Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Devotional 310309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The tree outside my window is bearing new leaves. It is so green and lovely. Thank God for giving me such a beautiful environment to meditate on His Word. It is truly a treat to abide in Him and to serve Him each day. All work involve some kind of difficulty and frustration, because things may not happen to the way we want, and people may not cooperate with us in according to what we expect. As long as we know that God put us in our work for His purpose, then we will enjoy His presence and seek to grow from our hardship in life. One of the ministries that you can do in your workplace is to pray for your coworkers. You may pray for them without them even aware of it. Or you may ask them how you can pray for them. Once the Lord moves you to pray for a person or coworker, you need to dive into this person’s life with the Holy Spirit, in order to let the Spirit of God show you what and how to pray for this particular person. Therefore, don't just say a ritual prayer, but quiet before the Lord and seek His prayer for this person.

"If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that" (1 John 5:16). If we are not watchful of the way the Spirit of God works in us, we will become spiritual hypocrites. We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the mock of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf. The revelation is made to us not through the intensity of our minds, but by the direct penetration of the Spirit of God, and if we are not watchful of the source of the revelation, we will become criticizing centers and forget that God says - "…he should pray and God will give him life. " Take care lest you play the hypocrite by spending all your time trying to get others right before you worship God yourself.

One of the subtlest burdens God ever puts on us as saints is this burden of discernment concerning other souls. He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them, and as we intercede on His line, God says He will give us "life for them that sin not unto death." It is not that we bring God into touch with our minds, but that we awaken ourselves until God is able to convey His mind to us about the one for whom we intercede.

Is Jesus Christ seeing the fruits of His labor in our soul? He cannot unless we are so identified with Him that we are awakened to see from His perspective about the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so whole-heartedly that Jesus Christ will be abundantly satisfied with us as intercessors!

Honestly, intercessory ministry is a hard work. It requires commitment on our part to play the role. Intercessors need to stay close to the Lord. He or she needs to be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Sometimes, intercessors serve as spiritual shield for the people whom they pray for. Sometimes, Satan will turn his attack from the person to the intercessor. Unless he stops the prayer of intercessors, Satan cannot accomplish his scheme on his target. Therefore, intercessory ministry is a spiritual warfare. But with the Holy Spirit as our commander (He is our ultimate Intercessor), we don’t need to be afraid. We just need to stay close to Him and echo His prayer in our prayers. Then God can accomplish His salvation plan on earth.

I need intercessors for my ministry. I know Satan will do whatever he can to detour my focus or destroy the fruits of my labor. Pray that I will learn the lesson of faith, and servant hood in supporting His mission work both locally and globally.

Love you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Devotional 300309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I thank God for another beautiful day to be in His service. ‘Arise my soul, let’s come to worship our Creator God, who wants to mold us to be like His Son this day. Let’s enjoy this day that He wants us to walk and talk with Him.This is the Day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Our Lord desires His children to fully enjoy their relationship with Him and with one another each day. He expects us to love and care for one another, even though we may feel weird to draw close to other Christians; it is true that Christians are weird ‘recovering sinners.’ We are not totally transformed yet. We will have sinful relapses from time to time, and our motives about relationship may not be totally Godly or sanctified. That’s why God expects us to pray for one another and spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

"The Lord saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene (intercede or pray); so His own arm worked salvation for him, and His own righteousness sustained him" (Isaiah 59:16). The reason many of us leave off praying and become stubborn towards God is because we have only a sentimental interest in prayer. It sounds right to say that we pray; we read books on prayer, which tell us that prayer is beneficial, that our minds are quieted and our souls uplifted when we pray; but Isaiah implies that God is amazed at such thoughts of prayer among His people.

Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray. Too often instead of worshipping God, we construct statements as to how prayer works. Are we worshipping or are we in dispute with God - "I don't see how you are going to do it." This is a sure sign that we are not worshipping. When we lose sight of God we become stubborn and rigid. We toss our own petitions at God's throne and dictate to Him as to what we wish Him to do for us. We do not worship God, nor do we seek to form the mind of Christ within us. If we are stubborn towards God, we will become stubborn towards other people.

Are we so worshipping God that we stir ourselves up to seek Him so that we may be brought into contact with His mind about the ones for whom we pray, instead of just saying a few words of prayer for the person according to what we want? Are we living in a holy relationship to God, or are we stubborn and rigid?

"But there is no one interceding properly" - then be that one yourself, be the one who worships God and who lives in holy relationship to Him. Get into the real work of intercession, and remember it is a work, a work that requires every power to accomplish. Preaching the gospel may have a snare; intercessory prayer has none.

I find this teaching on prayer is so true from my own experience. We have a tendency to pray for others without first listening to God in a worshipful attitude. We don’t know how to pray for others as Paul said in Romans 8:26-27, “but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.” Therefore, we want to echo His prayer or pray according to His will instead of ours. This requires silence of our inner desires and casual thoughts on how and what to pray. We need to wait, watch and wrestle in prayer. Wait for God’s word to come upon us as we intend to pray. Watch God’s guidance and circumstances that He reveals to us about that prayer. Wrestle with our soul to stay focus and obedience to His will in our prayers. For instance, you usually will not pray for suffering to come upon a person whom you intercede. But the Holy Spirit may want you to pray accordingly, so that God will use the suffering to shape this person’s character. It is hard to intercede in such a way when this person is your beloved friend or family member.

I am sure Peter meant good when he stopped his Master from preparing for the cross. But this human thinking or reaction was not according to the Will of God for Christ. Therefore, Jesus rebuked Peter by using a very strong word, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matt 16:23). Do you pray for others according to God or to the mind of men?

Love you according to the mind of Christ,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A day of fun filled worship

It is a great day of worshiping God at Christ Church of Bay Area and outdoor to appreciate the creation of God. How nice it is to go to Nature and meditate on the attribute of God, while you enjoy some fresh air and beautiful sunshine.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Devotional 270309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is Friday again! I can’t wait to meet many of you tonight at fellowship to update you on my missions. And it is a privilege to serve Him on Sunday as guest speaker at Christ church of the Bay Area again. This week is my turn to lead staff prayer meeting. Our devotional reading came to the eleven chapter of Luke, where Jesus taught His disciples on prayer. I focused not on the Lord’s Prayer but on a comment that our Lord made in the middle of the chapter, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you" (Luke 11:34-36). To me, your eyes mean your vision or focus; what you desire and focus in life. My insight is: What you focus defines who you are. The Lord’s Prayer wants to sharpen my focus on God’s kingdom and His presence as the highest priority in life. When I sincerely seek God’s kingdom and His will, the power of the Holy Spirit will transform and strengthen my character. The more I pray according to the focus of His prayer, the more I become like Christ, in terms of His attitude and values. If we don’t pray on such focus, our prayer will become an extension of our self-centeredness. We keep on telling God what we want and hope for in prayer, and these things could be totally irrelevant to God and His Kingdom. When we focus on the light as He is the Light within us, we will be ‘completely lighted up.’ Therefore, by seeking His Kingdom and His will each day, we will truly become the Light of the world.

Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” (Revelation 4:1b). An elevated mood can only come out of an elevated habit of personal character. If in the externals of your life you live up to the highest you know, God will continually say - "Friend, go up higher." The golden rule in temptation is - Go higher. When you get higher up, you face other temptations and characteristics. Satan uses the strategy of elevation in temptation, and God does the same, but the effect is different. When the devil puts you into an elevated place like the way he put Jesus on top of the temple, he makes you twist your idea of holiness beyond what flesh and blood could ever hear, it is a spiritual acrobatic performance, you are just on the edge and dare not move; but when God elevates you by His grace into the heavenly places, instead of finding a pinnacle to cling to, you find a great table-land where it is easy to move.

Compare this week in your spiritual history with the same week last year and see how God has called you up higher. We have all been brought to see from a higher standpoint. Never let God give you one point of truth, which you do not instantly live up to. Always work it out, keep in the light of it.

Growth in grace is measured not by the fact that you have not gone back, but that you have an insight into where you are spiritually; you have heard God say "Come up higher," not to you personally, but to the insight of your character. In another word, God wants to grow our character each day.

"Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" God has to hide from us what He does until by personal character we get to the place where He can reveal it to you. Are you ready for God to show you the things that He has hidden from you before?

You will encounter Satan’s temptation as you grow to His likeness. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me’” (Matt 4:8-9). You need to be careful when people start looking up to you or respect you. It is another testing time of your character in Christ. Not that you should avoid being example of the flock or being light of the world because it is what Christ expects us to do. But Satan will target his attack on our ‘inner motive or drive.’ Do you do good to earn respect and admiration of the world, or you do it simply out of obedience to do His will? The way Jesus dealt with Satan’s ultimate temptation was to re-focus His worthiness NOT on how much he could accomplish or own, but on God alone, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Matt 4:10). Hope you can find time to meditate on His words and evaluate your own life over this weekend.

Love you because He first loves us,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Devotional 260309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Time flies when you are having fun in life! Yes, you may disagree to say that ‘I am not having fun but work like a dog each day to put out fire or meeting deadlines at work.’ But this all depends on your choice of attitude and mindset. When you handle life and all it involves with a renewed mindset that you are serving your Heavenly Father who also goes to work with you each day, then you may deal with workload and demanding boss with different attitude. The work environment remains stressful and difficult, but you can bring sunshine into your work place because of this renewed mindset. You may not necessarily enjoy what you do at work. But you can always enjoy working together with your Heavenly Father who is interested in you and your work at all time. As a matter of fact, it was Him who put you there for a purpose. The question is: Do you see Him at work in you and with you each day?

"Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). Purity is not innocence; it is much more. Purity is the outcome of sustained spiritual compassion with God. We have to grow in purity. The life with God may be right and the inner purity remains unblemished, and yet every now and again the bloom on the outside may be polluted. God does not shield us from this possibility, because in this way we realize the necessity of maintaining the vision by personal purity. If the spiritual bloom of our life with God is getting impaired in the tiniest degree, we must leave off everything and get it put right. Remember that vision depends on character - the pure in heart see God.

God makes us pure by His sovereign grace, but we have something to look after, this bodily life by which we come in contact with other people and with other points of view, it is these that are vulnerable to contamination. Not only must the inner sanctuary be kept right with God, but the outer courts as well are to be brought into perfect accord with the purity God gives us by His grace. The spiritual understanding is blurred immediately the outer court is contaminated. If we are going to retain personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean there are some things we must avoid to do or to think, some legitimate things we must avoid to touch.

A practical way of keeping personal purity unblemished in relation to other people is to say to yourself - That man, that woman, perfect in Christ Jesus! That friend, that relative, perfect in Christ Jesus!

It is hard to remain pure in heart and unblemished in our relationship with people nowadays, when mass media bombard us with all kinds of images and messages that try to attract our attentions and corrupt our mind. We can’t bury our head under the soil like ostrich in face of attack. We can only turn to the Holy Spirit for help. We should train our soul to desire spiritual walk with Christ; develop appetite for healthy humor and fun; crave for knowledge of Truth and so forth. Of course, stay away from obvious temptations by all means. Make sure you don’t respond to Satan’s challenge to enter a fight with him alone. Once you enter into Satan’s arena (filthy websites and materials for instance) thinking that you are strong enough to withstand its temptation, you are doomed to loss and fail. Don’t fall into such foolish and childish snares.

Let’s pray for one another and spur one another to seek His goodness and holiness. Transparency and purity always go hand in hand. Once you develop the habit of hiding your sins and avoiding honest relationship with people, you open the door for Satan to creep into your life to cause significant damage down the road. Let’s serve as watchman or mirror for one another from time to time.

Love you because we are ONE in Christ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Devotional 250309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The Spring like weather finally arrived. How beautiful the Nature has become; green trees, blue sky and colorful wide flowers are outside of my window. I finally set my foot on the hiking trail outside of my office yesterday. I surprised my coworker for initiating the walk after lunch. It was only 20 minutes walk from the park nearby along the Bay. The weather was fine and the scenic trail was gorgeous. I hope to use it more often for my meditation and prayer walk. This exercise is definitely good for both my physical and spiritual health. Please pray for me that I will be a good steward of God’s resources for my life.

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete” (John 3:29). Goodness and purity ought never to attract other’s attention to themselves, they ought simply to be magnets to draw to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing towards Him, it is not holiness of the right order, but an influence that will awaken inappropriate affection that lead souls away from the Truth of God. A beautiful saint may be a hindrance if he does not present Jesus Christ but only what Christ has done for him. He will leave the impression - "What a fine character that man is!" That is not being a true friend of the Bridegroom; I am increasing all the time, but He is not.

In order to maintain this friendship and loyalty to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful of our moral and vital relationship to Him than of any other thing, even of obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey; the only thing to do is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, to see that nothing interferes with that intimate relationship with Him. Only occasionally do we have to obey. When a crisis arises we have to find out what God's will is, but the greater part of the life is not conscious obedience but the maintenance of this relationship - being the friend of the Bridegroom. Christian work may be a means of detouring the soul's concentration on Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, we may try to play God, and may work against Him while we use His weapons.

I appreciate Chamber’s insight on the priority of our relationship with the Bridegroom. It reminded me of the story of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15. We usually paid attention to how the father loved his prodigal son even though he wasted all his money. But the story ends with the older son who was furious of what his father did to his brother. This older brother was obedient and faithful to his father. But he lacked compassion for his brother. I believe this big brother symbolizes the religious leaders and Pharisees of Jesus’ time. They were obedient to the Law in every single detail. Yet they forgot the fact that their Law Giver was a God of relationship and compassion. Since God is a God of relationship, He will treasure our relationship with Him each day. God wants our obedience derives from our intimate relationship with Him. We don’t use our obedience to show off; to make people appreciate how godly and devoted we are. If this is the case, then we are increasing but He is not. Have mercy on us O Lord. Help us to stay focus on our Bridegroom; listen to Him and rejoice with Him each day.

Love you because the Bridegroom loves you,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Devotional 240309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It was my turn to lead the staff prayer meeting this morning. Our devotional reading was on chapter 8th of Luke. I chose to focus on the one who was possessed by a legion of demons. His whole life was filled with fears. He was afraid to live or mingle with people. He preferred to live alone in the cemetery – a land for dead people. The demons were also fearful for another reason, they were not afraid of death (they were active among the dead) but the eternal judgment of Abyss. And these demons also knew who had authority over the Abyss – that is the Son of God. Therefore they preferred to enter into the pigs then to be punished in eternal hell of Abyss. When this man finally ‘in his right mind’ to realized the one who had authority over the Abyss was a God who loved him, he was no longer afraid…he even volunteer to travel with Jesus to serve other people. But Jesus assigned him to return home to restore his life and reconcile with his inner circle again. We live in a fearful land and a fearful time. We want to be delivered from all kinds of fear and worries. But only when we fully acknowledge that our ultimate fear should be of our loving God, we can’t have a fresh new beginning in life.

"He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). If you become a necessity to a soul, you are out of God's order. As a gospel worker, your great responsibility is to be a friend of the Bridegroom. When once you see a soul being shaped by the work of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been in the right direction, and instead of putting out a hand to prevent the suffering or inner struggles, pray that they grow ten times stronger until there is no power on earth or in hell that can hold that soul away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to play God, we come in and prevent the work of God; and say - "This and that must not be done in such a way." Instead of proving ourselves to be loyal friends of the Bridegroom, we put our sympathy in the way, and the soul will one day say - "That one was a thief, he stole my affections from Jesus, and I lost my vision of Him in my life because of his or her interruption."

Beware of rejoicing with a soul in the wrong thing, but see that you do rejoice in the right thing. “The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:29-30). This is spoken with joy and not with sadness - at last they are to see the Bridegroom! And John says this is his joy. It is the absolute attitude of the worker not to take away other’s attention from the Bridegroom, he should be fading away and never thought of again.

Watch for all you are worth until you hear the Bridegroom's voice in the life of another. Never mind what difficulties it brings, what upsets, and what crumbling of health you may experience, rejoice with divine laughter when once His voice is heard. You may often see Jesus Christ shatter a life before He saves and reform it again. Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword… anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:34-39). Sometimes God allows suffering to shape up a person’s life. Don’t try to rescue a person too fast if God’s hand is working in his or her life. Unfortunately, we don’t learn unless we hit rock bottom. I hope this country learn her lesson through this economic devastation; she needs to recognize the root problem is in her pride and greed. This nation and this world need to return to God and follow the guidance of His Word. Let’s start with His church and His children like you and me.

Love you in accordance to His word,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Devotional 230309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is such a gorgeous day outside of my window. But weather can fool us; it may look sunny and warm from indoor, but as soon as you step out it is cold and windy. The world may fool us in a similar way. By looking from a distance or observing other people’s lives, we may conclude that pursuing materialistic wealth is a good thing in life. But as soon as you enter the process of seeking worldly pleasures and earthly goods, you will find that they are not as good as what you expect. On a contrary, the more you seek them the more they weight you down and enslave you. You’d better watch out!

Yes, we still need to go into the world even though the weather is not as pleasant as it looks. But we will prepare and equip ourselves better when we step out of the house. Our daily walk with the Lord will give us a better picture of what the world is like, and remind us to prepare for the challenges that we will face each day in this world. God does not want us to detach from the world. He wants us to engage the people in our world. He wants to impact those people through us. The more we are honest before God, the clearer He shows us what weaknesses we need to deal with in our own lives, so that we can become holy vessel for His use to bless the people in our world.

"You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?" (1 Corinthians 3:3) No natural man knows anything about carnality. The flesh lusting against the Spirit that came in at regeneration, and the Spirit lusting against the flesh, produces carnality. "Walk in the Spirit," says Paul, "and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh"; and carnality will disappear.

Are you contentious, easily troubled about trifles? "Oh, but no one who is a Christian ever is!" Paul says they are, he connects these things with carnality. Is there a truth in the Bible that instantly awakens anger in you? That is a proof that you are still a carnal person. If sanctification is being worked out, there is no trace of that spirit left.

If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light, and He will put it right. A child of the light confesses instantly and stands transparent before God; a child of the darkness says - "Oh, I can explain that away." When once the light breaks and the conviction of wrong comes, be a child of the light, and confess, and God will deal with what is wrong; if you justify yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.

What is the proof that carnality has gone? Never deceive yourself; when carnality is gone it is the most real thing imaginable. God will see that you have any number of opportunities to prove to yourself the marvel of His grace. The practical test is the only proof. "Why," you say, "If this had happened before, there would have been the spirit of resentment!" You will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.

God will continue His cleansing work in our lives. He will shape our faith. He will open our eyes to spiritual reality in this world. He will humble us to work with others. He will make us repent of our sins. He will renew our values of life. He will make us a blessing to the brothers and sisters in our fellowship. He will reassure us of His love each day. Praise the Lord!

Love you because of His cleansing work,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Preaching at Home of Christ 5

Praise God for Home of Christ church at Cupertino. She is healthy and mission minded church - a church that grows both in quality and quantity.
I counted it as a privilege to preach in two congregations of this church. This church is very supportive of Gospel Operation International. Besides supporting our mission financially and prayerfully, they also sent out short term mission team to support our missionary in the field.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Elaine & Deqi Wedding

What a joyous day to celebrate Elaine and Deqi's wedding! They are such a lovely and beautiful couple. May God bless their lives with His presence and wonderful marriage.
The wedding was touching. The banquet was filled with laughters and joy...They were very cooperative in playing games.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Devotional 200309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The whole world seems to be wrapped with moisture. This is like a green house filled with mist. Thank God for nurturing us with His daily provision. It is serene to rest in the bosom of God. He is not only my trusted mother and father; God wants to be my trusted friend. It is His friendship with Abraham that God made this comment, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" (Genesis 18:17)

It is Delightful. This chapter brings out the delight of real friendship with God as compared with occasional feelings of His presence in prayer. To be so much in contact with God that you never need to ask Him to show you His will, is to be nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God's will, and all your common-sense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check; when He checks, stop at once.

It is Difficult. Why did Abraham stop praying when he did? He was not intimate enough yet to go boldly on until God granted his desire, there was something yet to be desired in his relationship to God. Whenever we stop short in prayer and say - "Well, I don't know; perhaps it is not God's will," there is still another stage to go. We are not so intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was, and as He wants us to be - "That they may be one even as we are one." Think of the last thing you prayed about - were you devoted to your desire or to God? Determined to get some gift of the Spirit or to get at God? "Your Heavenly Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him." The point of asking is that you may get to know God better. "Delight yourself also in the Lord; and He shall give you the desires of your heart." Keep praying in order to get a perfect understanding of God Himself.

How beautiful this picture the Bible has painted before us; God treasures His friendship with Abraham. God wants to be ‘transparent’ to His good friend to tell Him everything regarding Abraham. God watched out for Abraham for his well-being. With God as our committed friend, we really don’t need to worry about anything. As a matter of fact, Jesus said the similar thing to His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14-15). Jesus is eager to tell His trusted and loyal friends everything that He knows, just as God did not withhold anything from Abraham. And the way to build this friendship with God is obedience – do what He commands us to do. This is a simple yet difficult law of spiritual formation. Jesus said, “Now that you know these things (to serve with agape love), you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). Let’s put His love to practice in where God puts you to serve today.

Love you as a servant of God,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Devotional 190309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The sun warmed my heart as I drove to office, even though my mind was blank. I did not turn on my radio or ipot. I just enjoyed my quietness before God; opened my soul to the glory of the Son. If I had to wear sunglasses under the light of morning sun, imagine one day we are face to face with our Almighty God, how glorious and bright it could be. I don’t think my sunglasses can handle such brightness. Apostle John said, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7). It is interesting that our purification or sanctification process does involve our fellowship with one another, besides walking with God in the light. God chooses to use our relationship with one another to sharpen our faith, theology, morality, integrity and most important of all, our intimacy with Him.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). In the Old Testament, personal relationship with God showed itself in separation, and this is symbolized in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and from his kinsmen. Today the separation is more of a mental and moral separation from the way that those who are dearest to us look at things, that is, if they have not a personal relationship with God. Jesus Christ emphasized this in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple.”

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading. It is a life of Faith, not of intellect and reason, but a life of knowing who makes us "go." The root of faith is the knowledge of the Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success.

The final stage in the life of faith is attainment of character. There are many passing transfigurations of character; when we pray we feel the blessing of God enwrapping us and for the time being we are changed, then we get back to the ordinary days and ways and the glory vanishes. The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting. It is not a question of sanctification; but of something infinitely further on than sanctification, of faith that has been tried and proved and has stood the test. Abraham is not a type of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith, a tried faith built on a real God. "Abraham believed God."

In another word, faith is not a means to get what we want in life. Faith is steadfast in God and believes in what He stands for; His attributes and promises will never fail. By faith we walk with God, and our lives will be transformed to His likeness – a God-fearing character does not guarantee success or translate to materialistic wealth. A God-fearing character or lifestyle will for sure lead us to abundant life of Christ that is filled with His joy and peace. This kind of life will make us in all the earthly things more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. Yes, our faith is limited. We pray that God will grant us more faith so that we will continue to walk with Him and enjoy His presence each day.

Love you by faith in the One who loves us all,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Devotional 180309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for a refreshing day. I felt like I am recovering from my cold. I felt hungry for breakfast and energetic to serve the Lord. Thanks for some of your prayer. I allowed my body to heal myself by drinking a lot of water, resting as much as I could, taking Vitamin C and eating healthily. In the same manner, we allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse or heal our inner being by seeking intimate relationship with Him each day. We may not see symptoms go away immediately. But if we keep on doing what is right, we will definitely see results or healing at the end.

"Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). "Since we have these promises…" I claim the fulfillment of God's promises, and rightly, but that is only the human side; the Divine side is that through the promises I recognize God's claim on me. For instance, am I realizing that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, or have I a habit of body that plainly will not bear the light of God on it? By sanctification the Son of God is formed in me, then I have to transform my natural life into a spiritual life by obedience to Him. God educates us down to the scruple. When He begins to check, do not confer with flesh and blood, cleanse yourself at once. Keep yourself cleansed in your daily walk.

I have to cleanse myself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit until both are in accord with the nature of God. Is the mind of my spirit in perfect agreement with the life of the Son of God in me, or am I insubordinate in intellect? Am I forming the mind of Christ, Who never spoke from His right to Himself, but maintained an inner watchfulness whereby He continually submitted His spirit to His Father? I have the responsibility of keeping my spirit in agreement with His Spirit, and by degrees Jesus lifts me up to where He lived - in perfect consecration to His Father's will, paying no attention to any other thing. Am I perfecting this type of holiness in the fear of God? Is God getting His freedom to do His work with me, and are other people beginning to see God in my life more and more?

Be serious with God and leave the rest casually alone. Put God first literally in your life. It was not by your wisdom and strength to perfect your holiness. If it was not the work of the Holy Spirit in you, you will not be able to resist temptations around you. Once you sense the prompting of the Holy Spirit to take captive of certain thinking or mindset, turn to Him in praise and pursue His joy and glory. You cannot attain holiness by discipline your mind NOT to think of negative and evil things alone. You need to replace your inner passion or desire by seeking the positive and godly thinking from Him. That’s why Paul educated the Philippians not just presenting their worries or negative thoughts to God. Moreover, He told them to think about, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy” (Phil 4:8). If a person always dwells in these kinds of thinking, he or she will be a joyful, charming, friendly, graceful and positive person. It is not wearing a mask to please others, but a daily discipline to pursue the ‘abundant mindset’ from inside out.

Let’s encourage one another in fellowship and small group to dwell in the word of God in a positive and appreciative manner. Let’s rejoice and count God’s blessings in our lives while the world perpetuates the negative and scary mindset by the bad news of our economy. Let your life shines and be the salt of the world during this difficult time in your world.

Love you by the love of our Triune God,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Devotional 170309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank you for praying for my trip to El Paso. If you have seen my pictures that I had posted on my blog yesterday, you will find that I had opportunity to minister unto two different groups: a Mexican Cumberland Presbyterian Church and a Chinese church at El Paso. Our Presbytery held our meeting in the Mexican church there, at which I had opportunity to report to the mission committee of our Presbytery regarding my work at GOI. And on Sunday I was invited to preach at the only Chinese Church in town. This is a very unique experience to preach a bilingual sermon on Sunday. I did a lot of such sermon at wedding or funeral, but not on Sunday. I thanked God for giving me strength and health to serve as His channel of blessings. Please continue to pray for this church as they continue to grow and reach out to Chinese and non-Chinese for Christ. On Saturday, my host brought me to White Sand National Park in New Mexico. It was like miles of white sands coming from no where that cover the valley. It was truly an incredible site.

"So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it" (2 Corinthians 5:9). It is a difficult work to keep this main ambition in front of us. It means holding one's self to the high ideal year in and year out, not being ambitious to win souls or to establish churches or to have revivals, but being ambitious only to "please Him." It is not lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but lack of laboring to keep the ideal goal right. Once a week at least take stock before God and see whether you are keeping your life up to the standard He wishes. Paul is like a musician who does not pay attention to the approval of the audience, only if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.

Any ambition which is in the tiniest degree away from this central one of being "pleasing unto God" may end in our being castaways. Learn to discern where the ambition leads, and you will see why it is so necessary to live facing the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says, "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Cor. 9:27).

I have to learn to relate everything to the master ambition, and to maintain it without end. My worth to God in public is what I am in private. Is my main ambition to please Him and be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how noble? This is a question that we need to constantly ask ourselves. We may be chasing success after success, like a dog chasing after its own tail. It is an endless and meaningless activity. We need to put a stop on this kind of pursue in life by focusing on the most fundamental question, “am I doing this to please God or for my own pride?” By setting a high goal in mind, our work will become a service to please our Maker and Savior.

Love you in Christ,

Ps. Please continue to pray for me as I am still recovering from my illness.

Monday, March 16, 2009

El Paso trip

El Paso is on the far west border of Texas with Mexico. Cumberland Presbyterian Church has two churches and some ministry here. It is a home for over 750,000 people. And Chinese has been here for over a century since the construction of railroad. Our presbytery gathered here for our bi-annual meetings. I took advantage of my time here to preach in the only Chinese church in El Paso. I enjoyed the warm fellowship with the brothers and sisters. And I had the opportunity to preach and translate for myself at the service (switched between Mandarin and English). I thanked God for using me to speak to His people even though I was sick (I probably caught a cold or flu before I left for El Paso). May God continue to use this church to reach 2000 Chinese who live in this town.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Devotional 110309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Praise God for another wonderful day. There was an old hymn kept ringing in my ears recently. It is called ‘Some Golden Daybreak.’ It was the chorus that caught my attention: “Some golden daybreak Jesus will come. Some golden daybreak battles all won; He’ll shout the victory, break through the blue. Some golden daybreak for me, for you.” I don’t know why this chorus kept coming back to me every once in a while. Besides the beautiful melody, it is the lyrics that remind us of our hope in Christ Jesus no matter what kind of trials that we may be in today. Yes, the whole world is going through difficult times. If He allows us to live in this historical moment of time, He must have a mission for us to accomplish before He returns on some golden daybreak. I am reminded and encouraged once again by Paul’s commitment, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil 1:20). May this also become your mission statement for the rest of your life! Amen?

Paul said, "I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven" (Acts 26:19). If we lose the vision, we alone are responsible, and the way we lose the vision is by spiritual escape. If we do not live out our belief about God into practical issues, the vision that God has given will disappear. The only way to be obedient to the heavenly vision is to give our utmost for God's highest, and this can only be done by continually and deliberately recalling the vision. The test is the sixty seconds of every minute, and the sixty minutes of every hour, not only during our times of prayer and devotional meetings.

"Though it delays, wait for it." We cannot attain to a vision; we must live in the inspiration of it until it accomplishes itself. We get so practical that we forget the vision. At the beginning we saw it but did not wait for it; we rushed off into practical work, and when the vision was fulfilled, we did not see it. Waiting for the vision that delays is the test of our loyalty to God. It is a threat to our soul's welfare that we get caught up in practical work and miss the fulfillment of the vision.

Watch God's whirlwind. The only way God sows His saints is by His whirlwind. Are you going to be an empty seed? It will depend on whether or not you are actually living in the light of what you have seen. Let God send you out, and do not go until He does. If you select your own spot of soil to land, you will prove an empty seed. If God sows you, you will bring forth fruit. It is essential to practice the walk of the feet in the light of the vision. Apostle John said, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).

Oswald Chamber reminded us to live by the power of divine vision/purpose. God has a plan for each one of our lives. We don’t live for living sake. We don’t live for seeking success or self-actualization. We live for a higher purpose – vision from above for our lives. We don’t need to search too far or think too hard to find out His vision for us. The Bible has already made it clear to us that we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 1:10). Therefore, in whatever we do, we are compelled by the love of God and energized by His vision from above.

I came across an article on the Internet about Marketplace mission. I like the way the author, Michael Mcloughlin, said, “Marketplace mission is about displacing faith that animates the dominant work culture with a Christian faith that serves a different Lord. This new faith is not just something we take with us to work. It is something that motivates a whole new way of working. It is a faith that provides a ‘completely different starting point’ for work. It is a faith that empowers a new way of work.” The bottom line to me is that we exist not for ourselves, but for our Lord. Therefore, in whatever we do, we are driven by this divine purpose and keep realizing our vision from above. This is the kind of abundant life that Christ offers to us today.

Love you with this abundant life,

Ps. Please pray for my trip to El Paso, Texas tomorrow morning. Will return on Monday morning.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Devotional 100309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Though the temperature is cold, it is such a calm, sunny and beautiful day. I always enjoy driving by the Bay on Airport Blvd to my office. It is such a treat to enjoy the beauty of the Bay at the waterfront. God never ceases to work and create in the Nature. Each day is a brand new day, and God is doing His work in and through our lives too. Just as Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17-19). God is making new creation throughout the world. And He will also use us in this ministry of reconciliation if we allow Him to. Therefore, our everyday contacts with people are part of His work. It is not by coincidence that you are in that office today. The people whom you meet are God’s target of love and reconciliation. You may not have opportunity to preach the gospel. But you can always build relationship with them by the agape love of God. Once you live out your life of grace each day, God will prepare people’s heart to listen to what He has to say through you.

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction" (2 Timothy 4:2). We are not saved to be "channels only," but to be sons and daughters of God. We are not turned into spiritual mediums, but into spiritual messengers; the message must be part of ourselves. The Son of God was His own message, His words were spirit and life; and as His disciples our lives must be the sacrament of our message. The natural heart will do any amount of serving, but it takes the heart broken by conviction of sin, and baptized by the Holy Spirit, and crumpled into the purpose of God before the life becomes the sacrament of its message.

There is a difference between giving a testimony and preaching. A preacher is one who has realized the call of God and is determined to use his every power to proclaim God's truth. God takes us out of our own ideas for our lives and we are being shaped and used, as the disciples were after Pentecost. Pentecost did not teach the disciples any thing; it made them the incarnation of what they preached - "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Let God have perfect liberty when you speak. Before God's message can liberate other souls, the liberation must be real in you first. Gather your material, and set it on fire for the Lord when you speak.

Chamber's word is so true that we are not speaking out of theory but experience. We don’t tell others about a philosophy but our encounter with a living God. God is at work while we speak. He continues to work and empower our lives while we bear witness for Him.

The way to give liberty to God to speak through us is to submit to His Word for us each day. The more we submit to obey His word in everyday of our lives, the more we are delivered from the bondage of sins and Satan’s lie within us. This kind of transformation is taking place as we speak. We may not see the ‘changes’ right away, but the molding and deliverance are taking place in the spiritual realm within our soul. Once our soul is renewed, the behavior follows. The change is from inside out. Let's encourage each other to abide in His words.

Love you with my renewed soul,

Monday, March 9, 2009

Devotional 090309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I was very touched to read the letter from one of our missionaries in Cambodia. He Learnt about the financial difficulty of the Headquarters that we have to cut 10% of staff salary and cancel all traveling and promotional expenses in this year. He and his family decided to give 10% from their own limited allowance on the field to support us. They already lived a very simple lifestyle in the mission’s field. Yet they wanted to provide for our needs in the headquarters. Even though their giving of $150 does not help much in terms of our deficit ($10,000 per month), their gesture of love touched all of us in the team. They did what the church of Macedonia did to help the need of Jerusalem, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will” (2 Cor 8:2-5). The beauty of His love through this missionary family shines so bright in this darkest days of global economic tsunami. Let's don't dwell in our worry but focus on the riches of our Heavenly Father and boldly give ourselves to serve Him in whatever way He leads. Praise the Lord!

"You do not want to leave too, do you?" (John 6:67) It is indeed a penetrating question. Our Lord's words come home most when He talks in the most simple way. We know Who Jesus is, but in spite of that He says - "You do not want to leave too, do you?" We have to maintain a venturing attitude toward Him all the time.

"From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." They went back from walking with Jesus, not into sin, but they relapsed into their self-reliance mode. Many today may be working very hard for Jesus Christ, but they do not walk with Him. The very one thing that God wants us to remain steadfast is to be one with Jesus Christ. After sanctification the discipline of our spiritual life should be along this line. If God gives a clear and emphatic realization to your soul of what He wants, do not try to keep yourself in that relationship by any particular method, but live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live the life with God on any other line than God's line, and that line is absolute devotion to Him. The certainty that I do not know, or admitting our ignorance and inadequacy - is the secret of walking with Jesus.

God will use different ‘method’ to nurture our relationship with Him. As our Creator, our Heavenly Father knows us better than any one on earth. The educated believers may prefer a more philosophical approach in their walk with Christ, while the uneducated may prefer something tangible or experiential and simple. The main focus remains the same though the methods may vary – and that is abidance in Christ. Our Holy Spirit will speak the same message to the heart of each believer in different ways. Therefore, we don’t judge or impose our spiritual discipline to others as though it is the only way to walk with Christ. The discipline is God’s assignment to you, so you just follow with obedient heart. You may share your spiritual experience with others so that they will learn to listen and obey. But let God do the ultimate guidance.

After hearing what Christ had prepared him the kind of death by which he would glorify God, Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them, so he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Pay attention to how our Lord answered Peter, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me" (John 2122). In another word, focus on your own lesson of faith and follow Christ. Don’t expect others to follow Christ in the same way as you do. Don’t ask God why you don’t have a ‘comfortable or luxurious’ Christian walk with Christ than others. God holds each of His children accountable to the kind of life He has given to them. You just follow Christ. And let God deal with others the way He knows how.

Love you in Christ,

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Preach at CCBA

Thank God for giving me the opportunity to preach at Christ Church of the Bay Area (CCBA) this morning. It was another great learning experience to preach NOT with my mother's tongue but Mandarin and English. The congregation received me with the love of Christ. And the Holy Spirit worked among the two congregations despite of my language limitations. Praise the Lord!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Devotional 060309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. We are reminded in prayer meeting that we do live in the end time. This world will become darker and more chaotic than we can imagine. We may spend all day complaining how bad this culture and society has become. But it will not make any difference if the people of God do not repent or return back to God. The reality is that the Christian population is shrinking. The moral values and value system of Christians in church are no longer different from their pre-Christian friends outside of church. Christians busy themselves with activities and meetings within the four walls of the church, while the world penetrates into their living room through Internet and TV with the worldly agenda. To me, there is no way to change this mega-trend of globalization of worldly values by human effort or political maneuvering. The only way is to pray for a global revival of Christians – that we will take our faith seriously by walking with God daily. Have mercy on us O Lord! We need to point fingers at ourselves instead of the world for global turmoil and moral decay of our generations. We do share the blame!

"…As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses" (2 Corinthians 6:4). It takes Almighty grace to take the next step when there is no vision and no spectator - the next step in devotion, the next step in your study, in your reading, in your kitchen; the next step in your duty, when there is no vision from God, no enthusiasm and no spectator. It takes far more of the grace of God, far more conscious drawing upon God to take that step, than it does to preach the Gospel.

Every Christian has to partake of what was the essence of the incarnation; he must bring the thing down into flesh and blood actualities and work it out through his fingertips. We flag when there is no vision, no uplift, but just the common round, the trivial task. The thing that tells in the long run for God and for men is the steady persevering work in the unseen, and the only way to keep the life uncrushed is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the Risen Christ, and it will be impossible for hard work to dampen you. Continually get away from pettiness and paltriness of mind and focus your meditation on John 13 – to consider how the lord washed His disciples’ feet. At the end our Lord Jesus said to them, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).

Chamber's challenge for us is to become a humble servant for one another. We know about it, but it is difficult to actually put it into action. It may be easy to wash another believer’s feet as a spiritual exercise. But to do something for others that are considered to be lowly in the public is very hard. It could be cleaning up a dirty toilet; help a senior citizen to do grocery shopping in Chinatown; help handicapped people clean up their messy house or to take a mental retarded person out for lunch etc. Any good services that may hurt your pride or self worth could be the ministry that will bring you blessings from above. O Lord Jesus, help us not to hide within the 4 walls of the church in doing our services. Help us enter the world like our incarnated Lord to make a difference in this world.

Love you with God fearing heart,

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Devotional 050309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The nature is so green after the rainstorm. Everywhere I look out from my window tells me that spring has arrived; trees are budding and wild flowers are blooming (Yes, it means allergy season has begun too). Though there is no good news on the horizon as far as our economy is concerned, the freshness of spring tells us that cold winter will eventually fade away, and hope of new spring is on the way. There is always new opportunity when we are still alive on earth. God is going to use us for His Kingdom, and He will continue to shape us to become the channel of blessings to others. The key word is ‘adaptation.’ We need to change our lifestyle in order to excel under the current circumstances. God is good but He is not nice. He will use the environment to ‘mold’ us because He cares about our ‘character’ more than our ‘comfort.’

"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). Joy means the perfect fulfillment of that for which I was created and regenerated, not the successful doing of a thing. The joy Our Lord had lay in doing what the Father sent Him to do, and He says - "As My Father has sent Me, even so am I sending you." Have I received a ministry from the Lord? If so, I have to be loyal to it, to count my life precious only for the fulfilling of that ministry. Think of the satisfaction it will be to hear Jesus say - "Well done, my good and faithful servant;" to know that you have done what He sent you to do. We have all to find our niche in life, and spiritually we find it when we receive our ministry from the Lord. In order to do this we must have companied with Jesus; we must know Him as more than a personal Savior. "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My sake."

"Do you love Me?" Then - "Feed My sheep." There is no choice of service, only absolute loyalty to Our Lord's commission; loyalty to what you discern when you are in closest contact with God. If you have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus, you will know that the need is never the call: the need is the opportunity. The call is loyalty to the ministry you received when you were in real touch with Him. This does not imply that there is a campaign of service marked out for you, but it does mean that you will have to ignore the demands for service along other lines.

I agree with brother Chambers that we need to find out our niche or our S.H.A.P.E. in Rick Warren’s term for ministry. Instead of trying to do many things, we should focus to do a few things in according to the way you are gifted. We usually get burn out easily when we are asked to do the things that we are not wired to do. In order to be a faithful servant of the Lord, I must learn to say ‘NO’ to the things that I am sure God did not prepare me to do. At the same time, I should passionately and proactively pursue the ministry that I know God has gifted me to accomplish. In this way, I will not regret for not seizing the moment of life that God has given me today. Remember. There is not such term of ‘layman’ in the Bible. There is only ‘disciple’ of Christ in the Bible. And the calling of a true disciple is to make disciples of all nations in wherever you are.

Love you in Christ,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Devotion 040309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I was reminded again in the devotion of staff prayer meeting that our Christian lives could slowly wither from within, if we fail to trust and obey. “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" "Have faith in God," Jesus answered” (Mark 11:20-22). The problem of the fig tree was that it did not bear fruits but only leaves. It symbolized how religious people in Jesus times busy themselves with devotional activities, but without obedience to God’s words. They might decorate themselves with outward devotion. But they were actually rotten at the root from within – therefore they could not bear spiritual fruits. In the same token, I may be very active in church activities or global missions as a minister. But without obedience to the Word of God from within, I will not bear fruits for His glory.

"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, coating over with Christian sentiment. You will be more prosperous and successful, more leisure-hearted, if you never realize the call of God. But if once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God wants will always come like a drive; you will no longer be able to work for Him on the common-sense basis.

What do I really count dear? If I have not been gripped by Jesus Christ, I will count service dear, time given to God dear, my life dear unto myself. Paul says he counted his life dear only in order that he might fulfill the ministry he had received; he refused to use his energy for any other thing. Acts 20:24 states Paul's almost sublime annoyance at being asked to consider his own self-worth; he was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Practical work may be a competitor against abandonment to God, because practical work is based on this argument – “Remember how 'useful you are here, or - Think how much value you would be in that particular type of work.” That attitude does not put Jesus Christ as the Guide as to where we should go, but our judgment as to where we are of most use. Never consider whether you are of use, but ever consider that you are not your own but His.

Have mercy on me O Lord! How easy we will fall into this kind of temptation of pride? We want to be somebody or being recognized. There is always a secret ambition to be above others or better in our trade. But once we are compelled by the Love of God, we become careless in terms of our self-worth, and seek His will be done in our lives. This is the kind of fruit bearing lifestyle that pleases God. We don’t exercise our faith for our own agenda, but the agenda of God – make disciples of ALL nations. During this economic down time, let’s encourage each other not to be detoured by fear of economic tsunami, but to be driven by God-fearing determination to proclaim His good news.

Love you in Christ,

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Devotional 030309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank you for praying for my preaching trip to Houston. It was indeed a blessing to co-labor with Christ in serving His church. I welcome you to visit my blog to see pictures that I posted yesterday from this trip. I was really re-charged by seeing how God at work in His Church, and how dynamic a Church could become when she submitted to God’s leadership in fulfilling His global missions. I met many faithful missionaries from various mission’s fields in this conference. Their testimony inspired me to boldly follow God’s calling for my life. God does have a plan for each and every one of us. His pan is meant for us to have a joyful and abundant life, simply because He loves us. He may not call you to become full time missionary in some remote country in the world. But He has a plan to use you in wherever you are to 'make disciples of all nations.' After all, this is His mandate and His number one agenda for all His disciples. If you are willing, you will enjoy the blessings to partner with Him in His missions.

"Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:17). This is love in the making. The love of God is un-made; it is God's nature. When we receive the Holy Spirit He unites us with God so that His love is manifested in us. When the soul is united to God by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is not the end; the end is that we may be one with the Father as Jesus was. What kind of oneness had Jesus Christ with the Father? Such a oneness that the Father sent Him down here to be spent for us, and He says - "As the Father has sent Me, so send I you."

Peter realizes now with the revelation of the Lord's provoking question whether he does love Him or not; then comes the main point - "Live it out." In another word, “Don't just testify how much you love Jesus, or don't profess about the marvelous revelation you have had, but to put it in action, "Feed My sheep." And Jesus has all kinds of extraordinarily funny sheep, some messy, dirty sheep, some awkward, blunted sheep, some sheep that have gone astray! It is impossible to weary God's love, and it is impossible to weary that love in me if it springs from the one center. The love of God pays no attention to the distinctions made by natural individuality. If I love my Lord I have no business to be guided by natural temperament; I have to feed His sheep. There is no relief and no release from this commission. Beware of counterfeiting the love of God by working along the line of natural human sympathy, because that will end in blaspheming the love of God.

After having been a church pastor for twenty some years, I totally agree with Oswald Chamber’s conviction. If a minister does not drink from the love of God constantly, he or she will not last too long in ministry. The more we ‘yield’ our love to God, the many folds of love we receive in return from Him. It is like diving into the reservoir of eternal love; not only you will not thirst anymore, you will have plenty to give to others as well. Whenever I had problem to minister or relate to a ‘weird’ person, I was reminded of how the Lord had accepted the most terrible and weird person like me. Then a spirit of thanksgiving burst out from my heart, and simultaneously the love of God took over my arrogant soul. I find new strength and patience to accept others, just like my Lord had accepted me.

To me, busyness produces self-centeredness. Self-centeredness produces impatience. Impatience produces arrogance. Arrogance produces self-righteousness…and all kinds of negative effects will surface from within our soul. Therefore, slow us down, Lord, so that we will find time to drink from your love. If you are too busy to drink water at work, then you definitely are too busy to drink from God’s love daily. Watch out my friend!

Love you by the strength of Christ’s love,

Monday, March 2, 2009

West Houston Chinese Church

I thank God for the opportunity to witness His work in West Houston Chinese Church and in one of their daughter churches in the suburb of Houston.

Thanks for your prayers, hundreds came forward to offer their promises to God at the end of the last sermon. The Senior pastor was very excited for the outcome of this conference. They have a lot to do in follow up those who have made their commitment. It is certainly a good problem for these two churches.

I enjoyed having fellowship with the Cantonese group in this church, which is predominatly Mandarin and English. I was invited to preach in all three languages.

I have never seen a mission conference of a local church that was so well attended; Over three hundreds came back for missions challenges.

Three days of missions conference in this church was like a festival. Three language congregations joined their hearts together to seek God's heart for Missions. No wonder this church multiply significantly in size and in new church development. Praise the Lord!