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Sunday, November 12, 2017

posted Nov 12, 2017, 10:44 PM by Site Administrator

ALWAYS PRAY AND NOT GIVE UP

 

Luke 18:1-14

Key Verse 18:1

 

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show that they should always pray and not give up.

 

       First, “Grant me justice against my adversary” (1-8). Look at verse 1. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show that they should always pray and not give up.” In chapter 17, Jesus said that the kingdom of God does not come with careful observation, because it is within us. When we have the rule of God in our hearts, the kingdom of God is within us. When Jesus comes again, those who have the kingdom of God within them will be taken up to the sky and meet him in the air, but those whose hearts are occupied with the things of this life will be left. Today’s passage is the continuation of Jesus’ teaching about the coming of the kingdom of God. Now in view of his second coming, what should we, the believers, do? Jesus shows through the parable of a persistent widow that we should always pray and not give up.

 

       In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. He was not godly. Some people are not godly, but at least they are humanistic or sympathetic. But this judge was not sympathetic either. Then, what kind of person was he? He was a cruel man, selfish, self-seeking, willing to pervert justice for his own selfish gain. He was a friend of the rich who could bring him a lot of bribes. Because of him, many poor people did not see justice, and thereby, were sorrowful and oppressed.

 

There was a widow in that town. In those days, a widow was the symbol of the helpless and powerless. She had no provision or protection from anyone. She was mistreated. Since she could not afford the cost for the trial, her case was ignored, and she was deprived of justice. She was sorrowful, but since she had no money, and since the judge neither feared God nor cared about men, it seemed that there was nothing she could do. It seemed that she had to swallow sorrow and bitterness all by herself. But did she give up? No. One day, early in the morning, she visited the judge’s house and knocked at the door, saying, “Please grant me justice against my adversary.” The judge was mad, and kicked her out, saying, “Bring me money.” The judge was not willing to listen to her case. But she didn’t give up; she kept coming to his house. Sometimes, in the morning, sometimes, in the afternoon, even sometimes, at night, with Halloween costume, with a spooky voice, she cried, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” At first, the judge ignored her; but later, he was so bothered by her; he could not sleep because she screamed, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” Finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!” So, he took care of her case.

 

Look at verses 6 through 8a. Let’s read these verses together:

 

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”

 

       Jesus here logically proves and confirms that, if we pray, our prayers will be answered. As our good Father, God surely pays attention to our needs and our cry, and he is more than willing to help us. But there are certain conditions. We must pray for justice, and when we pray, we must pray always, and not give up. We need to check out these two conditions very carefully. The prayer topic we are called to ask is justice. Why do we need to pray for justice? It is because, since the fall of the first man Adam, justice has been removed from the world and from our life. People want happiness; that’s what they desire, so they pursue it, but on the contrary to their wish, most people end up unhappy and miserable. The rich people become miserable, and the poor people become miserable too. As a result, all men cry out in unison, saying, “What shall I do?” “Where is the way?” This is injustice. People want life, so they work hard, then, death, not life, comes and takes them away from their family; despite their wish, they have to leave their homes and families, their dreams and hard-earned success, and someone else comes to enjoy the fruit of their hard labor. This is injustice.

 

Fundamentally, as people live in this world, in this corrupt and fallen world, they live with injustice practiced in their life all the time. The price of sin is very high; people sin, and as a result, their families are broken, and they become failures and losers in the society; they become so lonely and sorrowful in their forties, fifties and sixties with no one around them; no one wants to be with them. People know that if they continue in sin, their life will be ruined and their family broken; so they want to stop sinning, but simply, they cannot; under the power of sin, they are forced to sin continually until they are destroyed completely. This is injustice.

 

We Christians, disciples of Jesus, are asked to overcome all injustice and get what we truly desire through prayer. But there is one more condition, that is, “always pray and not give up.” The expression, “not give up,” shows how, in many cases, things go even if we pray for justice. Simply, often, despite our prayers for help, things do not change; or, despite our prayers, often things get worse; or even sometimes, things look impossible or even things seem already over in failure. We feel like giving up. But Jesus encourages us to not give up in our fight for justice; instead, he wants us to fight for it and pray continually, with his promise that God will see that we get justice, even quickly.

 

Jesus says, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” Here, notice the expression, “who cry out to him day and night.” What kind of expression is “crying out to God day and night?” When do you cry out to God day and night? When you are really desperate! When you have some really important and urgent! What you pray for is something you really desire and pursue; when you pray for it, you mean it. When you pray that way, crying out to God day and night,” God will see that you get justice, and quickly. So, we must pray this way – cry out to God day and night!

 

As Jesus’ disciples, what we desire is something noble, something righteous and beautiful; but instead, we keep on doing what is ugly, what is shameful. We don’t do what we want to do, but we keep on doing what we don’t want to do; we cry out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” This is injustice. Sin is injustice. So, you fight against your sin. How is it going on? In many cases, you are defeated over and over again; yet, you still don’t give up; instead, you keep fighting; you pray for God’s help; often, this kind of fight goes on for years – so many failures, heart-aching moments, and but despite such defeats, you keep going on in this fight, repenting and making a heart’s decision over and over, and keep on praying for God’s help. Your continuous fight itself despite many defeats is an expression of your faith in God. Then, as your battle against sin becomes really serious, as you become really sincere in this fight, God comes to have a chance to intervene into your situation and helps you, launching his mighty power in your heart and life – sometimes, God does it by giving you his word very personally – with God’s word, your eyes are opened to the spiritual world and you see and understand everything differently; sometimes, God does it by launching his power into your body directly – DNAs change, hormone level changes, and your body functions differently that your desires change completely and diseases are gone. By God’s intervention and help, you finally overcome your sin and get justice in your Christian life; finally, you do what you really want to do and don’t do what you don’t want to do. Then, your Christian life is wonderful – holy and righteous.

 

What about then, our mission life? We want to save souls and establish disciples, so we work hard pouring out our time and energy, enduring all related difficulties. Yet, year after year, we remain fruitless; it’s like we work hard for a company, but are not paid for years. Indeed, this is injustice, and Jesus wants us to pray for justice in this matter with his confirmation that God will help us get justice. So, we pray for it and pursue it, asking God to send us his sheep, save souls and establish powerful disciples through us. Maybe, we remain fruitless for one year, two years, maybe, 3 years, or even 7 years. Yet, we still don’t give up. We keep on praying for God’s help and blessing in this matter that we may become exceedingly fruitful. As this fight goes on continually, as we get really sincere and serious about it, as we really mean it, as we make all possible efforts for it, crying out to him day and night, saying, “Lord, isn’t it your desire to save souls? How come you don’t’ do anything even if I offer myself as your instrument?” God comes to have a chance to intervene into our situation and help us. Suddenly, one word of God touches your hearts, and with it you pick up great spirit that your words and attitude change, and your sheep respond very positively; or God himself gives you his words, saying, “Ok, the time has come,” and from that time, you become fruitful.

 

In this way, through prayer and not giving up despite difficulties, you come to get justice in your life of faith, doing what you really want to do and getting what you have desired; as you come to experience God in such important matters, your understanding of God deepens and you enjoy very powerful and fruitful Christian life. Through prayer and experiencing God, you grow in Jesus Christ. When your Christian life goes this way, you are truly happy and satisfied. That’s why this passage, by saying, “they should always pray and not give up,” shows that prayer is a must for Christian’s life. Without this spiritual growth that comes through prayer and experiencing God, we become religious people just like Buddhists monks or Muslims always doing religious things, giving great meaning to religious activities and ceremonies; if your Christian life goes that way, it is really painful – so boring - doing the same things over and over again; you already know all the messages your pastor serves, and your prayer is habitual. Eventually, such people become Pharisees, always criticizing and demanding. We should always pray and not give up. This is a must. I am very thankful for our 40 days prayer for the conference. Through this, we are learning how to pray and what to pray, and we learn to set aside time for God in prayer.

 

       Look at verse 8b. Jesus says, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Here, Jesus relates prayer to faith. When people do not have faith in God, faith that God really takes care of them, faith that God is willing to help them, they cannot pray always – they just try one or two times hoping that something good may happen, but when nothing happens, or even when things get worse, they simply say, “As I thought,…” and give up. When you pray and not give up despite challenging circumstances, then, your prayer itself is the expression of your faith in God. Those who have faith in God can pray always and do not give up, even if there is no change or even if things look bad. Because they trust in God, because they expect something great from God, they cannot give up; they keep praying for God’s help, and they are the ones who eventually see God’s answer for their prayers.

 

       Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” As the time of his second coming approaches, more people are found losing their faith. Even when people say, “I believe in Jesus,” in many cases, that does not mean anything, but just an expression of what kind of religion they have; or they say so, because, otherwise, they are afraid of not belonging to any group in the world. Modern day, Christians don’t pray. Some people say that they pray, but what they mean is that they offer prayer before eating foods, or they offer 10 seconds prayer before going to bed. To them, prayer is just a form of their routine activity as Christians – a religious thing they have to perform as Christians, not real struggle before God. This is now the trend among many church going people. By saying, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Jesus expresses his earnest desire to find many people who have faith in God in this last generation. He wants to see his believers having faith in God – not just some religiosity. He wants to see his disciples praying all the time because of their absolute faith in God. He wants to see many great men and women of faith; he wants to see many great warriors of prayer. Pray always and do not give up! Cry out to God for help day and night!

 

       Second, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (9-14). Look at verse 9. As Jesus was delivering this message that was about prayer and faith to his disciples, some people were nodding their heads, and said, “Yes, you are right. They must pray always and not give up.” And some others said, “Amen. They must learn this lesson.” Verse 9 describes them as “those who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else.” This expression shows that they had been praying all the time and were confident of their religious life. So, Jesus gave another parable to show them with what kind of attitude they must pray to God.

 

       Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Look at verses 11 and 12. “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” About his payer, two expressions stand out – “stood up” and “prayed about himself.” The expression, “Stood up” shows his confidence. In his prayer, he was bold and confident. Yet, his confidence was not in God’s goodness and love for him, but in his own activities and performance. Then, while he thought that he had performed so many great things excellently, why did he come to God in prayer? What was his prayer topic? Actually, he did not have any prayer topic; in his prayer, he just prayed about himself, bragging about what good things he had done and how good he had been, feeling so proud that he was not like those party animals or tax collectors.

 

Yet, how did the tax collector pray? Look at verse 13. Let’s read this verse together:

 

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 

       This man stood at a distance. There were designated prayer seats in the temple. But this man stood at a distance, instead of occupying one of the prayer seats, because he knew that he did not deserve such privilege. While other people came, worshiped and prayed to God confidently, he was standing there in the corner, because he knew how terrible his sin was, and now his heart was full of remorse and regret. But about his sin that was more clear than crimson tide, there was nothing he could do; just standing at a distance, beating his breast in pain and sorrow, he said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” He also did not mention about his specific prayer topic, but just asked for God’s mercy. What kind of mercy from God? On what? Any kind! Just a hint of God’s mercy on him would be more than enough; he would doggedly accept it and be thankful about it because that would be the sign that God had not rejected him and that he had still a chance in God despite his terrible sins.

 

       In verse 14, Jesus says, “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.” The word, “justify” means to make someone or something just. Originally, the tax collector was not just before God due to his wrongdoings; he was a sinner, deserving God’s punishment. But now he was made just before God, because God forgave him of his sins; he was now considered innocent in God’s eyes. The Pharisee went home, but not justified, showing that he was also a sinner when he came to God in prayer, even if he had done so many good-looking things. Outwardly, due to those activities and performance, due to his Bible knowledge and religious and moralistic life, he looked good, but in God’s eyes, he was not good – instead, he was still a sinner, deserving God’s punishment. But due to his activities and performance, he did not recognize it; so, he only bragged about himself. As a result, he was not forgiven.

 

       With these two men’s example in their attitude to God in prayer, Jesus shows us how we must approach God in prayer – not with a self-righteous attitude, but with a humble and repentant attitude. We are all sinners – some are well performing sinners, and some are just openly terrible sinners. We all need God’s forgiveness and justification in Jesus Christ. Jesus, through these two people’s examples, shows us that it’s all up to how we approach God in prayer that we may or may not be justified. How do you approach God in prayer? How do you approach others in your practical life? Like the Pharisee? Or like the tax collector?

 

       In today’s passage, we learned that, as we wait for Jesus’ second coming, we must pray always for justice and not give up. Let’s pray that justice may prevail in our society and in our lives. In the year 2017 and beyond, let’s pray always and never give up in any circumstances. In this way, we may really learn prayer. May God bless our upcoming conference abundantly; let there be great salvation work and 40 new disciples rise through this conference. Also, let’s get rid of any hint of pride, arrogance and self-righteousness. Instead, let’s come to God in prayer with a broken and contrite heart, earnestly asking for his mercy.

 

One Word:      Always Pray And Not Give Up

 

Sunday, November 6, 2017

posted Nov 5, 2017, 3:50 PM by Site Administrator


THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU

 

Luke 17:20-37

Key Verses 17:20,21  

 

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,  21   nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

 

First, "The kingdom of God is within you" (20-25).Look at verses 20 and 21. The Pharisees asked Jesus, "When will the kingdom of God come?" Under the Roman rule, their life was harsh – they suffered from poverty, oppression and depression. They were sorrowful. But they had hope that, when the kingdom of God came, everything would change, and their life would become meaningful and fulfilling. Because of this hope, they could bear all injustice and suffering; because of this hope, they did not give up; because of this hope, they remained as the Jews. Now everyone acknowledged Jesus as a great man of God. Jesus taught people God’s words; he was an excellent Bible teacher. So, the Pharisees asked him this very important question, "When will the kingdom of God come?" At this, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor people will say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you." 

 

By saying, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation," Jesus pointed out their problem. They thought that the kingdom of God would come when Israel was liberated from the Roman rule and established as a super power nation like David’s kingdom so that they would rule others. So, with careful observation, they tried to understand the prophecies in the Bible and see any sign so that they might not miss the kingdom rising. But Jesus taught them that the kingdom of God is not about outward things or changing the circumstances, but about their hearts. Jesus said to them, "The kingdom of God is within you." The kingdom of God Jesus talks about is God’s rule – the real essence of the kingdom of God. Wherever the rule of God is found, there is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not about beautiful environment; it is not about abundance in material; it is not about perfect democracy or welfare system; it is not about just doing nothing but singing all the time in the beautiful environment. The Garden of Eden was perfect outwardly – beautiful, abundant and free, but when Adam and Eve lost God’s rule in their hearts and lives, the Garden of Eden was not the Garden of Delight any longer; it was not a fun place any longer – in the Garden of Eden, they were fearful and shameful; they were dying like sick chicken. The kingdom of God in essence is God’s rule. When you receive God’s rule in your heart, meaning you know God and obey his words, when you live according to his will and purpose, the kingdom of God is right there in your heart – you have the complete confidence of what you are doing, and where you are going; you have the complete confidence of God’s good will upon you, and you rejoice; you enjoy peace no matter what – when God’s rule is there in your heart, you enjoy the essential qualities of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is within you.

 

By this, Jesus wanted to correct the mistake of the Pharisees. What they should do was not to try to find the kingdom of God by improving their outward environment, especially, political environment, liberation from the Roman rule, but to find the kingdom of God within them. What they really needed was to receive God’s rule in their hearts first, by repenting of their sins and turning to God. Their hearts were ruled by anger, hatred against the Romans, and jealousy against Jesus, and as a result, the kingdom of hell was growing in them, and they were becoming children of the devil. In that way, they would never enter the kingdom of God even if it came down from heaven. What they needed was to receive God’s rule in their hearts. By saying, "The kingdom of God is within you," Jesus wanted them to check out their own heart’s condition first, and realize their lost condition and turn to God so that they would have the real kingdom of God – God’s rule that comes with such peace and confidence.

 

Many people have this question, "When will the kingdom of God come?" All people pay attention to the day and hour very closely; they analyze the Bible and try to find some secret code in the Bible, thinking that in that way, they can find the time when the kingdom of God comes. The time of Jesus’ coming has been an exciting topic all the time – it has been an attention grabber. With this, many big churches have risen, and also many people have gone astray. Even today, on the Christian radio stations, this is a big topic – people carefully study the book of Revelation, and preach about it, saying all the signs are appearing. This topic is very appealing. It touches our sense of curiosity, and at the same time, it gives us a sense of fulfillment making us think that we know something secretive. With this topic, there have been so many people who said that they knew the time of Jesus’ second coming. Strangely, many people accepted their teaching, even though Jesus clearly said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32)  

 

But Jesus says, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,...because the kingdom of God is within you." People think that they are ready and prepared for the coming of the kingdom of God through their careful observation about the Bible, the prophecies and signs. But Jesus says that in that way, the kingdom of God does not come to them. In Jesus’ eyes, they are very strange, because while they themselves are ruled by all kinds of ill-emotions, while they are ruled by the terrible sin of lust, while they are ruled by the poisonous sin of the love of money, they try to find the time of the coming of the kingdom of God – in his eyes, even if it comes down from heaven, they would never enjoy it. They must check out their hearts first to see if they receive God’s rule within them or not. What they need is not to find the time of his coming, but to have the kingdom of God within them now by repenting of their sins and turning to God wholeheartedly. The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,… because the kingdom of God is within you.

 

Look at verse 22. It reads: "Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it." Here, "the time" refers to the time between Jesus' ascension and his second coming. During this time, believers know Jesus' grace and love him so much; their burning desire is to have fellowship with him, and they envy those early disciples who walked together with Jesus on earth - they had Bible study with Jesus, heard his message and ate dinner together with him. What a glorious moment it will be if we have a chance to study the Bible with him - we would record the whole Bible study; what about Jesus delivering the Sunday message at our church? We would come to him, shake hands with him and hug him; then, we would ask him for his autograph on our Bible and take selfie with him. We long to see even just one day of the Son of God. That's all believers' dream. But Jesus says, "But you will not see it." That's the reality; we cannot have that kind of physical encounter with Jesus; so, we have to wait for his second coming. The reason why Jesus talked about this was because, just as the Old Testament believers waited for his first coming, the New Testament believers would be waiting for his second coming - and there was possibility that they too would make the same mistake as the Old Testament believers did; So, he gives us some instructions and warnings in this passage.

 

Look at verses 23 and 24. Let's read these verses together:

 

23   Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them.  24   For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 

 

Because the believers long to see even one of the days of Jesus, but cannot see it, when some people say, "There he is!" or "Here he is!" they may be greatly attracted. But Jesus gives us a clear direction, saying, "Do not go running off after them." Why? Jesus says, "For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other." This is the universal nature of Jesus' second coming. On that day, everyone will see him coming down from heaven, riding on a white horse. So, if someone says that Jesus has come, but you still haven't seen him yet, then that person is lying. So, don't be deceived. His coming will not be secretive.

 

Look at verse 25. Let’s read this verse together:

 

But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

 

Jesus’ second coming will be glorious; he will come as the King of kings and Lord of lords, to judge all creatures. Jesus knew this very well. But before this glorious second coming, there was the mission he must complete, that was, to die on the cross as a ransom for many. "But first he must suffer…" Jesus one time said, "Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" (Luke 24:26) People talk about glory they will enjoy in heaven, saying, "We will reign with Jesus." I hope that their wish may come true. But before entering glory, before receiving such glory in the kingdom of God, there is God’s mission we must fulfill, and in many cases, we first must suffer. Having a great vision of receiving glory in the kingdom of God is very good, but at the same time, we must stand firm in reality; we must do what we ought to do to receive glory we so desire. The Bible says, "Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him." (2 Tim 2:11-12)

 

Second, "Remember Lot's wife!" (26-37). Look at verses 26 through 30. Jesus says, "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man." He also says, "It was the same in the days of Lot... It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed." Here, Jesus shows that his coming will be in the same pattern of the two events in the past - God's judgment in Noah's time and God's judgment in the days of Lot. In Noah’s time, people were eating, drinking and marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. In those days, people lived up to about 1,000 years. How many children did each person have? Really many! As of that time since the creation, there must have been so many, maybe, many billion people. There must have been many scholars, many doctors, many artists and musicians; many businessmen and engineers; there must have been many people who had achieved remarkable things in their area. Yet, in describing all these peoples’ life, Jesus simply says, "People were eating, drinking,and marrying and being given in marriage," because all other things they had done were peripheral, but these three activities were what they had really pursued. Even in describing one person, Abraham’s life, God spent so many words in many chapters in Genesis. But in describing all these several billion peoples’ life, Jesus used these simple expressions – eating, drinking, and marrying. Eating, drinking, marrying are most basic thins of human life. Even flies live for such things; even cockroaches live for them. If anyone's life is described this way, then what is the difference between that person's life and the life of cockroachIn God’s eyes, their life did not carry any value to mention about, because they were not like humans who were created in God’s image and likeness, but rather they were like animals and insects. When they lived this way to the end, God simply destroyed them. What do you think if God describes your entire life as, "eating, drinking, and marrying?" That’s really terrible. That’s why we should not live for such things; instead, we must pursue noble, and glorious and immortal things as Christians, as humans. 

 

Jesus describes the life of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, saying, "People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building." The first two things are the same – eating and drinking. But Jesus does not mention about marrying and being given in marriage. Why? It’s because, when they became all homosexuals, they were no longer concerned about marriage; instead, they just lived a pleasure-seeking life. In that way, the concept of marriage and family was destroyed by their corruption. Then, when they were no longer concerned about marriage, what did they do? They were buying and selling, planting and building. They were lonely and empty; they were not fulfilled. Then, in order to fill their void, they focused on buying the goods, always on Amazon.com, or on EBay, clicking and clicking, purchasing things endlessly, and filling their rooms with all kinds of goods, and even unopened boxes. They were buying and selling, planting and building – these activities are all about money, goods, their businesses and real estate properties. Their hearts went to such things. There must have been many who had climbed up the ladder of success in all these things; there must have been many people who had achieved remarkable things. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all, because, in God’s eyes, their life carried no value just like animals or insects. 

 

Jesus says, "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed." Sadly, this is how people today live their life – eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, buying and selling, planting and building. People anxiously choose their major, study and work hard sincerely pursuing their career all so that eventually, they may eat well and drink well, and marry well, buy well and build well. Once their basic desires are met, they work harder so that they can eat better, drink better, buy better things and build better things. That’s all peoples’ struggle today just in the same way the people of Noah did, just in the same way the people of Sodom and Gomorrah did. Jesus compares the time of his second coming to these two events of God's judgment, showing that his coming is the day of God's judgment, because when people live for such things, they deserve God's judgment.

 

Look at verses 31 through 33. Let's read these verses together:

 

On that day no one who is on the roof of the house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

 

In these verses, Jesus issues a warning for his disciples. You are on the roof, and your valuable things are in your house. So, it will take only few minutes for you to go down and get them and come up to the roof; it is within your reach. But Jesus instructs us not to do that - simply, don't value such things or don't try to secure them at all. You are in the field, and your valuable things are in your house; surely, you can run and grab them and come out within a few minutes - very easy and quick. But Jesus instructs us not to do that; don't try to secure them; just let them go, and be willing to lose them. Jesus says, "Remember Lot’s wife!" We know very well what happened to Lot’s wife – on the day God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, by God’s grace she was fleeing from God’s judgment. But, at the sound of destruction, she looked back, and became a pillar of salt. She looked back because her treasures were in Sodom. Her diamond was her life; her mansion was her life; all the buildings she had was her life. She looked back, yearning for her treasures in Sodom, and thereby, was destroyed. Don't look back; don't value things of this world, which are all about eating well, drinking well, and marrying well. Those who look back at the things they left will be destroyed. When we look back at those things, and yearn for them, we gradually lose our spirituality and become dead in spirit. We should not look back, or we will surely die. Remember Lot's wife! About this, Jesus conclusively says, "Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." This is Jesus' warning for us, and instruction for us, and this illustrates Jesus' faith in God's provision also. Those who try to keep what they desire and value highly will lose their life, but those who are willing to lose their dreams and desires for the sake of Jesus and his gospel will save their life - their life will be truly fulfilling and meaningful, and they will enjoy a happy life; they are the ones who save this one life to eternity. This is the way we must live our life as Jesus' disciples. Let's say, "Don't go down!" "Don't go back!" "Don't look back!" Then, we keep everything, because God provides us with everything we need.

 

Look at verses 34 and 35. Jesus says, "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left." When Jesus comes again, those who have been prepared, will be taken up, and will meet Jesus in the air – we call this, "rapture." "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1Thes 4:16-17) At the last trumpet, we all, in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, will be changed, and this perishable body will be clothed with the imperishable body, and the mortal with immortality. Then, the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory. No more death, no more fear, and we will live forever with the Lord. (1Cor 15:51-58) At Jesus’ second coming, everything will become clear – who is right and who is wrong; who wins and who loses; who are true believers and who are not. On that day, not all people who call Jesus, 'Lord, Lord,' will be raptured, but only those who are worthy. Two people sleeping in one bed talk about husband and wife; both of them are supposed to be raptured, but one will be taken, and the other left. Two women working together to grind the grain are supposed to be taken together, but only one will be raptured and the other left, showing the personal nature of rapture, or salvation. On that day, those who have the kingdom of God within them through repentance and submitting themselves to God's purpose will be raptured, but those who have developed only knowledge with their careful observation will be left; on that day, those who have lost their life for Jesus and the gospel will be taken, but those who tried to keep their life will be left. Everyone says that they are waiting for Jesus' second coming, thinking that automatically they will be raptured, because they say, "I believe in Jesus." But only those who have the kingdom of God within them will be raptured. So, we must make all possible efforts to secure God's rule in our hearts and life

 

Look at verse 37. At Jesus’ message, the disciples asked, "Where, Lord?" Jesus replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather." What Jesus says is something that happens very naturally – where there is a dead body, there the vultures gather. In the same way, things happens very naturally as the time of his coming approaches. There are dead people in spirit, so there come predators. There are many people who say, "There he is!" or "Here he is!" There are many people who say that they have found secret code in the Bible that show the time of Jesus' second coming. Why such people come up? Simply because there are dead bodies for these predators to devour. We are living in the Post Modern Generation – people deny the truth and anything absolute. This relativistic and humanistic views and ideas have invaded into Christian churches; as a result, many Christians do not show any submission or absoluteness even to God; then, naturally, at Jesus’ second coming, some people will be taken, while others will be left.  

Most people agree that now is the last day of the last days. Jesus can come any time, any moment. We are living in the last days – the last phase of human history. Jesus’ second coming is near. We must have the kingdom of God within us first by turning to God in repentance and obeying His command absolutely. May God bless us that we may be found ready and faithful when he comes back.

 

One Word:The Kingdom Of God Is Within You

 

 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

posted Oct 31, 2017, 4:36 PM by Site Administrator

YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL

 

Luke 17:11-19

Key Verse 17:19

 

Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

 

            First, "Go, show yourselves to the priests" (11-14). Look at verses 11 through 13. Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They were living in a borderline area between a believing society and a non-believing society. Why? It was because they could not fit in either of the society due to their leprosy. They were kicked out from their society and formed their own society, the society of lepers, consisted of 1 Samaritan leper and 9 Jewish lepers. When they saw Jesus, they called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us."

 

            Like these 10 lepers, there are many people who do not fit in the society. Why? Because of their weird characters and bizarre lifestyles, they do not neither fit in the church nor in the unbelieving people's society. Then, these people form their own society, their own guilds. When we think about Jesus' direction for the 10 lepers, "Go, show yourselves to the priests," we see that in God's eyes, it is not right for people to leave the society and form their own group - the community of lepers; Jesus wants them to return to the society. Then, who can be restored to the society? Those who call out to God for help, saying, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us." Those who rebelliously insist on their own weird perspectives and lifestyles perish in their sins, but those who understand their lost condition, and thereby, cry out to God for help, come to have a chance to be healed and restored. The apostle Peter says, "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1Pe 2:25) It is really by God's grace that we have been brought to this believing society, the church. Now after being restored in God, should we insist our own leper's characters and lifestyles continually? No way! Now we must live as beautiful children of God, imitating God's characters and deeds, being obedient and submissive, saying, "Yes, I will do it."

 

            At this, Jesus said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." According to Leviticus 14, if a man was healed of leprosy, he should bring to the priest two male lambs and a year-old ewe lamb with three-tenths of ephah of fine flour (about 6 quarts, that is 6.5 liters) with oil for a grain offering, and one log of oil. If the former leper is too poor, he should bring one lamb with some flour, oil, and two doves or two pigeons. Then, the priest, after making sure of their healing and performing a certain ceremony, should pronounce him clean, and he will be considered as a valid member of society. When Jesus said to them to go and show themselves to the priests, he meant that they were already healed. When Jesus said so, what happened to them? Were they healed immediately? No! Nothing happened! They still had leprosy; their skin was very terrible. But Jesus wanted them to act based on his promise even when there was no evidence at all. Think about ten lepers who were going to the priests to get a certificate while they were still covered with leprosy - simply, crazy! But that's what Jesus wanted them to do - act by faith in Him even when there was no evidence. Jesus’ direction was a great challenge to the ten lepers. Probably, at this, they were quite at a loss, without knowing what to do or what to say. It was really an embarrassing moment for them. Maybe, at that time, they could have complained saying that Jesus was taking their case too casually, or that he was indifferent to their agony, and given up. But, amazingly, they accepted Jesus' challenge and obeyed his instruction; they turned to the village and marched toward it; and as they went, they were cleansed. 

 

            If you were there, how would you respond when Jesus, or more realistically, a man of God simply told you to go and show yourself to the priests? When we think about this passage carefully, we learn that actually, that's God's way in the Old Testament too - while there was no evidence, God commands people to act based on their faith in Him. When we read Joshua chapter 3, we see a very interesting event. Now, the Israelites finished their forty years’ training in the desert, and came to the border line of Canaan. God gave them an order to march into the land of Canaan through the Jordan River. But the problem was that it was the flood season. The Jordan River was flooding at that time. God commanded the entire Israel army to charge into Canaan through the flooding river, saying that when they did so, the water would stop flowing! It would be easier if God stopped the water first, and then, told them to cross the river; but God didn't do so; instead, he commanded them to act based on his promise by faith. Often, God commands us to march, when there is the flood right in front of us. When our hands are already full, God commands us to charge into the land to pioneer it; when the situation looks really impossible, God commands us to do his work. How do you respond to God’s command? The Israelites, thanks to 40 years’ training in the desert, obeyed – they marched into the flooding river! Then, a miracle happened! As soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing, and the entire nation Israel crossed over opposite Jericho. They experienced a great miracle that was done by the power of God.

 

Abraham was excited when he received God's calling; he left everything behind - his career dream, his friends, and even his family - and he worked hard for God's purpose; yet, no sheep grew very well; he remained childless for years. It seemed he was a real loser; he was depressed. Then, God, visited him, and when Abraham complained about his fruitless life and his hopeless future as God's servant, God took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars, if you can indeed count them. So shall your offspring be." The present reality was still challenging, yet Abraham believed God's promise, and thereby, he became confident about his life, and was excited about his wonderful future as God's servant. Then, about 20 years later, still he remained fruitless. God had not given them any child yet, and Sarah his wife passed the age of childbearing. There was no hope for a child, let alone having many children. Then, God appeared to them and challenged them to act based on His promise by changing their names into Abraham, "the father of many nations" and Sarah, "the mother of many nations." Abraham was a childless senior citizen, but he would introduce himself to others, "Hi, my name is Abraham, father of many nations." Then, Sarah, even after menopause, still without any children, would say, "Hi, my name is Sarah, mother of many nations." When people heard them say like this, they were shocked, and had great pity on them. Maybe, some people had pity on Sarah, hugged her warmly and said to her, "O poor Sarah. I understand. Don't worry." People had pity on them, or ridiculed them, thinking that these childless senior couple had finally gone crazy. This senior couple looked really funny, but in that way, God wanted them to act out their faith in God's promise in their real life. By faith they accepted this challenge, rejoicing at their new names whatsoever others thought about; they talked about many children, dreamed about forming a great nation. And through their faith, God has established a great kingdom and blessed all peoples on earth.

 

God wants us to act by faith in Him. God called us to be fathers of many nations, mothers of many nations; His vision is that we may become powerful spiritual leaders, even worldwide; God wants us to pioneer California through one to one Bible study; God wants us to bring God's salvation to the ends of the earth. But often, our situation is like that childless senior couple - no fruit, barely struggling with a few rebellious sheep; we have a lot of difficulty with our own academic matter or financial matter or even terrible sin problems. But still by faith, we act not based on the reality, but based on our faith in God's promises, God's visions. That's what God wants us to do; that's how God wants us to live our life in this world. So, instead of being overwhelmed and controlled by the present reality, we look up at the heavens and count the stars. We dream about becoming powerful spiritual leaders, serving great salvation work, and even reaching out to the ends of the earth through one to one Bible studies and disciple-making; because we believe in God, we live according to God's vision, looking for sheep, teaching them the word of God and establishing disciples; because we believe, our words, actions have changed, the way we live has changed - no longer worldly or small citizen's life, but the life of God's servants; our hope for future, our value system, our lifestyle and everything has changed according to God's will and purpose. This is how God wants us to live our life - by faith we act based on God's promises and visions even when there is no evidence. And because of our faith, our life, our perspectives, our value systems, and everything are being shaped up according to God's will and purpose. This is the work of faith. As we live this way continually, God intervenes into our lives and fulfills his visions for our life, transforming us into fathers and mothers of many nations. This is how God works in the lives of his people; this is how God reveals his glory in the life of his people.

 

            In this passage, Jesus could have healed them first, and then, told them to go and show themselves to the priests. But he didn’t do that. Instead, when they still had leprosy, when no change happened, he commanded them to go to the priest by faith in him. Romans 4:17 says that God calls things that are not as though they were. While our hands are full, while we are so busy, God commands us to go and pioneer our campuses, because it is the best time to reveal God's glory. While there is the flood in front of you, God commands you, "March!" When you have no sheep, God calls you, "Father of many nations," "Mother of many nations." God says to you, "You are healed" because you are really healed in his eyes. When you are weak, God says to you, "Mighty warrior!" and now God wants you to act as mighty warriors. When we obey His commands by faith against all odds, we come to experience God’s power in our lives. We shout for joy when God's word is fulfilled in our life. This is what the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, testifies. The Righteous will live by faith from first to last.

 

Second, "Your faith has made you well" (15-19). Look at verse 15. Let’s read this verse together:

 

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

 

            This Samaritan returned to Jesus to express his thanks to him. What about the other 9? How come they didn't come back? When they were healed of their leprosy, they were so happy and excited; they could finally see their family again. Maybe, they exclaimed loudly, "I am healed!" "I am clean!" Probably, they hugged each other and shed tears of joy and happiness, saying, "At last!" Then, they knew that they could start a new life. Then, a desire to build their new life in the society came into their hearts. They would enroll in JCC (Jerusalem City College) and pursue their career in Computer information system; they could dream about having a decent career job, no more minimum wage; they dreamed about marrying and having a happy family. Indeed, when they were healed of leprosy, there were so many things they wanted to do; and now the most important thing was to secure them as soon as possible. So, in joy, they said, "Good bye" to each other, and walked away. But the Samaritan, at this moment of joy and happiness, remembered Jesus’ grace – it was Jesus who had healed him; it was Jesus who had given him this new life. To him, the most important thing was to express his thanks to Jesus. So he came back.

 

On the way to Jesus, he was praising God in a loud voice. Think about a man who is singing on the street in a loud voice, or a man in the bus talking to the air, saying in a loud voice, "I praise you, Lord. Your grace is amazing!" How did he look as he praised God in a loud voice while walking on the street? He looked really crazy! But he didn’t care about how others would think of him – he was just happy with God, and thankful to Jesus. Sometimes, he was laughing loudly for joy, sometimes he was crying for joy. He was really a happy man. Then, he threw himself at Jesus' feet, and thanked him. What about some sharp rocks on the ground? He didn't care about whether he would have some pains or not, but he just wanted to thank him. In this way, he was wholehearted and passionate in expressing his thanks to Jesus.

 

When we think about the two expressions here, "praising God in a loud voice," and "he threw himself at Jesus' feet," we see his passion and wholeheartedness in praising and expressing his thanks to God. He was indeed free to love God and thank God. When he was wholehearted in expressing his thanks to God this way, he was indeed a happy person. In our life of faith, we too had such a wonderful time when God's grace was overwhelming in our heart. At that time, we were indeed free to love God and express our thanks to Him. When we came back home after doing God's work until late night, even if we were tired, our heart was full of thanks that we sang and praised God. Remembering God's grace upon us and thanking Him is the key for us to have a wonderful Christian life.

 

Jesus accepted him and blessed him, saying, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." Actually, it was Jesus who had made him well, but Jesus said to him that his faith had made him well, because it was his faith that enabled him to come back to him and thank him, instead of being carried away by his own desires and dreams. What was his faith? His faith was that Jesus was the most important person in his life; he valued Jesus so highly, more important than anything or anyone in the world; then, coming back to Jesus and expressing his thanks to him became his mission, his purpose and his direction in life. Simply, in his eye, Jesus was everything to him. That was his faith. "Your faith has made you well." How do you consider Jesus? Is Jesus everything to you? It is all up to how you consider Jesus that your life will be decided. Those who value Jesus more than anything in the world come back to him, thank him and pursue him; Jesus becomes the meaning, purpose and direction of life; Jesus becomes the source of happiness and joy - to them, Jesus is everything; thus, God's creation purpose in their life is fulfilled; in that way, they are made well. But those who do not consider Jesus that way do not come to him even after experiencing his salvation; instead, they just want to utilize his grace in achieving what they truly value in the world.

 

When he came back to Jesus and thanked him, he was really made well inside and out. Originally, God made humans to desire for Him - Adam, the first man's desire was for God, and Eve, the woman's desire was for God too; but because of sin, their inner desire changed - man for security or survival and woman for husband. But now when this Samaritan man came back to Jesus and expressed his thanks to him wholeheartedly, he was truly sound as God originally intended him to be, loving his God Jesus, thanking him, rejoicing at him, honoring him so wholeheartedly; indeed, he had been made well inside and out. Then, what about the other nine? Outwardly, they were cleansed of their leprosy; but they did not value Jesus their God so highly; instead, they valued other things, pursuing them, trying to find happiness with those things. They were selfish, self-seeking and self-centered. As long as they valued and pursued other things and tried to find happiness in them, they were not cleansed at all. Outwardly they were cleansed, but inwardly, they were still leprous, doggedly pursuing their own things in the world selfishly. This is the reason why, after experiencing God's salvation, we must live the life of praising God in a loud voice, the life of thanking him; we must live this new life in Jesus for his glory and his praise, not for our own desires and plans. Those who come back to Jesus and live the life of thanking him and praising him have been truly made well inside and out. See how happy this Samaritan man was when he expressed his thanks to Jesus. Instead of being carried away by the desire for this world, we return to Jesus and live to express our thanks to him – there we find true happiness and joy.

 

Look at verses 17 and 18. Let's read these verses together:

 

Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"

 

            The other nine were Jews, believing people. But they took Jesus' grace of healing for granted, and once they were healed, they were only concerned about how to secure their newly found dreams in the world; they just wanted to utilize Jesus' marvelous grace to improve their living condition - with a better job, with a better house and family. Of course, as Jews, they would be attending the synagogue worship service every Saturday. Jesus felt so bad; he was disappointed and hurt. 

 

Improving external conditions does not make us clean. But it is when people return to Jesus by faith to express their thanks that they are truly cleansed. It is when we turn to God out of thanks that we are really cleansed from our terrible disease, called sin. Actually, many people experience Jesus’ grace. But in many cases, people just want to improve their outward condition through God’s help – their physical condition, their future, and their family life. Because of that, they still remain unclean, selfish and worldly; their inner person is still leprous.

 

In the year 2017, God has done so much for us - every week, He has given us his words that sustained and nourished our spirit; He has guided us through the path of righteousness; He has blessed us to come to Him and enjoy fellowship with Him; indeed, He has cleansed us from our sins and blessed us to enjoy this new life in Him. So, it is proper for us to give thanks to Him; it is really proper for us to be happy with Him and love Him. When we truly appreciate what Jesus has done for us, then, expressing our thanks to Jesus becomes a source of our joy; we become happy people, rejoicing at Him and praising Him in a loud voice. And when we thank God for what he has done for us, we are truly made well – we are normal and sound people. Jesus blesses us when we come to him and give thanks to him. 

 

One Word:       Rise And Go; Your Faith Has Made You Well

Sunday, October 22, 2017

posted Oct 22, 2017, 9:47 PM by Site Administrator

WE ARE UNWORTHY SERVANTS

 

Luke 17:1-10

Key Verse 17:10

 

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'

 

       First, "So watch yourselves" (1-3a). In the previous passages, Jesus showed us how things go at the heavenly gate, and what happens when people die - people either go to the place of comfort or hell. And in view of this life after death, Jesus gave us a clear direction of how we must live our life as his disciples - we must live our life in the way that secures our eternal dwellings in heaven. How? By using our worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves. Now those who believe in Jesus accept his teaching and struggle to do so - such people are those who live as Jesus' disciples. Jesus gives today's passage to them, showing them how they must live their life among themselves in the church. Jesus gives us three instructions about how to conduct ourselves among brothers and sisters in the church: "Cause no one to sin in the church," "Rebuke and forgive," and "Have the unworthy servant's attitude."

 

       Look at verse 1. Jesus said to his disciples, "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come." "Things" that cause people to sin are the channels through which sin comes into people's lives. Also, "these little ones" in verse 2 refer to other believers in the church, especially, young believers - newly growing disciples - their value system, their perspectives, their hopes and life's purposes have not been firmly established in God yet; they are still immature, weak and vulnerable; their mind can be easily poisoned with just one doubtful sentence, and they can be misled and go astray. We don't want to cause anyone to sin; we don't want to be the channels through which sin comes into other disciples. But Jesus says that these things are bound to come, indicating that this happens in the church. Sometimes, because of some careless words we utter, we end up making people angry or doubtful; sometimes, because of our certain behavior - the way we talk, the way we behave, the way we dress ourselves - people can be tempted to sin. I knew a student who had recently decided to go to church, but there, instead of God, he found his sin partner, and together, they sinned a lot - drugs, alcohol, stealing cars, and eventually, their lives were ruined. What a grave sin it is to cause young men or women to sin who, otherwise, would have been dedicated to God fully. Once humanistic view is planted in them, then, these young ones never grow in their commitment to God and God's mission, because they see everything humanly; instead, they develop humanistic and relativistic attitude, and thereby, fail to grow as Jesus' disciples - what caused such a terrible result? Just some words of doubt that came out of lack of trust in God, or lack of absoluteness toward God.

 

       Then, can we simply say, "But, that's not what I intended"? Or "I could not help"? No, because causing others to sin is a very serious matter in God's eyes. Jesus says in verse 2, "It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin." A millstone is a large round stone – about 8 feet tall, and 2 feet wide – that was used to grind grains, and usually cows or horses pulled it. If you are thrown into the sea with it tied around your neck, what will happen to you? Surely, you will sink like lead, with no chance to survive. But Jesus says that that's the better choice you can take than causing anyone to sin in the church. What a serious crime it is to cause anyone to sin in the church. It is more than a matter of life and death. Things that cause others to sin are bound to come, but Jesus tells his disciples that they should not be those through whom sin comes to others. If people should be caused to sin in the church, let it happen, but make sure that you are not the ones through whom sin comes to them. If that should happen, let it happen, but make sure that it happens not through you, Jesus' beloved disciples. So, what should we do?

 

       Jesus says in verse 3, "So watch yourselves!" We should watch how we speak, what we say, and how we dress ourselves, and how we behave in the church so that no one should be caused to sin because of us. If you utter some unbelieving words, soon doubt will spread among all brothers and sisters like gangrene, causing them to terrible sin. If you behave seductively, soon many people will become like sick chickens, instead of living as mighty warriors for God. If you gossip around, soon the spiritual environment will be ruined, and God's church will become like a social club. We must watch ourselves – what we say, how we say, how we dress ourselves and how we behave. Always say some words of encouragement not the words of doubt or complaints, so that through you others can be encouraged to love God more and serve Him wholeheartedly. We should not be careless or thoughtless in words and actions at all, but God's people should be sincere and thoughtful, and we must comfort, encourage and strengthen others instead of tearing them down. For this, we must fill our inner world with the word of God - have the things of God in your mind and let your inner world be completely evangelized so that whenever you open your mouth, words of faith that encourage, strengthen and inspire people to love God and serve Him more may come out. You can dress yourself however way you desire; but what if, some weak person may be caused to sin because of that; so dress moderately. Make sure that you don't cause anyone in the church to sin. Watch yourselves!

 

Second, "Rebuke and forgive" (3b-6). Look at verses 3b and 4. Let's read these verses together:

 

"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,' forgive him."

 

       Here, Jesus shows us how we should deal with someone who sins against us in the church. Dealing with this matter is very important, because, if we don't deal with it properly, we may cause that person to sin, or we may be caused to sin out of the sense of vengeance or anger, or we may let sin spread in the church, causing many people to sin or even destroying the whole church. Someone in the church sins against you - this happens in the church. Church is not a place where all angelic people gather together, but a place where terrible sinners whose sins are forgiven in Jesus Christ gather together and pursue God's work in one mind and heart; they may still have terrible character flaws and many weaknesses. What does it mean that someone sins against you? It means that, because of that person, you are terribly offended or humiliated in front of others; or that person scratched your pride and thereby, you are very angry. At that time, how should we deal with that person? Jesus gives us a clear direction, saying, "Rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." When someone sins against you, don't give into the sense of vengeance or, don't be emotional, or judgmental or don't take anything personally too much. Don't sin against him, only because he sinned against you. Simply, rebuke him! If he repents, admitting his wrongdoing against you, forgive him. The only condition in this forgiveness is, "if he repents," not "if he repents sincerely or really." We all want to forgive other brother or sister who sinned against us in the church, if that person really repents. But what if you are not sure whether that person's repentance is real or not? Still forgive him. What if his repentance seems habitual, not sincere? Still, forgive him. What if, even if he says, "I repent," you know that he is not sincere and thereby, he will sin again? Still, forgive him. Jesus says, "If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." When a person sins against you and repents 3 or 4 times a day, you know that there is great possibility that he will do it again, even if you forgive him. Yet, still you forgive him. Whether his repentance is real or not, whether he will sin again or not, still, only if he repents, you forgive him. By doing so, at least, you don't cause him to sin. By doing so, even if he is not so sincere in repentance at first, he may have a chance to be really serious about what he has done and to really repent. When we do this, then, we can work together for God's kingdom purpose in one mind and heart despite all kinds of differences and social and racial barriers. Church should be such a place where brothers and sisters exercise forgiveness freely. 

 

       Look at verse 5. When the disciples heard that they should forgive a sinning brother even seven times a day, they screamed all together in unison, "Increase our faith!" All the common life brothers and sisters read verse 5 together: The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" What they meant was that it was too difficult for them to obey – forgiving a sinning brother who is so casual about repentance seemed impossible. Thus far, they were quiet as Jesus served a long message, but when Jesus talked about forgiving their brother seven times a day, they shouted, "Increase our faith," because it was a real issue among them. As the 12 lived together in the common life setting, so many problems popped up and they had experienced so many conflicts. Surely, each one of them loved Jesus, but loving other disciples in the common life was a different story. And forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day seemed totally impossible. So they shouted, "Increase our faith." What was Jesus' response? Look at verse 6. Let's read this verse together:

 

He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."

 

       In the eyes of the disciples, only those who had great faith could do something great such as forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day. But Jesus told them that, if they had faith as small as a mustard seed, they too could do great things such as forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day or performing great miracles. As they followed Jesus, they saw how mightily and effectively Jesus served God's work. They too wanted to serve God's work in the same way, but they knew who they were – nothing but lowly sinners. They only wished if they could be as powerful as Jesus was. But now Jesus was telling them that they too could be great and powerful, doing mighty works of God freely, only if they had faith, as small as a mustard seed. In Jesus' eyes, everyone who believed in him could do what he had been doing, and do even greater things than that. Forgiving a sinning brother seven times a day is not something only great servants of God like the apostle John, the apostle of love, can do, but you too can. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can become great spiritual leaders.

 

       The whole thing is whether you have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, or not. You may say, "I don't have that kind of great faith to make the mulberry tree obey my command and be planted in the Pacific Ocean." But you do believe that Jesus is your Savior – that's small faith, as small as a mustard seed. So, you are qualified to become great spiritual leaders. You believe that the Bible is the word of God. That's small faith, as small as a mustard seed. You come to worship service every Sunday. That is small faith, as small as a mustard seed. With this faith, you can do glorious works of God, fulfilling God's purpose upon your life. So, you are fully prepared to be great spiritual leaders. In God's eyes, what you need is just small faith, as small as a mustard seed for you to do mighty works of God and become great leaders like the apostle John or the apostle Peter.

 

       Third, "We are unworthy servants" (7-10). In verses 7 through 10, Jesus shows us what kind of attitude we must have as we live as his disciples - an unworthy servant's mindset and attitude. In the ancient days, servants belonged to their masters; they did not have their own human rights; they were their master's possessions. No servant would say, "The master must be thankful, because I have worked hard in the field." They just did what they ought to do as servants. Also, no master would feel obligated to express thanks to them either. In verse 10, Jesus concludes, saying, "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"

 

       Now as Jesus' disciples, we understand how things go and what will happen when people die - heaven or hell is waiting for people, and everyone will be judged according to what each person has done. We believe in Jesus and accept his words, so we struggle hard to secure our eternal dwellings in heaven, by using our worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves, instead of living for ourselves. Like the servant Jesus mentions here, we do what we are supposed to do as his disciples - plowing in the field all day long or taking care of the sheep all day long - we pour out our time and energy and as a result, we save many souls and establish many powerful disciples - our performance and achievement as Jesus' disciples are great. At that time, after performing greatly and achieving great things for God as Jesus' disciples, what kind of attitude should we have? That's what Jesus is talking about. At that time, we must not focus on our performance or achievement. Instead, we must remember who we are, saying, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

 

       The word, "unworthy" means, "insufficient in worth." Simply, we are insufficient in worth even to be a servant of God; we were not supposed to be a servant of God; we were not supposed to do God's work. Who were we? We were terrible sinners - messing up, sinful, fleshly, selfish, and worldly, doing all kinds of crazy things; we had never imagined or dreamed about doing God's work. Fundamentally, we were enemies of God, the objects of God's wrath, so filthy, so evil. But God had pity on us; He was not pleased to destroy us; instead, out of love, He wanted to save us from our sins and help us and bless us. So, He wrestled with us to change our hearts and our life directions, and finally He purchased us by the blood of his Only Son, and gave us this new life to work for Him. It was indeed, by God's grace that we are given this chance to participate in God's work; we are given such a privilege to work for God. It is certainly, not based on our own worth that we are given this chance to serve God, but based on his amazing grace. Again, simply, even today, even now, even when we perform very greatly for God, even when we achieve great things for God, in our own value we are not worthy to be his servants, but God's grace has been given to us. Jesus wants us to remember this all the time, especially, when we perform very well and achieve great things for God as his disciples. This is such an important matter that he himself wrote a testimony for us in advance - our own testimony written by Jesus, saying, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." Let's share our testimony together, the testimony which Jesus wrote for us: "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

 

       Why is this unworthy servant's attitude so important that Jesus himself wrote the testimony for us? It is because, when we don't have this unworthy servant's attitude, then, based on our performance and achievement, we become proud and self-righteous; such people bring such a terrible influence to others and to the church, hurting many people and causing them to terrible sins. Such people cannot serve God any longer; God cannot use them; instead, they become enemies of God. When such people occupy high positions in the church, then, the church loses its vitality and dies. It is really terrible that, after doing God's work greatly, people fail, only because they focus on their performance and achievement as Jesus' disciples. This is never Jesus' intention for anyone who accepts his teaching and struggles hard to secure their eternal dwellings in heaven. So, he even wrote the testimony for us. Never focus on your performance or achievements in Jesus as his disciples. Even if you don't claim them, God counts everything you have done for him and He is going to reward you very greatly, far greater than you have ever imagined. So, don't worry about it. Instead, today, you work hard to save souls and establish disciples by using your worldly wealth, just as you have done all the time. This way, you live your life as Jesus' disciples all the days of your life. Then, as the time comes for you and you go to the kingdom of God, you will be pleasantly surprised, realizing how many treasures you have stored up in heaven.

 

       Let's read verse 10 together: "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'" How thankful we are that Jesus teaches us about our proper attitude in serving God's kingdom work. This year, God has done glorious work through us - He has helped us serve many students through one to one Bible studies; He has blessed us to purchase this church through our offerings! Many powerful and fully dedicated disciples are growing up, and we are overjoyed. After achieving these glorious things, what kind of attitude should we have? "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." We will do great works than them, and when we do more glorious things than them, what shall we say? "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." After committing ourselves to God's work completely, and even after enduring great persecution, we still say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty." Do you endure great sufferings in serving God's work? Let this be your testimony: We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. Have you lost a lot in serving God's work? Let this be your testimony: We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty. Have you served God's work so well? Are you very fruitful? Let this be your testimony: "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."

                                                     

One Word:      We Are Unworthy Servants; We Have Only Done Our Duty.

 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

posted Oct 15, 2017, 6:08 PM by Site Administrator

 

THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

 

Luke 16:19-31

Key Verse 16:31

 

He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

 

First, "A rich man and Lazarus" (19-21). Look at verses 19 through 21. Here, we see two people – a rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was dressed in purple and fine linen. The color, "purple" shows his royal origin, and "fine linen" shows his wealth. His birth origin was great and he was rich. From the beginning of his life, he was well educated, and enjoyed all kinds of good things in the world. Probably, he had never wore the same socks twice. He had his own doctor who checked up his health every month regularly; he only ate healthy organic food. He had his own air plane. He lived in luxury and in health throughout his life. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus. He wore rags, and ate whatever was available. His body was covered with sores because of bad hygiene and malnutrition. He was even happy to dig out the trash can of the rich man’s house, and ate what was there. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. Because he was so poor, he had no concern about hygiene, or health problem at all. If he could secure two meals, and a place to sleep during night on the street, he was happy. 

 

Why does Jesus talk about these two people? In the previous passage, we learned that we must be shrewd managers who use worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves, so that when it is gone, we will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. There are two groups of people – those who use worldly wealth for their own selfish purpose here and now; and those who use their worldly wealth to gain friends, pouring out their time and energy to find what is lost, and thereby, prepare their eternal dwellings successfully. Here, the rich man is the best case of all those who want to establish their life here on earth, and Lazarus is the worst case of those who use their worldly wealth to gain friends to prepare their eternal dwellings. Jesus’ point is clear. Through this passage, through the rich man, Jesus is saying, "Let’s say, you fulfill your dream in that way."You become a billionaire at the age of 30, and your internet company is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. You enjoy luxury, convenience and healthy food throughout your life. But what is the end result of such life? It is eternal torment in hell! Then, what benefit is there for you even if you gain the whole world? So many people want to be successful in the world; they want to first build their career, then, success in making money, and fame and honor in the world. Surely, it is not easy to be successful in the world – there is only little possibility of success. And for that little possibility, many people run after what the world offers – fame, success, money and luxury; in that way, they use their worldly wealth for themselves in this world, instead of seeking their eternal dwellings. But even if you fulfill your dream, even if you become successful and enjoy all luxury you have desired like this rich man, what good is there for you if you end up in torment in hell? We must remember that Jesus was talking to his disciples. The rich man in the passage is the dream case all peoples on earth desire. But even the best and most desirable case is really terrible.

 

On the contrary, Lazarus, the beggar is the worst case of those who use their worldly wealth for God's kingdom work as Jesus' disciples, instead of pursuing security or success in the world. Sometimes, people may be afraid to live as the disciples, saying, "If I do not work for myself, then, who will?" "Without building my career, I will be ruined." So, they are hesitant to live for God. They are reluctant to use their worldly wealth to gain friends, to find the lost sheep, because of the fear of losing too much in the world. But let’s say, you lose all only because you have poured out your time and energy, your talent and future in finding sheep. The worst scenario possible, let’s talk about. Maybe, you fail to build your career, and as a result, you become poor. And really an extreme case, you become a beggar – I am sure, no servant of God becomes a beggar, but we are talking about just a really extreme case, the worst scenario ever possible even in your wildest imagination. You become a beggar, and no food to eat, so you live a miserable life. Then, after about 30 or 40 years, you die. Is that all? No! After that, you live in comfort with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob eternally. Your hard work will be paid off well. Using your worldly wealth to gain friends is the best way you can use your life for yourself. That will be your greatest and wisest investment. Living as shepherds and shepherdesses to find the lost and wounded sheep and take care of them is the surest way to secure your eternal dwellings. 

From time to time, Satan comes and plants doubt in our heart about the life of disciples, saying, "See how successfully your peers are building their career! You will be ruined!" Sometimes, we are afraid thinking, "What if? What if?" But what can really happen to us? What terrible thing can happen to our life as Jesus' disciples? Maybe, at worst, we would not be able to live in a mansion in Beverly Hills, but in one bedroom apartment in Gardena! At worst, we would not be able to enjoy some healthy sushi at Japanese restaurant all the time, but only occasionally. Maybe, we have to eat 99 cents hamburger all the time. At worst, we would not be able to drive fancy cars like Mercedes Benz, but only used Honda Civic. But the end result will be indeed glorious – having been escorted to the kingdom of God, and seeing all glorious servants of God, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and we can only imagine the glory we will enjoy when we see Jesus our Lord face to face. We can only imagine what it will be like when we spend eternity with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We can only imagine what it will be like when we reign together with Jesus. When we live for God, even if we lose everything in the world, even our life, still we enjoy this hope of complete victory.  

 

Second, "Father Abraham, have pity on me" (22-26). Look at verse 22. Let’s read this verse together:

 

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.

 

"The time came,…" People in the world do not want to hear this expression, "The time came,…" They want to avoid this time as long as possible. They are so concerned about healthy food or routine check up or exercise. They want to find really good medicine. But no matter how hard they try, death always finds them, and when the time comes, they have to leave everything behind and go to a place they have never known. Kings and queens who have enjoyed power have to leave too. Those who have enjoyed wealth also have no other choice – their wealth cannot postpone this time. 

 

While the rich man was enjoying his wealth, he looked very confident, laughing loudly, but when the time came, he became silent and was laid in a coffin. Lazarus died first maybe, due to malnutrition or eating unhealthy food all the time, and probably, without any proper funeral service, his body was thrown into a pit. On the contrary, the rich man’s funeral service was great, and his tomb was decorated greatly. It seemed that Lazarus was a loser, and the rich man was a conqueror. But that’s not true. When Lazarus died, there were angels waiting for him; in God's eyes, Lazarus' life that was fully dedicated to serving God's kingdom work had such value that God sent his angels to escort him personally; and when Lazarus finally died, they took him to Abraham's side, a place of comfort. He saw Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whom he had respected so highly. How happy he must have been to see them in comfort! There, Lazarus forgot about all his sorrows, pains and hunger. He was comforted. On the contrary, the rich man's life did not carry any value in God's eyes; so when he died, there was no one waiting for him; instead, he was sent to hell and there, he was tormented in fire! There, he must have seen many others – the Emperor Nero, Hitler, and many more bad people. 

 

Surely, life in this world is not all there is, but rather, it is just a transitional moment before we enter our eternal home in heaven. That’s why the Bible describes our life as a journey, and us as "strangers" and "aliens," in this world. We are pilgrims, journeying through this world to go to our eternal home, the kingdom of heaven. And everyone will be judged and rewarded according to what he or she has done during life here on earth. Romans 2:6-8 reads: "6God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." Whether you like it or not, the time is coming when you cannot work any longer. As long as we breathe, as long as we have a chance, we must do the work of him who sent us into this world and save souls. (Jn 9:4)

 

Look at verses 23 and 24. In hell, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire." Many people think of hell "a cool place"to talk about and stay. So, they like to wear black clothes as the symbol of death, and on their clothes are imprinted demons and skulls and even hellfire. But they do not know that the best thing they can hope for in hell, the best favor they can expect in hell is just someone who dips the tip of his finger into water and cools their tongue, not even a cup of water, but even that favor cannot be granted. Many people commit suicide because the burdens and guilty conscience are too heavy for them to bear, or simply because they are angry. They think that by killing themselves, they can avoid the burdens and pains. But that’s not true. After death, they will be in real pain and agony. Compared to the pains and agony they face in hell, the burdens of this life is nothing. What was Abraham’s response? Look at verses 25 and 26. Let’s read these verses together:

 

25"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

 

Abraham refused to do so, because of two reasons: The first reason was that the rich man in his lifetime had had good things, while Lazarus had had bad things, but then, Lazarus was comforted and he was in agony; in Abraham's eyes, it was just fair, and he had no intention to change it. The rich man called him, "Father Abraham," and Abraham called him, "Son," recognizing him as his great, great, great, great, great grandson; yet, he was not humanistic or emotional; instead, he was very truthful, saying no to him. The second reason was that it was impossible for anyone to cross over from one side to the other. The gap between hell and heaven is too great that no one can cross over – it is permanently fixed. Once you are placed in one place, there is no second chance; you are eternally set thereAnd it is totally up to how you live here on earth that your eternal destiny will be decided. Such a serious and important trial is waiting for each person, and no one, no Christian should take it casually or assume anything; instead, each of us must prepare ourselves thoroughly so that we can get a favorable judgment. How? Jesus gave us all information about it, saying, "Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."  

 

Third, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,…" (27-31). Look at verses 27 and 28. Now the rich man understood what was really important and how people should really live their life - people must live their life in the way that can secure their eternal destiny in heaven - people must use worldly wealth to gain friends for themselves so that they can secure their eternal dwellings. He was concerned about his brothers on the other side of the world. He knew how they were living, exactly in the same way he used to liveHe was already in hell, and nothing could be done for him. But there was still hope for his brothers. So, he begged Abraham to help them, saying, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

 

Yet, Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them." Here, Moses and the Prophets refer to the Old Testament. What Abraham means that in the Old Testament, there is the way of salvation, and if they listen to the Old Testament, they will have salvation. That is Abraham's understanding. By the way, who was talking? Jesus was! That is Jesus' perspective. They were the Jews; they believed in God, in the Bible, and in God's creation. Yet, when will they be saved? When they listened to the Old Testament! Here, we see that listening to the Old Testament is different than just saying, "I believe in God," or going to worship service regularly; it's different than believing God's creation, and despising those evolutionists; it's different than even doing many religious things. Rather, it means to accept its teachings and really live by them; it means to live in the way the Bible shows - this requires then, naturally, practical struggles of denying our own desires and dreams and obeying God's will and purpose. They were God-believing people; if they were real to God, then they would struggle to do what God wanted them to do in their practical life - that's the meaning of listening to the Old Testament. This is the way of salvation for people both in the Old Testament period and in the New Testament period. That's what God has shown us through Luke's gospel for the past several weeks. 

 

In the book of Exodus, we see God giving Moses certain instructions about how to prepare the garments for the high priest. In making the robe of the ephod for the high priest, God said, "Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe." (Exo 28:31-35) The pomegranate looks plain, but when we peel the skin, it is filled with small seeds inside, and it is sweet and sour. These pomegranates are like the Old Testament that is filled with the secrets of God’s plan and God’s love for the world, but hidden in the form of laws, regulations and prophecies. Sometimes, God’s laws and regulations seem very challenging and condemning like sour pomegranate, but when we obey and find God’s deep truth and love in them, God’s laws become so sweet to us. Then, we can understand what the psalmists said – "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (Ps 119:103) "Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long." (Ps 119:97) And the gold bells are like the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings joyful sound to all who have been suffering. Everyone can hear this bell sound and their hearts are glad with it. How happy and blessed we are that now we not only have Moses and the Prophets, but also the gold bells of the New Testament that explain the things of the Old Testament very clearly. Surely, we are living in the blessed era. In Abraham’s eyes, the Old Testament is enough for people to be saved. How much more thankful we must be that God has given us the New Testament also. Now with these two testaments, the way of salvation is utmost clear to everyone - use your worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you may be welcomed into your eternal dwellings in heaven. Don't live for yourselves; don't live to fulfill your own dreams and desires in the world; don't be like this rich man. Instead, live for God by pouring out everything you have for God's kingdom purpose so that you can secure your eternal dwellings in heaven very well. Those who reject God’s salvation even with these two testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament, the pomegranates and the gold bells, reject all God's efforts for them; they can have no excuse at all when they are thrown into hell.

 

Look at verses 30 and 31. At Abraham’s refusal, the rich man said to him, "No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." He thought that if someone from the dead went to them and warn them about hell, they would be really alarmed and listen. He thought that it would be different than just a human servant telling them about heaven and hell; they would be really alarmed and change their way of life. This is many people's idea. But Abraham still refused his idea and said, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." This was Abraham's view; this is how God sees and understands. It's not the matter of who preaches the gospel to them (an angel from heaven, or someone from the dead, or Billy Graham or a nameless servant), but of what they really desire. Those who seek the truth, those who have a real heart's desire for God listen to the Bible no matter who preaches to them, but those who do not seek the truth eventually refuse to listen to the Bible no matter who preaches. Jesus says in John 18, "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." That's why even if several thousand people came to him and went away, he did not try to hold them back; instead, he kept looking for the lost sheep who would listen to him, saying, "Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me." (Jn 6:45)

 

In Jesus’ eyes, the way for people to be saved is to listen to the word of God. People will not be convinced even if they see great miracles. Even if God’s Son came and proved himself as the Son of God with his words and miracles, still people did not believe. Even if angels come and preach, still they will not be convinced. When we were in agony, when we looked for God’s help, how did God help us? He sent us his servants who taught us the word of God and helped us to open our hearts and accept God’s word. The word of God is the best and final means God offered for us to have salvation; those who respond to God's word through repentance and living for God find salvation - they are the ones who listen to the Bible, to God. For this, we diligently look for sheep and teach them the word of God.

 

One Word:Listen To The Word Of God And You Will Be Comforted

 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

posted Oct 9, 2017, 10:58 PM by Site Administrator

PREPARE YOUR ETERNAL DWELLINGS SHREWDLY

 

Luke 16:1-18

Key Verse 16:9

 

I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

 

       First, "Use your worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves" (1-12). Look at verse 1. It states, "Jesus told his disciples,…" So this parable of a shrewd manager is for his disciples, the believers. Jesus wants us to be shrewd managers like the manager in this parable. There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, "What is this I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer." Now, this manager was in big trouble. His conduct as a manger was less than satisfactory. He was going to be fired. So what did he do? He said to himself, "What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg – I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses." So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, "How much do you owe my master?" "Eight hundred gallons of olive oil," he replied. The manager told him, "Take you bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred." Then, he asked the second, "How much do you owe?" "A thousand bushels of wheat," he replied. The manager told him, "Take you bill and make it eight hundred." In this way, he lowered the amount of debt each of the debtors owed his master. These debtors felt so good and thankful that, later, when the manager lost his job, they were more than willing to welcome him into their houses. Look at verse 8. Let’s read this verse together:

 

8"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.

 

       Verse 8 starts with the sentence, "The master commended the dishonest manager,…" It means that the master found out what the manager had done to his debtors. Oh, no! This manager had done something really terrible against him – he had brought great loss to him. It seemed that the master should have been really angry and punished him severely and then, kicked him out to the street or sent him to prison. But strangely, verse 8 says that the master commended the dishonest manager. Wow! The master knew that the manager was dishonest, bringing great loss to him, but still he spoke well of him, and commended him, because he had acted shrewdly in preparing his future place. Jesus’ point is not that we should be dishonest with our boss and deceive him; rather, his point is that we, believers, his disciples must be shrewd in securing our future place like this manager. If you prepare your future place successfully, then, you will be commended by Jesus as a shrewd manager.

 

In verse 8b, Jesus says, "For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light." Like this manager, people in the world are very shrewd in securing their future. They analyze the future job market, choose the best major possible, and then, sincerely and wholeheartedly pursue it, studying hard, reducing sleep hours, working two or even three jobs. Then, they become lawyers, doctors, and CEOs; they figure out the best way to invest their money; they purchase stocks, mutual fund, and life insurance; they invest on 401K, IRA, and Roth IRA – in this way, they become successful in securing their future. As a result, they enjoy security, convenience, and luxury for about 40 or 50 years. People in the world are really shrewd and wholehearted in securing their future.

 

But in Jesus’ eyes, the people of the light, the believers are not as shrewd as the people in the world in the matter of securing the place to go. Just for their 50 years or 60 years' security in the world, people are so wholehearted, but the children of the light, believers, Christians have no concern about securing their place to go where they will spend eternity. Simply, they take everything for granted, saying, "Yeah, I believe in Jesus," "Yeah, I go to church." They say, "I will reign with Jesus forever." How? They don't care; simply, they like that expression.  While the people in the world struggle hard to secure their future of just 40 or 50 years, the believers do not make any effort even for their eternal security. When Jesus sees these Christians, he is simply embarrassed. This is the reason why Jesus gives this parable to his disciples, his believers so that they may shrewdly prepare their eternal dwellings very successfully. How then, should and can the believers, Christians prepare their future place very well? How can we be shrewd in this matter? Look at verse 9. Let’s read this verse together:

 

9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

 

"Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves." This is a secret. Securing your place in heaven to spend eternity is all up to how you use your "worldly wealth." Here, "worldly wealth" refers to everything we take possession of while we live here on earth, such as our time about 50 or 60 years as Jesus' disciples, our youth, God-given talent, good health, knowledge and skills such as computer skills, and also all our material possessions such as money, computers, cars, bikes, etc. All these are the resources we can use during our time here on earth. We came into the world empty-handed, and we leave the world empty-handed; we just enjoy the time of taking possession of these things for a while. The true owner of what we have is God; he is the real boss, and we are managers who take care of the owner’s possessions. Also, the expression, "when it is gone," indicates that there will be time when we no longer take possession of these things – it is the time when we have to leave this world – when our life span is over. So, before it is gone, while we have a chance, we must use this worldly wealth, all resources we have, shrewdly, and secure a place in heaven, so that when it is gone, we may be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

 

Remember that Jesus is giving this message not to unbelieving people, but to his disciples, his believers, Christians. How should we Christians use this worldly wealth so that we can secure our eternal future very well? Jesus specifically instructs us about it, saying, "Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

 

       We must use worldly wealth to gain friends - we must use our time and energy, our money and cars, our talents and life to gain friends, to establish friendship with many people; we must use this worldly wealth to help them and support them and make many friends just like the shrewd manager who made friends, so that, when our worldly wealth is gone, they may welcome us into their houses. By the way, what kind of friends are these? They are not ordinary friends; they are not worldly friends; instead, they are friends who, when you go to heaven, will welcome you into their eternal dwellings happily. So, they are the ones who have secured their eternal dwellings in heaven very successfully; they are the ones who have kept their faith in Jesus to the end overcoming all kinds of temptations; they are the ones who have secured their eternal dwellings in heaven successfully by obeying Jesus' instruction; they are steadfast and loyal to Jesus Christ - real disciples of Jesus Christ. And it was you who helped them believe in Jesus Christ; it was you who helped them dedicate themselves to God's mission; it was you who, by using your worldly wealth, encouraged and strengthened them to remain faithful to Jesus Christ. While others were just pursuing their own success and happy life pouring out all the resources they have for themselves, you used all your worldly wealth to help people and support them in their life of faith. After finishing your life on earth, when you go to heaven, all these people who are eternally thankful to you, are so happy to see you in heaven and they are overjoyed to enjoy time with you; they are more than willing to welcome you into their houses in heaven. In this way, when this life is gone, you have a place to go and enjoy your eternity. How happy you must be that you have many loyal friends in heaven. Simply, when you come to heaven, you find yourself already so famous. This is the way Jesus wants all his believers to live their life, using their worldly wealth, all their assets to gain friends who will secure their eternal dwellings in heaven very successfully and welcome them into their eternal dwellings happily. Simply, Jesus encourages us to pour out all our time and energy, our talent and potential in saving many souls and establishing them as fully committed disciples who will live as disciples of Jesus and thereby secure their eternal dwellings in heaven. This is how Jesus wants us, his believers to live our life here on earth.

      

       Don't waste your worldly wealth for your fleeting pleasures; don't misuse your worldly wealth for a comfortable or luxurious life; instead, use your worldly wealth to save souls and establish them as disciples of Jesus so that they can secure their eternal dwellings in heaven successfully; help them live as shrewd managers who secure their eternal dwellings in heaven very successfully. When you do so, you are shrewd managers and Jesus will commend you greatly. This is how you can truly live for yourselves.

 

Look at verses 10 through 12. Let’s read these verses together:

 

10"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?

 

       Christians naively say "I will reign with Jesus forever." That's all believers' dream. But among so many, who will be chosen to be rulers in God's kingdom? Here Jesus shows us about it. God is giving every Christian, every believer a chance to prove his or her true quality, and based on how each person proves himself or herself, God will treat them accordingly - if you do well in this life, God will give you a lot in the life to come, but if you don't do well in this life, God will not give you anything. One life we have is a God-given chance, and Jesus calls it, what is "very little," in verse 10, "worldly wealth," in verse 11, and "someone else’s property" in verse 12. This is what our life is about. It is something that is very little; it is worldly wealth; and it is someone else’s property. Sometimes, we think that our life is so important, my own dream is so precious, and my own desire is so valuable that, we, often, refuse to let go of our dreams or desires or future hopes; because of their own dreams for sweet home or a convenient life with a good career, many believers reject God’s will upon their life. They are stupid. Jesus says that our life is something that is very little. We often think that we are the center of the world, but that’s not true. We are just one of 7 billion people in the world; even if we lose our job or die, no one cares, and nothing changes – still the world will go in the same way, and people will be busy with their own business. Our life time of 70 or 80 years is nothing compared to eternity God is going to give us. Surely, this worldly wealth we have now, our life here on earth, is something that is very little.

 

       But amazingly, if you prove yourself trustworthy with this very little, if you prove your quality in this small matter of managing your own life as Jesus' disciples, God is going to give you much, true riches. Right now, you are a manager, taking care of someone else’s property. But when you prove yourself trustworthy with this very little, God is going to give you the property of your own. What does "the property of your own" mean? In this life, whatever you have is not actually yours even if you take possession of it - your talent, your fame, your position and title; when the time comes, you have to give up on everything. But when you are assigned as a governor for 10 cities or 5 cities, that position, that authority and power, honor and fame are all yours to keep continually; you will never go through reelection campaign; your position and title will never be taken away from you; such power and authority, such honor and glory will be yours to keep forever; it will be indeed the property of your own - you will have true riches, which will be really much.

 

       But not all believers prove themselves trustworthy in this life; instead of using their worldly wealth to gain friends, they waste it by using their worldly wealth for their own fleeting pleasures or for their own comfy life, or for their own success in the world. God gives them a chance to prove themselves for 50 years as his believers, but they don't care. Then, when their life is over, should God hire them again in heaven? No. They have fully proved themselves as unfaithful, disloyal, and uncommitted during their life time on earth. So, God will fire them, because those who are untrustworthy with what is little, will be untrustworthy with much. This is how God will deal with each and every believer. In the resurrection, when Jesus comes again, God will judge and reward every believer according to what each person has done during their life time here on earth. God so graciously has given us this chance to prove ourselves. Usually, big companies such as Google or Apple does not give us a chance to prove ourselves - even, an internship position is very hard to get. How will you do, if Google gives you a chance - maybe, 6 months' probation? Of course, you will work really hard. But, sadly, no chance from Google. But God has given us a chance to prove ourselves, even with the possibility of becoming the CEO of his company. Isn't this amazing grace and blessing? This blessing has been given to all Christians, because they believe in Jesus, his Son. And based on how we prove ourselves, God will treat us accordingly. This is the position of all believers in this life.

 

       So what shall we do? Yes, prove yourself trustworthy by using your worldly wealth to gain many friends and securing your eternal dwellings very shrewdly. Offer your life to God for His purpose, and use this worldly wealth to save souls, establish disciples and you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings; then, God will say to you, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Take charge of ten cities!" This one life we have as Jesus’ disciples - about 50 or 60 years, is like a probation period at work; every believer has the same chance, and surely, 50 or 60 years are long enough for God to see who each of us really is. How do you live your life before God? As shrewd and trustworthy managers? Or, are you just abusing or misusing your life? Jesus says in the book of Revelation, "Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Rev 2:10) I pray that all of us may prove ourselves as trustworthy and shrewd managers before God. I pray that we all may receive property of our own in the kingdom of God.

 

       Second, "You cannot serve both God and Money" (13-18). Look at verse 13. Let's read this verse together:

 

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

 

       Here, Jesus shows the disciples one thing that hinders them from using their worldly wealth to gain friends, that is, the love of money. Because of the love of money, believers, instead of using their worldly wealth to gain friends for their eternal dwellings, use it to make money for a more comfortable or luxurious life; instead of pouring out their strength, time and talent for God's kingdom work, they pursue money in the name of success or in the name of a secured and comfortable life; thus, because of the love of money, many believers fail to secure their eternal dwellings. It is many people's idealistic desire to enjoy both God and money - they live as Jesus' disciples, securing their eternal dwellings in heaven and at the same time, become rich and enjoy good things of this world. But Jesus specifies here that no one can serve two masters; no one can serve both God and money; it is impossible for anyone to serve God and at the same time, pursue money. So, what shall we do? We must choose to love God alone and serve Him only; we must put our hope in the kingdom of God and pursue our eternal dwellings in heaven by using all the resources we have here on earth to serve God's soul saving business and to establish disciples of Jesus. At that time, as the Bible testifies, we will see God providing us with everything we need even materially. Don't pursue money, but pursue your eternal dwellings in heaven; don't pursue security on earth with a career or business, but pursue God's kingdom work; serve God alone.

 

       Look at verses 14 and 15. At this teaching, some Pharisees who loved money, sneered at Jesus. It is very shocking to see that these fully religious people, Pharisees, loved money; their attitude of rejecting and despising Jesus' teaching about God and money shows that, in those days, the trend was that they pursued money in religion. Jesus pointed out their fault saying, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." They loved money and didn't want to give up their desire for money, for a more convenient or pleasant or luxurious life; they didn't want to deny their desire for better cars, or bigger houses, or better foods. So, what did they do? They came up with many Bible passages and developed a certain theology that supported their desires for riches, saying, "Abraham was rich; Isaac was rich; Jacob was rich; Job was rich; David was rich." They said, "God promised in Deuteronomy that if we obey his commands, God will make us the head, not the tail and we will be creditors, not debtors." What they said sounded reasonable and understandable. But why did they come up with all those Bible passages and reasoning? Not to show what the Bible was really talking about, but to justify their own action of loving money. Even though they could deceive humans with many Bible passages and some clever theories, surely, they could not deceive God. Jesus says, "But God knows your hearts." What a scary statement it is! We must live before God alone.

 

Look at verse 16. Let's read this verse together:

 

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.

 

       Here, Jesus divides all human history into two segments - the Old Testament Period and the New Testament Period, and shows us their difference. The Law and the Prophets refer to the Old Testament, and the key characteristics of the era of the Old Testament is that, during this time, God's laws and the Prophets were proclaimed; during this time, what we should do and what we should not do, and what God was going to do and how the world would go were being preached; it was the time of preparation and waiting. After that, from John the Baptist began the era of the New Testament. The key characteristics of the New Testament Period is that, during this time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached. What is the good news of the kingdom of God? The good news of the kingdom of God is about how good the kingdom of God is, and especially, how near it is to us, and how we can enter it and enjoy it; what happens once it is planted in a man, and what kind of life you can have in the kingdom of God, even the life as governors for 10 cities or 5 cities only if you prove yourself trustworthy in this life. When people hear the good news of the kingdom of God, they are so excited, happy and fascinated about it that everyone is forcing his way into it.

 

       Here, the expression, "everyone is forcing his way into it," shows how enthusiastically and wholeheartedly everyone makes all possible efforts to enter into it. Maybe, some people have a little difficulty to enter it, because they have great wealth in the world; some people may have a very promising future in the world; some people have friends and family members who want them to stay with them and live with them happily ever after. But instead of being pulled away by these things, they force themselves to go forward and enter into the kingdom of God, making all possible efforts, denying themselves and giving up everything in the world; they are really like little children responding to the good news of the kingdom of God so wholeheartedly - these people secure their dwellings in the kingdom of God very successfully. In the New Testament Period, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and all believers respond to it so enthusiastically, forcing their way into it wholeheartedly - this is the key characteristics of the Christian life in the New Testament period. So, what do they do to enter into the kingdom of God? Yes, they use all their worldly wealth, all their resources to enter and secure their eternal dwellings in the kingdom of God, pouring out everything they have for God. No longer endless authentic looking ceremonies in the temple or in a gorgeous building, but wholehearted struggling to enter into it by using their every ounce of strength and time for God's kingdom work. "The good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it." This is how all believers, all disciples, all Christians live their lives. Don't be deceived by those people who do not force their way into it. In Jesus' eyes, believers in the New Testament period are forcing their way into it. Are you one of them? Are you forcing your way into the kingdom of God?

 

       In verse 17, Jesus says, "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law." We live in the New Testament Period when the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached - God's prophesies have been fulfilled and God's salvation plan is completed. We enjoy our life as real children of God loving God and serving His purpose. But even in this blessed era of the New Testament Period, still God's Laws stand firm, because they are the words of God and they show what God wants - God's will and His standard. What is Jesus talking about by this? He is talking about another stumbling block that hinders Christians, disciples from using their worldly wealth to gain friends and secure their eternal dwellings in the kingdom of God, which is, marriage matter, or relationship matter, or simply lust - one of the Laws of the Old Testament. Marriage is a big matter, and often, many Christians fail to use their worldly wealth to gain friends, because, instead of seeking their eternal dwellings in heaven, they seek their marriage dream, or seek their relationship matter. When one couple divorces, legally, they are separate individuals - not related at all. But in God's eyes, they are still one, because through marriage, they become one until death separates them. So, anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. In the life of Christians, there is no word such as "divorce," because there is no divorce in God's eyes. All believers have these two challenges - money and lust. Those who remain faithful to God by using their worldly wealth to gain friends prove their trustworthiness in their life; they receive a rich welcome in to the kingdom of God, and God will give them true riches, property of their own, and they will reign with Jesus forever.

 

One Word:      Prepare Your Eternal Dwellings Successfully!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

posted Oct 1, 2017, 9:26 PM by Site Administrator

THE COST OF BEING A DISCIPLE

 

Luke 14:25-35

Key Verse 14:33

 

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

 

            Look at verse 25. Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Wherever he went, people noticed him and eagerly followed him. To them, Jesus was like a celebrity – whenever they saw him, they shouted for joy, and wanted to be with him; they rushed toward him to touch him. It seemed that they were real good followers; it seemed that Jesus must be happy to see them following him with such enthusiasm. But how did Jesus respond? Verse 25 says, "Turning to them, he said." And his entire message to them, which is today’s passage shows that Jesus was not happy with them at all. Instead, he showed them how they should follow him – not just shouting and applauding him as people applaud Hollywood movie stars or pop stars. Let’s say, Jesus is here in Los Angeles today; what will happen? Yes, thousands upon thousands people will gather to see him and wherever Jesus goes, people will follow him, struggling to come closer to him, trying to take selfie with him, or asking him for his autograph. People may think that in that way, they are welcoming and following him very well. But that’s not the way Jesus wants us to follow him. In today’s passage, as he saw so many people eagerly following him, he said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." He also says, "If anyone does not carry his cross and follow me he cannot be my disciple." As a conclusion, Jesus says, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." That’s the way Jesus wants us to follow him. You cannot follow Jesus by simply coming to church on Sundays; you cannot follow Jesus by simply shouting, "I love Jesus!" Instead, Jesus wants us to follow him with all our hearts and strength, giving up all we have here on earth, our dreams and plans, and taking up the cross of mission. We are very thankful for giving us today’s passage, showing us how we must live our lives as believers. Today’s passage defines what it means to live as Christians. Let’s check out Jesus’ instruction prayerfully.

 

First, "If anyone does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes even his own life--he cannot be my disciple" (26). Look at verse 26. Let’s read this verse together:

 

26"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life-- he cannot be my disciple.

 

            We are really shocked! If anyone does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, he cannot be Jesus’ disciple. At the same time, we are really confused, because one time, Jesus said that the greatest command is to love God with all our hearts and strength, and the second greatest command is to love our neighbors as ourselves. So, love our neighbors and hate our family members? That’s the Christianity? Of course not! But Jesus says that we must hate our parents and other family members to be his disciples. Why does Jesus say so? It is because these people – father and mother, wife or husband and children, brothers and sisters – become real hindrances or obstacles for us to live as Jesus’ disciple; because of these people, many fail to live as Jesus’ disciples. All these people Jesus mentions here are the close people to a disciple candidate - he loves them, and his heart goes to them very naturally; he is concerned about their well being, and he wants to make sure that they are well taken care of. This person wants to be Jesus' disciple. So in hope to be Jesus' disciple, he does many things - he professes his faith in Jesus; of course, he comes to church every Sunday; he participates in God's work; his desire is great, and his effort is also great. Then, eventually, there comes a time when he has to make his choice very clear - either he would dedicate himself to God's work and serve Him, or he would choose to take care of them; either he would choose to pursue his desire for success or marriage or he would choose to pursue Jesus' will alone. In this situation, those who do not hate these seven, choose them. Thus they cannot be Jesus' disciples; so eventually, as they make their choice clear to pursue them, cherish them, they reject God's will upon them, and thus, fail to live as Jesus' disciples. That what Jesus, as God, has witnessed for several thousand years. Adam, the first man was fully dedicated to God and enjoyed fellowship with God. Then, when his wife wanted him to compromise and do what God told him not to, he was troubled, but eventually, he didn't want to disappoint his wife or didn't want to break his wife's heart; so, he did what she wanted him to do, violating God's will upon his life; because he didn't hate his wife, he could not be a disciple. We also know Demas; he was a fully dedicated disciple under the apostle Paul's guidance. But later, he fell away because he loved the world (2Tim 4:10); when the world offered him what he desired, maybe, a promising future with a good career, or a chance to marry a desirable lady, he gave in, rejecting God's will upon his life. He loved his own life, instead of hating it, thus, failed to be Jesus' disciple. We have seen so many people who fail to be Jesus' disciples only because they have not hated these seven, but loved some of them.  

 

            When we think about this teaching carefully, we see how absolutely we must follow Jesus Christ alone. Even your father or your aged sick mother shouldn't be a hindrance for you to love God and serve His will.  How painful it is to reject or deny your sick mother's tears and live as Jesus' disciples! Such pain cannot stop you from following and obeying your Lord Jesus Christ. How painful it is to turn down a dream job offer - 6 digit income and a promising future, only to serve God's will! Such temptation or promising future cannot slow you down in serving Jesus' will wholeheartedly! How painful it is when we have to leave our own suffering brothers and sisters alone, and we just struggle hard to take care of other people on our campus as shepherds in obedience to Jesus' will! Despite such pains and sorrows, you still struggle to serve Jesus' will. This shows that you truly love Jesus and honor him above all things. Such people are Jesus' disciples.

 

            We remember that Abraham had two sons - Ishmael and Isaac. God asked Abraham to send off Ishmael, his beloved firstborn son into the desert. Abraham's struggle had been to be a good father for him. But at this direction, he sent him off into the desert with a gallon of water and a lunch sack. Then, God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac, whom he loved as a burnt offering to God. At this, Abraham did not back out. He obeyed God's command. Through this action, it became clear that Abraham would do whatever God wanted him to do - nothing or no one, or even no pain or sorrow could stop him from loving God and serving Him wholeheartedly. So, God didn't need to try to see how much Abraham would obey him or love him any longer. Such absoluteness, such single-hearted devotion is the characteristic of all Jesus' disciples. Revelation 14:3,4 talks about 144,000 Jewish evangelists, saying, "These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes."

 

            Second, "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (27). Look at verse 27. Let’s read this verse together:

 

27And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

 

            In verse 26, we learned what we should hate to be Jesus’ disciple. Hating those seven is the requirement for anyone to be Jesus' disciple; it is like prerequisite. Now in verse 27, Jesus shows us what we must do practically as his disciples, or he shows us what kind of life his disciples are to live. What kind of life? The life of taking up his cross! Hating the seven is a must, and taking up his cross is a must for anyone who wants to become Jesus' disciple.

 

            Here, "his cross" refers to the cross of mission assigned on each of us. God's kingdom is big, coming with many departments and branches. Let's say, you work at Google or Apple; you never try to do all the important things of your company; instead, you are assigned to a certain department, and a certain branch with a specific task - that's what you are to do. In the same way, God assigns each person to a specific department and branch - this is God's calling. This specific calling comes with a specific mission; each person has this mission assignment, which only he must do - this is his cross. We have this specific calling of God for campus mission. So, in order to serve this mission, we fish and teach students the word of God on college campuses. As we struggle to find sheep, we experience a lot of rejections and difficulties; also, in order to teach students the word of God, we have to prepare our Bible study notes, and utilize our time very effectively as shepherds and shepherdesses. Also, as students, school work is your cross, which you have to take care of. After graduation, you get a job and support yourself - this is profitable for everyone according to Titus 3. After marriage, you have the cross of taking care of and supporting your family. These are all our crosses, which we have to carry. This is how we live our life as Jesus' disciples. Jesus says, "Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Saying, "I believe in Jesus," or "I love the Lord," does not make you a real Christian; even memorizing the entire Bible or getting PhDs in theology does not make you a real Christian. If you are a believer, then, you must take up the cross of mission and follow Jesus. This cross-taking makes you a real Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus wants us to do each and every day. When each Christian takes up his or her cross daily, then their Christian life is sound, giving good influence to the people around them - such people are trustworthy and reliable. At the same time, they are fully dedicated to God's will and purpose - they are God's servants, soldiers for Jesus Christ, doing God's work upon their life very sincerely and faithfully; at that time, in their life, there is a clear goal, purpose and direction; simply, they know what they must do and pursue. They do not walk in darkness any longer, but in Jesus, they have the light of life. Such people are Jesus' disciples whose hearts and lives are fully dedicated to God.

 

Third, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (28-33). In verses 28 through 32, Jesus tells us to estimate the cost involved in being his disciples. Those who do not count the cost of being disciples in advance eventually give up when the cost is too high; and when it happens, they become laughingstocks. The key point here is "finishing" or "completion," as Jesus' disciples, not just for a while, but to the end of our life. Not just during college, but all the days of our life. At the same time, Jesus shows that no one can live as his disciples casually without any thinking. No one can live as Jesus' disciple by just applauding him and clapping; no one can live as Jesus' disciple because he likes Jesus' humorous message. Why? Because being Jesus' disciple or being a Christian is not a joke, but a big matter, coming up with many serious decision making moments; there will be painful moments; maybe, you will shed a lot of tears; maybe, you will be misunderstood by your beloved people; maybe, you will suffer financially for a while. When these things happen to you, how will you respond? Jesus does not want us to follow him naively; instead, he wants us to think about these things in advance and come up with our heart's determination to follow him no matter what. Then, what is the cost of being a disciple of Jesus? Look at verse 33. Let's read this verse together:

 

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.


            The cost is "everything we have." What does "everything" mean? Everything means everything - whatever you have - your father and mother, your wife and children, your brothers and sisters, and even your own very life. This is the requirement. So, in order to be Jesus' disciple, we have to give up everything?! What about our school? Jobs? Family? Children? What about our cars? I think saw Darius driving a car? Have you not given up your car yet? During Bible study, all of us use a laptop computer. Do you mean that you have not given up everything yet? According to this requirement, it seems that all Christians must be losers and street bums in the society. But that's not what Jesus is talking about. God made Abraham, Isaac and Jacob rich when they lived for Him; God made Job rich. God made David rich. Rather, with this, he shows us that only when we are willing to give up everything for him, we can live as his disciples. When those seven things Jesus mentioned about are not a matter in our life of faith, we can enjoy them freely - beautiful family life, wonderful career job, even a great success in the world becoming very rich - all these are great blessing; as your hearts and lives are fully dedicated to God, God gives you such blessings. When that happens, we will all shout for joy. But when those things become a matter in your life of faith, when you are pushed to the corner where you have to choose only one between God and your mother or father, or your husband or wife, or your sons or daughters, or even your own dreams for success or marriage, you stand on God's side firmly, making your heart's determination to obey God and serve Him only utmost clear, willing to lose them, willing to give them up for God's sake. Widowed, aged and sick mother's tears cannot stop you from obeying God's will; your sons' or daughters' cry cannot slow you down; neither great success nor painful failures cannot stop you from loving God wholeheartedly. Such people are the ones who are willing to give up everything they have for Jesus and God's kingdom. Jesus says that only such people can live as his disciples.

 

What about other people who are not willing to give up everything for him? They may do many Christian things; they may know the Bible a lot; they may give up many things for God - what about giving up father? No problem; mother? No problem; brothers and sisters? No problem! But what about their dream for success or marriage? If they are not willing to give up everything, if they hold on to just one thing, eventually, they choose it, willing to reject God's will upon their life; so, eventually, they fail to live as Jesus' disciples because of that one thing they hold so dear. We are here reminded of the rich young man. Jesus says that such people cannot become his disciples. When we think about this, we see that Jesus' disciples are no ordinary people at all, but really die-hard people for Jesus, completely dedicated to God, and thereby, obey His will in any circumstances; nothing or no one can stop them from loving God and serving Him wholeheartedly. What kind of people are they? They are the very descendants of Abraham, following his footsteps doing what he did. Being a Christian is not a joke; it is indeed an all-or-nothing deal.

 

Many people try to become Christians or to secure a ticket to heaven by just doing some things for Jesus Christ, such as, saying, 'I believe in Jesus," or going to church worship service or having some kind of Christian life. Simply, such an idea does not work, because the cost they have to pay is "everything." Believing in Jesus means our confession that Jesus is our God. If Jesus is your God, then, you worship him by devoting yourself completely to him, pouring out everything you have for him, doing everything He wants you to do, showing absolute loyalty and commitment to Him. If Jesus is your God, you choose him over all other things at any cost. If Jesus is your God, then, you struggle hard to obey his commands. The most basic and fundamental commandment is, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength." Thus comes Christian's lifestyle and struggle as Jesus describes in today's passage. It is very natural when you really believe in Jesus, when you really want to love him. This is what Abraham did when he even did not have any Bible, and when no Bible teacher told him that he must obey God. In today's passage, Jesus is not issuing a new rule for the New Testament believers, but he shows us how we must serve God as children of God, our basic duty as his creatures.

 

People think of going to heaven a very easy one, and they think that the ticket to heaven for eternal life is very cheap to purchase. So, they take a very casual attitude in coming to Jesus, saying, "Yeah, I know Jesus," or, they say, "I come to church, because I feel peaceful when I am in the church." Jesus does not welcome that kind of idea or attitude in coming to him. Even when people are so enthusiastic, applauding and shouting for him, Jesus till does not welcome them. Instead, he wants us to be real as God-worshipers. There was one brother who was determined to pursue success in the world, retire early like his grandfather, at the age of 47, and enjoy his life as a pro bono tutor donating his time to teach math to high school students at a local library. Then, God touched his heart through Luke chapter 5. Peter said to Jesus, "Go away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man." Then, Jesus said to him, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." At this, he was troubled, because he had to give up his dream for success, and live as a Bible teacher for Jesus. But after two weeks, he accepted God's calling, gave up everything in this life, and since then, he has lived as a disciple of Jesus. There was one girl pledged to marry a handsome young man. Then, one day God’s messenger came to her and told her that instead of pursuing her romantic marriage dream, she must be used in God’s salvation work. She was troubled at first, but realizing that she was chosen and blessed by God, she said to the messenger of God, "I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Lk 1:38) Her name was Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Whatever is dear to you, Jesus wants you to be willing to give up, if it becomes a hindrance so that you can follow him in any circumstances, and live as his disciples. Jesus wants us to sell everything we have and follow him so that we can gain him. Job 22 says that if you throw away your gold on the ravines, your valuable things on the river, then, the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.

 

Look at verses 34 and 35. Let’s read these verses together:

 

34"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

 

            In this passage, we see how absolutely and wholeheartedly we must follow Jesus as his disciples. When the disciples show that kind of absoluteness in following Jesus - hating all 7, including family members and their own life, giving up everything in this life, and living the life of taking up their own cross - their life is powerful and inspirational; they are so zealous and absolute for Jesus. No one and nothing can slow them down from loving Jesus and following him; they are literally invincible and unstoppable. At that time, people can see that these people are different and recognize them as Jesus' disciples. They are like salt, so outstanding and precious, and because of them human sanity is preserved, and because of their influence, the society becomes a better place to live.

 

            But if the disciples compromise and choose anything or anyone in this world other than Jesus, if they don't give up everything but try to secure or fulfill their life in the world, or if they do not live the life of taking up the cross of mission, they are like salt that loses its saltiness - no flavor or fragrance as Jesus' disciples. When these disciples lose that kind absoluteness and complete dedication to Jesus, they become like salt that does not have saltiness - they look like Christians, because they say, "I believe in Jesus," or "I love Jesus," or because they go to church on Sundays or because they pray before eating; but in their real life, there is no true fragrance of Jesus Christ due to their compromise, or humanistic way of thinking or value system; other than their religious life, they are not so different from the people of the world, so people are confused. They look like salt, something white, but when people come and taste them, they are found not salty at all - then, what are they? They are salt that have lost their saltiness.

 

            What are they for? They cannot be used as preservatives; they cannot be used to make food tasty either; simply, good for nothing. Jesus says, "It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out." The expression, "nor for the manure pile" is a contemptuous expression Jesus uses for those compromising people, those who fail to be his disciples. Such people who have lost absoluteness toward Jesus are not fit for God's purpose - due to their relativistic and humanistic value system and attitude toward things of God, God cannot use them at all, simply not fit for the service for the kingdom of God. Not only so, they are not fit for the world either. They know that God is real and Satan is real, heaven and hell are real, and that eventually everything in the world fades away; so they cannot give themselves to the world fully either, and in the world's eyes, they are not good at all. So, they are rejected even by the world. Simply, they are good for nothing. So, what happen to them? They are thrown out. God rejects them, and the people in the world trample on them, despising them and ridiculing them. We remember Lot - he compromised; he lived in Sodom, but it didn't mean that he completely forgot about God; when we study about him in Genesis, we are really confused - is he saved or not? Can we call him a believer or not? Simply, he is like the salt that has lost its saltiness, and thereby, he was rejected and despised, good for nothing, and eventually, he bore very shameful fruit that we don't want to talk about.

 

            In today's passage, we learned how we can be Jesus' disciples - we must hate those 7, we must take up our cross and follow him; we must be willing to give up everything for Jesus. Being a Christian or Jesus' disciple is a very serious matter, requiring us of such complete devotion, with willingness to sacrifice even our father or mother, our wife or husband, or sons or daughters - willing to give up, literally, everything. When God wanted to save us from our sins, it was not a joke; yet, He was willing to pay the ultimate price for us - even the death of his One and Only Son on the cross, and thereby, purchased us back from the enemy. God did this much for us in Jesus Christ. Now it is our turn. Jesus shows us how we can follow him and live as his disciples; Jesus shows us how we can love God and serve Him - we must be completely dedicated to God alone, not anything and anyone in the world, even our own life. Let's live as Jesus' disciples all the days of our life; let's not love anything in the world, but God alone. Jesus says, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

 

One Word:       Love The Lord Your God With All Your Heart And With All Your Soul And With All Your Strength! 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

posted Sep 25, 2017, 12:11 AM by Site Administrator

SO THAT MY HOUSE WILL BE FULL

 

Luke 14:1-24

Key Verse 14:23

 

"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.

      

First, "He who humbles himself will be exalted" (1-14). On a Sabbath, Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee. The foods were well prepared. But he was being carefully watched. Moreover, right in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy – whole bodily swelling. Jesus could not enjoy the meal any longer, because he was set up. It was the Sabbath, and these Pharisees wanted to see how Jesus would respond when he saw a man with dropsy right in front of him. Now Jesus realized what’s going on. How did Jesus respond? Look at verse 3. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" Jesus did not withdraw only because of their trap; instead, he chose a frontal breakthrough. He challenged them whether it was lawful to heal or not. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not? This was a good question. The Jews knew that it was prohibited in the Bible. So, they should have said, "No." But instead, at this question, they remained silent, showing that, when they thought about this carefully, they were not so sure.

 

       At this, taking hold of the man, Jesus healed him and sent him away. Then he asked them, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?" It’s a common sense. And they had nothing to say. Their challenge was theological - Is it lawful to  heal on the Sabbath? At this, Jesus did not come up with many Bible verses or with divine theological understanding; rather, he came up with common sense. When we think about this episode, we see that we must not be just religious people, but real people who love God and struggle to serve Him wholeheartedly.

 

It was the prominent Pharisee’s house where the meal was served. All the guests were VIPs. But when these VIPs gathered together, they were behaving strangely. They competitively picked up the places of honor at the table. They were prestigious people; maybe, many of them had Doctoral degree; some of them were synagogue rulers; others were rich people. So, they should have behaved in a noble way as prestigious people. But they were not noble at all, struggling to have the places of honor among themselves. Their desire for greatness was acceptable; we all have this desire. But the problem was that they were great in their own eyes, thinking that they deserved such places of honor; at that time, they were not great at all, but very silly; think about these middle aged or aged people struggling to have the places of honor among themselves - do they look great? No, they are silly.

 

When Jesus noticed this, he gave them a parable. Jesus says, "8When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited." The reason this person takes the place of honor is because he has certain qualification, and thereby, he thinks that he deserves it. Maybe, he is the most honorable person there, so no one says anything about him taking that seat. But the problem is that one who is more distinguished than him is invited also. So, later, when that person comes, the owner of the house comes to him and says to him, "Give this man your seat." Then, in front of everyone, this person will be humiliated; not only so, when he looks for a seat, all the honorable seats are already taken that he has to take the least important place or even on the floor. This may happen to anyone who thinks that he deserves the place of honor. So, when you are invited to a feast or dinner or any other meeting, don't take the place of honor, even if you are great. Instead, when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

 

I take this lesson very realistically; I think about how humiliated I will be, if what Jesus says happens to me. So, when I am invited to dinner or meeting, I never try to take any place of honor; instead, I take the least important seat, or from the beginning, just sit on the floor. There I feel very comfortable and secure because I know that I have no lower place to go. Then, usually, someone comes to me and invites me to sit on the chair appropriate for me.

 

When we think about what Jesus says in this passage carefully, we can see that ultimately, Jesus encourages us to be great, to be recognized and honored, taking the places of honor; he wants us to be exalted. So, don't be lazy; don't be losers; instead, seek greatness, struggle to achieve something great, working hard and using every flying minute very effectively. But the question is: How should we be exalted? One thing you must remember is: Never exalt yourself. Even if you are great, even if you have done great things, still don't exalt yourself. Let's say you have done great things - serving 20 Bible studies every week, establishing many disciples. You are really great. Everyone recognizes it. But the minute you claim your greatness, the minute you demand some special treatment, your greatness is gone, and no one considers you great; you look simply silly, just like those prestigious people who were busy to secure the places of honor at the banquet table. Never exalt yourself even when you are great. Instead, even after doing great things, even after achieving great things - establishing many great disciples, getting PhDs in your area, or becoming the CEOs of big companies, or gaining great wealth in the world, you still willingly and happily occupy lowly positions in God and serve others humbly. Then, people will see how great you really are, and they will honor you greatly. God never leaves such real great people unnoticed; instead, at the right time, God exalts such great people highly, doing great things with them. Their greatness is indeed God's glory. Let's say that you are the CEO of Google. But on Sundays, you put on a cap, and serve others as a parking controller at the church! Isn't it glory to God? "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted." How cool it is to be exalted highly in full view of everyone. Pursue true greatness in Jesus Christ.

 

After this, Jesus turned to the host, and taught him a lesson. Look at verses 12 through 14. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

12Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

 

       Birds with the same feathers gather together. Rich people form their own league; when they have a cocktail party, they invite the people of similar social class; of course, no ticket is given to poor people, because these rich people think that, if any unqualified person attends their party, their social status will be damaged. But Jesus teaches differently. He encourages us to invite those who cannot repay us, who cannot invite us back to their parties - the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. The terms he uses here - the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind - are not ordinary terms, but a spiritual language; he is not only talking about some dinner or luncheon, but about spiritual life. Giving a luncheon or dinner, or giving a feast is a charitable work that you spend your time, energy and money for others. His point is that, if our charitable activity is appreciated and paid back fully, then, we will not have any reward in heaven; but if our charitable work is not appreciated and repaid fully, then, our heavenly Father will repay us at the resurrection of the righteous. So, don't use your time, energy and money for those who can repay you, but for those who cannot - the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.

 

       On the campus, we see so many poor people who live with nothing to hold on – no future hope, no meaning or direction of life, or no purpose. There are many blind people also who cannot see the reality of the spiritual world; they cannot see the beauty of God, and of heaven, as a result, they only are concerned about here and now – their life purpose is to pay the bills faithfully by the means of establishing a good career; even though they are going to hell, they don’t know where they are going; sometimes, we feel frustrated, and we feel like shouting at their ears, "Can’t you see this?" The lame and crippled are defective people; many people due to their broken family problem, have become crippled in their character; some people because of their sinful life, are crooked, corrupted, and simply, they are not sound or healthy any more. Jesus wants us to take care of them, treat them, heal them and make them healthy so that they can function as sound human beings. It is really not easy to serve them, because, due to their blindness, crippled heart or spiritual poverty, they do not repay us; despite our love for them, they don't appreciate what we do for them; they don't appreciate how much we sacrifice our own precious time and money to serve them; instead, they sometimes, rebel against us or blame us, and even some of them attack us. When our love is not appreciated, when they remain indifferent to us continually, we are so discouraged and we have deep pains in us. We cry out to God for help, "Lord, how long?" But when we come to this passage, we are so encouraged, because this is exactly the very way Jesus wants us to live our life here on earth, giving a luncheon or dinner to those who cannot repay us, so that we can be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. When you live this kind of life pouring out your time and energy and money for those who cannot repay you, then, you will be repaid by God at the resurrection of the righteous – Jesus will give you the crown of righteous, and say to you, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Then, shocked, you will ask him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" Then, he will reply, 40"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matt 25:34-40) So, instead of seeking high social status by trying to enter prestigious people's league, serve those people who cannot repay you - such people are really great in God. God will reward you greatly.

  

       Second, "So that my house will be full" (15-24). Look at verse 15. At Jesus’ message, one of the Pharisees said to him, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God." He sounded very spiritual. But he missed the whole point of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus wanted them to hear his message, repent and turn to God. But instead, this man came up with some spiritual expressions, as if he was already spiritual. Jesus taught the word of God to him hoping that he would accept his message and be changed, but after Bible study, this man was saying, "Yeah, those sinful people must hear this message." So, Jesus gave them another parable to show them where they were standing – these people who were talking about the kingdom of God, who talked about theology were actually rejecting the invitation to the banquet in the kingdom of God by giving their hearts to something else in this life.

 

       A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. These guests were prestigious people, so they were invited to this banquet several months or even years ago. Then, at the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell them, "Come, for everything is now ready." All kinds of delicious foods were ready; beautiful music was ready, and many people in the house were going to sing, "Hallelujah" written by Handel – they practiced a lot; others prepared very fun but heart-moving drama; exciting dance festival was prepared very well. Now, everything was ready; the banquet was ready. The servant came to them, and said, "Come, for everything is now ready."

 

       How did the people who had been invited respond? Look at verses 18 through 20. Let’s read these verses together:

 

18"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' 19"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' 20"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'

 

       Shocking! The owner of the house and all his servants had worked hard for several months to prepare this banquet; even if it was very costly and required a lot of practice and hard work, they had done everything wholeheartedly in the hope to see the banquet going very well, people enjoying it very much. But these pre-invited people refused to come! It was really shocking. All of them had understandable excuses, and didn’t come to the banquet.

 

Nonetheless to say, this banquet Jesus talks about is the heavenly banquet God has prepared for those who are coming back to him. People love parties, especially, well prepared parties. Some people even live for parties – during Weekdays, they work hard, so that, Friday evening, or Saturday night, they can enjoy parties. Then, how great it must be when the party is prepared by God! How awesome it must be when it is held in heaven! Jesus, the Son of God, knowing his Father’s plan, worked hard to prepare it, even through his death on the cross. What beautiful songs the angels must have prepared, memorizing and practicing them day and night! All kinds of special effects and shows are well prepared not by tricks as humans do, but by the power of God. All kinds of food, which are good for taste, and for health, and for smell, have been prepared. Then, God sends out his servants to invite people. "Come, for everything is now ready." Revelation 19:9 reads: "Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God.""

 

Throughout human history, it is God who has been inviting people to the kingdom of God. But what is people’s response? They turn down his invitation with lame excuses. Jesus mentions about three major excuses people make – The first, "I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me." This man’s heart was on his business and money, so he excused himself. The second, "I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me." He just purchased a 12 cylinder Porche sports car, and he could not wait a minute to try it. His heart was on his hobby, pleasures and excitement. So he excused himself. The third, "I just got married, so I can’t come." He was already committed to someone else, or something else, that in his heart, there was no room for the kingdom of God. He was just pursuing his dream and he had too many duties and obligations. So he excused himself.

 

The heavenly banquet, the wedding supper of the Lamb of God will be indeed great. It seems that everybody wants to go to this banquet, but actually, when they are invited, they reject it because of these three reasons – their love for money or success, their love for pleasures, fun and excitement, and their human obligations in the world. Notice that those people who refused to come to the banquet are not unbelievers, but believers who knew about the banquet. The Pharisee who said, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God," assumed that he would attend the feast because he knew about it and talked about it. But, in Jesus’ eyes, he was rejecting the invitation by giving his heart to these things also - the man talked about his knowledge of the banquet in the kingdom of God, but Jesus was talking about the real aspect of it, showing how people reject the invitation. It seems that many people want to come to the kingdom of God, because they say, "I love God," or "I want to go to heaven." But in true reality, they are rejecting God’s invitation, because of these three reasons. After preparing everything, God sends out his servants to invite people to the banquet, but people, because their hearts are preoccupied with their own things – money, pleasures, their own excitement and marriage matter, reject this invitation. They never say, "I don't want to go to the kingdom of God." They never say, "I don't believe in God any longer." Maybe, they say that, once they die - when all the pleasures and hopes in this world are gone completely, when they have no more thing to enjoy in this life, they will go to the banquet - in that way, they give no priority to the banquet in the kingdom of God - this is how people practically reject God's invitation to the banquet. Jesus taught the Pharisees the word of God, and it was his invitation to the heavenly banquet – those who accepted his teaching would come to the heavenly banquet. God’s servants come and teach the word of God to people, and it is the invitation to this heavenly banquet. "Come, for everything is now ready." In order to accept this invitation, they have to deny all of their desires for the pleasures of this world, giving their first priority to the banquet.

 

Now, because those who had been invited rejected to come, it seemed that the banquet would be ruined. But that’s not the case. The owner of the house would never let it be ruined. Look at verses 21 through 24. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

21"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 22"'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' 23"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. 24I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'"

 

       Now, the owner sent out his servants into the streets and alleys of the town to bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. These people were jobless, having nothing to do all day long, so they were hanging out with other nobodies on the streets and alleys, chit-chat in shooting the breeze, sometimes, hacky-sackying, nothing to do, but just killing the time. What kind of people are these who are on the alleys? Yes, street people such as gangsters, so-called losers, and misfits in the society. They were completely unqualified to attend the banquet. But because the qualified people refused to come, the blessing fell on these unqualified people. The qualified people had something to hold on, so they refused to come. But how did these unqualified people respond to the invitation? Yes, of course, with great enthusiasm. They shouted, saying, "Yes, I will be there. Thank you!" They considered it as great privilege, a lifetime chance. Then, they went home, took bath several times and had hair cut; they broke their piggy bank and purchased a new suit; they did their best to prepare themselves properly, anxiously waiting for the banquet day. These people come to the banquet and enjoy it. They are blessed people.

 

       Today, God is inviting people to come to the banquet by sending us, his servants, but those who think they have something to hold on in this world, whether money or pleasures, whether fun or excitement, or marriage dream, make excuses; their hearts are given to those things and thereby, they reject God’s invitation. Jesus says, "I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet." But those who know that they have nothing to hold on in this world, no meaning or purpose in this world - the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, gladly accept this invitation – they are the ones who humble themselves, so they will be exalted. They are the ones who come and enjoy this heavenly banquet.

 

       We are thankful for God’s grace upon our life. We were like these street people – having no meaning or purpose in this world; we could not find any meaning to live for career or fame or wealth, or we tried to get some, but failed; simply, nothing to do with our life in this world – spiritually speaking, we were jobless in this life. Then, when God’s invitation came, we accepted it wholeheartedly; we took off our old clothes, took bath, and wore a new suit, and started our journey to the heavenly banquet. It is indeed God’s grace upon us that he sent his servants to us and invited us to the heavenly banquet. Now we are waiting for the time of the heavenly banquet - it will be truly glorious when we are seated around the banquet table together with all great servants of God! Now, we say to God, "Sir, what you ordered has been done, but there is still room." Then, our God commands us, "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full." Let’s pray that we may bring this invitation to many people around us. Let us invite all blind, poor, lame and crippled on our campuses so that they too may come and enjoy this heavenly banquet.

 

One Word:      Come, For Everything Is Now Ready! 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

posted Sep 10, 2017, 6:51 PM by Site Administrator


 

ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW DOOR

 

Luke 13:10-35

Key Verses 13:23,24

 

First, "What is the kingdom of God like?" (10-21).Look at verse 10. On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues. People may wonder, saying, "When the Son of God came into the world, how did he serve his kingdom work? What was Jesus’ way of serving God’s kingdom?"Verse 10 shows that his method of serving God’s kingdom was to teach the word of God. When we think about this carefully, we are only amazed. There must have been many more fantastic ways to impress people as the Son of God, but his main method was teaching the word of God. Like in today’s passage, sometimes, he taught people the word of God in the synagogue; sometimes, in the open field, sometimes, early in the morning; sometimes, until late night. Why? It was because he knew that it was the word of God that saves people from eternal judgment; it was because by hearing the word of God, people can have eternal life.  

 

While Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, he noticed a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up. Sometimes, we see old men or old women whose back is hunched over terribly; they suffer greatly, but still it is a natural phenomena. But this woman’s case was not natural; it was caused by a spirit, a spirit of infirmity according to KJV. It means that she wasn’t so old. How painful and sorrowful she must have been to have such a deformed body while she was not a senior citizen yet! While her peers were trying hard to look better, or while they enjoy surfing on the Hermosa Beach, she stayed in her dark room, probably cursing herself. She could not hang out with her classmates either. How hard she tried to be healed! She visited many doctors, but none of them could help her. Probably, she prayed a lot, asking God, "Why?" "Why me?" Her body was crooked, and soon, her inner world was crooked too, then, her whole life; her view of life was crooked. In this way, she had spent 18 long years, probably, now accepting it as her fate, giving up on her future. Who could understand her agony? Now, this woman was attending the synagogue worship service – after 18 years’ struggle in this deformed condition, probably, she realized that she had nothing but God. 

 

Look at verse 12. It starts with the phrase, "When Jesus saw her,…" Among all the people in the synagogue, Jesus saw her; Jesus zoomed her in and understood her agony - how she had spent her life in sorrow and darkness, and he wanted to heal her. What a marvelous grace it was that Jesus saw her among so many! Her case was not ignored by God. Then, Jesus called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity!" Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Infirmity is feebleness or weakness. People have infirmity physically, or mentally and thereby, they are dysfunctional. Isaiah shouts, "Surely, he took up our infirmities." Jesus died on the cross to take up our infirmities so that we may not live with this weakness or feebleness; instead, he wants us to be healthy and sound physically and mentally so that we may live a sound life with sound character, with sound perspectives. "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." This is the very declaration Jesus wants to pronounce on us. 

 

When the woman was set free from her 18 years’ long infirmity by Jesus’ grace, the townspeople should have rejoiced together with her and had a great festival to give thanks to Jesus and celebrate her new life. But at this, the synagogue ruler was indignant because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath. He said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath." His point was: "Sabbath is holy. Worship God only on the Sabbath!" He sounded very spiritual. Yet, how did Jesus respond? He said, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"Yes, indeed, on the Sabbath, you take care of your dogs and cats so that they may feel comfortable and happy. Then, what about setting free this woman, a daughter of Abraham, from her 18 years' suffering? Of course, you would do that. By the way, what do you see here about Jesus' argument? When the synagogue ruler sounded super-spiritual, did Jesus come up with divine theological argument? No. What he said was very plain - it's common sense. Here, we learn that we must not be religious people who say, "On Sundays, worship God only!" always quoting from Bible verses. We don't want Jesus to call us, "You hypocrites!" Instead, as Christians, we must be real people who struggle to love God and serve Him.

 

Look at verses 18 through 21. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

18Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches." 20Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

 

"What is the kingdom of God like?" This is a good question. What is your answer? When asked, people say, "Yeah, I think in the kingdom of God, angels fly, scenery is beautiful, and food is delicious." Many people think that in the kingdom of God, they will not have to work any longer, but sing and praise God all the time. What they say may be true, but when we think about these answers, we see that their answers are just fantasy – just fancy ideas, not real or practical. What is Jesus’ answer about this question – what is the kingdom of God like? He says that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed or like yeast. What?! The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed or yeast! Wow! What a shocking answer it is!  

 

A mustard seed is tiny, but when it is planted, it grows tall, taller than three story building; it becomes the biggest tree among all the garden plants. A small amount of yeast influences the whole batch of the dough. Jesus is talking about the growth and expansion of the kingdom of God once it is planted in man’s heart. Why did Jesus here suddenly talk about the kingdom of God? Jesus wanted to show people what the real work of God is about. The religious leaders might think that they were serving the kingdom of God by offering gorgeous and authentic worship service in the beautiful temple or synagogues; or they might think that they were expressing the kingdom of God by keeping the Sabbath law wholeheartedly - that kind of religious life. But now Jesus showed them that the kingdom of God is not about such things, but it is very real and dynamic; it starts so small, tiny like this nameless woman experiencing God's grace. The woman experienced Jesus’ grace and God’s kingdom was planted in her – she was praising God; she was happy with God. Right now, the size of the kingdom of God was so tiny – what the kingdom of God could do was to make her happy and her changed life did not mean that much to the world - no one paid attention to her. But since the kingdom of God was planted in her, things would not stay in that way forever; instead, the kingdom of God would grow in her continually, changing her value system, her hope and her life purpose and direction completely; it is like a small amount of yeast influencing the whole batch; in that way, she would be changed into a woman of God, and her life would change completely. Eventually, she would become a great woman of God like a gigantic mustard tree that can provide rest and peace to many hungry and weary birds. She would become a great spiritual leader and her influence would reach to the ends of the earth. The kingdom of God is like that, not like doing all kinds of religious ceremonies or doing many Christian things. With this, Jesus showed them what they must really pursue - not religious life, but real work of God, the kingdom of God. 

 

When the kingdom of God was planted in the hearts of lowly and nameless fishermen in Galilee, all of them grew to be great spiritual leaders for the whole world – they literally changed the course of human history. When Simon Peter gave up his fisherman’s career and followed Jesus, who could imagine that this man would change the whole world? His influence is still going on in the world.


When the woman was set free from her infirmity, the synagogue ruler belittled it, emphasizing the importance of going by the rules. But Jesus showed him what was really important, and what was really going on - the kingdom of God was going on. When she experienced Jesus’ grace and when the kingdom of God was planted in her, Jesus did not see her as an ordinary woman any longer. Jesus had a great hope and vision for her that she would grow up as a gigantic, worldclass spiritual leader. What an amazing hope Jesus had for her who had been suffering from infirmity for 18 long years. The kingdom of God would change her completely. Now, the kingdom of God has been planted in the hearts of our young college students. Right now, at the beginning stage of its growth, often it’s barely enough to give you some joy and happiness, but as the kingdom of God grows in you, you will be changed into wholesome children of God. Then, you can expect that you will be the world class spiritual leaders; you can dream to change the whole world. Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God! Again, we must not be just religious people, doing many Christian things; instead, we must serve the kingdom of God - fishing and teaching students the word of God, praying that the kingdom of God may be planted in them, and powerful spiritual leaders may rise from among young college students.

 

Second, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door" (22-35). Look at verses 22 and 23. Now it was Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem where he would die on the cross as a ransom sacrifice for many. His time was approaching fast. How did he feel at his impending suffering and death? One time, he shared his anguished heart to his disciples saying, "I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" It was not an easy moment for anyone to go through. But verse 22 says that Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his journey to Jerusalem. Embracing all burdens in his heart, he taught people the word of God in towns and villages. Despite his own burden, he struggled hard to take care of others by teaching them the word of God. While Jesus was working hard to teach the word of God, someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" What a bold question it was! Actually, this is our question. As we have studied Luke's gospel so far, especially these past several weeks, how have you felt about your Christian life or about your salvation? One time, Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God." Our question is: Does here "whoever" or "he" include us or not, such people who experienced his grace and have a new life of serving God's kingdom work? Another time, Jesus talked about how they must be dressed ready for service and keep their lamps burning so that at any time he comes back, they may be found as faithful servants. As a conclusion, he said, "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Again, the question was: Does here, "you" include the disciples also? That was what's going on in the hearts of the disciples. Finally the top disciple Simon Peter could not be silent any longer. So, he asked Jesus, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us or to everyone?" At first, they assumed that they had already secured their entry to the kingdom of God, because they were Jesus' disciples; they took salvation for granted. But as Jesus' teaching went on, they came to sense that having salvation was not so easy; actually, according to Jesus' teaching, it was very difficult. Then, what about their own salvation? Was it secured because they were Jesus' disciples? Or, did they have to work hard for it also, even if they were Jesus' disciples? So many things were going on in their hearts. Finally, one disciple could not hold this sense of uncertainty any longer. He wanted to nail it down, either way. So, he boldly asked Jesus this question, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" As we have studied Luke's gospel so far, I am sure that this has been in your heart also. As the representative of all Christians, the disciple asked this question. 

 

What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verse 24. Let’s read this verse together:

 

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."

 

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door." When you ask Jesus about how to have salvation, this is Jesus' answer. It seems that the way to secure salvation is not easy. No, it is not easy. If anyone wants to have salvation, that person must make every effort to enter through the narrow door. This instruction of Jesus shows that salvation is not the matter of knowing some theology - even though you say, "I believe in Jesus," that words of mouth, or that theological knowledge does not save you; salvation is not the matter of having some Bible knowledge or even attending church worship service regularly either. Rather, this instruction shows that salvation is the matter of seeking it continually, making all possible efforts to enter through the narrow door. Those who believe Jesus and thereby, follow this instruction will have salvation.

 

The expression, "narrow door" suggests that there is no flexibility, no room for compromise, and thereby, you need to make all possible efforts to squeeze yourselves to enter through it. You are already too big for this narrow door, so you maneuver yourself wholeheartedly to somehow go through it; of course, you cannot keep your backpack, so you throw it away; you cannot keep your thick and expensive mink coat or even sweat shirts, so you throw them away; even you have to cut off your beautiful hair; but still you are a little too big, so you fast for ten or twenty days to make yourself slim. Then, finally, after all these struggles, only when you make every effort to enter through it, willing to do anything if necessary,barely you can enter through that narrow door - this is the attitude Jesus asks those who want to have salvation in him - only when they make that kind of desperate and wholehearted effort to enter through the narrow door, they can secure salvation in him. Their struggle of making every effort to enter through the narrow door is the evidence that they value salvation more than anything in the world - if anything becomes a matter either a good looking thing or a bad looking thing, they are willing to get rid of it for the sake of securing salvation - nothing can stop them from seeking salvation - either family or wealth, either pain or luxury, either life or death. Such people enter the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ.

 

Again, what does it mean to enter through the narrow door? It means a very unpopular way of life, a hard way of life. When you feel like saying, "Is this the only way?" that is the narrow door. When you feel like saying, "Do I really have to go this way?" that's the narrow door, requiring you to deny yourself and take up the cross of mission. This is God's way of salvation for us in Jesus Christ. But people make it easy, comfortable and convenient for themselves, so they make the door wide, and the road broad so that they can have Christian life, which is easy and comfortable, without any self-denial or cross-taking.

 

Jesus also tells us the reason why we must make every effort to enter through the narrow door, saying, "Because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."So, they fail to enter through the narrow door, and thereby, eventually, they fail to secure salvation. By the way, what kind of people are "many" here? They are the ones who struggled to enter through the narrow door for salvation - so they are not unbelievers, not agnostics, or atheists. They believe in Jesus, accepting his teaching, and thereby, trying to enter through the narrow door, making a lot of efforts, but eventually failing to enter it only because they do not make every effort, but just some effort. After trying to enter through the narrow door to some extent, they choose to keep their backpacks, or their expensive coat, which they love so much, and thereby, eventually, choose to enter through the wide door with all the things they have desired and valued. Jesus says that many people will be like that - desiring to have salvation, and even making some efforts, but eventually choosing to secure what they have valued such as money or luxury or pleasures or their own dreams and desires in this life. Many people will fail to enter the kingdom of God even though they try, because they do not make every effort to enter through the narrow door. When many people live this kind of life, we should not be deceived by their way of life - in their Christian life, there is no pains or sorrows of true self-denial or cross-taking; instead, it seems that they enjoy all things they desire in this world and life - girlfriend, boyfriend, pursuing their own desires and dreams in this life freely while calling themselves as Christians. Instead, we must make every effort to enter through the narrow door no matter what so that we can secure our own salvation. As I have served God's work, I have realized one thing: Eventually, people get what they desire. About this, the Bible declares in Galatians 6:7-8, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."  

 

Look at verses 25 through 27. HereJesus shows us how things will go when his kingdom comes. These people expected that they would be welcomed into the kingdom of God. But they were not; no angel was waiting for them, and the door was closed. So they stood outside knocking and pleading, "Sir, open the door for us." Then, the master answered them, "I don’t know you or where you come from." Then, they said, "We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets." But the owner replied, "I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!" So they were rejected to enter the kingdom of God.

 

What’s their problem? Their problem is that they have not made every effort, but some effort, and after making some effort, they assumed everything. See what they said – We ate and drank with you, and you taught us in our streets. Eating and drinking together is an expression of having fellowship. They thought that they had fellowship with the master of the house, Jesus - maybe, they professed their faith in Jesus, or they attended worship service; also they had a lot of Bible knowledge. Because of these, they assumed that they knew Jesus and that they would be welcomed into the kingdom of God. But they didn't know the master; they didn't know what the master really desired. Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Who will enter the kingdom of heaven? Jesus specifically mentions about this, saying, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,'... but only he who does the will of my Father." Only those who live according to God's will and purpose upon their life will enter the kingdom of heaven. God makes his specific will for each person clear through his personal calling. Then, some people accept God's will and obey him by making all possible efforts to live according to God's will and fulfill it. But others reject God's will upon their life, saying, "I don't know. I am not sure about it," or conveniently excuse themselves, saying, "I go to church." How is it to live according to God's will and purpose? It is not easy, because his way is higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. In order to live according to his will and purpose, we have to deny our own desires and dreams; often, we have to let go of things we desire and we must take up the cross of mission daily. Sometimes, we feel lonely. Sometimes, we are sad because our beloved family members don't understand us. Sometimes, we have heartache because we let go of a dream job offer. Such people show what they really desire - God over all other things - these people come to heaven and form a kingdom, the kingdom of God. Prophesying in Jesus' name does not make you real followers of Jesus Christ; performing many miracles in Jesus' name does not make you real Christians. But doing the will of the Father who is in heaven makes you real Christians. What is God's will upon your life? It is to take care of God's flock on college campuses. We don't struggle to do all kinds of good things; instead, we make every effort to serve college students with the word of God. How does Jesus describe God in Matthew? He describes as our Father who is "in heaven." How will you respond if God the Father is right next to you and tells you what to do? Of course, you will do it. But God the Father is not on earth, but He is in heaven. Even if you don't do what He wants you to do, He does not rebuke you or correct you. He does not like micromanagement. Then, how will you respond to His will? So, we see that those who do the will of the Father who is in heaven are those who make every effort to do God's will all on their own, willing to taste losses, willing to let go of all their dreams and desires on their own, swallowing all related sorrows and pains on their own, all for God's sake. They are the ones who truly love God and honor God. Such people enter the kingdom of God. Such people are real disciples of Jesus. Living according to God's will and purpose upon your life despite all challenges, pains and sorrows shows what you really desire - God; that makes you real disciples of Jesus Christ who loved God and served Him only.

 

Look at verse 28. "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out." At the gate of heaven, they are rejected, and thrown into darkness! At that time, many people will be full of regret, gnashing of teeth, crying, "Why didn’t I listen to my Bible teacher? Why didn’t I repent? Now I am doomed!" Or they will be angry at each other, saying, "I was living as a disciple very well. But you tempted me; because of you, I am doomed." I pray that none of us here may share their terrible fate. So what should we do? Make every effort to enter through the narrow door! 

 

Look at verse 29. Let’s read this verse together:

 

29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 

 

The original question was, "Are only a few people going to be saved?" Now, what is Jesus’ answer? No, many people will be saved from the four corners of the earth. From China, from India, from Mongolia, from Russia, from Korea, from America, from every country in the world, many people will come and seat with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All of them without any exception have entered through the narrow door, willing to do anything for it, valuing God's kingdom above all other things; with that kind of attitude, they haveserved their Lord Jesus with all their hearts and strength, and after completing their mission on earth, they will be gathered together in the kingdom of God. They are the ones who followed Jesus wholeheartedly, denying themselves and taking up the cross of mission daily. They are completely dedicated to Jesus. Such people are not deceptive; they do not plan evil in their hearts; they are just and righteous like King David. Jesus completes his kingdom, the kingdom of God with such people. Then, in his kingdom, no need to worry about rebellion like 1/3 of angels rebelling against God in the beginning, or like Adam and Eve disobeying God's command. With these people filling the kingdom of God, God's redemption plan is completed. Then, God closes the first phase of his creation, and with these people, He starts the new phase of his creation, making everything new - new heaven and new earth. Blessed are those who participate in the new world. Don't you want to be a part of this new world? Then, in this life, make every effort to enter through the narrow door; make every effort to do the will of your Father who is in heaven.

 

Now when they come to his kingdom, God will throw a huge feast for them, and they will take their places in the feast. There will be seats with name tags, "Johnny Pringle,""Roberto Flores," and the angels will escort you to your seats. It will be such a happy moment for all those who entered the kingdom of God. 

 

It seems that there are only few people who are really dedicated to God; it seems that the majority of Christians we see are just nominal Christians - no real commitment to God, no real life of serving God. So, usually, people think that there are only a small number of real Christians. But, that's true only around us here in America; there are so many real Christians worldwide who make every effort to enter through the narrow door, who dedicate themselves to God's calling completely, willing to sacrifice their life for God's kingdom work freely - we will see them at the feast in the kingdom of heaven. So, don't be discouraged; don't envy those Sunday Christians who just enjoy Christian culture without losing anything. Never compare yourself to them - they are not your role model. Instead, be zealous for God all the more. Worldwide, all your brothers and sisters are struggling hard to enter through the narrow door.

 

Look at verse 31. At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." It seemed that they were concerned about Jesus’ safety. But actually, they were the instruments of Satan trying to plant fear in Jesus’ heart so that Jesus would not preach any more in that place. What was Jesus’ response? Look at verses 32 and 33. Let’s read these verses together:

 

32He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' 33In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day-- for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

 

Despite all dangers and threats, Jesus’ decision was utmost clear – In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day. As we strive to serve God’s kingdom work, we face many challenging moments. Sometimes, we lack time even to do our homework. Sometimes, we have financial crisis. Sometimes, we have persecution from our parents. So should we withdraw because of such difficulties and dangers? No way! No matter what, even if we lose our life, still we must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day. God’s servants do not die until God’s mission upon their life is over. 

 

Jesus says, "for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!" Usually, we think that it was the enemies like murderers and robbers who killed God’s prophets. But that’s not true. It is really shocking to notice that it was the people of Jerusalem, God believing people who killed God’s servants. Other people, when they saw God’s servants preaching the word of God to them, honored and respected them highly as servants of God. But the people of Jerusalem did not take their message very seriously; eventually, they rejected their messages and killed them, because they thought that they already knew God and did not need to be taught by others. They assumed that they were already okay.

 

Look at verses 34 and 35. Let’s read these verses together:

 

34"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

 

As Jesus thought about the rejection of the people of Jerusalem and about what terrible things were going to happen to them as the result of their disobedience and unwillingness to turn to God, he was so sorrowful and his heart was stirred. He cried out, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,…Look, your house is left to you desolate…"

 

Today, we are here to hear God’s message. Let’s not harden our hearts, saying, "I am already saved." Instead, let’s make every effort to enter through the narrow door with complete humility and submission to God’s will. Then, we will see God’s smiling face on that day.

 

One Word:Make Every Effort To Enter Through The Narrow Door 

 

 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

posted Sep 3, 2017, 11:19 PM by Site Administrator

INTERPRET THIS PRESENT TIME

 

Luke 12:54-13:9

Key Verse 12:56

 

Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

 

       First, “Interpret this present time” (12:54-59). In the previous passage, we learned that Jesus came to bring fire on the earth. His life changing power is so great that whenever a person accepts his grace, everything around him is stirred up greatly – an old value system that is based on humans and this world and a new value system that is based on God and his kingdom clash. As a result, a great war occurs among his family members; mothers become sorrowful, and brothers become angry. They say to their brother or sister or son or daughter, “Why do you bring this disaster and pain to us? Don’t you see what is happening because of your new belief?” Through this fierce battle, good news is being brought to our beloved family members. It is like bringing fire into our family; at first, it is painful, but this fire eventually will bring them salvation and eternal life. Where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, the fire is kindled; old humanistic and worldly value systems and hopes are destroyed, and instead, heavenly and godly value systems and hopes grow. When people do not have this fire that burns, they are just lukewarm, and nothing happens. But when they have this fire, real conflicts and strife and even wars occur among their family members because of their faith in Jesus. Jesus says, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish if it were already kindled!” I pray that all of us may carry this fire in us so that wherever we go, all people around us may be stirred up greatly, and through us, God’s salvation may be given to them.

 

       Now in today’s passage, Jesus tells us to interpret this present time. Look at verses 54 through 56. 54He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” When we see a cloud rising above the Pacific Ocean, we expect that there will be rain, and when the Santa Ana wind blows, we expect that it will be hot. So watch out for wild fire! The cloud or Santa Ana wind is an evidence or a sign for us to understand what’s going to happen. In the same way, Jesus tells us to figure out this present time by seeing some visible evidences so that we may understand what’s going to happen and thereby, prepare ourselves properly. When you see a cloud rising in the west, you know that soon the rain will come, so you carry an umbrella; when you see the south wind blowing, you know that it will be hot, so you wear shorts. Long time ago, there was the sign of rain, but people failed to read it; as a result, instead of preparing themselves for the rain, they just focused on eating, drinking, buying and selling, marrying and being given in marriage until the rain came down and destroyed them all. But there was one person, named Noah who read the sign. So, knowing what’s going to happen, he prepared himself properly by building an ark, and was saved. Now, there is the sign of fire, showing that soon it will be so hot. Those who fail to read this sign or ignore this sign live exactly in the same way the people of Noah’s time lived - eating, drinking, selling and buying, planting and building, and marrying and being given in marriage; as a result, when it gets really hot, they will all get burned in fire. Only those who read the sign and prepare themselves properly will be saved.

 

       What kind of signs do you see? How do you interpret this present time? Genome project was completed in 2003, and scientists produce animal clones. People are approaching the area of God’s creation, which humans should not touch. This genetic engineering is like building another Tower of Babel - mankind struggling to prove what they can do without God, and they are almost reaching the area of God - creation; in my eyes, this is a sign of the end time. In this Post Modern Era, everything is confused - male and female, sons or daughters, marriage, family - the foundation of our human society is being destroyed, and people go crazy. Moral corruption has reached its limit that the society is becoming like literally Sodom and Gomorrah. On July 14, 2011, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 48 into law. SB 48 mandates that the unnatural and unhealthy lifestyles of both historical and contemporary persons who engaged or currently engage in homosexuality, bisexuality, or trans-sexuality be positively portrayed to impressionable children through “instruction in social science.” It’s the most in-your face sexual brainwashing, yet there is no opportunity for parents to opt-out their precious boys and girls. They legalized homo sexuality to transform California into Sodom and Gomorrah, and once anything happens in California, it soon happens in other states in the USA. What happened when Sodom and Gomorrah were so corrupt with homosexuality? God rained down sulfur from heaven and destroyed them. Sadly, this is the trend in our society that many more states are legalizing same sex marriage.  

 

       One important theme in movies is the last day, or the end of the world; people are afraid if any comet may hit the earth, or global warming will cause the end of mankind, or aliens will attack the earth with super powered weapons, or incurable virus will turn all peoples on earth into zombies, or nuclear wars may start; simply, even unbelievers say that it is now the last days - the end is near. We keep hearing about earthquakes, strange diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Mad cow disease, Mouth and Hoop disease, Bird flu, West Nile virus, famine, wars and rumors of wars. Jesus says in Luke 21:10,11, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” All these signs are appearing, and now Jesus can come any time, any moment. Jesus says, “Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.” (Mark 13:29) Surely, the end time is near. In view of this present time, how should we live our life? Surely, not in drunkenness, not in orgies, not in sexual immorality; instead, we all must wake up from our spiritual slumber; surely, it is not the time for us to think about how to make our life secure with a promising career, but about how to be dressed ready for service and keep our lamps burning for God’s kingdom work, so that, anytime, Jesus comes, we all may be found as faithful and wise servants, trustworthy and loyal to him. Interpret this present time. Right now, we see the south wind blowing, so soon, it will be really hot. So we must prepare ourselves. Look at verses 58 and 59. Let’s read these verses together:

 

58As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

 

In these verses, Jesus shares with us his interpretation of the present time. In his eyes, all peoples on earth are like the one who is going with his adversary to the magistrate for a court trial; once he reaches to the courthouse, the judge will hand him over to the officer, and the officer will throw him into prison. Jesus says, “I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Once people are judged and put in prison, how long will they stay there? Very long time, actually, forever. A serious consequence is waiting for them. Jesus’ point is clear: while you have a chance, before you are judged, do whatever is necessary to reconcile with God so that you will not be thrown into prison. This was how Jesus understood his time. Since then, 2,000 years have passed. Now, in 2017, how would Jesus say about the present time? Probably, as people waiting for trial in the court?! Surely, the end is near and soon all people will have to stand in front of the Judge who will judge everyone according to what each person has done. Be reconcile to your adversary while you have a chance; do it immediately before too late.

  

       Second, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (13:1-9). Look at verse 1. Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. About this, some people say that, while these Galileans were offering the sacrifices and as the blood of the animals was on the ground, Pilate’s army attacked them and killed them, and their blood was shed on the ground and was mixed with the blood of the animals. Some others say that Pilate killed them, took their blood and mixed it with the blood of animals, because he was really disgusted with these men. Anyway, the point of those who told Jesus about these Galileans’ tragic death was that these Galileans must have sinned so terribly that God punished them with such a tragic death - their idea was: What great sin they must have committed that God punished them with such a weird and tragic death! At the same time, they thought that they were at least better than those people because such a tragic thing had not happened to them.

 

At this, what was Jesus’ response? Look at verses 2 through 5. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them-- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

 

       Jesus said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” In Jerusalem, recently, another tragic event happened. The tower of Siloam fell on people and 18 of them died. Why should the tower of Siloam fall? No one expected such a thing. If it had to fall, why exactly at the time when these 18 people were there? Such a thing does not happen by accident. So people concluded that God punished them for their sins. People thought that this kind of tragic death was the evidence of their terrible sins. But Jesus said that these 18 people were not worse sinners than the others in Jerusalem. In Jesus’ eyes, all people in Jerusalem were as wicked as those 18 people who were killed, deserving death penalty. Unless they repented, they too would all perish. When many people were killed in New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, some people said that it was the act of God’s judgment on those terrible people. It might be true, but people should not think of themselves better than those who suffered in that way only because such things have not happened to them. They are as bad as those people. Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” When the earthquake hit Haiti and killed about 230,000 people, some pastors said that it was God’s judgment upon them for their sins. When Japan suffered from the earthquake, tsunami, and then, nuclear plant accident, some people said that it was God’s judgment on these idol worshipers. All these people might be true, but it does not mean that they are any better than those who were killed by these unexpected and tragic events. Jesus says to all these self-righteous people, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Not because they are better than them, but because of God’s long patience with them, nothing so tragic has happened to them and that they are still alive; yet, what will happen if they ignore this warning sign and think of themselves too highly? Unless they repent, they too will all perish - it’s just the matter of time.

 

All people - both holy looking people like the Jews in Jerusalem and despicable looking people like the Galileans - deserves God’s immediate judgment. It means that, because of their sins, any kind of sudden or unexpected disaster can happen and kill them any time. Maybe, some terrible disease such as AIDS, cancer, or West Nile virus; maybe, a fatal car accident, maybe, an earthquake, maybe terrorists’ attack,... We never know what may happen to us tomorrow. Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” What is your interpretation of this present time? It is the time when any kind of sudden or unexpected disaster can happen to us and kill us because of our sins. So before it happens, we must repent; before too late, we must repent, or we too will all perish like the Galileans, or like the eighteen people on whom suddenly the tower of Siloam fell, or like the people in New Orleans, or like the people in Haiti, or like the people in Japan. When we think about this carefully, we see that we must never take this Christian life casually; we must never take anything for granted; instead, as Christians, as those who believe Jesus, we must repent today. Before we are brought to the magistrate for judgment, we must try hard to be reconciled to God by repenting and turning to God, weeping and crying. Such people are blessed.

 

         In verses 6 through 9, Jesus gives us the parable of a fig tree. A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard. The vineyard is for the vines, not fig trees; so it was a great privilege for the fig tree to be planted in the vineyard where it could be taken care of very well. It was fertilized, and watered well for a few years until it grew big and was ready to bear fruit. Then, in the first year when the fig tree was supposed to bear fruit, the man went out to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. It was not right. But thinking that maybe, it needed more fertilizer, he waited one more year, but when he went to find fruit in the next year, still it didn’t bear any fruit. It was not right, but again, thinking that perhaps, that year, the weather was not suitable for the fig tree, he waited one more year. But in the third year, he still could not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’“ The fig tree already deserved to be cut down since it had not produced fruit for three years. But still nothing happened to it not because everything was okay with it, but because the owner was giving it one more chance. If it does not bear fruit in this chance also, surely it will be cut down and thrown into fire.

                  

Before creating men, God shared his plan for them, saying, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” God created humans in his image. God wanted to see glorious characters and personalities, majestic and beautiful behaviors from them. But humans have not borne any good fruit. Instead, all kinds of bad fruit – deceitfulness, wickedness, evil, pride, malice, greed, immorality, murder. God wanted to see the faithful and wise stewards, managers who would take care of his creation very well, but people did not bear fruit in this matter at all – they even did not pay attention to God’s will for them. Instead, they have pursued their own desires to eat better, to purchase better clothes, to drive better cars, to live in a better house. Surely, God could have cut down all these people. God has been waiting for 6,000 years since the creation, but still people have not borne good fruit, but only bad fruit. In our own personal life, despite our evil deeds, sinfulness and wickedness, God has not destroyed us in hope to find good fruit from us. So far, nothing terrible has happened; no unexpected casualty has happened. It does not mean that what we do is okay in God’s eyes, but it means that, out of his great mercy and hope for us to bear good fruit, God is giving us one more chance. Despite our wayward life for the past 20 years, we have survived - nothing bad has happened, because God wants to give us one more chance. Now we must bear fruit that pleases God. “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’“ We have an absolute reason to make all possible efforts to produce good fruit for God. This is what we must do most urgently before too late.

 

Jesus asks us to interpret this present time. Now, what is your interpretation of this present time? We are in the last grace period. It is the time when God gives us just one more chance to see if we bear good fruit. Terrible disasters do not attack people yet not because what they are doing is okay, but because God is giving them one more chance to bear good fruit. We must make all possible efforts to produce good fruit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit Jesus wants us to bear is the fruit of life, saved souls, disciples. Try hard to be reconciled to God by repenting, and bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

 

 One Word:     Be Reconciled to God Before Too Late

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