Friday, July 31, 2009

Devotional 310709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. God is always at work in our lives no matter where you are. I was glad to receive news from two brothers who are away from us in Los Angeles and Macau. They both are doing well and have settled down in their own apartments. Our newly wedded is enjoying their honeymoon with books. And our young pastor is living in a two bedrooms apartment feeling homesick. I am sure our Lord has blessings and lessons for both of them in days to come. I am enjoying my quiet time at home for my no pay leave. There are always a lot of works to do at home besides running errand. I need to prepare sermon for tonight and this Sunday as well.

"Let your endurance be a finished product, so that you may be finished and complete, with never a defect" (James 1:4, MOFFATT). Many of us are all right in the main, but there are some domains in which we are sloppy. It is not a question of sin, but of the odds and ends of our carnal life which are apt to make us sloppy. Carelessness or sloppiness is an insult to the Holy Spirit. There should be nothing sloppy, whether it is in the way we eat and drink, or in the way we worship God.

Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the external expression of that relationship must be right too. Ultimately God will let nothing escape, every detail is under His scrutiny. In numberless ways God will bring us back to the same point over and over again. He never tires of bringing us to the one point until we learn the lesson, because He is producing the finished product. It may be a question of impulse, and again and again, with the most persistent patience, God has brought us back to the one particular point; or it may be mental wool-gathering or independent individuality. God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right.

We have been having a wonderful time this Session over the revelation of God's Redemption, our hearts are perfect towards Him; His wonderful work in us makes us know that in the main we are right with Him. "Now," says the Spirit, through James, "let your endurance be a finished product." Watch the careless bits - "Oh, that will have to do for now." Whatever it is, God will point it out with persistence until we are entirely His.

God deserves the best from us. Look at all the details in His creation. Even a little insect is carefully created for a certain function. Therefore, He expects perfection from us even though He knows we can never become perfect. Our post-modern culture uplifts carefree clothing or lifestyle but not sloppy on the presentations (matching colors and style from head to toe). Wedding for example is getting more sophisticated and expensive; young couples don’t mind to invest a lot of money and time to one day celebration. But they are sloppy or carefree on their daily habits in up keeping their marriage afterward. God expects us to approach perfection from inside out. With His gentle voice and loving methods, our God will put us through different lessons in helping us to grow out of our sloppiness in life.

As fellow members of His Body, we learn to hold each other accountable in dealing with our sloppiness. Of course, we need to do it in a tactful way and loving motive. We don’t use a teasing or harsh manner to point out other’s sloppy habit. We learn to remind others in private and sincere manner. And make sure we ask others to remind you when they see your sloppiness. By doing so, we are functioning truly like a body, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Cor 12:26-27). God will make you perfect. And He will perfect you through your Body life with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, don’t run away when you find it difficult to be under scrutiny or to change yourself to interact with “strangers,” see it as a way God wants to grow you from your sloppy lifestyle.

Love you in Christ,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Devotional 300709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Can’t believe it is Thursday already. Time just flies by so fast that we can hardly catch up with it. While I was driving the younger foster kid to a summer camp pick up site, I suddenly remembered I did not sign his parental permission form. “O I forgot your permission form, what shall we do?” I asked. Then he said, “I don’t think they require permission form for college retreat!” Yes. He is a college student now. He is no longer a kid! Time really flies fast. You can’t stop it but you can only make good use of it. Help us Lord, to seize every moment of our time to enjoy our relationship with You, and fully utilize the potential and talents that You endowed in us for Your pleasure. Amen!

"Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man" (John 2:24-25). Disillusionment means that there are no more false judgments in life. To be undeceived by disillusionment may leave us cynical and unkindly severe in our judgment of others, but the disillusionment which comes from God brings us to the place where we see men and women as they really are, and yet there is no cynicism, we have no stinging, bitter things to say. Many of the cruel things in life spring from the fact that we suffer from illusions. We are not true to one another as facts; we are true only to our ideas of one another. Everything is either delightful and fine, or mean and immoral, according to our idea.

The refusal to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering in human life. It works in this way - if we love a human being and do not love God, we demand of him or her every ounce of perfection and righteousness, and when we do not get it we become cruel and bitter; we are demanding of a human being that which he or she cannot give. There is only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Why Our Lord is apparently so severe regarding every human relationship is because He knows that every relationship not based on loyalty to God will end in disaster. Our Lord trusted no man, yet He was never suspicious, never bitter. Our Lord's confidence in God and in what His grace could do for any person was so perfect, that He despaired of no one. If our trust is placed in human beings, we shall end in despairing of everyone.

I totally agree with Brother Chambers’ insight on our attitude toward human relationship. It has to be built upon our relationship with God. The greatest commandment is for us to love God with all our hearts and minds before we love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:37). If we reverse the order, our relation with people will become disaster. Only when we love God wholeheartedly and drink from His love on a daily basis, we will find strength to love others with His love. If our hearts are not fed by His love, we will be hungry for human love or any kind of love, which will not truly fulfill our deepest thirst and hunger from within. As a result we jump from one person to the other or from one fellowship to the other, looking for love that only God can give. After many attempts and failure, we become despair and bitter, and we become cynical or critical toward people and fellowship. We are completely enslaved within our own illusions.

In order to break through from our illusions, we need to return to our basis: put God first in our lives and recognize the root problem of mankind without God. And then we work toward this goal to dwell in His love or abide in Christ. There is no shortcut to resolve our deep seated illusions, but to focus on building a genuine relationship with God. The way to differentiate the fake from the real dollar bill, according to a teller, is to spend more time looking at the genuine one. The way to get rid of the weeds in your lawn, according to a gardener, is to focus on growing the lawn in stead of removing the weeds. In the same token, the way to resolve illusion toward human relationship is to focus on building our loving relationship with Christ.

Love you through His love,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Devotional 290709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for another beautiful day in Burlingame. Many of our staff either on vacation or sick leave, the office is extremely quiet today. It is a perfect environment for meditation. Silence is gold only if you know how to enjoy the presence of God in it. It could be very noisy in silence; you would hear your own cravings or complains. But if you tune in to God, you will find yourself hearing the loving words of God through His gentle voice in silence. It is so soothing and sweet!

"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen" (Revelation 1:7). In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are those sorrows or sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to block us from seeing the glory of God and contradict with the true nature of God. Nevertheless, it is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith. "The clouds are but the dust of our Father's feet." The clouds are a sign that He is there. What a revelation it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come along with God! God cannot come near without clouds; He does not come in clear shining.

It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child - God and my own soul, other people are just shadows. Until other people become shadows, clouds and darkness will come to me from time to time. Is my relationship with God getting simpler than ever it has been?

There is a connection between the strange providences of God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Unless we can look at the darkest or blackest fact full in the face without damaging God's character, we do not yet know Him.

In their experience of witnessing the Transfiguration of Jesus on the Mount, the disciples recalled, “While Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them…they fell facedown to the ground, terrified” (Matt 17:5-6). The disciples were frightened as they entered the cloud. Is there anyone else still in your cloud than Jesus alone? If so, your cloud will get thicker; you must get to the place like the disciples had experienced, “When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus” (v. 8).

Indeed, through suffering and hardship we came to know God better. On a contrary, when life is smooth and prosperous, we tend to ignore His presence. Yes, we still maintain our religious habit of attending church or Christian activities. But our desire to seek His face gradually fades away. We careless of what He wants from us, or have anything to do with us. We basically just want Him to be out of our complacent living. Jesus becomes one of the many alternatives or attractions in our lives. Even during hardship or sufferings, some people may still be looking at different alternative to save themselves or to resolve their problems. They become more “spiritual” or conscious in prayer as a way to buy out hardship or exchange “favors” from God. They are not really interested in God, but their own desires or the people whom they care a lot. Their clouds getting thicker and they don’t understand why. “I have prayed but I am still in the rut or get stuck!” Until they see God in the rut, or else they will still get stuck. This is truly a spiritual reality in life.

Love you because of His providence,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Devotional 280709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It was good to have a day off yesterday to catch up with some personal business in life. Our plate seems to be always full with unfinished business more than we can handle. Imagine you try to put out fire that keeps growing around you. You know you can only do so much with your energy and your limited resource. You are not superman and you do need to take a break to recharge yourself with energy from above. That’s why “devotional break” is not a luxury or an ideal way of living. It is a necessity or essential rhythmus of life that you can’t live without. Your Heavenly Father is waiting to re-charge you with His love and strength.

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray... He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed” (Mark 6:45-51). It is understandable for us to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us to do certain things, and we obey Him, He will lead us to great success. But in spiritual reality, we must never put our dreams of success as God's purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We tend to think that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal in life; He is not. The question of where He leads us is actually insignificant. What we call the process, God calls the goal.

What is my dream of God's purpose for me? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unconfused, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish for me (He works on my life tirelessly); His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.

God's training is for now, not to wait for a while. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the consequence of obedience; we interpret wrong when we try to think of the consequence. What we call training and preparation, God calls the goal of His purpose for us.

God's goal is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.

Throughout church history, many devoted followers of Christ sought to practice the “sacrament of the present moment.” To them, their eagerness to plan for future, to prepare for future, and to control the outcome of future will cause them to miss the purpose of God for them in the present moment. Jesus asked us not to worry about the future (Matt 6:34). What we need to make sure is that we seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness now; we seize the current moment of life to be the kind of person God wants us to be, and to do the things for His glory in wherever He puts us in. Now is the moment He expects us to abide in Him, to see His work and to hear His voice. We don’t know what kind of lessons that He may give us tomorrow. He knows better and it is definitely not our business, to imagine and try to control the kind of purpose He has for us. Submission or obedience is the sacrament of the present moment.

Love you in this moment,

Monday, July 27, 2009

Devotional 270709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is good to take a break after a busy weekend though it was fruitful and enjoyable. It is always a joy to rekindle relationship with some brothers and sisters in Christ whom I have not met for awhile. Some were former members of CPCC and had transferred membership to Sunset Chinese Baptist Church for a long time. Some had stop attending church and now returned. The love of God is so faithful to all His children. He watches over us and relentlessly seeks out for us; He constantly urges us to return to His circle of love. How blessed we are to have a Heavenly Father who lives within and among us. Praise the Lord!

"If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own" (John 7:17). The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey.

No man ever receives a word from God without instantly being put to the test over it. We disobey and then wonder why we don't go on spiritually. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift'” (Matt 5:23-24). The teaching of Jesus hits us where we live. We cannot stand as liar or hypocrite before Him for one second. He educates us down to the point of clearing our doubt or pretention. The Spirit of God uncovers the spirit of self-justification within us; He makes us sensitive to things we never thought of before.

When Jesus brings a thing home by His word, don't avoid it. If you do, you will become a religious hypocrite. Watch the things you try to avoid, and you will know why you do not go on spiritually. First go - at the risk of being thought fanatical you must obey what God tells you.

At the retreat I was given the topic of “Unity In The Gospel.” Gospel stands for reconciliation; it is reconciliation between men and God, and of course, men with men. Paul said, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Eph 2:14-16). God wants us to experience this new life in Christ, which is a life of reconciliation. And He also expects us to live out this gospel in among our world. Reconciliation is my life message and so as yours. It is easy to preach the gospel or to do a gospel presentation in words, in comparing to live out the gospel within our network of relationship. I am sure we all understand the difficulty involved. Sometimes, we may want to reconcile with others but they may not be willing or ready to forgive. Sometimes our pride may get in the way to initiate reconciliation, “I will forgive only if he initiates to say sorry.” Sometimes our initiation to reconcile may generate suspicion or unnecessary fantasy to others like an “ex-lover.”

There are many scenario of reconciliation that requires different methodology to approach it. The bottom line is: “take action immediately or do not procrastinate.” Seek God for wisdom in terms of how to reconcile with someone who has something against you. Basically, what our Lord wants us to know is that “ministry or work can wait, but reconciliation cannot wait.” Do not use work or ministry to cover up or bury our interpersonal problem. Face it squarely and deal with it immediately, no matter how difficult it may be. Do not give Satan a foothold by harboring bitterness within you. Our Lord Jesus had destroyed the barrier by the power of the cross. All we need to do is to obey His word, and seek His guidance to make peace. “Live in harmony with one another…Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:16-18). This is the kind of Body life that will please God and attract people to Christ too. Amen?

Love you for His pleasure,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Teaching a mission class at home church

I was happy to be invited to teach a class on mission history at China Town Campus of CPCC. As soon as we were about to start the class, there was a power outage. Both cantonese and English congregations had to worship in darkness. Somehow the Christian Education Building was spared from the problem, I was able to move into a smaller class room and complete my presentations. Praise the Lord!

A fruitful weekend ministry

Thank God for giving me and Loretta the opportunity to minister at the retreat of Sunset Chinese Baptist Church. It was their combined retreat (English, youth and Cantonese) with almost 400 attendants. We enjoyed the fellowship and sharing God's words with the Cantonese congregation. It was a wonderful surprise to meet some CPCC sisters in the retreat as well.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Devotional 240709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I was attracted to an interview with President Obama last night at Night Line. When he answered the question about his spirituality, he said that a good friend of him held him accountable to focus on God each day, by sending his daily devotional to his ‘blackberry.’ It is amazing how this person’s devotional can shape the mind of a person who has political power to change the world. If our president needs to do daily devotional reading to focus on God, I am sure you need it too regardless of your opinion toward this president. Let’s continue to pray for our president just as the Bible said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings (or Presidents) and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim 2:1-2). Amen? Let’s look at our devotional reading today.

"For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). The characteristic of a disciple is not that he does good things, but that he is good in motive because he has been made good by the super-natural grace of God. The only thing that exceeds “right-doing” is “right-being.” Jesus Christ came to put into any man who would let Him a new heredity, which would exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus says - If you are My disciple you must be right not only in your living, but in your motives, in your dreams, in the recesses of your mind. You must be so pure in your motives that God Almighty can see nothing to censure. Who can stand in the Eternal Light of God and have nothing for God to censure? Only the Son of God, and Jesus Christ claims that by His Redemption He can put into any man His own disposition, and make him as pure and as simple as a child. The purity that God demands is impossible unless I can be remade within, and that is what Jesus has undertaken to do by His Redemption.

No man can make himself pure by obeying laws. Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations; His teachings are truths that can only be interpreted by the disposition He puts in. The great marvel of Jesus Christ's salvation is that He alters heredity. He does not alter human nature; He alters its mainspring.

This concept seems to be very profound or abstract. We still operate with the same mindset and attitude after becoming a Christian. We don’t really feel the changes. I am sure the Apostles did not feel the change in them after they decided to follow Christ. As a matter of fact, they reacted by their human nature – Peter stopped his Teacher from heading to the Cross; John asked Jesus to burn the village that had rejected them, and one of them drew a sword and cut off his enemy’s ear. We did not see any “change” in them at that time. But after they were filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, something seemed to happen within the core of their being. This group of “scary cats” suddenly became “bold lions.” They were confident and bold in proclaiming the gospel in the place once they were filled with fear. What caused such significant change in them? Was the dramatic or supernatural experience that transformed them from inside out? I don’t really know for sure. But one thing I am sure was that their faith in Christ was deepened through their experience at Pentecost, and their courage was born out of their passion for Christ, who died and resurrected for their sake.

Something had happened to the early church that permeated the whole community. They no longer were afraid of death and persecutions. Even non-Apostle like Stephen died with a similar serenity and passion like Christ. Dr. Luke described, “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60). The love of God richly filled this person’s heart even at his violent death. We cannot tell for sure what had happened to Stephen within his being. His life was taped to a new source or spring of strength and love from above. Somehow the first martyr was not one of the Apostles but a “lay leader” in the early church. It means this transformation could take place in any followers of Christ, regardless of their title or what they do in the religious community. It will happen to you too.

Have a blessed weekend to spend more time with the Lord! Please also remember me in your prayer, as I will preach in a summer retreat tomorrow, and teach a Mission class on Sunday.

Love you because of His transformation in me,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Devotional 230709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for beautiful sunshine in Burlingame. It was so foggy and wet in Daly City as I left the house. It made me sleepy even though I slept longer because our office is opened at ten on every Thursday. Let's meditate with Brother Chambers, who continued his devotional reading on the same verse that he had started yesterday.

"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). The mystery of sanctification is that the perfections of Jesus Christ are imparted to me, not gradually, but instantly when by faith I enter into the realization that Jesus Christ is made unto me sanctification. Sanctification does not mean anything less than the holiness of Jesus being made mine manifestly.

The one marvelous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest themselves in my mortal flesh. Sanctification is "Christ in you." It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification, and imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God's grace. Am I willing for God to make sanctification as real in me as it is in His word?

Sanctification means the impartation of the Holy qualities of Jesus Christ. It is His patience, His love, His holiness, His faith, His purity, His godliness that is manifested in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him, and He manifests it in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation. Imitation is on a different line. In Jesus Christ is the perfection of everything, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfections of Jesus are at my disposal, and slowly and surely I begin to live a life of indescribable order and sanity and holiness: "Kept by the power of God."

Indeed we have nothing to boast of our holiness. We learned to strip ourselves to nothing but our relationship with God. And between ‘me’ and God, He imparts His holiness and the nature of Christ into our soul on a daily basis. We may not realize how the transformation takes place within us; when we look back after several years, we felt the difference in us. By God’s grace we grow and become more like Him. I agree with Chamber’s description: Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.

If sanctification is our effort to become perfect, our lives will be miserable because we will always be in a stage of regrets and frustrations. We hate our weaknesses, our sinful nature, our helplessness, our hypocrisy, our impotency to the point of giving up to fight. Martin Luther was serious about his calling to be holy. He repented to his supervisor in the monastery as soon as he committed a sinful thought. It came to a point that his supervisor was tired of hearing his repentance. Finally he told this young Martin Luther, to go home and meditate on Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.” It is not by repentance we become holy, it is purely the grace of God. Of course, we have to do our part in stripping off the bondage of earthly relationship, so that we can become the disciple of Christ.

By stripping off the bondage of earthly relationship does not mean isolate yourself from Christian fellowship or from family. God does not make us an island or loner. He expects us to live in community and serves Him through community. But we learn to yield not to opinion of men but to the Word of God. Community could be stumbling. Religious institution could be corrupting. We learn to discern the difference between the opinion that is from God or from men. Just as Jesus reprimanded Peter who was out of good will to stop his teacher from going to the cross, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matt 16:23). Let the Holy Spirit continue to impart upon you the holiness of Christ each day.

Love you by His holiness,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Devotional 220709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I am not as fatigue as yesterday, even though I had the same amount of sleep. I need to spend more time to stay focus on the Lord and nourish my hope (not my worry) in Him. He is the one who cares not only my daily walk with Him but every other details of my life. He is the ultimate CEO at my work; He is the real Owner of my house; He is the personal Trainer of my life, He is my true Soul mate or Lover of my soul. He will indeed watch over me day in and day out. Praise the Lord!

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified" (1 Thessalonians 4:3a). In sanctification God has to deal with us on the death side as well as on the life side. Many of us spend so much time in the place of death that we get gloomy. There is always a battle royal before sanctification, always something that tugs with resentment against the demands of Jesus Christ. Immediately the Spirit of God begins to show us what sanctification means, the struggle begins. "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).

The Spirit of God in the process of sanctification will strip me until I am nothing but "myself," that is the place of death. Am I willing to be "myself" and nothing more? Am I willing to be with no friends, no father, no brother, no self-interest - simply ready for death for Christ? That is the condition of sanctification. No wonder Jesus said: "I came not to send peace, but a sword." This is where the battle comes, and where so many of us faint. We refuse to be identified with the death of Jesus on this point. "But it is so harsh," we may protest; "He cannot wish me to do that." Our Lord is harsh; and He does wish us to do that for our sanctification.

Am I willing to reduce myself simply to "me," determinedly to strip myself of all that my friends think of me, of all I think of myself, and to hand that simple naked self over to God? Immediately, He will sanctify me wholly, and my life will be free from earnestness in connection with every thing but God.

When I pray - "Lord, show me what sanctification means for me," He will show me. It means being made one with Jesus. Sanctification is not something Jesus Christ puts into me: it is Himself who lives in me. Just as Paul said, “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Once we invite Jesus into our house, He expects us to move out all the “precious” things that we have collected or stored from within, and give room for Him to be the new Master. When a groom receives his new bride into his house, he must be willing to change his former lifestyle and allow his wife to have a say in “house cleaning.” If a groom does not treasure his bride more than all his collections in the house, he is not ready to get married.

Many people don’t mind to enjoy “courtship” with Christ or God once a week or 1 hour a day. But when it means costing their lifestyle or their treasures to live with Christ, they will definitely hesitate. They don’t want to have serious commitment to this relationship. They just like to have a little dosage of “spirituality” to make them feel good about themselves. Unfortunately you cannot buy 15 minutes of Christianity whenever you feel like it. Just as you cannot buy 15 minutes of “marriage;” there is only prostitution but not marriage you can buy in such manner. To follow Christ involves a lifetime 24/7 commitments. You ‘cannot’ be His disciples if you are not willing to strip away all your earthly relational attachments; this kind of sanctification process will surely take a lifetime to realize and grow. Let’s encourage one another toward this calling to be the true follower of Christ.

Love you because of Christ,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Devotional 210709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I did not know why I was so sleepy this morning. I need to seek Him for more strength to face the challenge of today. Life is full of excitement. There are so much potential in us to be utilized for the blessing of others and our own fulfillment. The main thing is to focus; do one thing at a time. Prioritization is to identify the things that we need to accomplish in life in according to their importance. Make sure I don’t exhaust myself in doing just the urgent things but not the important things, or spinning the wheel on things without significant values.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). Beware of placing Our Lord as a Teacher first. If Jesus Christ is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to torture me by erecting a standard I cannot attain. What is the use of presenting me with an ideal I cannot possibly come near? I am happier without knowing it. What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be - to be pure in heart, to do more than my duty, to be perfectly devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of an ideal, which leads to despair. But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man - the very thing Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord's teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. "Blessed are the paupers in spirit," that is the first principle in the Kingdom of God. The bedrock in Jesus Christ's kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility or inadequacy - I cannot begin to do it. Then Jesus says - Blessed are you! That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor! The knowledge of our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.

The problem with Christians today is similar to the Church of Laodicea. Jesus warned us of this church, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:15-18). Jesus was referring to the hot spring of Laodicea. A hot spring is full of minerals that are good for healing purpose when it is hot. And when a hot spring completely cool down, with all the minerals settle down on the riverbed, the water becomes drinkable. A lukewarm hot spring is definitely useless; it cannot be used for healing or drinking. If a person drinks a lukewarm hot spring will vomit. That’s how our Lord Jesus describes a lukewarm church or Christian; it is useless in the Kingdom of God. And it will only make people vomit.

When God puts you in a inadequate situation, He wants you to realize how pitiful and poor you are, so that you would seek God for real satisfaction; to quench your thirst or feed your hunger. If you still feel that you are capable to run your life or independent from God, you will never be able to experience the joy of the Kingdom of God.

Love you by the power of His love,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Devotional 200709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is totally His grace that we are active in His plan. The office is excited to anticipate the home coming of our missionary from Dubai who will join us for lunch. God will continue to raise up His church to reach all nations for Christ. And He desires His children to invest their lives toward the same goal both locally and globally. When we draw close to the Lord, we can almost know for sure that we will sense His passions for all nations. And because of this experience, Paul said, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish” (Romans 1:14).

"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31). There is no thrill in walking; it is the test of all the stable qualities. To "walk and not be faint" is the highest reach possible for strength. The word "walk" is used in the Bible to express the character - "John looking on Jesus as He walked, said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’" There is never any thing abstract in the Bible, it is always vivid and real. God does not say - Be spiritual, but - "Walk before Me."

When we are in an unhealthy state physically or emotionally, we always want thrills. In the physical domain this will lead to counterfeiting the Holy Spirit; in the emotional life it leads to inordinate affection and the destruction of morality; and in the spiritual domain if we insist on getting thrills, on mounting up with wings, it will end in the destruction of spirituality.

The reality of God's presence is not dependent on any place, but only dependent upon the determination to set the Lord always before us. Our problems come when we refuse to bank on the reality of His presence. The experience the Psalmist speaks of - "Therefore will we not fear, though . . ." will be ours when once we are based on Reality, not the consciousness of God's presence but the reality of it - Why, He has been here all the time!

At critical moments it is necessary to ask guidance, but it ought to be unnecessary to be saying always - "O Lord, direct me here, and there." Of course He will! If our common-sense decisions are not His order, He will press through them and check; then we must be quiet and wait for the direction of His presence.

We seek the Lord only when we need His help for some issues beyond our control. We consulted ‘spiritual’ men and women, attempting to find God through them. But we did not ‘walk’ in accordance to what He expected. The psalmist said, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners…” (Psalm 1:1a). If we do not walk in the counsel of the wicked, we should then walk in accordance to the Word of God. That’s why the psalmist continued to say, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:2). If you delight or desire the Word of God, you don’t need to ask God or consult any ‘spiritual’ men and women from time to time, whether you are walking toward the right direction or not. The word of God becomes part of your value or operating system. When you have doubt whether you are doing the right thing, it could be the prompting of the Holy Spirit. You should stop and meditate on God’s word again. When you desire to do the right thing or ‘walk right’ before God, our Holy Spirit will surely guide you on the right path of Truth.

Have mercy on us O Lord. Help us to delight in your Word and meditate day and night!

Love you by His help,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Point - a church of the Nazarene

It was a pleasant surprise to meet my good old friends at the worship. I did not expect to see them in the church. The parents of our god-son are mission workers in China, and a brother whom we discipled in college fellowship at Cumberland many years ago. He has a beautiful family right now. Praise the Lord!

It was an unique experience to preach at a Vietnamese Chinese Congregation in South San Jose. It is one of the 7 congregations of The Point - a church of the Nazarene. Thank God for using this congregation to reach many Cantonese speaking people in this valley. This church is indeed a church of all nations; they have members of 22 ethnic groups.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Devotional 170709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for giving us the resources to make life more comfortable and beautiful. We have the luxury in life that many people in this world do not have. We live in a world of choices. We can choose the kind of food or diet plan we prefer. We have luxury to choose the kind of car, house, clothes, shoes, hairstyle and furniture that we like. But in reality, many people do not share the same privilege in this world. Yes, the word “privilege” dawn on me while I was driving to work. Driving is a privilege that comes with responsibility; we must obey traffic laws. If we don’t our privilege of driving will be removed from us. In the same token, life is a privilege that comes with a responsibility we receive from God; we are to obey the principles that He spells out in the Bible. Otherwise, this privilege of life we enjoy so far will eventually be removed from us.

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power" (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the first rank; he is not speaking out of hopeless humility; but saying that he would veil the power of God if, when he preached the gospel, he impressed people with his "excellency of speech." Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of the Redemption comes through the preaching of the Gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher. The real fasting of the preacher is not from food, but rather from eloquence, from impressiveness and exquisite articulation, from everything that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God - "as though God did beseech you by us." He is there to present the Gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get anywhere near Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His Redemption from doing its work.

Our Lord Jesus said, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:31-32). Our calling as followers of Christ is to lift up the name of our Lord Jesus, so that all men will be drawn to Him but not to us. We have a tendency as human being to draw people’s attention to ourselves to entertain our pride or self-centeredness. We feel good when people want to listen to our teaching or preaching. But when people focus their attention on us, they would have missed the real source of transformation and redemption in Christ. The line is so thin that we preacher can easily stumble by our own ego without we even aware of it. Have mercy on us O Lord! Constantly remind us of our sinful nature lest we would stumble others in our service to you. We have nothing to boast because ability and power, if we have any, are gifts from above. They are given to us for the purpose to lift up the name of Christ and His cross.

May God strengthen your walk with Him today! May your life continue to shine for Him, and the good deeds of your life will bring glory to our Heavenly Father!

Love you by His goodness,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Devotional 160709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I have a slow start this morning so that I can spend more time to meditate on God’s word at home. It is to my advantage to focus my energy on God then let my mind wandering uncontrollably; it will waste my time and energy on negative, fleshy or ungodly thoughts that will go against the knowledge of God. Once I warm up my wandering mind by submitting to God’s Word, I find my mind to be productive in the rest of my day. Indeed, our beautiful mind is too wonderful to be wasted…

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him" (Matthew 7:11)? Jesus is laying down rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit. By the simple argument of these verses He urges us to keep our minds filled with the notion of God's control behind everything, which means that the disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Focus your mind with the idea that God is there. If once the mind is focused along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember - Why, my Father knows all about it! It is not an effort; it comes naturally when perplexities press. Before, you used to go to this person and that, but now the notion of the Divine control is forming so powerfully in you that you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit, and it works on this principle - God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry?

There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God's will is behind it; therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but an attitude of mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. "Ask, and it shall be given to you."

This is a habit of a contemplatively lifestyle; you always maintain an inner connection with the Holy Spirit in your mind. Contemplation is meditation or reflection on the Word of God. The more you feed your mind with the Word of God, the more you can apply the Word of God in whatever situation you encounter in your daily life. Contemplation is not day dreaming, fantasizing or free flow of thought. It is a deliberate act of focusing on God and His attributes through meditating on His Words. When you constantly reflect your life in the light of God’s Word, your inner reaction on circumstances, attitude toward things and people, decision making process, value judgments and conception of plans for your future will all be guided by His Words. This kind of contemplative lifestyle will change the way you pray, you think, you listen, you speak; therefore it will directly affect your relationship with God and with people in general. You are becoming a Godly or Christ-centered person.

There is no short-cut in approaching this goal. It takes constant effort or relentless pursuit in building this contemplative lifestyle. But the good news is you are not alone. Our Lord Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to be our enabler. He is always there to provide us with the strength once we decide to embark the journey toward this goal. It was like the way God divide the Red Sea for Moses. God did not cause the miracle to happen until Moses deliberately acted out of obedience. Dear Holy Spirit, give us the eagerness to develop this kind of Godly lifestyle, and the strength to obey! Amen.

Love you with His passion,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Devotional 150709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I like the warm sunny weather in Burlingame (Daly City is still foggy right now). Praise God for giving me an enjoyable trip to visit my daughter and son-in-law last weekend. If you visited my blog, you will see some pictures I posted there. Thank you for your prayer for our journey. We were stopped by a brush fire on Los Angel’s mountain on our way back. We were glad the highway was still opened at that time, even though the traffic was sluggish. It took us more than 45 minutes to pass through the smoky site. Yesterday, I was fully engaged with meetings and preaching at Chinatown campus of Cumberland Presbyterian Chinese Church until 3 pm. Thus, I did not have time to send you my devotional.

"I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome" (Romans 1:14-15). Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of his indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent himself to express it. The great inspiration in Paul's life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor. Do I feel that sense of indebtedness to Christ in regard to every unsaved soul? The spiritual honor of my life as a saint is to fulfill my debt to Christ in relation to them. Every bit of my life that is of value I owe to the Redemption of Jesus Christ; am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His Redemption into actual manifestation in other lives? I can only do it as the Spirit of God works in me this sense of indebtedness.

I am not to be a superior person among men, but a bond-slave of the Lord Jesus. "Ye are not your own." Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ. He says - I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus; I am free to be an absolute slave only. That is the characteristic of the life when once this point of spiritual honor is realized. Quit praying about yourself and be spent for others as the bond-slave of Jesus. That is the meaning of being made broken bread and poured out wine in reality.

This obligation to share the gospel is not out of fear of judgment but a loving respond to our Savior. As we draw close to the Lord and appreciate the blessing to be His own, we do whatever that will please Him the most. You are liar if you said you love a person but do not do what you can in pleasing him or her. This obligation to share the gospel is a willful decision derived from a thankful heart. You are chosen to be His own not for no reason. You are chosen so that those who are within your daily contact will be blessed.

During our staff prayer meeting this morning, we read about Paul’s conversion experience in Acts 22. What caught my eyes was how Paul described the life of Ananias, “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there” (Acts 22:12). Ananias was a devout Christian whose life was highly respected by all people in his daily contact or circle of influence. The Bible did not say much about this brother, except one thing that changed church history; he obeyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of an “anti-Christ” Paul, who later changed the entire course of church history. Before the calling to do the historical task for Christ, Ananias committed to lead a devout life that earned the respect of all people around him. He lived out what he believed or the teaching of the Word. Ananias was a genuine seeker of Truth and a practitioner of Christian values. O Holy Spirit, help me to do the same for your honor.

Love you in His name,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Visit my daughter and son-in-law

We thank God for journey's mercy as we were stucked by a brush fire at LA mountain on our way home. The highway later was closed because of the fire...

Outdoor worship at Calvary Chapel

We enjoyed a day at Universal Studios and a visit to the museum. The women posted infront of a sculture called "three laughing women." And Horatio posted infront of a sculture of "flying men."

Great to see my daughter and son-in-law last weekend. Along with Janet's family and aunty Polly, we had a wonderful time. We ate a lot and tried many new resturants in Irvine. Our diet plan has to start all over again...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Devotional 080709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I am about to depart for Irvine to visit my daughter and son-in-law. Therefore you may not receive devotional from me until Wednesday. I pray that you will draw close to the Lord as you always do. Taking a "devotional break" is as important as taking a lunch break. Don’t underestimate the vitality of building a strong relationship with God just as building a strong relationship with your family or your loved one. It means a lot to you on earth as it is in heaven.

"If serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Will is the whole man active. I cannot give up my will, I must exercise it. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God's Spirit. When God gives a vision of truth it is never a question of what He will do, but of what we will do. The Lord has been putting before us all some big propositions, and the best thing to do is to remember what you did when you were touched by God before - the time when you were saved, or first saw Jesus, or realized some truth. It was easy then to yield allegiance to God; recall those moments now as the Spirit of God brings before you some new proposition.

"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve." It is a deliberate calculation, not something into which you drift easily; and everything else is on hold until you decide. The proposition is between you and God; do not confer with flesh and blood about it. With every new proposition other people get more and more "out of it," that is where the strain comes. God allows the opinion of His saints to matter to you, and yet you are brought more and more out of the certainty that others understand the step you are taking. You have no business to find out where God is leading, the only thing God will explain to you is Himself.

Profess to Him - 'I will be loyal.' Immediately you choose to be loyal to Jesus Christ, you are a witness against yourself. Don't consult other Christians, but profess before Him - I will serve You, Lord. Will to be loyal - and give other people credit for being loyal too.

Satan likes to attack our will. He will start with our mind by giving us some reason to doubt our relationship with God or justify our defiance of His commands. This kind of evil scheme began on day one when Eve saw the forbidden fruit. "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Once Eve accepted this evil justification, she changed her mind and decided to go against God’s will. Satan does not need to do much but to inject a counter proposal to please your flesh or your ego. When you are presented with an option between serving God or mammon, I hope you will choose to remain loyal to Christ.

You don’t want to wait until you face death or in your dying bed before you consider your loyalty to Christ. Some reporters described Michael Jackson’s funeral as a spiritual revival event. I guess it was because there were a lot of spiritual songs being sung by Michael’s friends to create that spiritual atmosphere. But I wondered to myself what Christ really meant to the singers when they sang about the love of Jesus and the glory of Christ. Unfortunately, many Christians will only think about the relationship with God when they face death or in funeral. They missed the opportunities to live for Christ while they are still vibrant and healthy. I pray that Michael’s death will truly remind many people that life is in the hand of God. Let's take advantage of the moment of today to live out our loyalty to our Creator God by doing His will.

Love you as He commands,

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Devotional 080709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. There is no better title than to be the follower of Christ and the Child of God. It makes the whole world difference when we meditate on our relationship with the Triune God. We don’t need to do anything to prove that we are worthy to be His child. We just need to draw close to Him, and we will hear him whisper to our ears, “You are always my beloved child!”

Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?” (Luke 2:49) Our Lord's childhood was not immature man-hood; our Lord's childhood is an eternal fact. Am I a holy innocent child of God by identification with my Lord and Savior? Do I look upon life as being in my Father's house? Is the Son of God living in His Father's house in me?

The abiding Reality is God, and His order comes through the moments. Am I always in contact with Reality, or do I only pray when things have gone wrong, when there is a disturbance in the moments of my life? I have to learn to identify myself with my Lord in Holy Communion in ways some of us have not begun to learn as yet. "I must be about My Father's business" - live the moments in My Father's house.

Narrow it down to your individual circumstances - are you so identified with the Lord's life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to Him and realizing that all things come from His hands? Is the Eternal Child in you living in the Father's house? Are the graces of His ministering life working out through you in your home, in your business, in your domestic circle? Have you been wondering why you are going through the things you are? It is not that you have to go through them; it is because of the relation into which the Son of God has come in His Father's providence in your particular sainthood. Let Him have His way, keep in perfect union with Him.

The sensational life of your Lord is to become your vital simple life; the way He worked and lived among men must be the way He lives in you. Jesus came to demonstrate the kind of life God desires for men to live. It is a life that engages in daily chores or business, but enjoys communion with the Creator God. Paul reminded the early Christians, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men… And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him” (Eph 6:5-7, 9). Paul did not challenge the unfair social system of his time. Instead he focused on how individual Christian should do his daily chores or business, in the light of his or her new relationship with Christ.

God will not change our job or role in society, even when we draw close to Him each day. He promises to deliver us from the bondage of our sins, our self-centeredness or narcissistic mindset, our inferiority complex, our hatred, our worry and our fear. God has promised to give us a new heart, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27). One of the key characteristics of this new heart is the desire to obey the Words of God and to enjoy His presence.

Love you with this new heart from Christ,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Devotional 070709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The news is dominated by the funeral of Michael Jackson this morning. Many were so happy to win a lottery ticket to mourn the loss of their idol. This is another strange phenomenon of the American culture. People throughout the world will temporarily put away their concern for bad economy or international terrorism, and focus on the loss of a popular singer. The city is bankrupt but have to pay millions of taxpayer’s money for the sake of one person’s funeral. Imagine how big an impact one life could make to the lives of millions. So, don’t underestimate what your life can do to the people around you. Michael Jackson’s success did not come without a price tag. He sacrificed a lot (his own well being and his family) to build his fame and career. At the end, did he really enjoy the fruits of his labor? Is it worthy of the cost eternally? We may not have answer for these questions, but somthing for us to think about!

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome. Do we so appreciate the marvelous salvation of Jesus Christ that we are our utmost for His highest?

God saves men by His sovereign grace through the Atonement of Jesus; He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure; but we have to work out that salvation in practical living. If once we start on the basis of His Redemption to do what He commands, we find that we can do it. If we fail, it is because we have not practiced. The crisis will reveal whether we have been practicing or not. If we obey the Spirit of God and practice in our physical life what God has put in us by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes, we shall find that our own nature as well as the grace of God will stand by us.

Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many "sons" unto glory, and God will not shield us from the requirements of a son. God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not cowards. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the noble life of a disciple of Jesus in actual things. It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.

As one politician lately said, “only dead fish follows the flow.” Salmons particularly are famous for their strength to swim against the flow of strong currents toward upstream. Their goal is to reach the place where they came from or the destiny of their life journey. To them, it is the call of nature to perform such impossible task. I don’t know why God choose to design Salmon with such a unique nature or characteristic. But the life of this little creature does challenge us to think about our own life in Christ. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” God has given the followers of Christ a new nature; this new nature is to become the ambassador of Christ. Our new destiny is to become like Christ – to fulfill the salvation plan of God. We no longer exist for our own comfort or our own ambition; we exist for the noble call of this new nature in Christ. Just like the Salmons endure suffering and brave all risk, not for the sake of their own interest, but for the purpose of fulfilling their life mission of giving birth to a new generation at the place where they came from. What is your life mission or divine calling of your new nature in Christ? God may not call you to be full time missionary or minister. But He definitely has a plan for you as He bestows this new nature of Christ into yours. Don’t be afraid of difficulties or dangers ahead of you as you contemplate on your life mission. It will turn out to be a roller-coaster ride that is full of fun and excitement by His grace.

Have a very blessed day in pursuit of His higher call for your life….

Love you as His new creation,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Devotional 060709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. What a gorgeous day that we have in the Lord! I enjoy my no pay day off to rest and meditate on God’s words. It is really refreshing each time when I meditate on His words. God’s promise for Joshua is real for us today too, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). If you are too busy to meditate on His words, you are too busy to miss the many blessings that God intended for you to enjoy…

"The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow" (Isaiah 35:7). We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.

God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to mold us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to mold us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the genuine reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to mold ourselves into our own shape.

The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don't lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

The vision represents your life purpose. God creates you for a purpose that He intended for you to fulfill. You may either hide or escape from His plan. But He will never let you go without molding you toward His vision for you. His vision for you is meant to be a joyous fulfillment in your life. Jonah, the run-away prophet, is our perfect example. He knew he could never escape from His Creator God, but it did not stop him to try. So as he faced the storm in his escape route, he knew he could not run anymore and hurt so many lives along the way, he asked to be thrown into the roaring seas. No matter how rebellious Jonah was, God would not let him go and found his replacement. God’s stubborn love for Jonah and the people of Nineveh did not give up. God wanted Jonah to accomplish the vision to be the channel of God’s blessing to the people Jonah hated. Jonah became the hero to the people of Nineveh that he never wanted. But for sure he was remembered to be the prophet that saved their lives.

God has a vision or purpose for your life. If you follow His plan, you may go through humiliation and many trials. Lift your face up and stay focus on the Lord. He will give you His joy to bear the unbearable and to reach the unreachable vision through your life. The author of Hebrews reminded us of our Lord’s example, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2). God wants you to share His glory to be part of His salvation plan for mankind. Don’t forget to draw close to Him today for your strength.

Love you according to His purpose,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Calvin and Tiffany's wedding

What a wonderful day to celebrate the wedding ceremony of Calvin and Tiffany at Daly City Campus of Cumberland Presbyterian Chinese Church. We praise God for this beautiful couple. May God bless them with His own presence, and make them a channel of God's blessings to many...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Devotional 020709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I enjoyed some quiet time at the dental office early this morning. I was thankful for all the good things that our loving Father has bestowed upon us. It is His grace that we have teeth to eat and taste buds to enjoyed food. No matter your diet is Eden buffet (fruits and vegetables) or Noah’s feast (all you can eat meat of different kinds), God equips us with the sensations and ability to enjoy them all. Of course, life is more than eating. We are thankful for the way He designs and creates our body so that we can enjoy the pleasures of life within His plan. Praise the Lord!

"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 does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-27, 33). If the closest relationships of life clash with the claims of Jesus Christ, He says it must be instant obedience to Himself. Discipleship means personal, passionate devotion to a Person, Our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a difference between devotion to a Person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ. No man on earth has this passionate love to the Lord Jesus unless the Holy Spirit has imparted it to him. We may admire Him, we may respect Him and reverence Him, but we cannot love Him. The only Lover of the Lord Jesus is the Holy Spirit, and He sheds abroad the very love of God in our hearts. Whenever the Holy Spirit sees a chance of glorifying Jesus, He will take your heart, your nerves, your whole personality, and simply make you blaze and glow with devotion to Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is stamped by 'moral spontaneous originality,' consequently the disciple is open to the same charge that Jesus Christ was – that He was not consistent to the religious law and practice of His time. But Jesus Christ was always consistent to God, and the Christian must be consistent to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to hard and binding doctrines. Men pour them selves into religious doctrines, and God has to blast them out of their prejudices before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ.

It is hard to differentiate our devotion to Christ but not to a set of laws or doctrines. We understand the concept but hard to put it to practice. We tend to operate within a system of principles. We learn the teaching of Christ from the Bible. We put His teaching into our lives as guiding principles. We follow His commands and obey His commissions as our purpose of life. We thought those commitments expressed our devotion to Christ. What else do we need to do in devoting ourselves passionately to Christ? I guess it is the motivation behind all these activities. We don’t follow His principles and pursue His cause for their own sake, or for the sake of showing off our devout life like the Pharisees. We do all these for the love of Christ. We really don’t know how to love Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit who teaches us how to love. This love for Christ is beyond those big principles or great missions for His Kingdom. It is expressed through the daily chores or little things that you do for the love of Christ. Brother Lawrence felt the presence of God in cleaning his kitchen for the love of Christ. There is definitely no law or principles in binding him to do so. It was a “natural” out flow of a “supernatural” experience from within a person’s inner sanctuary. It is for that love of Christ many Christians were willing to die for Christ. Indeed, martyrdom is an expression of a passionate love and devotion to a Person, and to us it is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love you because our love for Christ,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Devotional 010709

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. While I was driving to office, God prompted me to pray for some missionary candidates who are waiting for God’s provision either for financial support or for visa to enter the mission fields. We may be eager to send them to the needy fields. But our Lord of Harvest seemed to have another plan. Our Lord probably wants them to learn the lesson of waiting, which is not a pleasant experience for most people. Through waiting God nurtures our faith in Him. Apostle James said, “You know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). I guess God cares for our maturity in Him more than our completion of His work. Praise the Lord!

"I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny" (Matthew 5:26). There is no heaven with a little corner of hell in it. God is determined to make you pure and holy and right; He will not allow you to escape for one moment from the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit. He urged you to come to judgment right away when He convicted you, but you did not; the inevitable process began to work and now you are in prison, and you will only get out when you have paid the uttermost penalty. "Is this a God of mercy, and of love?" you say. Seen from God's side, it is a glorious ministry of love. God is going to bring you out pure and spotless and undefiled; but He wants you to recognize your true nature - the nature of seeking your right to yourself. The moment you are willing that God should alter your nature, His recreating forces will begin to work. The moment you realize God's purpose, which is to get you rightly related to Himself and then to your fellow men, He will utilize the last limit of the universe to help you take the right road. Decide it now - "Yes, Lord, I will write that email to-night"; "I will be reconciled to that person now."

These messages of Jesus Christ are for the will and the conscience, not for the head. If you dispute the Sermon on the Mount with your head, you will neglect the appeal to your heart.

"I wonder why I don't go on with God?" Are you paying your debts from God's standpoint? Do now what you will have to do some day. Every moral call has an "ought" behind it.

In another word, it is not an option or suggestion to live according to God’s standard. If you don’t, your life will be in jeopardy – you will be paying for your judgment. Your judgment may not be eternal condemnation. You will certainly pay for the consequence of your rebellion. Don’t hesitate to follow God’s purpose for your life and experience His saving grace on a daily basis. Just as Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “My dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence (at church or fellowship), but now much more in my absence (at workplace or home)--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (2:12-13). As we “determine” to do His will and walk His way, the Holy Spirit will empower us to do accordingly. If we fail, we go back to God and confess our inadequacy to Him. Then, stand up and count on His grace to start all over again. This is how toddlers learn to walk; this is how Christians learn to live.

Love you with His joy,