Sunday, May 28, 2017

Our Faith, Lack Of, and God's Grace

Good morning!

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

For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, “The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.”  (Ezra 8:22)

We believe Our God is in complete control on everything that we see and know.   Only is our God who truly opens and closes doors of our lives.  After the long capability in Babylon, God opened up a door to Israelites.   The Babylon, who made the Israelites (precisely speaking, the Judah) captive falls under Persia.  In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the LORD stirred up the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom:

“This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:

“The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.”  (Ezra 1:2-4)

Yes, God moved the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia.  The king acknowledged the LORD, as the God who gave the king all the kingdoms of the earth.   He ordered the remnants of the Israelites under the exile to go back to Jerusalem, and to rebuild the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel.   Additionally, he also encouraged his people to provide silver and gold to support their journey, and offering to the God.   When God opens up his door, He provides everything that is necessary for us to serve and worship Him.    The Israelites got their freedom in writing from Cyrus, the new king of Persia, who conquered Babylon.

The Israelites, thus, returned their home land.  The first thing that they did was rebuilding an alter.   As soon as they settle in their towns, all the people assembled in Jerusalem with a unified purpose.  They started building the alter of God of Israel.  They wanted to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, as instructed in the Law of Moses, the man of God.   However, there were local residents, who did not like rebuild the altar.    This was the first challenge.   Of course, the Israelites were afraid of the local residents, but they were not deterred by the opposition.  With faith, they built the altar, and they began to sacrifice burnt offerings on the altar to the LORD each morning and evening.   This was the faith of the Israelites returning from their captivity.    Only made the faith them complete building the alter despite of the opposition from the local residents.  They were all full of thanksgiving to God, and rejoiced in the LORD.    Some of them started lay the foundation of the LORD’s Temple.

The actual construction of the temple was started in the 2nd year after they arrived in Jerusalem.  Soon the builders completed the foundation of the LORD’s Temple.  The priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets. And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the LORD, just as King David had prescribed.  With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the LORD:

“He is so good!
His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” (Ezra 3:11)

Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the LORD because the foundation of the LORD’s Temple had been laid.    The people was one in God, and in the great joy with God.    They shouted and praised because finally the foundation of the temple was laid.  

However, many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.  The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.    I believe we will see a similar scene when we return to our eternal home where our God, Ever-Loving and Eternal Father is.   Some would be in tear in the presence of Him, and others in joy of shouting.  It is true that both are in the greatest joy that we cannot experience on earth, and we all believers are waiting for.  

The enemies who were jealous of rebuilding the temple were not idle.   They wrote an opposition letter to the King.  This letter made the king  stop the building of the temple.   The Israelites had to fight for a rather long battle of building the temple.   Some of us already experience this kind of great setback while doing God’s work.  Suddenly, our enemies put a brake on our work for God.   Back to the temple rebuilding, the battle was not an easy one and really tedious.   In fact, it took another twenty years before the resuming the rebuilding of the temple.   Although they resumed the rebuilding in their faith, the reality was harsh.   Immediately, the governor of the region came to Jerusalem, and asked “Who gave you permission to rebuild this Temple and restore this structure?”  (Ezra 5:3b)   

The Israelites faithfully answered, “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the Temple that was built here many years ago by a great king of Israel. But because our ancestors angered the God of heaven, he abandoned them to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who destroyed this Temple and exiled the people to Babylonia. However, King Cyrus of Babylon, during the first year of his reign, issued a decree that the Temple of God should be rebuilt.  … The people have been working on it ever since, though it is not yet completed.’ (Ezra 5:11-13, 16b)

Upon hearing the Israelites, te governor sent a letter to King Darius while asking clarification of this issue.   Upon receiving the letter, King Darius searched and could locate the record of the order of King Cyrus.  (Of course, God did to King Darius.)   After learning the history, King Darius let the Israelites rebuild the temple.  The rebuilding effort continued, and the temple was completed in the sixth year of King Darius.  That is, it took another four years to finish rebuilding of the temple.   As a result, the temple construction took 24 years, and the actual rebuilding period was about only 6 years.   For the rest of the time, i.e., 18 years, they had to pray and defend against the oppositions from the enemies, while waiting for God’s timing.

Rebuilding the temple despite of the strong opposition was a great victory of the Israelites and their faith.  Yes, this is and should be a great example to all believers.  One greatly noticeable part of the book of the Ezra can also be found: “I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, “Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.” (Ezra 8:22)    Ezra confessed his double minded heart before God.  He was even shameful about his split heart between God and the world.  How honest Ezra was before God!   It was clear that God provided the victory in Him not because of their faith, but because of God’s grace and mercy in His unconditional love.   We also should wonder how many of us actually shameful about their double minded heart – relying on what we see on earth although we pray and even declare God’s sovereignty.   Also it is equally rare to meet an authentic, humble, and honest servant leader like Ezra.      

Oh, God, we are also weak in our faith.   Although God prepares all things, such as softening the above great kings’ hearts, we rely on our wisdom while praying to you.  In our heart, we still wants protection from earthly kings.   Please help us to fix our eyes on You, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, while authentically and earnestly confessing our lack of faith in you.   Oh, God!  When we humbly lift up our hands for your help, please hear us, and answer to us according to your infinitely good will.   Thanks to God, and praise Your Name forever!

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Forgive, Forgive and Forgive Seven Times?

Good morning!

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

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)

Jesus’ disciples traveled town to town with Jesus, and witnessed God’s power and authority with Jesus.   Jesus healed the sick, and raised the dead.   They all marveled at what Jesus did.   Although they were so close to Jesus, they could not understand why Jesus came to earth, and what He was about to do.   Suddenly, there was a dispute among themselves.  They were still of flesh, not of the Spirit.   They could not settle down among themselves.  They came to Jesus, and asked “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”   Jesus did not answer, and then calmly looked at them.    Jesus called a little child to Him, and put the child among them.   Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”  (Matthew 18: 3)

The disciples were more confused than before asking to Jesus.  Their face was almost empty.   It was so obvious they had no understanding at all.   Of course, Jesus knew their confusion.   Jesus added one more parable about the lost sheep to show God’s love on one lost sheep.   Then Jesus talked about forgiveness and repentance among themselves.   Peter who always wanted to be the first, asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” (Matthew 18:21b)

Before looking closely about Peter and his question, let’s think about ourselves.   Was it easy to forgive others?   Especially, when a person seriously harms on us and damage our life, comes back later, and asks for our forgiveness.   Let say we forgive the person with a compassionate heart.  Soon the same person does even more serious evil to us than before, and the person comes to us to ask for forgiveness again.   What would be our reaction in our heart?    Is it easy to forgive this person again?    Perhaps once or twice we might be able to offer our forgiveness, but how about the third time?    How about the fourth time?   Peter’s question about forgiving “seven” times.   It is truly beyond the tolerance level of most of us.   Forgiving seven times is practically speaking impossible for most of people.   

Here is the famous answer of Jesus.    “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21)   At the time of Jesus, number seven had a special meaning because it was treated a perfect number.  Thus, doing seven times means what a person maximum can do.   For example, the Israelites circled the fortified city, Jericho, seven days, and on the seventh day, they circled seven times before the wall of Jericho was collapsed.    This background explains what Peter expected from his answer.   He wanted hear Jesus’ approval when he said forgiving seven times.   However, the Jesus’ response was totally unexpected -- forgiving seventy times seven.   It is literally 490 times.  Forgiving others 490 times.   I wonder there was anyone in our entire human history who did literally forgive others 490 times.

Peter, and other disciples, upon hearing this answer of Jesus, must have had been shocked.  Jesus then continued with another parable:

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.

So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’

So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.

When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.  Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.

So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  (Matthew 18:23-34)

This was the parable for Jesus to teach what the true forgiveness is.  That is what we have received from God.  In the parable, one servant owed ten thousand talents.  When he was asked to pay back, he bagged.  The gracious master forgave him.   On the other hand, the same servant did not forgive one who owed one hundred denarii.   How much money was one hundred denarii?   One Denarius was roughly one day’s wage, which is about 4 g of silver.   Thus, one hundred denarii meant 100 days of wage, which was not a small amount of money.   Owing 100 denarii was a rather serious sum of money, which could not be simply ignored.  

How about ten thousand talents?  One talent was equivalent to 6,000 denarii, and was about 20-40 Kg of gold.   Typically, 33 Kg (75 lb) of gold was used as one talent.   Currently, one gram of gold is about $40.    Then one talent of gold would be about $1.3 million.    Therefore, 10,000 talents meant $13 billion.   This was outrageously big money.   If this sum of money was translated to wages, it would be 200,000 years of wage.    In other words, one had to work 200,000 years to pay the ten thousand talent debt.  (The person would be still working to pay the debt since the time of Jesus, about 2,000 years ago.   The person had to work 100 times of the work he worked so far.)   Perhaps, it could be almost equivalent to the earning of the entire nation at that time.   In short, it is simply impossible for the servant to pay back.   

Our debt to God is even greater than the ten thousand talent of debt.   Why?   We are sinful and always sinning.   Sinning seems trivial to us because all of us do sin, but the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a)   Sometimes we feel we could avoid or ignore this truth due to the prevailing nature of sins among all human beings.   No, definitely not.  There is no way to avoid the consequence of our sins.   That is, there Is no way not to sin and to get away from the consequence of the sins: death.   This is the dilemma that the entire human race has been struggling.    Many tried to overcome this by doing good.   Unfortunately, all attempts have been proven to be futile.  

There is only one way to overcome this vicious dilemma: Jesus Christ.   Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life.  Not one can come to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6)   Jesus Christ is the only way.  Amazingly, it is also God’s gift freely given to those who believe and receive this precious gift of Jesus Christ.   “but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)

Praise God, who has given us this free gift of salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord!   We, who have received this amazing gift of life, will not put to death from our sins, and we, thus, have to forgive others from the deepest part of our hearts with our thanksgiving to God because our biggest debt has been forgiven by God, i.e., death – wages of sins.   Yes, our forgiveness to others seems substantial in the earthly standard.  However, when our forgiveness is compared with what God has done to us, our forgiveness to others is reduced to nothing.  

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:22)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Love and Power of Jesus and Our Small Faith

Good morning!

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

Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” (John 4:48)

On the third day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities.

It was a huge problem: no more wine for the guests filled with the house, who came for the wedding celebration.   The wedding celebration was about to be interrupted by disappointing the guests.   Jesus’ mother, who had been treasuring Jesus in her heart since He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, stepped in with faith.  She knew Jesus as a special and blessed child by God since his birth.  

However, she did have no idea what Jesus would do if she asked Jesus.  Thus, Jesus’ mother told Jesus, “They have no more wine.”   Upon hearing this, Jesus replied, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4)    It was a rather abrupt and cold answer to Marry, Jesus’ mother.  She believe her son would do something, but Jesus’ answer was essentially “no.”    Additionally, Jesus called his biological mother “woman.”   This must have been an unexpected answer to Marry.    Although she spoke to Jesus in faith, the faith was quickly turned down by Jesus.   How many times do we experience this type of rather cold answer from God when we pray?   Especially, although we pray to God what we really wanted for a long time in faith that God surely would answer our prayer, God’s answer was simply “no.”   How much devastating was our heart?   

Jesus’ mother was called “woman” instead of mother and heard His denial, “my hour has not yet come,”, but she was not discouraged at all.    Jesus’ mother’s faith was not deterred, and she calmly answered by telling to the servants at the banquet, “Do whatever he tells you.”  (John 2:5b)   What a faith she had!   Jesus must have waited for this great faith.

Upon hearing what she told to the servant, Jesus quickly pointed the six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.    Then He authoritatively told to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.”   As they heard Jesus, they filled the six stone water jars with water to the brim. (John 2:7)  

The six stone jars were now filled with water (120 to 180 gallons, 450 to 700  liters,  600 to 900 wine bottles of water).  Then Jesus looked at the servants, and told them “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” (John 2:8b)    What?   Draw some out the ‘water’ and take the ‘water’ to the mater of the feast.   Does this make sense?    Just drawing water from the jars, and take it to the master for the feast, who was in charge.   Is it a rational request?    Absolutely not.   How many of us would actually take the water from the jars to the master of the banquet, who was really stressed due to the wine completely run out.  

Bible continues telling.   “So they took it.” (John 2:8c)   The servants obediently drew water from the jars, and took to the master of the wedding feast.   What a faith the servants had!    They knew exactly what they brought to the master was in fact just water.  Even so, they were not deterred.  In faith, they presented the “water” drawn from the jars.   

The banquet master, without knowing the fact, tasted it.  Then, he called the bridegroom over.  “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” 

This was the first miracle performed by Jesus through the absolute faith of Jesus’ mother and the servants.   In fact, the Jesus’ intension was not to make his mother and the banquet guest happy by supplying the huge amount of the top quality wine, but to reveal God’s glory.   Especially, those who knew the reality – the guests were drinking wine made out of water, and they saw the glory of God.    Then they believe in Jesus.   Soon this miracle quickly spread throughout the region of Galilee.    All of the Galileans talked about the miracle and the best wine that they ever tested, which was made out of plain water.  

Later Jesus came back to Galilee.  When He arrived, the Galileans welcomed Jesus because they saw, tasted or heard about the miracle and Jesus.   When Jesus visited Cana in Galilee, where Jesus had turned the water into wine.   All Galileans gathered around Jesus.

There was a certain royal official whose son laid sick at Capernaum. Capernaum was about 20 miles (36 kms) away from Cana.  This man heard that Jesus came back to Galilee from Judea.  Then he quickly went to Jesus and begged Jesus to come and heal his son, who was close to death.   The official bowed down to Jesus for his son.    Jesus stopped and looked at the official in royal lobe who really stood out among the people around Him.    Then Jesus told the royal officer, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”  (John 4:48)   Although the royal officer did not speak even a single word out of his mouth, Jesus first spoke out to him “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”  What a discouraging word!   Despite of being a high rank royal officer, he traveled to Cana, and bowed down before Jesus.   Jesus talked about the faith of the people around Him.   Again, this was not a welcoming message to the royal officer.  

The royal official coming with only one purpose without hesitance said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” (John 4:49b)   It was a true confession of the royal officer in faith.   However, his confession was too logical, which was crafted by his own rationality and wisdom.   It was clearly the maximum that he could go with faith.   Jesus, who was full of mercy and love, saw his faith.   He just came for his dying son.  He did not come not because he saw the miracle, but because he loved his dying son with a faith that Jesus could heal his son.   Yes, his faith was not perfect, but Jesus loved his faith.   Then Jesus replied:  

“Go, your son will live.”
The man took Jesus at his word and departed.  (John 4:50)

As soon as he heard Jesus’ healing message, he believe and went back to his home to see his son.   On the way back, he met his servants coming to him.  The servants carried a good message, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”  (John 4:52b)    The official was so happy and praised the Lord.   He realized that the time of his son’s healing was when Jesus told “Go, your son will live.”   Yes, it was yet another miracle of Jesus.    Jesus really loved the royal officer who had a faith in Jesus (although it was imperfect) and traveled to Cana from Capernaum (traveling about 20 miles) for his dying son.   

Oh God, please give us faith to believe you without our own rational judgement:  as the servants who drew water and brought to a banquet master, or as the royal office who departed and traveled back to his dying son upon hearing Jesus’s healing word.    Yes, our faith is not perfect.  However, Oh God, you love our imperfect faith, and answer with your grace, mercy and love.   Give thanks to God!  Your mercy and love are abound.   Praise God!    Your mercy and love endure forever!   

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  (Hebrews 11:1)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

World vs Loving Neighbors

Good morning!

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

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

The leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod tried to test and trapped Jesus because Jesus plainly spoke out against them.  Jesus exposed their hearts and criticized their hypocritical lives, which are completely hidden from the people at that time.  Jesus told them “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues.  They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’”  (Matthew 23:5-7)    Jesus continued, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”  (Matthew 23:13-14)

Thus, the religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus. But they were afraid of the crowd.   Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested.  “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?  Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?”
Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.”  When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”  “Caesar’s,” they replied.  “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”   His reply completely amazed them as well as us, who live in this 21st century.    This also reminds us Jesus’s another teaching "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)    We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to be wise as snakes and innocent as doves.   Of course, this cannot be done by our own might and strength.   Only is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit because we are weak and always fall short of the glory of God.  We are simply sinful.   Despite all efforts, no human knowledge could trap Jesus.

The one of the teachers of religious law was standing there watching what’s happening.  He realized that Jesus was not an ordinary teacher.   He started thinking Jesus must be the true teacher that he was always looking for.   Thus, he decided to ask about the most puzzling question in heart, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28b)

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD.  And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  No other commandment is greater than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31)

The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.    That is, we love God with all ourselves including all that we have.   This is plainly obvious when we truly acknowledge that we are simply His.   Who we are, what we are, and what we have are all from Him -- our True Father of provision, grace and mercy with His one-sided love.   Give thanks to God.   Then God wants for us to share the love that we receive with other by loving others as ourselves.   As a living being, loving ourselves is the very nature of ourselves, which is impossible to be separated from the very nature of existence of ourselves except those very exceptionally few.  Even Jesus told that There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)   Sacrificial love or even dying of others is beyond of most of us.  Only is possible when the power of God’s love is in full control on us. 

By the way, loving your neighbor is not a new commandment of Jesus Christ.   The Old Testaments also says, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18b)  When this is given as law and commandments to the Israelites, God provided detailed instructions also.  “Love your neighbor” was actually the summary of God commandments about neighbors.    Here are the God’s commandments about neighbors:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.  And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.  You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.  You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.  You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.  You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.  (Leviticus 19:9-18)

Be generous toward neighbors especially those who are poor, not to steal or covert neighbors’ possession, not to oppress those neighbors because they are venerable to us, not to show partiality in any reasons, not to take vengeance even though they might first do harm to us.    Along the deed of the good Samaritan, who showed mercy to the person robbed, these are the short list of what “love your neighbor” is really meant and how to love neighbors.    Do we do this rather minimal requirements of loving neighbors as ourselves? 

Praise God!   Give thanks to Jesus.   Jesus demonstrated His love by dying on cross for us.  “There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.”   He demonstrated this love.   Why?  He truly loved us regardless who we are and what we have done.  This is the God’s love.  Therefore, we love others, which is our responsibility, who are deeply indebted in His love.  

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)