Monday, August 31, 2009

Devotional 310809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Today is my last no pay leave for this month and hopefully it is the end of our no pay leave policy. No matter how the economy may turn, God’s promise will never change. He promises us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b). We are called to live out this promise, so that the whole world may experience the real peace on earth.

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11). What was the joy that Jesus had? It is an insult to use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ. The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. "I delight to do Your will." Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?

The full flood of my life is not in bodily health, not in external happenings, not in seeing God's work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the communion with Him that Jesus Himself had. The first thing that will hinder this joy is the critical annoyance in reacting to circumstances. The cares of this world, said Jesus, will choke God's word. Before we know where we are, we are caught up in the shows of things. All that God has done for us is the mere threshold; He wants to get us to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim Who Jesus is.

Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a centre for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified moralist, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it.

When you constantly consider what not to do in life, you squeeze out the joy of abiding in Christ. Yes, we will make mistake and we will react to situation not as godly as we wished. We just go to Christ and tell Him how helpless we are in sanctifying by our own strength. Those mistakes just confirm that fact that you need Christ to strengthen you in life. And you resume to your focus on the holiness of Christ and God’s love. There is no point to beat a dead horse or severely criticize a person who is the chief of all sinners. Jesus knew who we are, and He chose to love us regardless. He re-assured Apostle Paul this very important fact, “In all these things (personal weaknesses and hardship in life) we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39). We held on to this unconditional love of Christ, and pursue the beautiful characters of Christ in us. Rejoice in Him always because we are more than conquerors through Him.

This is the kind of “spirituality” that has been permeating the lives of all saints in church history. And this is the kind of spirituality that our Holy Spirit will continue to nurture within the community of saints today. God choose to use this kind of saints to impact the world throughout history. You are fellow saints in Christ no matter you like this title or not. There is only one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit and one kind of saint – the one whom Christ has brought with a high price, and put on earth for His purpose to demonstrate God’s mercy for all men and women. Treasure your lives in Christ and enjoy your walk with Him each day, because this is His plan for you to be His witnesses of God’s love.

Love you because of Christ,

Friday, August 28, 2009

Devotional 280809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I can’t believe it is Friday again. When life is so abundant and full, you just wished that the sun would come to a halt. It is like going a buffet dinner; you wished your stomach had more room and the delicious food would not make you fat. But this is not the reality. We have limitation. We only have 24 hours each day to enjoy our abundant life in Christ. Seize the moment to make life as meaningful and fruitful that God empower you to have. And one of them is to draw close to Him each day.

"Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray. We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

"Ask and ye shall receive." We complaint before God, we are apologetic or apathetic, but we ask very few things. Yet what a superb courage a childlike child has! Our Lord says - "Except you become as little children." Ask, and God will do. Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room, and no man will ever do this unless he is at the end of his intelligence. When a man is at the end of his intelligence it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get into touch with Reality. Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to the end of your intelligence. As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.

It is not so true that "prayer changes things" as that prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man's character.

Indeed, prayer changes our character and nature. It causes us to realize that we are not the center of the universe. We are not God. We cannot be self-sufficient. We are not totally reliable simply because we are not omnipotent. As we pray, we admit to God that we are only a finite human being; we have limitation and we are not perfect. We go to God in such humility and seek His divine intervention in our finite world. As we pray, we rely on God’s provision and protection. We surrender our whole being to Him and give Him the freedom to do His cleansing work and creative healing. The more we pray with this kind of attitude, the more we are shaped to be more like Christ. We begin to perceive or judge things differently. Just as Paul described in 1 Corinthians 2:15-16, “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.” When a person is having the mind of Christ, pre-Christian friends will not be able to understand his or her mindset, because it is so different from the norm. This is how prayer will accomplish in those who seek to know God through it. May God continue to work in your mind as you surrender to Him each day! Have a wonderful weekend to enjoy the presence of God.

Love you in His name,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Devotional 270809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Praise God for His miraculous provisions and thank you for your prayer, the financial condition of our organization has improved. Our no pay leave (NPL) policy will be terminated next month; earlier than we originally anticipated. So, today and next Monday will be my last two NPL days for August. And I was so happy to wake up to a bright sunny morning in Daly City. Without any hesitation, I went out to jog right away; something I have never done since I moved to Daly City more than ten years ago. And by the time I came back, the fog rolled back in again. I learned to seize the moment and do the right thing when opportunity is available.

"You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going" (John 12:35). Beware of not acting upon what you see in your moments on the mount with God. If you do not obey the light, it will turn into darkness. "If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!" The second you waive the question of sanctification or any other thing upon which God gave you light, you begin to get dry rot in your spiritual life. Continually bring the truth out into actuality; work it out in every domain, or the very light you have will prove a curse.

The most difficult person to deal with is the one who has the arrogant satisfaction of an experience to which he can refer back, but who is not working it out in practical life. If you say you are sanctified, show it. The experience must be so genuine that it is shown in the life. Beware of any belief that makes you self-indulgent; it came from the pit, no matter how beautiful it sounds.

Theology must work itself out in the most practical relationships. "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees . . ." said Our Lord, i.e., you must be more moral than the most moral being you know. You may know all about the doctrine of sanctification, but are you running it out into the practical issues of your life? Every bit of your life, physical, moral and spiritual is to be judged by the standard of the Atonement of Christ.

Only dead people stop growing. Some growth is desirable and some isn’t; we don’t want our body grow sideway like bearing a “spare tie” on our waist. We want our growth to be balanced and healthy. In the same way, our spiritual growth needs to be monitored on a regular basis. Or else Satan will take over our heart (control center of our reason, emotion and will) when we leave our heart on an auto mode (whatever!). King Solomon said in his proverbs, “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it” (Pro 4:23). At work, we know we need to guard our heart; to be alert of what need to be done and what not to be done. Some of us give our best to our work and want to see our desirable results. However, when comes to our walk with God or our personal well being, our attitude is just “whatever.” Your carelessness will have undesirable consequences. I grow weeds (undesirable vegetation) in my backyard when I am careless about my gardening. What kind of spiritual garden you have in your heart today? Don’t give up when it becomes a jungle of weeds. Once you start working on it, you will be amazed how fast you can have a fresh new garden again, because our Holy Spirit will partner with you on the side. Call on Him today to start working on your spiritual garden. You will enjoy spending time in your garden when you begin to pay attention to its growth.

Love you in Christ,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Devotional 260809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is a joy to rest in His presence with a cup of tea. Knowing God is always in control and we are His beloved children, we can relax and enjoy the life that He is preparing for us to live today. It may come with ups and downs experience, but it will never come short of God’s presence and His grace. Our Father in Heaven is always our faithful and almighty God. Praise His wonderful name!

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). There are times when our peace is based upon ignorance, but when we awaken to the facts of life, inner peace is impossible unless it is received from Jesus. When Our Lord speaks peace, He makes peace, His words are ever "spirit and life." Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? "Peace I leave with you" - it is a peace which comes from looking into His face and realizing His undisturbedness.

Are you painfully disturbed right now, distracted by the waves and billows of God's providential permission, and are you still finding no well of peace or joy or comfort; it seems to be all unproductive even though you hold on to the boulders of your belief? Then look up and receive the undisturbedness of the Lord Jesus. Your peaceful reaction is the proof that you are right with God because you deliberately turn your mind to Him. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. If you allow anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you, you are either disturbed or you have a false security.

Are you looking unto Jesus now, in the immediate matter that is pressing and receiving peace from Him? If so, He will be a gracious benediction of peace in and through you. But if you try to worry it out, you shut Him out and deserve all the problems you get. We get disturbed because we have not been considering Him. When one talks with Jesus Christ the confusion goes, because He has no uncertainty, and our only concern is to abide in Him. Lay it all out before Him, and in the face of difficulty, bereavement and sorrow, hear Him say, "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

We seldom take God’s word and His promise literally. We tend to look at them as some good wishes type of encouragement or teaching – it just makes you feel good. But in reality, God’s promises are true and reliable. We can count on His words if we turn our eyes to Jesus in the face of our troubles. We usually react to trouble by worry or fear instead of turning to Christ in prayer. We pray only when all possible solutions fail. And even when we pray, our mind still allow doubts and worries remain. Peace and joy enable our mind to work better; a panic person cannot think right. Therefore, it only makes sense to first turn to God in prayer and receive peace from His presence, in stead of reacting in panic or fear, when we encounter problems in life. Medical research already confirms the fact that joy will empower your immune system that can resist majority of known diseases, including cancer. But how often will we react with joy when we are ill with severe disease like cancer? God wants to give you this gift of peace and joy that can empower your body to do amazing things; it all up to you to receive them by faith or not. Let’s trust in His Word and His promises for all of us today.

Love you in accordance to His Word,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Devotional 250809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good afternoon. I didn’t expect our staff meeting took up the whole morning. And it is time for a farewell party for one of our coworkers, who left for health reason. Please pray that God will provide us her replacement: a graphic designer/IT support.

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15). We never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we abandon in every particular. Self-surrender is the most difficult thing - I will if…! Oh well, I suppose I must devote my life to God. There is none of the joy of self-sacrifice in that.

As soon as we do abandon, the Holy Spirit gives us an intimation of the joy of Jesus. The final aim of self-sacrifice is laying down our lives for our Friend. When the Holy Ghost comes in, the great desire is to lay down the life for Jesus, and the thought of sacrifice never touches us because sacrifice is the love passion of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord is our example in the life of self-sacrifice - "I delight to do Thy will, O my God." He went on with His sacrifice with exuberant joy. Have I ever yielded in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? If Jesus Christ is not our target, there is no benefit in the sacrifice; but when the sacrifice is made with the eyes on Him, slowly and surely the molding influence begins to surface.

Beware of letting natural kinship hinder your walk in love. One of the cruelest ways of killing natural love is to disregard natural kinship. The kinship of the saint is the Lord Jesus. Love for God is not sentimental, for the saint to love as God loves is the most practical thing.

"I have called you friends." It is a friendship based on the new life created in us which has no kinship with our old life, but only with the life of God. It is unspeakably humble, unblemished pure, and absolutely devoted to God.

We don’t even know how to become genuine friend with people let alone to be with God. Our idea of friendship becomes self serving. We want a friend to be our companion when we are lonely. We want a friend to be our helper when we have a project in mind. Our idea of friendship is becoming so self-centered. We may not care how other may feel or need. We only concern about how we feel and need. When we say we have no friend, we usually are complaining no body care about ME, or none pay attention to ME. Therefore, we choose friends that are influential, helpful, capable, smart, good looking and so on. We are like shopping for friends that we like for our own pleasure. But this is not the same way Jesus chose us as His friends. None of us will meet His standard if He were to choose us as His friend. He chooses us as His friend not because we are good and capable. It is purely His mercy and grace. I guess this is what we need to learn from our Lord in terms of building friendship in Christ.

Love you as a friend in Christ.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Devotional 240809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I thank God for a wonderful weekend to be with my family. We had some quality time to talk and share throughout the trip. I wished we had more time to spend with one another, especially with my son and two foster children. Today I am on call for my Jury Duty, and need to help my foster kid move back to Berkeley again. See if I will become the ‘chosen’ juror.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" (Matthew 7:9) The illustration of prayer that Our Lord uses here is that of a good child asking for a good thing. We talk about prayer as if God heard us regardless of the fact of our relationship to Him, like His general grace for all: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Never say it is not God's will to give you what you ask, don't sit down and faint, but find out the reason, turn up the indicator. Are you rightly related to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to your fellow-students - are you a "good child" there? "0 Lord, I have been bad-tempered and cross the line, but I do want spiritual blessing." You cannot have it; you will have to do without until you come into the attitude of a good child.

We mistake disobedience for devotion; arguing with God for abandonment. We will not look at the indicator. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want when there is something I have not paid for? Have I been asking God for liberty while I am withholding it from someone who belongs to me? I have not forgiven someone his trespasses; I have not been kind to him; I have not been living as God's child among my relatives and friends. Make sure you don’t forget the golden rule, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (7:12).

I am a child of God only by regeneration, and as a child of God I am good only as I walk in the light. Prayer with most of us is turned into religious boredom; it is a matter of emotion, mystical communion with God. Spiritually we are all good at producing fogs. If we turn up the indicator, we will see very clearly what is wrong - that friendship, that debt, that temper of mind. It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then, Jesus says - "Everyone that asks receives."

In prayer, God speaks and reminds us of what we need to shape up in life. We seldom pay attention to what God has to say through prayer, but focus only on what we want from Him; we don’t really ask for Him but ask for the things we desire apart from Him. Once we seriously focus on Him for a few seconds, His words will penetrate into our hearts and make us remember, reflect or repent. We can either ignore Him by moving on our lives without Him, or we pause and interact with Him in an intimate way. This is how we nurture our relationship with God or how we walk with Christ each day. Our heavenly Father is always watching over us and waiting to interact with us. He will not force His way in but wait for our invitation. Our way of inviting Christ into our live is by focusing on Him or worshipping Him. Have mercy on us O Lord. We too used to do our own things and make our own decisions without seeking you at all. Help us to be Christ-conscious. Remind us to invite you to take control of our lives from time to time, because this is the way we receive blessings from you. Amen.

Love you in Christ,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Family Fun at Yosemite

We were having some family fun at Angel Camp near Yosemite. This is the first trip of our foster kids to this beatuiful national park. We shared a lot in the car and having a great worship/fellowship time together. Priase the Lord!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Devotional 210809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is a blessing to have beautiful sunshine in Burlingame; this gives me a lot of incentives to go to work from my foggy home in Daly City. Everyday is a new privilege in serving God. People may come and go. But our Lord remains eternally. Praise the Lord!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3). The New Testament notices things which from our standards do not seem to count. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," literally should be - Blessed are the paupers or homeless - an exceedingly commonplace thing! The preaching of to-day is apt to emphasize strength of will, beauty of character - the things that are easily noticed. The phrase we hear so often, Decide for Christ, is an emphasis on something Our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him - a very different thing. At the basis of Jesus Christ's Kingdom is the unaffected loveliness of the commonplace. The thing I am blessed in is my poverty. If I know I have no strength of will, no nobility of disposition, then Jesus says - Blessed are you, because it is through this poverty that I enter His Kingdom. I cannot enter His Kingdom as a good man or woman, I can only enter it as a complete pauper or very poor person.

The true character of the loveliness that tells for God is always unconscious. Conscious influence is arrogant and un-Christian. If I say - I wonder if I am of any use - I instantly disconnect my life with the Lord. "He that believes in me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water." If I question on the outflow of my life, I lose the touch of the Lord.

Which are the people who have influenced us most? Not the ones who thought they did, but those who had never imagined that they were influencing us. In the Christian life the hidden quality is never conscious, if it is conscious it ceases to have this unaffected loveliness which is the characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.

Genuine fruits came about unconsciously; the natural process of fruit bearing is hidden. You may have waited for your tree to bear fruits for years but see no result. Suddenly one day you see new fruits grow out from the tip of a branch so unexpectedly. You have no clue where it came from. This fruit just grows out from within the tree. In the same token, the Fruit of the Spirit grows out from a person who yields his or her life to Christ totally. Paul said, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). You may have your desire to bear certain type of Spiritual Fruit in life. It is the Holy Spirit that finally determines the kind of fruit He wants you to bear for His glory. We can’t decorate ourselves with godly beauty. Godly beauty is an outflow of a genuine godly life in Christ. You will not even aware of this quality in you until someone is blessed by this spiritual fruit they see in you. Therefore, we don’t focus on bearing fruit but abiding in Christ or obey the Word of God at all time. Have a blessed weekend to walk with the Lover of your soul.

Love you through Christ,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Devotional 200809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Our God is good and He is always good to me. After a long day of ministry (from 8 am to 10 pm), I regained my strength by spending some times to rest in His presence. Indeed his Word is our strength and our joy. He always whispers with His gentle voice in our heart that we are His beloved children. We don’t need to try too hard to listen. We just need to be still with focus on our Lord and His Cross; you will hear His affirming words that come like a warm embrace.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is disturbing your inner peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say – “Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me,” and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up. Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will dignify you until the completeness is absolute.

The complete life is the life of a child. When I am consciously conscious, there is something wrong. It is the sick man who knows what health is. The child of God is not conscious of the will of God because he is the will of God. When there has been the slightest deviation from the will of God, we begin to ask - What is Thy will? A child of God never prays to be conscious that God answers prayer, he is so restfully certain that God always does answer prayer.

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take over the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the perfect rest that self-conscious activity will not attain.

Yesterday, we visited our distinguished Chaplin, Rev. Mark Cheng, one of the founders of Gospel Operation International, and the champion of mission mobilization among Chinese Church. He was over 90 years old and was diagnosed with last stage of lung cancer lately. With a big smile and serenity on his face, he welcomed us to his house and said, “Wow, I have 3 men of God come to pray for me. God has to listen!” He was humorous and alert. With calm confident he said, “If God wants to heal me he just need to give order and it will be done.” This kind of ‘rest’ is what Brother Chambers talked about. It is not whether we deserve healing or not. It is perfect confidence and surrender to the will of God. There are no more struggles with self-consciousness or self-centeredness. He rested in the arms of God and enjoyed His sovereignty in his life. It is similar to how I feel right now in serving as a ‘second’ man instead of a ‘boss.’ I rested to know that my boss will be ultimately responsible for the well being of this mission. Yes, I still need to do my part faithfully. But if there is anything happen that requires a final decision, I am glad my boss will resolve it for me. We all have the BIG boss in heaven. We can have perfect peace to know that He is always in charge. On a contrary, if we try to take over his place or rebel against His role, we will not have peace at all. May God give you the peace that surpasses all understanding in the days to come!

Love you in peace,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Devotional 190809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is wonderful to be back to my ‘routine’ again. I missed my quiet time before the Lord and enjoy His presence. It felt like starving from food for so long that your stomach was craving for some solid food for your body. We have no strength to serve unless we have physical well being to do so. In the same token, we have no spiritual strength if our spiritual well being is at stake. Indeed, we need His strength more than we need food to live and to serve.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling.

Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God's will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be healed at once, and it is not healed by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one - "Come to Me." The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come.

Self-consciousness is an expression of self-centeredness. Just as Paul said, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5), self consciousness is to have our mind set on what our nature desires. And once we constantly yield to our nature’s desires, we are being controlled or dictated by our own desire instead of God’s desires. On a contrary, if we live according to the Holy Spirit, we will set our mind on God’s desires. We will become Christ-conscious. It is not a easy transition to change from self-conscious to Christ-conscious. Our mind is conditioned to think according to our own flesh but not according to the Holy Spirit. It really takes deliberate effort to set our mind in Christ at all time. But this is exactly where the battle field is in terms of our spiritual warfare. Satan would do whatever to take full control of our mind and disrupt our Christ-consciousness. We will not automatically “react” with the mind of Christ. Instead, we automatically react with the mind or attitude of our flesh. As a result, we cause split in church and divide our union in Christ. That’s why Paul admonished the Philippians, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being, like-minded (Christ-consciousness), having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Phil 2:1). Let’s set this as our life goal to grow in Christ.

Love in accordance to His mind,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Devotional 180809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good evening. I just finished my 4 days annual staff meeting. We had a fruitful meeting even though it was tiring. Praise God for His guiding hands in leading this mission organization to fulfill His salvation plan on earth.

"When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth" (Luke 18:23). The rich young ruler went away expressionless with sorrow; he had not a word to say. He had no doubt as to what Jesus said, no debate as to what it meant, and it produced in him a sorrow that was beyond word to describe. Have you ever been there? Has God's word come to you about something you are very rich in - temperament, personal similarity, relationships of heart and mind? Then you have often been expressionless with sorrow. The Lord will not go after you, He will not plead, but every time He meets you on that point He will simply repeat - If you mean what you say, those are the conditions.

"Sell all that you have," undress yourself morally before God of everything that might be a possession until you are a mere conscious human being, and then give God that. That is where the battle is fought - in the domain of the will before God. Are you more devoted to your idea of what Jesus wants than to Himself? If so, you are likely to hear one of His hard sayings that will produce sorrow in you. What Jesus says is hard to your ears; it is only easy when it is heard by those who have His mind. Beware of allowing anything to soften a hard word of Jesus Christ's.

I can be so rich in poverty, so rich in the consciousness that I am nobody, that I shall never be a disciple of Jesus; and I can be so rich in the consciousness that I am somebody that I shall never be a disciple. Am I willing to be destitute of the sense that I am destitute? This is where discouragement comes in. Discouragement is to disappoint self-love, and self-love may be love of “my devotion” to Jesus but not Jesus Himself.

The last paragraph is realty difficult to comprehend. I believe what Brother Chamber wanted to say was to let go of even our “consciousness of giving up all things” for Christ. Some people enjoy making sacrifice for others; it is a virtue of greatness to some who choose to live in poverty as a sign of sainthood. If we are not careful, we will easily fall into this trap of self-love. We sell or give up everything to follow Christ is not to show off our greatness but for our gratitude toward Christ and what He did on the cross for us. May God help us put to death even “our desire or mindset to be more holy and devoted than other.” We simply do what Christ wants us to do.

Love you because of His love,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Devotional 170809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It was an excited and busy weekend with relatives visiting us and preaching in two worship services at Oakland Chinese Independent Baptist Church. Our annual staff conference will continue until Wednesday. Therefore, I will not have time to write my personal reflection in my blog in these two days. Hope you will continue to read the devotional by Oswald Chamber and spend time to listen to His Word for you.

"You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Luke 18:22). "And when he heard this . . ." Have you ever heard the Master say a hard word? If you have not, I question whether you have heard Him say anything. Jesus Christ says a great deal that we listen to, but do not hear; when we do hear, His words are amazingly hard.

Jesus did not seem in the least concerned that this man should do what He told him, He made no attempt to keep him with Him. He simply said - Sell all you have, and come, follow Me. Our Lord never pleaded, He never persuaded, He never deceived; He simply spoke the sternest words mortal ears ever listened to, and then left it alone.

Have I ever heard Jesus say a hard word? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened? Not something I can explain or say this and that about, but something I have heard Him say to me? This man did understand what Jesus said, he heard it and he sized up what it meant, and it broke his heart. He did not go away disobedient; he went away sorrowful, thoroughly discouraged. He had come to Jesus full of the fire of earnest desire, and the word of Jesus simply froze him; instead of producing an enthusiastic devotion, it produced a heart-breaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, He let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly that when once His word is heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. The terrible thing is that some of us prevent it bearing fruit in actual life. I wonder what we will say when we do make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain, He will never cast anything up at us.

Love you in Him,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Preaching at CIBC Oakland

It was always a pleasure to preach at Chinese Independent Baptist Church of Oakland, and rekindled the friendship with some brothers and sisters in that congregation. We especially delighted to meet our retired missionary, Esther, who is still active in sharing the gospel with people in Oakland. Many came forward to show interest to support the bivocational mission work. Praise the Lord!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Devotional 130809

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thanks for praying for my ministry at a summer retreat. If you visit my blog you will see some of the pictures I took since last weekend. It was a pleasure to witness God’s work in the lives of different brothers and sisters; hearing their struggles and stories reaffirmed the fact that our sweet Holy Spirit is always active in the lives of His children and in His church. I enjoyed some quiet time I had with the Lord in the beautiful campground of Redwood Christian Park, and the fellowship I had with this lovely group of people who seeks to become the community of the cross.

"Quench not the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The voice of the Spirit is as gentle as a light breeze, so gentle that unless you are living in perfect communion with God, you never hear it. The checks of the Spirit come in the most extraordinarily gentle ways, and if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice you will quench it, and your personal spiritual life will be impaired. His checks always come as a still small voice, so small that no one but the saint notices them.

Beware if in personal testimony you have to look back and say - "Once, so many years ago, I was saved." If you are walking in the light, there is no looking back, the past is transfused into the present wonder of communion with God. If you get out of the light you become a sentimental Christian and live on memories, your testimony has a hard, metallic note. Beware of trying to patch up a present refusal to walk in the light by recalling past experiences when you did walk in the light. Whenever the Spirit checks, call a halt and get the thing right, or you will go on grieving Him without knowing it.

Suppose God has brought you up to a crisis and you nearly go through but not quite, He will engineer the crisis again, but it will not be as obvious as it was before. There will be less discernment of God and more humiliation at not having obeyed; and if you go on grieving the Spirit, there will come a time when that crisis cannot be repeated, you have grieved Him away. But if you go through the crisis, there will be the rise of praise to God. Never sympathize with the thing that is hurting God all the time. God has to remove all our sharp edges in life.

God never stops working in the life of His beloved. Sometimes we wished God would slow down His shaping work in our lives, but He would not. The author of Hebrews said, “The Lord disciplines those he loves…” (Heb 12:6). When we go through His discipline, we should have full confidence in His love and wisdom. He knows better than we know ourselves. God wants to give us the best in life. He wants to shapes us to the kind of person that will bring joy to Him, to ourselves and to others. A life in God’s hands is a life with many scars; those scars are like scars that a skillful designer cuts on a piece of raw diamond, for the purpose of bringing out its beauty. The hardship you have gone through in life represents the beauty of character that God wants to shape you through it. Remind us O Lord of your love, so that we can rejoice in the dark light of our souls, celebrate in the midst of suffering, serene in the middle of storm, hope in the midst of crisis. This is Christian living and this is Christian joy, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Rejoice in the Lord, my beloved brothers and sisters. God is with you always…

Love you for His delights,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer retreat of Chinese United Methodist Church

Thanks for praying for my preaching at CUMC retreat. It was fun to share the word of God with a very lovely group of brothers and sisters. I have seldom seen a church retreat that runs for five days long. And the attendance was pretty good too. I enjoyed preaching to the Cantonese adults and the English youth and young adults as well. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What a hot weekend!

What a hot summer picnic! It looks like everybody enjoyed the fun and food together. Praise God for a great family time!
Sunday begins my preaching ministry with Chinese United Methodist Church retreat. Will give you more pictures after we go to Christian Redwood Park.