Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

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

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mark 16:1-7)

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was crucified on cross for our sins and transgressions, when we were yet sinners.  Jesus had foreknowledge about His disciples who would betray Him, but He loved them to the end till his death on cross.   If this were the end of the story, it could have been yet another story about a good teacher.   However, the story was not ended by His death.   Instead, Jesus Christ had risen from death by conquering death, and He became the first fruit for us.  Praise the risen Lord!  We will rise again from death like Him.  Hosanna to the King!  Anyone who believe in Him will not be perished, but have eternal life.  Through Him, we have become sons of God, and sons of the resurrection (Luke 20:36).   As God’s sons, we will together inherit the kingdom of God.   Thus, Easter is the most joyful day of all because Jesus was raised from death on this day.  Believers, be joyful and glad in Him.  

Early in the Easter Sunday morning, three women brought spices to the tomb where Jesus was laid.  They were truly faithful, and courageous to come to Jesus’ tomb.  While walking to the tomb, they worried about “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”   When they looked up, the big stone had been already rolled away.  As they entered the tomb, they could not see Jesus who supposedly was laid in the tomb.  Instead they saw an angel dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side.  Then they were told “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”  

On the other hands, many of the followers were disappointment at Jesus’ death, and discouraged.  Some of them left the town of Jerusalem, and walked down to another town.  Especially, in terrible fear, Jesus’ disciples hid themselves.  They thought that they would be the next to be arrested and executed.  Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, used to say to Jesus, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!", and the other disciples said the same.  But when Jesus was arrested, Peter denied twice before a servant girl: “Woman, I don’t know him.”  Then he was challenged again by the same question in front of multiple people, Peter even called down curses on Jesus and swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” (Mat 26:74)  Bible continues: Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.  Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter [with loving compassion].  Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62) However, the fear of being arrested was stronger than the shame.  Peter together with other disciples hid in one place with the doors locked.  However, the risen Lord came to Peter and the rest of the disciples, and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  (John 20:19)  What a comforting word of our Lord full of love and mercy!

Then Jesus, the compassionate and merciful Lord, did not say anything about what the disciples did to Him when He was arrested.  He gently stretched out His hands and showed His hands covered with nail marks.  He also showed His side pierced through by a Roman solider with his spear.  Finally, the disciples understood the true meaning of what Jesus told before His death: "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." (Mark 9:31)  Jesus, who stands before them, was the same Jesus, and he returned from the dead.   Yes, our Lord is the master of the universe.  The most fearful enemy of all, death, has utterly destroyed by the power of Jesus Christ.   Thus, through the power of Jesus Christ, we will also conquer death in the faith of Jesus Christ.

Jesus continued, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22)    He poured out the Holy Spirit by breathing on them.  Their hearts were filled with the Holy Spirit.  Yes, Jesus is our True Lord, who always forgives us, and gives His love, joy, and peace with His infinite patience, kindness, goodness so that we can be faithful, gentle and controlling ourselves under any circumstances with the power of the Holy Spirit that was given to us.  Through the power of the cross, all of our sins are forgiven, and our broken relationship with God was restored.  Even in this very moment, our Lord, Jesus Christ, continuously intercedes for us before God whenever we are off the mark and sinning again so that we can return to Him without fear.  This is the Love of Jesus Christ.  Praise the Lord, our King, Jesus Christ, who rose again today on the Easter Sunday.  Those who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life in Christ. (John 3:16)  Hallelujah! Hosanna to the King!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  (John 11:25-26)

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Jesus' Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)

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

And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.  And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road.  As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  (Luke 19:35-38)

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”   What a joyful praise made by the whole multitude of His disciples!  Jesus Christ, our King and our Lord, who humbly rode on the colt, was coming to Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9).  People spread their cloaks on the road, and welcomed Jesus.  They rejoiced and praised God for all the mighty works done.  They raised their voice high because they thought that it was the moment that they had been waiting for long time.  Jesus would liberate them from the oppression of Rome, and He would establish a kingdom on earth.  Thus, they saw Jesus, who was making a triumphal entry to Jerusalem, and were excited about their king on earth.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)  The same praise was proclaimed by the angels, when our Lord, Jesus was born.  He was laid in a manger in a stable, a place for animals, not for humans because there was no room for them in the inn.  (Nobody in the Inn gave a space for the couples who were about delivering a baby.)  Suddenly he angel a multitude of the heavenly host came down, and gave the highest praise on His birth.  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace.”   Jesus was born to us to give peace, which is the glory to God in the highest because He would conquer the evil, forgive our sins and restore the loving relationship with God, which was lost. 

Indeed, Jesus  made His triumphal entry to Jerusalem to lay himself down as a ransom for all.   He took all our sorrows, and he pierced for our transgressions.  He was crushed for our iniquities.  With His wounds, we were healed.   All we like sheep had gone astray, but He turned us to His own way.   All iniquities of us all were laid on Him. 

Christ Jesus, Who, being in very nature a God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!  (Philippians 2:5-8)

His absolute obedience was the very reason for His Triumphal entry to Jerusalem.   There existed an enormous gap between the expectation of His disciples cheering on Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, and what Jesus really planned to do in Jerusalem.   The book of Luke continues recording what Jesus did:

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”  (Luke 19:41-44)

He wept, because He knew the magnificent temple and the city would be utterly destroyed, but people did not know what was coming.   He saw the people in Jerusalem, and He felt compassion for them, because they were ignorant, and because they were helpless and even harassed, like sheep without a shepherd (Mat 9:36).   Jesus’ heart was described in Mat 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!   Yes, all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to our own way; but He took the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)   He knew He would be treated like other prophets, but He loved His people.  He gathered His people together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but the people did not understand the true meaning of Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem.   Again, He loved His people to the end (John 13:1).  

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  (John 15:12-14)

Our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, laid down His life for us, because He loved us.  He called us friends.  If we are His friends, then we ought to do what He commanded us.  His commandment is that we love one another as He has loved us.   Today is the Palm Sunday.   We open our heart to Jesus, and receive Him as our King.   Then as Jesus did, we love one another, and share the peace of God with those who are suffering and morning.   This is our small way to celebrate His triumphal entry to Jerusalem.   

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  (John 15:10-11)
Jesus loved us so much, and gave Himself to save us from all our sins and transgressions and have eternal life.   What a blessing it is!   This blessing is freely given to us not because we are worthy of receiving this eternal gift, but because of He simply loves us without any merit or worthiness in us.  In fact, the wage of sins is death.   We are all sinners, and we deserve death.  However, Jesus Christ, the one who does not have sin at all, redeemed us by laying down Himself on the cross.  This is the love.  Indeed, His sacrificial death took away all our sins and transgressions from us, and we are free from the bondage of our sins.  Thus, the power of sins no more rules over us.   Jesus Christ, Our Lord, paid all (including past, present, and even our future sins….) on the cross.   We - filthy, easily temped by desires of the eyes and the flesh, and so tightly intertwined with pride of life – are saved.   How thankful to God!
How to express this thankfulness to God?  Today’s scripture tells that we need to remain in Jesus’ love.  If we keep His commands, we remain in His love.   By remaining in His love, you are filled with His joy, and our joy will overflow and be complete.   Why?  By keeping His commands, His Holy Sprit dwells in our heart, and the holy communion between God and us is imitated.   We start to experience who the God is, and deeper understanding about Him.  He grow deeper into the relationship with God, and our life is continuously transformed like Jesus.  Each one of us becomes a small Jesus where we live.      
John, one of Jesus’ disciples, wrote “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25)   Jesus taught countlessly many things to His disciples.  And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29)   Jesus’ teaching made.   people astonished because He taught with real authority that only could come from God, not like other teachers at that time.  His word was also a real delight to those who are poor in heart.  His beatitudes on the mount were full of mercy, comfort, peace, and righteousness.  He satisfied those who were thirsty, and gave comfort to those who mourned.  Then He said “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  (Matthew 5:11-12)   Jesus pointed out that those who were faithful were not earth-bound, but heaven-bound.   Yes, following the footsteps of Jesus Christ is not easy simply because we are different from those who don’t know about Jesus.   On earth, we might be falsely accused only one reason that we have faith in Christ.   Then we should be rejoice and glad for our reward is great in heaven.  This is not nothing new, but all our forefathers in faith before us were treated in these ways.  Then Jesus warned about our human nature of anger, lust, and our desire to take matters into our own hands.      
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  (Matthews 5:43-45)
Instead Jesus tells us, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you!”   This clearly contradicts the law of this world – tooth to tooth, and eye to eye, but Jesus teaches us a new law of God founded on His love.  To most of us, enemies mean those who make us our life difficult give mentally or financially, but in some of this world, there are real persecutions – put in jail, physically torture or even kill.   Even so, Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and pray for them because by doing this, we may be children of Our Father in heaven.   Our Merciful Father causes His sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous while patiently waiting for the evil and the unrighteous to return to Him by confessing their sins and transgressions.  In fact, we were not much different.  We were the evil and the unrighteous before God, but through the blood of Jesus, now we become His children.   
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,…  (2 Corinthian 5:19-20)
While we were yet sinners, Jesus laid down His life for us to take away our sins.  Through His blood on the cross, He reconciled us to God by fixing our fallen relationship with God so that we started the walk again with God, which was long forgotten due to our sins.   Through this walk, we are restored to be His children who can enjoy intimate relationship with God.  Our life is now turned in to a light of God.  This light shines on the lost, the evil and the unrighteous so that they may see the light and return to Him, which truly make Our Heavenly Father pleased.  As a result, our joy is also complete in His joy.  Praise God, whose mercy endures forever!  Sing praise to God, who is patient and slow to anger.  Our Lord is compassionate and gracious God.   He is abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin of ours.  Sing praise to the Lord! 

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:11) 

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

By the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Good morning!

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

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.   (Romans 12:1-2)

We are prisoners of hope that will never fade.  The hope is granted by God, and is continuously renewed day by day (and even moment by moment) by Him.  He quietly whispers this Hope to our ears with His loving voice.  Yes, we are intimately connected to Him through His love.   We sure that either death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from this love of God.  (Romans 8:38-39)  This assuring love is plainly and openly demonstrated and proved on the cross.  Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has no sin at all, but He was crucified and died on the cross.  His condemnation was our blessing.   Through His sacrificial death, our debts are fully paid.  No longer can the power of the eternal death of sin command us.   What else can we ask more?  

This is the greatest gift that we can ever receive from now and eternity.   In fact, we all are continuously discovering and rediscovering the greatness of this love -- how wide and long and deep the love of Christ is.  Through this love, we are renewed every day because our heart is continuously filled with Holy Spirit through this love of Jesus Christ.   Daily, we are growing deeper into the relationship with God.  Through the Holy Spirit interceding us, we are slowly but steadily maturing in the love, and grasps the truth of His love, which surpasses all knowledge that our human beings have ever found and will discover in future.  Thanks to God!   Give our highest praises to Him, the One and Only One God.   We are truly free in Him, for Him and by Him.  Shout for joy before Him, and make a joyful noise before God.

Therefore, we need to walk in a manner worthy of His love.  Apostle Paul urges us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice by the mercies of God.   Without the mercies, we are not worthy to present ourselves as a living sacrifice.  Only is this possible through the mercies of God.   In fact, we supposedly die with our own sins, but, His mercies took away this eternal condemnation in His love.   As a result, we become an objective worthy of presenting to God, who is holy without any darkness at all.  God, our eternal Father, lovingly accept us as a living sacrifice accordingly His infinitely goodness, which is our spiritual service and worship before Him, which He truly pleases.   What a blessing it is!   

Yes, the world is full of darkness.  Our citizenship is in Heaven that is our eternal Home.   Our names have already been written on the Book of Life in Heaven.  On earth we are just on the way to our eternal Home.  Thus, Satan tenaciously temps us so that we might be derailed from the paths of righteousness.  Satan throws at us all kinds of temptations so that we might become a victim of his crafty scheme.  His craftiness deceives us by making us being pumped up, being proud of what we do, and chasing down what we crave for instead of being a living sacrifice before Him.   This deception is not obvious at the time of getting temptations.  If not, we would easily reject them.  Yes, they are very subtle, and slowly wedging in the intimacy between God and us.  Thus, nobody is immune to the Satan’s attack.  “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13)  

Therefore, we need to be transformed, and we constantly renewed to guard our hearts and minds against Satan, who is always searching for an opportune time.     We continuously test and examine ourselves to discern what is the will of God by reading His Word, and talking and listening to Him through prayers.    Then the peace of God that transcends all our understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   This spiritual battle and keeping ourselves in Him is the very object of our living sacrifices to God, which is good and acceptable to God.   We also know that we will never be perfect, but God, full of mercies, does not look at our imperfectness.  Instead He declares that we are perfect.  What a mercy, grace and love of His!  Yes, He will be with us from now on earth till we see Him face to face in the Heaven, our eternal Home.   

Then what we can do?  We approach to Him with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, and eager to maintain the unity in God as His children.  

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:4-7)

Praise God, full of mercies and grace!   One who loves us without rotating shadow.   In Him, we have an eternal peace.   Through His love, we are connected together and build up one body. The head is Jesus Christ, who died for us as the sacrificial lamb for all our sins.   Give the highest praise to Jesus Christ!    And thanks to God, who sends Holy Spirit, the Helper, who resides in us, who is the very assuring seal in our heart of His Unfathomable Love,   Praise God.  His mercy endures forever!    God is good and infinitely good to us.   Sing praises to Him!   Hallelujah!   Our Eternal Father!

 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  (Ephesians 4:1-3)

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