Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Urbana 2009 more pictures

Meet new friends and make new connection in Christ!

Those held up a flash light were making decision to follow Christ at Urbana.

Every morning is a spiritual feast and every night is a revival meeting!

All the general sessions were filled with wonderful music and praises that touched the hearts of many. Thank God for giving us the gift of music to worship.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The second day at Urbana

Pray that God will speak to the hearts of our young people to become workers in His harvest field.

A long line of people waiting for dinner. Imagine how Urbana try to feed 18,000 people each night.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

First day at Urbana 09

Praise God for bringing us safely to Urbana. We had a good start. Please continue to pray for our ministry among the college students and young adults.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Devotional 241209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I am sure many of you are properly on vacation at home already. Yes, some may still work very hard to finish up your year-end responsibility. No matter where you are, our Lord is with you as always. Loretta and I will be leaving for Urbana (a Mission Conference) at St. Louise on 12/26. We will host a booth to introduce the work of GOI and hope to recruit some potential missionaries for the Kingdom of God. We covet your prayers for us and all those (about 20,000) who will attend the conference, that we will have good weather and readiness to respond to the mission call of God. Thus, you may not hear from me for the rest of this year. I pray that you will continue to stay tune with God in wherever you are.

"Your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). The Spirit of God witnesses to the simple almighty security of the life hid with Christ in God and this is continually brought out in the Epistles. We talk as if it were the most precarious thing to live the sanctified life; it is the most secure thing, because it has Almighty God in and behind it. The most risky thing is to try and live without God. If we are born again it is the easiest thing to live in right relationship to God and the most difficult thing to go wrong, if only we will heed God's warnings and keep in the light.

When we think of being delivered from sin, of being filled with the Spirit, and of walking in the light, we picture the peak of a great mountain, very high and wonderful, and we say - "Oh, but I could never live up there!" But when we do get there by God's grace, we find it is not a mountain peak, but a plateau where there is ample room to live and to grow. "You have enlarged my steps under me."

When you really see Jesus, I challenge you to doubt Him. When He says - "Let not your heart be troubled," if you see Him I challenge you to trouble your mind, it is a moral impossibility to doubt when He is there. Every time you get into personal contact with Jesus, His words are real. "My peace I give unto you," it is a peace all over from the crown of the head to the sole of the feet, an irrepressible confidence. "Your life is hid with Christ in God" and the serene peace of Jesus Christ is imparted to you.

Silent night, holy night…when Christ is born into your heart today, you can enjoy that serene peace that the world cannot give and cannot take it away from you. God’s presence indeed is our source of peace. If your peace is at the mercy of the world or of others, it is the shakiest thing; you can easily lose your peace if the world and others decide to take it away. Only God is absolutely faithful and dependable. In Him we find peace. Emmanuel is His name – the one who was born into human history, so that through and in Him we find peace. Emmanuel is God with us. Emmanuel is the greatest miracle in human history. Emmanuel is the reason why the whole world celebrates Christmas. Emmanuel is the greatest gift that man can ever have from above. Let’s not forget why Christmas is such a joyous occasion because God became man in a most humble and vulnerable form – a baby in a smelly and dirty manger. God did it in order to proclaim to us that He did not come to judge but in peace. It is all up to us whether we want to accept or reject Him.

Have a very merry Christmas to celebrate the gift of Emmanuel with your family and loved ones. Loretta and I wish you a blessed and happy New Year too.

Love you because of Emmanuel,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Devotional 221209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It is such a beautiful cold day – it is fun in wearing heavy jacket on a sunny day. I am excited to celebrate Christmas with the senior citizens fellowship at Chinatown today. O how I missed worship at my home church with these brothers and sisters – they are truly my good OLD friends in ChristJ. Praise the Lord for their faithfulness and support for my ministry. They are more than my friends; they are my parents and grand parents in the Lord. Amen.

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44). When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once - will I react on the revelation which God gives - will I come to Him? Discussion on spiritual matters is impolite. Never discuss with anyone when God speaks. Belief is not an intellectual act; belief is a moral act whereby I deliberately commit myself. Will I dump myself down absolutely on God and transact on what He says? If I will, I shall find I am based on Reality that is as sure as God's throne.

In preaching the gospel, always push an issue of will. Belief must be the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not surrender to persuasive power, a deliberate launching forth on God and on what He says until I am no longer confident in what I have done, I am confident only in God. The hindrance is that I will not trust God, but only my mental understanding. As far as feelings go, I must stake all blindly. I must will to believe, and this can never be done without a violent effort on my part to disassociate myself from my old ways of looking at things, and by putting myself right over on to Him.

Every man is made to reach out beyond his grasp. It is God who draws me, and my relationship to Him in the first place is a personal one, not an intellectual one. I am introduced into the relationship by the miracle of God and my own will to believe, then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transaction.

It is the leap of faith that we always have problem with. We can’t understand how intellectual people will give up the comfort of their own home and profession but go to far away places to suffer for the gospel? Not only that, they even prefer to die in a foreign soil. What make intelligent people take such a leap of faith? None can give better answer than the person himself. Paul is a good example. None could understand why he would give up his prestigious status to become an evangelist for a religious sect. After hearing the story of Paul, King Agrippa cried out, “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane” (Acts 26:24). For those who had never touched by God in the same way would never understand why Paul did what he did. But this special encounter of Paul completely changed his life. Good thing Paul was not married. Otherwise he had hard time to explain to his wife when he returned from Damascus as a changed person. And his livelihood completely turned upside down for Christ.

Majority of Christians will not share dramatic conversion like Paul. But God will visit us in an unexpected manner. We may not be able to explain to others what had happened, but deep down inside, you know this is the work of God. The more you tried to explain the more it sounds too mythical and irrational to your hearers. At the end, you prefer like Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, who became a dumb person after he had encountered God in the Temple (read Luke 1:22). Ask the Lord to send you someone like Ananias for Paul, who could affirm his experience was something from the Lord, “Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). May God bless you with His presence as you seek to walk with Him each day!

Love you in Christ,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Devotional 211209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Today’s weather calls for Sabbath at home. But there is so much work to do in preparing for my up coming trips to Urbana, Oregon and Southeast Asia. It is surely important to focus on God in order to receive strength from above. This is how I was re-charged after a busy weekend. Praise the Lord! He is always faithful to His children.

"We have received . . . the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Corinthians 2:12). Reality is Redemption, not my experience of Redemption; but Redemption has no meaning for me until it speaks the language of my conscious life. When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me right out of myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I am left with my experiences, my experiences have not been produced by Redemption. The proof that they are produced by Redemption is that I am led out of myself all the time, I no longer pay any attention to my experiences as the ground of Reality, but only to the Reality which produced the experiences. My experiences are not worth anything unless they keep me at the Source, Jesus Christ.

If you try to block up the Holy Spirit in you to produce subjective experiences, you will find that He will burst all bounds and take you back again to the historic Christ. Never nourish an experience which has not God as its Source and faith in God as its result. If you do, your experience is anti-Christian, no matter what visions you may have had. Is Jesus Christ Lord of your experiences, or do you try to lord it over Him? Is any experience dearer to you than your Lord? He must be Lord over you, and you must not pay attention to any experience over which He is not Lord. There comes a time when God will make you impatient with your own experience - I do not care what I experience; I am sure of Him.

Be merciless with yourself if you are given to talking about the experiences you have had. Faith that is sure of itself is not faith; faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is.

We are living in a culture that emphasizes so much on experience. That’s why book like “Experiencing God” could become such a best seller, which even surprised the author. The bottom line question is “unless I experience God, He is not real to me.” Unless God continuously entertains your experience on a daily basis, He cannot be your God. In another word, God has to serve your curiosity and desire for extraordinary experiences. It reminds me what our Lord said to the Pharisees who asked for miracle, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:39-40). God has performed the greatest miracle in human history through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. It is because of His death and resurrection that we receive this new life in Christ. We never experience his resurrection like the disciples did. But we are benefit by this miracle.

When Jesus knew that Thomas had doubt about his companion’s testimony about the risen Lord, He said to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe…Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:27-29). It takes faith to produce experience. It is by faith we are saved, not by experience. Once we focus so much on “our experience,” we are still self-centered. When we are still self-centered we disconnect ourselves with God; we don’t expect to experience Him at all because, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE” (James 4:6). Humble yourself to the Lord by faith. Ask not how He should satisfy your expectation, but ask how you should satisfy His expectation. By doing so, God will surprise you with His very presence just as He did to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds. At His perfect timing, God entered into human history so that people could encounter Him on a very personal experience. Later, many disciples testified their faith in Christ by martyrdom, without personal experiences with Him. Will you stand up for your faith today like those in the early church? Something for you and I to meditate…

Love you because of His act of redemption,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Devotional 181209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The Lord is good and He always cares for His children. As we are counting down on Christmas, I am reminded of the second coming of Christ. This year, I have no time to wrap gifts, decorate my house or put up the tree for Christmas. But I hope I will not be too busy to decorate my heart and put on the full armor of God in preparing for the second coming of Christ. A latest movie may predict that end time comes on 2012. Other predicts 2013. I am not interested in all these predictions at all. But I want to make sure that I am ready for His coming if it were to happen today.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). It is only the loyal soul who believes that God engineers circumstances. We take such liberty with our circumstances, we do not believe God engineers them, although we say we do; we treat the things that happen as if they were engineered by men. To be faithful in every circumstance means that we have only one loyalty; and that is to our Lord. Suddenly God breaks up a particular set of circumstances, and the realization comes that we have been disloyal to Him by not recognizing that He had ordered them; we never saw what He was after, and that particular thing will never be repeated all the days of our life. The test of loyalty always comes just there. If we learn to worship God in the trying circumstances, He will alter them in two seconds when He chooses.

Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the thing that we "stick at" today. We will be loyal to work, to service, to anything, but do not ask us to be loyal to Jesus Christ. Many Christians are intensely impatient of talking about loyalty to Jesus. Our Lord is dethroned more emphatically by Christian workers than by the world. God is made a machine for blessing men, and Jesus Christ is made a Worker among workers.

The idea is not that we do work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us - "I consider you for extreme service, with no complaining on your part and no explanation on Mine." God wants to use us as He used His own Son.

It is a scary thought that God will use us just as He used His own Son. But this is really true as we look at our circumstances today. If we are sincere in standing up for our faith, we will be persecuted like the way Christ was persecuted for speaking out the truth. Our Lord said, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:20). If we complain why God allowed persecution or unpleasant circumstances to come upon us, ask why God allowed His own Son to go through all kinds of trial on earth for us. God allows unpleasant circumstance to come for our benefit. We may not consider those circumstances as “good.” We will avoid those experiences if we have a choice. But they are good for our growth and redemptive to others along the way.

The goodness of God is not the same as our understanding of goodness. We always say that God is good but not necessarily nice. He knows how the pain of shaping will bring out the goodness and beauty within us. A piece of raw diamond will not shine without the skillful cutting and polishing by a craftsman. The plan of God is always to bring out the potentiality of His children, so that they will truly become the light and salt of the earth. The goodness of God is to edify and sanctify us to become more like His own Son. He may engineer the circumstances to achieve this goal in us. No matter how much we complain or protest against the circumstances, our loving Heavenly Father will still allow those experiences to come upon us, for the purpose of making us a better Child of God. Learn to focus on God and re-affirm His goodness for you while you are going through trial. You will discover how your life has been transformed through it when you look back one day.

Love you in His goodness,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Devotional 171209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Praise God for such a balmy weather. It feels so warm under the sun. Our God is doing amazing thing each day for us. Each day is a new day in Christ. As I meditate on the message of Christmas, I am reminded once again the greatest miracle of mankind is the incarnation of our Creator God through a woman’s womb. It is totally unbelievable. None can fully fathom this impossible gesture of love that God has demonstrated to us. He humbled Himself by making himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death (Phil 2:7-8). This is how He made us the object of His love until today.

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Gospel of God creates a sense of need of the Gospel. Paul says - "If our gospel be hid, it is hid" - to those who are blackguards? No, "to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not." The majority of people have their morality well within their own grasp; they have no sense of need of the Gospel. It is God Who creates the need of which no human being is conscious until God manifests Himself. Jesus said - "Ask, and it shall be given you," but God cannot give until a man asks. It is not that He withholds, but that is the way He has constituted things on the basis of Redemption. By means of our asking, God gets processes into work whereby He creates the thing that is not in existence until we do ask. The inner reality of Redemption is that it creates all the time. As the Redemption creates the life of God in us, so it creates the things belonging to that life. Nothing can satisfy the need but that which created the need. This is the meaning of Redemption - it creates and it satisfies.

"I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." We preach our own experiences and people are interested, but no sense of need is awakened by it. If once Jesus Christ is lifted up, the Spirit of God will create a conscious need of Him. Behind the preaching of the Gospel is the creative Redemption of God at work in the souls of men. It is never personal testimony that saves men. "The words that I speak unto you; they are spirit and life."

There are many moral people but not necessarily spiritual in accordance to God. They want to prove that they can be “perfect” and “good” in accordance to their standard. Just as Jesus said to this moralist, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (Matt 19:17). The man said he had obeyed all commandments but he still had no assurance that he was good enough. Jesus continued to say, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (v 21). The man left with discouragement because he was very wealthy.

There are a lot of high A or driven type of person like this man, who think they can accomplish all things by their will power. They want to be in control, and they even want to control God. But at the end, they suffered in great disappointment with themselves. This is our assumption that a successful person is a good person or vice versa. But according to our Lord Jesus, only God is good and perfect. We can approach perfection but surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit, who increase His reign within us day by day. After all, this is what it means by filling with the Holy Spirit. Are you filling with the Holy Spirit, or is He taking over the command center of your life each day?

Love you under His reign,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Devotional 161209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The misty wet weather indeed makes us sleepy. But the presence of God is our strength. As the Holy Spirit reminds us of His presence, we feel energized again. The joy of the Lord is my strength. And His joy comes according to His promise. A lot of time, it is your worry filled habit that serves as firewall to block His joy and peace from entering into your lives. You need to click the button of submission in order to let down the firewall for God’s grace to enter.

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God . . . praying always . . ." (Ephesians 6:13, 18). You have to wrestle against the things that prevent you from getting to God, and you wrestle in prayer for other souls; but never say that you wrestle with God in prayer, it is scripturally untrue. If you do wrestle with God, you will be crippled all the rest of your life. If, when God comes in some way you do not want, you take hold of Him as Jacob did and wrestle with Him, you compel Him to put you out of joint. Don't be a hindrance in God's ways, but be one who wrestles before God with things, becoming more than conqueror through Him. Wrestling before God tells in His Kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you and I am not complete in Christ, I may pray but it avails nothing; but if I am complete in Christ my prayer prevails all the time. Prayer is only effective when there is completeness - "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God."

Always distinguish between God's order and His permissive will, i.e., His providential purpose towards us. God's order is unchangeable; His permissive will is that with which we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to the permissive will of God that enables us to get at His order. "All things work together for good to them that love God" - to those who remain true to God's order, to His calling in Christ Jesus. God's permissive will is the means whereby His sons and daughters are to be manifested. We are not to be like jelly-fish saying, "It's the Lord's will." We have not to put up a fight before God, not to wrestle with God, but to wrestle before God with things. Beware of squatting lazily before God instead of putting up a glorious fight so that you may lay hold of His strength.

Nowadays, many believers chose to squat lazily in front of the computer or choosing to be couch potatoes instead of fighting for the Kingdom of God. They miss the opportunity to experience God in an intimate way. Their walk with God remains on the level of reading a short devotion each day and pray before meals. They wonder why their Christian life is so boring and meaningless. They want to experience God but they are not ready to pay the price in joining the spiritual warfare. Satan will do whatever to convince them to relax and kick back in life, “your life is so busy right now already, why bother to fight spiritual battle through prayer…watch some movie or U-tube, play some video game, think of your next vacation, or simply go to bed…why bother to pray!” Isn’t it a common temptation to you? I am sure you feel totally justified to enjoy life in such a manner.

God wants you to enjoy life. But the way He wants you to enjoy life is to fully utilize the potentials and gifts He gives you for His purpose. The two folded purpose of your existence is:
1) To become the target of God’s love. Christian life is basically a love affair with God. God wants to build a loving relationship with you. All our “religious activities” are only expressions of this inner love we have for God as a response to His love.
2) To become the channel of God’s love to others – this involves more than just building friendship with strangers. It involves fighting against evil forces that plague humanity. That’s what light and salt of the world refer to – we are becoming God’s agent in the world to remove darkness and preserve the world from further decay.

May God give you the strength and vision to change the world! And let His transformation begins from your inner world today.

Love you by His strength,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Devotional 151209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I came across a verse in the Book of Philemon that really stood out to me during our study at prayer meeting. Paul was sending Onesimus back to his master, from whom he ran away as a slave. In the old days, a Master could severely punish or even kill an escaped slave. I am sure it was a very scary experience for Onesimus to return to his master or owner without knowing what might happen. Paul used a very wise expression to describe this dilemma to Philemon, "Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good – no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother” (v 15-16). Philemon lost a slave but gain a brother in Christ. Onesimus no longer belong to Philemon as a slave but a brother. In another word, Philemon possessed Onesimus as a brother in Christ. In the Body of Christ, we belong to each other as member of the Body. This is indeed a profound mystery as Paul described in Ephesians 5:32a. But we are called to live out this kind of relationship on earth for the whole world to see.

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). If you cannot express yourself on any subject, struggle until you can. If you do not, someone will be the poorer all the days of his life. Struggle to re-express some truth of God to yourself, and God will use that expression to someone else. Go through the winepress of God where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle to get expression experimentally, then there will come a time when that expression will become the very wine of strengthening to someone else; but if you say lazily - "I am not going to struggle to express this thing for myself, I will borrow what I say," the expression will not only be of no use to you, but of no use to anyone. Try to state to yourself what you feel implicitly to be God's truth, and you give God a chance to pass it on to someone else through you.

Always make a practice of provoking your own mind to think out what it accepts easily. Our position is not ours until we make it ours by suffering. The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that you have difficulty to utter in life.

It is true that we always have difficulty to utter the experience that we have in Christ. We know the experience is true. But how can we put it into words that others can identify? The more you encounter God the more you find yourself inadequate in vocabularies to describe yourself. It takes time to sort it out or agonize it like delivering a baby; it is painful and time consuming. But at the end it is a tremendous joy to be able to describe your experience in Christ.

Writing this journal is my spiritual exercise. I did not write it for people to read. I am glad if this is helpful to you and others. But I write to interact with the words of God or the impression that God put in me through the journal of Brother Chambers. In another word, I wrote it for and to myself, even though it may sound like I am writing it to others. If you share the some agony to find words to express your experience in Christ, you are not alone. All of us share the same pain. You just need to take time to wait upon the Lord, and seek Him to grant you the words to put down on writing. Our brain waves goes too fast, and we will easily forget the impression or message that has come from above. Putting it down on writing helps me capture what God has spoken and impressed upon me. The more I calm down myself in silence and focus on God’s words, the more insight or words that I discover in expressing the truth. Have mercy on us O Lord. Give us the words to tell ourselves about your truth. We need your help to focus in silence. Amen.

Love you because you belong to me in Christ,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Devotional 141209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for beautiful sunshine after the storm. The air is very refreshing and the nature is greener after the rain. Praise God for His common grace for mankind. No matter whether we are rebellious or obedience, God displays His grace to us all. This kind of grace or blessing is something God wants His children to display in life. Jesus did not serve the poor or needy with the condition that they have to follow Him. He gives unconditionally. He blessed even those who persecuted or cursed Him. As we walk close to God, I am sure the Holy Spirit will transform our lives into Christ-like. After all, this is the goal of our spiritual formation to allow the statue of Christ to grow within us daily.

"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). Whenever a thing becomes difficult in personal experience, we are in danger of blaming God, but it is we who are in the wrong, not God, there is some perversity somewhere that we will not let go. Immediately we do, everything becomes as clear as daylight. As long as we try to serve two ends, ourselves and God, there is confusion. The attitude must be one of complete reliance on God. When once we get there, there is nothing easier than living the saintly life; difficulty comes in when we want to seize the authority of the Holy Spirit for our own ends.

Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of peace, the witness of an unfathomable peace, which is not natural, but the peace of Jesus. Whenever peace does not come, wait till it does or find out the reason why it does not. If you are acting on an impulse, or from a sense of the heroic, the peace of Jesus will not witness; there is no simplicity or confidence in God, because the spirit of simplicity is born of the Holy Spirit, not of your decisions. Every decision brings a reaction of simplicity.

My questions come whenever I cease to obey. When I have obeyed God, the problems never come between me and God, they come as query to keep the mind going on with amazement at the revelation of God. Any problem that comes between God and myself springs out of disobedience; any problem, and there are many, that is alongside me while I obey God, increases my thrilled delight, because I know that my Father knows, and I am going to watch and see how He resolves this thing.

It is common that we blame God for whatever we have problem in life. Even though you do not explicitly complain against God, your grievance ultimately goes back to God. You may simply says, “Why does this thing happen to me or my family?” You did not mention God. But your grievance is against the One who is ultimately in control of the unknown future. God always bare the blame; He is our easy target. Family member is usually easy target for most people to dump their emotional garbage; they appear to be very calm and gentle in dealing with all kinds of problem at work. But once they return home they become easily agitated. In the same way, God become our easy target to dump our emotional garbage. Like loving parents, God understands His children’s frustration in life. He does not mind to listen to their grievances and anger. When all the yelling subsides, we will hear God’s gentle voice saying, “I understand your frustration. I am sorry that you have to go through the growing pain. I am here for you. I love you regardless.” This is the kind of peace that our Holy Spirit will offer us. He wants to give you the ultimate security in the whirlpool of life.

Love you in His peace,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Devotional 111209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good afternoon. I had started my journal at 8:40 am and could not finish until 12:10 pm. It was meeting after meeting in the entire morning, but they are all fruitful and meaningful for the Kingdom of God. Praise the Lord! I hope this devotional will reach you before your lunch break, so that you will have more time to meditate on it and over the weekend.

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). Individuality is the shell of the personal life. Individuality is all elbows, it separates and isolates. It is the characteristic of the child and rightly so; but if we mistake individuality for the personal life, we will remain isolated. The shell of individuality is God's created natural covering for the protection of the personal life; but individuality must go in order that the personal life may come out and be brought into fellowship with God. Individuality counterfeits personality as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself; individuality humiliates human nature for itself.

The characteristics of individuality are independence and self-assertiveness. It is the continual assertion of individuality that hinders our spiritual life more than anything else. If you say - "I cannot believe," it is because individuality is in the road; individuality never can believe. Personality cannot help believing. Watch yourself when the Spirit of God is at work. He pushes you to the margins of your individuality, and you have either to say - "I shan't," or to surrender, to break the shell of individuality and let the personal life emerge. The Holy Spirit narrows it down every time to one thing. The thing in you that will not be reconciled to your brother is your individuality. God wants to bring you into union with Himself, but unless you are willing to give up your right to yourself He cannot. "Let him deny himself" - deny his independent right to himself, then the real life has a chance to grow.

We are living in a culture that uplifts independence and self-assertiveness. As a result, we harvest arrogance, indulgence and complacence. When we focus so much on our individuality and self actualization, we will not consider self sacrifice and self-denial; they are something essential as we want to follow Christ or grow in Christ. Have mercy on us O Lord. We are living in such a culture and being corrupted or swallowed up by such trend. Many of us will not be able to tell how our lifestyle has been corrupted within the sphere of this mega-trend of self-assertiveness. Only when we humble ourselves before God, and allow His enlightenment come upon us, we will not be able to see our corrupted nature or our complacence.

Again and again, the Bible calls us to seek the enlightenment from above so that we can really see who we are and where we are in terms of our relationship with God. Paul said, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (Eph 1:17-18)…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (3:16-17). Apostle John inspired by the Holy Spirit warned the church of Laodicea, “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” (Rev. 3:18). Ask the Lord to open our eyes, so that we can really see our problem and accept His work of reformation.

Love you in Christ,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Devotional 101209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. We are thankful for light rain to wet our land. The dryness of life is sometimes unbearable and very irritating. Our skin is the first member in our body to cry out for moisture. We need physical moisture to reduce our skin irritation. We also need spiritual moisture to calm our itchiness or restlessness within our soul. It is hard to rest when my skin is itchy; it is very uncomfortable. We crave for something to calm our itchy feeling. Jesus comes to offer us this peace or rest to calm our restlessness from within. Praise the Lord!

"Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman." (Galatians 4:22). Paul is not dealing with sin in this chapter of Galatians, but with the relation of the natural to the spiritual. The natural must be turned into the spiritual by sacrifice, otherwise a tremendous divorce will be produced in the actual life. Why should God ordain the natural to be sacrificed? God did not. It is not God's order, but His permissive will. God's order was that the natural should be transformed into the spiritual by obedience; it is sin that made it necessary for the natural to be sacrificed.

Abraham had to offer up Ishmael before he offered up Isaac. Some of us are trying to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God before we have sacrificed the natural. The only way in which we can offer a spiritual sacrifice to God is by presenting our bodies a living sacrifice. Sanctification means more than deliverance from sin, it means the deliberate commitment of my self whom God has saved to God, and that I do not care what it costs.

If we do not sacrifice the natural to the spiritual, the natural life will mock at the life of the Son of God in us and produce a continual tug-a-war. This is always the result of an undisciplined spiritual nature. We go wrong because we stubbornly refuse to discipline ourselves, physically, morally or mentally. "I wasn't disciplined when I was a child." You must discipline yourself now. If you do not, you will ruin the whole of your personal life for God.

God is not with our natural life while we pamper it; but when we put it out in the desert and resolutely keep it under, then God will be with it; and He will open up wells and oases, and fulfill all His promises for the natural.

I like the way Brother Chambers uses two sons of Abraham to describe the struggle of our spiritual formation. It is true that the beginning of spiritual formation must involve giving up of our natural self, even though this is not the ultimate goal. We cannot achieve sanctification by self denial. It is only the entrance and it has to take place before re-creation can take place within us. No creature can re-create itself. It has to be the work of the Creator. We are talking about changing the spiritual DNA of our self. A surgeon cannot cut himself open and operate on his heart. He has to yield himself to the hand of other surgeon to do the job. It involves humility, trust and total surrendering to the hand of another skill doctor. And this is equally true to the process of our spiritual transformation. We have to come to our Creator God, humbly surrender ourselves to Him, and let Him perform His good work of transformation or re-creation from within.

Paul said, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24). This is a definite process of sanctification; there is no short-cut or detour to by pass this process. If you want to grow in Christ, you have to put off your natural self or old self, and put on the spiritual self or new self, which is the product of living sacrifice through Christ. And we continue to follow His footstep in offering ourselves to God as living sacrifice in our daily lives. May God’s name be glorified in you and through you! Amen.

Love you by His holiness,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Devotional 091209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The work of God is new everyday. We are indeed God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph 2:10a). God relentlessly makes us His masterpiece to bless the world. Every contact we encounter in life or at work is target of God’s blessing. We may disagree with God in terms of who deserves His blessing. But God’s intention is to use you and me to become channel of His blessings to all, even to those who do not seem to deserve God’s grace. Love your enemy…bless those who curse you. And Paul echoed, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom 12:14). I don’t think we can or want to do it. Only Christ can do it through us.

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:24). The natural life is not sinful; we must totally resign from sin, have nothing to do with sin in any shape or form. Sin belongs to hell and the devil; I, as a child of God, belong to heaven and God. It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence and self-assertiveness, and this is where the battle has to be fought. It is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural stand point that keep us back from God's best. To discern that natural virtues antagonize surrender to God is to bring our soul into the centre of its greatest battle. Very few of us debate with the disgusting evil and wrong, but we do debate with the good. It is the good that hates the best, and the higher up you get in the scale of the natural virtues, the more intense is the opposition to Jesus Christ. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh" - it is going to cost the natural in you everything, not something. Jesus said - "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself," i.e., his right to himself, and a man has to realize Who Jesus Christ is before he will do it. Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can only be made spiritual by sacrifice. If we do not resolutely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural in us. There is no royal road there; each of us has it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of performing.

This is not an easy road but definitely a road to spiritual formation. Our natural self needs to be under spiritual control than our own control. Yes, the process may involve our intentional denial of our right to do good, surrendering our soul and morality to the Holy Spirit in making us Christ like. That’s why spiritual formation is more than a list of dos and don’ts to follow. There is no agenda in terms of making ourselves a moralist. There is no intention to become a self-made saint. The road to spirituality is to crucify our own goodness and even desire to be super-saint to the cross. So that God can make us a new creation in Christ.

I don’t know how the Lord may want to shape or mold me. I only know that I need to constantly identify with the death of Christ, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Phil 2:6-7). I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrase this passage: “Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human” (Phil 2:3-7 Message). I hope this is the kind of lifestyle that you will adopt for your own daily walk with Christ. Let’s pray for one another along this line.

Love you as a slave of Christ,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Devotional 081209

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Praise God for a cold winter morning. It reminds us how our Creator God designs this planet for us to witness the cycle of death and rebirth through weather. By the mercy of God, we may encounter destitute of winter in life, but we know that spring is on the way. It is the hope of spring that gives us strength to face the unbearable winter in life. We know that life is not as predictable as four seasons in life. Devastation or calamity could suddenly rush into our lives without warning. It caught us totally unprepared. During this very difficult season of life, we can only find hope and strength in His promise and goodness. Only God can carry us through winter into unforeseeable spring. And we learn to support each other through the trials of winter as a Body of Christ. Amen?

"For by one offering he had perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews10:14). We trample the blood of the Son of God under foot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only explanation of the forgiveness of God and of the unfathomable depth of His forgetting is the Death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the outcome of our personal realization of the Atonement which He has worked out for us. "Christ Jesus . . . is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." When we realize that Christ is made all this to us, the boundless joy of God begins; wherever the joy of God is not present, the death sentence is at work.

It does not matter who or what we are, there is absolute reinstatement into God by the death of Jesus Christ and by no other way, not because Jesus Christ pleads, but because He died. It is not earned, but accepted. All the pleading which deliberately refuses to recognize the Cross is of no avail; it is battering at another door than the one which Jesus has opened. I don't want to come that way; it is too humiliating to be received as a sinner. "There is none other Name . . ." The apparent heartlessness of God is the expression of His real heart, there is boundless entrance in His way. "We have forgiveness through His blood." Identification with the death of Jesus Christ means identification with Him to the death of everything that never was in Him.

God is justified in saving bad men only as He makes them good. Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The Atonement is a propitiation whereby God through the death of Jesus makes an unholy man holy.

We are holy not because we are good or intrinsically righteous. Our nature is sinful; therefore we easily fall into sins or develop sinful thoughts. We have to try hard not to sin or react to sinful temptations. Temptation is so powerful in detouring us from sin because our nature is sinful. We don’t need people to remind us that we are sinners. We know from day one that we are sinners, even though we try to pretend we are not. We cover up well. And we don’t want people to come too close or reveal who we really are because we are afraid that they will reject us.

But by admitting that we are sinners do not give us a way out of our helplessness in sins. It will definitely not capable to remove us from the consequence of sins – which is death and eternal damnation. The atonement of Christ is our only way out. Jesus came to offer Himself as living sacrifice, so that we know that we are helpless sinners and His death removed us from the consequence of sins. Praise the Lord! As Christmas is approaching, let’s remind ourselves the precious gift of Christmas is the birth of our Savior who came to die for our sins and make us whole again. Our wholeness is when we allow Jesus to born within our souls by accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior. Amen.

Love you because of the birth of Christ.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Devotional 071209

Dear brothers and sisters,
It feels like I have been away for a long time though it was only two weeks. Thanks very much for your prayer. I had a fruitful journey in visiting Hong Kong, Macau, China and ministry in New York and Pennsylvania. Even though it covered a lot of places, the journey was not too exhausting. I just had to make myself fall asleep every night. Praise God for allowing me to participate in the expansion ceremony of my brother’s factory in China, witnessing God’s provision of a new facility for our church in Macau, speaking at a Mission conference for all North American Chinese churches and preaching in a Chinese Church in New Jersey for the first time. Thank God for using me as a channel of His blessing to different people at different times. After all, this is what God intended for our role to be on earth since the day of Abraham: “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:3b).

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret" (2 Corinthians 7:10). Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses a man's conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God - "against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." The marvels of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven man who is the holy man, he proves he is forgiven by being the opposite to what he was, by God's grace. Repentance always brings a man to this point: I have sinned. The surest sign that God is at work is when a man says that and means it. Anything less than this is remorse for having made mistake, the reflex action of disgust at himself.

The entrance into the Kingdom is through the panging pains of repentance crashing into a man's respectable goodness; then the Holy Spirit, Who produces these agonies, begins the formation of the Son of God in the life. The new life will manifest itself in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness, never the other way about. The bedrock of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a man cannot repent when he chooses; repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for "the gift of tears." If ever you cease to know the virtue of repentance, you are in darkness. Examine yourself and see if you have forgotten how to be sorry.

We never seek for gift of repentance. We are afraid or sorry to be caught in sins but not necessary for the sin itself. We seek for gifts of joy and affluence but not gifts of tears and sorrow. When our whole orientation is about earthly comfort and enjoyment, we will not concern so much about the Kingdom of God or holy living; both require self denial and conscious desire of the goodness of God. Our human nature will not desire for the nature of God because it is contradictory to our natural and sinful inclination. It is indeed the gift of God for us to desire His nature in us and His cleansing of our sinful self. If it is not the intervention of God, we will not naturally ask for His cleansing work within our souls. Have mercy on us O Lord. Give us the spirit of repentance as you reveal to us your holiness and love.

Love you in His Holiness,