January 16, 2022
Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth
1 Corinthians 5: 6 – 8
“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch - as you really are. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
(1 Corinthians 5: 6-8)
Everybody wants to be successful in whatever they are doing. Church is no exception. We are the Church. And as a Church, we also want to be successful as well. However, we really need to know that our success does not depend on the actual results. Our success does not depend on numbers, the amount of money we have raised or the number of people who have attended. We can have the best results with our efforts, but still be a total failure to our God. Or we can fail miserably, yet be the most successful ones in the eyes of our God.
The ministry at our Bermuda Hundred has been very successful, especially with the events we had recently. Such a blessing from God. I was told that when we had the pounding/open house for parsonage, we had more members participating than ever. We even ran out of forks and plates. We had to go out and buy some more. Why? Because we had more members participating than usual. That was a great success. I wish we ran out of things constantly because so many more people came than what we expected.
I was also told that we had more members showing up to help with the Fish Fry than ever. How about the Craft Show? What we raised from our recent Craft Show broke the record of reaching $9,000. That’s the kind of result we want for any event. How about the packing party for the shoeboxes? We had a mother and two daughters that packed 150 boxes last year during the pandemic. God bless them. This year we had a huge group of members come to pack two hundred boxes. We ended up packing over two hundred boxes. I say that was more than a great success.
The coin box gifts you brought for Jesus’ Birthday added up to over $700. It’s like God is looking in our direction with God’s special favor for every occasion. How awesome is that? However, none of that matters if our hearts are not right with our God. While we enjoy continuous success, we have to make sure our hearts are right with God. Because God’s standard of success does not rely on the numbers, but it depends on our hearts. What we are or what our accomplishments look like on the outside matters very little to God. However, what we are in our relationships with God means everything.
Remember the poor widow who brought “two very small copper coins” as her offering to God while other rich people “threw in large amounts”? (Mark 12:41-42). Whose offering was God most pleased with? Whose offering was accepted to God? God was pleased with the widow even though she gave so little to God. Why? Because of the state of her heart before God when she gave God “everything – all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44). She placed her whole life in God’s hand. She put all her trust in God.
Today’s Scripture Lesson says, “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?” (v. 6). What is Apostle Paul saying here? A little bit of yeast can affect the whole batch of dough. A little bit of pride and boasting, a little bit of hatred, a little bit of greed, a little bit of doubting can affect our whole life.
What happens when you start doubting your spouse’s faithfulness? One doubt will lead to another. It will drive you crazy. You will not be able to live a normal life until you take care of that doubt. What happens when you start hating someone? Hate crimes come out of such hatred. What happens when a person tries just a little bit of drug? That person will get hooked on it and will need professional help to be freed from it. What can just one affair do to a marriage? Just one affair can break the marriage, break the whole family. Just a little bit of sin can ruin our whole life as just a little yeast affects the whole batch.
If the inside is bad, it becomes no good even though it may look great outside. For example, once I made the most perfect looking pancakes. They looked so scrumptious. Just looking at them made my mouth water. The fluffiness was just perfect. They were beautiful. However, when I took a bite to taste it, it was a whole new story. I made one little mistake and I had to throw them all out. Instead of putting sugar into the mixture, I added salt, lots of salt obviously. Josiah had to taste it to believe me. I couldn’t even feed the bird with them. Kids laughed so hard, but I wasn’t laughing.
We can look most religious and faithful. However, only God knows the truth. A Church can be successful in numbers, in a variety of ministries, and in finance. However, what God thinks about that Church is a whole new story. Also, the Church can be known as total failure, but it can be the most successful Church to God. Because God does not measure success from outside, but from within.
Let’s look at John the Baptist. He was born as an only son of the high priest. He was born to a very elderly couple. Can you imagine the joy of a couple receiving a son at such an old age? He should have grown up spoiled rotten. He had the right to inherit everything his father possessed. John could have lived a very comfortable life, a life that everyone should have envied. However, he gave up everything and chose to live in the wilderness like a madman. He devoted his whole life to God in obedience to God’s Word. He sacrificed everything that he was born into, which was rightfully his own, in order to live the life that God called him to live.
What a godly man he was! Don’t you think he should have received extra, extra special blessings? However, this honorable man died like a criminal over the wish of a young girl. John was thrown into prison when he committed no crime (John 14:3). He did not break any laws. This innocent godly man was beheaded. “His head was brought in on a platter and given to the [dancing] girl” in front of a group of drunk people at a party. Who would want to end one’s life this way? What a tragic way to end one’s life, especially living in a shame and honor culture. In that culture, people would rather die than to receive shame. However, John died like a criminal and became a mockery in front of drunken people.
What would the world say about John and his life? Can we truly say that John lived a successful and blessed life? John was a total failure in the eyes of the world. No one in their right mind would want to live John’s life. However, listen to what Jesus said about John. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11, Luke 7:28). To a total failure according to this world, Jesus honored John above everyone who was born of women.
Look at the Church of Sardis in the Book of Revelation. Actually, there is Sardis Church in LaCrosse, Virginia right next to South Hill, which is dear to me. However, this Sardis Church is different from ancient Israel. This ancient Sardis Church had “a reputation of being alive” (Revelation 3:1). What does that mean? When people say, “That Church is alive and living,” it means that the Church is doing well. Alive means that the Church has a very successful ministry. What did Jesus say to this Church with recognizable ministry? Jesus said, “you are dead” to ME (Revelation 3:1).
How is this possible? To John, who died like a criminal, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” To a Church that was known as being alive, Jesus said, “You are dead” to ME. How is this possible? This means that this world’s standard of measuring success does not apply to our God. Why? Because God does not look at the success from outside, but from inside of individuals. What you have inside, which is your relationship with God, is much more important to our God than what you have achieved outside. Your intention and your process of obeying God’s commands are way more important than the actual results.
This means whatever you do in the Name of the LORD, you need to focus on your relationship with God, not on the results. Make sure you are in the right relationship with God, that your heart is devoted to God, that you are obedient to God with your whole heart, and that there is no sinfulness in you that will go against God’s Word whether you succeed or not in what you want to achieve. Get rid of any sinfulness in you. Whether you succeed or not, make sure that God counts you as successful and faithful. What the world says about us means nothing. Who cares about what they think of us? However, what God says about us is what counts. It should be everything to us. We want our God to be happy with us, to be pleased with us so that we can spend eternity with our God.
I pray that through your faithfulness to our God, regardless of what this world says, may the LORD be pleased with you and shower you with God’s loving presence and all God’s blessings. And that you remain faithful to our God until Jesus comes back to take us home to that Everlasting Life. So that when Jesus comes back to take us home, Jesus may tell you, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Come and share your Master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23). Amen.
January 9, 2022
You Are My Son, the Beloved
Luke 3: 15 – 17, 21 – 22
Today is Baptism of the LORD Sunday. We remember and celebrate the Baptism that our LORD Jesus received. In ancient Jewish culture, they had the tradition of baptism, but by a different name. Their baptism was called, tvilah. Tvilah was used for “purification, restoration, and qualification for full religious participation in the life of the community.” Also, tvilah was a part of the process of conversion into Judaism at one point.
However, the Baptism which John was performing was a Baptism of Repentance. John’s baptism was for the forgiveness of the sins. Sinners lined up to receive this baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of their sins, to make commitments not to sin again, and to have a better lifestyle that goes with the Word of the LORD.
Does our LORD Jesus have any reasons to receive such baptism? Absolutely not. Jesus had no sins to be forgiven. Jesus was, is, and always will be perfect, without a sin. However, Jesus received the baptism of repentance in order to fulfill and in obedience to God’s Word. Everything Jesus did was for our sake, for our benefit.
There are several places where you can experience all Triune God in one place. This is one place where you can see our Triune God in action visually together. When Jesus came out of water, what happened? The Bible tells us,
the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily
form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are My Son, the
Beloved; with You I AM well pleased.” (vv. 21c-22)
As Jesus received baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus in “form like a dove.” And We were able to hear God speaking to Jesus saying, “You are My Son, the Beloved; with You I AM well pleased.” Our Triune God is clearly present and working together. Praise the LORD!
Who is God happy with? Our God is happy and well pleased with our LORD Jesus Christ. In order to make our God happy, we have to stick with our LORD Jesus. Good things will come when we stick with Jesus. And those who stay with Jesus all the time will be sure to make it into that Everlasting Life.
When I watch movies, I normally know who is going to make it to the end of the movie and who will not. The key is to stay with the main character. If they get separated from the main character, they have a greater chance of dying away before the movie is over. However, those who stick with the main character have a much better chance of making it to the end of the movie.
The same theory applies to our Jesus. Those who stay close to Jesus everyday, all the time, will make it to that Everlasting Life. Those who refuse to stay with Jesus and fall away from Jesus have NO chance, ZERO chance of making it to God’s Kingdom. You must believe in Jesus in order to enter into the Heavenly Kingdom.
Once, Jesus was comforting the disciples telling them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in ME.” (John 14:1). Jesus also told them that Jesus is going to the “Father’s house…to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2a, c). Then Jesus said to them, “You know the way to the place where I AM going.” (John 12:4). Jesus made it very clear to them about what Jesus is going to do for them and where Jesus is going. However, confusion broke out and Thomas asked Jesus, “LORD, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?”
What was Jesus’ answer to Thomas’ question? Jesus replied, “I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through ME.” (John 14:6). OK! So, we can only go to where our Heavenly Father is through our LORD Jesus. Clearly, Jesus is “the Way and the Truth and the Life.” I got that.
Then how? How can we go to the Father in Heaven through Jesus? Does Jesus become a road to Heaven? Is Jesus going to turn into the gates of Heaven? What does this mean? How does this work? How can we truly know the way by knowing Jesus? How does that work, really?
It does sound complicated, but it’s not that hard to understand this. When I was still studying in seminary in DC, I transferred my membership to the Baltimore-Washington Conference even though I started out in Virginia. I was known as a song-bird. Quite often, the Conference would call me to come and sing for special meetings and such.
There was going to be a very important meeting with meals in DC which was only open to those who are invited. You had to have an invitation in order to get into that meeting. But they did not call me for this meeting. A lot of important and powerful people were going to come to that meeting.
I wasn’t even ordained, yet. I was not one of those important people. So, I wasn’t invited. However, this one person who was working at the Conference office was a good friend of mine. She was in a high place in that Conference. She was always inviting me to go along with her to these meetings. I told her, “I wasn’t invited. I don’t have the invitation. I don’t think I can go.” She laughed and said, “Don’t worry. You are with me. You just stick with me and you’ll get in with no problem. And the food is amazing there.”
That place was filled with ordained ministers and PhD doctors. I was only a seminary student. However, that friend of mine was my ticket for me to get into that very important meeting. As long as I was with her, I was able to get in with no problem, like she said. All I had to do was to stay close to her, to stick with her. Because I stayed with her, I was welcomed into that meeting. Like she said, the food was amazing. She was my ticket, my invitation into that meeting.
It is the same with our LORD Jesus. All we have to do is to stick with Jesus. You just have to put your trust in Jesus and accept Jesus as your LORD and Saviour of your life. Invite Jesus into your heart and walk with Jesus everyday through the life of obedience to God’s Word. You will be welcomed into where Jesus was going, which is the Everlasting Life that is prepared for you since long ago.
So, YES! If you know Jesus, the way Jesus wants to be known by you, then “You [do] know the way to the place where [Jesus] is going.” (John 14:4). You don’t need an extra map, GPS, or to have a master plan in order to get into Heaven. You just need to know Jesus, believe in Jesus, and love Jesus, which means to obey God’s Word, and stay with Jesus everyday. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in ME” (John 14:1). As we witnessed from the baptism of Jesus, we worship the Triune God Who Are Three in One. If you believe in God and in Jesus, you have no reason to fear or allow “your hearts be troubled.” God is with you. Jesus is with you. And Jesus will make sure that you make it to Heaven with Jesus.
So, do not ever let go of Jesus no matter what happens. Your eternal life depends on our relationships with our LORD Jesus. Allow Jesus to guide you into that Heavenly Kingdom everyday so that you will be blessed beyond measure in this life and in that life everlasting. Amen.
January 2, 2022
Wise Men from the East Came
Matthew 2: 1 – 12
Today we observe Epiphany Sunday. This is the day we celebrate the visitation of the Wise Men. They came from afar to worship the newborn King, our Jesus. The process of this visitation is filled with wonders and miracles of God. The fact that these wise men came to visit Jesus cries out God’s plan of salvation for all God’s people.
We celebrate the wise men’s visitation, yet we know very little about them. We know for sure they are not Israelites. They are what we called the Gentiles. Gentiles are those who are outside of God’s chosen people, Israelites. Isn’t it odd that the ones who came to show the proper respect and to worship Jesus as the official newborn King are the Gentiles, not the Israelites, not God’s chosen people?
These wise men are called Magi. “Magi'' is the transliteration of the Greek word “magos” which means “wise men” or “astrologers,” the ones who study the stars (TNIB, Boring 142). In the Book of Acts, magos is also translated as “magician” or “sorcerer” (13:6, 8). Sometimes we call these visitors, the kings. We even sing about them. However, did you know that this word, magos, “has nothing to do with ‘kings’ (TNIB, Boring 142)?
Because of what the Psalmist says and Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah, the true King in the future, Magi later came to be known as kings. The Psalm 72:10-11 says,
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to Him. May
the kings of Sheba and Seba present Him gifts. May all kings bow down to
Him and all nations serve Him.
Also, Isaiah 60:3 says, “Nations will come to Your light and kings to the Brightness of Your dawn.” However, Magi “designates a priestly class of Persian or Babylonian experts in the occult, such as astrology and the interpretation of dreams” (TNIB, Boring 142).
Whatever Magi may be, they “represent pagans (Gentiles) who, though they do not have a special revelation of the Torah” which is the first five books of the Old Testament, they “come to Jerusalem following the light they have seen. Their goal is the ‘worship’ or to ‘pay homage’ to the new King” (TNIB, Boring 142).
Let’s call the Magi, Wise Men. So, how many wise men came to worship Jesus? The common answer is three. However, the right answer is, “we do not know.” The only reason people assume three wise men came to worship Jesus is because they presented Jesus with three gifts. The Bible does not tell us how many of them came to worship Jesus. Obviously, these wise men were high class people. They demanded to see the king and they did. Not anyone can do such.
Most likely, there were an unknown number of wise men and many of their servants. High class people do not usually travel long distances on their own. Traveling was not an easy thing to do back then. They did not know what kind of danger they would face while traveling. Therefore, all the people who came to worship Jesus were more than three people.
These wise men needed God’s help in order to come see the newborn King. The Bible tells us that this huge star went ahead of them and guided them not only to the city where the King was born, but also to the very precise location of the birthplace of the King. If you really think about this, you can’t help asking, “How is that possible?”
Back then, they did not have much knowledge of the stars, as we do now. Those pretty lights we see up in the sky at night are more than just little pretty lights. They are huge celestial bodies the size of a planet. Seriously, this gigantic star got out of its place in the galaxy just to guide these folks to the place where the King was born then went back to its place? Seriously? What scientists will say that such a thing is possible?
Actually, so many scientists tried to make sense out of this event by using their scientific knowledge saying that it was a falling comet or “Jupiter, or a supernova, or a conjunction of planets or any other actual bright object in the nighttime sky” (Weinbraub). They tried and failed miserably. How do you explain God’s Work with our earthly knowledge?
Instead of trying to make sense out of this event with our logic and earthly knowledge, we simply need to believe it and acknowledge God’s Work in this. This is where our faith in God is needed. Only through the faith in God, we are able to celebrate such wonders and miracles without getting confused and frustrated.
What I want us to focus on is this one verse in today’s Scripture Lesson. When the wise men came to see king Herod to ask him about this newborn king, Herod was not too happy about this. This Herod is known as Herod the Great. Herod identified himself as a Jew and took over this area to govern over his people by force and worked for Rome. Herod made his name known for architectural achievements and many other things and became Herod the Great.
Jews had this desperate hope of the ultimate Messiah, true Saviour to come to rescue them from their enemies and oppressors. This hope was not for other people, but only for themselves. They believed one day the Messiah would come with such power and political force to destroy all their enemies and rescue them from the hands of their oppressors to make Israel number one in this world.
For being a Jew, Herod should be glad the true King was born in Israel. However, instead of being happy, he felt threatened. Well, being a king himself, I can kind of empathize with him. However, this is what the Bible tells us. “When king Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him” (v. 3).
King Herod is threatened because he is a king himself, even though he is not the ultimate King that Israel has been waiting for. However, why would all Jerusalem be frightened? Why are they not happy? Their desperate hopes and dreams are coming to reality in their lifetime. Then why frightened and not happy? Does this make any sense to you? Not to me.
Why fearful when it was supposed to be such a joyous occasion? This earthly, temporary, evil king ended up killing all the baby boys from birth to two-years old. What was supposed to be an extremely joyous occasion became a time of extreme pain, sadness, and grieving. Human greed can commit such evil, wicked sin and cause horrifying pain to so many people.
When God’s people failed to rejoice over the coming of their Saviour, these foreigners traveled a long distance to worship this Messiah. Did you know we are all foreigners? There are so many arguments and opinions about immigrants. Do you realize we all are immigrants? That ancestry testing is very popular right now. You send a little sample of your DNA. And you get unbelievable results. It tells you where your ancestors came from. It also connects you to other relatives that you didn’t even know you had.
The results are somewhat diverse. For those who did this testing, what did you find out? Many people are European and a mixture of many different ethnicities. Through this study, you normally learn that your ancestors came from all over the world even though your family has lived here in America for a number of generations. That study tells us that we all are immigrants.
Did you know all God’s people in the Bible were immigrants as well? What was the first thing God told Abram to do when God called him? God told Abram to “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). The very first command God gave to Abram was to leave Abram’s country and live the life of an immigrant in a strange land.
Did you know that Abram was the very first person that God called to start God’s chosen people? Out of nowhere God called Abram and started God’s chosen people with him. Abram is the beginning of God’s chosen people. The word immigrant became something negative and not a pleasant thing. However, God’s very first commandment to Abram as God planned to start God’s own people was to move out of his country and live the life as an immigrant in a foreign land.
To live a life of immigrants was God’s very first command to God’s people. Have I emphasized this enough that we all are immigrants? Everyone living here on this earth in this life are all immigrants making our way to that ultimate home in the Heavenly Kingdom. As we live as immigrants, what are we called to do? We are called to worship our LORD and Saviour, Jesus Christ as those wise men did.
Those wise men came from the east. However, all God’s people are spread out all over the world. No matter where we live, we are called to go to where our LORD Jesus is and worship our true King. Because we all are immigrants, everyone, absolutely everyone is and should be welcomed in our Church. Even though we are spread out everywhere, we all share the same goal, the same purpose in this life. Our goal, our purpose for this life is to eventually go home to that Everlasting Life.
No matter how different the way we look, the way we eat, the way we think, dress, speak, or do things, no matter how different we are, our aim in this life is the same. We all are in this together. We all are on the same team with the same goal.
We should strive everyday to invite as many people all around us as possible to lead them into God’s Kingdom one day, because some people have not realized the purpose of this life. If they do not know, they will not do anything to go into God’s Kingdom. We will lose them to the devil. We absolutely cannot let that happen. We cannot side with the devil and become God’s enemy like king Herod.
If you are looking for a resolution for this brand new year, don’t look any further. Make your resolution to invite as many of God’s people to Church as you can, to continue to help them to see the light in Christ; to make sure that they will make it to God’s Kingdom one day. Like military people, we should never leave any of our people behind in this life when we go to that Everlasting Life. Such ministry should be our life’s mission, our Church’s mission.
May the LORD bless our lives, our Church with such faithfulness and love for God’s people. With God’s anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we may do all God has called us to do in this new year. May we please our God everyday through the life of obedience. May we continue to walk in God’s favor and be covered in God’s blessings and love at all times until we see our LORD Jesus face to face. Amen.
Watchnight/New Year's Eve
December 31, 2021
For Everything There Is a Season
Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 13
The fact that there is a season for everything is a good thing even though you may not like it. When you are in a hurry, you may wish you could skip the seasons of the process and get to the results right away. I feel like that all the time. Unfortunately, you will not fully enjoy nor benefit the results if you do not properly go through the process of getting there.
Korean people think of individuals as bowls. Korean people say that no matter how much God blesses a person, if that person’s bowl of spirituality, mental stage, character, and maturity is not big enough to contain all God’s blessings, that person will only be able to keep what that person is able to hold, then lose the rest. Therefore, each person needs to work on enlarging the bowl with humbleness, knowledge, character, and godliness before receiving the blessings.
One pastor said that receiving blessings prematurely can be a dangerous thing. One needs to go through a season of preparing oneself to receive such blessings before actually receiving the blessings. You are able to fully enjoy the blessings only if you are mature enough to handle the blessings.
There are tons of examples of how people received money, power, and fame before they were old enough or mature enough to receive them, then failed miserably later on. I’m sure you have heard of many child actors in Hollywood. There are too many child actors who are well known for receiving such fame so early in their lives then have such sad and miserable endings.
One time, I watched an extremely sad story on TV. This story started out amazing. This gentleman who owned a business and lived a fairly decent life won almost $400,000,000 through lotto. He only had one granddaughter which he loved so much. Wanting to give her everything, he bought her a house and four different cars. He decorated one of her rooms to look exactly like the inside of the bottle of “I Dream of Jeannie.” He also gave his granddaughter a $1,000 allowance each week. She was only a teenager in high school.
She and her boyfriend enjoyed the luxury more than they should have in their young age. Her boyfriend’s parents said that they were extremely concerned to see their son coming home with a golden Rolex watch one day then something else the next day, given by his girlfriend. It scared them for their son more than being happy for him.
Sometime later,the granddaughter disappeared. The rich man’s family came out on TV offering lots of money, begging people to help them find her. Meanwhile, the granddaughter’s boyfriend died from an overdose still in his teenage years. Months later, they found their granddaughter's body in the woods somewhere. I was just shocked watching their story on TV. One person said that she saw that rich man sitting on the cold floor of the parking lot all by himself. She believed that his money had ruined him.
What was supposed to be a happy story became a nightmare for this family. This rich man said that he will give all his money back just to have his granddaughter back in his life. Clearly, giving too many good things to a person is not always a good thing. It can actually ruin that person’s life when that person is not ready or responsible enough to handle them.
Wise people will respect different seasons and know how to wait to receive the blessings or results. There are seasons of planting, seasons of growing, and seasons of gathering fruit. What will happen if a person plants the seeds, but are too anxious to wait for them to grow, and digs through the dirt to check the seed progress everyday? That person will kill all the seeds and will never see the flowers or the fruit.
Waiting can be painful sometimes. However, we have to remember that waiting brings us even more blessings. I have two children. Did they just drop from heaven to our laps one day? Were they delivered to us by storks one day? No, I carried them in my stomach for nine months each. Joscelyn decided to come out a week late. Did you know that according to a lunar calendar, the time of pregnancy is really ten months? This means that I stayed pregnant for twenty months of my life.
The whole time I was pregnant, I stayed sick, so very sick. I was sick and gagging all day long even until the day that they were born. I personally do not like needles nor blood. However, I had my blood drawn out so many times. I hate it when the nurse digs into my arm because she cannot find the blood vessels. I absolutely hate that. But I had to get my blood drawn out too many times during both pregnancies.
I was in so much pain the day of delivery. I was given little equipment that shows the level of pain. They told me that when the number hits close to 40, it meant that I was in deep pain. However, the number hit over 100. I was in so much pain that I could not even groan. I just laid there with tears coming down from my eyes. When they offered an epidural with a needle, I did not say no.
I went through so much pain and trouble through both pregnancies. I felt like I cannot do this again. However, when I held my newborn baby in my arms, I was ready to do it all over again. Someone told me once that you forget all the pain and trouble the moment you hold your newborn baby. I didn’t believe that person back then. I’m a believer now. After all the pain, I was ready to do it again because what God has given me was so amazingly great, more than great.
We follow God faithfully yet go through some seasons of hard, rough, and painful time. I used to and sometimes still do complain to God and become very anxious and impatient. When I become disappointed and discouraged, I forget that those hard times are just a process of giving birth to something so amazing. We have to go through the dark tunnel in order to get to the light on the other side. How many of you can stand at one end of the tunnel and come out to the other side without going through the dark tunnel? No one can get to the other side without going through it.
Apostle Paul said, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Paul truly understood about different seasons. He knew that whatever hard time he was experiencing was only temporary. Paul knew that at the end of this painful journey, he wasgoing to receive something much greater and amazing than what he can ever imagine.
Paul said, “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). Paul knew that no matter what happens in this life, God will always “work for the good of those who love God” those who are living “according to God’s purpose.”
Some people think that we have to die and go to Heaven in order to receive something good. In our God, you don’t have to die to receive what God has for you. Of course, nothing in this world can be compared to what God has for us in the Heavenly Kingdom. However, God will give us a taste of what we will receive in that Eternal Life, which is so much better than what this world can ever offer us.
When you are going through some hard and difficult times, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be afraid. Remind yourself that this is only a seasonal thing. You are in the process of giving birth to something so amazing. This pain will end sooner or later and something amazing is waiting for you at the end of this journey, at the end of this season.
Remember the very Words God said to Joshua:
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law My servant
Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may
be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your
lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do
everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have
I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the
LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7-9)
“Be strong and very courageous.” Walk with our God faithfully with the life of obedience to God’s Word. And God will make this year 2022 into the most blessed year of your lifetime. Endure through this season and receive the results of your faithfulness which God prepared for you. Amen.
December 26, 2021
My Father’s House
Luke 2: 41 – 52
We owe our thanks to Luke. Luke is the only person who tells us about young Jesus. Mark and John don’t even tell us about the birth story of Jesus. Mark and John start with the story of Jesus’ baptism. Through Luke, we get to see preteen Jesus. Age 12 is a very important time for Jewish boys. Jewish boys go through the celebration of “bar mitzvah” which is also called, “son of the law” (Craddock 41). Bar mitzvah celebrates and marks the beginning of manhood for Jewish boys.
As a young man, keeping and observing Jewish holidays are so very important. There are three major holidays which require pilgrimages to the Temple of God. Those holidays are “Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Exodus 23:14)” (Craddock 41). It wasn’t easy for the people who lived far away from the Temple to take weeks off from their daily lives to go to pilgrimages three times a year. For those who live far away, they would make sure to take pilgrimages for Passover for sure.
As a young man, Jesus is observing this important holiday as it was expected. It was common for families and relatives to travel long distances together. So, even though a child is missing for a day out of parents’ sight, the parents would not panic. Because kids sometimes travel among a large group of relatives. However, when a child is missing for more than one day, the parents need to panic.
In today’s story, Jesus was missing for more than a day. Jesus’ earthly parents probably were more than panicking. They searched for days to look for Jesus among the crowds. I can totally empathize with Mary and Joseph. How scared they must have been thinking the worst by force. I do not envy them at all in this situation.
Where did they find Jesus? Jesus was at the Temple sitting among the teachers of the law, the scholars discussing theology. While Jesus’ earthly parents looked for Jesus desperately, Jesus was impressing all those scholars with such an amazing understanding of God. If I was Mary, I would have been so mad at Jesus. Well, Mary was quite upset with Jesus.
Mary said to Jesus, “Child, why have You treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety” (v. 48). Clearly, Mary and Joseph were scared for Child Jesus and frustrated and tired. Jesus shows absolutely no empathy whatsoever. Instead, Jesus responded to them saying, “Why were you searching for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house” (v. 49).
It’s like saying, “Hello? Isn’t it obvious that I Am supposed to be at My Father’s house? Don’t tell me that you did not know that?” If I was Mary, I would have wanted to more than rebuke this Child Jesus. However, Jesus being God, you cannot argue with Jesus. Jesus is always right.
This incident shows the very special relationship which Jesus has with God. The relationship between Jesus and God has to be extra, extra special because Jesus is God. When it comes to the House of God the Father, Jesus is right at home. The House of the LORD is where Jesus is most comfortable, where Jesus is supposed to be to Worship God and to have fellowship with God.
As Christ’s followers and children of God our Father, we are called to be in the House of our God the Father as well. Remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy is also written in the Ten Commandments. Commandments are given to us to keep and observe them.
Why does God give us Laws and Commandments? Is God out there to get us and to look for our mistakes in following God’s Commandments? Is God trying to make our lives miserable and limit them by giving us laws to follow? Absolutely not. God’s commandments do not limit us, but they free us and create a safe place for us to enjoy this life to its fullness.
Let’s think about secular laws such as traffic laws. What if people say, “You cannot tell me what to do. You will not limit me on the road while I’m driving. I am going to drive as fast or slow or however I like to drive. So, back off and let me go.” Can you imagine the chaos on the road if people drive like that? The traffic laws are not created to limit us, but to help us to freely and safely enjoy our lives even on the road.
Same understanding applies to our marriage. The Ten Commandments tell us not to commit adultery nor covet. Is not allowing ourselves to commit adultery or coveting designed to limit us and to make us miserable? Absolutely not. We all know what adultery and unfaithfulness do to our marriage and to the whole family. Such unfaithful behaviors break up the marriage and the family as a whole. The pain that comes out of such unfaithfulness is absolutely unbearable.
Personally, I can deal with a lot of things like illnesses, not having enough money, stress of making it through everyday, etc. However, I cannot nor will not deal with unfaithfulness. Just thinking about it hurts me and makes me angry. Don’t you feel the same way about this?
So, God is not trying to limit us or to make us miserable by giving us commandments to keep and to observe. God is creating a safe place for us to live freely, safely, and happily in this life before we enter into that Everlasting Life.
Too many people rely on their feelings to make decisions and refuse to follow God’s Commandments, God’s Word. This world will be so chaotic if people simply do whatever they feel like doing all the time. Doing what you don’t feel like doing, but doing it anyway only because it is the right thing to do is called being responsible.
Do not ever be afraid to do something because it is the right thing to do even though you may not feel like doing it. Do not let your emotions and feelings dictate your process of making decisions. Let God’s Word be the guide in your decision-making process. You cannot rely on your feelings. I’m telling you, your feelings are fickle, extremely fickle.
The New Year is right around the corner. What is the most common thing that people do when the new year comes around? People usually come up with a list of resolutions. The most common and popular resolution is to lose weight. “This year, I will lose 50 lbs.” “This year, I will exercise everyday.” “This year, I will work toward losing a couple of sizes.” We come up with very inspiring ideas and plans. However, how many people faithfully keep up with the plans?
We party with many, many good foods for the new year. Then it gets too cold outside for us to go out to exercise. So, it’s not our fault to stay home and eat. It’s just too cold outside to do anything. Then birthdays happen, Valentines’ Day, just because, etc. We get overwhelming reasons to celebrate life with food all the time. Where is my new year’s resolution? It went out the window as soon as the new year came around.
Sometimes, you have to do something that will not make you feel good about yourself only because it is the right thing to do, such as rebuking or punishing our kids. Don’t you want to be your kid’s favorite parent? Don’t you want your kids to love you and praise you all the time? However, if you just let your kids do whatever they want to do all the time, what would happen to your kids? You will ruin their lives. Even though your kids will stay mad at you and not going to like you for some time, you still need to teach them right from wrong. You still need to teach them that there are consequences for wrong behaviors.
You cannot only do what you feel like doing, what makes you feel good about yourself all the time. You have to, must do what God tells you to do. How do you know what God is telling you to do? You have to know the Word of God in order to do what God wants you to do. You have to be at Church, be in relationships with other believers and be a part of small group studies like Bible Studies in order to know what God is telling you to do.
How do you know that you are living your life the way that God is calling you to live? Does your lifestyle reflect on your feelings and wants or what God desires from you? Are you doing things and living this life according to God’s Word, God’s Commandments? In order to live according to God’s Word, you have to know God’s Word. You have to be in the House of the LORD, our heavenly Father.
Worshipping God regularly is the very basic expression of our devotions to our God. Jesus said, “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” (v. 49) What is Jesus telling us here? We cannot skip our personal relationship with our God the Father and expect to do the right thing according to God’s Word. Our relationship with our God must come first.
If you want to live your life and raise your children right according to God’s Word, you must have the right, personal love relationship with God first. The starting point of that is to be in the House the LORD our God, you and your family all together regularly and faithfully.
As you learn more about God’s Word and what God desires, ask yourself, “Am I living the way that God wants me to live? Does my lifestyle reflect on what God desires or only what I desire? Am I doing things or living in such a way to satisfy my emotional needs or to make our God happy? You know, obedience to God’s Word is the very expression of our love to our God.
As the Bible tells us, if you realize and learn that you are living a sinful life or anything sinful against God’s Word, run from it, flee from it. And come to the House of the LORD. Ask God for help. Ask God to help you to do the right thing according to God’s Word. And God will help you.
Honestly, living the life that will always please our God is not an easy life to live until such a way of life becomes a natural part of your lifestyle. Until then, it’s going to feel like living the puberty stage of your spiritual life. You are going to be emotionally stirred up over small things all the time. Just like our teenagers, the time of spiritual puberty is the time to discover who you are in our God.
You are going to struggle with a lot of mixed emotions and feelings. You are going to experience a lot of growing pains. However, when you faithfully live through this tough time according to God’s Word, you will receive the blessings, the gifts from our God such as peace, contentment, satisfaction, confidence, maturity, and blessings of every kind in the midst of the craziness and chaos in this life.
So, freely and faithfully come to the House of our God the Father. And allow our God to embrace you, strengthen you, comfort you, and to heal you. It’s not easy living through this life while you walk with the LORD. Too many things hurt us in so many ways. Find true comfort and healing in our God. And allow our God to bless you in ways that you cannot possibly imagine.
No matter what happens, always know that our God, your God loves you more than anything in this world. And make your new year’s resolution to make your personal relationship with God stronger and deeper and to be in the House of the LORD faithfully. 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.
Christmas Eve 2021
The Promise of Ages
Luke 2: 1 – 20
Most of us know the story of how Jesus was conceived and born. As we know, Jesus makes Christmas possible. We have Christmas to celebrate because of Jesus. Because Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Human beings have been celebrating Christmas for many, many years. Even those who are not Christians celebrate Christmas. Thank God for Jesus. Jesus truly is the Reason for this Glorious Season.
When do you think God decided to send God’s One and Only Son, Jesus, to be born as one of us to die for our sin? Was God so bored that one day, God decided to do this as a surprise? Some say that God had this work of universal salvation in mind through God’s Son since the beginning of creation. In Genesis chapter 3, God said to the serpent that the woman’s offspring “will crush your head” (v. 15). Some interpret this Scripture as Jesus, the woman’s offspring, crushing the head of satan, the serpent.
They say the woman’s offspring is Jesus yet the birth of Jesus had nothing to do with man whatsoever. Remember, Mary became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to Jesus while she was still a virgin. So, the conception and birth of Jesus itself had nothing to do with man. However, Joseph was right there with Mary and kept both Mary and Jesus safe as God guided him.
We don’t know exactly when God decided to bring salvation to all humanities through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. However, knowing the nature of God, God probably had this plan in mind even before creation. God who knows all things, everything, already knew the sinful minds of human beings.
This is the reason why our God is so wonderfully crazy. Our God already knew that we, human beings, will break God’s heart by sinning against God’s commands continuously. Yet, instead of destroying us for our sins, God decided to die for our sins so that we don’t have to. Our God is so crazy in love with us.
When the angels proclaimed the birth of the Newborn King and shepherds came and worshiped Jesus, that was the answer to many, many people’s prayers. Not only that our God voluntarily made plans to bring salvation into our lives, but our God also answered God’s people’s honest and desperate prayers.
The Israelites had been praying and waiting for many, many years for a Messiah to come and deliver them from all bondages in life. They so desperately waited for the Saviour to come to them and save them from all their enemies. They just did not know that our Messiah and Saviour will come to save us from death and eternal destruction through self-sacrifice and not through violence and political power.
The plans which our God made for us are so much better, greater, and amazing than anyone can ever imagine. Our God loves us so much that our God is always, always with us and listening to our prayers. Not one prayer is lost before our God. The book of Revelation tells us there is silence throughout heaven when the angel brings the prayers of people to God (8:1-4). God hears all your prayers at all times.
When I was about eight or nine years old living in Korea, I watched this movie. It was a musical movie. I didn’t even know the name of that movie until I was in my thirties. That movie was about a poor couple. The husband wanted to make quick money illegally after he found out his wife was pregnant. But he died in the process and didn’t even get to see his baby.
He ended up going to heaven anyway and became a star keeper which means a star cleaner. All the stars were made of crystal with shiny parts built in. They came in different sizes. Some were small enough for him to hold them in his hands. He would climb up the ladders all day and everyday cleaning stars hanging on strings from heaven.
He did such a good job for so long that he was given one day to go down to earth. He was allowed to show himself to one person of his choice. So, no one else could see him except that person of his choice. Before he went down to earth, he grabbed one small star and took it with him.
He met his teenage daughter for the first time. And he saw how much she was struggling just to survive. So, he showed himself to his daughter, but did not tell her that he was her father. And he gave the star to his daughter. His daughter brought that star to her mother. Her mother knew where that star came from. She knew that it came from her husband.
I didn’t understand the whole story as a little child. However, I loved the fact that her husband brought his daughter, and his wife that star. In my childish mind, I thought that was so very romantic and fascinating. So, I whispered to God saying, “God, I wish You would send my angel husband with that star to me one day.” Then, for over twenty years, I had forgotten all about it.
After David and I got married, David bought me a mountain of presents for Christmas. He wrapped every big and small present and decorated them individually. Under the Christmas tree was filled with gifts just for me. He quickly learned that I love crystals. So, he got me some crystal decorations and ornaments.
Months passed by. We happened to run into that movie from my childhood on one of the movie channels on TV. We only saw part of the movie. Later on, David found out the name of that movie and bought the DVD for me. It was called Carousel. We watched it together. However, I finally remembered that star months after we watched that movie together. One of those gifts David got me was a Mikasa crystal star ornament.
As I watched the movie again, I realized that the star in the movie looked different than what I remembered. What David bought me looked just like the star that I remember from my childhood. The following year, David bought me another Mikasa crystal star ornament that looked just like the one from that movie, Carousel. I don’t think that company made any more star ornaments after those two.
It took me months to realize that God had heard my whisper from years ago. I wasn’t even praying. It was a simple, wishful whisper of a child. Yet, God heard my whisper from twenty some years ago and brought it into reality. God had this in mind for over twenty years of my life.
I am so grateful that God waited as long as God did to bring David into my life. What would have happened if I met him way back then when I was eight or nine years old? Nothing would have come out of that meeting. If I had met David much earlier, I would not have appreciated him as much. I might have taken him for granted. God waited for the perfect time to bring David into my life with that crystal star. I ended up getting two stars, one from my memories and one from the movie.
Whatever you say to God is so very important to our God. Not one word you say to God is lost. That is why everything stops in Heaven when an angel brings prayers of people to God. Imagine all the celebrations and worship, they all stop when God’s people’s prayers are brought to our God. There is a sheer silence throughout Heaven so that God can concentrate on your prayers, on your cries.
It was no accident that our LORD Jesus came to us. Jesus is the very expression of God’s perfect and complete love for us and also the answer to the prayers of humanity. So, no matter what happens, have hope in our God. God loves you. God knows you, knows your needs. God hears all your prayers. Trust in God’s love for you. Trust in God’s faithfulness in your life. Trust in God’s promises.
Jesus came to us, to you, and for you. And Jesus will come back again for you. And God will do all things that God promised in your life in God’s perfect timing. So, wait on the LORD in all things. Continue to put your trust in God. And celebrate God in your life as you dwell in God’s love and power through our LORD Jesus Christ. And remember every day that you are and always will be loved by our God and LORD Jesus Christ. Amen.
December 19, 2021
The Mother of My LORD
Luke 1: 39 – 45
Today’s Scripture Lesson talks about the Mother of Our LORD, Jesus. Who is the Mother of Jesus? Mary is the Mother of our LORD, Jesus. How much do we really know about Mary? Honestly, not much at all. We are going to learn so much about Mary today.
Did you know that if we only had the Gospel John, we would have never known the name of the mother of Jesus? Because John never mentions her name. John only refers to Mary as Jesus’ mother or the mother of Jesus. Even though John starts his Gospel with “In the beginning,” he skips the birth story of Jesus altogether (1:1). He begins his story with the baptism of Jesus. Only the Gospel Matthew and Luke talk about the birth story of Jesus.
Do you know who visited Jesus, according to Matthew? The wisemen, the kings from the east came to visit Jesus with a proper respect and gifts for the newborn King. Mathew’s target audience is the Jewish people. Matthew wanted to prove to Jewish people that Jesus is the Messiah and Saviour that they had been waiting for many, many years. So, the kings from the east would come and worship Jesus.
According to the Bible, Jesus was probably about two years old, still living in Bethlehem when the wisemen came to worship Jesus. That is why the king “Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi” (Matthew 1:16).
Then who are the ones who came to visit Jesus when Jesus was just born, according to Luke? The shepherds came to worship Jesus after they heard the good news from the angels about the newborn King, the Messiah. Luke, who is considered a gentile for having a Jewish mother and a Greek father, wanted the whole world to know that Jesus came for all God’s people, including Gentiles. So, Luke pointed out that the very lowly and humble shepherds came to worship Jesus at birth.
Luke also tells us how Mary received the news about becoming the mother of Jesus, the Saviour. Mary’s response to such shocking news tells us a lot about her character. Luke also tells us about the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the baptizer.
So, who is Mary? The Bible tells us very little about Mary. For being a mother of Jesus who is our God, you would think the Bible would give us more information about her. However, the only things we know about her are, her name which is Mary, her marital status, which we know that she was engaged to be married to Joseph and still a virgin, and the name of the town which she lived that is “Nazareth, a town in Galilee” (Luke 1:26).
That’s it. We don’t know her birthplace, her family, her economic status, nor her family’s place in society. And we don’t even know whether she is Israelite or not. We know nothing about her besides those few things. Some are speculating that Mary may be a descendant of Aaron, the priestly family, since she is related to Elizabeth who was married to Zechariah, the high priest.
The reason why God chose her to be the mother of our LORD was not given. The angel Gabriel simply told Mary, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The LORD is with you.” (Luke 1:28). If we were to hire some people to do an important job, we surely would check out their backgrounds of education and finance and even check their personality and faith. However, for this extremely important job of being the mother of Jesus our LORD and God, no such thing was given to us.
According to the study, in that ancient Jewish culture, “a girl’s vows are valid in her twelfth year” (Vinson, p. 36). And “the ages of brides ranged from thirteen to early twenties. So, Mary must have been young, too young to get married according to today’s society. Many suspect that Mary probably had been thirteen or just a little bit older.
However, the tradition tells us that Joseph probably was an older man. Most likely this is Joseph’s second marriage. Some are even saying that some of Jesus’ siblings were born to Joseph by his first wife. We don’t know for sure, but it’s possible. We just know that Mary was a young virgin girl who was engaged to be married to Joseph no matter their age differences.
We don’t know exactly when or how, but Joseph died even before Jesus started the earthly ministry. Joseph just disappeared and his name was no longer mentioned. So, Mary lived as a widow raising her children by herself at a certain point. We just don’t know exactly when.
This story indicates that Mary did not have a mother. When a girl gets pregnant, who does she tell first besides her husband? Don’t you tell your mother first? For Mary, she went straight to see her cousin, Elizabeth, instead of her mother. Elizabeth was a much older woman who was more like a mother or even grandmother figure to young Mary.
We can almost guess why God chose this humble girl who does not have much to show off to be the mother of our LORD by watching how she responds to the angel, Gabriel. Now, without a warning, an angel of the LORD just showed up in front of this young girl with more than just shocking news. “You are going to be pregnant and give birth to a Son.”
There are other shocking news that we can and like to receive like, “You are going to be a millionaire.” Or “You won a grand prize, a brand-new car!” Or “We are forgiving your school loan. You are loan free!” I would love to receive shocking surprising news like that any time. However, telling me that I’m going to be a mother when I’m still a virgin? Even though the angel Gabriel said, “You are highly favored! The LORD is with you,” that does not sound like a blessing, but a curse.
Mary was living in a shame and honor society. Keeping honor was so extremely important. If an unmarried girl or woman gets pregnant, she can be stoned to death by law and bring shame to her family. This news from Gabriel was more like a death sentence than a blessing.
I would have panicked before anything. Mary did ask a question saying, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” (v. 34). This is a perfectly logical question. How is this possible? The angel Gabriel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (v. 35).
Does this make any sense to you? I would have gotten really frustrated with the angel and said, 'What do you mean ‘the Holy Spirit will come on me, and the power of the Most High will overshadow me?’ What does that mean? I don’t understand. You must explain to me better than that.” But for Mary, she believed it. She accepted God’s work in her life just like that without any doubts or complaints. She simply believed it and said, “I am the LORD’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (v. 38). How is this possible?
Six months before this, this same angel came to Zechariah to tell him about John the baptizer who was to be born to him through Elizabeth, his wife. Zechariah, who was highly educated with biblical knowledge, did not believe the angel. Zechariah, who should have known better, refused to believe what was told to him. For his unbelief, he became mute until his son was born. How is it that this young girl who has no educational background whatsoever is able to believe such a thing?
It’s called faith. According to the Bible, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We, the believers, do not have to see it to believe it. We believe in God’s promise first before we see it come to reality, then we see it. That’s what Mary did. She probably had no idea if any of what the angel Gabriel said would ever come true. However, she simply believed in what Gabriel said only because God had spoken to her.
She also believed the news about Elizabeth who was pregnant for six months in her old age. How do we know that Mary believed such news? The Bible tells us that “Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (vv. 39-40). Mary did not go there to check to make sure what Gabriel said was true. Mary went to see Elizabeth to congratulate her and to spend time with her during their pregnancy because she truly believed in what was told to her.
No wonder God chose Mary to be the Mother of our LORD, Jesus Christ. Clearly, God was not looking for someone who is highly qualified with impressive backgrounds of high education and religious life. None of that mattered to God. God simply needed a humble and obedient servant who will trust and obey God without any doubts.
Mary, who was a teenager, was born into a society where women had absolutely no power. She had no fancy background, no significance in her society, or any power. Yet, she was chosen by God to take a major role in God’s ultimate plan to save all humanity. Our faith in God and our willingness to obey God’s Word is all that God requires for God to do great works through and with us.
Look at Mother Teresa. She was a tiny lady who had no power, looking so helpless. This 87 year old nun, Teresa lived among the city slums with the people of extreme poverty; the poor, hungry, sick, and unwanted people, for over 50 years. After she went home to the LORD, the possessions she left behind were “two saris, a Bible, a rosary and some diaries and pencils.” That’s it. These are all she possessed while and after serving among the poor for more than 50 years.
Yet, on the day of Mother Teresa’s funeral day, more than a million people lined up to honor her. She was honored not only by the poor, but also by the whole world. Her funeral was held as though a king or a president had died with military honors and everything. The presidents and prime ministers from all over the world flew in for this. The Service was held in a stadium for 15,000 people. The Service lasted for four hours. The entire world grieved over this little lady nun who owned absolutely nothing, who had no power, and lived among the poor almost her entire life.
How is it possible? The world recognized God at work in and through Mother Teresa. The entire world recognized God using this humble, lowly, and powerless lady to take care of the people who have nothing and were unwanted. Just like Mother Teresa, God chose the most humble, lowly, and powerless young Mary to take a major part in God’s plan to bring salvation to this world, for the people who deserved to die for their sins.
Why? Because both Mary and Mother Teresa trusted in God a way in which their faith could not be shaken by anything. They were willing and committed to obey God at any cost. They were not looking for reward or honor. They simply obeyed God with everything they had. Even though they did not look for honor, the whole world recognized their sacrifices and honored them anyway.
If ordinary people like ourselves come before God with that commitment, willingness, and faith, imagine what God can and will do with this small group of God’s people. Let us be the people who are totally committed to our God who are willing to obey God’s Words at any cost. And allow God to do whatever God desires through us, through our lives for the salvation of all God’s people.
If we continue to remain faithful and obedient to God’s Word as the Holy Spirit leads us, Jesus will gladly take us into that heavenly Kingdom when Jesus comes back to judge the whole world. And Jesus will tell us, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful. Come and share in your Master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Praise the LORD! Amen.
December 12, 2021
Let Your Requests Be Made Known to God
Philippians 4: 4 – 7
The Church of Philippi, which Apostle Paul loved, also had problems, unfortunately. If you read this chapter from the beginning, you will see two names that Paul mentions. They are Euodia and Syntyche (v. 2). What an honor it would be to have your name mentioned in the Bible. I’m not talking about having the same name as someone in the Bible. What if the Bible actually talks about you, even just once? If that happened to me, I would buy hundreds of copies of the Bible and pass them around to everyone with my name marked and highlighted.
Well, these two ladies’ names were mentioned in the Bible by Apostle Paul. However, not as a good example. They were causing problems and divisions in the Church. In this case, I would not highlight my name, but rip that page out so that no one would see my name.
Paul was usually very direct and would tell you like it is. I love Paul, but I’ll be scared to talk to him in person. However, Paul is very kind and gentle here. Paul must really love these folks at Philippi. Paul is asking the other Church members to help these ladies with their problems (v. 3). According to Paul, these ladies may be causing problems at Church. However, Paul considers them his co-workers in ministry. Paul points out that their “names are in the book of life” (v. 3).
No matter how nice and godly we may be, we will run into problems to cause divisions, even in the Church, because we are human beings. Our names may be written in the Book of Life in God’s Kingdom, but we still need help and will continue to need help as we live in this life. We will continue to struggle with sins until the day Jesus comes back to take us all home.
Apostle Paul is teaching us in today’s Scripture Lesson what to do when we are faced with these unpleasant problems. Paul is our spiritual leader, spiritual father, and God is speaking through him. So, we need to listen to him. Let’s see what Paul says about this situation.
Paul is telling us to, “Rejoice in the LORD always” (v. 4). How many of us stay grumpy and cranky over the smallest things each day? “I could not find one of my socks.” “I could not get my hair right this morning.” “He told me to be quiet. How dare he?” “Someone stepped on my shoes by accident.” “I didn’t get a good night’s sleep.” “ I could not find my keys this morning.” “My kids are not listening to me.” “I cannot stand my husband.” This one person once said, “If you are not happy with your husband, don’t worry. There are plenty of lonely women out there who would love to take your husband off your hands.”
“Nobody understands me.” I hate to tell you this. But no one will truly understand you unless they are God. Only God can and will truly understand you. People may relate to you, empathize and sympathize with you. But humans do not have the ability to truly understand other human beings. Two people may be going through very similar situations. However, their experiences can be extremely different, depending on what they have experienced in their lives up to that point. If you are looking for someone to truly understand you among the people, you will stay disappointed all the time. They may claim to do so. But only God has the power to do such.
The reasons for us to get upset are many. Too often, we allow ourselves to get upset, lose peace, and to stay cranky over the smallest things, forgetting all the good things God has been and is doing in our lives. The Devil is probably having so much fun over us when we do that. We so easily throw away our peace and allow ourselves to live under stress over the tiniest things in life. When we give into such minor complications, it’s like everything that is good in our lives disappears. This is because all my focus is on my problems, no matter how little they may be.
I can hear the devil laughing at us and saying, “You are too easy. I don’t have to work too hard when it comes to you. And you make me look good every time.” I want you to think about your life right now. How happy or sad are you? Whether to stay happy or sad is determined by what you allow your minds to get filled with. Is your mind filled with everything that is going wrong in your life or on good and positive things?
If your mind is only filled with everything that is bad and wrong in your life and you cannot think of good things, even though your life is filled with blessings that other people wish to have, you need help desperately. You need to cry out to God for help right away. How can you rejoice, as Paul tells us to, if your mind is crowded with only negative thoughts, which are not from God?
If you feel like I am talking about you, targeting you on this matter, you may need to pay extra attention to what I am saying. Because God may be talking to you. As for me, I’m preaching to myself. God may be trying to help you to claim your peace back into your life. What is the point of going through this season of celebration, surrounded by loved ones, and receiving many gifts, if you have no peaceful mind, but allow it to be filled with negative things? That would be a miserable life, no matter what is happening outside of your mind.
Apostle Paul is daring to tell us to “Rejoice in the LORD always” (v. 4). How is it possible to rejoice always, all the time? This is why Paul said, “in the LORD.” Because we are able to rejoice always only “in the LORD.” God is the only One who has the power to help us to rejoice always in this life in the midst of all kinds of troubles and complications.
Those who stay miserable and upset all the time, look into your heart. Do you have God, Jesus in your life, truly in your life? If God is missing from your life, if you are not allowing Jesus to stay in your life, you will remain miserable. Every little thing that went wrong in your life will continue to upset you because the source of true peace, who is Jesus, is missing in your life. I can honestly say that God is in my life. Yet, I still struggle with things. However, I am able to sustain, make it through because God enables me. I cannot imagine how the people who do not accept God into their lives survive in this life.
I used to have a key chain that said, “Know Jesus, Know Peace. No Jesus, No Peace.” This is so true. The reason you are not happy in this life may not be because things don’t go the way you want them to. You are miserable and stay upset all the time because God is, Jesus is missing from your life.
Apostle Paul tells us, “The LORD is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God” (v. 6). What is Paul saying here? Our LORD who is able. Our God has the power to take care of all our worries and problems. So, instead of worrying about things that are out of your control, bring all your worries to God through “prayers and supplication.” Talk to God about it. And make sure to do all these things “with thanksgiving.” Tell God of all your problems and about all the things that make you miserable and sad. And know that God will take care of you, really take care of you. So, live in thankfulness to God even while you are still in the midst of such problems. Because God who loves you will take care of you.
This world is training us to chase after clouds and shadows from a very young age instead of teaching us to put our trust in God, who actually has the power to create and make our dreams come true. What does the little cricket in the Pinocchio movie say? He sings saying, “Make a wish upon a star.” Indicating that if we make a wish upon a star, it will one day happen.
Well, I hate to tell you that our Bible talks nothing about chasing after wishes. There are no chapters or verses devoted to discussing wishes. Our Bible talks about hope which has to do with expectations that something good is about to happen any day, any minute. I learned this from a pastor. When we have hope, we work towards it with all we have. Because we know that something good will happen as a result.
However, what is there in wishing? We can sit here thinking, “I wish I would lose weight.” Well? You are not going to lose weight just by wishing. I can say, “I wish I were rich.” Or “I wish my house was clean.” Nothing will happen just by wishing. We have to work towards it to make it happen. We cannot just sit here and wish about it and expect it to happen.
The young people might be shocked to hear this. I was actually there when Disney made The Little Mermaid movie. Yes, I’m that old. I think I was a teenager when they made that movie. What does this main character, mermaid princess, Ariel sing about? She sings saying, “I’m a girl who has everything. But I want more!”
This girl who has everything anyone can possibly ask for. Yet, she is not fully happy because she wants more. You can work toward more while you find contentment with what you have. However, it becomes a problem if you cannot find happiness and contentment with what you have because you are longing for more. That is a miserable life.
This movie praises her and makes her a hero for going after what she wants, her dreams. However, in the process of getting what she wants, she goes against what her father told her. She risks her life and the life of her father and all her loved ones. In this Little Mermaid movie, she eventually gets what she wants. However, the original story tells us that she dies watching her prince marry another woman. Then she becomes bubbles and disappears into the thin air.
Our God is not the One who only exists in our dreams or who lives far away from us, out of our reach. Our God is real. And our God is always with us, watching over us, protecting us, and loving us constantly. Our God is able to give us hope in the most hopeless situations. Our God has the power to give us willingness and strength to go after what God has promised us with hope.
Our God not only promised us peace, but already gave us peace and left it with us. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). What is Jesus telling us here? Jesus is saying that as long as you do not let go of that peace that Jesus came to give you, you will always have peace. You don’t have peace because you give it away into worries, frustration, and into all kinds of negative thoughts. One of the fruits of the Spirit is Self-Control. God has given you Peace and Self-Control. You already have the Peace. Also, God has given you the power to keep and protect your Peace.
Have you heard the story of two boys who were given very different gifts? This is kind of a mean test. Researchers took one boy and locked him up in a room full of toys of every kind. Then they took the other boy and locked him up in a room full of horse poop. Hours later, those researchers opened the door of the room full of toys. They were totally shocked. They couldn’t believe what they saw.
The boy was sitting there crying with toys broken and thrown everywhere. He looked at the researchers who almost looked scared and said, “I know you are going to do something mean to me. That’s why you are giving me all these toys. I want to get out. Let me go.” They checked the other boy. And they were even more shocked by him. The room was covered with horse poop, the walls and even some parts of the ceiling. He was kicking poop everywhere with such excitement saying, “I know you hid a pony somewhere. Where is it? I want to see my pony.”
Your situations do not determine your happiness. You do! God has given you the power to choose happiness. If you are miserable, do not blame other people. People cannot emotionally hurt you or make you miserable unless you allow them. Once again, God has given you the power to choose your peace and happiness over and against any situations and circumstances in the Name of the LORD.
If you are not happy, cling to God, cling to Jesus and talk to Jesus about everything that is in your heart. And ask God to strengthen your faith in God so that you can boldly choose the peace given to you by our LORD Jesus Christ. You are only able to choose peace through Jesus. As Paul said in his letter to Church in Philippi,
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether
well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things
through Christ who gives me strength. (4:11-13)
I pray that you will always find true satisfaction and contentment in our LORD Jesus Christ, always. Amen.
December 5, 2021
God Is My Witness
Philippians 1: 3 – 11
Today’s Scripture Lesson is the letter which Apostle Paul sent to the Church in Philippi. The Church of Philippi had a special place in Paul’s heart. The Book of Philippians is considered a Love Letter of the New Testament. While members in other Churches were giving Paul a hard time, the Church in Philippi was always there for him.
This letter was written while Paul was imprisoned in house arrest for at least two years. This letter is the most personal and loving letter of all the letters Paul wrote to all Churches. The Church of Philippi used to send gifts to Paul for him to pass to Jewish Christians. Paul used to collect gifts from Gentile Christians to give to Jewish Christians in need.
There were a number of Jewish Christians who refused to accept Gentile Christians. They were rather mean to Gentile Christians and giving Gentile Christians a hard time. So, Paul would collect monetary gifts from Gentile Christians and deliver them to Jewish Christians in need. Jewish Christians who received monetary help from Gentile Christians could not complain about Gentile Christians.
Paul used this work of love to bring unity between Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians. While Paul was imprisoned in house arrest, members of the Philippi Church were still sending Paul gifts to meet Paul’s needs as well. The Church of Philippi was more than a partner in ministry to Paul. Paul had a special love for this Church for sure.
As Paul poured his heart out to these folks about his love for them, he told them that “God is my Witness” (v. 8). Isn’t it nice to be able to say that “God is my Witness.” Everything I am saying is so true and honest that I can confidently say that “God is my Witness.” Paul clearly knows that our God knows and sees all things. There is nothing that is hidden from our God. So, Paul stays honest and innocent before God.
People say a similar thing about Santa Claus and how he knows everything. When I reached a certain age, the idea of Santa spooked me out. There is this large old man with a long beard who is always watching me all the time. Like that song, “You better watch out.” Santa “knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been good or bad. So be good for goodness sake.” I did not like the idea of that jolly old man watching me all the time too much, especially when I’m sleeping.
I also could not understand that song about “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus.” I thought that if I saw my Mom kissing Santa Claus or anyone else, I would be telling my Dad. I would not be too happy with my Mom or with that man she kissed. Then later, I learned that Santa Claus here is Daddy.
Well, the way our God watches over us is very different from that good old Santa Claus. Not that Santa has the power to watch all of us every day with those judgmental eyes to see if we are being good enough to receive some good gifts or bad enough to get coals instead. Aren’t you glad that there is no such person existing in our lives? How do you do anything knowing that someone is watching you, waiting for you to make mistakes all the time? We will all be in trouble constantly.
Our God is very different. Our God actually, really does have the power to watch over us all the time. One time I saw a picture of a lion cub. This little cute lion cub is sitting there innocently with confidence and no fears whatsoever. The reason for that is because his father or mother lion is standing right behind him. And it says, “Fear nothing in front of you because of who is behind you!!!”
When God watches over us, God does not look at us with the judgmental eyes, but with loving eyes. God does not watch us every day like a stalker, but as our stronghold. Think about little children, even teenagers. What will happen if your Mom and Dad are only there for you once in a while. It’s like you come home from school, and never know when your parents are going to be home. And you can never count on your parents to be there for you to cook for you and to take care of you. That will be a miserable life.
I was bullied one time at school. This little boy who was extremely violent and acting all tough as he hung out with this big boy. He was mean and was targeting me to pick on. I was in fourth or fifth grade. I was scared and did not want to go to school. That boy really scared me. I finally told my parents. My Dad wanted to come and meet that boy.
Back then, parents could go meet the students without going through the office. Good thing that my Dad was a nice guy. My Dad and my cousin, on their way to work, stopped by my school. My cousin was all grown up and was taller than my Dad. Fully dressed in suits, both my Dad and my cousin met with that boy and told him to play nice and be good. They did it very gently. They did not raise their voices or get physical. They just told him quietly and nicely.
However, that boy heard that my Dad was a teacher, though not a teacher at my school, but at college. Just knowing my Dad was a teacher, it scared him. He left me alone and never bothered me again. And all my Dad did was to let him know that I have a Daddy who is standing behind me, with me, and protecting me. Just knowing that about me was enough to scare him to never bother me again.
Our God works like that for us. Our God is that Lion standing behind that little cub. Our God is a Father who will do anything to protect us from any danger. All we have to do is to accept, to receive our God into our lives. Our God is not like Santa who is claiming to watch over us with judgmental eyes to catch us doing bad things.
Our God watches over us to protect us and to cover us with God’s favor and blessings. We want our God to watch over us. We want our God to bless us and keep us in God’s favor. I cannot imagine my life without our God.
When our kids were only three and five, the kids and I were travelling to my parents’ house. We had to stop at McDonald's because the kids had to use the potty. I got them out of the booster seats and was gathering them to go into the restaurant. There were cars on both sides of our car. In a matter of a second, Josiah started to take off and run into the parking lot. Just when Josiah started to run, I stretched my arm and grabbed his shirt and got hold of him. As soon as I grabbed him from running away from me, a huge van passed by in front of him real fast.
It was like I just woke up from a nightmare, a horrifying nightmare. It was so scary that I couldn’t move. If I did not get a hold of Josiah, if I was a second late and he took off, we would not have Josiah with us today. Just thinking about that time makes my heart start beating fast and I can feel my body sweating. If God did not cause me to grab him so fast, I don’t even want to think about what could have happened.
I saw this on TV dramas and movies a number of times, which does not make any sense to me. The child wants ice cream or something while they are in a park with tons of people around. The parent tells the child, “Stay right here. I’ll be right back.” When the parent comes back, the child is gone. The whole story is about finding that child. Honestly, I would take my child with me. I would have never left my child there alone. I would even take my child to the bathroom with me. How do you take your eyes off of your child even for a moment, especially in a place like that?
Our God does the same thing for us. God does not take God’s eyes away from us. I will be scared if God ever takes God’s eyes away from me even just for a moment. We want our God to watch over us at all times. I don’t know how we are going to survive without our God.
Our Almighty, All Powerful, and All Loving God wants to remain and stay active in our lives all the time. And our God is patiently waiting for us to accept and invite our God into our lives. So, we have to do our part, which is to invite and allow our God to live in our lives. Doesn’t it sound crazy?
Our God is our Creator. Our God created this whole world, created us, and everything around us. Creator has the right to do whatever the Creator wants with whatever has been created. Our God created us, so we are God’s creation. Yet, this Creator God is asking for our permission, creation’s permission to come into our lives to live in our lives.
For example, Glenn made this cute snowman. She sold it at the Craft Show. As soon as I saw it, I had to buy it right away because it’s so pretty. When Glenn brought it to Craft Show to sell it, this snowman did not nor could not question her saying, “Hey, why are you selling me to strangers? Don’t you love me?” Glenn simply has the right to do whatever she wants to do with it because she is the creator of this snowman.
When you are the creator, you should not have to ask permission from your created object on how you want to use it. However, our God and Creator, wants our permission to come into our lives. Instead of forcing God-self on us, God is asking for our permission. How crazy is that? That is why my Mom always says that our God’s best characteristic is that our God is Wonderfully Crazy, crazy in love with us.
Watching someone from a distance is very different from living with that person. God does not want to simply watch us from a distance, but wants to live with us every day. When we are aware of God’s presence every day and have daily personal fellowship with God every day, we will be able to confidently say, “God is my Witness” like Paul did.
Know who your God is. Know that your God loves you to the point where Jesus, your God died for you so that you can have eternal life. God is not out there to get you, but to give you life, a true life, a life that means something good, a life that you can enjoy, a life that is filled with peace, a true peace. God does not want to make your life miserable. Jesus came to give you peace and to make your joy complete.
All God wants is to bless your life in this life and spend eternity with you. All we have to do is to accept Jesus into your heart, into your life and live our lives the way God is calling us to live. Everything God tells us to do is for our own good. God is only telling us the ways that we can be blessed even more.
Some people make mistakes thinking that sins will keep them away from Heavenly Kingdom. Yes, sins separate us from our God. We absolutely cannot go to Heaven with sins. We have to be pure, without sin in order to go to Heaven. However, we have Jesus who is more willing to forgive us than for us to ask for forgiveness.
All we have to do is to ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins. The moment you ask for forgiveness, Jesus will forgive you instantly. You will be freed of sins until you sin again. Then you have to ask for forgiveness to Jesus again and again until we are without sins. Because of Jesus, we will be accepted into that Heavenly Kingdom.
Then what is that ultimate thing that will keep us away from Heavenly Kingdom? You cannot, no one can get into Heaven if you don’t accept and believe in Jesus. You have great chances to go into Heaven even when you sin as long as you have Jesus in you. However, if you don’t believe in Jesus, who is going to forgive you so that you can get into Heaven? Without Jesus, there is no way, absolutely no other ways to go to Heaven. Jesus is the key, the only way for us to go to Heaven.
So, accept Jesus as your LORD and Saviour. Put your trust in Jesus, our God. Count on God to watch over you at all times. And walk with the LORD faithfully as you live the life of obedience to God’s Word. Then enjoy everything that God gives you according to God’s promises in this life until we see our God face to face. I’m totally expecting to see all of you in Heaven one day. But while we are here in this life, let us enjoy this life in the LORD and continue to walk in the favor of our LORD. Amen.
November 28, 2021
The Kingdom of God is Near
Luke 21: 25 – 36
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We will be celebrating the birth of Jesus very soon. However, our focus is not on the birth alone, but on the second coming of Jesus Christ, our LORD. When Jesus left us and went up to Heaven in front of many, the angels told those who were standing there, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Jesus go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus promised to come back to us again just the way Jesus left us.
It’s been 2,000 years since Jesus left us. We have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to come back to take us home. 2,000 years ago, Jesus told us that “There will be signs” (v. 25). How many signs do you think we received over 2,000 years? God probably sent us hundreds and thousands of signs. To me, this pandemic situation was another sign from our God, God trying to get our attention. How many people recognized how helpless we are without our God and turned to God during this crazy and scary time? I do not know. I wonder how frustrated God gets when we continue to remain clueless, ignore, and refuse to change.
There are at least 66 verses about watchfulness in the Bible. The Bible tells us to “stay alert,” and “be alert” at least 30 some times throughout O.T. and N.T. (Deut. 29:18, Joshua 8:4, Isaiah 21:7, 28:20, 50:4, Jeremiah 1:12, Habakkuk 1:8, Haggai 2:4, Matthew 24:42, 24:43, 25:13,…). God has been trying to get our attention since the creation. God has been crying out to us to stay alert, to keep watch constantly for the LORD and to turn to the LORD. The LORD’s Day can come any day, any minute, now. Don’t you think that we are somewhat closer to that day after 2,000 years since Jesus came and left us physically?
We Christians want to see the LORD’s Day. We should be looking forward to that LORD’s Day. Why? Because the LORD’s Day is our day of vindication, our deliverance, the day of our ultimate salvation, and end of any suffering that we experienced and continue to experience in this life. We want that day to come quickly. Then the important question should be, “What should we do meanwhile?” How can we live the life that will allow us to stay alert and watch for the LORD every day?”
It’s not very hard. It’s actually rather simple. You simply have to put your trust in God and live a life that is obedient to God’s Word every day. The challenge is that trusting God at all times enough to do what God wants us to do every day over and against the given situation is not easy. It’s easy to trust in God when things are going well. People don’t usually question God and get confused and upset when good things are happening.
We don’t complain saying, “I don’t understand why all these good things are happening to me. Why is it that all things are working out so well? It’s not fair.” We don’t usually complain like that. However, when things don’t go our way and bad things, hurtful things continue to happen, we start to question God saying, “Why?” and “How long?”
We must learn to trust in our God and still live the life that is obedient to God’s Word, even when bad and hurtful things continue to happen in our lives. We must live the lives that are right not just to our conscience but to God’s Word. We cannot rely on our conscience, reasoning, or emotions. Because they constantly change regardless of what God thinks. Our reasoning is not reliable, only God’s Word is.
Do you think that when we try so hard to live the life that is obedient to God’s Word, God would bless us quickly and more abundantly? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You might have to be good and obedient to God’s Word for a long, long time before you see some results that you like to see happen.
When my parents raised us with $400 a month, they had to live in that condition for a long, long time before they received a little break, which included all my teenage years. That break did not come until I started to work. Throughout college, I worked as much as I could. I worked three part time jobs so I did not have to burden my parents with financial help. Once I went to seminary, I also had three, sometimes four part time jobs and was able to send my parents some money every month. I only kept enough money for my basic needs and sent everything else to my parents.
The way we live now is luxurious compared to the way we lived in my teenage years. However, we had to go through those hard times for a long time before we became more comfortable financially. We had to do the right thing for a long time according to God’s calling and God’s Word before we received what God promised to give us.
You know some people struggle with alcohol or drugs for a long time. You know, to be freed from such addiction doesn’t happen overnight. You have to continue to work at it in order to be freed from it. One lady came and complained to me saying, “My family won’t believe that I’m clean from drugs now. I’m a new person. But they won’t trust me with my children.” So, I asked her, “How long have you been clean from drugs?” She said, “A week! I know I’ve been going through this for a long time. But it’s different this time. I’m all better now.” She did what everyone else expected. She went right back to drugs in no time. She eventually killed herself from an overdose. I had to bury her in front of her two teenage children.
If we don’t become free from what is keeping us away from our God, this thing will eventually consume us, making sure that we don’t make it to the Kingdom of God. We need to continue to be freed from any sinfulness that separates us from our God and continue to walk in the way that God called us in order to enter into that Everlasting Life while we live in this life.
We are living in such a fast-moving society. Many times, we get frustrated, upset, and give up so easily if we don’t see the results right away. God waited for us since the beginning of creation which contains millions and millions of years. Then why can we wait for our LORD in our short lifetime? Compared to what God has done as long as God did, our time is nothing.
Apostle Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). What God has for us in our future is so amazing and so great that nothing we have here in this life can be compared to that. Did you know that you don’t have to die to receive the blessings that God promised us? God will bless us while we live in this life even before we get to that Kingdom of God.
When my Dad came to the U.S. by himself five year before we all moved here, some other pastors made fun of him. Even though the college that he was working at as a professor sent him to the U.S. to study more, this one pastor mocked my Dad in front of me saying, “Pastors who don’t make it big in this country go to America trying to do something better.” That hurt me so bad to hear that about my Dad from that man. My Dad did not fail anything in Korea. My Dad came here to study more in different settings in a different country.
Well, my parents did struggle a lot for many years. However, all those who looked down at my parents are envious now of my parents for what God has done for them. When God blessed my parents so abundantly, they clearly saw what God has done in my parents’ life. My parents had to do the right things according to God’s Word for a long time to be where they are now in this life.
When Jesus said, “the Kingdom of God is near” (v. 31), Jesus was talking about our relationships with God. “The Kingdom of God is near” means that God made Godself available to us. In the old time, people could not go directly to God in person. They had to go through priests. People would bring animals to priests. Then priests would take them and sacrifice to the LORD for the atonement of their sins.
However, when Jesus died on that cross, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 15:38). What does that mean? It means that whatever was blocking us from going directly to God was broken. We no longer had to go through high priests or anyone else to go directly to God. “The Kingdom of God is near” means that Jesus came down to us and made Godself available to us. You can call on Jesus’ Name anytime and anywhere.
I don’t know what kind of life you have lived and are living right now. You might have had a really hard life and you still may be going through a hard time. But don’t be discouraged. As God told Joshua, God is constantly telling you.
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law My servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7-9)
Please, be careful not to get confused with your conscience for God’s will. You may not feel like doing something. You may feel wrong to do something that you have to do. However, do not rely on your feelings to do the right thing. Only God knows what is truly right and righteous. Do what God says no matter what you feel. Move yourself away from any kind of sinful lifestyle or any sinfulness. And do what God tells you to do. Stick with God’s Word regardless of what you think or feel.
Sin is what separates us from our God. Be daring to obey God and “do not fear” as God tells us. And be bold to do what is right according to God’s Word. Do all you can to obey God’s Word even when you are afraid or discouraged. And remember that “the LORD your God” is and always “will be with you wherever you go.” It’s a promise that God made to us in Person.
Be daring to trust in God, knowing that God will take care of you no matter what. God will never stop loving you. God is always ready to receive you if you would allow God. This Almighty, All Powerful God is so patiently waiting for you to allow God to enter into your life to love you way more than the way you deserve to be loved.
Sometimes, we punish ourselves and do not allow ourselves to be loved by others or by God because we see ourselves as such sinners. I did that in my darkest times when I was struggling with depression. Please, let God be the Judge. God says, “I love you. You are My child. And everything I do is for you. Because I love you.” Accept what God says about you and believe in our God.
What you think of yourself is not as important as what God thinks of you. If God says, “I love you. And you are My child,” then whether you like it or not, you are a child of the Most High Living, Almighty God.
Do all you can to obey everything that God tells us to do. In God’s perfect time as God promised, “you will be prosperous and successful” more than you can imagine (Joshua 1:8). Because “the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). And people will call you blessed because they clearly see God living and working in your life.
Now, remember that “the Kingdom of God is near.” Stay alert and wait for the LORD everyday as you live the life that is obedient to God’s Word. I hope I’m saying this enough to you to live your life obedient to God’s Word. Then wait, “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). I pray that you will always “take refuge in the LORD.” Amen.
November 21, 2021
The King of the Jews/Who is Jesus?
John 18: 33 – 37
In today’s Scripture Lesson, Pilate is asking Jesus about Jesus’ identity. As you can see, Jesus did not answer him but questioned him back saying, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about ME?” (v. 34). Wondering if Jesus knows who Jesus is and Jesus’ true identity is useless and a waste of time for us. Because Jesus already knows who Jesus is. We don’t need to bother asking Jesus about that.
What is important to us is for Us to know who Jesus is. Even though there is only one Jesus, Jesus is different to everyone depending on your personal experiences of Jesus. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Who is Jesus to me?”
Let’s look at Jesus first. Who is Jesus? As we know, Jesus is God, the Son of God. Jesus is One of Triune God, God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Christ is not Jesus’ last Name. Christ means anointed One. The ancient Israelites anointed their kings with oil. Jesus is the King of all kings and LORD of all lords. Jesus proved that at the resurrection.
Jesus was there even before creation happened. Jesus was there when God created the world. Jesus is the Living Word who became flesh according to Gospel John. God created the world with Word. Yes, Jesus who is God was there when God created the world.
Jesus left that heavenly place, came down to this earth, and was born as a human baby. Jesus came to us voluntarily willing to suffer and to die for our sins so that we don’t have to die for our sins. Because Jesus shed blood for us, our sins are forgiven the moment we ask Jesus to forgive our sins. Once forgiven, we are able to spend eternity with our God. All because of Jesus!
We all know that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected in three days. When Jesus left us, in front of many people, Jesus promised to come back just the way Jesus left us. We celebrate Jesus’ birthday every year while we wait for Jesus to come back to us again to take us home to that everlasting place in God’s Kingdom.
As Jesus left us physically, the Holy Spirit came to stay with us just like Jesus promised us, to remind us of all things that Jesus taught us until we see Jesus face to face in that heavenly place. Jesus made the Bible, God’s Word, perfect. All that God has promised us and commanded us is made complete through Jesus. The Bible without Jesus is meaningless. Because Jesus completes all God’s Word.
This is the very fundamental and basic belief of our faith in our God. Jesus is the only way to our salvation and true life. Only our Jesus has the power to truly forgive us from our sins, to save us from sin and death, and to take us to that everlasting life in God’s Kingdom. Jesus is our King, our LORD, our Savior, our Messiah, and our God.
We know who Jesus is. So, who is Jesus to You in your life? You are the only one who can tell us who Jesus is to you. I’ll tell you who Jesus is to me. Today is my testimony day. To me, Jesus is truly a Savior. Jesus saved me from many, many things. Did you know that I am a suicide survivor?
My family came to the U.S. when I was 14 years old, right when my puberty started. Puberty is a time when young individuals search for their own identities, searching for their places in this world. I’ve learned that you never move to another country when you or your children are teenagers. Not a very smart move. But we did it anyway.
It's like this. You were a part of a dominant culture. Then suddenly, you become a minority where you don’t even speak their language. People look at you funny and make fun of you for being different. That’s not a fun life to live, especially for a teenager. It took me ten years to be comfortable with this foreign country, new language, new people, new culture to the point where this place finally became a home to me.
Most of those ten years, all I wanted to do was to go back to Korea. However, after ten years, my heart was at peace and I found my home here in this place. I went through such a hard time just to get there. I fell into such heavy depression where I could not see or feel God at all. I felt totally abandoned by God. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a desert with no living things around me crying out to God as loud as I could, but God remained silent and hidden.
My Dad grew up as PK, Pastor’s Kid, himself. He knew the pressure of being PK. So, he didn’t make us go to the Church where he served, when living in South Korea. Our parents allowed us to go to a Church right near us, which was within walking distance of where we lived. I remember going to the Presbyterian Church, Full Gospel Church, etc., as long as they teach the Word from the Bible. You know we all worship the same God. We only went to the Church where my Dad served on special occasions, such as Easter and Christmas.
When we came to this country, we did not have that luxury. We had no other choices but to go to the Church that my parents served at. There was no Church in walking distance. We also did not speak English. We were forced to attend the Church that my parents served every Sunday. We were forced to live as PKs every day. Everything changed. My whole world changed so suddenly, so drastically, and too fast.
My parents were constantly having a hard time in ministry. I could see my parents struggling. Did you know that people who come from other countries, especially as semi-adults do not just live every day, but survive. They survive over and against different cultures, people, languages, and discrimination. They struggle to survive every day. And a lot of them take out their stress and pressures when they come to Church, especially to the pastor. I even had American Church members taking their stress out on me with full force and verbal violence.
That is why I never wanted to be a pastor at a local Church. It is totally God’s will that I am a pastor because it was not my will. I actually hated God for allowing me to experience such pain. I experienced so much pain and felt as though I was left all alone to go through those hard times all by myself. God was not on my side. God was hiding from me. I took that as God hating me. It took me a long time to learn that God never hated me, but always loved me and always will love me.
One time when I was still a teenager, I went to the kitchen while everyone was sleeping. It was a couple of years after we moved to this country. I was in the kitchen that night to chop one of my fingers off with a big kitchen knife. I wasn’t thinking straight. Depression is not a fatal disease. However, if not treated, depression can become fatal and deadly.
In my childish and depressed mind, I thought that if I cut my finger off, this pain will be so bad that it’s going to help me to forget the pain that I was feeling in my heart at that time. I was desperate, so very desperate. Thank God that I still have all my fingers. God is the One who kept my fingers together.
While I was still a teenager, I could not handle my pain anymore. I was willing to do anything, I mean anything to get out of this pain and darkness that was always all around me. I thought that my presence made my family miserable because I'm always sad and depressed. In my sick mind, I thought that my family would live a much happier life if I disappeared. Much, much later, I’ve learned how miserable the family becomes after losing their loved one through suicide.
I wish I had asked my parents for help. I just could not add any extra burden to my parents knowing that they were having a lot of hard time in ministry. If I could go back and change anything, I would have talked to my parents about my problems, my illnesses. I wish I would have trusted my parents more.
Even though I felt all alone, God was with me. Thank God. That night, I took my little knife that I use for art projects and started to cut my skin off on my wrist. Only thing I wanted to do was to get out of that pain and nothing else. Remaining in that pain was scarier than death itself.
I could see a red line with blood slightly appearing. When I was about to cut it deeper, this scream filled my room saying, “Stop!” I was there all by myself. I wasn’t screaming. This screaming came from nowhere. It was so loud that this sound was bouncing off of all the walls around me. It scared me so bad that I dropped my knife.
This experience was so dramatic and significant, that I drew that experience, my hand, blood, and the knife. I recorded that whole experience. It took me a long time, but I finally realized that it was God who stopped me from ending my life. God was the One who screamed, “Stop!” at me.
If God did not stop me, I would not be here today. I would have never met David nor my children. I would have never met you. That day I was given another chance to make it through this life. I was given a new life. This new life came with a future filled with wonderful surprises.
My Jesus saved my physical life as well as my spiritual life. My Jesus is a Savior, a true Savior to me. Jesus continued to save me over and over again and still does. I owe my Jesus my whole life. There is no way that I can pay Jesus back for what Jesus has done for me, still does, and what Jesus has for my future, the ultimate future. Jesus is my Savior, a true and only Savior.
So, what is your experience of Jesus in your life? Who is Jesus to you? In order to put your trust in Jesus, your LORD, you have to know Jesus personally. How are you planning to worship God that you don’t even know? You need to know who Jesus is and know Jesus personally.
When people ask you, “Who is Jesus? How do you know Jesus is real?” you have to be able to explain to them about Jesus. You are not going to know Jesus personally if you don’t experience Jesus in person, in your life.
If you have been a believer for some time, you must have experienced Jesus personally somehow. If you have not, ask Jesus. Simply tell Jesus, “Jesus, I want to know You personally. But I can’t say that I have known You personally. I want to know You. I want to be able to tell others about who You are and what You have done in my life. Help me, LORD Jesus.”
Jesus will not deny your request because Jesus wants to be known by you in Person. Because you are the most important, the most precious, and most worthy of sacrificing the whole life of Jesus. When you put your trust in God with your whole heart, experiencing God will come very naturally.
So, you don’t even have to ask to experience Jesus. Continue to put your trust in Jesus and wait and see what happens. As the Bible tells us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good” as you faithfully walk with the LORD because, “blessed is the one who takes refuge in the LORD” (Psalm 34:8). Amen.
November 14, 2021
Go In Peace
1 Samuel 1: 4 – 20
Today’s Scripture Lesson is about a woman who actually has a name. Her name is Hannah. And that is all we know. The Bible tells us a lot about her husband, Elkanah, (vv. 1-2), but nothing about her. We only know that Hannah is one of Elkanah’s wives. Elkanah’s other wife is named Peninnah (v. 4). It’s a mystery to me to know why. Why would a man get more than one wife? Isn’t one wife more than enough for him to handle?
Well, there is a conflict between these two wives. Peninnah has many sons and daughters while Hannah has none. The Bible tells us that “Elkanah loved Hannah” (v. 5). However, there is no indication about his love for the other wife, Peninnah. I cannot imagine two women sharing one man. I can tell you clearly that such a living situation will absolutely not work for me.
According to the Bible, they went up to Shiloh to worship God and to make sacrifices to God every year. Everyone in his family received a portion of meat to sacrifice to the LORD. However, Elkanah would give Hannah a double portion “because he loved her” (v. 5). This is a perfect situation for conflicts.
Elkanah has two wives. One wife gave birth to many children and one has none. Yet, he loves his wife who has no children. How would Peninnah feel about this situation? “I’m the one who bore you many sons and daughters. Your name will not disappear because of me. Yet, you love that woman who is not able to have one child more than me.” No wonder that Peninnah “provoked Hannah severely” and “irritated her” (v. 7).
If I was Peninnah, I would have been more than upset with both Elkanah and Hannah. That situation would have broken my heart into a million pieces. I would not have been in that situation to start with. And I certainly would not have put up with such treatment.
How about Hannah? For Hannah, God is against her. The Bible tells us that “the LORD had closed her womb” (v. 5). If God has closed her womb, there is nothing that she or anyone can do to beat this situation. She is doomed. No matter how much her husband loves her, she will not be able to have any children because God is not allowing her.
What would you do in this situation if you were Hannah? Would you go fight with Peninnah to get rid of your anger and stress since you cannot win in any other ways? Korean women would go after the hair. The common thing that Korean people say in anger is “You and I, we die together.” How do we fight against the one who already has made up his or her mind to die in this battle? Hannah could have had this kind of attitude and beat Peninnah up. However, thank God that she didn’t do that.
How about Hannah’s husband? Elkanah clearly loves Hannah. He is trying to comfort Hannah, but doing a really bad job. He tells her, “Hannah, why do you weep?” (v. 8). Seriously, he doesn’t know? Instead of saying, “I’m sure this is very hard for you. I am so sorry that you are hurting a lot,” he tells her, “Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad?” (v. 8). Is he asking Hannah all these questions because he really does not know why she is so upset?
Then Elkanah adds, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” (v. 8). This sounds a little arrogant. Is he trying to comfort Hannah or trying to make her feel guilty? Clearly, he is not more to her than “ten sons,” since she is still upset. Listening to him, she might have gotten even more upset.
Peninnah is no help to Hannah and neither is her husband, Elkanah. Now, she has no one to turn to. So, where did she go? She went straight to God. What a smart lady! We should know this to start with that only God has the power to make things happen. However, a slow learner like me, in other words a hard headed person like me, takes a lot longer to finally realize that I am helpless without my God.
There is something my family wanted to make happen for many, many years. My brother worked so hard to make it happen. However, he has been running into one difficulty after another. It’s like you finally climbed one mountain with everything you have, yet, there is an even bigger mountain in front of you. I am finally coming to accept that we cannot make this happen unless God does it.
The Bible tells us,
Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guard stands watch in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat –
for the LORD grant sleep to those the LORD loves. (Psalm 127:1-2)
What are we to do when we run into an impossible mission? You do all you can then you simply give it to the LORD to do what only God can do. Only God has the power to make certain things happen. If you are trying to do what only God can do, then you will run into constant problems and conflicts. You have to accept this in your head and in your heart. No matter how many battles you fight, how many meetings you have, how many strategies you come up with, you will NOT be able to do what only God can do.
Hannah knew that so clearly. Instead of arguing with Peninnah or her husband, Elkanah, she went straight to God. Why? Because God is the only One who can help her in this situation. She knew that and believed that with everything. We will see how much she believed in God a little later.
They did not have a Temple building back then. Later on, King Solomon builds the very first Temple of the LORD. However, Israelites had a Tent of Meeting which they carried with them as they traveled through the wilderness for forty years. I am not sure exactly how this place was set up. Obviously, they had a place where even a woman could easily pray to God.
Normally, people would bring sacrificial animals to the priests, then the priests would take them and make sacrifices to the LORD asking God for forgiveness of their sins and for blessings. So, people would go through the priests to get to God which we don’t do anymore since Jesus broke that curtain that was dividing us from God’s presence when Jesus died for us on that cross.
But look at this woman. She is not going to God through priests, through her husband, or anyone else, but she is praying directly to God herself. When it comes to our God, we need to be that daring. Your daring deeds will move God’s heart.
Remember the woman who bled for 12 years dared to come through the crowd to touch Jesus’ cloak? (Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:24-34, Luke 8:43-48). Also, remember the woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter even after she was called a dog? (Matthew 15:21-28) Also, remember the blindman, Bartimaeus, who cried out in public like crazy calling for Jesus? (Mark 10:46-52)
What happened to all those individuals? They went out of their ways, out of their expected places to get the attention of Jesus. They all moved the heart of God and received the healing they so desperately wanted.
Look at Hannah. She went to God herself and prayed. She should have received a blessing from God, right? Not exactly. Instead of receiving praises from her God like other individuals did from Jesus, Hannah was accused of being drunk. What is that? What do you mean drunk? She was doing everything but drinking. Where are those praises and blessings that she was supposed to receive?
The high priest Eli saw Hannah praying. The Bible tells us that Hannah “was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly” (v. 10). How can you mistake that for being drunk and acting crazy? Maybe because Eli was too old and his vision was not that good. Still, seriously!
Eli told Hanna without finding out what was really happening, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine” (v. 14). How would you feel if I did that to you? You are in a situation where your heart is breaking into pieces. You come to Church to pray to God in private in tears. Then a pastor shows up accusing you of being drunk saying, “How long are you going to stay as a drunken fool? Quit drinking and get your life straight.” How much will that hurt? You might never come back to this Church again.
What did Hannah do in that situation? Instead of getting upset with priest Eli, she calmly explained her situation to him. Remember that Eli is a priest. Everyone can bless or curse. But priest Eli, who is working directly for the LORD, was given a special power to give extra blessings. Eli tells Hannah, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grants the petition you have made to the LORD” (v. 17).
Hannah believed Eli’s blessing. How do we know she really believed that God, which they serve, will really give her what she deeply desires? We know what people really believe by watching their actions. Even though people say they believe, they will not act on something that they really don’t believe. That’s why we say, “Talk is cheap. We need to see the action.”
After Hannah received such a blessing, she left that place. She “went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and had a countenance that was sad no longer” (v. 18). Remember how she could not eat anything and her husband was so frustrated with her? But now, she is eating and drinking and sad no more. Can you tell that she really, really believes in that blessing given to her?
What happened next? The Bible tells us “the LORD remembered her” (v. 19). That’s what we want. We want our God to remember us, especially in times of trouble. In her time of trouble, she went straight to God and put her trust in God. Do you say that you trust in God but killing yourself worrying about something? Does your lifestyle show you really believe God the way that you claim to believe? Priest Eli said, “Go in peace” (v. 17) and she really went away in peace.
“In due time, Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD” (v. 20). Her son became a prophet of the LORD and led the people of God, Israel for over 49 years. I love happy endings.
My struggle is in this “due time.” All those folks with Jesus received healing right away, which is my style, what I want. Hannah received her baby boy “in due time” which made her more than happy. Well, the thing is that no one knows how long this due time is. I would love to be like those around Jesus who received healing instantly, right away. Hannah might have taken a year or two. Who knows?
However, sometimes that due time lasts more than two, three, or ten years. What does that mean? It means that you have to continue to be daring and go to God over and over again. And put your trust in God for a long, long, and even longer time. Many times, we don’t realize how long many of those godly people had to wait for God to do what God promised them.
For example, Abraham had to wait 25 years for God to give him a son that God promised. The shepherd boy David had to wait 10 to 12 years to actually become a king over Israel after he received the anointing as a king. Ten to 12 years of waiting to become a king as God promised had to be hard. Apostle Paul was called by Jesus, but waited 10 to 11 years before he went on that first mission trip. Moses took 40 years wandering in the wilderness before he got to see the promised land in person.
All these great people of God took many, many years to do and to receive what God has promised them. Why do you think that God takes that long to give them what God promised, to do the things that God planned to do through in their lives? God spends that much time to build their characters and to keep them in intimate relationships with God for what God has for them.
If you do not have the right relationship with God and fail to develop the right character for the assignment, mission, or gifts from the LORD, you will fail miserably no matter what you receive. No matter what God gives you, it’s never just for you. God always has a much bigger picture. God does what God does for the benefit of many, not just for one individual.
If you cannot be faithful in little, God will not entrust you with something big (Matthew 25). God wants to bless you and bless many more out there through you. I hope you know that we own nothing. We are stewards of the LORD with everything that God has entrusted us with.
Our focus should not be on what we want to receive from God, but on our relationships with God and what God is doing to help us to grow and mature. If we obediently allow God to develop our characters and walk in a very personal love relationship with God to fit the assignment or gifts that God has for us, the waiting time will become much shorter.
So, channel your desires on God, not on the things which God will give you. Trust in God even though it means to trust in God for a long, long time. Continue to do the right things that God is telling us to do even though it means to do it for a long time before we get the right results. Remain faithful to God at all times. Because what our God wants to see in you is your constant faithfulness to God.
Then wait and see and taste “that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). God is good and generous to those who are faithful to the LORD. Then patiently wait for the LORD. You will surely “taste and see that the LORD is good” because “blessed are those who take refuge in the LORD” (Psalm 34:8). Amen.
November 7, 2021
Two Small Copper Coins
Mark 12: 38 – 41
Today’s Scripture Lesson is about a poor widow who came to give God what she has. We don’t know exactly who she was except that she was a poor widow. She is another nameless woman in the Bible. However, what she did was so incredible, she moved the heart of our God, LORD Jesus. What is it that she did? She gave to God “two small copper coins which are worth a penny” (v. 42). “Two small copper coins” are really worth very little. However, their worth is so much to our God that her story got recorded into our Gospel and widespread among believers and also nonbelievers.
I have heard many sermons about this poor widow. Clearly, people around her had a lot more money. They proudly gave “large sums” of their wealth to God, while this poor widow humbly gave God this very humble amount of money (vv. 41-42). What did Jesus say about this poor widow? Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she, out of her poverty, has put in everything she had, all she had to live on” (vv. 43-44).
What is Jesus saying here? Jesus is telling the disciples that this poor widow has given everything she owns to God. So, in order for those rich folks to give to God as she did, they have to bring to God all the money they own. If they own four million dollars and that’s all the money they have, they will have to bring four million dollars to God. In that case, they would have done the same thing this poor widow has done.
So, if a person owns four million dollars and gave to God $500,000, this person still cannot compete with what this poor widow has done for our God. She did not leave anything behind. She gave everything she owns to God. How amazing is what she did? She truly deserves the praises from our LORD Jesus Christ. If our Jesus praises her, we also should and must praise her for her sacrifices to our God.
When we read this, we often read this from her perspective. We think about how we can give in such a way to move God’s heart. It is very important to give to God with all your heart and make it meaningful to our God. Then certainly God will bless us so much more. Learn from her and be blessed and receive such praise from Jesus.
Then what do we do when we see someone who does this, giving everything they have to God? If such a person as this poor widow comes into our Church and gives her last two pennies to God, what should we do in response as a Church? I saw it on TV one time when I was much younger. One reporter went to one of those mega Churches. I’m not sure if it was one of those Churches which airs on television regularly or not. I can’t remember. However, that place was jam packed. The reporter was right outside the sanctuary door.
He saw a lot of papers and envelopes on the floor. He picked one envelope. It had a letter inside. It read, “This is my very last $20. I’m broke and have no more money. Please, pray for me.” The money wasn’t there. Clearly, someone took the money out of that envelope and threw the letter and envelope on the floor. I wonder if anyone even saw the letter. When a reporter questioned a Church staff member about this letter, they could not find good excuses to explain about this letter on the floor.
During the Revelation study, we are learning about seven different Churches which Jesus wrote letters to. Most Churches received some kind of praise and criticisms. To the Church of Ephesus, Jesus praised them for being strong in their faith in God. They worked so hard to be obedient to God’s Word. That’s what I emphasize so much, to be obedient to God’s Word.
However, Jesus was so upset with them for forgetting to love. They were so busy and focused on being obedient and doing the right thing that they forgot to do all things in the love of Christ. Even though they were faithful and obedient to God’s written Word, because they have failed to do all things in Christ’s love, Jesus said that Jesus will “remove [their] lampstand” (2:5).
Lampstand represents Church. What will happen to that Church if Jesus removes the lampstand? They will no longer be a Church of God. Jesus told them to “Repent!” (2:5) and remember the first love. So, these folks did everything right but failed to do it in love, Jesus is passionately upset with them to the point of closing that Church.
What do you think Jesus felt looking at that letter on the floor, looking at the person leaving the Church after giving the last $20 to the Church, leaving that Church without receiving any help from the Church? I wonder how Jesus was feeling watching that person and the Church. Jesus was so hurt and upset with such a Church without the love of Christ, Jesus was threatening to close that Church down.
The Church of Sardis was one of those successful Churches. Jesus said, “You have a reputation of being alive” (3:1). The Church of Sardis was probably one of those mega Churches which has numerous different kinds of ministries with huge financial support, huge membership which is vibrant and still growing. Sardis probably was a Church that everyone looked to them with envy thinking, “What do we have to do to have a ministry that big?”
Well, we know what the world thinks about Sardis Church. What did Jesus say about this Church? Jesus said, “I know your deeds, you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (3:1). The world probably praises this Church with envy. However, Jesus is saying to them, “You are dead to ME.” What is the point of being a successful and alive Church if Jesus says that you are dead to Jesus?
As a Church, we have to be acceptable to our God. The world may not accept us or call us a failure, but we absolutely have to be accepted by our God. What is the Great Commandment? “Love the LORD your God with everything you have. And love your neighbour as yourself” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:27). This Great Commandment is written both in O.T. and N.T.
If we cannot show Christ’s love to the world as we live the life obedient to God’s Word, we cannot become a Church that is acceptable to our God. We absolutely cannot be a Church that closes eyes on that poor widow and let her leave Church empty handed after giving God everything she has to God. She probably was not spotted by anyone in that place looking so poor and humble. However, Jesus was watching her. Jesus honored and praised her for her sacrifice to God.
Thank God that Jesus did not miss her. This poor widow may have left that place empty handed. However, she probably did not stay without too long. Jesus saw her, recognized her. We are called to be the eyes, the hands and feet of our LORD Jesus. Shame on those believers who let her walk out of there empty handed. Shame on those believers who threw away that letter and kept the money. Shame on them. If we behave the same way, shame on us.
It is important to give as that poor widow did as she lifted up her whole life to God by giving God everything she has. It is also important for us to represent Jesus to the world, especially to those needy people that God brings to our attention.
My Dad doesn’t tell me a lot of stories about his childhood and such. I only heard stories about him during his sermons. However, my Mom told us tons of stories about her parents, which I never met in person because they both passed away during the Korean War.
My Mom said when she was little, they had a lot of door-to-door sales people coming by. According to my Mom, her Mom, who is my Grandma, always had a little folding table ready for them. We, Koreans, traditionally sat on the floor to eat. When those door-to-door sales people come by, my Grandma would bring out that little table and ask them, “Have you eaten? When was the last time you ate?”
During and after the war, Korea struggled with severe poverty. My Grandma would set up a humble meal table for them. My Mom said that one lady choked on her food and couldn’t swallow. When my Grandma asked her why, that lady said, “I have three little ones at home. I’m not even sure if they have eaten anything while I’m gone.” My Grandma gave her a bag of rice with plenty of rice for them all and told her, “Don’t worry. You eat this meal then go home and feed your children with this rice.” That door-to-door sales lady cried the whole time she was eating with gratefulness. My Grandma made her ministry the feeding of those door-to-door salespersons.
When we were still in Korea, we lived smack in the middle of the capital city. It was packed with buildings and homes. It was hard to see green grass since most everything was concrete around us. We lived in this residential area with narrower roads. There was this young lady who looked like she was in her twenties. She didn’t look quite right. Her clothes were dirty and smelly. Her hair looked like she hadn't bathed for months. She was harmless, but people shook their heads at her.
One day I was coming home from school and saw her sitting against the wall of a home on that concrete floor. She actually looked clean and did not smell bad. But the funny thing was that she was wearing my Mom’s clothes. I was so sure that those were my Mom’s clothes.
When I came home, I told Mom, “Mom, I saw a weird thing on the way home. You know that lady who doesn’t take a bath and smells bad all the time? She was actually clean and wearing some clothes that look just like yours.” Mom laughed and said, “They are mine.” She actually invited her to our home and gave her the bathroom to take a bath. Then my Mom gave some of her clothes to that lady. All this happened while I was at school.
My Mom also had a little table that she used to feed the door-to-door sales people. They don’t exist anymore, but there were quite a few knocking at our door when I was little. Obviously, she fed them when they came to our house. Many times, I would come home to see a bouquet of flowers, and things she would not buy for herself. They are either the ones she purchased from them to help them out or the things that they gave to my Mom out of gratitude. Where do you think my Mom learned to do that? My Mom learned it from her Mom.
Our Church should become like a mother who teaches her children to do good in the Name of the LORD by doing good herself. That’s what Jesus did. Everything Jesus did was to teach us how to live according to God’s will. Everything we do needs to cry out Christ’s love to everyone where we are teaching them, giving them something, rebuking them, making decisions, or whatever we do. As the Bible tells us, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of our God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Whether you are that poor widow lifting up everything to God or God bringing that poor widow to your attention to take care of her, you make sure to do it all for the glory of our God. Forget what the world says about you. You just worry about what Jesus says about you.
And be like the Church of Smyrna who struggled with poverty and extreme persecution, but remained faithful to God. In their struggles, they remembered what is most important to our God. Smyrna Church did not receive one word of criticism. The Philadelphia Church also did not receive any word of criticism from Jesus. Jesus promised them the Everlasting Life.
Let us live the life that will make our God proud. Whether you have two copper coins in your possession or have a poor widow standing in front of you, you do whatever will make our God happy and proud. May the LORD always look upon you with God’s favor and fill your life with blessings in this life and in that life Everlasting. Praise the LORD. Amen.
October 31, 2021
Your God My God
Ruth 1: 1 – 18
Today’s Scripture Lesson talks about a family in Bethlehem. I don’t know how familiar you are with the story of Ruth. The story of Ruth starts with a man named Elimelech whose wife was Naomi. They lived in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “House of Bread” (TNIB 901). According to this Scripture, The House of Bread ran out of bread because of a famine. So, what did they do? The whole family ventured out to look for food.
The name Elimelech means, “My God is King” and “My God is kind.” Elimelech left the people who worship his God and went to live in the land with people who worship a foreign idol, Chemosh, a Moabite god, to look for bread. Did you know that Moabites are the enemies of God?
Moab, the father of Moabites, actually was a great nephew of Abraham. Moab and his first cousin Ammon were born of incest between their grandfather, Lot, and their mothers (Genesis 19). Their birth was a result of their mother’s sinfulness. Both Moabites and Ammonites stayed as God’s enemies, in constant battle with the Israelites.
In search of food, Elimelech’s family went into the enemy’s territory where people do not fear nor worship their God. I’m not sure how wise that was. At Moab, this family experienced only “death and destruction” (TNIB 901). Elimelech died in the land of Moab. Now, Naomi was left alone with her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion (v. 2).
As you can tell, their names have meanings. In Israel’s culture, their names describe the nature of those individuals. Let’s look at the name Mahlon. His name actually “sounds like the disease that hit the Egyptians before the exodus (Exodus 15:26)” (TNIB 901). I heard one mother named her twin babies, Corona and Covid. I’m not too impressed with that at all. How about Chilion? Chilion “seems to come from the root Hebrew word, Kala, meaning ‘to perish.’” Seriously? I don’t know what these parents were thinking when they named their children.
Naomi found wives for her sons among the Moabite women. Even though the name, Naomi, means pleasantness, her life was not too pleasant. Ten years after her sons got married, both sons died while still living in the land of Moab. So, Naomi and her husband left the House of Bread to look for bread in their enemy’s land with their sons. However, Naomi lost all the men in her life in the land of enemies. Now, she is left with two daughters-in-law who are Moabites, which are Orpah and Ruth.
Naomi literally has lost everything. Back then, women could not survive without men. Women did not have any significance away from men. Women were not allowed to inherit any property. Women were not given any jobs or had any opportunities to have their own careers. There was nothing for a woman who had no man in her life, such as a husband or a son. She could only survive with the mercy of her surrounding neighbors. Not only that, she is with two Moabite women who will be the minority of the minorities if she decides to go back to her people in Bethlehem.
Now that Naomi lost everything, she is ready to go back to Bethlehem where her people live. Naomi heard that God has given the bread back to Bethlehem, the House of bread. With everything that happened, Naomi had to be hurting so much, grieving from losing her sons and husband. She could not afford mentally or physically to take care of these two Moabite women who were with her.
So, Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to go back, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house” (v. 8a). Naomi blessed them saying, “May the LORD deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The LORD grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband” (vv. 8b-9a). Naomi is being realistic here. Her people will not accept these two Moabite women too well. Her daughters-in-law will be no help to Naomi nor will they be happy with Naomi. It’s better for them to go back to their parents and start their lives fresh, all over again with their own people.
Both Orpah and Ruth refused to leave Naomi at first. Naomi tells them, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me?” (v. 11a). Orpah, who was more logical and realistic, decided to leave Naomi, but not Ruth. The Bible tells us that “Ruth clung to Naomi” (v. 14). And Ruth said the most beautiful thing to Naomi. Ruth said,
Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it so severely, if even death separates you and me.
Many couples use what Ruth said here for their weddings and such because it is so beautiful, saying that nothing in this world will separate us. Ruth is saying that she will go live and die where Naomi lives and dies. As beautiful as it sounds, I must remind you that Ruth is Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Ruth is not saying this to her husband or her boyfriend, but to her mother-in-law.
Let’s think about this again. For Ruth, she has lost her husband. If she stays with Naomi, Ruth will be supporting, and taking care of her mother-in-law without her husband. If Ruth goes to Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth will be a stranger, a foreigner, and will be living in the land of her enemies. Can you imagine how Naomi’s people might think of Ruth and how they might treat her?
How many of you can say what Ruth said and be willing to do what Ruth is doing for your mother-in-law after your husband passes away? I know that ancient Korean women were expected to take care of their husband’s parents after they lost their husbands. However, I wonder how many women of today will be willing to do this? How many of us are willing to do this? Did you know that Naomi did not even appreciate Ruth for her willingness to stick with her?
The Bible tells us that Naomi “stopped urging Ruth” “when Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her” (v. 18). So, Naomi stopped talking to Ruth about it. I guess she didn’t see the point. And all the way to Bethlehem, there is no indication that Naomi said anything to Ruth. I have to empathize with Naomi here. She recently lost her two sons. Now, she is going back to her people not as a successful woman, but as a person who has lost everything, pretty much as a beggar with this foreign woman from their enemy’s land.
Once they arrive in Bethlehem, Naomi does not even bother to introduce Ruth to her people. Ruth is just standing there like nobody important while people in town are embracing Naomi. People probably are passing all kinds of judgment against both Naomi and Ruth. Yet, Ruth is determined to stay with Naomi and to take care of her. Did you know that when Ruth was married to Boaz later on and gave birth to a son, people did not say, “Look! Ruth gave birth to a son. How wonderful is that?” What people actually said was, “Naomi has a son” (Ruth 4:17).
Ruth did all the work. She did all the sacrificing for the sake of Naomi. However, Ruth kind of disappears and Naomi gets all the credit. Did anything like this happen to you before? You did all the work, yet, someone else gets all the credit. And you just disappear when the work is over. That can be a devastating experience.
When Japan was in the process of eliminating Korea from the face of the earth, a Korean person went to the Olympics and won a gold medal for a marathon. However, his face in the picture wearing that gold medal was quite depressing. The reason is because the gold medal won by a Korean man was forcefully taken to Japan. That joyous moment for him and for Korea became one of the most depressing moments in Korean history.
Both the one who is taking and one who is losing must remember one thing. We absolutely cannot forget that our God is watching us. We may have done it in secret whether good or bad, our God sees everything and knows all. Jesus reminds us that “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4). There is nothing that we can do to escape from our God’s notice.
Right now, we are studying Revelation every Monday, and everyone is welcome to join us. In Revelation, Jesus writes letters to seven Churches in Asia Minor. In every letter, Jesus tells them, reminds them that “I, [Jesus] know.” Jesus tells the Church of Ephesus, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance” (2:2); to the Church in Smyrna, “I know your afflictions and your poverty” (2:9); to the Church in Pergamum, “I know where you live,” (2:13); to the Church in Thyatira, “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance” (2:19).
To the Church in Sardis, “I know your deeds,” (3:1), to the Church in Philadelphia, “I know your deeds,” (3:8); to the Church in Laodicea, “I know your deeds” (3:15). Jesus tells them all that Jesus knows and sees everything. Jesus knows their works. Jesus knows their sufferings. Jesus knows even the bad things that they do. When will people know that there is nothing, absolutely nothing that we can do to hide anything from our God. Even though things may have been done in secret, “Father who sees everything that is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).
Right now, those who organize the world Olympics are talking about how to give that golden medal back to the rightful owner, which is Korea. Ruth may not be hidden in secret, but not out of God’s sight. God saw everything. Ruth is considered a Christ-like figure. Everything that she did, she did it all to take care of Naomi whether she was benefiting from it or not. Ruth did nothing for her own benefit, but for the benefit of Naomi.
Do we know anyone else who has given up everything, sacrificed everything for the sake of others, everyone else? Jesus, our LORD and Saviour, sacrificed everything to give us life everlasting. What happened to Ruth? People actually envied Naomi saying, “For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth” (v. 15). You cannot hide what God reveals to the world.
Ruth may be a Moabite woman who is from the enemy country, her name was recorded on the list of the genealogy of Jesus Christ. There are five women’s names that are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and her name is one of them. This Moabite woman became the great grandmother of King David. Did you notice that the book is not named after Naomi or Boaz, her husband, but Ruth? The world may forget about Ruth and what she did. However, she was remembered by our God.
To be remembered and honored by our God is what counts, is the most important thing. Korean people say that people do not spend more than three days talking about you. Because they are so self-centered and worry about themselves too much. To be remembered by people means a little. But to be remembered and honored by our God is everything.
So, whatever you are doing, do it all for the LORD our God. As the Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Do not seek after the glory of human beings, but do all you can to be recognized and honored by our God. Our God who is All Powerful, Almighty, and All Loving will bless you in this life and in that life everlasting. Amen.
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.