Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Today we meditated on the image of Peter walking on the water again and pastor encouraged us to write download what we have learned from this story.

  • We learned about Peter’s faith in asking the Lord and obeying what he asked for. Our pray and promise to follow must be consistent. Peter prayed for walking on the water, when Jesus answered, he went.
  • When God says, it will happen. The word of God has power to enable you to do things. Knowing that you should ask the Lord to commend you to do his will.
  • When God calls, he also equips. So he will equip our church after calling us out. He will equip each one of us to live a holy life as he calls.
  • We see the truth about salvation by faith through grace here. It was God’s grace that Peter could walk on water since there was no way for himself to do so, but at the same time it was Peter’s faith that drew God’s power.
  • Peter’s desire to come closer to the Lord is ours, too. The boat representing the world is not safe, but Lord is our real secure. So we want to go to him even though there is water representing obstacles between us.
  • Peter’s asking is a great example for us. “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” The purpose of asking the Lord is to know him through prayer, obedience and experience.
  • Christian life is like walking on the water, a scary place where faith is needed. When we focus on Christ by faith we can walk on the water. When we look at the situation by sight we start to fear and sink. Focusing on the situation takes away our faith.
  • We want to follow Christ, do what he does, and be like him. But when we follow him, sometimes we are weak and may fall. Jesus understands us. We just need to cry out to him for help when we stumble over, and he will save us any time in any situation as long as we turn to him. It is God’s doing to give us opportunities to practice faith.
  • It is Christ, not anybody else who brings the scary situation to our life. So don’t be scared. Just trust him.

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Raise the banner of God

It has been such a blessing to study bible chapter by chapter from Genesis on Fridays since four years ago. The word of God itself has power. That is something we just simply believed, experienced and will continue to apply to my life.

I was touched by Psalms 60 when we were taught to raise the banner of God by prayer, by testifying the work of God, and by showing Christ in us. Just as in a battle the raising of the banner boosts the morale, lifting God up in my life also encourages me in my daily spiritual fight. Knowing by faith the victory God has given us through Jesus, I can boldly take my territory as each tribe of Israel conquered their own land. I don’t need to feel weak, for now I am free from any bondage that Satan tried hard to put on me, from the pressure of feeling that I have to do something, to have a good husband, to have children, to have a good career, to have this and that. What else can I fear if I am no longer afraid of losing anything in this world? “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6-7, Hebrews 13:6)

I gradually realize that It is because of grace I am compelled to read the word of God, to live for Him, to offer myself as living sacrifices, not by human persuasion, but by the touch of the Holy Spirit and the power of God I am striving to live my life as Christ lived. How can I not? He died for me and saved me from the old life that I lived before. I did not understand how Lot could easily believe the two messengers regarding the destruction of Sodom and left his home and all the properties just like that, until one day the Spirit hit me about the hunger of the needy. Lot would not believe in the message unless he already saw the evilness and hopelessness of the city and had hunger to escape, as bible describes “Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)” (2 Peter 2:7). So when the message came, he immediately accepted and fled for his life. What did the angles say? “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” Consider what happened to Lot’s wife, who looked back and became a pillar of salt. I used to think it was such a small thing, only a look back, leading to such a severe punishment. But God’s word is true, since I have seen many people who casually went back to the world, from a small step, another, another, until one day they left church and never came back again. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” There is no other way. God wants our whole heart.

Praise God!

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We have spent half a year in studying the book of Job, from October 2013 until March 2014. Praise God that we had the chance to go through the books of bible one by one, and we never skipped any book, no matter how difficult it seems. It is again a demonstration of Spirit’s power, which has given William the ability to teach and us to understand, so that our faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power (2 Corinthians 2:4) . It is great encouragement for me to see how the word of God becomes true in our life. Therefore, I am eager to share what I have learned from this book. There is so much more that has been taught. Here I only summarized the parts that touched me the most. I believe I will receive more as I continue growing in Christ, as what God promised: Seek, you will find. Ask, you will be given. Knock, the door will be opened for you (Matthew 7:7).

The book of Job is about righteousness people suffering for God’s glory. It is because Job has been blameless that God wants to bring him to a higher level of faith, the tested faith, pure as gold. Just as Christ learning obedience through suffering, Job also knows God deeper after his suffering. It is his glory to be used and lifted up afterwards. It is justice that we suffer temporarily here on this earth, show faith in any situation, and later receive the glory He planned for us in the very beginning — to become sons of God.

Chapter 1-10:

Job is blameless
– A man is blameless when he fears God and shuns evil, not about being perfect or sinless.
– Job offers sacrifice for each child regularly just in case that they sin against God.
– It is because of his faithfulness to God that God wants to test him and brings him to another level of faith (2 Chronicles 6:9)
– Satan has his own plan and motive, but God uses Satan to serve His own purpose.

Chapter 11-14

What matters is the relationship with God
– The relationship with God gives true understanding and the proper application of the word of God. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new convenent, — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (Corinthians 3:6)”.
– Job’s friends can quote scriptures and use doctrins, but they don’t have the real relationship with God, so they limit God in their own thinking. But Job knows what’s going on although he does not know the whole plan. He knows God is away from him, but he does not know why. He is so sure of his righteousness because he has a pure heart. He stood firm on the truth he knows, the relationship he has, not being moved by his situations, or his friends. The same truth is in Ephesians when paul urges them to stand firm on what the truth that has been revealed to them (Ephesians 6:14).
– His friends can’t imagine it is possible to be blameless because how people see things is a reflection of whom they are. Being blameless means a pure heart towards God: to fear God and shun evil.

Make the right judgement
– Job’s friends judge him by his appearence and his situation. They used to come to him for help and encouragement, but now they show contempt towards him and force him to admit what he has not done. We have to be careful not to judge according to people’s situation, but their reaction in the situation, whether they show peace, joy and faith in God (John 7:24).

Chapter 15-24

Who can argue with God?
– Only those with relationship can come before God and want to state his case in front of God. Job realized that he has been struck by God, and he does not know when it will end. So he cries out to God who can change the situation. Only God has the ability and right to turn things around in any situation. Job also realizes that God does whatever He pleases (Romans 8). So he is terrified.
– In his great suffering and persecution from his friends, he starts to cry out a need for Christ, a advocate and a redeemer. All the people who have faith in God long for the coming of Christ even though the plan has not revealed to them before (1 Peter 10-12).
– Job asks God to give him the pledge God demands. We can also ask God for what He requires from us and have faith that He will give us everything we need to please Him. In fact we can only please Him through Him.

Chapter 26-28

God’s power and wisdom
– It is the Lord’s power and wisdom through us that can help people. If we haven’t experienced God and obeyed His word, we will have no insight to help anyone because insight has to do with experience. We get no where to love people using physcial love in our own way. Our comfort will be powerless to those who are suffering for God. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power (1 Corinthians 4:20). What can be greater love than standing firm in the truth, devoting to the word of God and his church, being the good example for others?

Because Job has been seeking God and has relationship with God, the Spirit reveals many truths to him. Even through nature we should see God (Romans 1:20). God can reveal so much to us. The only limitation is ourselves, who don’t pursue or have enough faith to take it. How else could Job possibly know that the earth is round when at that time people still thought earth is flat?

What we know about God is just a tiny bit of who He is. How can we even be prideful about whatever God chose to reveal to us? His greatness is just too hard to imagine. How can Job’s friends limit God to a certain way according to their own thinking? “These are but the outer fringe of his works. How faint the whisper we hear of him!”

Job’s good example
– How shall we remain righteousness? Our righteousness is in Christ. So we just have to remain in faith and continue to trust him no matter what situation. We will call upon God all the time and we will always have hope.
– When we are certain of our salvation, anyone who is against us or does not listen to us is then our enemy, at least at that moment.

Seeking Lord’s wisdom
– Seeking the truth is like mining the precious stones. How much time and energy are you willing to spend?

Chapter 29-31

What Job longs for is the time when God was with him
– When God watched over him and led him, he was blessed in every way, and he responded with reverent fear and righteousness of doing good. He helped those who had no ability to help him back and made justice to be done.
– Job expected a simple physical life, but God had a greater plan for him to suffer for God and glorify Him. He did not totally understand God’s doing or expect it, so he cried out. But in his suffering, he still believed in God and kept his integrity. We may also want something small, like a good wife, children, a job, but God has a better plan for us. May we let His will to be done, not ours.
– Job recognized it was God who did this to him. It is Him who did this to me. So why complain about the situation, a person, this job?

Similarity between Job and Christ:
– They helped the needy.
– They were scorned and attacked by those who were helped by them in the time of suffering.
– They learned obedience through suffering.
– They cried out in their suffering, but they still trusted God and let His will be done.

It is evil to push people down to life yourself up, or to look better.

What is your security? (compare with Philippians 1: what is your joy)
– Job said money is not his security. Can you also say that? Test your heart and repent now so that you can put your security only on God.

Chapter 35-37

God’s love for Job
– Is it love to make Job suffer? The same love God shows to Jesus is to make him learn obedience through suffering, to glorify the Father, to lift him up after the suffering.
– It is love to let Job experience this and know God better. Nothing we do can affect or benefit God in one sense, but we also see God is pleased when we do good and He is grieved when we do evil.

God’s people are special
– We are chosen by God, so we are different from most of the people who never turn back to God even in hopeless situation. Just as David found faith when he lost everything in Zikleg, and desired to build God’s house when he was established, we also turn back to God in difficulty and in blessing.
– It is love that God binds evil hoping them to repent. But godless in heart harbor resentment.

God in mighty does not despise men
– God is all mighty, all wisdom, all strength, and knows all, so He can make the right judgement and will not despise men. Only because men are limited, we despise others who have the same weaknesses because we are sensitive to those weaknesses. On the other hand, when we have the same weakness, we have difficulty to judge and help others. We need to learn to lose self and let the word of God judge. The word of God is good enough for teaching, rebuking and correcting (2 Timothy 3:16).

Chapter 38-40

God is God. Who are we to question His doing in our life?
– God did not answer Job’s question directly, but in the way did answer him. He is God, so He can choose to do anything according to His will.
– Science is not a reason for pride because we can only observe the nature law, but through nature we should already be amazed by the creator and humble enough to realize there is so much we don’t know.
– It is God who created everything and controls everything. We should just surrender to the role that God gives to us, men and women, to obey and do. As wild ox can not be used to do work, we also can only be used by God when we obey.

Chapter 41-42

God can only be just. He has the right to do whatever He chooses to do, and it is justice because He is the creator.
– God is the master of all. Even animals are better than us in the way that they submit to the role God gives to them. The best way to glorify God is to be who we are, the sons of God, and let His will and plan be done
in our life.
– Job is blameless, but he has to realize that he is not alone and it is the power of God who enables him to keep the law. He almost denied God’s justice because of his self righteousness and doing. It is never our doing that saves us.
– God is proud of His creation, including Job. He wants be to glorified by Job. It is our honor and privilege to glorify Him and serve His purpose.
– We will never totally understand God. Even the part that we do understand is what He reveals to us. So how can we be prideful? No matter what level we have achieved in knowing Him, there is still so much more to know. It should always makes us humble and at any time, we can repent, either from sin, or from not doing more that we could.

God is in trial, not just Job.
– Who Satan truly challenges is God. Can God keep Job? God can and will keep us the same way.
– It is a spiritual battle.

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Yesterday William gave us an illustration:

If a friend of yours comes to you and gives you a choice between a promise of 1 million euros and a real BMW in front of you, which you can get right away, which one will you choose?

Certainly it depends on how much you trust your friend will fulfill his promise. Your decision might also be influenced by your situations, people around you, and your previous experience. The current mainstream thinking is always now, now, now. Will you trust your friend and be patient enough to put hope on a much better promise instead of the immediate satisfaction in front of you?

God’s promises are the same. They are much greater than what we can see and get now, and what God promises will never fail.

The questions is: will you believe what God says will all come true?

God promised that knowing Him is eternal life (John 17:3). God promised that seek his kingdom first, everything else will be provided (Matthew 6:33). God promised that by sharing the suffering of Christ we will also share his glory (Romans 8:17).

Will you seek to know him? Will you seek his kingdom first? Will you share his suffering? If you believe and take the action of that belief, you will also receive the wonderful promises. As Jesus promised: No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life (Luke 18:29).

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God’s mercy and deadline

In many cases it is the fear of paying additional interests that reminds us to pay invoice on time. But if there is certainty of no consequences of paying late, will we still pay on time? If we are shown mercy, how are we going to respond, with fruits of appreciation or fruits of evil?

God shows great mercy on us by sending His only son to die on the cross for us. But we have to accept, believe and bear fruits of faith. And indeed there is a deadline, which is the end of our physical life. Everybody may think he still has so much time left. But who knows at which moment? Nobody has control of life. So for each person, now it is the time and at this moment, we are making a decision of life and death.

May we choose Jesus, the only way to life and life itself, above everything else. May we make every effort to enter the narrow door.

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God delights me

David knows by faith God delights him (2Samuel:22). God delights him because he has a heart of repentence, a heart seeking for the interests of God, a heart to go back to God no matter what happens, no matter up or down. We just have to believe it, not focus on what we have done or not done, because we can be blameless in Christ, although not sinless. Praise God!

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Book of Mark 1

Sunday Sermon Note April 08, 2012

After we finished Luke last week, we started to study Mark from this Sunday.

Unlike Luke, which has broadened stories by details and many characters, Mark is kind of shrieked summary of Jesus’ life, who was a serving suffering servant.

Yes, a serving suffering servant. This is the word that William used. I have been always amazed how he connects the whole bible together while he is teaching and how much he loves the words of God. No matter the reaction we have, he always has the passion to continue teaching what is the truth. I guess this is what the disciplines said  “were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). You will know by certain that Jesus is with you by the presence of Spirit when you feel the burning within you. So in fact, I should not be amazed, but be touched and renewed.

Back to the topic, the gospel of Mark focuses on Jesus’ suffering and service on this earth so that whoever suffers for the name of the Lord can be identified with Jesus and gets comfort and strength. It can not be clearer that only by suffering along with him, we can receive the same glory with him in the heaven (Romans 8:17; ). Unless we die and are broken, we can not get new life and give others new life (John 12:24).

Mark started to talked about John’s baptism right away. John was used by God powerfully, led people and prepared the way for Jesus by water baptism. We Christians nowadays are also leading people to the church, loving them, baptizing them with water, and preparing their heart to accept Holy Spirit.  When the old Jewish system got totally corrupted and had no power and no more words to give the people, John started preaching the repentance.  When John’s job is done, Jesus started him ministry. God always works the same way, waits until the full measure of something, he starts a new covenant.

What is the message Jesus was preaching? Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15)! Both are necessary. When we truly repent, we will hate sin and turn away from our old life. After we repent, we will need faith that Jesus’ blood is enough to deal with our sins, God can do everything through us, change and renew us. When we read bible, the word of God convicts us, we realize our sins and repent, then we need God’s power so that we can change, we cry out and rely on God, make the first step of repentance so that God can work the rest, then our faith is built up, then we read more bible…… It is a life-time process. But we need first obey in order to truly understand and grow in spirit.

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