Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Visit at Cyprus

At this beautiful island in the Mediterranean Seas, we found the footprints of Apostle Paul, Barnabas, and Lazarus. It was great to discuss about missions in this place where Paul and Barnabas did similar things in 2000 years ago. Please pray for our missionaries here...they did wonderful ministry in reaching Chinese for Christ.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Devotional 170409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. This is my last day in office before I depart for Middle East on Sunday. Therefore, you will not hear from me for at least two weeks if not longer. I will return on May 4th if our flight is on time. Please remember our journey as our itinerary of visiting three countries is fully packed. Pray that our team will be safe and healthy throughout the trip. Our missionary in Turkey warned us that there might be a huge demonstration in the country on May 1st that could turn violent. Therefore, he has to cancel our original plan of filming the ministry and people in the region. Regardless, my heart remains peaceful with this trip, knowing that our Lord Jesus will be with us no matter where we go and what we may encounter. It is because He is the Lord of Harvest and the Commander in Chief of our Missions. Amen?

"Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him . . . and did cast himself into the sea" (John 21:7). Have you ever had a crisis in which you deliberately and emphatically and recklessly abandoned everything? It is a crisis of will. You may come up to it many times externally, but it does not affect you at all. The real deep crisis of abandonment is reached internally, not externally. The giving up of external things may be an indication of being in total bondage from within.

Have you deliberately committed your will to Jesus Christ? It is a transaction of will, not of emotion; the emotion is simply the side effect of the transaction. If you allow emotion come first, you will never make the transaction. Do not ask God what the transaction is to be, but make it in regard to the thing you do see, either in the shallow or the profound place.

If you have heard Jesus Christ's voice in the midst of stormy seas in life, don’t be afraid of the winds, but maintain your relationship to Him. Since Jesus is on the boat with us, we don’t need to worry about the turmoil of life. Remember the incidence when the disciples suddenly encountered a forceful storm while they were in the Sea of Galilee. “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don't you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:38-40)

This story means a lot to us who are suffering in economic tsunami. For those of us who have the Holy Spirit dwelt within us or on the same boat with us, do we react like the disciples? Will we blame God like the disciples did to Jesus for being careless for us, as though He asleep or slumbers? I believe that Jesus knew what was happening on the boat. Could you imagine how it would be like when you were in the midst of stormy sea? I don’t think anyone can sleep no matter how tired they may be. Stormy waves would have tossed you around and seawater w0uld totally wet your whole body…how could you sleep in such condition? It was really amazing that Jesus could lie there motionless according to Scripture. To me the moral of the story is how Jesus wanted to test the faith of His disciples. As a matter of fact, God does use suffering to test our faith like the way He did to Jobs and others. Apostle James said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3). May God drive you closer to Him when storm attacks your boat. Our Lord Jesus did not promise a life without suffering. But He promised that He would not forsake us even when life seems totally hopeless. Eternal hope and Heaven are our ultimate assurance and strength in life; it is how the saints in the past sailed through their stormy seas and made a tremendous difference in human history. Let’s build on their legacy today…

Love you with this Hope in Him,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Devotional 160409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is such an enjoyable day…there is no need to be concerned of your head being blown away. Right?:) Such beautiful weather just makes you feel like working out door instead of sitting in front of the window at awe with her beauty. Indeed Nature is a revelation of God’s attributes. She shows us how wonderful and beautiful our Creator is. I don’t know about you. But Nature does drive me closer to my Heavenly Father; I want to draw close to my Creator God whose creation alone is fascinating and magnificent enough, not to mention the depth of His nature. I want to know His plan for my life on earth. I want to understand the kind of person (character) He wants to build in my life today…Amen?!

"You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light" (John 12:35-36). We all have moments when we feel better than our best, and we say - "I feel fit for anything; if only I could be like this always!" We are not meant to be. Those moments are moments of insight or special revelation from God, which we have to live up to when we do not feel like it. Many of us are no good for this workaday world when there is no high hour (mountain top experience). We must bring our commonplace life up to the standard revealed in the high hour.

Never allow a feeling that was stirred in you in the high hour to evaporate. Don't be complacent with your past or put your mental feet on the display-shelf and say - "What a marvelous state of mind to be in!" Act immediately, do something now, if only because you would rather not do it. If in a prayer meeting God has shown you something to do, don't say -"I'll do it someday"; do it now! Take yourself by the neck and shake off your incarnate laziness. Laziness is always seen in cravings for the high hour; we only like to talk about climbing to the spiritual peak with no action involved. We have to learn to live in the grey day according to what we saw on the mountaintop.

Don't cave in because you have been ignored once, but try to get at it again. Burn your bridges behind you, and stand committed to God by your own act. Never revise your decisions, but see that you make your decisions in the light of the high hour.

God expects His children to be proactive and active in enjoying His presence. I don’t mean to be busy bees, but always aniticpate and prepare to serve at all time. I like the way John described his Master’s reaction at the Passover meal, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist” (John 13:3-4). With the insight of knowing who He was and the kind of power He possessed, Jesus got up and served. It contradicts the common reaction of mankind; if we know we are a super Being and possess supreme power, we will kick back and wait to be served; It shows that we are higher than other commoners, "Since we are the most beloved children of God, we should deserve a special kind of royal treatment." But our Lord Jesus showed us something different. His spiritual insight prompted Him to do humble service to His disciples. While His disciples were still puzzled by such service from His Master, Jesus said to them, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand… I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you… Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:7, 15, 17). Our spiritual insight must always produce action or service to God and to others. And when we do follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit to serve, we will be blessed at the end according to the way our Lord has promised.

Love you because you are His beloved,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Devotional 150409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for a relatively calm and balmy weather today. I was so concerned that the tree outside of my office window would fall down on our building when it was moved violently by the storm. It was purely God’s mercy for our existence on earth. As we prayed for missionary this morning, we were reminded once again that the Church of Christ needs revival before we can mobilize Christians to participate in the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many churches are too busy engaging herself in doing many good things but not the most important thing – the Great Commission. Church goes down hill when it undermines the Great Commission. Christians fails to enjoy the abundant life in Christ when they undermine the Great Commission. We don’t see the importance because we don’t think we need to obey God in everything He said or expects. Have mercy on us O Lord! We give foothold to Satan when we give excuse to ourselves not to live a 24/7 Christian life in accordance to Your Word. At the end of the day, we will suffer from our stupidity and stumble others along the way. We need to repent and renovate our hearts before the Lord once again.

"But the high places (idol worship) were not taken away out of Israel; nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days" (2 Chronicles 15:17). Asa was incomplete in his external obedience, he was right in the main but not entirely right. Beware of the thing of which you say - "Oh, that does not matter much." The fact that it does not matter much to you may mean that it matters a very great deal to God. Nothing is a light matter with a child of God. How much longer are some of us going to keep God trying to teach us one thing? He never loses patience. You say - "I know I am right with God"; but still the "high places" remain, there is something over which you have not obeyed. Are you protesting that your heart is right with God, and yet is there something in your life about which He has caused you to doubt? Whenever there is doubt, quit immediately, no matter what it is. Nothing is a mere detail.

Are there some things in connection with your bodily life, your intellectual life, upon which you are not concentrating at all? You are all right in the main but you are careless; there is a relapse on the line of concentration. You no more need a holiday from spiritual concentration than your heart needs a holiday from beating. You cannot have a moral holiday and remain moral, nor can you have a spiritual holiday and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and this means that you have to watch to keep yourself fit. It takes a tremendous amount of time to be holy. Some of us expect to "reach the top spiritual shape" in about two minutes. It is definitely impossible. And there is no expressway to grow our obedience either. I wished I could have an extra-strength ‘spiritual pill’ that made me a mature Christian in a few minutes. Unfortunately there was no such kind of pill.

Neurologists said that our human brain needs 25 years to become fully developed. That’s why young people tend to do irrational and immature things. Hopefully, they will become more mature when they turn 25. If it takes 25 years for our brain to become fully developed, I wondered it takes how long for us to become mature in our faith. With the help from God, I believe the process could be shortened. But it requires our part to work with Him. God chooses not to coerce us into spiritual growth. He prefers to let us exercise our free will to grow in Him. Once we are willing to step into this spiritual journey with Christ, He can take us to higher ground more than we can imagine. The key is to submit to His leadership and enjoy our ride with Him.

May God strengthen your commitment in Him each day, so that you will give Him freedom to drive your life in order to explore new horizon for your spiritual growth each day.

Love you under His leadership,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Devotional 140409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Our Lord is good. He is Father for fatherless. He is shelter in stormy weather. We can always find refuge in Him no matter how stormy our days may become. Just as God had provided a cave for Prophet Elijah to hide from his fearful enemy and desert storm, he always provides security for us in our fearful world. The Bible described Elijah’s encounter with God during the most fearful days of his life, “The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"”(1 Kings 19:11-13). Elijah knew how to discern the voice of God – a gentle whisper sound; he was familiar with this voice because this might be how the Lord always spoke to Elijah when he walked with Him each day. I found that it is also true to the experience of the Disciples of Christ when they lived with our Lord Jesus on earth.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29). "Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines." How petty our complaining is! Our Lord begins to bring us into the place where we can have communion with Him, and we groan and say - "O Lord, let me be like other people!" Jesus is asking us to take one end of the yoke - "My yoke is easy, get alongside Me and we will pull together." Are you identified with the Lord Jesus like that? If so, you will thank God for the pressure of His hand.

"To them that have no might He increases strength." God comes and takes us out of our sentimentality, and our complaining turns into praise. The only way to know the strength of God is to take the yoke of Jesus upon us and learn of Him.

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." Where do the saints get their joy? If we did not know some saints, we would say - "Oh, he, or she, has nothing to bear." Lift the veil. The fact that the peace and the light and the joy of God are there is proof that the burden is there too. The burden God places squeezes the grapes and out comes the wine; most of us see the wine only. No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God in a human spirit; it is an inner unconquerable Spirit.

If you have any complain within you, kick it out ruthlessly. It is a positive crime to be weak in God's strength. God always wants His children to be courageous. He wants us to be strong by His strength. By our human nature, we may be weak and helpless, but by His strength we are always capable and hopeful. God told Joshua after his mentor Moses had died, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). In a similar way, Apostle Paul confessed from his own experiences in the Lord, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). To me, God does not appreciate mediocre, pessimistic and scary Christians. He expects the disciples of Christ to be brave and positive, because they are new creations in Him. White paper cannot be black. The Almighty cannot be weak unless He chooses to be. Therefore, by nature, the children of God bear the power of God in their lives; they can conquer any barriers or stronghold of Satan. And nothing can conquer them or separate them from the loving power of God, unless they choose to disconnect themselves from the eternal source of strength. Help us to stay connected to you, O Lord! Help us to stand firm in you no matter how our world may change…you will take care of us and empower us to conquer our world.

Love you by His strength,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Devotional 130409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. This is relaxing to enjoy another ‘compulsory no pay day off’ for this month. It gives me more time to spend with the Lord through meditation and reading. I believe the Lord wants us to learn the lesson of ‘reliance’ instead of ‘independence’ from Him. The ultimate temptation for Adam and Eve was to become self-reliance: “you will be like God, knowing (determining what is) good and evil” (Genesis 3:5b). Ever since then, human beings have developed this craving of ‘wanting to be like god.’ We want to have the final say of what is right and wrong; we create political system to allow a group of judges in the Supreme Court or through democratic voting to decide what is moral and what is not. We want to play God – the Lord of our own values and morality. History tells us that this is futile. At the end of the day we will be destroyed by this deep seated desire to play God. Kingdoms after kingdoms failed when their kings wanted to play God. Have mercy on us O Lord! Help us submit to your Word and your sovereignty as the Lord and King of our lives. Silence our inner cry to want to play God and to desire our own ‘rights’ more than Your righteousness.

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (Psalm 55:22). We must distinguish between the burden-bearing that is right and the burden-bearing that is wrong. We ought never to bear the burden of sin or of doubt, but there are burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off, He wants us to roll them back on Him. "Cast that He has given you upon the Lord." If we undertake work for God and get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility will be overwhelmingly crushing; but if we roll back on God that which He has put upon us, He takes away the sense of responsibility by bringing in the realization of Himself.

Many workers have gone out with high courage and fine impulses, but with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, and before long they are crushed. They do not know what to do with the burden, it produces weariness, and people say - "What a bitter end to such a glorious beginning!"

"Cast your burden upon the Lord" - you have been bearing it all; deliberately put one end on the shoulders of God. "The government shall be upon His shoulder." Commit to God "that He has given you"; not throw it off, but put it over on to Him and yourself with it, and the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship. Never disassociate yourself from the burden that the Lord has put upon you.

Indeed, this is the lesson we need to learn – cast our concerns to God. Apostle Peter gave the church similar encouragement in his letter, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:6-8). In another word, if we are not careful we will become prey to Satan like he did to Adam and Eve. Don’t become anxious as though your fate depends on yourself. No, your fate depends on your Creator God. You have a part to play – to submit to His word and draw close to Him each day. When you do so, you learn to rejoice and be thankful at all times even in the midst of anxious circumstances. Remember the word from the Apostle Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice…Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:4, 6-7). Let’s learn to be dependent children of God.

Love you because we are ONE in Him,

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Devotional

Dear brothers and sisters,
It is Good Friday – the day when our Lord literally went through hell for us; the Son of God who took the form of flesh of man and suffered a painful death for mankind. But how does it mean to you today? Was this Good Friday just another religious holiday or ritual? Or was this a new beginning of your life on earth, which generates a profound impact in your world today? Satan knows how powerful that Good Friday means to all Disciples of Christ now and then. It has been transforming millions of lives ever since…I am thankful that I am one of them who were blessed by that Good Friday two thousands years ago. But what should I do in response?

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:6). Co-crucifixion with Christ in me is: Have I made this decision about sin that it must be killed right out in me? It takes a long time to come to a moral decision about sin, but it is the great moment in my life when I do decide that just as Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world, so sin must die out in me, not be curbed or suppressed or counteracted, but crucified. No one can bring anyone else to this decision. We may be earnestly convinced, and religiously convinced, but what we need to do is to come to the decision which Paul emphasized here.

Haul yourself up, take a time alone with God, and make the moral decision by saying - "Lord, identify me with your death until I know that sin is dead in me." Make the moral decision that sin in you must be put to death.

It was not a divine anticipation on the part of Paul, but a very radical and definite experience. Am I prepared to let the Spirit of God search me until I know what the disposition of sin is - the thing that lusts against the Spirit of God in me? Then if so, will I agree with God's verdict on that disposition of sin - that it should be identified with the death of Jesus? I cannot imagine myself "dead indeed unto sin" unless I have been through this radical issue of will before God.

Have I entered into the glorious privilege of being crucified with Christ until all that is left is the life of Christ in my flesh and blood? "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, and a life goal in front of me. I believe it is a process of being crucified with Christ on a daily basis. From time to time, my old self will struggle to come alive again. Satan will appeal to my flesh and help me justify my sinful thought within me. If it was not the work of the Holy Spirit to empower me, I don’t think I can say ‘NO’ to my own flesh each day. I would have simply justified my own flesh, which clearly against the Spirit of God.

During this Easter weekend, I am reminded once again that it was for my sins Christ went to the cross and suffered a horrible death. It was for my sins that he was mocked. It was for my sins that he was painfully whipped. It was for my sins that he was crucified. As they hammered the nail to pierce through his wrists, it was meant for me in the spiritual realm. Father God, you forsake your beloved Son and let him die a painful death at that time for my sake. How can I forget or how dare I forget that picture of the cross, which is your way to tell me how much you love me. Help me to surrender myself to your love, and love those for whom you died on that very first Good Friday.

Love you because of Good Friday,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Devotional 090409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It suddenly dawn on me that tomorrow is Good Friday. Today is Passover when Jews celebrates their liberty from slavery. Up to this day, Jewish community still come together to give thanks to God for delivering them from Egypt. They don’t want to forget what God has done for them in the land of Egypt. Many ‘first born children’ were sacrificed for the rebellious heart of Pharaoh. It was the death of the first born that delivered the people of God from slavery. In the same token, it was the death of ‘The First Born Child of God’ that delivers us from the bondage of sins. We don’t focus so much on the ‘Passover,’ which means avoiding or skipping from the judgment of God. We focus more on the ‘Crossover,’ which means reconciling our broken relationship with God because of the Cross. It was the death of Christ on the cross, which gives us a new relationship with our Creator God. He took our sins and nailed them on the cross on our behalf. Without Christ and His cross, we are still lost and doom to eternal hell. Praise the Lord for His loving mercy.

"Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country" (Mark 16:12). Being saved and seeing Jesus is not the same thing. Many are partakers of God's grace who have never seen Jesus. When once you have seen Jesus, you can never be the same, other things do not appeal as they used to do.

Always distinguish between what you see Jesus to be, and what He has done for you. If you only know what He has done for you, you have not a big enough God; but if you have had a vision of Jesus as He is, experiences can come and go, you will endure "as seeing Him Who is invisible." The man blind from his birth did not know Who Jesus was until He appeared and revealed Himself to him. Jesus appears to those for whom He has done something; but we cannot dictate when He will come. Suddenly at any turn He may come. "Now I see Him!"

Jesus must appear to your friend as well as to you, no one can see Jesus with your eyes. Severance takes place where one and not the other has seen Jesus. You cannot bring your friend unless God brings him. Have you seen Jesus? Then you will want others to see Him too. "These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either" (v. 13). You must tell, although they do not believe.

Open my eyes so that I can see you, Lord. My heart is too pre-occupied by earthly things that I seldom focus on the things above. I am reminded once again by your words to Paul, “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died (with Christ), and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col 1:1-3). The ‘Crossover’ reminds me again for what you have done for me. I don’t deserve what you did, but I certainly indebt to your act of mercy on me. Help me see you in the midst of your people. You are always at work in the life of the Church because she is your body and your bride. Just as Apostle Paul said, “No one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body” (Eph 5:29-30). Indeed, You love and care for Your Church as much as you care for yourself. How blessed we are to have a Bridegroom who will love His Bride in such a manner! Nurture our passions for you more and more each day.

Love you with His passions,Lawrence

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Devotional 080409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The whole Nature is so fresh after the rain. Therefore, the shower of His blessings does not only give us our needy rain or provision in life, it also helps to cleanse our soul or whole being. Whenever God provides us our physical needs, He also wants to give us spiritual refreshment to know Him better. One of the coworkers of our sister company shared how she experienced the provision of God lately. She thought her ministry came under financially after she sent out her last check to the mission field; she had only three hundreds left in her company’s account with four coworkers waiting for their pay checks of this month. Yesterday, the Lord provided ten thousands through a church that met their needs. Once again, her soul is refreshed by the provision of God; knowing that God is in ultimate control. Not that she did not know the sovereignty of God theologically, she now know experientially the true Nature of God. Indeed, our Lord wants us to experience Him in a fresh new way and on a daily basis.

"Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" (Luke 24:26) Our Lord's Cross is the gateway into His life: His Resurrection means that He has power now to convey His life to me. When I am born again from above, I receive from the Risen Lord His very life.

Our Lord's Resurrection destiny is to bring "many sons unto glory." The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We are never in the relationship to God that the Son of God is in; but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When Our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life, to a life He did not live before He was incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before; and His resurrection means for us that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we shall have a body like unto His glorious body, but we can know now the effectiveness of His resurrection and walk in newness of life. "I would know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings; becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil 3:10-11).

" For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him" (John 17:2). "Holy Spirit" is the experimental name for Eternal Life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the Deity in proceeding power Who applies the Atonement to our experience. Thank God it is gloriously and majestically true that the Holy Spirit can work in us the very nature of Jesus if we will obey Him.

We have yet fully realized the abundant life we have in Christ. We know theologically that we are a new creation in Christ. But are we living this kind of new life? We admire the way Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). But is it our daily experience? Dear Holy Spirit, show me how to realize this kind of life each day. Help me start with my inner desire - not to seek for your provision in life, but to seek you instead. A lot of time, we focus only on the temporal things on earth but not the eternal. We spend time worrying about our daily needs, but not meditating on our relationship with our eternal Provider and Protector. Change our perspectives in life and our operating mindset. Give us a new paradigm because we are truly a new creation in Christ.

Love you because of this new life,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Devotional 070309

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good Afternoon. We thank God for rain. I think my allergy will be better after the cleansing of rain. Praise the Lord! Lately, a message has been capturing my attention ever since last Thursday. It was a testimony shared by a brother who went to visit a Muslim community in China. The unity of this community had impressed him so much that he wondered why we Christians could not share the same unity in Christ. It is a fact that Christians some how do not get along even though we said we shared the same faith and love in Christ. That's why we have so many different denominations. What divides us? Do we share the same Holy Spirit who lives within us? Yes, we do. Then, why can’t we unite as one family? Muslim believes all Muslims belong to one family. This family tie is so strong that they can risk their lives for other Muslims if they are under attack or danger. Why can’t we do the same? The devotion we read today may give us some insight.

"As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead" (Mark 9:9). Say nothing until the Son of man is risen in you - until the life of the risen Christ so dominates you that you understand what the historic Christ taught. When you get to the right state on the inside, the word that Jesus has spoken is so plain that you are amazed you did not see it before. You could not understand it before; you were not in the place in disposition where the Word of Christ could be borne in you.

Our Lord does not hide these things; they are unbearable until we get into a mature condition of spiritual life. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now." There must be communion with His risen life before a particular word can be borne by us. Do we know anything about the impartation of the risen life of Jesus? The evidence that we do is that His word is becoming interpretable to us. God cannot reveal anything to us if we have not His Spirit. An stubborn outlook will effectually hinder God from revealing anything to us. If we have made up our minds about a doctrine or theology, the light of God will come no more to us on that line, we cannot get it. This insensitive stage of mind will end immediately when His resurrection life has its way with us.

"Tell no man…" - so many do tell what they saw on the mount of transfiguration. They have had the vision and they testify to it, but their life does not register with such vision, because the risen life of Christ is not in them yet. I wonder when He is going to be formed in you and in me?

Church history tells us that Protestant churches had been arguing among themselves who were more “correct or dogmatic” than others in their theology, to a point of persecuting one another and dividing the Body of Christ. As a result, Protestant Church has so many different denominations among us. If we have the life of Christ within us, why couldn’t we get along with one another? Unless our theological arguments did not really come out of the risen life of Christ, but was an expression of our self-righteous spirit of pride. Knowledge divides and love unites.

I am the first one to repent when I made such statement. I need to remind myself from time to time not falling into this snare of Satan. Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Matt 12:25). If Christians continued to fall into this trap of self-righteousness, we will not be able to stand against the satanic force that swift through the Christian world today. If we all shared the risen life of Christ, let’s listen carefully to the prayer of Christ before He went to the cross, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:20-22). As we entered into the Easter week, let’s be reminded of the fact that Jesus went to the cross for the sake of our union with God and with one another. Remember. The New Commandment from Christ is to "love one another."

Love you because of His command,

Monday, April 6, 2009

Devotional 060409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is good to have an extra day of rest to spend with the Lord because of our budget crisis. In order to trim our general fund shortage, our office has to implement ‘no pay leave’ policy for headquarters staff. Therefore, every month I have two special days off. Praise the Lord! I need time to really rest in Christ.
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God's judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.
The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the mystery of both.
The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.
The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened - but the crash is on the heart of God.
Thank God for taking the wound of our sins to Himself. He bore our pain and condemnations. The general impression of God in most human religions is angry and serious – it reflects the reaction of the sinful nature of man. Adam and Eve might have passed on to their children that God was a mean and terrible God because He kicked them out of the Garden of Eden, and never allowed them to re-enter His heaven again. It was true if the Bible stops at chapter three of Genesis. But what human beings did not know was the fact that God reached out to mankind ever since in order to bring them back to eternal Garden of Eden. After all the human effort failed, God came into the world to rescue man to Himself again. This is what the cross is all about. And this is the most precious gifts that we can receive from the Lord. Praise His holy name.
Hope you will find time to spend with your savior and your Father today.
Love you in Christ,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Preahed at Chinese Church in Christ

The Chinese Church in Christ at Milpitas is a multi-lingual and multi-congregational church like ours. We appreciated the opportunity to speak at their Cantonese congregation. This church focuses on discipleship and Great Commission. It is a vibrant and growing church. Praise the Lord!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Devotional 030409

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Good morning. It is exuberance to engage the world with Christ. We know that God has a plan for each individual in this planet earth. And His plan is to have each one of us enjoy our lives with Him to the fullest. And the best way to do it is by ‘show and tell.’ Show the world how it is like to have an intimate relationship with Christ; to show how a life may be different from the one without Christ? Every religion on earth demonstrates the kind of ‘god’ that they believe. Every believer is a show case of their Bible, no matter whether they actually live according to the teaching of the Bible or not. Therefore, we are called to bear fruits for God. And the way to do it is to abide in Him each day. Our Lord Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last” (John 15:5, 16a). We are engaging a world that is overwhelmed by information. People can be lost to find God in the midst of different theology or messages about God that they can easily access on Internet. But they will definitely observe the lives of their neighbors or coworkers, who appear to have a different perspective on life and of ‘god,’ especially during this economic down time. They want to find out how their lives could be so peaceful and joyful when there is absolutely nothing in the world to call for them. You may spark off their interest, and God may use this curiosity to bring them closer to His love. Amen? Let’s look at our devotional reading of today…

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes" (Luke 19:42). Jesus had entered into Jerusalem in triumph, the city was stirred to its foundations; but a strange god was there, the pride of Pharisee; it was religious and upright, but a ‘white grave’ or ‘glorified hypocrisy.’

What is it that blinds me in this "my day"? Have I blinded by a strange god - not a disgusting monster, but a self-centered nature that rules me? More than once God has brought me face to face with the strange god that I thought I should have to yield, but I did not do it. I got through the crisis by the skin of my teeth and I find myself in the possession of the strange god still; I am blind to the things, which belong to my peace. It is an appalling thing that we can be in the place where the Spirit of God should be getting at us unhinderedly, but on the other hand, increases our condemnation in God's sight.

"If you had only known" - God goes directly to the heart, with the tears of Jesus behind. These words imply we deserve the blame; God holds us responsible for what we do not see. "Now it is hidden from your eyes " – it is because our attitude and nature have never been yielded to God. The unfathomable sadness and regret of the "might have been!" God never opens doors that have been closed. But He opens other doors for us, and He reminds us that there are doors, which we have shut because of our ignorance, doors that never should have been shut; and imaginations that never should have been too slow to discern His work. Therefore, never be afraid when God brings back the past. Let memory serves as a minister of God that brings us rebuke, discipline and sorrow. God will turn the regret of "might have been" into a wonderful lesson for the future.

This is a difficult reading from Chambers; not only the way he tried to express his insight from the passage, but the message itself is hard to comprehend. It reminds me of my old nature, blind spot or ‘strange god like the way Chamber described,” that could blind me from seeing the work of God around me. Sometimes we refused God’s open doors because we lacked of courage and faith. Sometimes we relentlessly sought the doors that God had closed because of our desires or ignorance. God allows us to make mistake provided that we learned from our mistake. Otherwise, we will be continuously blinded or fooled by our own nature or old self. Reflection is a way to deliver us from the bondage of this strange god hidden in our old self. We need to uncover them by looking back to our past and ask God to reveal to us how we had misinterpreted His will. Unfortunately, many Christians are too busy to engage in self-reflection or meditation. In another word, they seldom spend time with God but allow their “strange gods” to dictate their perspective or interpretation of God’s will for their lives. Our Holy Spirit determines to show us God’s open doors and closed doors. He will continuously help us understand God’s will because this is His Nature. What we need to do is to stop justifying our self-centeredness, and submit to the Word of God. By nurturing our desire and passion for God by abiding in Him each day, I believe we will be able to discern the leadership of God more effectively.

Hope you have a nice weekend to enjoy the presence and love of God.

Your brother in Christ,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Devotional 020409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is a short day for our office, therefore, I could run some errand before I came to office. Life is good when you choose to walk with your Maker. Every little thing could remind you of the grace of God. We don’t deserve to live. Our existence came not because of our parents but because of God. There are so many people rushing on the road each day. They are busily pursuing ‘things’ in life. But do they know what they exist for? Many are simply too busy to ask such question. What about the children of God like us? Are we too busy to ‘run’ our lives but never pause to ask our meaning in doing all these?

"Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 9:17). When Paul received his sight, he received spiritually an insight into the Person of Jesus Christ, and the whole of his subsequent life and preaching was nothing but Jesus Christ - "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." No attraction was ever allowed to hold the mind and soul of Paul save the face of Jesus Christ.

We have to learn to maintain an unimpaired state of character up to the last notch revealed in the vision of Jesus Christ. The abiding characteristic of a spiritual man is the interpretation of the Lord Jesus Christ to himself, and the interpretation to others of the purposes of God. The one concentrated passion of the life is Jesus Christ. Whenever you meet this note in a man, you feel he is a man after God's own heart.

Never allow anything to detour you from insight into Jesus Christ. It is the test of whether you are spiritual or not. To be unspiritual means that other things have a growing fascination for you than Christ Himself.

The question: “what would Jesus do?” came to my mind every now and then. It usually came when I was confronted with a situation where I was not sure how to react. There are many grey areas in life that we don’t really know what to do and say. The Bible did not give us black and white guideline to all situations. We need to exercise our discretion or discernment by asking ourselves this very question: “what would Jesus do if He were put in this situation.” Paul said, “Everything is permissible for me--but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me--but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6:12). On one hand, Paul did not want to be dogmatic in some cultural practice that the Corinthians accustomed to, like food and festivity celebration etc. But on the other hand, he gave the church a very broad but essential guideline: 1) is it beneficial to me physically, spiritually and socially? Sometimes, we have to consider the benefit of others who could be stumbled by my freedom (1 Cor 8:9). 2) Will I be bonded or dictated or hooked up by it? There is only one Master whom I can’t live without. Everything else on earth becomes secondary. This is the kind of focus of passion that our Lord demanded from His disciples. That’s why He said, “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. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

May you consume your passion onto the Lord, and pursue Him more than anything else on earth. Yes, there is room for romance, family relationship, friendship and fellowship. But we don’t let those dictate or master your life. Therefore, never make your spouse, children, parent, teacher or pastor become your god. None deserve your worship than Jesus Christ our Lord. It is not a fanatic or extreme religiosity. It is a value system that will give us a healthy perspective on our relationship in the world.

Love you because of His love in me,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Devotional 010409

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for another beautiful day. As I watched the Nature, it reminded me that the work of the Holy Spirit might not be visible by human eyesight just as I couldn’t really see how the wind blew. I saw waving trees and flying flags, which showed me the direction and strength of wind. Our Lord Jesus used similar illustration to explain to Nicodemus concerning the work of the Spirit, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). We don’t exactly know how the Spirit works in our world today. But when we see many people who have dedicated their lives to serve God in global missions, we know the Spirit is moving Chinese churches toward the direction of cross-cultural missions. It is about time for Chinese Christians worldwide to answer this mission call. It is time for Christian professionals to seriously consider how they can become bi-vocational missionaries to serve God overseas. Let’s begin with intercession for one another toward this direction.

"He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will...Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Romans 8:27, 34). Do we need any more argument than this to become intercessors - that Christ "is also interceding for us;" that the Holy Spirit " intercedes for the saints "? Are we living in such a vital relationship to our fellow men that we do the work of intercession as the Spirit-taught children of God? Begin with the circumstances we are in - our homes, our workplace, our country, and the present crisis as it touches us and others - are these things crushing us? Are they pushing us out of the presence of God and leaving us no time for worship? Then let us call a halt, and get into such living relationship with God that our relationship to others may be maintained on the line of intercession whereby God works His marvels.

Beware of outstripping God by your very longing to do His will. We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, consequently we get so burdened with persons and with difficulties that we do not worship God, we do not intercede. If once the burden and the pressure come upon us and we are not in the worshipping attitude, it will produce not only hardness toward God but despair in our own souls. God continually introduces us to people for whom we have no similarity, and unless we are worshipping God, the most natural thing to do is to treat them heartlessly, to give them a text like the poke of a spear, or leave them with a rapped-out counsel of God and go. A heartless Christian must be a terrible grief to Our Lord.

Are we in the direct line of the intercession of our Lord and of the Holy Spirit? Chamber’s message is a challenge for myself. I need to dedicate more time to intercede for those people that God has put in my heart; I need to spend more time to pray for those missionary applicants. Many of them are in the process of discerning God’s guidance; applying visa, or doing fundraising. They are at the crossroad of not knowing when and where they should proceed. They may be anxious, frustrated, confused and worry. They certainly need our prayers for them. Will you draw close to the Lord in worship and listen attentively of His prayer for these brothers and sisters, and pray accordingly for them?

Love you in the family of God,