Sunday, December 31, 2017

Pains, Guilt and Sins in 2017? Hope and Trust in God and His Forgiveness and Love in 2018

Good Morning and Happy New Year!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. (Hebrews 10:23)

One day when Isaac was old and turning blind, he called for Esau, his older son, and said, “My son.”

“Yes, Father?” Esau replied.

“I am an old man now,” Isaac said, “and I don’t know when I may die. Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows, and go out into the open country to hunt some wild game for me.  Prepare my favorite dish, and bring it here for me to eat. Then I will pronounce the blessing that belongs to you, my firstborn son, before I die.”

But Rebekah, Isaac’s wife overheard what Isaac had said to his son Esau. So when Esau left to hunt for the wild game, she said to her son Jacob, “Listen. I overheard your father say to Esau, I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish.  Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.”   She covered his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skin of the young goats.  Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread.    (It is one really non-functioning family.   Rebekah wanted for her son Jacob to be blessed instead of the oldest son, Esau, who was loved by her husband, Isaac.)

Isaac said to Jacob, “Come closer so I can touch you and make sure that you really are Esau.” So Jacob went closer to his father, and Isaac touched him.  When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he was finally convinced, and he blessed his son. He said, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the LORD has blessed!   Then Isaac gave all of his blessings to Jacob, while he thought he were blessings Esau, Jacob’s older brother.

Soon Esau came back, and Esau realized that Jacob deceived his father and got all his blessings instead.  Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”   Jacob found he could not stay home anymore.  He had to leave his home, and headed for his uncle, Laban with the help of his mother, Rebekah.   He was on journey to Haran, where his uncle lived.  The sun was setting, and he was alone.   He found a place to spend the night.   He looked back what he did, which was a really terrible thing that a person should not do to his brother – deceiving his father to get the blessing of his older brother, Esau.   Now, he was in a desolate place, and alone in darkness.   He located a stone and then rested his head to beg a sleep.   For Jacob, who was always taken cared by his mother, it was a really difficult, long and lonely night.   However, Jacob knew it was all caused by his greed.   His mind was filled with guilt of his past of his wrongdoing to his brother and father, and fear of uncertain future.  He was not sure about whether he could arrive at his uncle’s house safely first, and what would really happen when he actually arrived at his uncle’s house: whether his uncle and family would really welcome him and treat him well or not. 

The merciful God did not let Jacob alone.   God shorten Jacob’s struggle.  It did not continue long.  He suddenly fell in a deep sleep.  Soon God gave him a dream.   Jacob saw a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.

At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants.  Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

God came to Jacob, who was weary, exhausted, and filled with guilt and fear of uncertain future.   Then God blessed Jacob!    In fact, God blessed Jacob not because Jacob a righteous man, but God loved Jacob.   Most  of us would asy Jacob should not be blessed, but be punished for his wrongdoing – the sin against his older brother and his father.  However, God blessed Jacob.   Bible also tells, In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” (Romans 9:13)   God did love Jacob, and did reject Esau.  Why?  Was Jacob more righteous than Esau?   Apparently, it was not.   Based on what had happened, we can easily say Jacob was worse than Esau.   Even so, God blessed Jacob.  Yes, what God did to Jacob should be a mystery to many of us.   However, this is an excellent opportunity to truly know about God, i.e., who God really is.

1.       God is merciful and full of love
Yes, Jacob was not a good person, who deceived his brother and his father.   We don’t have to prove this.  Jacob, due to his sin, had to leave his home, and he was ended up lonely in a desolate place in darkness.   A severe hardship found Jacob, and Jacob was surrounded by fear and his uncertain future.   He was truly helpless.   However, God was carefully watching over Jacob.  God knew Jacob was suffering and desperate.   God could not stand still anymore.  God came to Jacob, and comforted him.  God even lavishly blessed him. 

We believe God, who came to Jacob, when Jacob was lonely and in fear of his uncertain future.   The same God will find you and me when we are in trouble, lonely, desperate, because God is merciful and full of love.   Jacob was not worthy to receive God’s blessing, but God did.   The same God will bless you and me even though we are not worthy to receive his blessings.  Why?  God is love, and full of mercy.  

2.       God is faithful and never changes
God never forgets His promise to His children.   God promised His blessings to Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, and Abraham’s descendants.   Did Jacob always remember the promised of God given to his grandfather, Abraham, and lived out his life worthy of the God’s promise?   Absolutely not!   Please see what Jacob did.   Jacob was not worthy of receiving God’s promise and the blessing given to Abraham.   Even so, God came to Jacob and blessed Jacob according to His promise given to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham.  Once God promised His blessing, He keeps His promise regardless whether His children sinned or not.  This is a really profound nature of God, Our Ever-Loving Father.    This is another mystery to many of us.

One day, as Jesus was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!"   

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”  (John 8:11b)

Our God is merciful and full of love.  As the people around the woman caught in the act of adultery, we are all sinners, which we easily forget.   Even so, God is always faithful to His children regardless whether we are worthy of His blessings or not.   Again, is there a single person without sin?    If God only loves a righteous and sinless person, then nobody would be qualified for his blessing and love.   In fact, God loves you and me although we are sinners before God and other people.   Yes, God loves us not because we are sinless, but because simply we are His children.  This is the biggest blessing given to all of us by God.

But to all who believed him [Jesus] and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Jesus Christ, Our Savior, Is Born. He Is Given To Us By The Love Of God!

Good Morning and Merry Christmas!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6)

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was born on the Christmas Day.  It was the day that all humanity finally saw the light of salvation that had been waited since the dawn of our humanity.   Even the first family was tainted by an extreme jealousy of one son, Cain, who killed his own brother, Abel.   From that time, no real peace among people and with God had been found.     

Since then, our fallen nature has been continuously working in us.   Whenever there is a slightest opportunity, our fallen and sinful nature seizes the moment and drives us to a place that we don’t want to go.    Apostle Paul lamented, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”  (Romans 7:24)  Absolutely right, nobody has ever overcome and completely destroyed our sinful nature in us by our own might.   Yes, we want to do what is right, we sooner or later, inevitably do what is wrong.   We love God’s law with all our hearts.  But there is another power within us that is at war with our own mind.  Then we often witness that this power makes us a slave to the sin that is still within us.   This is the nature of us and the power of sins that we cannot deny.   

How to get out of this vicious cycle of our misery induced by our sinful nature?   As we, natural human beings, this is not possible.   If it were possible, we, human beings, already have had achieved a true peace among people and with God.   When I look around, I don’t see any signs or hints of breaking this vicious cycle of our misery.    We need a help.   A real help that is bigger than us, which is powerful enough to plug out us from the vicious cycle.  In fact, this is the common yearning of all humanity from the dawn of our human history – searching and waiting for salvation from our sinfulness.   

The far eastern world from Bethlehem in Judea also waited for this salvation and the savior who could bring the salvation.  One day three wise men saw the bright star.  They followed the star eastwardly, and came to Judea.   The Judea was reigned by King Herod, and as strangers who did not know the area, they came to Jerusalem to meet King Herod. Then they asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.  He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
        are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
 for a ruler will come from you
       who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared.  Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”  After this interview the wise men went their way.    King Herod did never see them again because God told the three wise men not to return to King Herod, and to go back their own country by another route. 

The star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!  They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

They brought three gifts that signifies who Jesus was and what He would do for the entire humanity.  Gold: Jesus is the true king of kings forever.   Frankincense: Jesus is the true God in human form, i.e., His deity, and Myrrh: Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of all our sins so that all of us have the ultimate atonement with God.    Although King Herod and the entire Jerusalem was troubled by the birth of Jesus, our Savior and Eternal King, the three wise men from the far east was in a great joy by finding the new born king and presenting the gifts foretelling the truth about the new born king, Jesus Christ.    Although King Herod and the people around him tried to eliminate Jesus, God sent the three wise men to worship the new born king from their hearts.   The sinful human nature directly collided with God’s love to the world, which is unfathomable.

 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:16-17)

God is love.  Although He cannot tolerate sins, He still dearly loves us.  Why? His love is greater than all our sins.  Jesus Christ and His birth is the proof.   Therefore, regardless who we are, or no matter what we did, through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and accepted as His own children if we believe in Him.   Yes, God wants only one – believing in Him.

God loved us so much that He gave His one and only Son.   Believing Him means believing that God loves us and our salvation comes through Jesus Christ   Some of us might question how is this possible?   Yes, the power of sin is much stronger than us, the God’s love is stronger.   Because of His love toward us, God sacrificed His own begotten son to take away all of our sins.   The cross on which Jesus Christ died is the proof.  This is our assurance to our salvation in Him.   Give thanks to God, who did not spare His own son and sacrificed Him, will never forsake us, and will be our eternal ever-loving Father.   Yes, all our sins are forgiven our sins, and we become His eternal children.   This is done, because God is Love!    Give thanks God, and offer our highest praises and honor.   Praise Him.  His faithful and unfathomable love endures forever, and we are taking our eternal refuge in Him and in His Love!


And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.   (Romans 8:38-39)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, The Humble King, Was Born In A Manger!

Good morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:11-12)

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.  (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.  And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.  He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant.

Mary’s pregnancy was a serious disgrace to Mary’s pregnancy was a serious disgrace to Joseph.   Before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, Joseph realized that she was pregnant.  Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.   Joseph became faithful to God and Mary following God’s message in his dream.  

They together arrived in Bethlehem.    It was getting dark.   They tried to find a room in Bethlehem to stay, but there was no room available for them.   They knocked door after door, but nothing was available.   In the end, they had to spend that night in a stable with animals, and they settled down in the stable.  While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.  She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger.    The King of kings and our Savior, Jesus Christ was born, and just Joseph and Mary were there in a winter night.   It was the scene of the birth of Jesus Christ.   

Why was Jesus born in a stable instead of in a palace like a king?   It is a true sign of the gracious God, who is full of mercy and love.  Although kings of earth rule over people with power and strength, our Lord Jesus Christ was a humble king ruling over us with his humility, love and mercy.    The new born king was not selfish, and did not try to impress others.   From the birth, Our Lord Jesus Christ magnified the true nature of our gracious and merciful God, who so loved us that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)    Yes, God wants our belief in Jesus as the savior.   This is the Good News to all of us.  This Good News was not proclaimed by an authoritative voice, but as a new born baby in a manager in a stable, which is not a place for humans, but animals.   

This marvelous birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ was foretold by Prophet Isaiah, and that night in the stable, the prophecy was fulfilled:

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
 I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”  (Matthew 12 16-21, Isaiah 42:1-4)

At that time, nobody in Bethlehem knew the new born baby in the manger was Jesus Christ, as foretold by many prophets, who would give hope and save them by forgiving all sins and transgressions to other humans and God. 

This marvelous birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ was foretold by Prophet Isaiah, and that night in the stable, the prophecy was fulfilled:

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.  Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!  And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
                and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  (Luke 2:10b-14)

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.  All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.  

Yes, our savior, Jesus Christ was born on the Christmas day about 2000 years ago.   This Good News has been told again and again generation after generation since the shepherds told to people in Bethlehem.  Today we are telling the very Good News.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ was born, who came as a humble king, not to be served but to sever others and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45b).    This is the amazing love of God, which is given to everyone.   Give thanks to God!  His mercy is greater than our sins, and His grace is unfathomable.  Praise Him.  His faithful love endure forever!

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  (Psalm 100:5)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What really Jesus means: "Do to others what you would have them do to you"

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  (Matthew 7:12)


 One credit card TV commercial says “We treat you like you’d treat you.”   Then it shows a short story about one card holder, who calls the credit card company.   The call was answered by one of the credit card company agents, who is really kind and understanding, and provides the exact service that the caller needs.  After all, the credit card company agent is self or a twin.   Thus, the agent knows exactly what the caller needs, and provides precisely what the caller needs   What a service!   No other credit card company cannot match this kind of services.   This is the message that the credit company tries to convey.  Of course, this is a just TV commercial.   Nobody expects his/her call is answered by himself/herself, when he/she calls a credit company for service.    However, this TV commercial touches on the very heart of all of us.   We want to be treated by others in the way that we really want.   This is the selfishness of our nature.   We all want first others to do something that we want before we are doing what they want.   

Jesus Christ knew exactly the selfishness of human hearts, and Jesus told to the people around Him, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”    Rather than expecting to receive from others, do to others first what we would have them do to us.   Then what does really mean?   

 All we have a natural tendency of thinking that we are more important or better in every aspect than others as shown in the left figure.   It is very hard to get out of this mind set, and in some sense, this is not totally our fault.  When we look around, every living creature is doing this.   Each living creatures first treats itself until its own needs is satisfied before other creatures around it.  Therefore, our “me-centric” mind set is our natural state, and the world is essentially operated by this principle.    Jesus’s teaching was opposite -- first get out of this “me-centric” mind set, and then consider others more important or better than us: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  (Philippians 2:3-4)

If this verse is pictorially drawn as a scale, it would look like the figure on the left.    Then what would be really look like if we treat others better and important than us in our lives?  

Apostle Paul gave one great example.   He said, “So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.”  (1 Corinthian 8:13)   At that time, the market sold meat from multiple sources.   Some meat products were actually offered to idols before being brought out to market to be sold.   Some were accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they ate food that had been offered to idols, they thought of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences were violated.   In fact, it is not a problem of the person who eats the meat purchased from the market, which happened to be offered to idols, but those who had weak consciences.    In other words, one’s perfectly good deed can effect negatively by making them stumble.

Apostle Paul explained this situation, “It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.  But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” (1 Corinthian 8:8-9)

 Let's examine what Apostle Paul said.  First, he pointed back to God and questioned: whether did his action pleased God or not.  He concluded that it would not win God’s approval if he made stumble a weaker believer.   Then he analyzed about his own freedom.   He could eat meat offered to idols because idols are nothing.  Even so, if he ate such meat, what would be his gain?  If he did not eat, what would be his lose?  In either case, the consequence was nothing if compared with making a weaker believer stumble by his own freedom.    Then he concluded “So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.” (1 Corinthian 8:13)     Refraining from one's favorite for others is really a tall order.   It is not possible unless we truly care about others, especially those who are weaker than us, while considering them better and more important than us. 

Jesus said  “Do to others as you would like them to do to you, " then He continued in the book of Luke,  “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!   Love your enemies! Do good to them.  (Luke 6:32 and 36a)    Jesus included enemies in the category of others, of whom He told to think better and important than us.   This was not a just teaching of Jesus, but Jesus actually lived out his teaching.    Jesus took the cross for those who were against Him, who shouted for Him to be crucified.   He also loved those who nailed Him on cross, while praying for forgiveness of their sins.   Then He died on the cross for the sins of all of us.  Yes, He has no sin at all, but He died on the cross of us, who are sinful and stubbornly consider ourselves better and more important than others in many occasions.


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though He was God,
   He did not think of equality with God
   as something to cling to.
Instead, He gave up his divine privileges;
   He took the humble position of a slave
   and was born as a human being.
When He appeared in human form,
   He humbled Himself in obedience to God

   and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  (Philippians 2:5-8)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Where Is Our Faith, Especially When We Are In Our Life Storm?

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. (Luke 8:25a)


Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples.  Among them, Jesus chose twelve of them to be apostles.   The twelve followed Jesus, while hearing and learning from Jesus, although they did not know about anything being Jesus’ disciples.  For example, Jesus called out Peter and Andrew, and said “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”   Yes, they immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind, but they did not understand what really means “becoming fishers of men,", and especially what would take to be fishers of men.   To the twelve called by Jesus, one thing was common: initially, they impressed by Jesus’ teaching on mountain:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   (Matthew 5:3-10)

Jesus’ teaching comforted their hearts, and the young twelve disciples were attracted to Jesus. 


After this, Jesus talked about faith, and asked them build their faith on the solid ground of Jesus.  Jesus gave a parable:  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Tough the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”    All of the disciples nodded.  

Jesus took the twelve disciples wherever He went.   Jesus also healed the sick and showed miracles.  Their faiths were growing steadily while being with Jesus.   Jesus’ primary focus was to make them have a strong faith built on a solid rock of Jesus, which could not be swayed by anything on earth. 
                                                         
He revealed the secret of truth about a faith by telling easy-to-remember parables – the parable of the sower, who scatters seeds.   Some falls on along the path, on rocky places, among thorns, and on good soil.   The last seed grows up and produces a crop thirty, sixty or even hundred times.    Like the seed landed on a good soil, a faith in a believing heart multiplies.    The parable of a lamp on a stand.  Nobody puts a lamp under a stand, but on a stand so that people can see.  Like a lamp, a real faith cannot be hidden, but plainly seen by people.   The parable of the mustard seed, which is the smallest among all seeds, but it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that birds can perch in its a shade.  


Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the followers as much as they could understand.  In fact, in His public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when He was alone with His disciples, He explained everything to them.   Jesus really cared for His twelve disciples.

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”  So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).  But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

Surprisingly, in the storm, Jesus was sleeping.   Initially, the disciples did not want to wake up Jesus, and they did their best to fight against the storm.   Among the twelve, Peter and Andrew were skillful fishermen who spent all their lives in the same water.  They knew everything about the Sea of Galilee.  They met similar storms before, and they were able to manage a couple of storms.  Then, they became very confident how to deal with those storms in the Sea of Galilee.   However, the night was different.  All of their knowledge, experiences and skills were of no use.    The harder they tried, the worse the situation was.   Finally, the water was coming into the boat. 


Suddenly, they remembered Jesus who was sleeping.   They ran into Jesus because all of their options were exhausted.   They were helpless.   When they saw Jesus, they could not believe.  Jesus was calmly sleeping with his head on a cushion under the storm.   Even so, they had to wake Him up.  They shouted, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”   (How do you think?  Really did Jesus not care about them who were struggling in the storm?)





When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all were calm.    Then Jesus asked them, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25a)

How about us?  Where is our faith?   Because we see and touch miracles or good things (to us), do we believe?   If so, our faith is in fact not in us, but it is attached to the things that we see and touch.    Or do we intellectually know of the faith, which is something greater than anything that we know.   It is great to know something beyond us.   However, when a life storm hits us, can our intellectual understanding of a faith save us?    No.  Such a faith coexists with us in our brain, not in our heart.     A true faith is not a knowledge nor an external evidence that we can see and touch.   It resides in our heart.   It grows like a seed falling on a good soil, and multiplies.   Even during a storm, like Jesus, if we have a solid faith in Jesus, we can be calm.  Why?  We are in the hand of the mighty God, who is our ever-loving Father.   Our loving God, who did not spare his own Son, will surely stretch His mighty hand and hold tight even while we are going through our life storm.  
                                                       

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  (Romans 8:32)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Pray Continually And Never Give Up

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.  (Luke 18:1)

Hannah was full of sorrow because she could not have a baby.   Every year, Elkanah, her husband, and Hannah traveled to Shiloh to worship and give annual sacrifice to the LORD of hosts.   Year after year, Hannah prayed for her baby because she could not have a baby.  She wept before the LORD, God.  She could not eat due to her pain in her heart.   One year, her heart was much heavier than other years with full of sorrow due to her inability to have a baby.   Her husband comforted her, but her deep sorrow remained in her heart.   Thus, she went to the temple, and she looked up heaven in anguish, crying while holding her hands on her heart as she prayed to God.  And she made this vow: “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the LORD, his hair will never be cut.”  (1 Samuel 1:11)

She was so much into her prayer with her heart.  Her lips were moving, but no sound was made out of her mouth.   Eli, the priest of the temple, watched her, and he thought that she was drunken.   “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

“Oh no, sir!” Hannah replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the LORD.  Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

“In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

“Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.  

She believed her prayer was given to God, and God heard her prayer.   God opened her womb, and gave her a male child, Samuel.  (The meaning of Samuel is God has heard.)   Yes, God heard her prayer out of her deepest part in heart – the contrite, authentic, earnest and God’s-help-seeking prayer with absolute trust on Him.  Surely, God answered her prayer, and Hannah experienced God, who was compassionate and full of mercy.  She was in great joy, which she could not described in any words. 

As Hannah promised to God, she waited until her son was weaned.  Then she brought her son, Samuel to God.  She sacrificed to God a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour.   After the sacrifice, she took the boy to Eli, the priest. 

“Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the LORD.  I asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the LORD, and he will belong to the LORD his whole life.” And Hannah, Samuel, and Elkanah, Samuel’s father, worshiped the LORD there, and left Samuel with Eli so that Samuel be with God.  

Then Hannah prayed and praised God:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
   for I delight in your deliverance.
“There is no one holy like the Lord;
   there is no one besides you;
   there is no Rock like our God.   (1 Samuel 2:1-2)

Samuel ministered before God under Eli the priest.   He grew in the temple, and in favor of God and man also.   Samuel became one of the most faithful prophets before God, who led the Israelites to God till a king was appointed.   The Hannah’s earnest and contrite prayer out of her deepest part in heart was answered, which did not only lead to a great joy to Hannah, but also God’s blessing to the entire of people of Israel.    This is the power of an earnest prayer of one person, Hannah.

 The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.   (James 5:16b-18)

Elijah, one mere person, prayed to God for rain on the land of full of sins,  God was gracious and full of mercy.    When Elijah earnestly pray to God with all of heart and mind, God heard and answered his prayer.   There was no rain for 18 months.   The sky was always blue, and nobody could see even one single cloud in the blue sky.    The prayer of Elijah, one faithful person, was powerful and answered.   Initially, one small cloud appeared against the blue sky.   His servant spotted it over the horizon as shown in the figure.    Then the sky was getting darker and darker, and the sky opened up and poured the much needed rain on the bone dry land.   The entire people in Israel was in joy including Elijah and his servant. 

It is also true that praying continually to God is not easy because our God is not visible.   It is much easier to rely on someone whom we can see or something that we can touch.   However, Jesus said “you should always pray and never give up,” and gave a probable.   There was a judge in a certain city,” Jesus said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people.  A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’  The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to him day and night?  Will He keep putting them off?  I tell you, He will grant justice to them quickly!” (Luke 18:6-8a)