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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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

posted Aug 28, 2017, 8:09 PM by Site Administrator

WHO THEN IS THE FAITHFUL AND WISE MANAGER?

 

Luke 12:35-53

Key Verse 12:42

 

The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?"

 

First, "Be dressed ready for service" (35-41). Look at verse 35. Jesus says, "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning." In the previous passage, we studied about Jesus’ instruction for his disciples in regard to their security matter and what they should do. Jesus told them not to worry about their future security, but by trusting in God’s provision, to seek God’s kingdom. The believers must seek God’s kingdom work. Now in this passage, Jesus shows us with what kind of attitude we must seek God’s kingdom, saying, "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,…" With what attitude should we seek the kingdom? Like soldiers or firefighters in uniform, ready for service so that whenever any direction comes, we respond saying, "Yes, Sir," and go to serve God's kingdom - there is readiness and willingness, and you always make yourself available for God to use - maybe, you are a student, but you make yourself available for God to use, being ready to say, "Yes, Sir!" Maybe, you are an employee working at a very promising company, but you make yourself available for God to use, because, fundamentally, what you really seek and desire is God's kingdom; you live as agents of the kingdom of God here on earth that whenever a direction for God's kingdom comes, you are always ready, wherever you are, whatever you do.

 

This readiness for God's kingdom shows your priority on the kingdom of God; this willingness for God's kingdom shows your zeal and passion for the kingdom of God. This readiness, this willingness for God's kingdom then makes you serve God's kingdom work wholeheartedly, zealously and passionately; at that time, your Christian lamps are burning brightly. Jesus says, "and keep your lamps burning." How were you when you experienced Jesus' grace for the first time? You were so happy and thankful that you pursued God's kingdom work wholeheartedly; you didn't care even if your meeting place was someone's garage; you didn't care even if you had Bible study at a donut shop; at that time, nothing or no one could stop you from loving God and serving God wholeheartedly. Indeed, your Christian lamps were burning very brightly. Jesus wants us to seek God's kingdom in that way continually, saying, "Keep your lamps burning." Not only just at the beginning stage of your Christian life, but all the days of your Christian life continually; not only during your college period, but also after graduation; not only when you were lowly in your company, but also when your salary is very high and when you occupy high positions in the society; not only when you are singles, but also after marriage, and all the days of your life. Keep your Christian lamps burning! How? By being dressed ready for service for the kingdom of God. Don't be distracted by the worry and fear of the security matter. Instead, trust in God and seek His kingdom! He will take care of you and help you with your career matter and marriage matter as you serve His kingdom work. Instead of being bombarded by such matters, be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning! That's what God wants you to do. That's how we must live our life as Christians in this world.

 

       In verses 36 through 40, Jesus explains the reason why his disciples, his believers must be ready for service and keep their lamps burning. Here, he describes himself as the master who is coming back home from a wedding banquet, and his disciples as his servants who take care of his house while he is absent. The servants know for sure that their master is coming back, but they don’t know what time he will be back. The master may come back around 10 pm, or 1 am, or even 4 am – it is totally up to the master’s will and decision, and the servants wait for him. How happy the master will be when he finds his servants still waiting for him even at 4 am that the minute he knocks at the door, immediately, they open the door, saying, "Welcome back, Master." Jesus says, "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them." This is really an amazing picture. The master, when he sees his servants so faithful, waiting for him even at 4 am in the morning, is so moved by their faithfulness and loyalty that he takes the servant’s position and serves them so specially. He lets them sit around a table, takes the servant’s clothes, prepares some delicious foods for them, and while they eat, he waits on them just like a waiter at a restaurant. Jesus again says, "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night."

 

       Jesus, after his death and resurrection, went to heaven, entrusting all God’s kingdom business in the hands of his disciples with the promise that he would return. Now it is the disciples of Jesus who take care of God’s soul saving business. Now we are all waiting for his second coming. How happy Jesus will be when he finds that we have been waiting for him faithfully! It will be really good for us that we are found faithful when he comes back. At that time, we can bow down to him and say, "Lord, by your grace I am what I am." Then, Jesus will say to us, "Well done, my good and faithful servants! Come and share your master’s happiness!" This is all Christians' dream that Jesus recognizes us as good and faithful servants! So, we must be found ready at his second coming. 

 

       Jesus is coming, but we don’t know when he will come - the time or day, so we must be ready all the time so that any time he comes, we may be found waiting faithfully. Jesus will come at an unexpected hour like a thief. So, we must be dressed ready for service, and keep our lamps burning all the time so that, no matter what time he may come, we may be found ready for him. There might be so many things we have to take care of, such as school work or supporting the family. Maybe, sometimes, we are at work to earn money, or on the street driving for school. But above all things, Jesus wants us to be ready for God’s kingdom work and keep our lamps burning so that any time he may come, we may be found ready - good and faithful servants for the master. Jesus says in Luke 21:34, "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap." We should not let anything, whether good or bad, distract us from serving God wholeheartedly.

 

       Second, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager?" (41-48). Look at verse 41. Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" This is the very question many Christians have. Whenever they see Jesus' challenging message, they assume that such a message is not for them, but for unbelievers; but deep down in their hearts, they are burdened. As the representative of all these Christians, Peter asked the question. What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verse 42. Let’s read this verse together:

 

The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?

 

       Jesus describes here, his disciples as the managers, whom the master puts in charge of his servants. Jesus was the good shepherd for God’s flock; he worked hard to take care of his sheep, and even laid down his life on the cross to purchase them. Then, when his time came to return to his Father’s house, he established his disciples as the shepherds for his sheep, saying, "Feed my lambs!" "Take care of my sheep!" Jesus entrusted his sheep in the hands of his disciples who loved him. He wants his disciples to be shepherds and shepherdesses who take care of his little lambs. How happy he will be, when, at his return, he finds his disciples taking care of his sheep faithfully. When we live as shepherds and shepherdesses taking care of God’s flock, we are managers who work on behalf of our master Jesus.

 

       Jesus describes here the managers' job as "giving their food allowance at the proper time." For the pets such as dogs and cats, this description is really right, but for humans, it sounds strange - giving their food allowance at the proper time. People are not pets that need a food dispenser. Actually, what Jesus talks about is shepherding. This job description shows the shepherd’s duty very well – giving sheep their food allowance at the proper time faithfully.  Our job as shepherds and shepherdesses is to give sheep their food allowance, the word of God, at the proper time. Sometimes, we have a lot of homework to do; sometimes, we are tired; sometimes, the environment is not favorable. But the faithful manager, somehow, carries his duty continually. When sheep come to Bible study, their shepherd is always there on time, rain or snow. Under the care of such a faithful shepherd, sheep can be rest assured of the provision, and grow sound. Jesus says, "43It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions." This is Jesus' joy in finding some faithful and wise managers - he trusted them and put his sheep under their care, and as he had expected from them, they have proved themselves faithful and trustworthy in taking care of his sheep. When he finds them faithful, he is so happy that he puts them in charge of all his possessions, because they have proved their quality.

 

       When we think about this carefully, we see that actually, we are in the probation, working for Jesus' company, the kingdom of God, and according to how we prove ourselves during this probation period, Jesus will treat us accordingly. If we prove ourselves trustworthy during this probation period, he will put us in charge of his kingdom, some to be the governors for ten cities or five cities, or as city mayors. As Christians, we are not on vacation in the world; we are not here just to do some religious ceremonies aimlessly. Instead, there is a clear goal in our Christian life, that is, to prove ourselves to Jesus. We all work together for God's kingdom in one mind and heart as a church, but at the same time, each of us is standing and struggling before Jesus alone to prove who we are. Jesus says, "It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns." In this passage, Jesus repeats the same expression, "It will be good for those servants,…" "It will be good for that servant…" Yes, it will be really good when we are found faithful to God’s mission.

 

Look at verses 45 and 46. Let’s read these verses together:

 

45But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

 

       Not all Christians, not all managers will be found faithful. After mentioning about the case of a good servant, Jesus also mentions about the case of a wicked servant. This wicked servant, assigned as a manager, showing that he is one of his disciples, even one of his apostles, is lazy; he does not respect his master or take his command seriously. Instead, he assumes that the master will not come soon. Fundamentally, he does not fear his master. So, what does he do? He abuses and misuses his authority as the manager that he beats the servants that are under his authority. He then, eats, drinks, and gets drunk. As a Christian, he does not do what he is supposed to do; instead, he is self-indulgent, neglecting his duty. Of course, at the coming of his master, he is not found waiting or ready; maybe, he is found sleeping or drunk or self-indulgent. How does the master deal with him? He will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he is not aware of. Jesus says, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers." We are really shocked here, because Jesus is talking about some of his disciples he puts in charge of many people as the managers, as his representatives. He will be really angry with that wicked manager - he will cut him to pieces. And then, he will assign him a place with the unbelievers. Where do the unbelievers go? I don’t want to talk about it. But surely, they don't go up, but down. With what kind of attitude should we serve God? Surely, with a fearful and trembling heart, with great sincerity, never assuming anything, never taking anything for granted.

 

Originally, Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, are you telling this to us or to everyone?" What was Jesus’ answer? Yes, it was to everyone even including the top disciple Peter. Jesus wants all believers to be found as the faithful and wise managers, carrying out their duties faithfully until he comes back. It will be good for you to be found faithful when he returns. That's why we must be dressed ready for service all the time and keep our lamps burning so that whenever he comes, we may be found as faithful and wise servants, doing our duty as Christians faithfully.

 

Look at verses 47 and 48. Let’s read these verses together:

 

47"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

 

       When Simon Peter asked the question, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us or to everyone?" he revealed his pride as the one who had followed Jesus leaving everything behind. Since he followed Jesus, he thought that Jesus’ message was not for him, but for others who needed to repent. His idea was: since he knew God’s word, since he was Jesus’ disciple, all great things and blessings were guaranteed. But Jesus’ idea was different. His idea was: since they were privileged to know him and his word, and to be with him, much will be demanded from them. There are people who have not heard about the gospel at all, so Jesus does not expect that much from them; if they live a moralistic life, he considers it greatly; if they are philanthropic, he considers it greatly. But there are people who have been in the church for 10 years or 20 years, hearing God’s word all the time - Jesus expects much from them. We have been privileged to know the divine words of God - we have studied the book of Genesis, such holy book - it was indeed divine; every week, God's divine words have been given to us - we understand God's word, and we know God personally; this kind of blessing has not been given to all church going people. Much has been given to us, so now Jesus expects much from us. It is not the time for us to take pride in knowing the truth, but it is the time for us to struggle to bear much fruit to please Jesus. Much has been given to us, so much has been expected from us - we must go out and do God's work more zealously than ever. As much has been given to us, we must be dressed ready for service and keep our lamps burning all the more.

 

       Third, "I have come to bring fire on the earth" (49-53). Look at verses 49 and 50. Let’s read this verse together:

 

"49I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!

 

       Jesus here shows us that the purpose of his coming is to bring fire on the earth. What does he mean by saying, "fire"? He explains its meaning in verse 51, saying, "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division." Then, in verses 52 and 53, he talks about how there will be divisions in the family only because of him – father and son will be divided against each other; mother and daughter will be divided against each other; mother-in-law and daughter-in-law will be divided against each other. Here, fire refers to discord, conflict, strife and division – because of Jesus, there will be great wars among family members. Because of this conflict, mothers cry in sorrow, and daughters weep.

 

Jesus is the prince of peace; he is the good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. He is so gentle and kind, so humble and loving. Then, how come, people come to experience this kind of strife, pain and sorrow only because of him? It is not because he intends to do so, but this is what happens naturally in the life of people, when they experience his grace. At the grace of Jesus, everything changes – the kingdom of God and eternal life becomes real and practical, so their hope changes – before, the things of the world were the most valuable things in their eyes, but now, at the glory of the kingdom of God, all these things lose their value; their value system changes, and their life style changes. Their life direction changes – they no longer pursue success in the world, but the kingdom of God. Then, in the eyes of their family members, these changed people look crazy. So, their fathers persecute them, saying, "Why don’t you pursue success as all others do? Go to church only on Sundays!" Because they are rooted and built up in the world with worldly value system, they simply cannot understand the changes of their beloved people. So there is argument, division, and strife. As these changed people, his disciples stand firm and give themselves to God's work fully, seeking the kingdom by faith, being dressed ready for service and keeping their lamps burning for Jesus, the conflict becomes sharp and there is a war in the family. It is like having fire among themselves in the family, and it’s too hot – "Auch!" But through this kind of painful time, all these people come to consider God really sincerely, and they come to have a chance to truly believe in God, thereby, having a chance for their own salvation. This happens whenever any person experiences Jesus really.

 

Jesus says, "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" How Jesus wishes to see this kind of fire kindled in the lives of many people! How Jesus wishes if it were already kindled in the lives of all of us! How Jesus wishes that this fire is kindled in all the families in Torrance, Gardena, in Long Beach, in all the cities of California! How I wish it were already kindled in all our campuses! Such work of fire is the true work of God that stirs up and even destroys all worldly lifestyles and humanistic value systems.  

 

But Jesus adds, saying, "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" For such a work of fire, there was something Jesus had to do, that was, bringing the forgiveness of their sins through his sufferings and death on the cross. Jesus was going in that direction - was it easy? No. It was burdensome. But in order to see the fire kindled in the lives of all peoples on earth, he boldly took up his cross and completed it. Since then, wherever the gospel is preached, people are changed – party animals become holy people of God; selfish people become sacrificial shepherds; directionless people become great spiritual leaders. Wherever the gospel is preached, all sinful culture is uprooted, worldly lifestyles are destroyed, and new heavenly value system is planted, and new godly culture is established, and powerful spiritual leaders begin to grow.

 

"How I wish it were already kindled!" This is the whole purpose of Jesus coming into the world. Is this fire kindled in your life? Is there fire in your family because of Jesus? Jesus says, "How I wish it were already kindled!" When it is already kindled in your life, rejoice, because this is what Jesus brings to the world - not peace but fire. Eventually, this fire will burn all godless lifestyles and value systems and worldly hopes that have been built up in the hearts of your beloved family members; then, this fire will create a heavenly and spiritual value system, hopes and life styles in them. For this glorious purpose, today, we take up our cross and serve God’s work. For this glorious vision of seeing the fire of the Holy Spirit kindled in the lives of many people, we teach the word of God to our students diligently. We make ourselves ready for service and keep our lamps burning for God's kingdom. May God use us in kindling this fire in the lives of many college students. "How I wish it were already kindled at ECC, CSULB, CSUDH, LBCC and all the campuses in California!"

 

One Word:      "How I Wish It Were Already Kindled!"

Sunday, August 20, 2017

posted Aug 20, 2017, 6:24 PM by Site Administrator

 

BUT SEEK HIS KINGDOM

 

Luke 12:13-34

Key Verse 12:31

 

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 

First, "The parable of the rich fool" (13-21). Look at verse 13. Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." It seemed that his brother took all the inheritance. Of course, it was unfair. It would be really good if his brother divided the inheritance with him. This man expected that Jesus, a servant of God, would help him get justice. But, unexpectedly, Jesus said to him, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Jesus refused to get involved in this matter. His answer was, "No." Jesus said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." The main reason of such conflict is greed. Because of greed, his brother took all the inheritance. Because of greed, in the name of justice, this man was fighting against his brother. Why should then, Jesus get involved in this kind of mud fight? 

 

There are many kinds of injustice practiced in our society. The rich become richer, and the poor become poorer – it is great injustice. Many people protest against this social injustice. But if we try to correct this injustice, there is no end – one time the rich take advantage of the poor, and the poor, through demonstration, once they prevail, try to take advantage of the rich. Jesus simply refused to get involved in this kind of endless argument and strife; instead of fighting for social justice, Jesus focused on doing God's work. Social injustice has been there in human history all the time - absolute monarchy system is social injustice, but God did not try to reform it; instead, He continued his salvation plan through the monarchy system, giving instruction to people how to serve kings, and telling kings thatthey should not overload. Slavery was social injustice; it was there even in Israel, but God did not stir up people to fight against it; instead, He continued his redemption work through it. 

 

Humans develop imperfect systems that cause social injustice continually - monarchy, slavery, democracy, communism, terrible laws that favor on rich people, or on poor people, one party gets advantage while others are oppressed,... - that's what humans do. While human history fluctuates with all kinds of social injustice, God continues his redemption work, because the real solution for all this social injustice is God's kingdom; when Jesus' kingdom comes, all people will get justice, and no one will be left out. This is what God has been doing for the past several thousand years while human history fluctuates with all kinds of social injustice; God's redemption work flows on continually like the deep current of the ocean and we must serve this work of God

 

Look at verses 16 through 21. Here, Jesus gives us a famous parable – the parable of the rich fool. There was a rich man. He worked hard in the field, then, one day, so luckily, his ground produced a lot of crops, so much that he had no place to store them. How happy he must have been! He thought to himself, "What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops."Then he said, "This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."This man is a successful case. It is not easy to be successful in building career and making a lot of money in the society. It is all peoples dream to be successful like him so that they can retire early, and enjoy life freely without having any burden or responsibility. For this, they deny themselves and pursue their career sincerely, studying hard on hard chairs; they work hard. A lot of them actually fail in the world, and only small number of people become successful. Now Jesus talks about a successful case. Let's say that some people are very successful in building their career and securing their life with a lot of money. How are they? After securing their life, they come to have this question, "What shall I do now?" This is the dilemma so many successful people suffer from. When they did not have that much money, they pursued it with all their hearts and strength, thinking that, once they had a lot of money, their life would be different. But once they have a lot of money, really enough for them to spend freely during all their life, they do not know what to do next. Then, the only conclusion they draw is this: "Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." So what do they do? They travel a lot -Alaska cruise, CancunBahamas, India, China, Hawaii, eating all kinds of delicious food, having parties. They want to enjoy the rest of their life freely, without having any burden or responsibilities. This kind of life is what all people's on earth are pursuing, and this is what all the parents hope for their children. They are considered as "successful people" in the society, and from time to time, they donate a good amount of money for a good cause and people praise them. 

 

But how does God consider them? In verse 20, Jesus says, 20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'" Such people are fools! Why? It is because when they pursue that kind of life, success in the world, pouring out their time and energy for their own career dreams, simply, in God's eyes, their life carries no value that He takes it away any moment. Suddenly, they are found with terrible diseases; or a certain disaster attacks them. They are the fools who spend all they have on what is not truly valuable.

 

Look at verse 21. Let's read this verse together:

 

"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

 

The rich fool's lifestyle is the dream for all peoples on earth - build a career successfully, make a lot of money, then, retire early and enjoy life. People pour out everything they have - time and talent and youth - for this goal; and it is all parents' wish for their children. But Jesus describes all such people, "fools," andsays that God will deal with all these people in the same way He dealt with the rich fool in the passage - taking their life any time, because in his eyes, their life carries no value at all. Do you want to live this kind of life? No way! Jesus’ message is clear: He does not want us to pursue a career dream or so that our life may carry real value in God's eyes.  

 

Jesus describes the rich fool as one who is rich for himself but not rich toward God. The fools are so rich toward themselves that for themselves, they pour out their time and energy freely as if they have unlimited amount of energy and resources. They spend 16 hours in studying and working for money and their own future dream. But they are so stingy toward God that they are reluctant to set aside even one hour for Bible study, saying, "I am busy." They lazily surf on the web for 20 hours a week, but they are not willing to spend two hours for Worship service, saying, "I am busy." Many nights they fall asleep while watching the TV shows. They are so free to spend their money for fancy computers, cell phones, movies, delicious foods, clothes, cars, but they only give God pennies. They are willing to pay $200,000.00 for a car but they are not willing to bring one tenth offering to God; so, they just put some coins into the offering box; even beggars are upset when people give them coins. Such people are fools. In God's eyes, such life does not carry any value that He takes away their life any time. 

 

Unlike these fools, there are people who are rich toward God, but stingy toward themselves. Some people drive two hours to attend one hour worship service, and then, drive back home spending two more hours on the street - that person is rich toward God pouring out his time for God freely. Our shepherds and shepherdesses pour out their time, every day several hours, to find new sheep, and teach them the word of God, still managing their school work, and a part time job. They pour their time for God as if  they have 48 hours a day. But they are so reluctant to spend time for their family movies or trip. They are free to spend gas money for one to one Bible study, but sohesitant to spend money for their food - when lunch menu is $6.99, they think for 10 minutes standing there in the restaurant, whether they should just buy it, or go for $1.69 hamburger at Carl's Jr. Let's be rich toward God!

 

Second, "But seek his kingdom" (22-34). Look at verses 22 and 23. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

22Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 

 

This is Jesus’ message for his disciples. This is the instruction for all believers. We must not live the life of rich fools. Then, what kind of life should we live? Jesus says, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." The rich fools' life struggle all starts from worrying about their future security - worrying about what to eat, how to pay the bills, how to support the family. They are so concerned about it and thereby, try hard to secure their future with a career by pouring out all their strength and energy; thus, they live as bread seekers; at best, they become rich fools. So, Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." 

 

Jesus says, "Life is more than food," meaning life is more than securing it with a career or money or success; securing your life with a career or money does not mean that your life is really successful or meaningful. We have heard about how many successful people live their lives - they have secured their food; they have so much money that they have no worry about their future. So are they happy? No. They produce gossips and scandals continually; they marry and divorce repeatedly. No one is too surprised when any star couple divorces - simply, expected. This is how all peoples on earth live their life. Jesus says, "Life is more than food." Instead of worrying about how to secure our life with a career, we must worry about how we must live our life so that it may carry real value and real meaning, how to live a truly meaningful and fulfilling life - this is the concern of Jesus' disciples, all believers.

 

In verses 24 through 28, Jesus mentions how God takes care of the ravens and the lilies in the field. The ravens do not worry about food; they do not work to produce food; they do not build storeroom or barn. Instead, according to God’s creation purpose, they just enjoy their life freely, performing all kinds of air shows, sometimes soaring up, sometimes, flying upside down, sometimes, zigzag flying. They are really enjoying their God-given life as birds - they really fly! When they are hungry, they simply look down, then, as usual, there are some foods on the ground prepared for them by God – sometimes, crumbs of the bread children threw, sometimes, wild cherries or plums, sometimes, a great feast of carcasses – well balanced diet – snack, fruits, vegetables, and meat. God feeds them faithfully, and they never worry about food but enjoy their life. I read a report from Japan that states that Tokyo has been conquered by the ravens. Have you ever tried to take care of the ravens? No, never! But God took care of them and they are flourishing. I also heard about the city of Gotham conquered by bats. If God takes care of the ravens this much, how much more will God take care of us when we strive to serve his purpose? So, we must not worry about food or security or career. Also, even though we worry about it, nothing changes. So it is of no use to worry about our future. So, don't worry! Instead, today, we live for God today, putting our trust in God’s provision. 

 

Lilies do not labor or spin. But God clothes them so beautifully. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe us? 

 

Look at verses 29 through 31. Let’s read these verses together:

 

29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 

"Setting your heart on what you will eat or drink" is what all pagans do. Their whole desire is about securing their future with a career so that they can eat better food, drive better cars, and live in a bigger house. By saying, "the pagan world," Jesus sums up all unbelieving people's life struggles. They seem to do so many things - jobs, music, arts, business and entertainment - but eventually, in Jesus' eyes, all of them run after food and clothes. Then, at best, some of them become rich fools, and while the rest of them become miserable failures. This is how Jesus sees the pagan world - all unbelieving people. 

 

Should we, Jesus' disciples, live our life in the same way? No way! Instead, we must live for God. Then, what about our career? How can we pay the bills? How can we support our family? Jesus says, "Your Father knows that you need them," meaning that God is going to help us with such things. Do you believe that He will help you with your career matter? Then, don't worry about it. Then, instead of setting our hearts on such things, as Christians, as Jesus' disciples, what should we do? Jesus says, "But seek his kingdom, and all these things will be given to you as well." "Seek His kingdom." While all unbelieving people seek their career and success, all believers seek God's kingdom. This is what Christian life is about. This is what distinguishes believers from the people in the world. 

 

Then, what about careers? What about supporting our families? Jesus says, "and all these things will be given to you as well." As we seek God's kingdom by faith in God, these things come to us at the right time, and thereby, eventually, we come to have wonderful careers, even far better than the careers unbelievers have - Lilies are more beautiful than Solomon in all his splendor. Notice here that Jesus does not say that we should forget about such things; Jesus does not say that we don't need them; he does not say that we will not have careers as his disciples. Instead, he says that these things will be given to us, meaning that we will have our own career jobs.

 

Throughout the whole passage, Jesus encourages his disciples not to worry about the security or career matter; he encourages us not to be afraid of our career matter; he keeps encouraging us repeatedly to put our trust in God who knows our needs and who is willing to help us. This shows us that Jesusfully understands the challenge we have as his disciples in the world - he understands how serious and important our career matter is. At the same time, we can see how important it is for us to have faith in God in this matter, in the career matter: those who believe that God will help them with their career matter seek God's kingdom by faith; but those who do not have faith in God in this matter, out of worry and fear, end up running after such things just like all unbelieving people, thus, at best, becoming fools, living a worthless life. Do you believe that God knows that you need a career? Do you believe that God will help you with your career matter? Then, you can live a real Christian life by seeking his kingdom by faith in God's provision. Seek His kingdom! This is Christians' way of life.

 

Seeking God's kingdom is different from doing God's work once in a while such as distributing million dollar bills, saying, "Believe in Jesus." Rather, this word suggests our life's direction and purpose - what we really pursue, what we really desire. With this instruction, Jesus shows us what his disciples must pursue in their life - what they should live for. Many people say, "I don't know what God wants me to do." I tell you, this is what Jesus wants you to do - seek his kingdom; pursue this purpose, live for it and die for it; pour out all you have - time and energy, talent and your life for this purpose. While the unbelieving people seek career, luxury, convenience and pleasures in this world, we, disciples of Jesus, seek God’s kingdom. And, at the right time, God gives us what we need - a career, a house, and a family and we are happy with him. This is the Christian life. 

 

Look at verse 32. Jesus says"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." This is God’s heart for us – he is pleased to give us even the kingdom, then, what about giving you a career job? No problem. So don’t worry, little flock. Look at verses 33 and 34. Let’s read these verses together:

 

33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor." All people on earth struggle to gather and accumulate their possessions – promising career, licenses, wealth. But Jesus tells us to sell them and give them to the poor, meaning we would pour out our time, energy and strength in taking care of poor people who are in need. Instead of struggling to collect things such as security or success only because of fear, he wants us to use our time and energy to take care of God’s flock. Sell your possessions and give to the poor! What possession do you have? A good license? Sell it and give it to the poor! A promising future? Sell it and give it to the poor! Youth? Sell it and give it to the poor! Time or a great talent in music or great communication skill? Sell it and give it to the poor! That’s the meaning of seeking God’s kingdom, and that’s the meaning of storing up our treasures in the kingdom of God. As we invest our life on the kingdom of God by pouring out our time, youth, talent, and everything in serving God’s flock, we are storing up our treasures in heavenWhen you live your life this way for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, you will store up so many treasures in heaven that your heart will be there all the time, thinking about them, dreaming about them, talking about them, ever wanting to go there even ASAP. Thus, your whole perspectives and your value system will be completely shaped up, and your hope and desires will be completely set on the kingdom of God. That way, you will leave this earth and enter the kingdom of God, and you will be glad. What you have worked for will remain eternally.

 

Jesus also says, "Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out." A purse is a bag in which you carry important things. If your purse wears out, then all valuable things you put in will fall out, and later, you find that it is empty. People in the world struggle hard to secure their life and enjoy it by building their career and earning a lot of money and marrying a dream husband or wife - they collect a lot in the world, but later, when they check out their purse, they find that it has worn out that all the things they have collected and put in it have fallen out - they are empty and miserable; their life is not fulfilling at all - this is the rich fool's life - this is the end result of all those who live for themselves in the world. Don't be deceived by their glamorous looking life; don't be deceived by their fancy cars or great fame - they are spiritually bankrupt, and their life carries no value in God's eyes at all; their purses have worn out. 

 

We must provide purses for ourselves that will not wear out, and thereby, will keep all the things we have worked for securely. How? By seeking his kingdom! By selling all your possessions and giving them to the poor! By living for God's flock, and living for his kingdom! By pouring out all we have for God's kingdom purpose - only Jesus' disciples who live for God's kingdom can provide purses for themselves that will not wear out - only Jesus' disciples can live a truly fulfilling and successful life.

 

Sell your possessions and give to the poor! Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out! Then, you are storing up treasures in heaven. This is the life of Jesus’ disciples. This is how all believers must live their lives.

 

One Word:Sell Your Possessions And Give To The Poor!

 

 

 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

posted Aug 14, 2017, 10:17 AM by Site Administrator

YES, I TELL YOU, FEAR HIM

 

Luke 12:1-12

Key Verse 12:5

 

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

 

        First, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees" (1-3). Look at verse 1. It reads: "Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Hypocrisy is to pretend to be what you are not. The Pharisees pretended to be holy when they were not holy; they pretended to be righteous, when they were not righteous. It was due to their pride that they were not willing to admit their weaknesses and shortcomings. Jesus warned his disciples about it, using the expression, "the yeast of the Pharisees." A small amount of yeast influences the whole batch of dough. Jesus' point in this expression is that the disciples must be careful about even the slightest hint of the Pharisees' influence, even the slightest hint of hypocrisy, because, otherwise, if they did not take care of it seriously and remove it right away, soon it would affect their whole Christian life, making them really bad, just hypocrites. At the same time, the expression, "Be on your guard," shows who should be responsible about this matter - each person. We cannot expect our shepherds to deal with our hypocrisy; instead, each person should take care of himself or herself about this matter. Verse 1 indicates that Jesus' ministry was exploding powerfully, and soon, his disciples would be the leaders of his ministry. They would be respected and honored. At that time, it was very easy for the disciples to stand before people, only concerned about their image, pretending to be devout, holy and righteous. It was never Jesus' intention that they would be hypocrites, just pretending to be holy before people when they were not. So, Jesus warned them of this danger, saying, "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

       

        Now you are all dedicated to God; you will grow to be leaders for God's kingdom work. Then, what kind of leaders should you be? Last Friday, through Elizabeth' daily bread testimony on Ecclesiastes, we learned that we must not try to be overrighteous, because it never works; simply, no matter how hard people may try, in God's eyes, there is no one who is righteous. So, we don't need to struggle to be super-spiritual. Instead, we simply fear God and thereby, struggle to obey God's commands. It is never Jesus' intention that we become a whole bunch of hypocrites, pretending to be super-spiritual, waving our hands before people, saying stately, "God's peace be with you." Instead, Jesus wants us to be real, fearing God and struggling to do what God wants us to do each and every day. Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. Be real people who struggle to obey God's will upon your life.

 

        Jesus says in verses 2 and 3: "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. v3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs." Here, Jesus explains the reason why we should not be hypocrites. Eventually, everything will be exposed: what each person says and does, what each person is. This is how things go in the spiritual realm. No one can hide anything. That's why we must live our life as Jesus' disciples with a fearful and trembling heart, making sincere efforts to live according to God's will and purpose.

 

        Second, "Yes, I tell you, fear him" (4-7). Look at verses 2 and 3. Let's read these verses together:

 

v4 "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. v5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

 

        Jesus here encourages us not to be afraid of those who can kill the body. As the disciples go and do God's work, they come to face this challenge - those who oppose them, those who hate them, those who persecute them, and even kill them. One of the reasons for the disciples to fail to be faithful witnesses is the fear of rejection, opposition and persecution from the world. This fear of rejection or fear of death is one of the major stumbling blocks for Jesus' disciples. About this, Jesus does not say that God will protect them so that they will not be killed. He says that people can kill them. Yet, he still encourages his disciples not to be afraid of them; he still encourages us not to be afraid of being killed by those who hate us. Why? Jesus' logic is: "They can kill you. But that's it; no more than that. So, don't be afraid." His logic is really astounding. They can kill you. But what else can they do? Don't be afraid of them.

 

        In Jesus' time, there were many religious leaders who persecuted his ministry. They had power and authority. It was very difficult to be under the persecution of governing authorities. Because of the fear of men who had power and authority, the disciples might shrink back. Nowadays in America, no governing authority has power or authority to kill us as we serve God's kingdom work. But still, fear is the factor that makes many people crippled in their walk with God. The fear of losing their future security is many people's worst enemy. Because of the fear of not being able to build their future career successfully, many people disobey God's will. Modern day, college students do not fear kings and rulers of the world like the President Donald Trump, but they fear their peers greatly; they are so concerned about how their classmates would think of them, and because of this fear of men, they are not willing to live for Jesus positively. Many people fear their parents, and because of the fear of their parents' persecution, they compromise, and do not stand on God's side firmly. But Jesus says, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more." These people can give you some trouble – some kind of ridicule or isolation or some kind of financial difficulties. In the worst case, they can kill the body. But that's it! Do not be afraid of them. Jesus says, "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell."  

 

        When we think about this instruction one more time, we are really shocked – Jesus gave this message to his twelve apostles, saying, "Fear him who, after killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell." Jesus wants us to fear God as the one who can send us into hell. But today, this kind of message is very unpopular. If a pastor shouts at his congregation, "Fear God and obey his command absolutely, otherwise, he can send you to hell," there will be a big commotion. Everyone wants to talk about the love of God, God's blessing, and God's kindness. So, usually, in people's mind, there is a good, always smiling God whom they can easily push over. To them, God is exactly like their Sunday school teacher who always says, "Welcome! Thank you for coming." They never deny their own things to obey God's will. To them, God is like a super man who is at their service 24/7. Because they do not have the fear of God, there is no true submission or worship to God; there is no true commitment to God. They might enjoy Christian culture, but there is no self-denial, no obedience to God's will. As a result, their life is not rooted or built up in God; their life is not based on the truth, but based on the lies of this world and their ever changing feelings and emotions. In their life, we cannot smell the fragrance of Jesus Christ at all. When difficulties rise, their life building project collapses so easily. Because of them, many unbelieving people say, "O God, please save Christians."

 

        Usually, we have been taught that Christians are exempt from the danger of going to hell because we believe in Jesus; even, we have been taught that we should not fear God based on this fear of going to hell. But amazingly, Jesus teaches us to fear God, because He can send us to hell. This tells us how serious and important it is for Christians, believers, disciples, to fear God. Never take this matter casually, saying, "Oh, I believe in Jesus; so I am okay." Instead, we must take our life before God really sincerely.

 

        Then, why is it important to fear God? When we think about this passage carefully, we can see Jesus' point very clearly - when you fear God, you will not fear those who have authority to kill you; instead, when you fear God, you will be able to remain faithful to God despite terrible threats or losses or pains, even at the risk of losing your own life. When you fear God, you will obey God's commands absolutely and do whatever God asks you to do at any cost; no more compromise, but you show absoluteness toward God. God commanded Noah to build an ark - a huge ship; Noah had no power tools, but with primitive tools such as axes and sows, he cut down the cypress trees and built the ark, maybe, possibly taking about 100 years; his life of faith was really hard - doing labor works all the time, for about 100 years; but he remained faithful and kept working and working, and finally completed the ark. How could he keep his integrity and loyalty to God so long like that? Hebrews 11 shows that he built the ark in holy fear. We also remember Abraham sacrificing his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to God; how could he do that? God said to him, "Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." (Gen 22:12) When you fear God, you do not withhold from God anything - your success in the world, your dream for marriage, your desire for family; instead, you show absolute obedience to God. The fear of God makes you truly strong in God and you will be found as faithful followers of Jesus Christ; at that time, nothing can scare you; in all circumstances, you can keep your faith in God. When you fear God, nothing can stop you from loving God and obeying God's will upon your life. And you will see God's plan fulfilled in your own life and you will be glad that you have obeyed God all the time. Surely, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; it is wisdom; surely, the fear of God is the key to salvation, wisdom and knowledge in Jesus Christ. Never assume that you are exempt from the danger of hell. Rather, with a fearful and trembling heart, live your life before God and remain faithful to God all the days of your life. Fear God, this is wisdom. "Yes, I tell you, fear him."

 

Look at verses 6 and 7. Let's read these verses together:

 

6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

 

        Five sparrows are sold for two pennies, meaning that they are worthless; whether they fly or fall, who cares? But God cares for them. Even if a crazy hunter uses a shot gun to hunt them, none of them will be shot down, unless God permits. With this illustration, Jesus shows that God is in control of everything, even the life and death of worthless sparrows. Then, how much more will God take care of the disciples? Jesus says that even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. How many hairs do you have? Each and every day, many hairs fall and many hairs newly grow. No one pays attention to such things. But God monitors you so closely, even counting the number of your hair each and every day. Even the children of billionaires are not monitored that closely; even the children of the President of the USA are not monitored that closely. But God watches over you that much, because you are so precious and important. Certainly, your life is not at the mercy of those who have authority to kill you, but in God's hands; your life is not at the mercy or decision of robbers on the streets; instead, your life is in God's hands. So, don't be afraid when those people who have authority to kill or fire you threaten you; instead, stand firm in Jesus Christ and remain faithful to him to the end. When you live as Jesus' disciples, you will not die by accident. You will die only when God permits. So, don't be afraid of those who can kill you. Instead, remain faithful to Jesus as his disciples even to death.

 

        Verse 1 shows that several thousand people were coming to Jesus, and they were so enthusiastic in coming to him, trampling on one another. In our terms, Jesus' church was now packed with people every Sunday, and people were sitting on the floor everywhere, some people coming to church early morning to secure their seats on Sunday. Jesus' ministry was exploding. But at that time, Jesus did not pay attention to those people; instead, he focused on teaching his disciples, instructing them to fear God and remain faithful to Him even to death. The author Luke emphasizes this, saying in verse 1, "Jesus began to speak first to his disciples,..." The crowd come and go, but the disciples remain. All Jesus' hopes were on the disciples whose hearts and life were dedicated to him. And he instructed and encouraged them to fear God and thereby, remain faithful to Him even to death. This is how Jesus sees us; this is what Jesus' wants us to do. All his hopes are on us. Fear God and remain faithful to him even to death.   

 

        Third, "Whoever acknowledges me before men" (8-12). Look at verse 8. Let's read this verse together:  

 

8"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.

 

        "Acknowledging Jesus before men" means to identify oneself as Jesus' disciple before the people who threaten to kill him unless he disowns Jesus. So it is to identify oneself as Jesus' disciple even at the cost of losing his life. Sometimes, it is not easy to acknowledge Jesus before men, because there is a certain possibility that, as a result of showing ourselves as Jesus' disciples, we may have some disadvantage such as being isolated from our peers, or being pictured as maniac at work, or being hated by our professors. Or sometimes, we look as narrow-minded people. Maybe, we lose a chance for promotion at work. In this kind of situation, many people just conveniently compromise so that they may not look too exclusive like maniacs - they don't lose anything in the world, and still they say that they are Christians and love God. But there are people who acknowledge Jesus before men boldly, showing their absolute attitude toward him, even at the risk of losing so many things in the world such as their jobs, a chance for success, and even their life. By acknowledging Jesus before men despite possible losses, disadvantages, and sacrifices, they clearly show to the world how important Jesus is to them; they show that they value Jesus more than success in the world, more than a secured life in the world, more than their happy life in the world, even more than their life. They are the ones who choose Jesus above all other things, willing to lose everything in the world, even their life for him.

 

        How does Jesus feel when he sees such people, who value him so highly above all other things? How does he feel when he sees such loyal people to him? He feels so honored and so proud of these people. So, he takes great pride in them that such loyal and faithful people are his followers that he brags about them to the angels in heaven, saying, "Gabriel, do you see Sarah? She is my disciple." Then, Gabriel says, "Yes, Lord, she is really great." What great joy Jesus has for those who acknowledge him before men! What a great thing it is to please Jesus and make him proud of us! Such life is more than a whole bunch of money or pleasures in the world! Such a person is more precious than the whole world! We remember how much God bragged about Job! He talked to Satan in heaven, bragging about Job, saying, "Have you considered my servant Job?...he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) When you acknowledge Jesus before men, Jesus acknowledges you before his angels, taking great pride in you - surely, this honor and favor is far greater than the whole world. Don't acknowledge how important money is to you, but acknowledge Jesus above money or jobs or success. Don't acknowledge how precious your dream for a happy life or marriage is to you, but acknowledge Jesus above it; let Jesus be proud of you greatly so that he can brag about you to all the heavenly hosts. He brags about you, saying, "This is ma boy."

 

But there are also many people who disown Jesus. How does Jesus respond? Look at verse 9. Let's read this verse together:

 

9But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.

 

        Jesus also disowns them. Maybe, they are threatened to disown Jesus if they want to save what they value such as family, or their dream for marriage, or success. Maybe, they are hesitant at first, think a lot and try to figure out what to do, but eventually, they decide to save what they value at the cost of denying Jesus before men. They value their dream more than Jesus; they value their family more than Jesus; they value money and success more than Jesus. How does Jesus feel when they choose such things over him? He is sorry; he is disappointed of them; as they are ashamed of him, Jesus is also shamed of them; as they do not want to identify themselves with him, he does not want to identify himself with them either. So, Jesus disowns them, saying, "I don't know them; they are not my followers." Jesus says, "He who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God." Jesus says in Matthew 10, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Mat 10:37) Being disowned by Jesus is a big matter. When Jesus says to anyone, "I don't know you," that person is in big trouble. This passage shows how wholeheartedly believers must struggle to remain faithful to Jesus to the end. Don't be sold to money, but acknowledge Jesus even if you may lose money or job or secured future. Don't be sold to your dream for marriage, but acknowledge Jesus even if you may lose your dream. Then, Jesus will acknowledge you before the angels of God proudly.

 

        Again, when Jesus saw thousands' people coming to him, when his ministry was exploding powerfully, Jesus didn't pay attention to them; instead, he focused on establishing his disciples as faithful followers, encouraging them to remain faithful to him, even to death.

 

Look at verse 10. Let's read this verse together:

       

10And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

 

        Disowning Jesus is a great sin; Jesus is disappointed with those who disown him that he does not want to identify himself with such people. But instead of discriminating them as worthless people, still Jesus leaves the door open for them; if they repent, he is willing to forgive them and give them another chance to become faithful disciples acknowledging him before men. His willingness to give them another chance does not stop there; some people, after failing to acknowledge Jesus before men, goes farther, speaking words against him, becoming his enemies - once they were followers of Jesus, but now they are enemies of Jesus, speaking against him. Yet still, Jesus is even willing to forgive them only if they turn to him in repentance. Jesus never wants them to perish in their sin, in their sin of loving things of this world more than him. Instead, he wants to see them grow as faithful disciples who love him more than anything in the world and thereby, boldly acknowledge him before men.

 

        But as these people disown Jesus, even going against him, there is still something they must not do. All sins can be forgiven, but there is a sin that cannot be forgiven either in this age or in the age to come, and thereby, they must not commit. What kind of sin must they not commit? It is the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. What kind of sin is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? In Mark chapter 3, we see Jesus talking about the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. At that time, Jesus drove out a demon, and people were astonished; they saw the power of God working in and through Jesus, and thereby, were about to open their hearts to him. At that time, the teachers of the law twisted the truth, saying, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." At this, the people were alarmed and shrank back, closing up their hearts toward Jesus. About this, Jesus said, "All the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." So, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is what the teachers of the law did, describing the work of God that was going on through God's servant Jesus as the work of Satan so that people would not open their hearts toward God's work and have salvation in him. Some people are not faithful to Jesus; their sin can be forgiven. Some people say many bad words against Jesus; they challenge God openly, revealing themselves as those who oppose God - this blasphemy can be forgiven; they still can turn to God and have salvation in Jesus. But no one should describe the work of the Holy Spirit going on in and through God's people or God's ministry as the work of Satan to hinder people from accepting God's salvation; anyone who attacks God's servants or God's ministry in that way is in danger of an eternal sin. Such people have crossed the line, fighting against the Holy Spirit who wants to save souls. Don't commit this sin no matter what. Surely, the fear of God is wisdom that lets people know what is allowed, and what is not allowed.

 

Look at verses 11 and 12. Let's read these verses together:

 

11"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

 

When your heart is determined to live for Jesus alone, then, the Holy Spirit will use you as his instrument to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in any way possible. So don't worry, but be bold and say whatever the Holy Spirit teaches you.

 

We live in the corrupt generation, in which many people have corrupted their ways, and have not kept their purity toward Jesus. Now, in this wicked generation, Jesus is looking for pure brides whose hearts are fully given to him. They are the ones who live the life of proclaiming the death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus. Even though there may be persecution, even though people may laugh at you, even though there may be a lot of difficulties, acknowledge Jesus before men, and he will acknowledge you before the angels of God. Fear God, and you will not fear anything or anyone else, and you will live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. 

 

One Word:       Yes, I Tell You, Fear Him

 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

posted Aug 6, 2017, 7:08 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated Aug 6, 2017, 8:44 PM ]

THE KEY TO KNOWLEDGE

 

Luke 11:37-54

Key Verse 11:52

 

Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.

 

First, "Woe to you Pharisees" (37-44). A Pharisee invited Jesus to eat with him. Jesus graciously accepted his invitation, and went with him. But something unexpected happened. Verse 38 reads: "But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not wash before the meal, was surprised." Jesus did not wash his hands before eating the meal. The Jews always practiced this ritual – it was good for hygiene and it was their religious tradition. From their youth, Jewish children practiced this, washing their hands by pouring water on to their hands three times – its symbolic meaning was to wash away any sin they have collected as they stayed in the world. All the guests, of course, washed their hands before the meal, according to their custom, but Jesus did not at everyone’s utter surprise. Usually, when we go to other’s house for dinner, we are very careful not to offend anyone there, especially, the host family. So we try to accommodate their unique custom or style. If the family takes off their shoes outside, we too do so, even though we never do it home. Jesus did not need to cause any trouble with this kind of thing – he would simply have washed his hands taking 30 seconds, and everything would have been okay. Why then, did Jesus not wash his hands before the meal? Maybe, he was too hungry, or he forgot about it. But when we check out today's passage, the way Jesus deal with this matter was not a mistake, but he did it intentionally; maybe, he could not tolerate their hypocrisy any longer; or he was really bothered by their bad influence for others. Anyway, Jesus used it as a chance to challenge them.  Today’s passage is known as "Six Woes." The word, "Woe" means "Warning," indicating that something terrible can happen unless a proper action is taken in regard to the warning. Something terrible would happen unless the Pharisees took Jesus’ warning seriously and responded properly. Let’s see what kind of warning Jesus issued for them. Look at verses 39 and 40. Let’s read these verses together:

 

39Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?

 

       The Pharisees' problem was that they focused on keeping the rules and regulations; as a result, outwardly, they looked clean. They never messed up with drugs, alcohols or sexual immorality. They never cheated. They were moralistic. While others were living according to their sinful desires, they put all their fleshly desires under their full control. They were well self-disciplined, very faithful to their duties and responsibilities. Outwardly, they were clean. But, they did not take care of their inner person. Simply, they were clean outwardly, but inwardly, they were unclean in God’s eyes, with greed and wickedness. Jesus called them, "foolish people" who washed the outside of the cup only, and drank from it. Think about using such a cup for water – clean outside, but dirty inside. In God’s eyes, they were simply foolish.

 

       People do many Christian things. They say, "I do this, this and that for God." But if they do not take care of their inner person, they become foolish people, just like a cup or dish that is clean outside, but inside dirty. This was the trap, in which the Pharisees fell. This is the trap we must watch out for. Woe to you if you fall into this trap.

 

How can we avoid this trap? Look at verse 41. Let's read this verse together:

 

"But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you."

 

       We must give our heart to the poor, meaning, instead of just talking about "I, my, me, and myself," we must be concerned about the poor, those who are in need; we must be concerned about their happiness and wellbeing. When you do this, Jesus says, "Everything will be clean for you." Outwardly, the Pharisees do very well, living a moralistic life, doing their duties faithfully, living as God-worshipers; they are fully dedicated to God, well self-disciplined. Outwardly, nothing to be added. The only thing that is left for them to do is to give their hearts to the poor and live for them - this is how they can be truly clean inside and out before God.

 

       Are you dedicated to God? Are you zealous for God? Then, how can you be really clean in every way possible? Give your heart to the poor and live as shepherds for them! Jesus says, "Give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you." No more selfish or self-centered life, but the shepherd's life for God's flock. This is what God wants us to do. This is the way we can remove greed and wickedness from us and become clean  in everything we do.

 

Look at verse 42. Let’s read this verse together:

 

42"Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

 

       Tithing, one tenth offering is a righteous act. After bringing them into the promised land, God commanded the Israelites to bring one tenth offering to the temple. With this one tenth offering, the Levities who served God in the temple were provided, and could continue to serve God’s work. With this offering, God’s church is being supported, and God’s kingdom work can continue. With this offering, we really participate in God’s kingdom work here on earth. But even this important religious act of tithing does not mean anything if your inner heart is not right. The Pharisees did this tithing meticulously, by bringing one tenth of everything they earned. One tenth of mint, they measured it, and brought it to the temple; one tenth of rue, they measured it, and brought it to the temple. One tenth of salary, they brought it; in doing so, they did not forget about their extra income such as tips. They took great pride in this. It is not easy to do tithing this way. In America, church going people do not do tithing, and only 0.3% of their income they bring as offering, so usually a lot of coins, which they do not value that much. They say, "It is the Old Testament law, and we are free from the law in Jesus." They say so not because they hold onto the grace of Jesus, but because they hold onto the love of money. As a result, many churches are dead, many Christian families are broken, and their children suffer from drugs, violence and diseases. They pay really high price, far more than one tenth.

 

Compared to modern day church going people, the Pharisees were great in tithing. But Jesus says that still, their meticulous tithing did not mean anything because they neglected to clean their inner heart – justice and the love of God. Jesus says, "You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." To Jesus, both tithing, and justice and the love of God are important, and we must do both of them – outwardly, doing our duty toward God in tithing, and inwardly, instead of being proud, pursuing justice and the love of God.

 

       When you do these religious duties such as tithing, or keeping the Sunday worship service, or praying, you are identified as Christians. It is like wearing a uniform. When you see a man with a policeman uniform, you recognize him as a policeman. But there are two kinds of policemen - good policemen and bad policemen. By doing all these duties, you are like a priest, wearing the priestly garments, and thereby, you are identified as priests. But what kind of priests are you? Jesus does not want you to be priests just outwardly alone, but also inwardly, in your real person - holy and righteous, respectable and honorable - simply, Jesus wants us to be real children of God, not just in title alone. This is the reason why we must practice both of them - outwardly, we must do all the righteous acts such as tithing, praying, keeping the Sunday worship service absolutely, thus revealing ourselves as Christians, and we must practice justice and the love of God in our day to day real life, thus revealing ourselves as real children of God at home, at work, at school, and in the church. Jesus gives us a clear direction of how we must live as Christians and what we must do, saying, "You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone."

 

Look at verse 43 and 44. Let’s read these verses together:

 

43"Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44"Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it."

 

       The Pharisees loved the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. It meant that they wanted to be recognized and honored as devout people. When we think about this, we can see that fundamentally, they were pursuing their own desire, struggling hard to build their own image in the name of serving God; they were seeking their own dreams and desires in religion; at that time, they could not live for God. Outwardly, they looked righteous, but inwardly, they were full of uncleanness like the graves. Jesus describes them that they were like unmarked graves.

 

       Grave is the symbol of death, and whatever is dead is unclean, and whoever touches what is unclean becomes unclean; so, people avoided graves. The Gentile people were like marked graves - they were known unclean due to their unclean lifestyles, unclean value system and unclean desires and hopes; whoever came to them and had conversation or fellowship with them would become unclean too, being influenced by their perspectives, value system and lifestyle; so, Israel people simply avoided them and had no contact with them. But the Pharisees were like unmarked graves; outwardly, they looked clean and righteous due to their religious and clean life; but inwardly, they were unclean just like the Gentile people; their perspective was unclean; their value system was unclean; their desires and hopes were unclean. But because of their righteous looking life due to keeping the laws and doing many requirements, they looked clean. So, without knowing their true condition, people came to them and had conversation with them, or spent time with them; then, they were all influenced by their views and perspectives and became unclean too. These religiously zealous people were more dangerous than the Gentile people.

 

       This is the trap the Pharisees fell in. When they did not take care of their inner person, but just focused on polishing their outward appearance as devout people, they became like unmarked graves, so poisonous and lethal, making many people unclean due to their words and actions. We must not fall victim to this trap. We must not love the most important seats in the church - we must not pursue positions and titles in serving God; instead, we must pursue God's kingdom and God's name. We must take care of our inner person, repenting our greed and wickedness.

 

       Second, "Woe to you experts in the law" (45-54). One of the experts in the law was there, and said to Jesus, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also." Then, Jesus said to him, "And you expert in the law, woe to you, because you load people with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." Jesus was like fire; whoever touched him got burned. It was a meal time; things could have been peaceful. But when Jesus saw how corrupt these seemingly religious leaders were, the dining place became a fierce battle ground, and fire came out of his mouth and burned them. Jesus was untouchable. The experts in the law were scribes in those days; they were given the authority to copy the Bible; they were honored. They were teachers of the law. But now here Jesus pointed out their problem that they were just like policemen imposing the heavy burden of keeping the laws to people, but not practically helping them to keep the laws. They were just enjoying their privilege as the teachers of the law, but not fulfilling their duty. Under their care, people came to know what they should do, but they could not do it due to their weaknesses in sin. Their hearts were turned to things of this world that they could not simply turn to God, and these experts in the law just left them alone. They were Bible teachers, but not shepherds for God's flock.

 

       Their failure as teachers of the law shows us how we must live as shepherds and shepherdesses. We must teach our students the word of God and show them what they should do - they must turn to God and live for God; they must deny their own desires and hopes in this life and live as Jesus' disciples taking up his cross. But showing them this truth is often not enough; many people see it, but are not willing to turn to God in repentance because they love their own life and want to fulfill it. We, as shepherds and shepherdesses, must help them, wrestling with them, challenging them to repent, and praying for them with long patience and teaching them the word of God diligently, so that, eventually, thanks to our service and patience, thanks to our faithful Bible studies and prayer, they may be able to accept God's will upon their lives and turn to God and live for God - thus, we complete our duty as shepherds and shepherdesses for God's flock. Actually, that's how we are here today as God's servants - thanks to our shepherds struggling with us even for years. That's how we must live as shepherds and Bible teachers.

 

      Look at verse 47. 47"Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them." They thought that, by building the tombs for the prophets, they were showing honor to them. Their idea was, "Had I been in those days, surely I would have accepted the prophets and even become their disciple. I don’t understand why our forefathers killed them." "I don’t understand why our forefathers rebelled against God and Moses even after experiencing the exodus through the Red Sea." But Jesus said to them, "Your forefathers killed the prophets and you build their tombs." He showed them that they were cooperating with their forefathers in rejecting God's prophets - their forefathers killed them, and they built tombs for them – they were acting in collusion to kill them. What a shocking interpretation it was! Why did Jesus have this interpretation? It was because, in their practical life, they were rejecting God's prophet, Jesus Christ. While rejecting the prophet of their own time, Jesus Christ the Son of God, who struggled hard to teach them the way of God, they tried to show honor to the prophets of the past. It was nonsense. They were following their forefathers' footsteps - rejecting God's prophets sent to them. So he said to them, "Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world." Let's read verses 50 and 51 together:

 

50Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

 

       Many people think that the story of Cain and Abel was just a story and that they have no part of it. But Jesus sees differently - many people today, are responsible for the blood of Abel. People casually say that if had they lived in the time of Isaiah, surely, they would have honored him greatly as a servant of God and followed him, but Jesus does not accept that kind of assumption at all; instead, he sees that many of them are actually responsible for his blood. People say that if they were in the time of Jesus, surely, they would follow him as his loyal disciples. But again, Jesus does not accept that kind of assumption at all; he does not accept them as his faithful disciples only because of such words of mouth or such desire; instead, he shows here that actually, many of them are responsible for his blood shed on the cross. Jesus says, "Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all." Why? It is because, all these people, while saying such words, practically reject God's prophets of their own time. God sends his servants to tell them what to do and how to live practically; but these people reject all of them and don't live according to God's will and purpose, but keep saying, "If I lived in the past,..." They are just following the footsteps of the Israel people in rejecting God's prophets. They are responsible for the blood of all the prophets. What is important is that today, we accept God's servants sent to us as God's prophets and accept their messages and obey God's will and purpose. People have developed many convenient ways to reject God's prophets as the teachers of the law did. The most popular way is to hide themselves in the crowd at churches - instead of accepting God's prophets sent to them personally and obeying God's will, they simply say that they will go to other church where no one will bother them. One student was touched by God's word, and he could not sleep for three days; but instead of accepting God's will, he said that he had talked with Chuck Smith. So, did he obey God's will? No. All these people are responsible for the blood of Abel, for the blood of Isaiah, for the blood of Jeremiah,... They are the very ones who reject the prophets sent to them. In Jesus' eyes, they are in the same category of people who killed God's prophets.

 

Look at verse 52. Let's read this verse together:

 

Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.

 

       They were experts in the law, specialists in the Bible. But Jesus said to them, "You have not entered knowledge." In our terms, they are Bible scholars, theologians and seminary professors who have written many books about the Bible with Phds in theologoy; yet, Jesus said to them, "You have not entered knowledge." Modern day, theologians and seminary professors actually rarely study the Bible, but they study about the Bible, heavily relying on history and many commentaries. So, they do not know the Bible that much. But unlike modern day Bible scholars, the teachers of the law had no commentary available, except the oral tradition - even Talmud would be made about 200 years later. They really studied the Old Testament; as a result, they came to have keen understanding of the Bible. When someone asks them, "What is written in the law?" They would answer, "Love the Lord your God and love your neighbors." When they are asked, "Where would the Christ be born?" they would say, "In Bethlehem in Judea," reciting Micah 5:2. They were indeed experts in the law. Yet, Jesus said to them, "You have not entered knowledge." So, here, "knowledge" Jesus talks about is not head knowledge of the Bible, not even keen understanding of the Bible, but real knowledge that becomes your own, that shapes up your view, perspectives, your value system and lifestyle, that makes what you are and who you are, that determines what you do and how you live your life; you see it with your own eyes, so you live in that way. Even if the experts in the law had keen understanding of what God was talking about in the Bible, their life remained the same; thus, it was not life-giving. And about this, Jesus said, "You have not entered knowledge."

 

       How come they have not entered knowledge, despite their great understanding of the Bible? Jesus said to them, "Woe to you, because you have taken away the key to knowledge." They took away the key that would unlock the door to real knowledge, so they failed to enter knowledge, despite their great understanding of the Bible. What is the key that unlocks the door to real knowledge? Isaiah 33:6 reads: "The LORD will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure." God is a rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge. In this store you can find salvation and thereby, you can have a new life, beautiful and meaningful; in this store, you can find wisdom, and you come to know the way of life, how you should live your life and thereby, you will live your life without any regret. In this store, you can have knowledge, true knowledge, and thereby, you will come to know who you are, who God is, and what life is about, and with this knowledge, you will not live in darkness or confusion any longer. God is a rich store for salvation, wisdom and knowledge - all the treasures are there. But when you come to this store, you see that the door is locked. And you need the key. What is the key to this store, the key that will escort you to the inside of the store and let you enjoy all the treasures - salvation, wisdom and knowledge? God says in Isaiah, "The fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure." The fear of God is the key to salvation, wisdom and knowledge in God. Because the teachers of the law approached the Bible without the fear of the Lord, they failed to find this treasure in God; instead, they only build head knowledge of the Bible, and become proud and self-righteous.

 

       Modern day, many people struggle hard to remove this key from Christian life; no matter how evil people are, preachers proclaim God's forgiveness, blessings and peace; people say, "If you say, "I believe in Jesus," you are saved." They have developed the theory, "Once you are saved, you are saved forever." Preachers are so quick to pronounce people's salvation through altar calls, but the statistics shows that within 2 years, 95% of them do not come to church any longer. This altar call was introduced to the Christian community through Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) during the Second Great Awakening movement in America. When he preached, the fear of God seized people that many of them were so troubled that they wept and wept until they were brought to Charles and confessed their sins in repentance and made a decision to turn to God; some of them were literally frozen that others had to carry them home. Most of these people remained true to their faith in Jesus all the days of their life. The same gospel, but when people come to the gospel with the fear of God, they find salvation and their life changes completely - they tap into the treasure store; but those who do not have the fear of God just develop head knowledge and a lot of information about the Bible and God, but not real knowledge, and thereby, despite their knowledge of the Bible, there is no change in their real life. The key to salvation, the key to wisdom and the key to knowledge in Jesus Christ is the fear of God. Those who fear God obey God's command no matter what; those who do not fear God just make excuses conveniently. As Bible teachers, we must avoid the trap of the teachers of the law. Fear God, this is the key to knowledge.

 

       Many people think that they are okay because they have zeal for God or because they work hard for God. But the failures of the Pharisees and the experts in the law show that living for God is more than that. We see why God encouraged Joshua to be careful to obey everything God had commanded him through his servant Moses (Josh 1:7,8). We need to be careful to do everything God has commanded us. Surely, those who fear God will be careful to obey everything God has commanded them, and they are the ones who enjoy all the treasures in Jesus Christ. May God help us that we may take Jesus' warning sincerely and seriously and that none of may fall victim to the trap of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.

 

One Word:      The Fear Of God Is The Key To Knowledge  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

posted Jul 30, 2017, 8:52 PM by Site Administrator

NONE WILL BE GIVEN IT EXCEPT THE SIGN OF JONAH

 

Luke 11:29-36

Key Verse 11:29

 

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.

 

First, “None will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (29-32). Look at verse 29. Let’s read this verse together:

 

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

 

When the crowds increased, it seemed that Jesus should be happy. But, instead, Jesus said of them, “This is a wicked generation.” We are really shocked. The whole reason why Jesus was not happy with them was because they asked him for a miraculous sign. Already God had made his message clear to them through Jesus; then, it was their turn to respond to God’s messages by repenting and making a heart’s determination that they would truly worship God and live for Him alone. But they did not do anything; instead, they asked Jesus for a miraculous sign. God did so much for them, even sending his Son to show them what He wanted them to do. Yet, instead of accepting God’s will, they demanded that God do more to convince them. They were wicked people.

 

Sign seeking is a good excuse to many people. They say, “Show me God, and I will believe.” Many Christians say, “I don’t know what God wants me to do. If God appears to me, and tells me what to do, I will do it.” With this, they reject all the words of God they have read and studied. With this, they reject God’s efforts to guide them through his servants. They believe in God, gathering around Jesus, but he says of them, “This is a wicked generation.” These people come to church and say that they believe in Jesus, but they live as endless wanderers on earth, without knowing what to live for and die for. They are the very ones who reject God in their real lives.

 

To all these people who are not willing to accept God’s will, who are not willing to commit themselves to God, but ask God for a miraculous sign, Jesus says, “None will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” No exciting or fantastic sign will be given them, except the sign of Jonah. The only sign that is available for these people is the sign of Jonah. If they accept this sign, they will find everything and they will no longer wander; instead, they will live for God. Otherwise, they will perish, remaining as wicked people, ever wondering what they must really pursue.

 

Then, what is the sign of Jonah? Jonah was a prophet to the enemy nation of Assyria eight centuries before Christ. At that time, the Assyrian Empire was rising, and the Northern Kingdom of Israel was oppressed by her. Now, God was going to destroy Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire because of their sins. It was good news to all Israel people, but God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the message of God’s judgment. It was bad news to Jonah. He did not want to help the Ninevites to repent, so that they might be destroyed. He was a nationalist. But eventually, Jonah accepted this mission, and went to the city of Nineveh reluctantly. The city was very big, and required three days’ visit. On the first day, Jonah proclaimed, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” What a message it was! It was not eloquent, not logical, and without any sense of humor! Jonah’s real purpose was that none of the Ninevites would respond to his message so that all of them might be destroyed by God. But since he had to obey God’s will, he was just doing his minimum obligation. He did not work hard to persuade them; he did not invite them to one to one Bible study with him; he did not rebuke them for their sin problems either. He did not deliver passionate messages. But simply, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”

 

Jonah was the sign of God to the Ninevites. This sign was not fantastic; it was not impressive. The sign of God for the Ninevites was a reluctant Bible teacher who delivered God’s words very simply. The sign of God for the Ninevites was a heartless Bible teacher who did not have any desire to help them.

 

But how did the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah, the sign of God? Jonah 3:5 reads: “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the great general to the least, put on sack cloth.” Amazingly, they accepted Jonah as God’s messenger; they accepted the sign of God, Jonah, and repented. There was a great repentance movement. Not only so, when king heard about this, he issued the proclamation of a national fasting and repentance in Nineveh, saying, “Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw this, he had compassion on them and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:3-10)

 

When people asked him for a miraculous sign, something fantastic and exciting, Jesus said to them, “None will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” God gave them the sign of Jonah with which they could believe in God and turn to God for salvation and God’s blessing. The miraculous sign that would be given to them was the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher. Jesus said to them, “For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.” Jesus teaching the Bible to the people of Israel was the sign of God for them – Jesus was the sign of Jonah to the people of Israel. With this, Jesus showed them his heart’s complete determination that he would just focus on teaching and preaching the word of God. To those who were not wholehearted and to those who did not believe, but asked for some fantastic signs, no sign was given except the sign of Jonah, a humble looking Bible teacher. Those who accepted this humble looking Bible teacher as the sign of God would experience God’s salvation, see what God wanted them to do, and how they must live their life; but those who rejected this sign of God for them and kept looking for more fantastic signs from God, would remain as wicked people, and they would be condemned and destroyed. “It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

 

What is God’s sign for us? It is the sign of Jonah, a humble insignificant looking Bible teacher. God has given each one of us his sign, the sign of Jonah. When we are willing to accept God’s will for us, we can see God’s sign, the sign of Jonah all the time – God has been speaking to us through his messengers, Bible teachers. Unlike Jonah who had no compassion for the Ninevites, who even wished that the Ninevites would not respond to his message, our Bible teachers are so compassionate, enthusiastic, and wholehearted. Are you still looking for God’s sign? The sign of Jonah has been given to you. Those who humble themselves and accept this sign as the sign of God will be saved, and they will see everything clearly – their Bible teacher, the sign of Jonah for them delivers God’s message to them, showing them what God wants them to do and how they must live their life.

 

Jesus’ resolution gives us the confidence of what we are doing as Bible teachers and shepherds. We are God’s servants, sent to college students as the sign of Jonah. We just diligently teach our students the word of God. Those who accept us find God’s salvation and a new life in Jesus Christ, but those who reject us reject God Himself. Now our struggle is that somehow we may present ourselves in the best way acceptable so that our students may have a better chance to respond to the sign of God. Thus comes our struggle of sharpening our Bible study notes and presenting God’s words with great insight and spirit.

 

In verses 31 and 32, Jesus talks about two cases in which people responded to the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher, very well – the Queen of the South and the Ninevites. Look at verse 31. Let’s read this verse together:

 

31The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.

 

King Solomon was the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher who taught the way of the Lord. The Queen of the South, when she heard about Solomon’s wisdom, made a long journey from modern day Sudan in Africa to Jerusalem with all kinds of precious gifts for him, because she wanted to hear from him directly. She valued Solomon’s wisdom so highly, worthy of her time, money and efforts. Compared to Jesus’ wisdom, Solomon’s wisdom was nothing. Had she been in Jesus’ time, and heard about him, surely, she would have made a journey even from the ends of the earth to see Jesus and enjoy his words. But the people of Israel did not make any effort to come to Jesus even though he was living among them; they did not bring any gifts to him either; even after having heard many of his messages, they eventually, all rejected them. At the judgment, the Queen of the South will rise and testify against them, saying, “What’s wrong with you? You are really wicked.” At her testimony against them, they will be completely silenced.

 

Look at verse 32. Let’s read this verse together:

 

32The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

 

Jesus’ Bible study was really amazing; each Bible study was an eye-opening event. His messages contained the divine truth of God’s kingdom. He was far greater than Jonah, in compassion for people, in zeal to fulfill God’s mission, in love for suffering people, in understanding God’s will. But strangely, these people did not respond to Jesus and his message very well. How will the people of Nineveh consider them? At the judgment, they will rise and condemn them, saying, “Even Jonah’s simple message was enough for us to accept God and repent. But how come you didn’t accept Jesus and his message?”

 

We live in the New Testament period, in which the 66 books of the Bible have been completed, and God’s will have been made clear. Now we live in the era of the Holy Spirit. And God has sent us so many Bible teachers – high school teachers who prayed for us and shared the gospel with us, pastors in the local churches or through the Christian radio station, and finally even our own personal Bible teachers. Indeed, God has made great efforts to help us accept his will. Then, if we don’t accept God’s will upon our life in this blessed time, what kind of excuse can we make at the judgment day? For the Queen of the South, Solomon’s Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were enough to acknowledge God. For the people of Nineveh, even a heartless Bible teacher, Jonah was enough. Jesus says, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” It is time for us to open our hearts and respond to God’s messages given through his messengers, accepting God’s will upon our life.

 

Second, “Your eye is the lamp of your body” (33-36). Look at verse 33. Let’s read this verse together:

 

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.

 

People were asking for a miraculous sign, something obvious so that they could believe. But God’s sign for them is the sign of Jonah, a humble and insignificant looking Bible teacher. At first glance, by not giving any miraculous signs, it seems that God is hiding the truth so that the majority of people cannot see the truth and be blessed. But that’s not the case. God would never light the lamp and put it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. God wants to reveal himself fully to everyone so that all people can be blessed. For this purpose, he gives them the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher. The sign of Jonah is a great sign with which you can truly believe in God. This was Jesus’ logic of why he would not give them any fancy miracles, but that he would just focus on teaching the word of God. We are a little confused here, but this is what we have witnessed all the time. Through miraculous signs, people hardly are changed – with miraculous signs they experienced in their life, people are amazed, and thereby, are very passionate for a while; but sooner or later, they remain the same, no fundamental changes in their life. But through one to one Bible study, when people accept the sign of Jonah, their life changes completely. Pleasure seeking people become holy servants of God. Selfish people become sacrificial shepherds and shepherdess. Drug addicts with many demons become powerful preachers and disciple makers. Lowly, nameless students become world-class spiritual leaders. The reason God gives people no miraculous sign but the sign of Jonah, is not so that God can hide the light, but reveal it fully.

 

Then, how come, so many people have failed to see this sign? Look at verse 34. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.

 

Here, “your eye” refers to “your vision” or “your perspectives” or simply, “how you see or perceive.” God gives us the sign of Jonah, a humble and insignificant looking Bible teacher, and now it’s all up to how we see this sign. If we ignore this sign because it looks so insignificant, then, nothing happens in our life, and we are still in darkness, in confusion, in loneliness, in depression, and anxiety, and in sorrow. When people have that kind of casual view of those who bring God’s words to them, their whole life is full of darkness.  But if you have a good eye, if you respond to the sign of Jonah with faith, saying, “God sent me a Bible teacher, even my own personal Bible teacher to help me and guide me?!!! God really knows me. He has heard my prayer.” There, your eyes are opened to God’s love for you. You realize that you are not abandoned, but you have been loved by God all the time. There, all your bitterness and sorrows that have been built up in your heart melt away and, thanks and love for God fill your heart; you become a happy person, God’s beloved child in Jesus Christ. When your eyes are good, your whole body, your whole life, your whole person will be full of light.

 

Jesus says in verse 35, “See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Here, “the light within you” refers to what you are convinced of, what you think you really know of, or what you think right. Some people have a bad perspective, and they are confident of it, saying, “I prayed for something very important, but God has never answered me. He does not care for me.” Some people say, “No one loves me. I am all alone.” With this, they develop bitterness and resentment toward everyone in their life. The light within them is darkness; as a result, they are cold, bitter, and angry – they are really crooked. Because the light within them is darkness, their whole person, their whole life is ruined. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So many people live in hell because the light within them is actually darkness. How important it is to have the good eye, good perspectives! Let’s read verse 34 one more time.

 

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.

 

How are your eyes? How are your perspectives? Are they good? Are they bad? See everything with absolute trust in God’s goodness and love for you. God has sent his servant to you to save you from your sin, and to guide you and give you a new and wonderful life in Jesus Christ. God loves you. See everything with faith in God. Don’t give into your sense of betrayal; don’t give into your bitterness; don’t give into darkness; instead, respond to God’s love with all your heart, and your whole person will be full of light.

 

Look at verse 36. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.

 

Here, Jesus’ emphasis is on “the whole body full of light” and thereby, “no part of it dark.” We must have good perspectives so that our whole person, our whole life may be full of light. We have responded to God’s love for us; as a result, we have experienced God’s salvation from our sins and we started a new life. The light has come to us, and now we have learned and developed godly perspectives, godly hopes, godly value system and godly lifestyles. We are now different from the world; we are not of the world any longer. Indeed, we have changed greatly. But even if we are changed a lot, even if we have responded to God’s love, even if we are dedicated to God’s will and purpose, still in some area, in some matter, we hold onto our old views and desires, refusing to surrender everything to God. As a result, our whole person is not full of light yet; instead, still part of it is dark. For some people, it is their marriage matter – they put so much hope on it, insisting their own desires and dreams; as a result, they have no freedom, but they are fearful, thinking what if, what if; when we think about this matter carefully, we can see that it is actually unbelief. For some other people, it is their career dream, insisting a certain job, and pursuing it continually; they must put their hope in God who can give them more than they can imagine, instead of putting their hope in a job. For some others, it is their spiritual ambition in God, always being concerned about my sheep, my fellowship, and my disciples, instead of being concerned about God’s work and God’s church; we are not here to reveal our name as great servants of God, but to reveal God’s name, and for that, we must be willing to lay down our life, willing to live as nameless servants in the background.

 

Jesus’ desire is that we may be fully evangelized 100% inside and out, completely dedicated to God, not only just working hard for God, but also completely surrendering ourselves to His way, His will, and His people. When we are fully evangelized, and when we withhold nothing from God, when we are fully offered to God, we are completely sanctified, and we are strong, not vulnerable to the enemy’s attack at all; instead, we can do whatever God wants us to do in any circumstances. Then, God can use us for his purpose freely. Jesus prays that God may protect us from the evil one by sanctifying us, by setting us aside for Him alone. (Jn 17) At that time, God’s light shines on you brightly. Jesus says, “If your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

 

One Word:      God’s Light Shines On You

 

 

 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

posted Jul 23, 2017, 10:18 PM by Site Administrator

THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME TO YOU

 

Luke 11:14-28

Key Verse 11:20

 

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

 

First, “Then the kingdom of God has come to you” (14-22). Look at verse 14. Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. But at this, people twisted the truth, saying, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” They changed the work of God into the work of Satan. When God’s work occurs, and people find salvation and a new life in Jesus, there are always strange people who try to twist the truth, denying God’s work, and even describing it as Satan’s work. The people in the passage, just didn’t want to acknowledge Jesus as a servant of God, because when they did so, their action of rejecting him would be rejecting God Himself – a grave sin they never wanted to do; so in order to justify their action of rejecting Jesus, now they twisted the truth saying that he used the power of Beelzebub to set the man free from the demon; they were really miserable. When they rejected the truth that Jesus was a servant of God, they eventually became enemies of God. And their influence was indeed terrible. When people saw Jesus’ good work, their hearts were open to him and were about to accept him. Then, because of these evil people’s remark about what Jesus was doing, they were alarmed and closed their hearts. They were really Satan’s instruments. Jesus said of this kind of sin “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” and it is “an unforgivable sin.” Jesus said to them in Matthew’s gospel 12:31-32, “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Today, this is what people do. When they do not want to acknowledge the work of God as the work of God. They end up describing it as the work of the devil, even when what God is doing is very obvious. Out of bitterness, or out of their attempt to justify their action, they do so. Indeed, they do not know what they are doing.

 

     Look at verses 17 and 18. Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.” Jesus pointed out the logical loophole of their remarks. It is nonsense that by the power of Satan, someone destroys the work of Satan. It never happens. Satan never fights against himself. Then, what was the meaning of Jesus driving out the demon from the man and setting him free? Look at verse 20. Let’s read this verse together:

 

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

 

Jesus appealed to their logic, saying, “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God...” Actually, that was the only logical conclusion. God was working in and through Jesus the man experiencing deliverance from demons was the evidence of it. If that’s the case, then, God was presenting Himself among them through Jesus God’s kingdom had come to them; God was among them, so close, not far away, and thereby, they had a chance to meet Him, experience Him and have fellowship with Him. The kingdom of God had come to them! What an amazing conclusion it was!

 

Jesus’ point is, “If there is any hint or proof that what I am doing is the work of God, then, the kingdom of God has come to you.” For the proof, Jesus used the expression, “the finger of God.” He didn’t say, “the almighty power of God,” but “the finger of God.” The proof does not have to be a big one such as dividing the Pacific Ocean or raising the dead or healing a cancer patient, but just a small hint is enough. The finger of God means just a slight hint of God’s work. This makes us think about what’s going on and what we are doing. Isn’t there any hint of God’s work in our life? What about people receiving God’s word personally and finding the joy of God through our Bible study? Yes, it is the finger of God, an evidence that God is working among us. What about a lost soul who has wandered in darkness so long, finding God’s salvation and starting a new life as a child of God through our one to one Bible study? Yes, it is the finger of God. A drug addict, or a party animal becoming a shepherd through our one to one Bible study is the finger of God. Our new life itself is the finger of God. There are so many evidences of God’s work among us. If it is so, then, the kingdom of God has come to you. “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” This proclamation of Jesus shows us who we are and what we are doing very clearly. Each of shepherds and shepherdesses is no longer an ordinary person, but a servant of God through whom God reaches out to many lost souls; then, our church is no longer a mere human gathering, but God’s church where God dwells and which God uses to save souls. And everyone who comes to us has a chance to experience God and enter his Kingdom and enjoy a beautiful life. Hallelujah! The kingdom of God has come to us!

 

       Now in verses 21 and 22, Jesus explains how he could drive out the demon and set the man free. Look at verses 21 and 22. It reads: 21“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe.  22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.” Here, a strong man refers to the demon. The demon was fully armed, and was guarding his own house, so his possession, the man, was secured. But when someone stronger than the demon, that was Jesus, attacked, and overpowered it, he disarmed it and saved the man from the demon.

 

     This explanation helps us understand the spiritual reality. Salvation of one soul occurs as the result of victory over demons or Satan. Satan guards his own possessions – people – with many powerful weapons. Some people cannot bear those who seem to do evil and thereby, they are angry and bitter, and violent, willing to do anything to satisfy their sense of justice. They are under the rule of Satan due to their sense of injustice Satan controls them with a strong logic. Some people are gripped with the fear of future security that they cannot help but doggedly pursue their career dream; some people are gripped with the desire for success – riches and luxury of the world have enticed them greatly; they just want to make a lot of money, or they struggle hard to be Hollywood stars, willing to do anything; some people are gripped with sorrows or bitterness due to their family condition or their childhood experiences; some people are driven by their sinful desires, wandering at night here and there. Satan, their ruler, their owner, never wants to release them; they are his possessions, and he guards them tightly, with many powerful weapons such as theories, isms, philosophies, logic, sinful desires, worldly dreams and lifestyles. Their value system, their way of thinking, their heart’s desire, their lifestyle are completely set up in the way their ruler, Satan desires that they cannot come out of his rule on their own at all. No one can liberate himself or herself from Satan on his or her own. This is the reality. How come then, salvation came to us? Salvation comes from outside, from above.

 

    When we think about this carefully, we can see that our salvation, our new life did not come to us by chance, but as the result of Jesus fighting for us and overpowering the enemy. Jesus attacked the strong man, Satan for our salvation! This fight shows that he knew each of us personally, and he was willing to raise a war against the strong man Satan for our sake. Our salvation itself is the evidence of Jesus’ love for us. Today, in order to save people from Satan’s rule, Jesus attacks Satan and fights; this is what he is doing today.

  

      Second, “He who is not with me is against me” (23-28). Look at verse 23. Let’s read this verse together:

 

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

 

     If you do not gather with him positively, but just sit back and relax, then, in Jesus’ eyes, you are against him; while Jesus struggles to gather, in his eyes, you are scattering. This is how Jesus sees – his perspectives. In Jesus’ eyes, there are only two groups of peoplethose who gather together with him positively, and those who are against him. In Mark 9:40, Jesus says, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Jesus means that, as we go out and do God’s work, if anyone is not positively against us, that person is for us, letting us do evangelism in their places freely. And now Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.” This is for Christians. With this, Jesus shows us what we must do – we must be with him, gathering together with him wholeheartedly. You love Jesus; you are thankful to him; you have no intention to be against him at all. If that’s your position, if that’s your desire, then, you have only one way to go, that is, gathering together with Jesus positively. Thus, we can understand what kind of people Christians are – those who are with Jesus, struggling hard to gather together with him. Some people just sit back, and relax, going to church once a week, and doing Christian things, thinking that they do the requirements. But they are already against Jesus. While Jesus struggles hard to gather, these people scatter, giving bad influence to everyone around them.

 

   How come Jesus has this kind of extreme and exclusive perspectives? It is all because of his complete dedication to the business of gathering souls. No one wants to bother anyone, especially, a strong one. But Jesus is more than willing to raise a war against the strong one, for the sake of saving one soul. He fights the strong man wholeheartedly, in the hope of saving souls from his tyranny; he is completely dedicated in the soul saving business, even willing to lay down his life for this purpose; he is all in. While he is fighting so wholeheartedly, don’t you want to join in and fight together with him? While he works hard to gather souls, don’t you want to work together with him? It may be dangerous; it may be costly. But are you in? I am in! Psalm 110:2,3 reads, “The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.” His troops are willing on his day of battle.

 

Look at verses 24 through 26. Let’s read these verses together:

 

24 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.  26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

 

      Jesus here talks about what happens when an evil spirit comes out of a man. In the Bible, we see people being set free from demons by God’s grace. We have heard about evil spirits kicked out of people. Such things are really remarkable, but experiencing deliverance from the demons is not the end of the whole story. Instead, that’s the beginning of a real life. Jesus shows us how things go after that. It’s never the evil spirit’s desire to come out of the man. But because of Jesus who fought the evil spirit and overpowered it, it came out of the man, and the man experienced God’s salvation; as a result, he became like  a house that was swept clean and put in order – his inner world was swept clean and put in order all because of Jesus’ grace; now he can live a new life without being bothered by crazy ideas or desires. But in this new life, still he remains unoccupied, just like an unoccupied house. Even later, when the evil spirit comes back and checks out the condition, he is still not occupied. So, the evil spirit recruits seven other spirits that are more wicked than itself, and go in and live there. As a result, the final condition of that man is worse than the first.

 

    We humans are like a house to be occupied. When we experienced God’s salvation by Jesus’ grace, we must let him occupy us as the owner of our life by submitting and dedicating ourselves to His will and purpose, by living for him; that’s what we are about a human created in God’s image, to please God, to reveal the glory of God. But when people do not let Jesus be the owner of their life, when they do not live for God’s will and purpose, but live for themselves, pursuing their own dreams and desires, even after experiencing God’s salvation in Jesus, they simply remain like an unoccupied house. They think that, in that way, they will live their life for themselves, being their own boss. But things do not go that way. When they do not let God occupy their house, then, the evil spirits occupy them, and thereby, they do not live their life for themselves, but live for the evil spirits, pursuing and doing what the evil spirits desire. That’s the eventual condition of everyone who does not gather together with Jesus. The final condition of such people is so terrible, far worse than the first. We have heard that the divorce rate among believers in America is higher than that of unbelievers. Why do things go that way? There was a young zealous Christian couple they met each other while attending Moody Bible institution in Chicago; they married, had two sons, but several years later, they divorced, and a few years later, the wife committed suicide. Auch! Why did such terrible things happen? Once we experience God’s salvation, we must accept Jesus as the Lord, as the Owner, as the Master of our life, living for him, dedicating ourselves to his will and purpose completely this requires our conscious efforts; once we experience God’s salvation in Jesus, we must live to gather people together with him; then, as we have life together with him, pursuing the same goal of world salvation, we come to experience him and know him more and more. Remember that you are just like a house that is to be occupied by either God or demons. Whom do you want to occupy your house? Of course, God! Submit yourself to God’s will and authority! Bow down to Him and serve Him only! Gather together with Jesus!

 

    Look at verses 27 and 28. At Jesus’ message, a woman shouted, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” With this, she was showing her agreement to Jesus’ teaching, acknowledging him as a man of God. In her eyes, Jesus’ mother was really blessed to have such a great man of God as a son. She wished if God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, she would have certainly done it. But that chance was gone, and she would not be blessed. Even if she said such spiritual sounding words, even if she agreed to Jesus’ message, practically, she was not doing anything, even after hearing and understanding the word of God. How did Jesus respond? Look at verse 28. Let’s read this verse together:

 

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

 

       It seemed that, when she blessed his mother, Jesus should have thanked her, saying, “Thank you.” Or, at least, it seemed that he should have appreciated her acceptance of his message. But Jesus did not respond that way. Instead, Jesus showed her how she would be really blessed, more blessed than being chosen to be his mother, saying, “Hear the word of God and obey it.” Jesus gave her a clear direction of what she must do, that was, studying the Bible, understanding it, and struggling to obey it. When she made such efforts and struggles, she would be more blessed than Mary, Jesus’ mother. Jesus’ point was very clear: instead of thinking about “only if I were...” she must make practical efforts to study the Bible, understand it, and struggle to obey it. Such people are really blessed.


     Many Christians say, “Had I been in Jesus’ time, I would certainly have believed in him, followed him all the days of my life.” Some people say, “I don’t understand the Israel people in Moses’ time. If I had been there, I would have remained faithful to Moses, God’s servant wholeheartedly, just like Joshua, his aide. I would not be like the Israel people who complained to God.” It seems that they have some spiritual desire. But Jesus is not happy with such words of mouth; instead, he is more concerned about how they really do now and today. Often, these people don’t do anything for God, except going to church once a week, or doing some Christian things here and there not really passionate, not really obedient, not really thankful, not really loyal to God’s servants; and they complain a lot to God’s servants. Jesus gives them a clear direction, saying, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” What Jesus want us to do is not to offer that kind of spiritual sounding words to him, but to study the Bible, grasp what God wants, and struggle to obey it. He wants us to study the Bible and obey its teaching now and today. How is it to hear the word of God? It requires a lot of struggles despite hectic schedule, we have to set aside time for Bible study; then, we need to make effort to grasp and digest it really by meditating on it deeply, spending many hours in testimony writing; then, once we understand what God is talking about, we need to struggle to obey His word obeying God’s word is not easy; there is pains and sorrows; people may misunderstand you, or even persecute you; maybe, you taste losses and rejections, yet you still struggle to do what God wants you to do. Jesus says that such people are more blessed than his mother Mary; people who make such struggles today are more blessed than the people of Jesus’ time; such people are more blessed than the people of Moses’ time; such people are more blessed than the prophets of the Old Testament. Hear the word of God and obey it: This is what Jesus wants us to do. This is how we can be truly blessed.

 

     In conclusion, today, we learned that the kingdom of God has come to us. God is here among us, working in and through us. God is really near us. We also learned that we must gather together with Jesus that is the only way of life for Christians; otherwise, despite our desire for Jesus, we end up being against him, scattering while he is gathering. We also got a clear direction from Jesus: Hear the word of God and obey it. Today, the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to us. Now let’s do what we have learned, and we will be really blessed.

 

One Word:  Blessed Rather Are Those Who Hear The Word Of God And Obey It

Sunday, July 16, 2017

posted Jul 16, 2017, 10:48 PM by Site Administrator

FATHER, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

 

Luke 11:1-13

Key Verse 11:2

 

He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.”

 

            First, “Father, hallowed be your name” (1-2). Look at verse 1. “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” So far, the disciples had not prayed, for they neither knew why nor how. Now, almost at the end of Jesus’ messianic ministry, the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. They saw Jesus’ example of prayer life, and now they too wanted to be spiritual like him. How happy Jesus must have been when they asked him to teach them about prayer! How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 2 through 4. Let’s read these verses together:

 

2He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.

 

            The disciples asked him about how to pray – the technical aspect of prayer, but Jesus taught them what to pray for. The prayer topics Jesus asks his disciples to pray for are known as, the Lord’s prayer. It is because these were the prayer topics Jesus prayed for all the time, and these are the prayer topics Jesus wants his disciples to pray for. What we pray for means what we look for, or what we desire, or wish; simply, what we pray for shows us what we pursue in our life. There are so many things people pray for. Some people pray for a good job; some people pray for their business success; some people even pray for a happy family. Some people look for a way to improve their image, how they look, even in God. Simply, people don’t know what they ought to pray, I mean, what they ought to pursue with their life. Now, Jesus, by teaching us to pray for these things, shows us what we ought to pursue with our life. What should we pray, and what should we pursue with our life? Let’s check out the Lord’s prayer in detail.

 

            The object of our prayer is God in heaven, but Jesus tells us to call him in prayer, “Father.” He wants us to come to God in prayer like sons and daughters coming to their father for some request. How do you come to your earthly father, when you need some help? Do you call him so authentically, “O most gracious and gentle father in the world” or “O, powerful CEO of Exon Mobil company”? No, you simply, call him, “Daddy, I need a new computer for school work. Do you think you can help me?” There is deep trust in your heart when you come to your father for help, no matter what outcome there may be. In the same way, Jesus asks us to come to God with complete trust and confidence – Our Father in heaven knows what we need, and he knows what is best for us. The title, “father” is the symbol of protection and provision. Sometimes, in our pilgrimage, we are so lonely and tired. At that time, we simply, come to God in prayer, and just speak to him, saying, “Father,” then, we are so comforted. When we call God, the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, “Father,” we are relieved from all agony and sorrow. Do you have untold sorrow? Do you feel so harassed? Then, come to God, and say to him in prayer, “Father!” Then your soul will find deep peace, tranquility.

 

            The first prayer topic is, “Hallowed be your name.” The word, “hallowed” means, “sanctified,” or “consecrated.” God’s name be hallowed, means God’s name be honored, revered, and treated holy. This means that God may be treated differently that whenever the name God is related, anything of God is related such as God’s word, God’s kingdom, or God’s servants, people may show different attitude, with respect and honor, showing absolute reverence and obedience.

 

            In the world, God’s name is not honored – people do not show any reverence toward things of God; rather, they despise God and attack God; they establish terrible laws, cultures and lifestyles that are against God; the whole world is against God. Not only so, in the lives of believers, God’s name is not hallowed either. People talk about loving God with their mouths, but it is hard to find those who truly love God by obeying his command. Simply, believers do not live according to God’s command, but they too pursue what the world suggests. As a result, people in the world despise them, and God’s name is dishonored because of them.

 

            In this situation, Jesus wants us to pray that God’s name may be hallowed in and through us. God’s name may be hallowed in my life, in your life, in our church and family. When this is our prayer topic, we don’t say or do however way we feel like. Instead, we are very careful of what we do or say and how we conduct ourselves so that our words and actions, our decisions may result in honoring God’s name at work, at school, at home, and in the church. When God’s name is hallowed among us, no one will insist his or her own ideas or desires, but we all live to love God and obey His command; thus, we will be one for God alone.

 

            This is the first prayer topic Jesus wants us to have and pray for. The first prayer topic is what is most important to you, and thereby, what you desperately and wholeheartedly pursue, something you really talk about and desire in your day to day life. Simply, the first prayer topic shows what you live for – the purpose of your life. This first prayer topic defines what kind of life you live and who you are. Some people pursue success in their business, so they pour out everything they have for this purpose – they live for it; their first prayer topic is to establish their business successfully – such people are called, “businessmen.” Some people’s first prayer topic is to be superstars in music, or in movies, or in sports – they are called, “singers or musicians” “actors” “athletes.” What kind of people are those who live for God’s name to be hallowed? They are “disciples of Jesus,” because Jesus also lived and died for this. “Hallowed be your name.” With this prayer topic, Jesus shows us what we should live for, and what we should really pursue in our life – Hallowed be your name.

 

            The second prayer topic is, “Your kingdom come.” The real essence of the kingdom of God is God’s rule; wherever God’s rule is, there is the kingdom of God. Under the rule of God, people are safe and they have the sense of security, so no worry, or anxiety or fear; their souls find rest and peace; they are satisfied. How happy we are when God’s rule is there in our hearts and life. At that time, we become confident, saying, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil... Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Ps 23) There are many things that try to rule our hearts – ill-emotions and feelings such as the sense of betrayal, hatred, anger, bitterness, or jealousy, the sense of meaninglessness. When people are ruled by such ill-emotions and feelings, they are very unhappy; they live in the kingdom of Satan, not in the kingdom of God. Sometimes, our fleshly desires try to rule us; sometimes, our small citizen’s dream try to control us; sometimes, our worldly desire for success tries to rule us. In this situation, we pray, “Your kingdom come.” As we pursue God’s kingdom, God’s rule in us, we reject all other things that try to rule our hearts and life. This is our conscious struggle.

 

             Your kingdom come. This is our second prayer topic. This is what we pursue and struggle to fulfill; we struggle to build God’s kingdom in the hearts and lives of our neighbors, other college students, and in our society. Jesus’ disciples are those who live to build God’s kingdom in the lives of many people in the world; they are the ones who live as “kingdom builders.” When God’s kingdom rests in our family, our family life will be a heavenly life – every family member enjoying God’s peace, and loving and taking care of each other. When God’s kingdom rests in our community, we will no longer worry about crimes or abuse; then, parents can send their children to school by themselves without any fear. No more broken family, no more teen age single mother, and no more gang problem. When God’s kingdom comes to the world, there will be no more wars or fights. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be fuel for the fire. (Isa 9:5) God says in Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain.” “Your kingdom come!” This is the true hope of all believers. And this is what we Christians pursue with all our heart and strength.

 

            For this prayer topic to be fulfilled, today, we go out, find students and teach them the word of God. We work hard to demolish Satan’s kingdom and build God’s kingdom in their hearts and lives. People come to school to build their career, and their future, but we come to school to build and expand God’s kingdom. Our prayer is: “Your kingdom come at El Camino College; your kingdom come at CSULB; your kingdom come at CSUDH; your kingdom come at LAHC; your kingdom come to all colleges and universities in California! This is what Jesus wants us to do – build God’s kingdom in the hearts and lives of many people. Live as kingdom builders, even experts, professional kingdom builders! This is what Jesus wants us to pursue – Your Kingdom Come!

 

            Second, “Give us each day our daily bread” (3-4). Look at verses 3 and 4. Let’s read these verses together:

 

3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

 

            The Lord’s prayer can be divided into two parts – first, prayers for God’s name and God’s kingdom, showing us what we must pursue and live for, and second, prayers for our practical needs. Jesus shows us three things we should pray for in regard to our practical needs – “Give us each day our daily bread,” “forgive us our sins,” and “lead us not into temptation.” Here, “bread” is about security such as jobs or houses. As we pursue God’s name and God’s kingdom, we too need food to eat, place to sleep, and clothes to wear. Jesus asks us to pray for such things. But in doing so, notice two things: 1) Give “us” each day “our” daily bread. Modern day, people are self-seeking; they say, “You eat your bread; I eat mine.” “Don’t bother; I’m eating.” But Jesus teaches us to pray for “our daily bread.” His point is clear: He wants us to be concerned about not only my own security or career matter, but also other disciples’ career matter; in this way, Jesus wants us to build a sense of community among us. God has gathered us together for his purpose – that’s what the church is about. Now as we pursue God’s mission in one mind and heart, we pray for the job matter of all the disciples in the church, being concerned about their wellbeing. 2) Jesus wants us to pray for “daily bread.” “Give us each day our daily bread.” Often, people want to secure their life for the next 10 or 20 or even 30 years with one job – then, this job matter or building their career matter becomes so heavy and burdensome; often, many people value their job matter even above God’s calling for their life. Jesus never wants us to try to solve our future security matter with a job; instead, he wants us to have God as our security and rely on his provision daily. When we just look for each day our daily bread, then, this matter becomes so small, not burdensome at all; whether you eat T-bone New steak or just one potato, you are not so bothered; even if you eat 99 cents chicken sandwich at Burger King, you don’t cry because others eat Prime rib; any way, it is just one meal, not the matter of life and death. When we pray each day for our daily bread, when we are just happy with each day’s food or security, then, we can do God’s work freely without any hindrance. Then, at the right time, God will give us a good, even best career job that can amply support our life of mission.

 

            Jesus also tells us to pray for the forgiveness of our own sins. Jesus does not say that, since we are saved, or since we live as his disciples, we have no problem with sin. No. Instead, he asks us to pray for the forgiveness of our sins whenever we pray, maybe, daily, or three times a day. Praying for the forgiveness of our sins daily shows us how seriously we consider our sins before God; praying for this daily shows that we are fully aware of its evilness and that we disapprove it and we fight against it. We do not condone sin, saying, “I cannot help it.” We do not dwell in sin. Instead, as forgiven sinners, we hate sin, and fight against it continually by relying on God’s grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Maybe, we are defeated by sin over and over, but as we fight sin continually by holding on to God’s grace in Jesus Christ, eventually, the day of victory will come when we really overcome it. This prayer topic shows us the importance of how we deal with our sins in Jesus Christ. Some people live in defeatism, because, despite their struggle, they still suffer from their chronic sins, and now they give up and dwell in sin. They may fail, yet, still by faith, they must rely on God’s grace of forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ. Some other people consider God’s grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ as a license to sin. They abuse and misuse God’s grace, only to bring destruction on themselves. Jesus encourages us to fight sin by relying on God’s forgiveness through prayer continually. Such people eventually come to experience God’s victory in Jesus Christ.

 

            In doing so, still, there is one condition for us to be forgiven of our sins – we must forgive others who have done something wrong against us. We cannot come to God and pray for the forgiveness of our sins while we hold grudge against others. When we forgive those who have sinned against us, we have confidence to come to God for the forgiveness of our sins. God wants to forgive your sins. But do you forgive those who sinned against you?

 

            Jesus also asks us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Many people proudly think that they are strong in Christ and that they can handle any kind of temptation very well. Such people really do not know the spiritual reality. The perfect man Adam, who was in such intimacy with God, who was dedicated to God’s work completely with such wisdom, when he was tempted, failed bringing total disaster to mankind. Jesus, even though, he was full of the Holy Spirit, even though he was the Son of God, when he was to face the enemy’s temptation, prepared himself thoroughly through fasting for forty days and nights. Judas Iscariot was dedicated to Jesus and to God’s work completely; he had worked with Jesus for God’s kingdom for three years, having such divine Bible study with Jesus. Yet, when he was tempted, he failed and became most miserable. Once you are tempted, everything looks different, and your mind works very strangely. Even you come to think that eating an apple will give you wisdom, making you just like God. It’s crazy! So, we must not proudly say that we are okay with temptation. Instead, we must make all possible efforts to avoid any tempting situation. Some people keep exposing themselves to a tempting situation, even though they know that it is dangerous and that they can fall because of it; they are like children playing with fire. What can happen to them? They consciously and unconsciously entertain such temptation, and eventually, they give into that with some theological excuses, saying, “Salvation by faith in God alone,” or “No matter what I do, God will protect me.” Jesus specifically asks us to pray for this so that we may not be exposed to a tempting situation. Praying for this prayer topic means that you are fully alert in spirit and are aware of what’s going on or what’s going to happen; it means that you are very careful of where you go and whom you talk with. If you sense that things can go sticky, you stop there, turn away and flee. If temptation comes through your right eye, even though your right eye is so precious and valuable to you, gouge it out and throw it away; if your right hand causes you to sin, even if your right hand is so useful, cut it off and throw it away.

 

            Third, “Ask, seek, and knock” (5-13). Through the Lord’s prayer, we learned about what we ought to pursue and pray for. Now, in verses 5 through 13, Jesus shows us with what kind of attitude we must pray to God. Look at verses 5 through 8. Here, we see three friends – a poor friend comes to a rich friend to borrow some bread for his friend who came by his house at night, on his journey. This friend wants to treat and take care of his friend, because he was tired, thirsty and hungry from the journey. But he is so poor that he has nothing in his refrigerator – no milk, no orange juice or even Honey Bunches of Oat Cereal. It seems that there is nothing he can do for his needy friend. But he really wants to take care of him. He becomes desperate for his friend’s sake. So, even though it is already midnight, still he visits his rich friend, and knocks at the door. Then, what is the rich friend’s response? At first, his response is clearly, “No,” saying, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are already with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” But because the poor friend cannot simply give up, he keeps knocking at the door. So what is the result? Look at verse 8. Let’s read this verse together:

 

8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

 

            The rich friend gives him as much as he needs, not because he is his friend, but because he keeps bothering him. Jesus’ point is clear: When you pray to God, you keep bothering Him until he answers your prayer. We have sheep to take care of – they are thirsty, hungry and tired; but the problem is that we are poor too; we don’t have bread or milk to feed them on our own. But there is one who is rich, our God in heaven. Maybe, in heaven, he is already in bed, very cozy; maybe, your prayer request is not in his to-do list or it is at its bottom. But when you pray boldly, persistently, when you keep bothering him crying and knocking at the door, because of your persistence, he will change his mind and take care of your case first, even if it means that he has to change his whole plan. When you pray so boldly like this with desperate attitude, you will receive whatever and as much as you want, and your shepherd’s life will be so abundant and prosperous. Pray boldly for whatever you need, and God will give you whatever and as much as you want, not because you are a good servant to him, but because he is so bothered by your prayers.  

 

Look at verses 9 and 10. Let’s read these verses together:

 

9“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

 

            As a conclusion of his teaching on prayer, Jesus says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Here, Jesus shows us three aspects of prayer – ask, seek, and knock. Let’s say, you ask God for a job. That is a prayer; but that’s not all. After asking, you check out LA Times classified, Craig List, and LinkedIn, and submit the application with your resume to all possible companies that’s seeking, another form of prayer. After that, after waiting for one week, you contact them by sending emails or calling them, or even visiting them and talking with them in person, showing that you are really serious in the job matter and appealing to them that you will be faithful once you are hired. That’s knocking, another form of prayer. Prayer does not just mean to ask God what you want; instead, praying for a certain thing means that you want it or you need it, and thereby, you pursue it. When you pursue what you pray for this way, you will certainly get it.

 

            Verses 11 through 13 is Jesus’ slight rebuke to those who do not pray because of their unbelief. Even evil fathers are willing to give what is good to their children when they ask, then, how much more will our good Father in heaven give us the Holy Spirit when we ask? So, with this confidence, we must ask, seek, and knock, living for God’s name and living as kingdom builders.

 

One Word:       Your Kingdom Come!

 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

posted Jul 10, 2017, 7:10 AM by Site Administrator


 

DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE

 

Luke 10:25-42

Key Verse 10:28

 

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

 

First, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (25-28).Look at verse 25. "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"He was an expert in the law, a specialist in the Bible. The word, 'test' shows us this man’s intention in asking Jesus the question. Nonetheless, his question is very important. "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" This is the very question all mankind have. Death is coming moment by moment; we die for sure; that’s the reality. But we don't want to die. So, people struggle to find the way to escape from death, and not die, but live forever. But the problem is: No one knows how. So many people, agonized, shout, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" This is not only the voice of unbelieving people, but the voice of many people who go to church. Like the expert in the Law in the passage, who had been attending worship service life long very faithfully, but still, did not have the confidence eternal life, cry out, saying, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" People say"If you believe in Jesus, you will be saved and have eternal life." People do so, go to church, but still do not have any confidence about salvation and eternal life. They try to assume or even try to hypnotize themselves, saying, "believe I am saved! I believe I am saved!" But still, they have no confidence. All these people, both believers and unbelievers, cry out together in unison, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

 

Many people would simply say at this question, "Believe in Jesus, and you will be saved." But Jesus’ answer was different. He did not say, "I am the Christ. Believe in me, and you will be saved." What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verse 26. Jesus said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" Jesus' answer, "What is written in the Law?" indicates that in the Law is the way to have eternal life. Here, the Law refers to the five books of Moses, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. In the Law, there is the way to have eternal life! This is really amazing.  

 

Jesus added, "How do you read it?" Jesus was asking him about his attitude in reading the Bible, in coming to the word of God. Do you read the Bible just to accumulate your Bible knowledge or to find the truth and live by it? "How do you read it?" This is the key for us to find the way to have eternal life in the Law. Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It sounds so plain. But I have seen many people who met God personally through this simple sentence. They testified with tears, saying, "God created me. I came from God. Now I know who I am." Genesis 1:31 says, "And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." To many people, this simple statement was the life-giving words of God that transformed lowly sinners into beautiful princes and princesses of the kingdom of God. They shouted, "No matter what people say of me, I am wonderful, because God says that I am very good." "How do you read it?" If this man had read the Law with the right attitude, surely, he would have found the way to have eternal life. With what kind of attitude do you come to the Law

 

What is written in the Law? Look at verse 27. Let’s read this verse together:

 

He answered, "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"

 

At this, Jesus said to him in verse 28, "You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live." What an amazing person this man was. Surely, it is not easy to even read through these five books of Moses – too boring, many dos and dons that seem redundant, not lessons or stories. Many people also say, "I don’t like the God of the Old Testament, but I like the God of the New Testament." People say, "We are free from the Law in the New Testament." With this, they throw away the Old Testament, and never read it. What is written in the law? To them, only burdens, many dos and dons, and restrictions. But this man grasped what God was really talking about through these five books of Moses. He grasped that the Law was about love. To him, the penetrating theme in all 613 in the Old Testament was, "Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor." His answer was correct, and Jesus told him that if he did so, then, he would have eternal life. 

 

What God says in the Bible is that we must love GodThis is really amazing. While driving on the Freeway, I was thinking about this: God wants us to love Him. That's what God desires. He is not like any other gods we have read about in the Greek and Roman mythology. Then, what kind of God is he? He is really romantic. He is love. We must love God. Then, how? "With all our heart, soul, mind and strength." Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind means to "love Him exclusively" or "love Him only" or "love Him wholeheartedlywith complete devotion to Him!" He does not want us to look at other things at all, but Him alone! Loving God with all our strength means to love God really passionately, doing things for God wholeheartedly, pouring out time, energy and talent, instead of just doing minimum or basic duties. When you love God this way, how will your life be? So powerful, action-packed and dynamic! When you live this kind of a powerful, dynamic and action-packed life for God, you will be truly satisfied and happy. That's what eternal life is about - zoe, the very kind of life God wants you to have in Jesus Christ. For this purpose, God sacrificed his one and only Son on the cross. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

 

The Law also says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." When we love God and thereby, want to obey his command, we know what we must do - love our neighbors as ourselves. As much as you love yourself, you love your neighbor. How much do you love yourself? When you catch cold, you are so worried and concerned about your health, even your life; you are very concerned about your diet (healthy food, high cholesterol,..). In the same way, you should be concerned about your neighbors' wellbeing and life. You are very concerned about your future - career and marriage,... in the same way, you should be concerned about your neighbors' future. You are willing to spend your money for yourself - food, clothes, shoes, cars,... - in the same way, you are willing to spend your time, money and effort for your neighbors. That's what God desires for us to do. That's how God wants us to live with others in the society - at home, at school, at work, and in the church. When we think about this, we can see that in God, there is no room for selfish, self-centered orself-seeking life for God's people. When you live this kind of life, you will indeed enjoy a truly fulfilling and meaningful life. When all the members of the society love their neighbors as themselves, what kind of community will it be? An idealistic society where everyone can live happily with each other in peace - no deceit, no debauchery, no violence, no injustice, but love and care in the whole community, supporting, strengthening and taking care of each other. It will be paradise! Utopia! That's what the Law talks about. That's what God designed from the beginning - by obeying God's command, we would have Utopia.

 

Jesus says, "You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live." This is the way of eternal life - do this, and you will live. The man grasped what the Bible was talking about, what God wanted him to do in the Bible. He was a great Bible scholar. Now what he needed as God's people, as God's servant, so that he could have eternal life was to do it really - love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and love your neighbors as yourself. Knowing what he must do to inherit eternal life, grasping what the Bible talked about did not mean anything, when he did not do it. Knowing what he must do to inherit eternal life did not do anything for him unless he really did it. Jesus gave him a clear direction, "Do this, and you will live." 

 

Now we know what we must do as humans, as Jesus' disciples, as God's children - we know what God wants us to do. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves. When we do it, we will live - we will have eternal life. This is God's will for us. At this, many Christians say, "But we are saved by grace, by faith alone, not by works." With this, they conveniently reject Jesus' teaching. In their terms, by faith, they reject Jesus' teaching; by faith, they don't struggle to love God. Christians are really bad. Do you believe in Jesus? Yes? Then, this is the direction Jesus gives you: Do this and you will live. Thus, those who believe in Jesus come to have a clear direction, and thereby, Christians' struggle follows, and Christian lifestyle is set - their struggle to love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, and love their neighbors as themselves. Those who struggle to do this come to enjoy eternal life - a truly wonderful, meaningful and fulfilling life. Let us shout together: Do this and you will live.


Second, "Go and do likewise" (29-37). What was the man’s response? Look at verse 29. He had to repent of his lack of love for God and his neighbors. But instead of admitting his mistakes and faults and repenting, he wanted to justify himselfSo he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" His excuse was that, because he had not known who his neighbor was, he could not love his neighbor. At this, Jesus gave him the parable of the good Samaritan in verses 30 through 35 

 

In this parable, a man, actually, a Jewish man, was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. But on the way, robbers met him, stripped him of his clothes, took all his possessions, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. This man lost all his money, and was dying moment by moment bleeding on the road. Then, a priest happened to be going down the same road, andwhen he saw him, he passed by on the other side; then, a Levite also happened to come to the place, and saw him, but he too passed by on the other side. Jesus, specifically mentioned these two people, a priest and a Levite – both of them were known as people that served God. They missed the point of what God really wanted them to do. What God wanted was not that they would live a religious life, but that they would live the life of loving God and their neighbors practically. But they assumed that they were serving God because of their title as a priest and a Levite, and their religious life and even their Bible knowledge. Probably, that’s how the expert in the Law had been trying to serve God. 

 

Then, in his parable, a Samaritan man who was despised and ignored by the Jews, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, 'Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' For the sake of the man, this Samarian sacrificed his own schedule, spent time and money. Now, among the three - the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan man, who was the neighbor for the man half dead? The expert in the Law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Then, Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

 

Jesus showed him very clearly who his neighbor was - all those who were in need around him - and he must be their neighbor by loving them, by taking care of them, spending his time, money and effort for them. That's how he could be the neighbor for the people around him. That's how he could obey God's command. That's what he must do, and when he did it, he would have eternal life. Otherwise, he would not be the neighbor for the people around him; he would not be able to keep God's command, and thereby, he would not have eternal life, even if he studied the Bible a lot and grasped what the Bible was talking about; he would not be a neighbor for the people around him even if he had a great title such as Priest, Levite, or Pastor. 

This parable illustrates the mankind's condition very well. The mankind were just naively going on the road, maybe, after worshiping God in the Garden of Eden. Then, the robber, the enemy, Satan came, robbed of all our wealth, health, positions and titles, fame, and even life, and left us half dead. People have become miserable, lying on the ground, half dead. In this situation, who is the neighbor for these half dead people? Not everyone who lives around them; not everyone who attends the worship service; not everyone who has a position or title as priest, or Levite, or expert in the law; not everyone who has the title as pastor, or deacon or theologian; not everyone who knows what the Bible talks about. But those who really take care of them, pouring out and sacrificing their time, energy and money for them. Such people are the real neighbors of those perishing half dead people. We must love our neighbors. We must be their neighbors by taking care of them, pouring out our time, money and effort. This is how we can have eternal life today, here on earth, in Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus wants us to do - Feed my lambs; take care of my sheep; feed my sheep. The life of shepherding is the very way we can be the neighbors for those who are sufferingJesus says, "Go and do likewise." Then, you will live. This is what God wants us to do. 

 

Third, "Martha, Martha" (38-42). Now Jesus and his companion came to Martha's house in Bethany. Bethany was about 2 miles away from Jerusalem. So, when Jesus came to Judea for God's work, usually he stayed at Martha's house. During the final week of his life on earth, after serving God's work in Jerusalem, he went back to Bethany and stayed at Martha's house. This family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus offered Jesus a place to rest and their love and service must have brought to Jesus great comfort. Now as usual, Jesus was holding Bible study with people there, and Mary sat at Jesus' feet, giving him her undivided attention. Then, Martha came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Martha was busy to prepare a banquet for Jesus in honor of him. But it seemed that there were so many things for her to prepare - arranging the tables, spreading the table cloths, preparing food,... She was running here and there, and simply, it seemed too much for her to do all these. Then, when she found that her sister was just sitting at Jesus' feet enjoying Bible study with him, she was irritated and upset. It seemed that Mary was selfish; moreover, it seemed that Jesus was indifferent to her struggle. So, she complained to Jesus about this matter.

 

Before Jesus came, Martha was full of joy and thanks and happiness because of Jesus; she honored Jesus greatly; she wanted to treat him with great hospitality. But then, when Jesus came, she was full of bitterness and complaints; she lost all her joy and thank while she struggled to prepare food for Jesus. She was not happy at all even when Jesus was at her home and even when she was working for him. This is a strange phenomena. But this is what we all experience in our life of serving God's kingdom work. We struggle hard to do God's work, fishing experiencing rejection after rejection under the hot scorching sun, serving 12 and even 20 Bible studies a week. We do it because we are happy with Jesus; we serve Jesus. But when we see others who do not serve as hard as we do, but take a little easy, relaxing by serving just 1 or 2 students, we feel like we are the only ones that suffer. Then, we lose joy and thanks, and complain about others, and demand them to work hard as we do. Or, as we struggle hard to do God's work, it seems that missionary John only loves some people, but not me; it seems that he does not care for me, but for those people - terrible injustice. And we become bitter and complain. 

 

Martha was struggling to serve Jesus. She should have been happy and thankful. Yet, how come she was full of bitterness, complaints, and the sense of injustice in her service to Jesus? Her problem was, as she struggled to prepare food for Jesus, her focus shifted from Jesus to many things and to Mary who was not working as hard as she was. We must not underestimate the importance of Martha's role - through her hard work, the food was prepared for Jesus and his disciples. Without her hard work, nothing would have been prepared. But at the same time, our focus must be Jesus all the time. We are serving Jesus. So, we are happy to do all these things for him. We must fix our eyes on Jesus in doing all these important works of God. Hebrews 12:2 reads: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." 

 

How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 41 and 42. Let's read these verses together:

 

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things,  42   but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

 

"Martha, Martha!" Jesus wanted to draw her attention to himself, so he called her name twice. While Martha was venting out, full of bitterness and the sense of injustice, Jesus tried to draw her attention to himself, saying, "Just calm down, my child." Sometimes, in serving God's kingdom work, we too develop some bitterness and resentment, and complain a lot out of the sense of injustice. We have so many things to talk about. At that time, Jesus says, "Martha, Martha!" Just calm down! Let's put our own names here, and say, "John, John!" Turn your eyes from all terrible looking things, all things you think unjust, to Jesus and see what he has to say to you. 

 

Jesus said to her, "You are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is needed." "You are worried and upset about many things." Maybe, her complaints were valid or groundless; maybe, her sense of injustice was valid or groundless. Regardless, Jesus described what's going on with her in this way, "You are worried and upset with many things." You want Jesus to talk to you, but you never want Jesus say to you this way. What an embarrassing moment it will be if Jesus speaks to us this way. "You are worried and upset about many things." Don't give your attention to too many things or too many peopleYou don't have to worry about too many things; you don't have to judge others at all. Instead of worrying about and being upset about many things, you only need one thing. What is important is not that we prepare all kinds of dishes for Jesus, but only one thing is needed - coming to him and studying the Bible with him. Then, what about food? Only one thing is needed - one dish is enough. 

 

Jesus says, "Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her." Mary's choice was better. Having fellowship with Jesus and listening to him in prayer and in the word of God is better than worrying and being upset about many things. Jesus honored Mary’s desire for the fellowship with Him and for His word.

 

One Word:Go And Do Likewise!  

 

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