in and on you.
If you know the Word of God, you will know right away when the devil tempts you. You know that God will not tell you to do something that will go against what God has already spoken to us through the Word of God given to us in the Bible. You will be protected and be able to fight the enemy because you have the Armor of God in and on you.
So, when you are faced with conflicts, especially with a person, tell yourself, “This is not a physical battle but a spiritual one. The devil is the trying so hard to defeat me, but with God’s help, I will not be defeated.” You know what will make the devil so mad? The devil will get so mad if you don’t get mad when you are expected to get mad. You have been offended or hurt by others. You are supposed to get upset and say a lot of mean things back. But instead, you come out nicer and even forgive and help the ones who have hurt you.
I know it is easier to say than to be done. This person who hurt me so badly for many, many years is still mean to me and treating me worse than anybody, like dirt. How can we forgive someone like that? When we forgive someone, we are not forgiving them for their sake. You forgive them for your sake. So that you don’t have to be enslaved to bitterness and anger. With forgiveness, you can be free and live in God’s peace. You forgive because you want to make our God happy.
I saw my Dad doing that. This American gentleman who was married to a Korean lady said something very mean and hurtful about my Dad who was his pastor. This hurt my Dad so deeply. I did not like that man at all. Once my Dad heard about what that Church member said about him, my Dad went into his office for two days and did not come out. When I got closer to the office door, I could barely hear him weeping and praying quietly.
It hurt me so bad to see my Dad like that. That following Sunday, I saw my Dad giving that man a hug saying, “God bless you.” That’s when I told God, “God, there is no way I can do that. I just want You to know that I will not be doing ministry. Because I cannot love people like that. I’m definitely not doing ministry.” And here I am!
There is a very famous pastor in Korea. In the ancient time, Korea had pity on Japanese people who lived on the island who did not know how to work the ground to make a living. Korean kings used to send people to Japan to teach them how to make tools and how to work the ground and such. However, when Japanese became strong enough to stand on their own and gained access to guns, they invaded Korea. Their plan was to destroy Korea in every way possible.
What Hitler did to the Jews is very compatible to what Japan did to Korea. You won’t believe what they did to Korea. We still have people who lived through those hard times to testify about what Japan did to Korea. But Japan is still denying that they did any of those horrible things to Korea. We have proof of every kind, yet, Japan is still denying everything.
One of the horrible things that Japan continued to do to Korea was to put all Christians who refuse to worship their human king into a Church and burn them all alive. Unfortunately, some evil Koreans got with Japan and hurt their own people. A certain young man sided with the Japanese and killed his buddy, who was the son of a pastor. After Korea fought and regained freedom, Korean people wanted to punish those Koreans who betrayed Korea. But the pastor who had lost his son by the hand of this young man came forward and stopped people from hurting this traitor. Amazingly, this pastor adopted this traitor young man as his own son.
This pastor died and the young man whose life was saved by this pastor later became a pastor himself. Wherever he goes, he testifies about what his adopted father has done for him. His testimony has brought hundreds and thousands of people to Christ. Because of this father pastor, who clearly had the Armor of God through the obedience to God’s Word of “love your enemies,” not only this one young man was saved, but many, many others received salvation in the Name of Jesus. That is the miracle of God!
Sadly, I can promise you that you will meet some people who will not like you and will be mean to you. You will be given choices on how you should respond to them. It’s not going to be easy. However, when you choose God’s way over the ways of the world, I will promise you that our God will honor you and you will remain in God’s blessings and will walk in God’s favor. God’s favor is what you want. You never want to lose God’s favor. You always want to remain in God’s favor.
So, do not leave your house without God’s Armor, the Armor of God’s Word. Do not let people, situations, or even your emotions dictate your behavior or your choices. Regardless of what others, what this world thinks, you are a child of our Almighty, All Powerful, and All Loving God. You are the one whom God cherishes. You are the one which our LORD, Jesus Christ died for.
I pray that you will always choose God in your behaviors, in your decisions, in your choices, in your businesses, in your relationships, in your life in everything you do and say. I pray that you will always come out victorious in the Name of our LORD, Jesus Christ. Through your life, may the LORD our God be glorified, and your life be filled with God’s blessings in this life and in that life everlasting. Amen.
August 15, 2021
It Pleased the LORD
1 Kings 2: 10 – 12; 3: 3 – 14
We have been talking about king David a lot. Today, we will talk about his son, Solomon, who became the king of Israel after David. Remember, Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba? God blessed her and made her son, Solomon to carry on the throne over and against all other sons which David had. We will be learning how Solomon became so blessed by our God.
Solomon is the first king to build the Temple of the LORD. However, the Temple has not been built, yet. So, Solomon would go to high places to offer sacrifices to the LORD. High places are where people used to offer sacrifices to the idols such as Baal. Because it is above other places and usually covered with trees and have nice breezes coming through. A lot of righteous kings such as King Josiah would get rid of all the high places to stop people from sacrificing to the idols. However, since they did not have Temple of the LORD yet, high places would have been the best places to offer sacrifices to the LORD.
Important thing is not where Solomon sacrifice to the LORD, but the state of his heart. The Bible tells us that Solomon offered “a thousand burnt offerings on that altar” to the LORD (v. 4). Can you imagine lifting to the LORD “a thousand burnt offerings”? Even though he did it twice or three times a day, he had to spend hundreds of days making offerings to the LORD. I say that’s enough to get God’s attention. God asked Solomon, “Ask what I should give you?” (v. 5). To receive such question, such request from our God is like receiving a blank check saying, “Use it for whatever you want.” God is asking Solomon, “What can I do for you? Ask ME whatever you want!” Can you imagine our God asking us such question?
Well, God asked me that question one time. It starts with the story of how David and I got married. You can go to David and ask him about how we met and all. He will tell you all about it. He loves telling that story. I’ll just tell you a little bit. Korea has over 5,000 years of history. In our thousands years of family history, not one person married anyone outside Korean culture. Once my Mom found out about this American boy, David, she was furious. She would say, “Over my dead body.” My Dad wanted to meet David. But my Mom was so upset. She said, “I’m not ready to meet him. If I am not ready to meet him, then you are not ready to meet him.” We had to pray really, really hard.
I told David that I have to have three conditions meet for us to get married. First, I must get a confirmation from our God saying that we are supposed to get married. God must convince me that we are meant for each other. Second, we must get blessings from both side of parents. There is no way I will marry someone without our parents’ blessings. Third, I want to get married in Church in the presence of the LORD in front of our loved ones. Unless all these three conditions meet, I cannot marry anyone.
What did we do? We prayed. We prayed really, really hard. Back then, I was living with my parents and took care of them while I did ministry. I am normally scared of dark. You won’t believe this. But out of such desperateness, I would stay outside the house in the dark sitting on the car looking up to the stars above me praying for a long time. I was that desperate.
One day, I was washing dishes in the parsonage in the middle of the day. God spoke to me, more like a whisper. It felt like a gentle breeze brushing against my face with a small voice saying, “What do you want?” I knew instantly that God was speaking to me. I started to sob, cried and cried. I was still doing the dishes while I was experiencing this. I said to God, “God, You know what I want.” Then I cried more. God said, “I’ll give you what you want.”
Right after that, Mom said, “Bring David home. I want to meet him.” It was like a miracle. David meanwhile studied all he could about Korean culture and manner. Korean people put manners above all things. If you don’t show the proper manner, no matter how much money you may have, you would never be called the upper-class person. Practicing proper manner is extremely important to Koreans. When David met my parents, he was bowing to them to show the proper respect and did all the right things according to Korean Culture. My parents said, “He doesn’t feel like an American boy. He feels like Korean.” God truly gave me what my heart desperately desired.
Well, such question was asked to Solomon. Solomon was given a chance to ask God whatever he wanted from God. When God says, “Ask what I should give you,” it means that God is ready to give you whatever you want. This is so much better than winning anything else in this world. What was Solomon’s request? Solomon first praised God for all that God has done through the life of his father, David. Then he said, “Give Your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this Your great people?” (v. 9).
Now, this answer impressed God. Let’s think about our God who is all-knowing, who is all-powerful, and Almighty. This God has been impressed by this human’s humble response. In this world, if you want to impress others, you must do something totally out of this world, something that is so extraordinary. Many people already have done all kinds of awesome things. In order to impress people, you must do something totally new, different, crazy, and impossible. However, not with our God. Our God is not looking for some incredible accomplishments. What our God wants is a genuine heart devoted to God and living the life as God has taught us.
What is our golden rule? The Bible tells us, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
Solomon showed his love to God through his sacrifices which he offered 1,000 times. Solomon literally spent hundreds of days offering sacrifices to the LORD. When he was asked by God, “Ask what I should give you?” (v. 5), he asked for wisdom to be a good and godly leader to God’s chosen people. God said that you could have “asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies,” or for anything else. Instead, you “have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right” for the sake of God’s people. This is why God was pleased with Solomon. Solomon was given a chance to ask for whatever his heart desired. He used this chance for others. God was very, very pleased with him.
God said, “Because you have asked this,…I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you” (v. 12). Solomon certainly received what he asked for. And there was more. God said, “I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you” (v. 13). Solomon received everything he has asked for and so much more than he could ever imagine.
Solomon genuinely thought of God first then others before him. And God made him so great in wisdom and riches that there will be no one, absolutely no one like him in this lifetime ever. I wonder what God would have given us if I have asked for something else for others rather than my Mom’s blessings for us. I truly envy Solomon.
So, when we please our God, God blesses us tremendously. Did you know that our kids mastered this already? How do they come to you when they want something from you? They are nice to you, extra nice. It’s kind of scary when kids come to you and say, “You know how much I love you? I really love you.” Normally, we, parents, instantly know that kids want something from us. It may work for humans, but not with our God. With our God, you cannot come to God with very temporary quick cuteness. You must come to God with genuine heart and sincerity. You may be able to fool human parents, but our God sees and knows all things.
God has given you such amazing blessings. Now, it’s up to you to keep them. God said to Solomon, “If you will walk in My ways, keeping My statues and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life” (v. 14). What is God saying here? God is saying that as long as Solomon obeys God’s Word and continue to walk in the ways of the LORD faithfully, God will make sure that such blessings will never leave Solomon. If Solomon disobeys God and rebel against God, Solomon will lose God’s blessings.
When you lose your blessings, it doesn’t mean that God takes away your blessings. When you walk with the LORD, the LORD is your protection against your enemies and all kinds of dangers in this world. However, when we sin against God, we are rejecting God and God’s protections. When God’s protection is lifted from us, we become exposed to all kinds of dangers of this world. And that’s how we lose such blessings. For those who faithfully walk with the LORD with obedience to God’s Word may look like they are losing blessings. But our God will make sure that they will come out even more blessed than before because they remained faithful to God.
Therefore, only thing Solomon had to do to remain in God’s blessing was to be obedient to God’s commandment. See the importance of being obedient to God’s Word? When I pray for my children, this is what I ask God so desperately that our children will grow up loving God. I ask God, “God, please, teach our children to love You and to obey Your Word faithfully. Please, teach them to love Your Word and to happily and faithfully obey Your Word. Please, teach them to love You more than anything in this world. And help them to walk in Your favor, always. Please, LORD! Please!”
This is my biggest prayers for my children. Because I know that only in God, there is true blessings and true life. And this is my prayer for all of you that you may love the LORD your God with everything that you have and obey God’s Word faithfully that you may always walk in the favor of the LORD all the days of your life. Amen.
August 8, 2021
Living the Life of Excellence
Ephesians 4: 25 – 5: 2
Today’s Scripture Lesson starts by saying, “putting away falsehood” and “let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another” (v. 25). Our God is a God of just and righteousness. Our God does not like or accept any falsehood. Anything that is not honest and truthful cannot enter the Eternal Life. That is why we need Jesus. Unless we are forgiven from all our sins, we cannot enter that Eternal Heavenly Kingdom. We absolutely need Jesus to enter into that Eternal Life.
Let’s think about the nonbelievers. Did you know that you are it for the nonbelievers to understand Christianity for some of them? If they do not know any other Christians and never have gone to Church before, they will judge all Christians by watching you. Certainly, it’s not fair for you to carry such responsibility. However, the nonbelievers do not know any better. You are all they have to learn about our God. And you represent Christ in this world the moment you accept Jesus as your LORD and Saviour.
We have been called to live the life of excellence. How do we live the life of excellence? We follow Jesus and do what our LORD has called us, told us to live. We have to make sure to follow the teachings of our LORD, Jesus Christ. Following Jesus’ teaching sometimes, actually many times it means to go against what the world teaches us.
What happened to our morals these days? To me, morality has gotten trashed. What is morality? Today’s morality is whatever people want to claim. Whatever is fitting and acceptable in their eyes becomes morality. Whoever does not agree with one’s understanding of morality becomes the villain, the evil one, the one who has no love. I had been called, “the one who has no Christ in you” because I chose to stick with the Word of God instead of agreeing with what they wanted me to believe.
One time while I was in college, I saw an advertisement written on a bus saying, “Virginity is not a bad word.” I couldn’t understand why did they have to point that out there that virginity is not a bad word when it is not a bad word. It’s like saying, “Good Morning is not a bad word.” Hello? Don’t we already know this? Then I saw the need to point that out at the school clinic.
I had to go to the school clinic because my allergy had gotten so bad. The lady there asked me, “How sexually active are you?” I said, “None. I’m a virgin.” That lady acted so shocked that she didn’t know what to say. She kept saying, “Oh, oh, oh, oh okay.” Then finally said, “That’s good.” That’s when I learned that being a virgin was a strange thing in today’s society.
While my friends were changing from one boyfriend to another, I simply had one or two buddies at a time. I would tell my buddies, “You are not a man. You are my buddy.” They got frustrated sometimes, but it was true. I was determined to marry my first boyfriend. I did go on dates with different guys. However, once I knew that he is not the one for me, I drew the line and stayed as friends. I was going to keep myself as pure as I could and marry my husband, the only man who will be in my life. So, David is my very first boyfriend and the only one. He is my first in everything.
We have been called to honor God with our bodies and keep our bodies pure from any kind of sinfulness. However, what will the world say to me about my lifestyle? The world will probably say that I am weird and strange. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks of me. Because I am convinced that I am acceptable to my God.
I noticed that in today’s society, it is acceptable to do whatever you want to do with your body whether you are married or single in the name of love no matter what the Bible says. When you say, “It is true love,” it justifies everything when it DOESN’T.
The Bible tells us,
The body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the LORD, and the LORD for the body…Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of God, the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore. honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:13, 18-19).
Unfortunately, these days ones who stick with the Word of God become the villains, the evil ones. No matter what anyone says, you have to make the choice of who or what you are going to follow. And always remember that you represent Christ in this world, to this world through your words, deeds, and with your choices.
After the Last Supper, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and said to them, “Now that I, your LORD and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).
God did not keep secret how we ought to live our lives. God made it very clear for us to follow. There is no confusion of how we should live our lives. They are all written in the Bible. And this is why people do not like to follow the Word of God. Jesus told us that we have to do better than sinners which means the nonbelievers and also do better than the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and the teachers of the law.
These are the exact Words of Jesus. Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Making better choices on how to live a righteous and godly life over and against nonbelievers should not be too hard. But living the life that is better than those extremely religious people? How do we do that?
Well, the problem is in the wording to start with. Those Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and the teachers of the law were working so hard to live the best religious life. How did they do that? Their religious lifestyle was all about keeping the laws and regulations even the ones which they had made. That is why when Jesus broke their laws, they crucified Jesus on the cross forgetting who they worship and whose laws they have to follow.
Did you know that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship? If you want to learn about Christianity as a religion, you don’t have to come to Church. You can go and take a class at school to learn all you want about the religion of any kind besides Christianity such as Buddhism, Muslim, Hinduism, Islamism, etc.
We don’t call our faith Christianism, but Christianity. Because Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. My parents have next door neighbors who are Hindus. Their mother told me that they are not required to go to temple to worship their gods regularly. They can go whenever they feel like going and that’s okay. However, our God commanded us to remember Sabbath and keep it holy. Our God is commanding us to Worship our God regularly. Why? Because we are in relationships with our God.
How does relationships work? We have to keep in touch, have regular conversations, spend time together often, and be in each other’s life continually in order for relationships to work. I had numerous best friends in the past. However, I haven’t seen some of them for years. Can I confidently say that they are still my best friends? No! We became strangers over the years because we haven’t spent any time together for too long.
Same with our God. In order for us to be called Christians, we have to spend time with our Christ Jesus regularly throughout the day. If I have nothing to do with Jesus today, how can I call myself Christian? I am a Christian because I am in constant fellowship, in constant relationship with my Jesus every day.
What does this mean? It means that we have to be Christians every day. Our relationships with our God need to be shown through our words and deeds every day. Then what are the ways we can show that we are the children of our God, that we belong to God? Those religious people were so focused on being religious that they looked down on anyone who did not live the way they lived. They didn’t realize that laws cannot save you. Laws only remind you that you are sinner. Only Jesus has the power to save us.
Then should we go around preaching to everyone? Well, that’s important, too. However, St. Francis of Assisi said that when you preach the Gospel, use words if you absolutely have to. What is he telling us? St. Francis is telling us that we need to show the Gospel with our actions even before we speak. So, how can we show the Gospel of Jesus Christ with our actions? Once again, we have to be better than those religious people. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32).
Always, we have to do better than others who do not know our God. Jesus told us to love not only the ones who love us, but also our enemies and “do good to those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27). What would the world say about this? They will call us fools and crazy to love the ones who hurt us. The world would say that if you are smart and strong enough, you get even with your enemies. Don’t be a fool and be good to those who do not deserve anything good. Once again, the choice is up to you. Always remember that our Jesus died for us while we were still sinners while we were hurting our God.
What else can we do besides forge the ones who are not forgivable and be good to them? You can show Christ in little things. You can show Christ in your kind words even to strangers. You can show Christ by returning your shopping cart at the grocery store or returning, especially the frozen food to the freezer if you don’t want it anymore instead of leaving it anywhere in the store to be spoiled. You can show Christ by holding the door for someone. You can show Christ by saying hello even to strangers. There are many ways to show Christ to the world even before you say one word about Jesus.
Once the nonbelievers taste God’s grace and love through your kindness, they will want to join us even before we invite them. Once they see the joy that our Jesus has put in us, they are going to want what we have that they cannot find anywhere else. When you faithfully walk with our God and genuinely live according to God’s Word, people will recognize Jesus living in us even before you do anything or open your mouth to say anything.
When we were living in Korea, we took a lot of public transportation. My parents were often asked, “Are you Christian?” by total strangers. When my parents ask, “How do you know?” The usual response was, “You smell like Christian.” What they meant was that they could sense, they could feel that my parents are Christians just by looking at them.
So, don’t be scared to let the world know that you are Christians through your words and deeds. You will not always be appreciated for being truthful and righteous according to God’s Word. You will not always get the good results by doing good. However, no matter what anyone says or thinks, your God will appreciate you. Your God will bless and honor you. Your God will be proud of you.
Whether you are at home, at work, at school, or anywhere else, you make sure to make your God happy and proud by presenting Christ to the world through your good words and deeds. When you remain faithful to our God through your obedience to God’s Word, you will be called, “a faithful servant” by our LORD, Jesus Christ when we enter into that Heavenly Kingdom. And you will be blessed in this life and the life everlasting. Amen.
August 1, 2021
Believe in One Whom God has Sent
John 6: 24 - 35
In today’s Scripture Lesson, the crowd was looking for Jesus. Because Jesus mysteriously disappeared. They knew that Jesus did not leave to the other side of the sea with disciples the night before. This mystery was a blessing. Jesus was showing them a series of signs to help them to believe in Jesus as their LORD and Saviour.
The crowd actually got into the boats to cross the sea to look for Jesus. It is wonderful that these people are desperately looking for Jesus. However, why they are looking for Jesus is another thing. People go to Church for many different reasons. Some people go to Church to look for Salvation, some for comfort, some for attention, some for business, some for good recommendation letters from pastor, some to look for a place to bury their loved ones, some to look for a place to get married, some to look for their mates, etc.
One time in my early stage of ministry, suddenly we were getting some young men coming to Church which made me all excited. I thought, “We can start young adult ministry. Yeah!” Well, I found out later that one lady was telling them, “At that Church, a new single woman preacher came. If you go there, you might make connections with her and date her.” I’m telling you. When I was single, so many mothers with problem sons tried to get me to date their sons and get them straight. I wouldn’t dare date anyone from my congregation even though they might be awesome. My professor said, “Feed your sheep. Don’t eat them.”
Well, people come to Church for many, many different reasons. I have to say that whatever the reasons why you are here, it is a whole lot better for you to be here than to be somewhere else. When you come to Church, while you are here, you get to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ. You are exposed to God’s love, mercy, grace, and salvation. So, come to Church anyway for whatever reasons.
The crowd who were looking for Jesus, they were not looking for Jesus because they believe that Jesus is the Messiah that they have been waiting for. According to Jesus, they were “looking for Jesus...because [they] ate [their] fill of the loaves” (v. 26). The New International Version says, “because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
The day before this day, Jesus fed five thousand people which was only counting men. Jesus using “five barley loaves and two fish” given by a little boy, Jesus fed five thousand men plus many, many more. These folks who were looking for Jesus are the ones who ate those bread and fish blessed by Jesus. If you find someone who has the power to produce enough food to feed thousands of people out of nothing and gives them to you for free, would you not look for that person constantly? That’s what these people were doing and that’s all they were doing. They were not putting their faith in Jesus. They were simply looking for a person who has the power to feed them for free. They are just trying to get their stomach filled with free food.
It is wonderful that this crowd is looking for Jesus. However, if we want to live in that everlasting life, we have to do a whole lot more than just trying to get our fill. When we worship God, what is our motivation? Too many people think that as long as we listen to the sermon, we have worshipped God. Worshipping God is not about receiving, but it’s all about lifting up to the LORD whether it is our hearts, devotion, praises, offerings, etc. Whatever they are, we are lifting them up to the LORD during our Worship.
Good Worship Service is not about feeling good service for ourselves. Good Worship Service is where we make God happy. The Worship Service might not be happening the way you like it and the sermon may be boring. However, we certainly can please our God as we Worship our God wholeheartedly. Quality of our Worship does not depend on how we feel, but how God feels.
When my Dad was serving in ministry, one lady told my Dad that she will not be coming to that Church anymore. Her reason for leaving was that her heart does not burn whenever she hears the sermon preached by my Dad. I don’t know how she will manage to hear a message that will burn her heart every time unless she has acid reflux. Obviously, the reason for her Worshipping is to get a heartburn. I’m sure she meant that she wants to be so moved that her heart feels like burning. Once again, the focus of Worship is not her, but God.
When Jesus talked about the Life Giving Bread, people wanted to know what they can do, what work they have to do to get this Life Giving Bread. Jesus told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in One whom God has sent” (V. 29). What is Jesus saying here? Who is the One which God sent? Jesus is talking about Jesus-self. Jesus was telling them that they have to put their trust in Jesus in order to receive that Life Giving Bread which will allow them to live eternally.
If we don’t trust in Jesus, what are we doing here? If we don’t put our trust in Jesus, if we don’t really, really believe in Jesus, everything we do is in vain. Why? Because Jesus is the Only way to that eternal life. Jesus is the only One who has the power to give us the true life. The focus of this whole Bible is our Christ Jesus. Without Jesus, this Bible is in vain. Our major work is to “believe in the One whom God has sent” which is Jesus. Putting our trust, faith in Jesus is the most important part in our faith. What does it mean to trust in Jesus? How do you put your faith in Jesus? In order to trust in Jesus, you have to let go of other things like what the world wants you to believe.
Hae Na is our youngest sister, our Baby Sister. Hae Na had been struggling with health issues most of her life. When we were in Korea, one doctor told us that she will not live past a certain age. Paise the LORD! She passed that age ancient years ago. However, she went through a rough time several years ago.
Hae Na platelets dropped dramatically. Your platelets need to be at least 15,000 to 450, 000. However, her platelets dropped down to 4 and even 3. Platelets prevent people from bleeding to death. When you get cut, it starts to bleed. But very soon it begins healing by forming hard scabs to stop bleeding. When your platelets are too low, the scabs do not form and bleeding does not stop.
They tried everything to get Hae Na’s platelets to go up in numbers. They even tried medicines which cost over $10.000 per bottle. However, nothing worked. God was telling me, “Do not worry. I will heal Hae Na. Hae Na will come out of this stronger and healthier than ever.” God kept telling me this same message over and over again. However, what did the doctors tell me? Every one of them said, “We have tried everything. There is nothing else we can do. She can die any day, now. Just take her home and keep her comfortable.”
Who do you believe in time like this? Do you believe in God whom you cannot hear, see or touch? Or do you believe in doctors who talk to you with facts from their technology and skills? Who do you believe? I did not want to believe in what doctors were telling me. However, believing in our God in times like that was so hard. I often cried for no reason. I was constantly sighing. My heart was so heavy all the time. I had no joy. My head was filled with worries and fears. I felt like walking dead.
However, God kept telling me the same thing, “Trust in ME. Hae Na will come out healthier and stronger than ever.” I so wanted to believe in God, but I was scared at the same time. Even though I had such a hard time believing in God, I kept reminding God, “LORD, remember Your promises about my sister, Hae Na. You Are the One who told me that You will heal Hae Na. You Are the One who keeps telling me that Hae Na will come out of this stronger and healthier than ever. So, God, I want You to keep Your promises. Make Your Word come true. You make sure to keep Your promises, God. You promised. Do not forget, please!”
In all this, I could not tell my parents about Hae Na. My parents are struggling with a lot of health issues. They will not be able to handle this. However, so many folks were praying for Hae Na. All the pastors that I know, all my Church members, and all my friends were praying for Hae Na for God to heal her even though doctors kept telling me that Hae Na was going to die any day, any minute. I also asked God to help my unbelief constantly.
So, what happened to my sister, Hae Na? Doctors were so sure that she was going to die. I am telling you that our God kept God’s promises. My Baby Sister, Hae Na is now healthier and stronger than ever. Her platelets went over the normal level. She is stronger, healthier and more beautiful than ever. I am hoping that you will meet her soon. Hae Na is my miracle sister. Our God personally saved her from that deadly situation. I struggled to believe in God’s promises, but God kept God’s promises anyway. Hae Na is the proof of God’s power, God’s love, God’s mercy and grace.
No matter what the world tells you, you put your trust in our God, in our LORD Jesus Christ. When you struggle to believe, our Holy Spirit will empower you to believe. When you try all you could and cannot do anymore, our God will do what you cannot do. You continue to cling onto Jesus begging our LORD to help you to believe only in Jesus and nothing else in this world. And “Taste and know that the LORD is good” because “blessed is the one who takes refuge in the LORD” (Psalm 34:8).
July 25, 2021
Bathsheba, Daughter of Eliam
2 Samuel 11: 1 - 15
We have been talking about King David for a couple of weeks now. We are going to talk about David one more time. However, he is not the main focus for today’s message, but Bathsheba is. We will be talking about Bathsheba a little later. We first have to learn about what is going on in today’s story which includes David.
It is so important to admit our mistakes when we do make mistakes. Wrong is wrong no matter how we look at it or how we cover it up. It’s much better to admit our mistakes and wrongs. And ask for forgiveness if that’s needed. Correct what has gone wrong and work toward making it right. Well, David did not do that and made a huge booboo.
King’s two major responsibilities include first, being faithful and righteous before the LORD and leads God’s people to be obedient to God’s commandments; second, to go fight in the battle. “In 1 Sam. 8:20, the elders of Israel had demanded a king who would ‘go out before us and fight our battles’” (TNIB 1283).
At this point, Israel was in a battle with Rabbah which is “the capital city of Ammon” (TNIB 1284). David was supposed to be at Rabbah fighting the enemies. However, what is David doing at his palace while his troops are risking their lives fighting against the enemies? Nobody knows. We just know that he was supposed to be at the battle fighting, certainly not wandering around on his palace rooftop looking down at women who take baths at night, in the dark up on their rooftops.
What did David do? He sees Bathsheba taking a bath on her rooftop at night. David thought that Bathsheba was beautiful (v. 2). He sent for her and took her (v. 4). Took her means that he had one night stand with her. Then he sent her back to her house. David clearly knew that Bathsheba was a married woman. Actually, her husband, Uriah, was at the battle fighting for his King, David’s honor. However, David took Bathsheba for himself anyway.
David sent Bathsheba home. He was done, finished with Bathsheba. However, Bathsheba sent David news that she was pregnant. Now, his forceful and unjust affair became a problem. David had no intention of having an ongoing relationship with Bathsheba. David tried to trick Uriah to go sleep with his wife, Bathsheba, so that Uriah would think of this child which Bathsheba conceived was his own.
Even with king’s encouragement, Uriah did not go home to his wife. Why? Because Uriah was too loyal and committed to go home and rest with his wife while his fellow military men are still out in the battle fighting with their lives. David even got Uriah drunk to manipulate Uriah to go home to his wife. Once again, Uriah did not go home to his wife. So, what did David do? David commanded Joab to have Uriah killed during the battle.
Now, this is the same David who received such amazing blessings from the LORD. Yet, as if that wasn’t enough that David took his loyal servant’s wife then had Uriah killed. No matter how you look at it, David raped Bathsheba and murder her husband, Uriah. So many people including theologians and movie companies tried to make David look better here by accusing Bathsheba of doing something bad.
Some theologians claim that Bathsheba was purposely taking a bath on her rooftop every night hoping to get the king’s attention. Basically, they are saying that Bathsheba asked for it. Some say that Bathsheba encouraged David to kill her husband, Uriah. Some even say that when it comes to true love, you cannot help it. Yeah right! Go ahead and “romanticize violence and the abuse of women” (TNIB 1289).
The most important thing in all this is what God thinks about all this. First of all, “the narrator [of the Bible] lays the moral responsibility entirely on David. It is what ‘David had done’ that ‘was evil in the eyes of the LORD’ (v. 27), and it is against David that [the prophet] Nathan announces God’s judgment (12:7)” (TNIB 1284).
Since we know now what happened here, we are going to shift our focus from David to Bathsheba. Did you know that Bathsheba is not that important person here? She is simply, just an object of a plot. Adele Berlin said
that Bathsheba is “a complete non-person. She is not even a minor character,
but simply part of the plot. This is why she is not considered guilty of adultery.
She is not an equal party to the adultery, but only the means whereby it was
achieved” (TNIB 1284-1285).
Isn’t this so sad? Let’s say that your name is mentioned in the Bible, the Holy Book of the LORD. Yet, you just blend in with the plot, a non-existing person. That is how insignificant Bathsheba was. Her name was mentioned one time. After that, her identification is always with another man such as “daughter of Eliam,” or “the wife of Uriah” (v, 3). “Even in the genealogy of Jesus in Matt 1:6, she is called the ‘wife of Uriah.’” Not until her new born baby died, she was called by her name. She was pretty much a nobody.
It was common knowledge that women had no power or significance in that Old Testament time even though Deborah was there, who was the Judge and was similar during the New Testament time. However, Christian faith has changed a lot of that in time. A woman gets her significance after she gives birth to a son. Having at least one son was very important to them because the son would carry their family name.
Well, Bathsheba was no exception. When the king says to come, you go. There are no other options. Even though she was the victim of all this, she ended up marrying the one who raped her and killed her husband. Later, she will lose her baby because of the sins of her new husband.
Bathsheba is also a woman who has no voice. The only thing she said which was heard by the king right away was “I am pregnant” (v. 5). I really struggled to find my place in this country as a minority person. It was not easy. I faced all kinds of discrimination almost everyday at least in the past. However, what Bathsheba experienced was truly unbelievable.
So many people including theologians, and we, sometimes focus way too much on David that Bathsheba just disappears into the background. Even when the baby died due to David’s sin, all the people were too busy worrying about David that Bathsheba became like a non existing person who has no feelings or emotions. To many others during her lifetime or even today, Bathsheba is not that important person at all, only David is.
I have seen something like this happening among clergy spouses. I did a research paper on clergy spouses and interviewed a number of them. They were all pretty much clergy wives. There was unspoken depression among them. Most of them felt that they were hidden behind their clery husbands. They felt that they were sharing their husbands with hundreds of Church members. While their clergy husbands are recognized and honored by others, they are hidden in the shadows.
Those are horrible feelings enough to create depression. Have you been that non existing person who is being ignored, not recognized nor being cared for in your time of need? I’ve been there. And yes, they are horrible and lonely feelings. That is where Bathsheba was in that lonely place all alone.
When no one else saw Bathsheba nor recognized her and her pain, God did. People were busy comforting David when Bathsheba was the one who carried this baby for 10 months. Did you know that according to the Lunar Calendar, women carry their babies in their tummy for 10 months? Nine or Ten months, baby and Mom become one during pregnancy. Moms go through all kinds of discomfort and sicknesses looking forward to the day that they can hold their babies in their arms.
As Moms wait for their babies, their bodies change and prepare themselves to receive their babies into their lives in this world. However, Bathsheba’s baby was gone. She probably still could smell her new born baby’s breath. Her body was fully ready to take care and nourish her baby. But her baby was gone. She could not see her baby anymore. And no one is comforting her because they are too busy comforting her new husband who is the reason for her baby’s death.
When no one, not one soul remembered her, God remembered her and comforted her. I’ve learned that when I’m in so much pain, I’m normally all alone with God. I would usually say, “God, it’s just You and me again.” I know how wonderful it is to receive such comfort from others around me. However, even though no one sees you nor recognizes the pain that you are experiencing, don’t be discouraged or dismayed. What people cannot do, God will do it for you.
God gave Bathsheba comfort through David. Not that you can replace a child that you lost with another one. God still blessed Bathsheba with a child who later will become a king of Israel after his father, David. This unseen, unnoticeable, and uncared woman will later become a Mother of a King of Israel. When that happens, no one will dismiss her or disrespect her. No one will be able to forget her. There are five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and Bathsheba is one of them.
If you are going through a hard time and feel that you are not getting the attention which you need and rightfully deserve, don’t be upset or get depressed. God is watching you. God sees you. God knows where you are and what you need. The Bible tells us that when “we do not know what we ought to pray for,” “the Spirit-Self intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).
When you cry, God cries with you. When you are sad, God is sad with you. When you rejoice, there is a celebration in Heaven in honor of you. So, do not focus on your unfortunate situations, but put all your focus on our God. Put all your trust in God and let God turn your world around according to God’s will. And celebrate the LORD in the victory which God has given to you. Praise be to our God!
July 18, 2021
Thus Says the LORD
2 Samuel 7: 1 - 14a
Last Sunday, we talked about David bringing the Ark of the LORD into the City of David, Jerusalem. There was a great celebration throughout the nation. Now, David is settled and living in peace. Everything is well. The Bible tells us that “the LORD had given David rest from all his enemies around him” (v. 1). So, what did David do now?
You know it is so easy to forget God when things are moving smoothly and peacefully. We normally cling to God when things get complicated and hard. God truly takes care of us when we pray to God for help during our toughest times. Imagine how much God will bless us if we thank God during our good times.
Well, that’s what David did. David clung to God for God’s hand of salvation during his tough times. When things became peaceful and good, David remembered God. While David was still excited over the Ark of the LORD, he remembered God. David said, “See, now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the Ark of God stays in a tent” (v. 2). What does that tell us? What is David trying to say here? David is thinking about building God’s Temple that is better than his palace. God who sees everything and knows everything saw David’s heart.
So, God sent the prophet Nathan to David saying, “Go and tell My servant David: Thus says the LORD” (v. 5). I truly envy David so much. God is so pleased with David that God is sending God’s servant to bring the words of blessings to David, blessings that will last forever. How amazing is that? I want that so very very much. I must tell you that David has not done anything yet. He has not called the workers nor made plans nor gathered the materials to build God’s Temple. He has not even started anything. He is simply, only thinking about building God’s Temple. However, God is so pleased with him.
Did you know that your intentions are a whole lot more important than the actual results? What is in your heart even before you start to do something in the Name of the LORD is so much more important than the results. The process of how you do the work is so very much more important than the actual results. God is whole lot more interested in what is in your heart than what you have accomplished for God.
Did you know that David never got to build the Temple for God? His son, Solomon, is the one who built the very first Temple in the Name of the LORD (v. 13). So, what did David do? He just thought about, dreamt about building God’s Temple. As a result of his thinking, he received blessings for himself and for his offsprings which will last forever. Does this make any sense to you?
We had this Church member when my parents were serving in ministry. She will often say really aloud to my Mom in front of everyone, “I have that. I will give it to you. I’ll bring it to you later.” She said things like that quite often, but never did once brought anything to my Mom. To me, what David wanted to do for the LORD was kind of like that. Because David never got to build the Temple.
So, what are the differences between this lady and David? Whenever she said that she was going to bring something to Mom, she never meant it. That is why she never brought one thing to Mom while others probably thought that she brought tons of things to my Mom. It always bothered my Mom. Mom cringed every time she heard that lady shouting such lies.
However, David truly meant what he said about building a Temple. He really wanted to build it himself. However, he didn’t get to build it only because it was not in God’s will. God called David’s son, Solomon, to build the Temple. God saw what was in David’s heart. That is why God blessed David tremendously. God blessed David not for something that David already had accomplished, but for something that David longed to do for the LORD in his heart which had not even happened, yet.
When I was just a little girl not even 10 years old living in Korea, we did not go to the Church that my Dad was serving. We live a faraway from his Church. We simply went to any Church that was near us whether it was Baptist Church, Presbyterian Church, or Full Gospel Church. We all Worship the same God, the same LORD. As long as they preached from the Word of God according to God’s Word, we went there faithfully. We only went to Church which my Dad served during special occasions.
We were living in the middle of the city where we could walk anywhere. We walked to the Church which was only a block away. Church doors were always opened. I used to go there all the time throughout the week when no one else was around. I used to go to Church during the weekdays and clean little things here and there. I remember standing in that sanctuary looking all around. I was little so the sanctuary looked huge. It was so beautiful in there feeling the presence of the LORD.
I was standing there thinking, “How wonderful it will be to live in that very sanctuary of the LORD. I would love to fall asleep in the sanctuary and wake up here every morning in the presence of God.” It was like a dream to me, an impossible dream. And look where I am. Once I move into our parsonage, I think I will be pretty close to the sanctuary of the LORD. This is like my childhood dream coming to reality.
I only thought about it as a child maybe just several times knowing that it will never happen. I forgot all about it until I started writing this sermon. God reminded me of what God has done in my life with that tiny little hope I had as a child. Isn’t God amazing? God remembered my thoughts which I had as a child a long time ago. I’m not going to tell you how old I am now. But I can tell you that it was a long, long time ago. We should praise God everyday for God’s amazing power and love that is at work in us.
When God saw David’s heart, the sincerity and love David had for the LORD, it moved God’s heart. David had everything he wanted. He was not in a place where he desperately needed God’s help. David could not ask for any more blessings from God. But he remembered God in the most perfect time in his life. And God honored David so much for that.
It is so important to remember our God in our hard times. However, it is even more important to remember God in our good times. You probably do not know that power you have over our God. You have the power to make God happy. You have the power to grieve our God. Our Almighty and All Powerful God becomes vulnerable when it comes to us. Remember how vulnerable Jesus allowed Jesus-self to become on that cross in order to save us from eternal death?
The ones who have the power to make me happy, cry, upset, and even to go crazy instantly are my kids. I become so vulnerable when it comes to my kids. Korean people say that there are no parents who can win over their children. Somehow for any reasons, parents eventually give into their children. Our kids do not realize how much power they have over us. Human parents inherited that weakness over their children from our God. Our God voluntarily becomes vulnerable before us.
Our God’s biggest characteristic is that our God is Wonderfully Crazy. Our God is crazy in love with us. Our God is so crazy to die for sinners such as us who were hurting God. Sin is a rebellion against God. Every time we sin against God, we are rebelling against God. Yet, our LORD Jesus willingly suffered and died for us, the rebellious children. How crazy is that? Praise the LORD that our God is so Wonderfully Crazy for us, for our sake.
Wherever you are, whatever you do, and whatever may be happening in your life today, make sure to remember God. And dream of things that will make our God happy. Not only love our God with your actions and deeds, but also love our God with your whole heart. Then the LORD will come to you saying, “Thus says the LORD” and will give you the blessings. And you receive all the amazing, wonderful, unthinkable blessings which God has for you and for your children and all their children forever.
And just wait, “taste and see that the LORD is good,” because “blessed is the [ones] who” put their trust in the LORD, love the LORD with all their hearts, and faithfully, obediently live according to God’s Word everyday.
July 11, 2021
Dancing Before the LORD
2 Samuel 6: 1 – 5, 12b – 19
In today’s Scripture, David was crazy dancing before the LORD. The whole nation was celebrating the return of the Ark of the LORD. The Ark of the LORD represents the very presence of our God. And it was captured by the Philistines. Now, the very Ark of the LORD was coming back to Israel. It was a national celebration day. David and the Israelites were so happy that they danced “before the LORD with all their might with songs and” instruments (v. 5).
David danced so hard that his undergarments were showing. He didn’t care. He threw away his pride and dignity as a king before the LORD, before the people. He simply was overly joyous that the Ark of the LORD was coming back to his country. Can you imagine your leader dancing so hard in public that his underwear is showing? Well, that’s what he did. He didn’t care about what others think of him. He was simply happy because of his God.
When you look at David, he was such an insignificant person since his childhood. David was the youngest of eight. He had seven older brothers. When the prophet Samuel came looking for a king among Jesse’s sons, Jesse did not even mentioned David (1 Samuel 16). Samuel actually had to ask Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have? (1 Samuel16:11). David wasn’t really counted among Jesse’s proud sons. David was looked down by king Saul when David volunteered to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17).
David should have done everything he could to make sure that everyone respects him, honors him, and fears him. However, here he is dancing like crazy showing his underwear in public. David was imperfect in so many ways. He sinned against God big time number of times. He was so faraway from being perfect. Yet, God made David king over God’s people and called David, “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Why is that? How is that possible?
David committed serious crimes. He abused his power to get what he wanted. He was prideful and arrogant. He had good qualities, but he was full of mistakes and faults. How can God love such a person? How can God call such a man, “a man after God’s own heart?” How is that possible?
We often forget that God is not looking for a person who is perfect, all put together, and ready to do God’s work with all the skills needed for the work. I had to really learn that God loves sinners who are not perfect as Paul said, “But God demonstrates God’s own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
I am faced with all kinds of challenges in life daily. My brother used to watch cartoons while he studied for tests. Yet, he brought home good grades. I have a sister who cried because she got 90 some on her test, not 100. I would have loved to have that grade. I have a sister who can sing like no one else in this world. With her amazing operatic voice, she will break all the windows. Me? I struggled to pass each class. Every time I pass the test, every time I graduated, I knew that it was a miracle of the LORD. Without God’s help, I would not even have been alive today.
Did you know that I cannot honestly say that I understand God’s love? God’s love still does not make any sense to me. I always wonder, how can God love such person as me? God knows all my faults and short comings. I just don’t know how to get away from sinfulness no matter how hard I tried. I know that I disappoint God all the time. Then why? How can God love such person as I?
I did not understand and accept God’s love. I simply gave into God’s love. Why? Because I learned that no matter what I do, I cannot get away from God’s love. I really tested God saying, “Do You still love me, now, even after this?” I pushed God away. I ran from God. I even tried to make God mad so that God will leave me alone. Nothing worked. No matter what I do, God did not leave me alone. God did not stop loving me. So, I gave in because I could not get away from God, from God’s love.
So, I cannot honestly say that I understand God’s love. However, I can honestly say that I cannot live or survive without God’s love. I desperately need God. God created me into this weak and helpless being who cannot survive without God. So, I learn little bit more about God. How can God love David and used him for such might work when David is such a sinner and faraway from being perfect? How can God love someone like me?
Did you know that Apostle Paul experienced the same thing? Before Paul met Jesus while he was still called Saul, Saul ran around persecuting the believers of Jesus Christ. He was a fearful person among the believer. He even supported those who stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7). He was a monster working against God. However, among all the people, God chose Saul to do might work. Because of the work God did through this monster Saul, we have received the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hundreds and thousands of people were saved in the Name of Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit through the life of Saul who later became Apostle Paul.
Did you know that God is not looking for perfect saints, but sinners who desperately need God and God’s forgiveness? Jesus even said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32, NIV). The New Living Translation says, “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:32).
Remember what we learned last Sunday through Apostle Paul? God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God is not looking for powerful, skillful, or the most strong and perfect individuals. Such persons do not exist. We are all imperfect and in need of forgiveness, in need of redemption. God is looking for those who know that they need God and those who seek after God desperately.
David knew how imperfect he is and in need of redemption by God. He constantly sought after God in everything he did. David was not perfect and committed sin against God numerous times. However, every single time he found himself sinning against God, he begged God for forgiveness. Every time he had to make important decisions, he called all those who work with him and asked God for guidance together. He desperately sought after God in everything he did. That is why God called him, “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).
When you come before God, don’t look at yourself, but look at our God. God does not see you as a sinner who is deserving death penalty, but a forgiven person who is so precious that our LORD Jesus Christ died for. I’m sure that I am not the only one who is full of mistakes. We all make mistakes and commit sins whether we like it or not. However, those mistakes and sinfulness do not define us. Our relationships with our God gives us true identity of who we are.
Did you know that we are not the people of the past, but the future? We learn from our past whether good or bad. However, our past does not shape us nor define us of who we are because we are shaped by our future. If your identity is determined by your past, you will never get away from your mistakes. If you had drinking problems, you will always be identified as a drunker. If you had been in prison in the past for whatever reason, you will always be labeled as a criminal.
However, our past does not determine who we are. Our significance of who we truly are is determined by our relationships with our God and where we are going. All the decisions I make is made because of the future that is waiting for me. I do what I do so that I can make it to that heavenly place. If I do not have that eternal promise, I will not bother living the righteous life according to God’s Word in this life. I do what I do is so that I can live in that eternal life with my God forever. I am shaped by my future and not by my past.
So that the devil cannot threatened me saying, “I know what you did in your past.” I’m sure some of you saw the bumper sticker saying, “If devil remind you of your past, remind it of it’s future.” We know what will happen to the devil and all its followers on that judgment day. You stick with the LORD who has the power to save you from death from sinfulness no matter what you have done in the past. Our God has the power to save you from death which results from sin and has the power to give you eternal life. Apostle Paul reminds us saying, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD” (Romans 6:23).
So, you simply trust in God, in God’s Word, in God’s Promises. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone else, but do all you can to please our God. Because God is the only one who has the power to save us from that eternal death and give us the eternal life. And keep on dancing for the LORD no matter what anyone else says. You do all you can to make God happy and celebrate the LORD.
Remember, the Holy Spirit is always with us guiding us, protecting us, and loving us. Our Holy Spirit will remind us of everything that our God told us, everything that Jesus taught us. And you keep on dancing for the LORD that you may continue to walk in the favor of the LORD all the days of your life. And be blessing to everyone around you in the Name of the LORD.