Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jackson's commissioning service

It was a joyous occassion to commission Jackson to serve in Macau as a minister. Our prayer will go with him as He continues to serve the Lord in that casino city of Asia. We believe God will use him to touch many people and bless the Cumberland Presbyterian Church where he will serve in Macau.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Janet Jackson Graduation

It was a joyous day to attend the graduation of Jackson and Janet at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. To celebrate for their accomplishment and praising God for equipping them for His ministry are our blessings.
May God continue to use them as His channels of blessings to many people whom He places in their lives and ministry. As Jackson said in the graduation luncheon, it is only the beginning of their jouney in serving the the Lord. I am sure God will grant them strength and patience in shepherding His sheeps, and saving more souls for the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Devotional 270509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. We thank God for another beautiful day, which is a sign of God’s grace for our lives. This grace is a free gift from our Creator God. As we receive this free gift from above each day, we are reminded to live gracefully to one another in return. John said, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If we experience free gifts and blessings from God, we should learn to give ourselves gracefully to help others in return. Amen?

"I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). The disciples had to wait until the day of Pentecost not for their own preparation only; they had to wait until the Lord was glorified historically. As soon as He was glorified, what happened? "Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear" (Acts 2:33). The parenthesis in John 7:39, "For the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified" does not apply to us because the Holy Spirit has been given, the Lord is glorified; the waiting depends not on God's providence, but on our fitness or readiness.

The Holy Spirit's influence and power were at work before Pentecost, but He was not here. Immediately Our Lord was glorified in Ascension, the Holy Spirit came into this world, and He has been here ever since. We have to receive the revelation that He is here. The reception of the Holy Spirit is the maintained attitude of a believer. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive quickening life from the ascended Lord.

It is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit that changes men, but the power of the ascended Christ coming into men's lives by the Holy Spirit that changes them. We too often divorce what the New Testament never divorces. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience apart from Jesus Christ: it is the evidence of the ascended Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit does not make you think of Time or Eternity, it is one amazing glorious NOW. "This is life eternal that they might know Him." Begin to know Him now, and finish never. Once we respond to the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we begin to know our Lord Jesus more each day. It is the role of the Holy Spirit, who reminds us the Word of God and shows us the Will of God.

A lot of time, we neglect the work of the Holy Spirit or even ignore His presence in our lives. We seldom pray to the Holy Spirit because of fear. We are afraid that we may connect to a wrong source of supernatural power. Therefore we try to tackle the evil forces by our own might. As a result we become helpless and hopeless. We even doubt whether God exists or cares. But in reality, we never live according to the Will of God as Paul pointed out in 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 (the text we studied yesterday). And we seldom listen to the Holy Spirit. Paul continued to encourage us in verse 19-22, “Do not restrain the Holy Spirit; do not despise inspired messages. Put all things to the test: keep what is good and avoid every kind of evil.” By doing so, we walk by the Holy Spirit and experience God in an intimate way.

May the power of the Holy Spirit sustain you each day, and His presence will help you understand and obey the Will of our Father God.

Love you in Christ,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Devotional 260509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Praise God for a wonderful retreat that we had at Nevada City with brothers and sisters from CIBC Oakland. The weather and environment were so beautiful. I had a relaxing and enjoyable time to have fellowship with one another in Christ. Our last session at the retreat was to talk about 4 spiritual disciplines that are essential for abundant living. To Apostle Paul, these spiritual disciplines are fundamental exercises that we need to practice daily, “Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray unceasingly; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's Will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:15b-18). The Lord has spoken through Paul. And it is our choice to put them into practice both individually and as a Body, so that we find assurance to live in the Will of God each day. Amen? It so happened that Oswald Chambers also shared on one of these verses today. Let’s hear what our Lord had spoken to him…

"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds of prayer. If we think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on. We are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect joint with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life. Beware of anything that stops reflective prayer. "Pray without ceasing," keep the childlike habit of reflective or contemplative prayer in your heart to God all the time.

Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer; He had the boundless certainty that prayer is always answered. Have we by the Spirit the unspeakable certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when God does not seem to have answered prayer? "Every one that asks receives." We say - "But . . . , but . . ." God answers prayer in the best way, not sometimes, but every time, although the immediate manifestation of the answer in the domain in which we want it may not always follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?

The danger with us is that we want to water down the things that Jesus says and make them mean something in accordance with common sense; if it were only common sense, it was not worth while for Him to say it. The things Jesus says about prayer are supernatural revelations.

To our Lord Jesus, prayer is a life line of communication between Him and God the Father. Unless He constantly focused on the work of His Father, Jesus would not be able to say, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these” (John 5:19-20). There are so many things try to distract our attention from God’s work in our lives. The challenge for us is to stay focus on Him through unceasing prayer or unceasing communication with God.

It may sound like a myth or too ideal to make it a reality, but it is doable to many saints throughout church history. It takes commitment and desire to build a habit of prayer with our ears and eyes, besides our mouth. Prayer is not to seek God’s help when we are in desperation only. Prayer is not to seek God’s guidance or provision when we are in needs. I totally agree that prayer is like breathe. We need to train the nature of our soul to desire communication with God through prayer just as the nature of our lung desires breathing fresh air. The ultimate goal is to let our Holy Spirit to be the CEO of our whole being, and train different departments of our body to submit under His command. You will be amazed how God may turn your life around when you stay focus on Him whenever and wherever you go. Let’s pray for one another on this spiritual discipline.

Love you in Christ,

Friday, May 22, 2009

Devotional 220509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. When we sing “this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it,” we recognize the fact that our Lord is in control of our experience of each day. No matter how this day may bring you, you can rejoice in it because He has a plan to make you a much better person through it. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Will you seek the Lord with all your heart today?

"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" (John 17:21). If you are going through a solitary way, read John 17, it will explain exactly why you are where you are - Jesus has prayed that you may be one with the Father as He is. Are you helping God to answer that prayer, or have you some other end for your life? Since you became a disciple you cannot be as independent as you used to be.

The purpose of God is not to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God, and this is revealed in John 17. There is one prayer God must answer, and that is the prayer of Jesus - "that they may be one, even as We are One." Are we as close to Jesus Christ as that?

God is not concerned about our plans; He does not say - Do you want to go through this grief or this upset? He allows these things for His own purpose. The things that we are going through will either make us sweeter, better, nobler men and women; or they will make us more captious and fault-finding, more insistent upon our own way. The things that happen either make us monster, or they make us saints; it depends entirely upon the relationship we are in to God. If we say - "Thy will be done," we get the consolation of John 17, the consolation of knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom. When we understand what God is after we will not get mean and cynical. Jesus has prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far off it, and yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him, because Jesus has prayed that we may be.

As I grow older, I am becoming more convicted that God cares not so much about our comfort but our character. He intends to nurture our character by His own presence in our lives. He allows different kinds of experiences (either good or bad) to come upon us, so that they will test our character or stimulate us to be more Christ like. What make us more Christ like is to abide in Him at all times. Nothing can please God more than drawing close to God the Father as Christ did. This union with God has direct link to our relationship with fellow human beings. In another word, you will have an enjoyable life with others when you enjoy your life abiding in Christ.

Please pray for our weekend ministry. Loretta and I will be speaking at a retreat at Nevada City (near Lake Tahoe). We will be back on Monday afternoon.

Love you out of this union with Christ,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

devotional 200509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. We praise God for another beautiful day to be in His service. Remember. No matter where you ‘make your living,’ you are the servant of God. You are being placed in that corner of the earth for a reason. You may not aware of your purpose in where you work right now. All you need to do is to conduct your life in accordance to the Word of God that you know. By doing so, God will use you to be His vessel of grace and blessings to the people around you. If you lack of strength, you just call on the Holy Spirit to grant you more strength to live out your faith.

"By standing firm you will gain life" (Luke 21:19). When a man is born again, there is not the same forcefulness in his thinking or reasoning for a time as formerly. We have to make an expression of the new life, to form the mind of Christ. "Acquire your soul with patience." Many of us prefer to stay at the threshold of the Christian life instead of going on to construct a soul in accordance with the new life God has put within. We fail because we are ignorant of the way we are being made in Christ; we blame everything to the devil instead of our own undisciplined natures. Think of the way we react when we are stimulated or agitated.

There are certain things we must not pray about - moods, for instance. Moods should never be removed by praying, moods should be handled by kicking. A mood nearly always has its seat in the physical condition, not in the moral. It is a continual effort not to listen to the moods, which arise from a physical condition, never submit to them for a second. We have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves, and we will find that we can do what we said we could not. The curse with most of us is that we won't. The Christian life is one of incarnate spiritual courage.

It seems to be one simple statement or spiritual principle. Yet, it takes us a lifetime to practice. By my own strength, I don’t think I can stand firm on God’s word. It is easy to preach the Word; it is definitely very difficult to live the Word. Our human nature normally rejects the Word. The Bible said, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10-11). God knows the limitation and distorted nature of ours, that’s why the Holy Spirit came to dwell among the followers of Christ – those who desire to be Christ like. Therefore, God will provide us timely guidance and empowerment to stand firm on His Word. God reminded us through Zechariah 4:6, “'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” The Spirit of the Lord is powerful because He is the Almighty God. And this Awesome Power of God lives within us for one single purpose: “He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph 3:16-17).

Once our inner being is strengthened by His Spirit, He will accomplish much greater things through us beyond our mind can ever imagine. Therefore, stand firm is not stand still. The more we grow in Christ, the stronger we stand firm on His Word. The reason why we need to stand firm is because we will be confronted by different challenges in life. Suffering or hardship is a norm in life, though we try hard to avoid it. No place on earth can give you problem free life or true security. The key is how you build your foundation of life. In another word, we, who choose to live in Bay Area, cannot avoid earthquake. The question is how we build a house that can withstand earthquake. To stand firm on His Word is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. It is difficult and time consuming to do so. But when “the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matt 7:25). God wants to help us stand firm on the ‘rock’ – the eternal Word of God.

Love you according to His Word,

Ps. I will have a whole day of Board meeting tomorrow. Therefore, I will not be able to send you my devotional. Please pray for those who fly in for this meeting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

devotional 190509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It was so cold and foggy in Daly City but warm and sunny in Burlingame. Though I took a day off yesterday, I was fully occupied in running errands. I needed to help my foster child to move back home from Berkeley. Time really flies. My foster child has finished first year of college, and his brother will start college this fall. Praise God for giving us the opportunity to serve these two kids. Pray that the Lord will use them to bless many people to come. It was the love of God that inspired us to take care of them. And I believe God will use them to extend His love to even more people in days to come.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35) God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says - "I will be with him in trouble." It does not matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man's life, not one of them can separate him from his relationship to God. We are "more than conquerors in all these things." Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately relevant to our daily living; and he says we are super-victors in the midst of them, not by our creativity, or by our courage, or by anything other than the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ. Rightly or wrongly, we are where we are, exactly in the condition we are in. I am sorry for the Christian who has not something in his circumstances he wishes was not there.

"Shall tribulation separate us from the love of God?" Tribulation is never a noble thing; but let tribulation be what it may - exhausting, annoying, fatiguing, it is not able to separate us from the love of God. Never let cares or tribulations separate you from the fact that God loves you.

"Shall anguish separate us from the love of God?" - can God's love hold when everything says that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

"Shall famine separate us from the love of God?" - can we not only believe in the love of God but be more than conquerors, even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver and Paul is deluded, or some extraordinary thing happens to a man who holds on to the love of God when the odds are all against God's character. Logic is silenced in the face of every one of these things. Only one thing can account for it - the love of God in Christ Jesus. "Out of the wreck I rise" every time.

Father God, I need this kind of will power and courage in the face of difficulty in life. This kind of will power is not something we born with nor shaped by life experiences. This spiritual resilience must be a gift from above; something that comes with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Sweet Holy Spirit, your presence is the sign of your love for me, because our Lord Jesus has promised that He will never forsake us no matter how the world may turn against us… We stand by and claim your promise because you are our faithful God.

Let’s turn our eyes to Jesus when life is stormy and unpredictable, not like a coward or as a form of escape, but for more courage in conquering Satan’s harassment and oppression. Amen?

Love you because of His relentless love for us,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Missions Carnavel of Go and Love

It was the first time when GO and Love ministry shared about their vision to the Body of Christ. Since this ministry is a sister organization with GOI, therefore, we offer our wholehearted and sincere support to their Vision sharing event. We praise God for using different organizations to fulfill His Great Commissions before His return. I pray that more Christians will give the Great Commission the highest priority in their lives. After all, this is what the purpose of our existence.

Preached at Golden Gate Reformed Church on Sunday

Praise God for the opportunityt to worship and preach at Golden Gate Reformed Church in San Francisco yesterday. Both the Cantonese and Mandarin congregations are full of potentials and the leadership shared the burden for community outreach and global missions as well. Some of the leaders had joined short term mission team with GOI before. May God continued to use this church as a vibrant witness for our Lord in San Francisco.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Devotional 150509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good afternoon. My boss is back from Asia. That’s why I was fully occupied in the morning. I am glad we have a harmonious team in mobilizing churches for the global missions of God. There are so many unreached people in the world, but workers are so few and Christians are reluctant to step out by faith for the Great Commission. Pray that God will bring a great revival to churches across America, especially among Chinese Christians. God has given so much to us, yet we are holding back so much from Him.

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (Ephesians 1:18). Remember what you are saved for - that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time.

You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you.

God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can leap over them properly - "By my God have I leaped over a wall." God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says - "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you" (1 Peter 4:12). Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Him self in your mortal flesh.

May God not find the complains in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual courage and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured out wine to feed and nourish others.

Unless we are broken or totally surrender to God, we will find many excuses or alternatives to detour from the Will of God for our lives. We are too complicated, which is the cause of our frustrations and complains. Simplicity produces in us a beauty of innocence…it brings us joy and fulfillment. No wonder our Lord said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3). Little children can find joy in simple little thing, as long as they have parents around. It is usually the adults who make an innocent child to become materialistic and complicated. Have mercy on us O Lord…help us to be more pure and simple, because our Lord has promised: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt 5:8).

Love you with a pure heart,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Devotional 140509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. My throat feels much better even though I still have some lingering cough. His grace is always sufficient for us. Our well being depends on Him always. Illness reminds us that we are not invincible and we are just human being. We learn to accept our limitation, but at the same time recognize the invincible power of God within us. We are not God. But the Holy Spirit lives within this finite body of ours in order to give us strength to live for His glory. Amen?

"We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:10). We have to form habits to express what God's grace has done in us. It is not a question of being saved from hell, but of being saved in order to manifest the life of the Son of God in our mortal flesh, and it is the disagreeable things which make us exhibit whether or not we are manifesting His life. Do I manifest the essential sweetness of the Son of God, or the essential irritation of "myself" apart from Him? The only thing that will enable me to enjoy the disagreeable is the keen enthusiasm of letting the life of the Son of God manifest itself in me. No matter how disagreeable a thing may be, say - "Lord, I am delighted to obey Thee in this matter," and instantly the Son of God will press to the front, and there will be manifested in my human life that which glorifies Jesus.

There must be no debate. The moment you obey the light, the Son of God presses through you in that particular; but if you debate you grieve the Spirit of God. You must keep yourself fit to let the life of the Son of God be manifested, and you cannot keep yourself fit if you give way to self-pity. Our circumstances are the means of manifesting how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son of God is. The thing that ought to make the heart beat is a new way of manifesting the Son of God. It is one thing to choose the disagreeable, and another thing to go into the disagreeable by God's engineering. If God puts you there, He is amply sufficient.

Keep your soul fit to manifest the life of the Son of God. Never live on memories; let the word of God be always living and active in you. Once we look back to our days in the bondage of sins and lust, we give foothold to Satan to plant a seed of doubt within us. Immediately, Satan will make us compare with pre-Christian friends around us, and he will say to you, “Look at their lifestyle. They have more fun than you…why bother to manifest the life of Christ in you. Forget it! After all, you will never be like Christ. Why bother to try and fight a losing battle in you? Give in to your nature and entertain your flesh. Be true to your human nature – you are a sinner. You will never be a saint…Just quit trying!” Does it sound familiar to you? I went through those kinds of trial before. From time to time, Satan will attempt to convince me again to yield to my nature. The spiritual battle never ends.

But praise God for His loving mercy. Our Holy Spirit knows our weakness; He will always come to our rescue provided that we yield to Him as He offers His hands to us. Paul testified, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, 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” (Rom 8:26-27). The more we focus on what our Holy Spirit is working within us, the easier we become in our struggle with our flesh. Our God is much powerful than Satan, even though Satan will try to convince us otherwise. You can always choose to listen to God instead.

Love you according to His prayer,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Devotional 130509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thanks for praying for my health. My soar throat has improved significantly though coughing still lingers on. I hope I will fully recover for this weekend. Please continue to pray for our Vision sharing event on this Sunday afternoon. Especially pray that many young career people will come to explore God’s plan for their lives.

"I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man" (Acts 24:16). God's commands are given to the life of His Son in us, consequently to the human nature in which His Son has been formed, His commands are difficult, but immediately we obey they become divinely easy.

Conscience is that faculty in me which attaches itself to the highest that I know, and tells me what the highest I know demands that I do. It is the eye of the soul, which looks out either towards God or towards what it regards as the highest, and therefore conscience records differently in different people. If I am in the habit of steadily facing myself with God, my conscience will always introduce God's perfect law and indicate what I should do. The point is, will I obey? I have to make an effort to keep my conscience so sensitive that I walk without offence. I should be living in such perfect sympathy with God's Son, that in every circumstance the spirit of my mind is renewed, and I "make out" at once "what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

God always educates us down to the scruple. Is my ear so keen to hear the tiniest whisper of the Spirit that I know what I should do? "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." He does not come with a voice like thunder; His voice is so gentle that it is easy to ignore it. The one thing that keeps the conscience sensitive to Him is the continual habit of being open to God on the inside. When there is any debate, quit. "Why shouldn't I do this?" You are on the wrong track. There is no debate possible when conscience speaks. At your own risk, you allow one thing to obscure your inner communion with God. Drop it, whatever it is, and see that you keep your inner vision clear.

Our Lord Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Our liberty in Christ begins with our willingness to obey His teaching. Our life long struggle is to be delivered from the bondage of sins. Our human nature is a sinful nature: self-centeredness, self-righteousness, lustful, greedy, rebellious and so forth. If we do not obey the teaching of Christ and deal with the sinful nature of ours sincerely, we will try to justify it with all kinds of excuses and ways. We can change our law book or dictionary to remove the definition of sins, but we can never be able to change the Word of God or the reality that we are still bond by sins. Deep down inside, we know we are not free or satisfied, until we surrender to the Word of God and obey.

Stop giving yourself excuse or justification not to obey. Do it now and be delivered from the bondage of sins in order to enjoy the abundant life that our Lord has prepared for you.

Love you because of His command,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Devotional 120509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I took a sick leave to stay home because my throat hurt so badly last night that I could hardly talk. I had developed coughing because of weather changes during the trip, and was not fully recovered after I returned. I believe this is another symptom of a bad cold. I feel a little better this morning. Pray that I will be well enough for my weekend ministry. I need to preach on Sunday, and lead worship at a special event that will be held in Gospel Operation International on Sunday afternoon. For those of you who are in town, I invite you to join this Missions Carnival – singing, sharing, booth games and much more. It is a vision sharing event designed in a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. The event will start at 3 pm on Sunday. Hope you will find time to join us.

I was fascinated by the title of today’s devotional by Oswald Chambers: “Make a habit of having no habits.” Let’s see what he has to say.

"If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:8). When we begin to form a habit we are conscious of it. There are times when we are conscious of becoming virtuous and patient and godly, but it is only a stage; if we stop there we shall at most behave like a moral and spiritual scholar. The right thing to do with habits is to lose them in the life of the Lord, until every habit is so practised that there is no conscious habit at all. Our spiritual life continually resolves into introspection because there are some qualities we have not added as yet. Ultimately the relationship is to be a completely simple one.

Your god may be your little Christian habit, the habit of prayer at stated times, or the habit of Bible reading. Watch how your Father will upset those times if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes - I can't do that just now, I am praying; it is my hour with God. No, it is your hour with your habit. There is a quality that is lacking in you. Recognize the defect and then look for the opportunity of exercising yourself along the line of the quality to be added.

Love means that there is no habit visible, you have come to the place where the habit is lost, and by practice you do the thing unconsciously. If you are consciously holy, there are certain things you imagine you cannot do, certain relationships in which you are far from simple; that means there is something to be added. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there anywhere where you are not at home with God? Let God press through in that particular circumstance until you gain Him, and life becomes the simple life of a child.

I totally agree with brother Chambers’ perspective on spiritual habit. When a habit becomes part of you, you will not be conscious of it at all. It is like the habit of turning off house light before you leave the house and knock the door behind you as soon as you exit. It becomes so natural that you may not even remember doing it when you are asked. The goal of spiritual discipline is to make our communication with God a part of our natural life like breathing and drinking. I guess if we were to ask our Lord how He knew the will of God when he walked on earth, He may have difficulty to explain because it is part of His Nature. I believe our Lord will have a hard time to explain why He loves us too becasue He is love. Being totally human,

I don’t think our Lord was born differently than you and me. He simply began the habit of developing intimate realtionship with his Creator God early in life. I like the way childhood Jesus answered his parents’ question when they found him in the Temple (Luke 2:49), “Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" Jesus was so at home with His Heavenly Father that he was confused why his parents complained against him to be "at home." It was like“why not staying at home?” To Jesus, there was no explanation necessary for questions like “why pray?” or “why do you study the Bible?” It is just a natural part of him to do so. Luke continued to describe the growth of this special Child of God in one sentence, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). Luke gives us the insight that balanced growth of a person derives from his intimate relationship with the Creator God on a daily basis. And people will soon notice how special this person is: healthy, wise, friendly, lovely and godly in a joyous and natural manner.

Let’s make it our life goal to draw close to God each day to the point of not being conscious of such habit like the way we breathe. Hopefully, one day when we look back, we may be surprised of how much we have grown in Christ and enjoyed it.

Love you not out of habit,

Monday, May 11, 2009

Devotional 110509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is a blessing to have another compulsory day off from work because of the financial crisis, so that I can spend more time to meditate on God’s words. Out of God’s gracious provision, Loretta is still working even though she was supposed to be laid off on May 1st. Somehow the City managed to keep her in office for a little bit longer. Who knows how long she can keep her job? It does not really matter to us. We learn to trust in His provision one day at a time. Afterall, this is what our Lord wants us to learn from day one: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt 6:33). Amen?

"Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7) Love is indefinite to most of us, we do not know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that that preference be for Himself. 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” (Luke 14:26). When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ is easily first; then we must practise the working out of these things mentioned by Peter.

The first thing God does is to knock pretence and the pious pose right out of me. The Holy Spirit reveals that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now, He says to me, show the same love to others - "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). “I will bring any number of people to you whom you cannot respect, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you." Honestly, it was not easy if not impossible. You won't reach it by your own strength. Some of us have tried to, but we were soon tired.

"The Lord sufferes long. . . ." Let me look within and see His dealings with me. The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way. God's love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God's love to me. Growth in grace stops the moment I get huffed or intimdating. I get huffed because I have a peculiar person to live with. Just think how disagreeable I have been to God! Am I prepared to be so identified with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness are being poured out all the time? Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.

The more we reflect on how unworthy we are for God’s love, the more we are reminded to love with the same kind of Grace we received freely. We don’t just thank God for His grace with our lips but with our lives – Live out God’s grace by loving others just as Christ loves us. The Holy Spirit commits to internalize His love into our nature, so that we love not because others are lovable, but because it is the nature of God that dwells within us. Once His love grows within us, it changes our paradigm on things and with people. It changes our value system and priority in life. It spurs us to do things beyond we normally would; we are willing to walk extra-miles for people. We gradually realize that unconditional love is possible and attainable for mankind. That’s how Paul prayed for the Ephesians, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:16-19). In a magnificant and most ‘sexual’ city like Ephesus (famous for their fertility goddess - Artemis , along with their ritual sexual activities with her female priests in the house of pleasures) during Paul’s time, the church truly needed to grow in genuine love for one anothers, because the definition of love had been so distorted in the culture of that city. I am sure it is the same in ours today if not worst. There is no way Paul could change the popular culture of his time by his own strength. He could only pray that the love of God would grow within this small community of believers in Ephesus, so that their lifestyle and testimony would shine and gradually delivered people from the bondage of lust into the family God’s love.

Let’s pray for ourselves in the same way in America…

Love you because of His love within me,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Devotional 080509

Dear brother and sister,
Good afternoon. My morning was packed with meetings. But I love to find time to meditate on the word of God whenever I could find time to do so. It is indeed for the well being of my inner being and for getting strength to face my daily lessons in life. Our whole being depends on God. Our Lord Jesus reminded Satan as He faced his temptation in the desert, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). Yes, we cannot live without the nurturing of our God.

"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth" (Revelation 3:10). Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and then the saint says - "I cannot stand any more." God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He let us fly. Trust yourself in God's hands. For what have you need of patience just now? Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. "Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him!"

Faith is not a pathetic sentiment, but healthy and vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. You cannot see Him just now, you cannot understand what He is doing, but you know Him. Shipwreck occurs when we fail to maintain that mental self-assurance which comes from being established on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the heroic effort of your life; you cast yourself in total confidence on God.

God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us, now He wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him. There are spots where that faith has not worked in us as yet, places untouched by the life of God. There were none of those spots in Jesus Christ's life, and there are to be none in ours. "This is life eternal, that they might know You." The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we take this view, life becomes one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvelous things all the time. God is disciplining us to get us into this central place of power.

Knowing the attributes of God should generate the kind of faith and commitment in Him, which will empower our confidence in facing all kinds of challenges in life. And we will never be satisfied regarding our knowledge of God. We can never understand the depth of His love nor His wisdom. We are going to spend eternity to understand how awesome and wonderful is our God. And let’s begin to explore a little bit of His greatness each day while we are living on earth. Those knowledge of His greatness will certainly nurture our inner power to handle life under all kinds of circumstances.

I remember asking our missionary in Dubai about the kind of message that may apply to his congregation there; many of them are construction workers who labored out in the desert under extreme hot weather (It was 40°C while we were there) for 12 hours a day. They were totally exhausted when we visited them at night. What kind of message would empower their daily walk with Christ at work? It was the love and healing power of God according to our missionary. It was the love of God who transforms their perspective in life and gives them patience to endure their daily suffering at work. That’s why they love to come to Bible study in the desert regardless of the opposition from their superior.

Hope you will spend your day to know Him more…

Love you in Christ,

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Devotional 070509

Dear brother and sister,
Good morning. Since my trip went by so quickly with overwhelming exposures of new things and experiences, I didn’t have time to sink in at all until I went through the pictures I took yesterday. It was indeed so rich an experience! I am sure you will hear about it in my devotional sharing in the next couples of days if not weeks. Those memories are precious when they stir our passions for Christ from time to time. After all, this is what meditation means to accomplish; not just to muse on what had happened in the past, but to allow the past encourage and transform our lives in the present.

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?" (Luke 14:28)Our Lord refers not to a cost we have to count, but to a cost which He has counted. The cost was those thirty years in Nazareth, those three years of popularity, scandal and hatred, the deep unfathomable agony in Gethsemane, and the onslaught at Calvary - the pivot upon which the whole of Time and Eternity turns. Jesus Christ has counted the cost. Men are not going to laugh at Him at last and say - "This man began to build, and was not able to finish."

The conditions of discipleship lay down by Our Lord in Luke 14: 26, 27 and 33 mean that the men and women He is going to use in His mighty building enterprises are those in whom He has done everything. "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...Any of you who do not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Our Lord implies that the only men and women He will use in His building enterprises are those who love Him personally, passionately and devotedly beyond any of the closest ties on earth. The conditions are stern, but they are glorious.

All that we build is going to be inspected by God. Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own? These are days of tremendous enterprises, days when we are trying to work for God, and therein is the snare. Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God. Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely, and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put.

As I listened to the prayer of two Turkish pastors through an interpreter, they both ended with a similar saying, “for the glory of Christ.” It captures my attention as they mentioned this phrase. How often do we seek the glory of Christ in whatever we do and pray for in everyday of our lives? But as these Turkish believers counting their cost to follow Christ, they focus on the Glory of Christ. As Paul said to the Romans, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (8:18). I guessed when believers are fascinated by human glory or busily seeking their temporal glory and success in life, we will not pay attention to the glory of Christ. On a contrary, when believers are risking everything to become Christians, they do it with one thing in mind: the Glory of Christ.

Let’s encourage each other to seek the glory of Christ even though we do not need to forsake everything like the way early Church or Christians in Muslim world have to consider. The more we concentrate on the glory of Christ, the more we are delivered from the bondage of this materialistic world. It surprised me how sophisticated and beautiful the city of Ephesus was when I visited the ruins. I am sure believers at Paul’s time faced similar temptations for materialistic glory as we do today. That’s why he encouraged the Ephesians, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24).

I imagined what Paul might be thinking as he stood at the door way of the magnificent library of Ephesus. People came to this glorious building to seek knowledge from their great philosophers and teachers, but how many came to seek the eternal wisdom of Christ?Don’t be fooled by this world. “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is” (Eph 5:15-17). Hope the words of Paul reminds you how to make your day count!

Love you for the glory of Christ,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Devotional 060509

Dear brothers and sisters,
Thanks for your prayers for our trip to the Middle East. It was definitely a fruitful and meaningful one. To me, the most touching experiences were to worship with some Chinese believers in the desert of Dubai. Their company will not allow them to conduct any Christian activities at their dormitory (they call it a camp) or even outside of it. Therefore, they need to meet in some hidden area in the desert away from their camp. The other experience was to hear the testimony of Turkish Christians. They paid high price to become a Christian. Family, relatives, friends and community will reject and disown them – they consider them a disgrace to change their Turkish identity from Muslim to Christian (it shows on their ID card). They will loss their job and any future employment or even business relationship. They were the outcast of the country and constantly under death threat. That’s why there are only 3 thousands some Christians in Turkey of more than 67 millions people, even though the country allows religious freedom. I deliberately asked this Turkish pastor, “Is Christ worth their cost?” With a smile on his face he said, “Definitely worth it. Our cost to follow Christ is nothing in comparing with what Christ did for us on the Cross. He suffered even more rejections than ours.” It made me reflect on what the price we pay to become a follower of Christ in America…

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). A spiritually minded man will never come to you with the demand - "Believe this and that;" but with the demand that you square your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One Whom the Bible reveals. Jesus warned teachers of the Scripture at His time, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). We are called to present liberty of conscience, not liberty of view point. If we are free with the liberty of Christ, others will be brought into that same liberty - the liberty of realizing the dominance or Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Always keep your life measured by the standards of Jesus. Bow your neck to His yoke alone and to no other yoke whatsoever; and be careful to see that you never bind a yoke on others that is not placed by Jesus Christ. It takes God a long time to get us out of the way of thinking that unless everyone sees as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God's view. There is only one liberty, the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.

Don't get impatient, remember how God dealt with you - with patience and with gentleness; but never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations," but not "make converts to your opinions or even your theology."

Have mercy on us O Lord! Give us the discernment that we need to share with others about our relationship with You. Calm our passions to convince others about our opinion towards things and the Bible. Instead, help us walk closely with You each day, and put You first in our priorities. As we share our faith with others, help us shar it sincerely and lovingly.

Though Apostle Paul was a powerful missionary and eloquent preacher, he cautioned his spiritual son, Timothy with this final word, “The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim 2:24-26). It was indeed an important attitude as we share our faith with others. Try not to put other people down as though you know better than they do. We are asked to share our testimony and our relationship with the Lord as sincere as possible. God will do His part in convicting people from within their hearts. That’s how many Muslims came to know the Lord when Christians had shared about their faith with them not in a forceful but gentle way. It may take longer period of time to see the harvest. But it is certainly God’s way and timing but not ours.

May God strengthen your walk with Him today as always!

Love you in Christ,

Ps. I will show you the pictures I took in my blog