Sunday, January 13, 2019

Come Now. I Will Make You As White As Snow.

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

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  (Matthew 4:17b)

This was the first message of Jesus Christ when He started His ministry, and it was the first preaching of John the Baptist also.   Both Jesus and John the Baptist emphasized the paramount importance of repenting sins.   Why?  Without repenting our sins, nothing can God do for us.   Our sin becomes the impenetrable barrier between God and us, which blocks all of God’s blessings, grace and mercy that God really wants to give us.   Even so, God’s love toward us has not changed and will not change at all forever.  This is the greatness of God’s love.   Then how can we be sure about this unchanging God’s love?   Jesus told:

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  (Matthew 5:45)

Yes, God loves His children under all circumstances.   Apostle Paul experienced this unchanging God’s love through his life, and described as follows:

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.   (Romans 8:38)

God’s love never changes.   God patiently waits for us, as a father who is eagerly wanting for his prodigal son’s return, who took the half of his wealth, left his house, and squandered it.    When he saw his prodigal son from distance, he ran to his son and hugged.  He saw his son being suffered a lot since exhausting all the money taken from the father in hungry because nobody gave him food to eat.  A severe drought came to the land where the son went.  There was no place but returning to the father’s house.   As soon as the father saw his son returning, the father rejoiced because he found again his lost son years ago.   The father’s long wait finally ended, and the prodigal son returned to his father’s bosom.    The parable of the prodigal son and his loving father reflects the true secret of the love of our God, our Ever-Loving Father.  

In extreme joy, the father held a feast while inviting his friends and relatives because he had found his son again.   The fact that the prodigal son squandered the half of his wealth did not matter at all.   The son who left the father by his own desire finally realized the reality, and humbly returned to the father.  The father was truly in joy because of the unconditional love of his son.  The father himself was also greatly suffered every night because his beloved son left him.   The father’s suffering also ended by the returning of his son.    Like the father who waited for his prodigal son day and night.    Even at this very moment, our God is waiting for us with His unfailing love.   What’s the reason?   Because God is love.   God truly wants share His unfailing love with us, but the barrier of our sins blocks His blessings and grace.   Every day, God patiently waits for us to tear down the barrier.   How to tearing down the barrier?   Confessing our sins with all our hearts and minds to God and acknowledge with our own mouth to God.   Then God, who is faithful and full of mercy and love, is more than willing to forgive our sins.   As soon as the barrier disappears, God blessings starts flowing from Him to us through His love and mercy.   This is what God exactly wants.   That is, He wants to restore our loving relationship with God, which was once lost.    

Surely we might feel like the prodigal son, who was in shame of squandering all good things of his father.  Please remember that it did not matter to the father because he found his lost son.    Yes, to God, once we were lost, but we are found now after the long waiting for us.      God always desires for us to have His blessings in Him, by Him and for Him.  In fact, He is one and only one source of our blessings: His grace, mercy and love.   

If any of us are still holding of our sins in our heart, then we are blocking all good things from Him.   It is time to carefully and humbly search for our sins, which are often hidden from our plain sight because we are easily of the world.  Then put out all our sins including hidden sins before God one by one while asking for His mercy and forgiveness.   God hears our prayer of His mercy and forgiveness, and surely answers by lovingly touching the deep pain scared by our sins in our hearts, and healing one by one by mending the tears and the pains in our hearts.   The frozen blockages in our hearts caused by the terrible sins start melting when warm spring comes.   His love starts flowing again in our heart, and changing the barren land to a fruitful land flowing the love of God. 

God starts rejoicing in us, and again His true desire shares the richness of His mercy, grace and love.  Our loving God finally comes deep into our lives again.   We continue to bring Him into the center of our hearts as our true King so that He reign us again.    God starts demolishing the stubbornness in our heart, which used to be hardened by our ego, pride, greed and sins.     All self-centered shames and ugliness are clearly exposed before the purity of Our God’s light, and His light gives a new teaching in us.    As we truly receives, our hearts are being transformed.     The barren land is transformed to a land of fertility with good soils for the seeds of God’s Word.    Even the ugliest part of our heart turns into a shiny piece of the precious of reflecting His glory and goodness.    The sins used to reign over us no more because they become powerless before the pure light of God because our hearts are washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ.   It is our sure that the One who started good works in our lives will complete.

until at last the Spirit is poured out
     on us from heaven.
Then the wilderness will become a fertile field,
     and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops.  (Isaiah 32:15)

The wilderness of our hearts will becomes a fertile land, and the barren land will be fruitful.   Suddenly, our heart are filled with goodness of God.   Even we start to produce good things in God.   Although the seeds planted by God is so small and tiny like a mustard seed barely visible, the seeds grow big like the mustard plants where birds in the air perches on the branches.   As growing, we continuously enjoy the presence of God, Our Ever-Loving Father, who resides in our hearts.   

Our hearts are blessed by God without ceasing, as trees planted by streams of water, which yield fruit bountifully throughout its season.   As the good things from the above constantly fills our hearts, and our hearts produces fruit without ceasing.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!   (Galatians 5:22-23)  

What a blessing!    Our hearts are filled with the good things from above:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.    The fruit of our hearts is so bountiful that it cannot be contained only in our hearts.    It surely overflows from our hearts.  Plainly visible are the fruit oozed out of our hearts.   By the way, the source of bearing the fruit is not of our own might and strength in our heart, but the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

Let’s not forget:  the power of this world is formidable.   There was no one, even one single person who could overcome the world by his/her own might.    The greatest king of all kings ever lived on earth was King David.    Although he pleased God with his faith, he was at the same time the greatest sinner among those whom we ever know.    He took his own officer’s wife, and he killed her husband to cover up.   His cunning plan and precise execution successfully made her husband killed at the battle field.   Then David joyfully took in Bathsheba to his palace, but God saw this terrible evil acts from the beginning.  God sent His prophet, and exposed the David’s terrible sin.   Without any hesitation, David fully confessed his sins to God.   God saw David’s humility and his repenting heart.   God restored David as His king.   In fact, during the course of David’s sinning, God never stopped loving David.   To God, David was the precious of His love.   

Therefore, two things are absolutely true for all of us:
1.       Nobody is stronger than the power of sin. 
We will all surely fail, if we rely on our might and strength to fight against sins.   Our defeat is sure before the power of sins.   
2.       God is love, and is patiently waiting for us to come back to Him.
We feel shame and guilt dwelling in our hearts due to our sins, but God never gives up on us.   His patience is limitless, and His love is bigger than anything else that we can ever imagine.   The robber on the cross asked Jesus His mercy, and received the mercy of forgiveness.    It is not too late for anyone to receive His mercy.   God is always waiting with His open arms to embrace us and to put us in His ever-loving bosom.

Yes, our God is waiting and telling us even at this very moment:

"Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.  (Isaiah 1:18)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Come, Come To Jesus, Who Is Our Loving And Compassionate Savior!

Good Morning and Happy New Year!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4:4)

John the Baptist was the voice of preparing the way of the Lord, Jesus Christ, our Savior.  He came to the Judean wilderness and began breaching.   His message was

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 2:2)

John the Baptist was prophesized long ago by the prophet Isaiah, who wrote,
“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”  

John the Baptist was in the wilderness, and people from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John.  And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.  

John openly proclaimed, “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”   John prepared the heart of the people for the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our Savior.

One day, Jesus came to John, and was baptized.  John refused, but Jesus insisted to be baptized by telling, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”   So John agreed to baptize Jesus.    After the baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.  And a voice from heaven said,

This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17b)

God, the Father, was truly pleased with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus.  Thus, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were at one place, and the God was truly pleased.  The ministry on earth for Jesus Christ, the Son of God was being prepared.   The ministry of Jesus was for us, the children of God.  The Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) was one place in great joy, which was again for us.    It was the greatest blessings to all mankind.   Jesus fully experienced the blessing and joy of the baptism with John and people followed John.   John and the people around Jesus being baptized were together in great joy also, hearing the voice from heaven, “This is my dearly loved Son, and whom bring me great joy.”   Hearing the voice of heaven alone was their great joy, which could not be found from anywhere else on earth.    The tremendous blessing was with John and the people watching Jesus being baptized, and also for us too.

The joy among the people, John and Jesus did not last.   Soon Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.   Jesus was about to go through the physical hardship and the torture of His spirit.    Although Jesus was fully God and man, He had to endure to the very limit as a human being.   First, he fasted for forty days and forty nights.   He was very hungry.  In fact, he was at a brink of his physical body’s death.   He was completely drained out, as Apostle Paul said, “I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith” (Philippians 2:17a).    However, it was for us, whom He loved most.   Apostle Paul continued, “I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” (Philippians 2:17b).   Jesus did with joy for all of us.   It was the just beginning though.  

When Jesus was completely drained out physically and mentally, the devil came and tempted Jesus.    The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”    The devil first attacked the basic necessity of the body of Jesus after forty days and nights of fasting.    However, Jesus did not give in.   Why?  For us.   

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”   (Matthew 4:4)

Jesus overcame the temptation with the Scriptures, i.e., the Word of God.  The devil failed.  The love of Jesus for us was much stronger than the extreme desire of food after forty days and nights of fasting.   Have we love anyone more than such an extreme desire of food after forty days of fasting?   

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

At this time, the devil tempted with the Scriptures.   The devil actually quoted Psalm 91:10-11.   It was David’s psalm to take a refuge in God as His protection and help during the period of the hard time in his life.   On the other hand, the devil quoted the Scriptures with the wrong motive.   The devil used the Scriptures to test Jesus, not craving to receive God’s protection and help in the time of needs.   Jesus immediately Jesus responded without hesitation,

“The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’”   (Matthew 4:7b)

The devil defeated again.   We are often getting a temptation to apply God’s Word in our lives wrongly for our own gain.   The devil’s temptation was not unique to Jesus, but very common among us, all believers.   What’s the best way to overcome such a temptation?    As Jesus did, use the Scriptures accordingly God’s truly intention in the context of the Bible that God wants for us to live in Him.   Using a Bible verse out of context for our own earthly gain is a telltale sign of our wrong application of the Scriptures, the Word of God.    Whenever we apply God’s Word to our lives, we carefully read the God’s word in the context of God’s desire – saving us from our sins and transgressions and transforming us as His children, who are holy (being set apart [from the world]) and blameless. 

 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”

The devil decided to tempt Jesus with the glory and every good thing in this world.   The last temptation was the most subtle and deadly because it tested the heart and the desire of Jesus as a human to have the glory of this world and being served by the world and people in it.    Later Jesus saw His disciples became indignant because of their jealousy about what James and John had asked to Jesus -- “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”   Jesus, then, called his disciples together and said,

“But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:26-28)

The temptation of trying to be the first and getting the glory of the world is so fundamental to all human beings on earth by equally sharing in their hearts.   Therefore, the force of this temptation is deadly.   Once being trapped into this temptation, nobody gets out by his/her own strength. 

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the LORD your God
and serve only him.’”   (Matthew 4:10)

Jesus sternly rejected the temptation by declaring with the Scriptures, “you must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.”     There is no other god except our God, whom we must worship and truly serve with all our hearts and minds.    Anything that we serve more than Our God is nothing but a sin.    In fact, this violates the first on the Ten Commandments:  

You must not have any other god but me.  (Exodus 20:3)

Jesus defeated all three deadly temptations that any human beings easily get trapped while living on earth.   Jesus also showed how to defeat the temptations.   The answer was the Scriptures, God’s Word.   We want to ask again why.  Why did Jesus take such temptations at the extreme degrees?   The answer is love.  Jesus loved us, and Jesus experienced our pains, hardships and temptations as we take on earth to the extreme degrees.   Thus, we know that Jesus truly emphasize our pain, hardships and temptations on earth to be called as our true Friend and Savior.

The devil left, and angels came and attended Jesus.   Jesus was triumphant over the temptations and the devil for us.   Then Jesus began His ministry by first preaching,

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  (Matthew 4:17b)

 The exact message was preached by John the Baptist, when he started his ministry to prepared the road for Jesus, the Messiah, Our Savior.   The first message of Jesus and that of John the Baptist were identical:
            1.      Repent sins, and
            2.      Turn to God.

Repenting sins is the first step to come to God.   The sins are barriers between us and God.    This is so fundamental and absolutely needed for all believers, i.e., us.   However, it is most easily overlooked in our prayers and Christian lives.    When was the time that we truly repent our sins before God in our prayers?     Are we truly repenting our sins before God daily or even every moment that we sin?   How many prayers are spoken or given to God without repenting our sins?    Our true and authentic repentance before God is the power of our faith and makes our inner persons healthy and stronger.   If we want to go into a deeper relationship with God, Our Ever-Loving Father day by day or even moment, the we confess out sins by telling to God and humbly asking for His forgiveness.    

The second step is to turn to God.   Adam and Eve hid from God, when God called them.  Their sins made them turn away from God, i.e., running away from God.   As God was approaching to them, they were even more making a distance from God.    Why?   Their sin was in the way between God and them.    They used to enjoy the presence of God, but after sinning, the relationship was completely changed.   The loving God was turned into the fearful God.    Sins are this much terrible by transforming our Loving God to the fearful God.    Although we want to turn to God, we cannot.    The gracious and merciful God always forgives our sins.  He always wants to restores our loving relationship with Him.   Please see His open arm, and turn to Him as a child runs into its loving father.    God is love.   When we empty our hearts by confessing our sins of the worldly desires and glory, we can see our loving God who is waiting for us.   Then turn to God.   Surely God accepts us with His loving open arms.  

God knows our pains, struggles, hardships, and temptations because Jesus, although He is the Son of God, experienced all to the limit that any of us could not endure.    Thus, we have a confidence to approach Him, who is truly compassionate and infinitely good to us.   Praise God, who send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ for us!  

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence.  (Ephesians 3:12)