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Sunday, June 16, 2019

posted Jun 16, 2019, 2:54 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated Jun 16, 2019, 3:38 PM ]

EVEN IF HE DOES NOT,...

 

Daniel 3:1-30

Key Verse 3:18

 

But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” 

 

First, “Even if he does not,...” (1-18). Look at verses 1 and 2. King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. There, without any prior announcement, they were ordered to bow down to the image of gold the king set up at the sound of the musical instruments with a warning that whoever did not fall down and worship would immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace. Among those officials were the three friends of Daniel – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Since they were high governmental officials, they had to attend this dedication ceremony, and there, they were demanded to bow down to the image the king had set up. Such an idol worship was forbidden for them. But if they didn't do, then, they would be thrown into a furnace immediately; their already secured high government officer's job would be gone, and so would their promising future. Moreover, most likely, their family memberswould be sold as slaves, if not killed right away. They didn't want to worship the idol, but it would be too costly; literally, they would lose everything. They were put in a rock and a hard place. How did they deal with this dilemma? 

 

At the sound of musical instruments, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. There were Buddhists, but they worshiped the idol; there were Hindus, but they too bowed down to it. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn't bow down; while everyone was bowing down, they stood firm; they were the only ones who were standing there, and thereby, they stood out. To them, worshiping God was the matter of life and death; and in order to keep their purity before God, they were willing to defy the king's order and sacrifice their life. Their idea was clear: Instead of compromising, instead of throwing up their love for God so that they might enjoy their successful life or enjoy their family life a little longer, they chose to keep their pure love for God and die. Keeping their integrity before God, their purity before God was more important than all other things – their high government jobs, their promising future, even their family life. They truly loved God more than anything else. It was indeed a trial in the fire. 

 

When this was reported to the king, he was furious. No one had ever defied his order. But then, these three Jews defied his order publicly – it was unthinkable; his pride was hurt. So, he summoned them immediately. He said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” He didn't kill them immediately. Instead, he gave them one more chance with a promise that if they bowed down to the image, he would forgive them; otherwise, he would throw them into the furnace. 

 

In the book, “Pilgrim's Progress,” written by John Bunyan, at the border of the city of Destruction, Apollyon met Christian. He was hideous, and he would not let Christian leave his country. But instead of attacking him and killing him right away, he gave Christian another chance to consider his decision and go back to the city with a promise that he would give him all he wanted – wealth, health, and pleasures. He threatened, otherwise, to kill him. This is the tactic Satan uses so enthusiastically – a promise of success if they serve him, but destruction if they keep their decision to live for God. The world challenges us and threatens us with the matter of security and success in the society. We want to serve God only and keep our purity before him. But the world, or simply, our boss asks us to work with him on Sunday, and sure thing – there is a hidden threat that, otherwise, we will be fired – in that way, Satan challenges us to kneel and bow down to the idol of security, compromising our purity before God or perish. We are just happy to study the Bible, love God, and serve his purpose; then, suddenly, our professors threaten us to work harder and complete the project quickly, saying, otherwise, our position will be given to someone else. In that way, Satan challenges us to kneel and bow down to the idol of success in the society, giving up our dedication to God. But our security is not in the hands of our boss or our professors; our success or survival is not in the hands of Satan; instead, as the Bible proclaims, in God's hands are security, success and prosperity. The Bible declares, “Long life is in his right hand; in his left hand are riches and honor.” (Prov 3:16) Our boss or professors have no power to give us security or take it away from us; when they are of no use for his purpose any longer, simply God removes them from their positions and gives them to others according to his purpose. 

 

The challenge was terrifying and the offer was tempting. But what was the response of the three friends of Daniel? Look at verses 16 through 18. Let's read these verses together:

 

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

 

They were bold and cool. They said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.” They were like Jesus who did not try to defend himself, when people falsely accused him; it was because, like Jesus, they were already determined in their hearts to keep their purity before God no matter what – if they had to die and lose everything, then, let it be so; if God was going to save them from the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, let it be so for the glory of God. When their hearts were determined, they didn't need to try to defend themselves; as a result, they were bold, powerful and cool like real heroes. God is looking for this kind of people who love him with a single-hearted devotion. the Bible declares that double-minded people should not expect to receive anything good from God, because they are like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind, unstable in all they do. (James 1:7,8) Who are double-minded people? Christians without their heart’s firm determination to love God alone! The king challenged, saying, “What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” King's power seemed real and practical. But they accepted that challenge, saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.” The God they knew and believed was real, not conceptual; they knew and believed that their God was with them and could save them from the king. Their faith in God was tangible and practical. They must have experienced God in their practical life many times. 

 

But their response did not end there. They added, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” They had already surrendered their life to God completely that they just honored God's choice, God's will upon their life completely. If God's will for them was to survive this trial by his miracle, they were happy; but if God's will for them was to die in the furnace, they were willing to go that way too. They entrusted their life in God's hands. No matter what, despite any outcome, one thing was for sure – they would not compromise; they would not bow down to such a worthless idol; they were determined to love God and worship Him only; they were determined to die as God-worshipers rather than living a little longer by defiling themselves with idol worship. We can characterize their faith as the faith of “But even if he does not,...” the faith of “Nevertheless.” They would not bow down to any idol no matter what outcome there might be; they would serve God only. When they had such a heart's determination to worship God only, they were strong and powerful. Maybe, saying such words would hurt the king more, making him moreangry; maybe, because of such bold response, more harsh punishment might come. But they didn't care; they boldly proclaimed their one single-hearted love and dedication to God before the king.

 

In their life of faith, many people's spiritual condition is dependent on the situation or outcome. They are happy with God when things go well. But when things go tough, when they lose a lot, they doubt God and his love; then, in frustration, many just plunge themselves to sin. They are like a cry baby – we don't know when they will cry and thereby, we have to be ready with milk all the time. As long as they are conditional, they are weak and unreliable. They must come up with their heart’s determination that they would obey God no matter what outcome there may be. As Christians, do you want to be strong and powerful like these three friends of Daniel? Then, have your heart’s firm determination to keep your purity before God! When our hearts are determined to love God and worship him in any circumstances, then, we don't try to defend ourselves; we are not afraid of any outcome – when pains come, we swallow them; when we have to lose things, we swallow the sorrow. We rejoice not because of good things God gives us, but because of him. Such people's Christian life is stable, and they are reliable. 

 

What Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced was not something very particular for them alone, but very common for all Christians – simply, it is about kneeling down to an idol for survival, or for security or for success, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were determined that they would not bow down to such an idol, even if it meant for them to lose all security, success and even their life; they were determined not to kneel down to the idol, but to God alone. “Even if He does not,...” This expression reminds us of the prophet Habakkuk's confession of faith in God. He shouts, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,he enables me to go on the heights.” (Hk 3:17-19) Let’s not bow down to money. Instead, let’s live as children of God, keeping our integrity no matter what.

 

Second, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego” (19-30). Now the three friends of Daniel openly defied the king's order in front of everyone; Nebuchadnezzar felt really crushed; he was really furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace. Maybe, Nebuchadnezzar was still breathing out heavily in anger. But it was not the end of the story. Something amazing happened that King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” SoShadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. 

 

We are not sure whether the fourth that looked like a son of the gods in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar was God himself in a human form, or God's holy angel. Anyway, this person had a similar form of a human – with four limbs, with a head and a trunk, but he was not exactly like a human being because of his glory – maybe, his body was shining, or his eyes were like blazing fire like Jesus in glory in the book of Revelation. Usually, God did not reveal himself this way; in history, God helped many people in secret ways so that people might not see his glory or might not notice him. There might be many ways to save them; God could have let the showers of rain fall on that furnace and put out the fire so that his servants might not be burned. Or God could have stirred up the mind of the king and have him show favor on his servants. But instead, he intervened into the situation in a most dramatic and powerful way, revealing his power to the public so that all people might see what he was doing for his faithful servants. In the furnace, God untied them first. While the fire was burning inside the furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the one that looked like a son of God walked around, maybe, talking to each other, saying, “How come, these days, the furnace is not so hot any more?” Or they talked about the glorious life in heaven. It was really a glorious miracle. Through this, God testified publicly about who these three men were – no ordinary humans, but God's precious and loyal servants. In this way, God exalted them highly. As they honored God with their life, God wanted them to receive honor and respect from all the people there including the king Nebuchadnezzar.  

 

When we live before God, keeping our integrity before him, even at the cost of sacrificing so much, even all we have – our future, our marriage dream, our self-esteem,... God accepts our heart's dedication as pleasing aroma, something beautiful to him; God honors those who honor him by revealing his glory powerfully in and through them, and for them. As a result, those who seek God wholeheartedly above all other things come to experience glorious things; such people's Christian life is full of adventures, very exciting and glorious. God becomes their God, and people come to recognize them as God's servants.

 

Look at verse 28. Let's read this verse together:

 

28Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 

He praised the God of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego for sending his angel and rescuing them. He also recognized why these three had defied his order even at the risk of their own life – they were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God – they were loyal and faithful servants to their God. So, Nebuchadnezzar didn't make an issue of it any longer. Instead, he promoted them in the province of Babylon because they were trustworthy. It is not easy to be recognized as God's servants by unbelieving people, especially proud and hostile people like the king Nebuchadnezzar. But through their absolute dedication to God, through their absolute decision not to bow down to worthless idols, even willing to risk their life for God, they testified to the unbelieving, hostile and threatening king about their God. 

 

He came to honor God also, issuing a decree that if anyone said anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that person would be cut into pieces, and his house be turned into piles of rubble. Because of their struggle, this unbelieving king came to see the glory of God, and recognize Him as the only true God. This is how the name of God comes to be known to the unbelieving people. Because we stand firm in God – in the matter of keeping the Sunday worship service absolutely, or attending the Friday meeting absolutely, we go through some troubles with our family members and conflicts rise in the family. But through such struggles and conflicts, by seeing how absolutely we hold onto things of God, they come to recognize God and learn to honor and respect God. One brother kept the Sunday worship service absolutely, even refusing to go to his brother's wedding ceremony; it was a big issue; all his family members called him and tried to persuade him, but he refused to go. Then, later, all his family members came to recognize him as God's servant; his mother calls him a real Christian, and if there is Bible study appointment, she says, “I am sorry. Go and teach the Bible. I will call you later.” God's name is being testified to the people in the world through our absolute attitude toward him.

 

Today, in our life of faith, we face the same kind of challenges as Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego had – the world demands us to bow down to the idol of security, survival, and success, threatening us that, otherwise, we will lose all the privileges and opportunities in the world. Surely, the world is not a resting place for Christians, but a battle ground, and such challenges often are scary and not easy. But when we stand firm in God with our heart's complete determination, saying, “Our God is able to save us from all these challenges; but even if he does not, I will not bow down to such worthless idols,” God accepts our heart's love for him and reveals his glory to the world through us. May God grant us victory over the challenges of this world. May God establish many single-hearted men and women of God for God's glory on our campuses.

 

One Word:More Than Conquerors Through Him Who Gives Us Strength!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

posted Jun 9, 2019, 3:24 PM by Site Administrator

 

THE KINGDOM THAT WILL NEVER BE DESTROYED

 

Daniel 2:1-48

Key Verse 2:44

 

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

 

First, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever” (1-23). Look at verse 1. In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So, early in the morning, the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed and interpret it. At this, they asked the king to tell them the dream so that they could interpret it. But the king was firmly determined that he would not tell them the dream. Because, if he told them the dream, then, they would come up with somewhat good sounding or logical sounding interpretation, but that’s not what he wanted. He wanted the real thing – the true message his dream had. His point was: If anyone could tell him the dream, he could see clearly that his interpretation was true. He was wise. At this, they said, “There is not a man on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer. What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among men.” At this, the king was so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death. 

 

Daniel was a promising and bright young man in the empire. But in one day, he was going to be executed, without knowing the reason. Surely, life in the world, life among many beast-like people in the world was like walking on the thin layer of ice that was already cracking. The people in the world are not reliable; one day, they are very friendly, but the next day, they are savage. We cannot and must not rely on their goodness or favor; one day, your boss seems loving you, but the next day, you are fired. In this very dangerous and savage world, only our God is reliable; when we rely on God, even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can be confident and we are not afraid of any evil or harm; when we put our trust in God, we will not be put to shame. 

 

Daniel on the way to execution, asked Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, who was in charge of this execution of all the wise men in Babylon, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. Look at verse 16. At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him. In the eyes of all others, it was an impossible matter. Yet, how come Daniel asked the king for time so that he might interpret it? It was because in his eyes, it seemed possible. How come? It was because he had been in the relationship with God. His idea was so simple: If God shows me the dream and gives me its interpretation, then I will know. While things were going on well, there was no difference between worldly wise people and servants of God. It seemed that those brilliant and intellectual people had more knowledge and wisdom; maybe, they bragged about their knowledge, certificate and achievements; maybe, even they despised Daniel and his friends for being so exclusive. But when things went beyond their ability, when a real challenge came up, there was nothing these worldly wisemen could do; they were completely hopeless and helpless. At that time, Daniel who knew his God, who had been in the relationship with God rose. Surely, those who love God, those who are in the fellowship with God, are the hope for the whole world. Real solutions come from them. In that impossible situation, Daniel boldly asked the king for time so that he would pray for it and get the interpretation for him. 

 

Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. He was a servant of God, having faith in God's power. But he was not overly confident about himself. Instead, he humbly asked his friends for their prayer support; he asked them to fight together with him for this challenge through prayer. One person's prayer is good. Two person's joint prayer is better; and multitude of people praying in one mind is best. Now, it was their desperate struggle of prayer, for their own life was at stake. Then, during that night, the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. God showed him the dream Nebuchadnezzar had had, and gave him its interpretation. How happy Daniel was. His prayer was answered and the mystery was revealed to him. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. Let's read Daniel's praise to God together, verses 20 through 23:

 

20and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. 21He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. 22He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. 23I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.” 

 

Through this experience with God, Daniel came to know God as the Sovereign God who changes times and seasons at his will, who sets up kings and deposes them according to his purpose. The dream God had given the king Nebuchadnezzar, which God had revealed to Daniel showed God's sovereignty over the human history – God is the real deciding factor in human history; he is the one who controls and guides it. When Daniel realized this, he also could see God's great wisdom and power. He shouted, “Wisdom and power are his. Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever.” 

 

Second, “The kingdom that will never be destroyed” (24-49). Then, Daniel went to Arioch and said to him not to execute the wise men of Babylon. Then, Arioch took Daniel to the king at once. The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), “Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?” Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:” The dream Nebuchadnezzar had was about a statue. In his dream, he saw a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While he was watching, wondering about it, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. 

 

Now Daniel gave the king its interpretation. As Daniel testified, it was the dream God gave Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon to show him what's going to happen in the future, how human history would go. From the time of the Babylonian Empire, especially, during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, there will be five kingdoms in history. The head of pure gold was the Babylonian Empire under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel said to the king, “You are that head of gold.” But Daniel just did not make the king proud; instead, he declared the sovereign rule of the God of Israel, saying, “The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all.” Nebuchadnezzar thought that he was the sovereign ruler; or he might think that with his military strength and power, he had built that vast empire. But that's not the case. God, for his own will and purpose, granted him such power and glory. It was dangerous for anyone to proclaim God to the king. But Daniel, so inspired by the dream and its interpretation, was determined to reveal God to the king. 

 

After the Babylonian Empire, another kingdom would rise, inferior to the Babylonian Empire – the Medes and Persian Empire was the breast and arms of silver of the statue. Next, a third kingdom – the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great was the belly and thighs of bronze of the statue. Finally, there would be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it would crush and break all the others. This most powerful kingdom of iron was the Roman Empire. It was the Roman law that once the Roman army laid a siege against any city, they had to destroy the city and all its people completely; literally, like iron, they crushed any opponent. After the Roman Empire, another kingdom would come – the feet and toes that were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this would be a divided kingdom. As there are ten toes for the foot, this kingdom will be made of many countries, and some of them will have the strength of iron – powerful and rich countries, but some of them will be poor and weak like baked clay. This fifth kingdom's main struggle will be the unification of its kingdom so that they can be one nation like the USA, but they will not be able to be united. Daniel says in verse 43, “And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” Most Bible scholars agree that this last kingdom is the European Union. In the hope of restoring the power and glory of the Roman Empire, the European countries started the European Union. So far, 28 countries are members of this union. At first, it seemed that things were going okay – politically and economically. Then, after 11 years' experiment with monetary union (January 1st 1999 was the beginning of using Euro), in 2010 suddenly an economic challenge rose as Greece had a serious debt problem and considered default; then, Spain had the same problem, then, Portugal, then, Hungary. Since then, the European Union has been shaken greatly with many problems – political conflict, rise of nationalism in many countries, Brexit, refugee problem,… They struggle hard to somehow maintain unity in the European Union, but, if the EU is the last kingdom Daniel talks about, it will remain divided this way.  

 

Since the Babylonian Empire, 2600 years have passed, and so many things have happened – many inventions, Renaissance, civilization, industrial revolution, and now technological revolution. Many people have laughed and wept for many reasons. But God's view of human history is very simple – five kingdoms. All people's struggles have been for these kingdoms; the whole human history is about these five kingdoms – but sadly, four of them are gone already, and the fifth will be gone too. This is human history – all people struggle hard to establish kingdoms they want; some of them are successful while others fail, then, all these kingdoms will be gone leaving no trace, making all people's struggle in vain. When we check out the statue, we see that, as time passes by, its strength increases – from gold, soft material to iron. As history proceeds, mankind has developed more technology and built more strength and power to destroy. But at the same time, we see that its quality deteriorates from gold to iron, and even to baked clay. This is allegorical. As people struggle to build their kingdoms, as new technology and new ideas are invented, or as more civilization occurs, humanity deteriorates continually. Even a British scientist suggested the survival of the fittest like in the jungle, and amazingly the whole world welcomed his idea, considering his theory as truth, not as theory. Especially, nowadays, life is hard in this dog-eat-dog world. It seems that people cannot help but crush others to the wall so that they can survive and succeed. It is really brutal like iron that crushes everything to pieces. Now children as they grow up in this era of technological revolution, have no chance to develop their character; just they sit in front of computer monitors or TVs, playing video games or watching youtube videos. As a result, more people become mentally unstable and come to have psychological problems only to make psychiatrists and psychologists richer and richer. And many weird and bizarre crimes occur. It seems that mankind becomes worse and worse, and the society more brittle than before. Isn't there any hope? Yes, there is. Look at verse 44. Let's read this verse together:

 

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 

While mankind struggles to build their own kingdoms, God also builds one kingdom. While human history continues, God starts the history of His kingdom. This kingdom God establishes is unique and different from all other kingdoms. This kingdom is described as a rock, cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands. All other kingdoms are built by human hands, by killing and destroying others with military power; it's very bloody, violent, sad and horrifying. But the kingdom God established was not by human hands. This kingdom refers to God's kingdom Jesus Christ established through his death and resurrection. During his time on earth, his disciples and all other followers wanted him to establish a messianic kingdom by human hands, by proclaiming the beginning of the Messianic kingdom in Jerusalem, gathering and mobilizing people and destroying the Roman Empire. His disciples kept insisting this idea. But Jesus refused to use the sword. Instead, he obeyed God's will by dying on the cross for the sin of the world. Thus, he made a way for sinners to be forgiven and become children of God. The gathering of these forgiven people was the kingdom of God, in which they acknowledged God as their king and obeyed His laws and regulations. Near the end of his life, the exiled Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821, France) wrote: “I know men, and I tell you Jesus Christ was not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him. In every other existence but that of Christ how many imperfections!” Now we are brought into this kingdom and God's kingdom advances through us, but not by human hands, but by our absolute obedience and trust in God. 

 

Another characteristic of this kingdom God built through Jesus' death and resurrection is that it will never be destroyed. There is one thing that is true – all kingdoms that rise wane – that's what human history is about – kingdoms rose and waned. The Babylonian Empire was great, but it only lasted for about 70 years. The Roman Empire was strong like iron, but it also was gone. One time, England was known as the Empire whose sun did not set, but that story was of long ago, and the United Kingdom is not bright at all. When communism in Russia, the former USSR, officially ended with the election of Boris Yeltsin in 1996, Russians lost power in the world, and the USA became the only superpower nation in the world; yet, at that time, pastor Ron Ward prophesied that this could change in less than 10 years. Now America and China – G2 are in trade war. We don’t know what the eventual outcome will be. Nonetheless, one thing for sure as the history proves, is that eventually both countries will be gone too. That's what human history is about – kingdoms rise and wane. But the Kingdom of God Jesus established through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead will not be destroyed; there will be no end, and it will not be left to another people. How come? It’s because, as Napoleon Bonaparte said, this kingdom is perfect: Its foundation is perfect; its method is perfect; its power is perfect; its laws and regulations are perfect. 

 

This kingdom will never be destroyed. It does not mean that it just stays as it is; such a kingdom that remains the same cannot survive. The fact that this kingdom will never be destroyed shows that this kingdom increases in power and prosperity continually above all challenges and difficulties. 2000 years ago, it was in the hearts of small number of people in Calvary in Israel; it was a very tiny kingdom; but it did not stat as a small kingdom. Instead, since then, it grew in number and prosperity continually; first in the lives of 120 disciples in the upper room of Mark, then, in the lives of 3,000 disciples in the Jerusalem church, then throughout all Judea, Samaria, and then, throughout Asia Minor, then, Europe, and then, now even to the ends of the earth. The kingdom increases really powerfully. This kingdom increases continually becoming more and more prosperous until it gains all the glory and wealth of the whole world. This is the characteristic of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is in you does not remain as it is, but it grows and increases continually. The kingdom of God Jesus started here among us will increase continually until it covers the whole state California, establishing 50 churches; and it will increase continually until it covers the whole world. The apostle Paul says, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1Cor 15:58)

 

Then, what about all other kingdoms humans have built? In the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the rock, cut out of a mountain, struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. In interpretation, Daniel said, “The rock will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” The kingdom God established through Jesus' death and resurrection and the kingdoms humans have built are against each other. Wherever the kingdom of God reaches, there will be a conflict – it is like two different kingdoms collide. Jesus says in Matthew 10, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. 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.” (Mt 10:34-37) This kind of conflict is inevitable, and God's kingdom advances powerfully in such conflicts through those who love Jesus more than their parents, their children and more than anyone and anything in the world. Through this, the value system and cultures of the human kingdoms are destroyed, and godly value system and godly cultures are established, and thus, God's kingdom advances. In this way, God kingdom will crush all man-made kingdoms and bring them to an end, and God's kingdom itself will cover the whole earth, thus completing God's redemption work. This is the whole direction of world history. 

 

As a conclusion, Daniel said to the king, “This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.” What a great mystery Daniel showed the king! What a bold statement it was – “The Great God has shown the king what will take place in the future.” Daniel had God's revelation; he had God's message in his heart, so he was super powerful and super bold; when he had the message of God in his heart, he was invincible and nothing could stop him from proclaiming the glory of God. 

 

At this, how did the king respond? Look at verses 46 and 47. Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” It was impossible to even imagine that the king Nebuchadnezzar would fall prostrate before Daniel, a young man, maybe, at the age of about 20. But when Daniel had God's message, he was not an ordinary human being, but a servant of God, even above the king Nebuchadnezzar. After paying Daniel honor, the king ordered that an offering and incense be presented to Daniel. Surely, it was not toward just a human being but a servant of God. Through his dream and Daniel's message, the king came to acknowledge the God of Israel as the true God and respected Him greatly. So, he respected God's servant Daniel greatly. Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.

 

Today, we studied the whole human history – it is just a statue that will eventually crumble down and be gone leaving no trace – there is no hope or value or future in this ever sinking ship. We also studied about the history of God's kingdom Jesus established through his death on the cross and resurrection. While the kingdoms of the world come and go, God's kingdom increases continually, and it will bring to an end to all human kingdoms. This is the kingdom we belong to, and this is the kingdom we live for and die for.  

 

One Word:The God OF Heaven Set Up A Kingdom That Will Never Be Destroyed.

 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

posted Jun 2, 2019, 4:02 PM by Site Administrator

DANIEL RESOLVED NOT TO DEFILE HIMSELF

 

Daniel 1:1-21 

Key Verse 1:8

 

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

 

We thank God for granting us this chance to study the book of Daniel. Daniel lived in a very tumultuous generation - super power nations - Egypt and Assyria were crumbling down, Babylon was rising, his own country was about to be destroyed, and he himself was a captive in a foreign land. It was very confusing, and at the same time, it was very dangerous. The key theme of the book of Daniel is that while, on the surface of human history, kingdoms rise and wane, the history of the kingdom God establishes, the kingdom of God Jesus established through his death on the cross and resurrection, continues on quietly and steadily like the deep current of the fluctuating oceans - it never stops, but ever grows and increases until it covers the whole world - this is the kingdom that will never end. Daniel's life resembles this ever steady and ever increasing kingdom the book itself is talking about. While the world politics was fluctuating, while kingdoms came and were gone, Daniel remained the same serving so many kings and empires - 7 kings of Babylon, Darius of the Medes, and Cyrus of Persia, as a high ranking government officer. It was because he was serving God. Through studying the book of Daniel, let's pray that we may come to have the sense of history of this everlasting kingdom as its citizens; also, let's pray that we may learn from Daniel of his life of faith so that we too, can live as influential and reliable people of God in this very rapid changing and fluctuating world. 

 

First, “The Lord delivered Jehoiakim into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar” (1-2). Look at verses 1 and 2. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. "In the third year of Jehoiakim king of Judah" was 605 B.C. In 612 B.C., the Babylonians conquered Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire, but the Assyrian empire, with the help of the Egyptian empire, settled in Haran, modern day Syria; of course, if the Assyrian Empire was destroyed, then, the balance of power in the Palestine would be gone, so the Egyptian Empire supported the Assyrian Empire. Since then, there was war between the Babylonian Empire and the Assyrian Empire in Haran. The Egyptian army under their Pharaoh Neco, was on their way to Haran to join in this battle. They asked Josiah, king of Judah for permission to pass through the territory of Judah, but he rejected it; instead, he marched against them and fought in the plain of Meggido, and Josiah was killed (609 BC). People buried him and appointed Johoahaz, son of Josiah king and he reigned three months. Three months later, Neco Pharaoh of Egypt put him in chains in the land of Hamath, imposed on Judah a levy of 100 talent of silver and one talent of gold. Pharaoh took Eliakim son of Josiah king and changed his name to Jehoiakim, and carried off Jehoahaz to Egypt, and there he died. In 605 B.C., the two Empires had the final battle near Carchemish in Haran, on the banks of the Euphrates, and the Babylonians under the leadership of their crown prince Nebuchadnezzar, defeated them; thus, the Assyrian Empire was gone forever, and Neco was also defeated; at this battle, the Babylonians killed all the Egyptian soldiers that not even one soldier escaped to his own country. Since then the Egyptian Empire never came out of its territory again, losing its influence in the Palestine area. 

 

The same year, Nebuchadnezzar was enthroned, and in that ascension year, he marched out against the Palestine area - that was "the third year" of Jehoiakim king of Judah. At that time, Jehoiakim surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar and became his vassal, and Nebuchadnezzar took some of the people of Judah to Babylon - it was the first deportation (605 BC), and among them was Daniel. Jehoiakim remained faithful to Nebuchadnezzar for three years. In 601 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar mustered his troop and marched to Egypt, and there, both armies suffered losses. When Jehoiakim heard this, he changed his mind and rebelled against the Babylonian Empire, despite Jeremiah’s warning. Then, Nebuchadnezzar and his army came to Jerusalem and besieged it, and the people of Judah fought against them. Around the end of 598 B. C., Jehoiakim died, and his son Jehoiachin succeeded him as king and reigned for three months and ten days. In 597 B.C., the city fell in the hands of the Babylonians. The Babylonians removed all the treasures from the Jerusalem temple and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles of the temple. Jehoiachin was taken to Babylon, together with many other officers and leading men, fighting men, strong and fit for war, and craftsmen and artisans - among them was Ezekiel. That was the second deportation. And Nebuchadnezzar made MattaniahJehoachin's uncle king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah (2Ki 24). 8 years later, at Zedekiah's rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. The city was kept under siege, and in 586 B.C., the city was captured, and the Babylonians destroyed the Jerusalem walls, the temple, killed many, and took most of people to Babylon - that was the third deportation. Thus, the first temple period was over, and the monarchy in Israel ended. That was the beginning of the exile in Babylon, which lasted for 70 years until the temple was rebuilt in 516 B.C. as Jeremiah, the prophet, had prophesied. 

 

It was God's temple; it was God's people. Then, why did such a tragedy happen to Judah, God's chosen people? Why should God's temple be desecrated by the Gentiles like this? It was not because of their failure in politics that instead of allying with the Babylonians, they allied with the Egyptians. Daniel 1:2 shows that it was God who delivered Jehoiakim into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. Why then, did God let his own people, his own temple be destroyed? 

 

God said to Jeremiah the prophet, "When you tell these people all this and they ask you, 'Why has the LORD decreed such a great disaster against us? What wrong have we done? What sin have we committed against the LORD our God?' 11then say to them, 'It is because your fathers forsook me,' declares the LORD, 'and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They forsook me and did not keep my law. 12But you have behaved more wickedly than your fathers. See how each of you is following the stubbornness of his evil heart instead of obeying me. 13So I will throw you out of this land into a land neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.' (Jer 16:10-13) Their sin was "following the stubbornness of his evil heart instead of obeying God.How easy it is to go by our own desires and plans, instead of carefully obeying God’s commands! That’s what the people of Judah did, while calling God, “the Lord our God.” As God-believing people, when they did so, they felt guilty, but they kept on doing it. That was the stubbornness of following their evil heart instead of obeying God. What is important in our Christian life is to live the life of keeping God’s commands. Jesus says that those who have God’s commands and obey them are those who love him. We must not just do some Christian things; we must not just offer a lip service to God, saying, “I love the Lord,” or “I believe in Jesus.” We must not insist our own desires and plans. Instead, we must obey God, denying our own dreams and desires, and doing what God wants us to do. That’s the real Christian life.

 

God also points out another reason in Jeremiah 17:19-27God had Jeremiah stand at the gates of Jerusalem and deliver a message. Jeremiah shouted, "This is what LORD says: Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers.... 27But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses.'" It is very interesting that God specifically points out that because they had not kept the Sabbath day holy, he would bring such disasters on them. God is not legalistic or religious. But then, why? This was just one example showing what kind of attitude they had toward God - so casual ignoring God's words in their convenience. They ignored God's commands and took them casually in their convenience; they didn't show any reverence to God. When they did so, they thought that they would make more money, but they didn't know that once they didn't keep the Sabbath day holy, they would be destroyed. We live in the Post-Modern Era; people deny anything absolute, but take everything relatively - no absolute truth, but whatever you feel right, it is right. In this environment, even Christians take relativistic attitude toward God, and one symptom is their relativistic attitude in keeping Sunday worship service. To many people, their family gathering is above God's Sabbath law - so they conveniently arrange their time of worship around their family gathering; to many others, their trip schedule is more important than keeping the Sabbath holy; even churches have worship service on Saturdays or early morning Sunday so that people can go to golf after quick worship service. Even many people these days refuse to come to church for worship service, saying that they have worship service online. But we must heed God's warning here; Sunday worship service is our life line; if anyone does not keep the Sunday worship service, he dies. 

 

In Jeremiah 2:20-23, God shows us why they wanted idols than God. "Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, 'I will not serve you!" Fundamentally, they considered God's laws and regulations, their duties and due respects to God such as the Sabbath laws and offerings as something burdensome like a yoke. At this message, some of them protested, saying, "I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals." Because they never openly said, "I deny God," or because they never said, "I am a Baal worshiper," they thought that they had not denied God. But God said to them, "See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there." Their practical life showed that they were looking for satisfaction and happiness in something else than God. Their practical life, what they did in their day to day life spoke more loudly than their motion of worship or empty words of faith. Because of these sins, God was going to destroy Judah.

 

They say that history repeats; what happens today has already happened before. It is because people do not learn a lesson from history. We must learn a lesson from the failure of Judah so that such a tragic thing may not happen to us. Don’t follow the stubbornness of your evil heart; instead, live the life of keeping God’s commands, being careful to do what God wants you to do. Keep the Sunday worship service holy. Don’t consider such duties and responsibilities you have as God’s people as a burden; instead, do all those things out of thanks and love for God.  

 

Second, "Daniel resolved not to defile himself" (3-21).Look at verses 3 through 5. 3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service. As a politician, Nebuchadnezzar was very wise. He had a vast empire to rule and the ruling strategy he took was appeasement, giving the conquered people a chance to work for the empire and be successful. He had many young, smart, talented, and even handsome people from Israel be enrolled in the best national university with the full scholarship from the government and let them learn the language and literature of the Babylonians, and serve the empire. He would rule the empire through them. When their own people ruled them, people would feel more comfortable and not show too much hatred against the Empire. Moreover, young men from many different countries under the Babylonian Empire would strive to be successful in Babylon - simply, they would become Babylonians. Now, these young men were given such a great chance for success in the super power nation. After three years' curriculum, they would enter the king's service, working at the White House. It seemed that their future was now really promising in the land of captivity. 

 

Among them were some people from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah, Shadrach, to Mishael, Meshach, and to Azariah, Abednego. The name, "Daniel," means, "God is my judge," but the new name "Belteshazzar," means "Bel, "another name for the major Babylonian god Merodach," protects the king." It was terrible for Daniel to lose his godly name and was given such a disgusting idolatrous name involuntarily. The name, "Hananiah" means, "gift of God," but the name "Shadrach," means, "servant of Sin," a Babylonian god. The name, "Mishael" means, "Who is equal to God?", but the new name, "Meshach" means, "Who is like Aku, a Babylonian Moon god?" Azariah means "Yahweh has helped," but the new name, "Abednego," means, "servant of Nebo, a Babylonian god." These four young men were zealous for God, but they were given such disgusting idol-related names; it was great disgrace; it was really painful. But as captives in a foreign land, there was nothing they could do. They had to swallow the sense of humiliation. Now, as this name change showed, the intention of the government was clear: they didn't just want to give these young talented Israelites a chance for success in the Babylonian Empire. Instead, the government intended to destroy their national identity as God's chosen people and make them Babylonians. Babylon was like a melting pot, in which all kinds of people lost their identity, but just struggled to survive and secure their life. It seemed that these Jewish young people had no other choice but to become Babylonians losing their identity as God's chosen people, because they were helpless captives in a foreign land and because they had to survive first. Yet, Daniel came up with his heart’s resolution. Look at verse 8. Let's read this verse together: 

 

8But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.

 

The royal food was offered to their god, Merodach first, for the protection and blessing of the royal family, and then, was given to them. Such food that was sacrificed to the idol was defiled, and thereby, was not proper for any God-believing people to eat. “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.” Already, his country was destroyed; his name was changed into such a disgusting name; he could not keep the Sabbath day holy; he could not bring sacrifices to God; he could not keep the laws in a foreign land; it seemed that the survival was the most important thing in that foreign land. Yet, what did it mean for him not to defile himself? The expression “not to defile himself” came in regard to his relationship with God. Even when he had lost everything, even when he could not keep the Sabbath or other laws, even when there was no place for worship, he still wanted to keep his identity as a God-worshiper; he wanted to keep his purity before God. In that way, when the challenges of the world came to him like the tsunami of worldly success and temptation, he was determined not to be swept away by it, but to remain as a God-worshiper. Out of this desire, what did he do? Did he scream at the king, saying, “I serve God alone, not you”? Or did he refuse to go to the palace saying that it was an evil place? Or did he try to evangelize the Babylonian Empire, saying that they must keep the laws? Or did he fast 40 days? Or did he memorize the five books of Moses so that whenever people talked to him, he would respond with Bible verses? No. He didn’t do such things. Instead, he decided not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. Basically, it was a small decision that instead of eating the gourmet food, he would eat vegetables and drink water. But it was his whole hearted struggle to not be blown away by the challenges and temptations of the world, but to remain as a God-worshiper. 

 

Daniel lived during a very difficult and tumultuous time; the world history was fluctuating. He too could have melted in Babylon like so many others. But he fought all challenges and difficulties with this small decision – not to defile himself with food. It was a small decision; just he would be a vegetarian. But when he kept this one thing absolutely, this one small decision enabled him to overcome all challenges and temptations in Babylon and to remain as a worshiper of God. Moreover, God saw his sincerity and accepted his decision and established him as a very useful, effective and inspirational leader for his purpose. Surely, with this small decision, he overcame the world and grew up as a spiritual giant. 

 

In AD 70, Jerusalem was destroyed and all the Israel people were scattered throughout the surface of the earth - they were even not allowed to visit Jerusalem for the next 300 years. And wherever they went, they were persecuted by everyone. But still, they remained as the Jews - one people. All other nations were gone long ago, without leaving any trace - Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans,... But the Jews have remained as the Jews. So, people asked the Jews for their secret of survival. Then, a Jewish Rabbi said, "When we kept the Sabbath absolutely, the Sabbath kept us." Keeping the Sabbath was their life line, and as they held on to it absolutely wherever they were, they could keep their identity as the Jews.

 

America is known as a Christian country; but many pastors already say that America is not a Christian country any longer; the general environment in the society is not spiritual at all; as a result, at school, people cannot talk about the creation, but everyone, even Christians must study hard the evolution theory as truth, memorize all the terms and expressions and its logic to gain good grades - it is real disgrace for all the believers. At school, students are taught homo sexuality as an alternative lifestyle, and talking against it is prohibited. The whole society promotes and suggests that luxury and pleasures are the most important thing in life. All the students pursue such things. At work, during lunch, everyone is talking about their career matter, better jobs, relationships and happy family dream. Then, after establishing their career successfully, they talk about retirement plan, investment, and travelling. They do important sports games during Sundays, and people are demanded to work on Sundays. Moreover, Satan works hard to catch young people with lust and immorality through internet. Surely, the enemy works hard to destroy our identity as God-worshipers. As Christians are not aware of all these challenges and attacks from the enemy, they come to lose their identity as believers of God slowly and steadily, and later, in their life, we cannot smell the fragrance of Christ at all. They live their lives just like all other people in the world do, and there is no difference, except they go to church once a week, or they sometimes, say that they believe in Jesus. Indeed, America is a melting pot. 

 

In this situation, how can we keep our identity as God-worshipers? How can we keep the purity of our faith before God? Daniel's resolution is a good example for us to follow. Maybe, there are not that many things we can do - we cannot tell all the companies to take Sundays off, or all the sports teams not to have sports games on Sundays; we cannot change the school system and laws so that students can only study the creation of God; surely, what we can do is limited in the given situation. But we can make our heart's own personal resolution to keep ourselves pure before God; we can make a small decision before God. One young man resolved not to lazily surf on the web - in that way, he wants to live a pious life before God. One sister cut her hair short with a decision that she would not live as a girl looking for boys, but as a shepherdess for God’s flock. A shepherd, as his work load increased, made a decision to eat daily bread first in the morning. Another shepherd made a decision to eat lunch quickly and then read the Bible instead of chitchatting with his coworkers about retirement plan, investment and travelingLet’s pray that we all may show our true integrity as people of God and overcome the world.

 

Daniel’s decision was small, but when he had absoluteness toward it, it became a big matter. Now he had to tell the chief official about his decision. The chief official received this direction from the king directly; he was really a high rankingofficial with authority. And the food was given to them by the king - it was great privilege. So, everyone should have accepted it with thanks. But now Daniel had to explain to the chief official that the food was defiled, and that he didn't want to defile himself with that food. Simply, Daniel told the chief official that the food the king gave him was not acceptable and that he didn't want to eat it; it was really a dangerous challenge. The chief official might say to him in anger, "How dare you,...?" and kill him. What about his promising future? Maybe, because of this challenge, Daniel might lose all the privileges and be kicked out of the palace. The risk was too high. But still Daniel asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself with the royal food. It was a small decision, but when he made it before God, now it was the matter of life and death - even if he would lose everything, his promising future, and even his life, he would keep it. At this, God intervened into the situation, and caused the chief official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel. What kind of favor and sympathy did the chief official show him? The chief official did not get mad at Daniel, but had pity on him, saying, "You suffer too much in this foreign land." But still, he rejected his request, because he was afraid that if the king found this, he might lose his life. Not killing him, not getting angry at him, and graciously rejecting his request – that was his favor upon Daniel. We can see how great the danger was for Daniel to ask the chief official not to defile himself with the royal food.

 

But Daniel still didn't give up. He then, asked the guard whom the chief official had appointed over him and his three friends to give them only vegetables and water for ten days and compare them with those who ate the royal food. Again, God intervened and the guard accepted this challenge. For ten days, Daniel and his three friends ate vegetables and water, while all other people ate the royal food and drank wine. At the end of ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. 

 

Look at verse 17. Let's read this verse together:

 

17To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

 

As they struggled to keep the purity of their faith before God, God also helped them with knowledge and understanding. Simply, God made them very brilliant and smart; as a result, during the three years' curriculum, they got all A's, and acquired PhDs in Babylonian literature and Politics. This is how we can become successful in the world. As we serve God wholeheartedly, and as we struggle to keep the purity of our faith before God, God makes us more wise and insightful than our teachers that we come to understand the school subjects better than our professors. Because of God's help, we come to graduate with good grades and acquire degrees. Glory be to God! 

 

Then, after three years' curriculum was over, the time for interview with the king had come. The chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. They were chosen to work at the White house, while others were to work at local offices. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom. And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus. 

 

When we make our heart's resolution not to defile ourselves with things of this world, when we mean it, God accepts our resolution and blesses us. 2Chronicles 16:9 proclaims, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." When he finds such people whose hearts are fully committed to him, he is happy andhelps them and strengthens them so that they can live according to their heart's resolution. May God bless us to come up with a heart’s sincere resolution to live before him and not to defile ourselves with the things of this world. 

 

One Word:Daniel Resolved Not To Defile Himself 

 

 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

posted May 26, 2019, 2:29 PM by Site Administrator

JESUS, KING OF TRUTH

 

John 18:1-40

Key Verse 18:37

 

You are a king, then! said Pilate. Jesus answered, You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

 

First, I am he (1-27). Look at verse 1. After his high priestly prayer, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley and came to the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. There was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Probably, this was the placed called Gethsemane, which was located on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives; there Jesus prayed, saying, Abba Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. (Mk 14:36) He had a fierce battle in prayer so that he would obey God’s will. Through this prayer struggle at Gethsemane, all hints of hesitation were removed from his heart and he was completely determined to obey God’s will through his death on the cross. Then, he said to the disciples, Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer! (Mk 14:42) Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Here, a detachment of soldiers refers to a band of Roman soldiers, hired by the religious leaders; Mark's gospel 14in KJV describes the situation saying, a great multitude with swords and staves. So, a detachment of soldiers did not mean 20 or 30 soldiers, but several hundred soldiers, showing that the religious leaders were really determined to arrest Jesus and killhim; they didn’t want to have any mistake in this matter.

 

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, Who is it you want? Jesus of Nazareth,they replied. I am he, Jesus said. At this, they drew back and fell to the ground. This showed that all these people, soldiers and officials, were actually fearful when they were to arrest Jesus. They knew that Jesus was a great man of God; they knew all the miracles Jesus had performed - the power of God was working in and through him; they even thought about the possibility that he might be the one whom he claimed to be - the Son of God. They came to arrest Jesus according to the order they received, but they were all afraid to lay their hands on him. Then, when Jesus said to them, I am he, they were all frightened, drew back and fell to the ground. 

 

Look at verses 7 and 8. Again he asked them, Who is it you want? Still on the ground, with a shaky voice, they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Then, Jesus said, I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go. The author John knew why Jesus did so. He says, This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: I have not lost one of those you gave me. Even when he was going to be arrested and killed, Jesus protected his disciples. Surely, Jesus was not a victim, but he was in control and proceeded things one by one so that God’s will would be fulfilled. Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Peter loved Jesus and out of loyalty to him, he wanted to protect him. The whole situation could have turned bloody. But before the soldiers took any action, Jesus quickly intervened into the situation, saying to Peter, Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?

 

Jesus here describes his obedience to God’s will as drinking the cup the Father has given him. Loving God with a lip service is cheap, and God does not accept it. But loving God by obeying his command is difficult and often painful; it requires a lot of self-denial and cross-taking. The cup God gave Jesus to drink was filled with pains and sorrows – he would suffer and be mistreated and humiliated; but he was determined to drink the cup of sorrows and pains by obeying God’s will upon him. At that time, he remained strong. This was the Son’s attitude toward his Father; no matter what direction the Father gave him, the Son would obey it, even if it was hard and costly. How cute and lovely the Son must have been to the Father; surely, he was an obedient son. On the contrary, Peter’s way of loving Jesus was to use the sword and fight for him physically. At first, he looked bold and loyal to Jesus. But he only caused more troubles and dangers. Instead of peace and joy, he brought more concern and anxiety to Jesus. That’s not God’s way; that’s not what Jesus wanted Peter to do. In order to follow Jesus, Peter had to learn to drink the cup. Often, we feel like using the sword by arguing with people logically proving that we are right, or sometimes, venting our anger on them. But Jesus says in Matthew 26, All who draw the sword will die by the sword. We must remember that drinking the cup is God’s way, and when we take God’s way, we are true winners even if we lose everything.

 

In verses 12 through 27, the apostle John shows the differences between Jesus and Simon Peter in dealing with challenges. Jesus was brought to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest that year. He had been the high priest for years, and now his son-in-law succeeded him as the high priest. That’s why Annas was still called, “the high priest” in the passage. When Annas asked him about his disciples and his teaching, Jesus said, “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” Jesus had nothing to hide, because he served God’s work; so he preached God’s words freely, openly and publicly – that’s how he served God’s work.At Jesus’ answer, Annas was shocked and puzzled. Jesus was too powerful for him to deal with, so he sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest. 

 

On the contrary, when Peter was challenged about his love for Jesus, he failed miserably, disowning Jesus three times even before a slave girl. The top disciple Simon Peter disowning Jesus three times before the slave girl for the fear of death was really humiliating. Maybe, the enemies at this, were laughing and giggling. Indeed, Satan was sifting him like wheat as if Simon was his toy. A few hours ago, Simon said, “I will lay down my life for you.” Was he lying? No. That’s what he really meant. Then, how come he failed so miserably like this? It was because Peter was confident of his love for Jesus and thereby, he did not pray. He was self-confident, without knowing the spiritual reality. Jesus, during the last supper, tried to teach him about it, but Peter would not listen; instead, he was hurt, because it seemed that Jesus did not recognize his love for him. Then, when the enemy set him up, when a real challenge came up, he was found as a miserable failure, even doing what he had never wanted to do. When a rooster crowed, Peter remembered what Jesus had told him about; then, his heart was pierced; he went out and wept bitterly; there, Peter broke down. After this event, he would never be a man of self-confidencePeter’s failure shows that we must not be men or women of self-confidence. Instead of insisting our own love for Jesus with a lip service, saying, “I love Jesus,” we must be men and women of prayer so that we may be able to obey God’s will in any circumstances.  

 

SecondI came into the world to testify to the truth(28-40). Now at the Caiphas’ house, they held a Sanhedrin meeting at night, which was illegal. There, they condemned Jesus to death. Their charge against him was blasphemy that Jesus called himself as the Son of the Blessed One. Look at verses 28 through 32. Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. The outward reason was because the Jews had no right to execute anyone under the Roman rule. But in verse 32, the author Apostle John showedthat this happened so that Jesus' words in regard to how he would be sacrificed might be fulfilled. The Jewish way of execution in those days was stoning. But Jesus foretold them that he would be crucified; also Isaiah 53 prophesied that the Messiah would be pierced. So, Jesus was brought to the Roman governor, Pilate so that he might be killed in a Roman way, that was, crucifixion.

Pilate then summoned Jesus and asked him, Are you the king of the Jews? It was a dangerous question; this was the charge that was brought against Jesus, saying that Jesus was in rebellion against the Roman Empire, deserving a death penalty. But this question also reveals who Jesus was – the king of the Jews. In Matthew’s gospel, we see Magi coming from the east; when they came to Jerusalem, they shouted, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. (Mt 2:1,2) Here, the king of the Jews was the Savior of the world who would come from the Jews. It was another title for the Messiah. How did Jesus respond? Look at verse 34. Let’s read this verse together:

 

34Is that your own idea, Jesus asked, or did others talk to you about me?

 

Jesus was asking Pilate, Are you asking this question because you want to know who I am? Or are you asking this question because you have to as the governor? Jesus was standing on trial; soon he would suffer and die on the cross. But even in that situation, he was thinking about the salvation of this poor soul, Pilate. When Pilate asked him, Are you the king of the Jews? Jesus really hoped that Pilate might have his own desire to know him personally so that he might be saved. People come to worship service; people do even some church activities. And Jesus asks them, Is that your own idea, or do you do it because your shepherd told you to do? People say that they are Christians and they love Jesus. Then, Jesus asks them, Is that your own idea, or do you say so because you are among other believers? Jesus wants us to come to him on our own, with our own personal spiritual desire to know him and love him.

 

What was Pilate's answer? He replied, Am I a Jew? It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done? Am I a Jew? This answer means, Why should I be interested in the King of the Jews, when I am not a Jew? Pilate had no interest in Jesus at all; just he wanted to have some information about him so that he would judge him properly. At this, Jesus could have ignored him by remaining silent. But instead, he told him about his kingdom. Look at verse 36. Let’s read this verse together:

 

36Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.

 

By saying, “My kingdom,” Jesus confirmed that he was a king. But also, by saying, “My kingdom is not of this world,” he showed that he was not a political king, but a spiritual king. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is from another place. So, his kingdom cannot be judged or evaluated by the standards and values of this world. In the kingdoms of this world, those who have high positions and great titles and a lot of money are considered great and successful, so all people in the kingdoms of this world pursue such things. But not so with the people in Jesus’ kingdom. In his kingdom, the one who serves is great; a servant of all is the greatest; in his kingdom, those who lose their life for Jesus and the gospel gain life, and they are great.

 

His kingdom is not of this world. Sometimes, we are confused about God’s will when our job matter is related; sometimes, we are bothered when our family matter is involved; sometimes, we are troubled when our marriage matter is concerned. But at that time, we must remember that fundamentally, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world – Jesus' kingdom is not about extension of this world; it is not about improvement of our life in this world either; whatever of this world eventually cannot be a part of Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus says, My kingdom is from another place. Of course, he is talking about heaven; his kingdom is from heaven to the hearts and lives of people in the world. So, we must seek this heavenly kingdomInstead of trying to build our own kingdom in this world, we must seek this eternal kingdom, Jesus’ kingdom that comes from heaven. How? By drinking the cup the Father has given us, by obeying God’s commands, by denying ourselves and taking up the cross of mission for God’s kingdom work. The characteristic of Jesus’ kingdom is that it is not of this world. 

 

At this eye-opening message, Pilate should have rejoiced and said, Amen. But he shouted, You are a king, then! He was really blind and worldly, just a well-seasoned politician. It was a dangerous conclusion for Jesus; admitting it could cost him his life. But how did Jesus respond? Look at verse 37. Let’s read this verse together:

 

You are a king, then! said Pilate. Jesus answered, You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

 

Jesus admitted that he was king, because he came into the world to testify to the truth. Here, Jesus describes his life’s purpose as to testify to the truth; he was born for this; he lived for this and died for this. He was a king; that was truth; he testified to this truth even at the cost of his life. As a result, this truth that Jesus is a king was preserved, and today, it is revealed to us.

 

What is the truth? Simply, the truth is something really, really, really true, or simply, something really, really and really importantSo, what is the truth? God is the truth. God is the real essence of our life - the cause and purpose of our life; the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega of our life. God is the most important and essential part of our existence. Our life is not about building a career and paying the bills faithfully; life is not about pleasures or security; it is not about eating healthy food all the time; it is not about having worldwide fame; it is not about having a beautiful family either; all these are lies and deception is there. Our life is about knowing the True and Eternal God; our life is about serving God and loving Him. God is the most true and important aspect of our life.Jesus' life testified to this truth: He lived the life of obeying God's will even to the point of death; he did not live on his own, but according to God's will and purpose. Again, what is the truth? The truth is that this mundane life is not the real life, but the real life is the spiritual life. The spiritual world is the real world, and this mundane world is the training ground or a shadow of the spiritual world. Jesus came into the world to testify to the truth so that people might not live on lies and deceptions, but live by the truth; Jesus came into the world to testify to the truth so that we may not pour out our assets such as time and energy, talents and youth, on what is not truly valuable, but on what is truly important, valuable and, thereby, have a truly fulfilling life. Again, what is the truth? The truth is that Jesus is the king, the object of our true loyalty; we must live for him, our king, not for ourselves, not for others, not for money, or fame or political power. Jesus testified to the truth even at the cost of his life. Jesus upheld truth and protected it even to the point of losing his life for it. As a result, the truth is preserved, and today, we know the truth, and we live by the truth. 

 

When Jesus testified to the truth as the matter of life and death, people rejected him and ridiculed him. Even his own people handed him over to the Gentiles to be killed. It seemed that no one was accepting him. But Jesus did not despair, because he knew that there were people who had been looking for the truth and that they would accept him. He said, Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. While so many people rejected him, Jesus was simply looking for those who stood on the side of truth. They were his sheep who would listen to him. 

 

These days, people do not uphold the truth; in this Post-Modern generation, people even deny the existence of the truth. Even in the Christian community, more and more people compromise, and as a result, truth is damaged and it is disappearing; so even church going people don't know the truth any more. It is the trend in the whole world. If things go this way, what would happen to the truth in the end? Perhaps, the truth will disappear in the world, and no one will know the truth, and the whole world will be in complete darkness. In this situation, we must testify to the truth as Jesus didthose on the side of truth listen to Jesus; they are the ones who accept Jesus' teaching, and affirm that the truth Jesus is preaching is the truth; they are the ones who uphold the truth and protect it. When we testify to the truth even at the cost of our life, the truth is preserved, and many people in the world who stand on the side of the truth will enjoy the benefit of our struggle, finding the truth, rejoicing at it, and following Jesus Christ as his disciples. 

 

What a heart moving message it was! I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. At this, Pilate should have recognized Jesus' noble heart's decision to live for the truth, and appreciated it, shoutingThank you. But how did he respond? He sarcastically said, What is truth? He simply tossed off Jesus’ message.  The truth Jesus was talking about did not give him any benefit. Jesus himself, who came to testify to the truth was standing on trial. What is truth? Look at yourself! To Pilate, what was most important was political power that gave him practical benefit – that was truth to him. Even though salvation was right in front of him, Pilate missed the chance, because he had no interest in the truth. Many people show the same kind of attitude toward the truth. When they are invited to the truth, they simply toss it off, saying, Does truth give me a job? Does truth help me build a career successfully? Only because of their job, or because of some other peripheral things of this world, they let go of the truth, and their chance for salvation. They look wise and pragmatic, but they are really foolish people.

 

With this Pilate went out again to the Jews and said, I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’? Interestingly, even if Jesus admitted that he was a king, Pilate did not make an issue of it, because he knew that actually the king of the Jews was not about a political king, but about the promised Messiah. In his eyes, Jesus, the king of the Jews was innocent. Now as the judge, it was his obligation to release Jesus freely because he found no basis for a charge against him. But instead of standing on the side of truth, he tried to release Jesus by using their custom; it was his compromise; he didn’t want to anger the crowd to start a riot that would jeopardize his political career. He thought that they would want Jesus, because he was the king of the Jews, their long waited Messiah. But they shouted, No, not him! Give us Barabbas! Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

 

One Word:Everyone On The Side Of Truth Listens To Jesus

Sunday, May 19, 2019

posted May 21, 2019, 8:10 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated May 21, 2019, 8:17 PM ]

JESUS’ HIGH PRIESTLY PRAYER

 

John 17:1-26

Key Verse 17:1

 

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”

 

First, Jesus prays, Glorify me” (1-5). In the previous passage, we learned that the disciples finally understood the meaning of Jesus’ death – iwould not just be separation from them or complete loss but Jesus’ journey back to the Father’s house. When the disciples accepted this, He was happy. Soonthe time would come for the disciples to be scattered, and Jesus would face His suffering and death only to rise again on the third day. But before all this, ch.17 records the prayer that He offered to God as God’s missionary. God sent Jesus into the world for a very special mission, and now, He was bringing His mission report to God. 

 

In verses 1 through 5, Jesus first offered a prayer for Himself. What was His prayer topic? He prayed, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son,…” It was the time for Jesus to be arrested, suffer and die so painfully, sit seems like He should have been sorrowful and afraid. But instead He was so victorious and confident, saying“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus was notdepressed. He was not fearful. He was not like other people who freak out when they face terrible moments in their lives. Rather, His attitude was that of a conqueror’s

 

Jesus’ prayer topic for himself was “Glorify your Son.” The word, “glorify” means “to be revealed, especially of God." Humans reveal their ugly, sinful, and terrible nature, showing that this is how we really areBut God also reveals who He truly is. When His character of love, humility, and patience, or His willplan, and power are revealed, it shows that He is truly awesome, wonderful, and fantastic; simply, He is glorious! Now Jesus’ one single desire was that He might be revealed to the world as God through His death on the cross. Jesus lived as a human being. His outward appearance was not so glamorous andHis human background was not so impressive. Because of this, people despised Him and rejected Him until He became a man of sorrows. But actually, His God who was with God the Father in the beginning; Hwas glorious. Now, Jesus wanted to be revealed to the world as the Creator God through His death on the cross. His suffering and death look like a complete lossbut there at the cross we find how much Jesus loves us. Hispassionate love for terrible sinners like you and me is beyond description. There at the cross, we also see Jesus’ complete obedience to God’s will. When His mission was to die so painfully and shamefully as the ransom sacrifice for wicked sinners, Jesus accepted it. His humility and submission to His Father are perfect.  At the cross, Jesus’ glory and beauty as God would be powerfully revealed and people would be amazed because only God can do such a thing. We are children of God, but how can we be revealed as we really are while living in this human body?  When our pride is scratched even just a little bit or when we are asked to do something that we don’t like, our sinful nature wants us to rebel and we cry out, “Excuse me?!”  But Jesus’ example shows that when our obedience to God’s will is complete and when we submit ourselves to God’s command to the end, there our glory is revealed as sons anddaughters of God. In this way, obeying God's command absolutely is our glory.

Why did Jesus want to be glorified? Jesus says, Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” The reason why Jesus wanted to be glorified was so that He would reveal God to the world. Once Jesus was revealed as God, then, how perfectly great the Father must be to whom Jesus showed His absolute obedience and submission to. Also, when Jesus was revealed as the Son of God, then, God the Father's wisdom and unfailing love for fallen mankind would be powerfully manifested insacrificing His beloved Son for them. 

 

Jesus also says, "For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him." The reason why Jesus wanted to be glorified was because He was indeed a glorious person who had authority over all people. Then with this authority, Jesus gives eternal life to all those God gave him.

 

Look at verse 3. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

 

Here, Jesus gives us the definition of eternal life, zoe; it is to know God and his Son Jesus. He did not say that when we know God, we will receive eternal life, but he says that knowing God is eternal life. What does it mean that knowing God and the Christ is eternal life? Here, "knowing" is not about having someinformation or knowledge through reading the Bible or by listening to what others say about the Bible. Many people think that when they have some knowledge or understanding about God and Jesus, then they will have eternal life. But, if they don’t have eternal life now, it means that they don’t know Jesus but just have some knowledge of Him. Here "knowing" is knowing intimately through having a real relationship with Him. For example, God is love. This expression shows us what kind of person God is - He is love itself. When He sees you, his heart goes after you with immense affection. His intention is only good for you. His desires and plans are for your wellbeing and happinessthere is no second thought and no record of wrong in His heart. When you really know that God is love for you, how would you be? You would be truly happy and satisfied because you now have someone who really loves you and you no longer have to seek to quench your thirst with romantic movies, Korean dramas, or telenovelas. That complete satisfaction is eternal life.When you know God, you taste and experience eternal life. So Jesus proclaims that knowing God is indeed eternal life. Apostle Paul describes the greatness of knowing Jesus, saying, "I consider everything loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things" (Phil 3:8).  People think that they are so blessed if they win the Lotto.  But Apostle Paul says, “Man, I got something far greater than that and it’s knowing Jesus!”  When we know Godand experience His person, power, grace, or whatever of God,we come to have such inexpressible peace in us that we become completely fulfilled and we are released from our burdens,agonies, anxieties, sorrows and loneliness. We are filled with joy and we can boldly testify that now we can understand the wonderful fulfillment that the other great servants in the Bible enjoyed through having a relationship with God.  Then, our Christian life becomes so abundant. Knowing God and Jesus Christ is eternal life. We must pursue God wholeheartedly so that we may come to know God and His character very personally and enjoy this eternal life all the more.

 

Jesus says in verse 4, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” As Jesus served God's work, there were many challenging moments due to persecutions, financial difficulties, or even sometimes temptations. If for any reason Jesus stopped serving God's work, then God's glory would not have been revealed in His life. But Jesus could reveal the glory of God by completing the work God assigned Him to do through His death on the cross. How happy and victorious Jesus was when He had completed God's missionand revealed God's glory to the world. 

 

Jesus' testimony shows us how we can reveal God's glory to the world and that is by completing the mission God has given us. If, for any reason, we give up and do not serve God's mission any longer, we cannot reveal the glory of God. Then, at the end of our life, we will be full of regret because of how we have failed God. Who can reveal the glory of God? Those who complete God's mission! How happy we will be when we can share the same testimony Jesus gave, saying, "Father, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." May we all may live a victorious life by remaining faithful to God's mission to the end.  Jesus concludes His prayer for Himself, saying, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

 

 

From this passage, I was so touched to learn about Jesus’ passionate desire to be glorified as God through His death on the cross.  Throughout my life, my understanding of glory was from a worldly perspective, thinking that when a person had outward blessings of materialism and success, then that was glorious.  I have heard people say that they can glorify God through academic success, high positions, wealth, and prosperity.  But Jesus did not mention about these things at all.  Instead, He saw that His death on the cross would be the means through which He would be glorified.  Outwardly, being crucified does not look glorious at all but instead horrendous and shameful.  But at this moment right before He would suffer so painfully and die on the cross, Jesus was not dejected or bitter but instead was hopeful and confident, believing that through His death, many people would come to recognize His true glory as God.  There on the cross, Jesus’ complete submission, obedience, humility, and beauty as God would be revealed and many people around the world would come to accept who He is as their Lord and Savior and receive salvation.  So Jesus earnestly prayed, “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”  

While growing up poor in Palos Verdes, my heart and mind were captivated by the fancy cars and big houses that I saw all around me and I made it my goal in life to also become successful.  I saw how my cousins grew up with many privileges and luxuries that I did not have.  They lived in a big house with a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean in a gated community in Palos Verdes.  They had a full-size tennis court in their backyard and a horse and stable.  When I saw all of this, I made a decision that when I grew up, I would live in that kind of a way and that my children would grow up with the privileges that I never had. My value system was aligned with the world’s and I wanted to live a “glorious” life that the world advertised.  I wanted to bring glory and honor to myself through outward prosperity.  But when God touched my heart with One Word of God through John 1:48 I was so amazed to learn that Jesus is my God who really knows me and all the pains, struggles, and desires that I had.  When I accepted this, the barriers that I had built around my heart crumbled down; I saw that there was no need for me to try to prove to people that I too could live a successful, materialistic life but instead live before God, the One who knows me and loves me so personally.  Since then God has been working hard to purify my heart from the deeply rooted worldly desires, values, and influences that have been planted in me.  My mission life and practical life have had many ups and downs, many victorious moments and many painful moments.  I taught 22 Bible Studies, failed the nursing program at LAHC, was publicly attacked and persecuted both by sheep and family, got admitted into the nation’s number one occupational therapy program at USC, couldn’t get pregnant, witnessed my sheep marry for God’s purpose and be established in housechurches, and I have been blessed with a miracle baby.  Through all of these moments, I learn that God wants me to glorify Him and reveal His name, His Person, and His greatness in and through my life.  My life direction, struggle, and purpose have changed from glorifying myself to glorifying God both in the times of sufferings and challenges and in the time of blessings. My prayer topic is to reveal God’s person, His character, and His image through my life, service, and dedication to Him.  So rather than living to secure a materialistic life for myself and for my family, Shepherd Anthony and I spend lots of money to send our daughter to babysitters so that after work we may be free to go to campus to fish and teach students the Word of God.  Outwardly, denying myself and picking up my cross of mission do not look glorious.  But in doing so, I am co-working together with God so that students on my campus may have the chance to meet Jesus as their God very personally and this brings great glory to Him.  In living for Jesus as a Bible teacher and shepherdess, I have and am continuing to experience the really dynamic, purposeful, and joyful life of zoe that is available for those who submit to God and obey His mission.  Knowing Jesus’ deep and compassionate heart for a terrible sinner like me is indeed  eternal life.  I praise God because only He can transform me, a hopeless and self-seeking sinner, into one who lives for His glory.

 

One Word:  Glorify God!

 

Second, “Sanctify them” (6-19). In verses 6 through 14, Jesus gives his mission report to God who sent him. During his mission here on earth, Jesus found his disciples and raised them to be his successors after his departure. Jesus says in verse 6, "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world." Jesus also says in verse 8, "Now I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them." When he found his disciples, he did mainly two things - he revealed God to them so that they might come to know God personally; they were God's, but since they had been in the world, they did not know God like who their God was, what kind of person He was, what he had in mind to do, and what He wanted for them to do. The other thing Jesus did was to teach them the word of God. Eventually, God's word reveals God - God's person, God's will and God's plan. Earlier in verse 3, Jesus said that knowing God is eternal life. So, Jesus focused on revealing God to thedisciples. In this way, he let his disciples know God - Jesus was a mediator between God and his disciples. This is what Jesus does whenever he finds his disciples - revealing God to them through his words. 

 

Now, Jesus offers his prayer topic for his disciples. Jesus was returning to His Father who had sent him leaving his disciples behind. So he asked his Father to take care of them. Look at verse 11. 11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.” Jesus’ prayer topic for his disciples was, “Protect them.” While Jesus was with them, he took care of them and protected them from all kinds of attacks. Sometimes, Satan attacked them through visible human beings such as the Pharisees or family members. Sometimes, Satan attacked them invisibly through their humanistic way of thinking. But under Jesus’ care and protection, the disciples were kept sound and secure and they could grow up continually. But now Jesus would not be with them physically any more. They were still young and immature, while the enemy was powerful and skillful. So Jesus prayed to God, saying, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name.” Jesus never believed in the saying, “Once saved, always saved.” But because he understood the nature of the battle they were involved in, he humbly knelt down, and offered his earnest prayer for his disciples, saying, “Holy Father, protect them.” 

 

Look at verse 11 one more time. Let’s read this verse together.

 

11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.

 

Here, the last phrase, “so that they may be one as we are one,” shows the end result of the disciples being protected. When they are protected, they keep their unity and remain as one army for God, but when they are not protected from the evil one, they do not remain as one; instead, their unity is damaged, and they are divided and eventually destroyed. God’s will is that Jesus’ disciples may remain in unity. On the other hand, Satan’s will is to attack the disciples, damage and destroy their unity so that they may not be one – this is Satan’s work – we must not allow anything that can damage our unity as Jesus' disciples. One time, Satan used Simon Peter to attack Jesus through his humanistic mindset. We must have the things of God in mind such as: his kingdom, his name, his will, and his gloryWe must not have the things of men in mind such as being family orientedwhole heartedly pursuing careerthinking of marriage things, and even human relationship things. Also we must fight against any hint of doubt – that’s how Adam and Eve lost all things when they doubted the love of God for them; we must fight against sin; we must repent of any hint of pride, because there is no room for pride to exist in God – God is humble, and that is the key in forming the unity. Anything that builds us up in the unity among the disciples is from God, but anything that breaks this unity is from the evil one. We must strive to build up this unity in Jesus so that we can be one as Jesus' disciples.  

 

Look at verse 17. Jesus says, 17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Now Jesus offers his second prayer topic for the disciples – sanctify them. When we think about this prayer topic with the previous one in mind – protect them from the evil one, we can see that they are not two separate prayer topics, but one. The disciples can be protected from the evil one when they are sanctified. If any disciple wants to be protected from the evil one, he or she must be sanctified fully; otherwise, he or she is an easy prey for the enemy. So, sanctification is a must for all of Jesus’ disciples. Are you Jesus’ disciples? Then you must be sanctified? By the way, what does it mean to be sanctified? The same word for "sanctify" in the Old Testament is “consecrate” or “holy,” which mean “set apart for God.” Whatever is set apart for God is holy, sacred; it is consecrated or(in other words) sanctified. We remember what happened in the book of Daniel when King Belshazzar had the silver and golden goblets that were from the temple of God in Jerusalem brought to his banquet where his guests drank out of them. That same night King Belshazzar was slain and Babylon fell. The silver and gold goblets from the temple of God in Jerusalem were not to be used for mundane purposes. But they were set apart for God’s purpose alone. It is the same as if you had 10 donkeys and one of them was set apart for God. That one donkey that is set apart must not be used for mundane purposes but for God alone.

Jesus’ prayer, “Sanctify them,” shows Jesus’ earnest desire for his disciples to be set apart for God that their life may be used and consumed for God’s purpose completely. But at that time, they were still young and immature, pretty spiritually blind.  Their inner persons were not fully changed, and they were still earthbound in that their desire was for the things of the world such as fame or even power. Their bodies were following Jesus, but their inner persons, hearts, desires, hopes and lives were not fully dedicated to God’s purpose – they were still worldly and humanistic. And because of their unsanctified desires and hearts, dreams and lifestyles, they were very vulnerable to the enemy’s attack, and they were weak and fragile. Even as Jesus was about to leave them, they still looked very weak, having so many holes in their spiritual guard. So Jesus prayed for them that God might protect them from the enemy by sanctifying them, because when their hearts and dreams and lives were fully dedicated to God, when they were fully set aside for God’s purpose, then, they would be so strong and powerful that the enemy would not be able to do anything harmful to them. Instead, they would serve God’s purpose wholeheartedly with a single hearted devotion and they would be used by God so preciously. 

 

Many people hesitate to commit themselves to God fully for various reasons, but mainly for the fear of losing control over their life; so they do only what they are asked to do in their relationship with God  they stick to doing the bare minimum. In that way they are not wholehearted and thereby, they are not sanctified; as a result, they are vulnerable and God’s will cannot be fulfilled in their life. When we see anyone that way, our heart is filled with anguish and we are troubled, because they can fall at any time. So, many shepherds and shepherdesses cry out to God in prayer, shedding tears, “O Lord, have mercy on them and help them.” They ask God to protect them and help them grow - “Protect them; sanctify them.” Jesus’ high priestly prayer for his disciples, “Protect them from the evil one… Sanctify them…”lingers in our ears and shows us Jesus’ will for us. He wants us to be sanctified that our hearts and desires, our dreams and hopes for the future, and even our whole lives may be fully consecrated to God; he wants us to be completely committed to God’s purpose that our life may be used and consumed for Him alone. It is Jesus’ will that we accept this prayer topic and makeour heart’s determination to be truly set apart for God; it is Jesus’ prayer that we may really surrender our life to God. Jesus is praying for us, “Protect them... Sanctify them.” Let’s not fight against him any longer; let’s accept his will for us and turn to him decisively. Then, we can grow up to be dangerous weapons for God’s kingdom purpose. 

 

Jesus says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”This shows us how we can be truly sanctified. By the word of God, we can be sanctified. Jesus said to the 11 disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (Jn15:3) When the word of God comes, at first, there may be some conflicts between what God wants and what we want; God’s way is different from our way. But after some struggle, we let go of our own desires and accept God’s will upon us. In this way, we are being sanctified by God’s words, being drawn to God more and more. This is why we must study the word of God and make efforts to digest and personalize God’s word until our inner persons, understanding, value system and our entire life is truly cleansed and sanctified by the word of God. 

 

Look at verse 19. Let’s read this verse together:

 

19For them, I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

 

Isn’t Jesus already sanctified? Jesus sanctified himself, meaning, he set aside his life for God alone, lived the life that was truly sanctified. And because of his example of a sanctified life, his disciples knew how they must live life as God's people. His life itself was the example of the sanctified life – his mission-oriented life, his single-hearted love and obedience to God, his prayer life, his dedication to studying and preaching the word of God, his challenge against the sin of the world, his sacrificial life and love, his service for sinners – all these showed the disciples what sanctification is all about. Jesus’ life that was fully dedicated to God’s purpose was the standard for them to copy in their lives. And because of this good example of Jesus, now we too know what it means to be sanctified, and how we must live our lives here on earth as children of God. May God bless us that we may imitate his lifestyle and follow his example so that we too can be fully sanctified and be used in God’s salvation work very preciously.

 

I grew up going to church, learned that I should be good and work hard to please people. But it was an empty way of life. By God’s grace I was lead to study the bible and Genesis chapter 12 opened my eyes, showing me that God was calling me to “Leave and go.” I could see that there was more to life than just paying the billsSo I committed all my time and energy to serving God and experienced freedom and joy. 

In 2017, I was blessed to marry by faith to a humble servant of God with a big heartAnd in 2018, we welcomed our firstborn son, a joy and delight to our familyI see that it is through marriage and family life that real life began! Outwardly I could perform pretty well, even disciples grew through my bible studies, but God has been very concerned about bringing out what is inside of me. In this last year, humanistic thinking really became like a foothold for Satan. Whenever I did not like the way something was handled in the church or by my husband I gave into anger. Instead of trying to trust all things into God’s sovereignty, I took things personally. Now I could understand Jesus’ urgent prayer, Father, protect them…Sanctify them by the truth.” Without Jesus I am just a toy of Satan enslaved by anger, pride, and doubts. But I see that in those extreme moments when my weaknesses have been exposedthat the word of God was always there to bring me back to my senses. God has helped me to remember when Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me;...” I could not deny that God is using his servants even though they are not perfect and I could not understand their love for ceviche! Also whenever I felt hurt or judged in my housechurch, I would be angry, coldeven violent with my words or actions like a hissing cat. But through studying John 15 again recently Jesus showedme I must not carry the image of an angry animal. Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” God’s love for me is unconditional. So I should not have a give and take kind of love. 

If it were not for the recent difficulties, like the difference of opinions in my house church, like figuring out how to take care of a baby on top of mission life and working to support a family,I would have never known my weaknesses and sin problems. In my single life I thought that I was pretty good. And even in serving God I was mostly blinded about myself. But now I see that God did not want me to remain like that: so shallow in my love, so emotional, so worldly. In that way, I am just easy prey for the enemy and he will work to divide in my life. But Godallows me to have those challenges and gives me his words so that I could be truly sanctified from the inside out and thus be protected from the enemy.

Now I see Jesus’ hope for me to be a different person. To be inJesus’ imageto be fully sanctified, in every way. Christian life has gone onto a whole other level and it is exciting and beautiful once more. I could see more about humanity than I ever did. I could see more about the spiritual battle and how near it reallyisAnd I see what is most important is truly loving one another and building up the unity with God and each otherSo now it is time to practice loving God and loving on others: in my house church, in my church, and on the campus. 

One Word: Sanctified by the truth

 


Third, “They may be one” (20-26). In verses 20 through 23, Jesus offered his prayer for future believers who would believe in him through the disciples’ messages. What was his prayer topic for them? Let’s read verses 20 and 21 together;

 

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

 

“All of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” Jesus’ prayer topic for all the believers is that we may be one just as God the Father and God the Son are one. Being one means for all the believers to have the same desire, same purpose, same value system, and same hope. God's callingmay be different; some people to orphanage ministry, some people to Homeless ministry, some people to poor people in Africa, some people to college campus mission. But we all do God’s work with the same purpose of saving souls, of making disciples, for the glory of God, waiting for Jesus’ second coming putting our hope in the kingdom of God. When we live for our own purpose, pursuing our own dreams and desires, we cannot become one with each other. But when we surrender ourselves to God and live for God’s purpose alone, we become one with each other. When we are one, we see things and understand them in the same way – about God, about life, and about the world. There is no generation gap, racial barriers or cultural barriers, but genuine unity. Then, there is genuine fellowship among us, and we enjoy eternal life, living as God’s people assigned here on earth for a special mission to do. Surely, it is Jesus’ will and prayer topic for all of us to be one in everything. 

 

How much unity does Jesus want us to form among ourselves? What is the standard of our unity? Jesus says, “They may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” He also says, “They may be one as we are one.” The unity Jesus wants us to form is not just some fun fellowship among the believers, but perfect and complete oneness as the Trinity God forms their oneness – no conflict, no “if,” no “but,” but complete unity. We are only shocked. How can we have such a glorious unity as the Trinity God enjoys? It is possible only when we follow their example of submission and obedience. Jesus humbled himself to the point of having the form of a servant toward the Father, even if he himself is the Almighty God, and he obeyed the Father’s will absolutely even to the point of dying a painful death on the cross – he didn’t live for himself, but for his Father. Then, the Holy Spirit came in Jesus’ name and submitted himself to Jesus’ glory; even though he is God, he did not speak on his own, but speaks whatever he hears from Jesus. Because of such submission, obedience and humility, the Three Persons form complete oneness; they are one. Jesus wants us to enjoy this kind of unity among ourselves

 

Jesus says in verse 22, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:” Ordinary people cannot form this kind of glorious unity, because humans are selfish and proud. But as children of God, so holy and glorious, we can love each other; as children of God, for God’s glory, we can submit ourselves to each other; as children of God, following our God’s example, we can sacrifice our own dreams, desires and styles for each other, and even our own life. In Christ, we are no longer ordinary people – Jesus has given us his glory to be sons and daughters of God, so now we can be one with each other. 

 

In verse 23, we see Jesus’ prayer for all believers to be one goes one step further. He says, “I in them and you may be in me.” Jesus wants all the believers to form unity with each other, and then, eventually with the Trinity God. Simply, Jesus wants us to be one with God in value system, hope, vision, and love that we may think like God, talk like God and act like God – at that time, we really understand what it means to live as children of God. At that time, each  of us will be so mature, beautiful and glorious in thoughts, understanding, words and actions; we will surely love and respect each other so much. It is Jesus’ invitation for all of us to partake in God’s character and have God’s vision and pursue his business. Those who accept this invitation form unity with each other and pursue God’s purpose, struggling to copy Jesus Christ in their life. They are indeed children of God.

 

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

 

24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

 

Jesus loves his disciples and all the believers. He really wants all of them to come to his house and see all his riches, his beauty, his power and his glory so that they can be truly overjoyed and happy with him. He really wants to show all his believers how much His Father has loved Him, and how much His Father has lavished on Him with all the glory and power and richness in heaven and on earth. Then, all his believers will be happy with Him, and rejoice because of Him. Jesus says, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” We know God, but not completely yet. We have difficulty to understand the Trinity God. Our understanding of God’s person – his love, his grace, his character, his plan – is still limited. But no worry! Why? Because Jesus says, “I will continue to make you known to them in order that the love you have for me may be in them,…” As we live in Christ Jesus, one thing is guaranteed, we will come to know God more and more, and the more we know God, the more we enjoy eternal life, and we are glad and happy with God, for knowing God is eternal life. At that time, we can truly say, “My shepherd knows me, and I know him.” “I know God and I am known by God.” 

 

Jesus’ prayer can be summed up in three words: Glorification, sanctification and unification. These three words show us Jesus’ will for us very clearly – he wants us to be glorified, sanctified, and unified. These show us what we must pursue in our day to day life and how we must live our life as Jesus’ disciples. Let’s pray that we may be revealed as children of God, holy and righteous; let's pursue God alone so that we can be truly sanctified; let’s pray that we may be one just as the Trinity God is one; let’s pray that we may know Jesus more and more. Let God’s will be fulfilled in our lives.

 

As I meditated on this passage, I was really amazed that the Trinity God, had complete unity. Then I thought about how I could learn to have this unity together with God and with my brothers and sisters. I grew up as a single kid and so I was used to living my life on my own terms. How could I be one with God, if I never even was one with anyone in the world? I never had such close fellowship with anyone. I grew up as a loner so to speak. I lived in my own world, and wouldn't care what people thought of me and would just live for myself, which others thought was cool. But in my real life, I was loner. Then I came to see that it is possible. If I followed Jesus example, it is possible to be one with God, and the Holy Spirit and with Jesus and with other disciples – by submission and obedience. Jesus submitted Himself to the Father, Jesus obeyed the Father absolutely. Jesus did this, even submitting Himself and obeying the Fathers command of dying on the cross. When he did so, His life was powerful, and glorious, it was righteous and holy. He was filled with eternal life with no regret or worry. But I see that He was filled with real love for His Father. This is what I want. I want to experience real love for others and not just myself. Jesus has given me His commands in this ministry, to shepherd over college students and to raise up disciples. This command I can submit myself to and obey with all of my heart. This is how I can follow Jesus example. Since accepting this mission from Jesus, I have grown and learned a lot. But I see that I have not been one with my brothers and sisters. I still hold to many of my past character flaws such as pride and selfishness. Many times I see through a humanistic point of view. I am 37 years old, but there are other more spiritually mature brothers that are much younger than me. Deep down I think why should I listen to them, or think I should be more respected because I am older. Jealousy has risen in my heart to other brothers who have grown so much but younger than myself. Because of this I have struggled to be one with other brothers in the church. I know its wrong but my heart and mind are so corrupt. But Jesus shows me that this new life is not based on the worlds value system; it is based on the real spiritual value system. I was born again in 2009, even though I may be 37 so technically I am only just ten. Jonathan was next in line to be king after Saul, he was older than David, but God chose David who was the youngest of his brothers because of his faith. God raises up leaders by their faith in Him, not because of their age. Because of this I can really humble myself to God and to my elders. I see that I must struggle to live by faith in God, and serve Him, and let God be in control of His ministry here.  Instead I must see through the eyes of faith and submit and obey to those whom God has put in charge of me. Actually it is for my benefit because I can learn from my more spiritually mature brothers. I have let my pride and jelous heart take control many times, and I have had to die many times because of this. Then Jesus would help me die to my pride but then I give into again and again – dying and rising. I must confess to everyone this sin. I am sorry to my brothers, for thinking so highly of myself, I am so sorry for my pride. This has kept me from having oneness with you. Through this passage I can see that Jesus wants me to truly let this go. I feel like Paul, who felt abnormally born, because I came to Jesus such an older age, not 19 or 20 something, but in my thirties, and my pride started to grow in me so much. But because of Jesus I am who I am and have this new life in Him. I am just so thankful that Jesus has given me a new life and to experience real love and oneness with my true brothers in Christ. I have always kept this hidden in my heart for years, only to eat me up inside. I see that it has affected my relationship with my brothers for such a long time. I feel like I have missed out in real fellowship and oneness with my brothers for such a long time only due to my pride. I repent of this completely. This oneness and love with others is what I wanted, because of my past life, but only because of my sin of pride did I keep myself from it. I feel like such a great burden has been lifted off of my shoulders and my heart confessing this today. I have wanted to confess this sin before the church for such a long time. This is what Jesus prayed about in this passage, that we would be one. How terrible my pride and selfishness has been. Before everyone here today I truly and sincerely repent. Lord forgive me. Your desire is that we would be one. Rather than pride I will humble myself to you and to my brothers so that I may truly learn to be one with them.I pray that we may all enjoy such beautiful unity with Jesus and with each other just as Jesus prayed about and that together we may pursue Gods mission on our campuses in one heart and mind coming to know the Trinity God more and more. I pray that as we come to know Jesus glory and the Fathers love, we may all be unified, sanctified and glorified as children of God; enjoying eternal life today and forever. One Word: I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one

Sunday, May 12, 2019

posted May 12, 2019, 5:02 PM by Site Administrator

WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES…

 

John 16:1-33

Key Verse 16:8

 

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:

 

First, He will convict the world of guilt (1-11). In the previous passage, Jesus told them about being hated by the world. Why do the world hate Jesus’ disciples? It does so not because the disciples have done anything wrong, but because simply they are not of the world any more, and also because it does not know the Father, but hates Him. When we are hated by the people of the world without any cause, it becomes obvious that we are not of the world any longer. Now in verse 1, Jesus says, All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.As Jesus was going to leave them in the world where they would be hated, he was pretty anxious, because he knew how dangerous it was for them to live in the world. They would be like sheep among wolves. That’s why he told them about the persecution in advance so that when it did happen, they would not be confused, but understand that it was happening to them just as Jesus had warned them about. When we are hated by the world, we must not be surprised or confused; instead, we just see it as a normal part of our Christian life. The apostle Paul says, In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2Ti 3:12) When it does happen to you, remember that Jesus is really concerned about you, saying, All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. People say, Once you are saved, you are saved forever. But we can see that it was never Jesus’ theology. He never wanted to see any of his beloved disciples go astray. So, he told them everything they needed to know so that when challenges came, when difficulties rose, they would stand firm in him.

 

In verses 2 and 3, Jesus mentions about the persecution from the Jewish leaders. They believed in the Bible; they believed that the God of the Bible is the only true God, and they struggled hard to serve him. But they would persecute Jesus’ disciples even in the name of serving God. Why? Jesus says, because they have not known the Father or me. What a painful truth it is that despite their desire for God, they turned out to be enemies of God when they did not know God personally. They were zealous to keep the laws, but they were not zealous to know God. Their Bible knowledge did not bring them to the fellowship with God. Today, still many people think that they are offering a service to God by attacking and persecuting other believers, especially, those who struggle to serve God wholeheartedly; but it is not God’s way – God’s way is the way of love and obedience; God wants people to lay down their life for others instead of attacking them viciously in the name of serving God; God wants them to be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, instead of viciously attacking others. When people persecute you, don’t be so surprised; simply, they don’t know God. 

 

Look at verses 5 through 7. Jesus said to them, Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Why did Jesus say that it was for their good that he was going away? It was because, once he went away, he would send them the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, Unless I go, the Counselor will not come; but if I go, I will send him to you. When Jesus was with them physically, they were confident and powerful, but when Jesus was not with them physically, they were fearful and powerless; without Jesus' physical presence, they could not do anything, because they were relying on the visible human Jesus. But when Jesus was gone, and when the Holy Spirit came to them, they would learn to rely on the Holy Spirit; they would pray, and do God's work mightily by relying on God; at that time, each of them would be like Jesus himself, doing great work of God through the Holy Spirit wherever they went. Indeed, it was for their good that Jesus was going away. Often, we envy those who lived in Jesus' time, and wish if we lived with him. But, Jesus, in the passage, shows that we have no reason to envy them, because it is for our good that Jesus is not with us physically. Now through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can come to enjoy fellowship with him knowing him very personally, and moreover, we can be powerful in doing the work of God. Maybe, if we were in Jesus’ time, we would have a hard time to believe that he was God in flesh; maybe, some of us would throw stones at him. But now, by the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, we love Jesus and worship him as our God - no question about it. We pursue him. We accept everything he says in the Bible. Now it is Jesus’ will for us to rely on God through the Holy Spirit and become great. 

 

When the Holy Spirit comes, what does He do? Look at verses 8 through 11. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

 

The main work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the people of the world of guilt. The word, convict is a legal term; it is to declare guilty of crimes, and thereby, blameworthy. No one feels good when he is convicted and declared guilty, especially, when God declares, You are guilty. Many people misunderstand this point; they have misconception about the work of the Holy Spirit and thereby, look for something mysterious such as feeling warm in their hearts, or vaguely expecting to hear mysterious voice of the Holy Spirit or to receive some fantastic visions. As a result, often, the demons have a chance to deceive and mislead them. We must remember that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and that He is a truthful Person, and that He works through the truth, the word of God. If anyone wants to have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, he or she must be truthful, not self-seeking or sinful or deceptive; we must pursue the truth, the word of God. The Holy Spirit’s main job is to convict the people of the world of guilt, causing such fear, sorrow, depression and anxiety in their hearts. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit that convicts them of guilt, people find themselves as sinners before God, and thereby, have a chance to really repent. This is what the Holy Spirit does for the people in the world. The Holy Spirit leads people to repentance by convicting them of guilt. 

 

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to three things – sin, righteousness and judgment. Being convicted of guilt in regard to sin means that they realize that they are guilty of sin. Before this conviction, comparing themselves to others who really have messed up, people say, I don’t use drug. I am not sexually immoral. I am not like those people.But sin is not relativistic, but absolute. What is sin? Jesus says, In regard to sin, because men do not believe in me. When the Holy Spirit convicts them of guilt in regard to sin, they realize that unbelief in Jesus is sin. Thus, they are given a chance to repent and believe in him.

 

The Holy Spirit convicts people of guilt in regard to righteousness, declaring to them, You are not righteous. You are guilty. Jesus says, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no more. Righteousness means right relationship with God. Jesus went to the Father, because he is right with God. People may think that they are righteous, due to their moralistic life, or religious life; maybe, they have been attending church worship service for 10 years or 20 years. Maybe, they have heard so many messages through Calvary chapel radio station. Maybe, they said to God, Lord, thank you so much for helping me to not be like those tax collectors and sinners. When we invite them to Bible study, they say, I am okay. Look for some lost sheep. When they come to Bible study, they want to study some more serious or mysterious books such as Romans or Revelation. They laugh and speak so confidently. Then, the Holy Spirit convicts them in their hearts, You are guilty; you are not righteous; you are rejected. At that time, they realize that all of their own righteousness such as Bible knowledge, or faithful church attendance, or even their zeal for God is not enough, and they are found as worthless sinners. At the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they realize that there is nothing that can make them right with God, except Jesus Christ who died on the cross. So, they stop bragging about themselves. If anyone is convicted by the Holy Spirit in regard to righteousness this way, such a person is truly blessed – his eyes are opened and he can truly accept Jesus Christ as his righteousness. This is what the Holy Spirit does. 

 

Being convicted of guilt in regard to judgment means that they come to realize that they stand condemned, and thereby, they will be sent to hell. Jesus talks about the prince of this world standing condemned. The prince of this world, Satan, was the very one who caused the death of the Son of God, so he is the worst sinner. When Jesus died on the cross, it was the time when the prince of this world was standing condemned for the terrible crime. Then, what about all his subjects that belong to him? Yes, of course, they too stand condemned, deserving eternal punishment. This is what they come to realize. Their souls are awakened to the reality of this eternal judgment. What a scary moment it must be when they are convicted to hell! They cannot say things confidently any more. They cannot eat freely any more. They cannot sleep well. Like sentenced criminals, waiting for the day of their execution in their cells, they go crazy, wailing and wailing, looking for any way to escape. Like Christian in the book of the Pilgrim’s Progress written by John Bunyan, they cry and cry, shouting, What shall I do? What shall I do? Even if their family members try to calm them down, they cannot. Before, they laughed loudly and sinned freely; before, they were confident about themselves, but not any longer. Their souls are awakened to the reality of their sins, their unrighteousness, and eternal judgment.

 

Jesus says, When he, the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. When this happens, when they are convicted of guilt in regard to their sins, righteousness and judgment, they are fully aware of their true spiritual condition. Before this, they thought what they saw was everything there is – riches, pleasures, fame and success. But now, when the Holy Spirit convicts them, they suddenly see the reality of spiritual world, the existence of God, of eternal life, and of hell also. They become so fearful and scared to death. They become dead serious about everything. This is called, awakening of their souls, or awakened souls. The Holy Spirit convicts them of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment, and thereby, their souls are awakened to the true reality. It is very scary moment for them when they are declared guilty by God. But because of this, now they have a chance to truly turn to God for salvation in Christ. Once they turn to God, because they really know the reality, they pursue the kingdom of God all the way, living as holy pilgrims. 

 

During the second great awakening movement, that started at the beginning of the 19th century, Charles G. Finney was one of the two top leaders along with Francis Asbury, a Methodist preacher. He served the word of God so effectively that when people heard his message, they were convicted of their sins so terribly. After his message, some of them collapsed on the floor crying, and some people became frozen that others had to carry them home; or some people became literally speechless for a few days for the fear of judgment. The Holy Spirit was working powerfully through his messages, convicting so many people of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. After the meeting was over, Finney encouraged all these awakened people to line up and come to him one by one, and helped them confess their sins, repent and turn to God – he was the first person who did the so-called altar call. Later, he secured first few rows of the chairs in the meeting hall for those awakened people to sit, and these seats were called, anxious seats. Those awakened souls sat there, and they were to make a decision either they would accept God’s challenge to repent their sins and turn to God or reject the work of God upon their life. God’s work went powerfully through Charles G. Finney. 

 

As we struggle to do God’s work, we can be rest assured that the Holy Spirit is working with us. Think about the Holy Spirit standing right next to you to save souls, while you teach the Bible to your students. He encourages, “Be bold and very courageous! Just say the word, and I will convict them.” The Holy Spirit is the main figure in saving souls. But amazingly, he entrusts his most powerful weapon in our hands, the sword of the Holy Spirit, the word of God, with which he pierces many people’s hearts. Now our job is to sharpen our sword, and learn how to handle it properly and effectively – deep testimony writing so that we can truly grasp what God is talking about in each passage; sharpening our Bible study notes. Let’s do mighty works of God together with the Holy Spirit through our one to one Bible studies.

 

Second, He will guide you into all truth (12-16). Look at verses 12 through 16. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

12I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. 16In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.

 

Jesus had much more to say to his disciples more than they could bear. But he did not bother to tell them everything because later, when the Holy Spirit came, he would tell them everything. Jesus said to them, He will guide you into all truth. This is what the Holy Spirit does for Jesus' disciples, showing them what is right and what is wrong, telling them what to do and what not to do. In this world, people do not know the truth - the truth is hidden, and people live based on outward appearance or present needs, which are all lies and deception. What is the truth? How should we live our life in this world and what must we do? All people are deceived, and thereby, the end result of such deceived life is emptiness, meaninglessness and depression. But the Holy Spirit, when he comes to the disciples of Jesus, guides them into all truth so that they can know the truth and live by the truth. Not only so, the Holy Spirit shows them the divine truth of God - God's word and God's kingdom, God's will and God's purpose, and God's plan. Indeed, the disciples are blessed because they come to know what the people of the world have not known, and see what others have not seen. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the disciples come to know the truth, and they can teach it to others. 

 

Jesus also says, He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. The Holy Spirit does not speak on his own, but speaks of what is Jesus’. The key point of the Holy Spirit’s teaching is what is Jesus’. He teaches the disciples about Jesus’ person, and what he did, especially the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit helps his disciples know who Jesus is and the spiritual meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, He brings glory to Jesus – He is there to reveal the glory of Jesus. 

 

When the Son came into the world in the name of the Father, he didn’t live for himself, but lived for God even to the point of death taking a form of a slave to God the Father. Jesus says in John 12:49, For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. He submitted himself to God the Father. Now when the Holy Spirit came to the world in the name of Jesus, he did not speak on his own, but speaks only what he hears from Jesus. Even though He is the Almighty God, He submitted Himself to Jesus. The Trinity God, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are so humble that they honor and respect each other so dearly, taking the form of a servant to each other, and thus, they form a beautiful unity of love – they are one in humility. On the contrary, humans have no power, no glory, but still speak on their own, insisting their own understanding, desires and styles – humans are really disgusting. Jesus’ prayer for us is that we too may be one with each other; how can it be possible? By following the example of the Trinity God, by humbly submitting ourselves to each other, taking the form of a slave to each other. 

 

And the Holy Spirit tells the disciples what is yet to come. Here, the expression, what is yet to come refers to plans of God that will be fulfilled in the future, such as the gospel being preached to the ends of the earth, Jesus’ second coming, judgment and eternal life in the kingdom of God. Also, it refers to God’s plans and visions for the disciples’ own life. By telling the disciples what is yet to come, the Holy Spirit helps the disciples set their minds on the glorious things of the future; as a result, the disciples of Jesus are not bound to the present reality; instead, they think about something glorious that will be done in the future; the disciples of Jesus are actually, dreamers.Often, the present reality seems so challenging – financially, academically, and even spiritually; but strangely, Jesus’ disciples talk about something very big and amazing, saying, I will be a father of many nations. I will be a mother of many nations. I will conquer the world. We remember how God helped Abraham in Genesis 16. When Abraham calculated what would be the outcome of his life of faith without having any son, he concluded that eventually, one of his slaves would inherit all of his estate; it seemed that he was working hard for his slave; he was completely depressed and troubled about this life of faith. He complained to God about this. Then, God said to him, Look up at the heavens and count stars – if indeed, you can count them. So shall your offspring be. God did not want him to look down on the earth and count the losses – the present reality; but God wanted him to look up at the heavens where God lived and count something beautiful, which God would do for him in the future. Our God is indeed the visionary; he enables us to live in the future.

 

When the Holy Spirit comes, He convicts the people of the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. But when He comes to the disciples who love Jesus and obey His command, He guides them into all truth, and makes known what is Jesus’ to them. By the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ disciples grow to be true leaders for God’s flock and they serve powerful works of God.

 

Third, You believe at last! (17-33). Look at verses 17 and 18. Because Jesus said, In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me, the disciples were confused, and they wanted to ask him about it. SoJesus explained to them about his death and resurrection. His death on the cross was like birth-pains to the disciples. They would experience great pain. But they would have great joy when Jesus rose again. When the hope of resurrection was planted in them through Jesus’ resurrection, nothing, and no one would be able to take away their joy. Then, they would devote themselves to God fully, and as the Holy Spirit resides in them, they would pray to do God’s work effectively. Jesus says, I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. While Jesus was with them, they didn't pray, because, whenever they needed anything, they ran to Jesus and asked for help, and sure thing, Jesus always helped them. But when Jesus was not physically with them any longer, they would rely on God through prayer. When they see God answering their prayer, they would be overjoyed. 

 

Look at verse 25. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.Jesus knew that human speech was not enough to reveal the things of God. But after his resurrection, they would understand all the secrets of spiritual things. Then, they would know about the Father very personally. Finally, Jesus said to them in verse 28, I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father. Jesus now plainly disclosed the meaning of his death on the cross, that was, as he came from the Father, now he was going back to Him. Look at verses 29 and 30. Let’s read these verses together:

 

29Then Jesus' disciples said, Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.

 

His disciples finally understood what Jesus said. They said, …This makes us believe that you came from God. When Jesus told them that he would go away, they were sad; they understood that Jesus would die and that it was the end of everything. So they were troubled in heart; they felt like a whole bunch of orphans; they felt like crying. But Jesus told them about its meaning over and over, and tried to comfort them with the promise of the Holy Spirit. And in this passage, finally, they understood that his death was not a tragic event, or not the end of everything, but simply his departure to his Father’s house. Finally, they understood that as he had come into the world, now he was going back to the Father through his death. It is amazing that finally they grasped the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was not separation or failure but him going back home, and his departure would bring them the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. This realization made them see shining glory through the death and resurrection of Jesus; a bright heavenly light was shining into their heartsThen, their separation anxiety and fear of the Jews all disappeared, and heavenly joy smeared into their souls. Matthew’s gospel records that after this meeting, they sang a hymn and went to the Mount of Olives, showing their joy and thanks. (Mt 26:30)

 

Look at verses 31 and 32. Jesus said to them, You believe at last! Throughout the whole upper room dialogue, Jesus struggled hard to tell them the true meaning of his death and resurrection; he struggled hard to comfort them with the hope of the Father's house, with the promise of the Holy Spirit; but their response was not so great; instead of accepting his message, they kept talking back, and came up with many questions and requests to prove his words; the time was ticking, and Jesus had only a few hours to go, but his disciples were not cooperative; Jesus must have been anxious; with such a burden in his heart, Jesus, like an anxious mother, taught the truth continually. Then, finally, they opened their hearts and accepted and grasped his message. How happy Jesus must have been! He said to them, You believe at last! Then, it was the time for them to be scattered and Jesus would be left alone. But God was with him.

 

Many years ago, while we were in darkness, Jesus had the same struggle with us; we rejected his love many times, but Jesus kept struggling with us through his servants. Then, finally, we opened our hearts and accepted his love. There we were changed. Indeed, on that day, Jesus shouted, “You believe at last!” Today, maybe, due to some doubt, maybe, due to some mistrust, maybe, due to our own worldly or fleshly desires, Jesus has the same struggle with us, struggling to help us to open our hearts to him and truly believe. When we do so, all darkness disappears and anxieties and fears are gone; instead, heavenly light shines into our hearts that we can see everything clearly and we can confidently entrust everything in God’s hands and do whatever he wants us to do. This is what Jesus wants to see. When we do so, Jesus shouts, “You believe at last!”

How do you respond to his efforts for you? 

 

Look at verse 33. Let's read this verse together:

 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

 

We often pray that God may give us a smooth, problem free life. But Jesus says that he cannot guarantee it; instead, he confirms that we will have trouble in this world. So, Christian life is not about a problem free life; instead, we have trouble in this world - trouble with sheep, trouble with shepherd, trouble with school, trouble with money, trouble with friends, and trouble with enemies. But while we go through all these troublesome conditions, we still have deep joy in our hearts by remaining in Jesus' love by obeying his command, and by renewing our true hope in the kingdom of God. This is what real Christian life is about. 

 

Jesus too had trouble - all challenges and difficulties, persecutions and temptations - but he overcame the world. How? By remaining in God's love by obeying his command despite all challenges. At that time, he was victorious, saying, I have overcome the world. Now by following Jesus' example, we too can overcome the world and live as God's children. Also, since he experienced all challenges, difficulties, persecutions and temptations, he understands our agonies and struggles and thereby, knows what we need and how he can help us. Together with him, certainly, we too can overcome the world and fulfill God's mission upon our life. Jesus says to us, In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

 

One Word: The Holy Spirit Will Guide You Into All Truth

 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

posted May 5, 2019, 3:37 PM by Site Administrator

8

 

YOU ARE MY FRIENDS IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND

 

John 15:11-27

Key Verse 15:14

 

You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

First, My command is this: Love each other (11-13).Look at verse 11. Let’s read this verse together:

 

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

 

It is really amazing that Jesus who was going to die had deep joy in his heart. How could he have such joy even right before his painful death? Jesus says in verse 10, If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. He had such joy because he remained in God's love by obeying his command. That was his secret of having deep joy even in such a troublesome moment. Despite such challenges, pains and difficulties, he was not defeated; instead, despite such challenges, he still remained in God’s love by obeying his commands. The harder the challenges were, the more joyful he was as he obeyed God's command. Even in unrelenting pain, Jesus had his heart’s consolation that he had not denied the words of the Holy One. (Job 6:10) Then, Jesus wanted his disciples to have the same joy. That’s why he has been telling them about remaining in his love by obeying his commands. If they did so, they too would have such joy in their hearts; even when things went rough, even when things were falling apart, still they would have their heart’s deep consolation that they had not denied the Words of the Holy One. Joy is the real essence of Christian life. Many people think that they must be joyful because they are Christians. So, they try to be joyful by doing a lot of fun activities. But the Christian’s real joy comes from remaining in Jesus’ love by obeying his commands. Jesus says, I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. Remain in Jesus’ love by obeying his commands, and you will have deep joy in your heart. 

 

Look at verses 12 and 13. Let’s read these verses together: 

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

 

So far, Jesus used the words, my commands obeying them,” plural, not singular. There are many commands Jesus gives his disciples, and in most cases, these commands are personal – specific commands written in that person’s heart. But now Jesus gives us this one command openly, publicly for all his disciples to keep – love each other. 

 

At first, we expected that Jesus would command us to do something really big, such as conquering the whole world with the gospel. But Jesus’ command here is very plain - Love each other as I have loved you. Here, the phrase, as I have loved you, shows that this command is for those who have experienced Jesus' love. Judas Iscariot could not be the recipient of this command because he did not know Jesus' love; he had rejected it, because he loved something else, money. That's why this command is not for the unbelievers, but the disciples who experienced his love personally; they know Jesus' love, and thereby, they can now exercise it to each other. If you experience Jesus' love personally, then, Jesus wants you to obey this command: Love each other as I have loved you.

 

This makes us think about our Christian life – it is not about doing all kinds of Christian things; instead, it is about loving each other. This love is not about feelings or emotions as people think, but it is agapeo, God’s love, which is sacrificial and unconditional. How can we love each other with God’s love? You know what love is about. Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud; it is not rude. It is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but it rejoices with the truth. It always trusts, always protects, always hopes, always perseveres. This is how we can love each other in the church. This requires us of sincere struggle. When we love each other this way in the church, our church becomes indeed the kingdom of God here on earth, and we are really happy and satisfied with our Christian life. Then, how much should we love each other? Jesus says, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. That’s how Jesus loved us, and that much Jesus wants us to love each other – that much commitment to each other, that much commitment to the church. 

 

When we think about this command, Love each other as I have loved you, we can see Jesus' heart's desire for them to form a unity of love among themselves. Thus far, under his care, they were one, and as one army, they could serve God's work together with Jesus. But now Jesus was going to leave them. And he desired that, even after his departure, even when he was not with them physically any longer, they would still remain as one army and in one mind and heart, they would serve God's kingdom work powerfully. If they loved each other, bearing with each other's weaknesses and shortcomings, they would remain as one army for God continually. Otherwise, they would have a lot of conflicts with each other, or they would fight with each other to occupy higher positions in the church, and they would be divided, scattered and then, destroyed. In Jesus' eyes, the most important thing the disciples must do was to love each other; only then, they could remain as his disciples. Otherwise, even if they became great and powerful, even after they did great work of God, they would be Satan’s toys, be divided, and then, destroyed. The most important thing for the disciples is to love each otherJesus issues only one command for your Christian life in the church, saying, If you obey my command, you will remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's command and remain in his love...My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Loving each other in the church is, therefore, the most important thing in our Christian life. When you love other brothers and sisters as Jesus has loved you, you remain in his love, forming the unity of love with other disciples in the church, and you will bear great fruit, showing yourselves as Jesus' disciples, and rendering glory to God. 

  

Second, You are my friends if you do what I command (14-17). Look at verse 14. You are my friends if you do what I command. Jesus is Lord of lords, and King of kings. He is the Creator God. We must obey him and bow down to him with a fearful and trembling heart. But Jesus considers us as his friends when we love each other. Let’s say, you go to heaven. There, while billions angels are standing, Jesus willacknowledge you as his friend before them, and he will introduce you to the angel, Michael, saying, Hi, Michael, this is my friend, Sam. And to Sam, he would say, This is the archangel, Michael. And Sam will not know what to do - shake hands with him, or bow down to him?!! We are just happy if we are allowed to enter his kingdom; we are glad if we are brought to his presence in his kingdom. But Jesus is happy to call us, Friends. People enjoy suspense and thrill in extreme sports – they crush themselves to the ground and bleed – they are crazy. But being called as Jesus’ friends is something really extreme beyond our wildest imagination. Maybe, this is the greatest reward we can imagine. This blessing will be given to us when we do what he commands - when we love each other as he has loved us; when we lay down our life for others in the church. It's something plausible; you can do it, and I can do it also. Jesus wants us to be his friends by doing what he commands us; Jesus wants us to be his friends by loving each other as he has loved us - we can be Jesus' friends now. Secure this blessing and be Jesus' friends!

 

When we think about this verse, You are my friends if you do what I command, we can see how much Jesus honors and respects those who obey his command and love each other; they are no longer ordinary people, but great people, worthy of honor and respect, who live for others, who even lay down their life for others in him. They are Jesus' disciples; they are children of God.

 

Look at verse 15. Let’s read this verse together:

 

15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

 

What kind of people are Jesus’ friends? They are the ones who know his business. Here, in verse 15, Jesus describes his friends as his business partners who know his business and thereby, with whom he can talk and discuss about his business. Servants who serve their master with a superficial form of obedience never know their master’s business – their master’s true concern, desire, plan and will. So the master cannot entrust really important things of his business to them, but only some peripheral jobs such as emptying trash cans or trimming the trees. But those who struggle to love each other in Christ come to know God’s business and grow up as God’s partners in His soul saving business. Jesus can hold serious business conferences with them, and even entrust his entire business to them. Then, these partners will do all they can do to promote Jesus’ business more and more, even if there is no supervisor over them. This shows us Jesus’ heart’s desire for us to grow up to be his friends. Some people obey so many commands such as keeping Sunday worship service, bringing offering, even fishing and teaching the Bible, but not as friends, but as servants; they don’t know why God asks them to make such dedication and commitment, but they do so out of the fear of punishment or as an obligation as Christians; or they think that they will get a ticket to heaven by doing such things. They never know God’s heart for them. Then, when they do not perform well, they feel condemned, and when they perform well, they become proud and self-righteous. They are like the older son in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel. Jesus never wants us toremain as servants, because simply, servants cannot obey his commands as he desires. Jesus wants us to be his friends who know his heart’s desire, plan and will, and he wants us to choose to obey his commands out of our own choice because we love him. Psalm 103:7 reads: God made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel. What God revealed to Moses was different from what He revealed to the people of Israel. He revealed his ways to Moses, but his deeds to the people of Israel. The Israel people experienced God’s deeds – his power and miracles – they were excited and happy, but they did not know why God was doing so, and where God was guiding them. They just enjoyed God’s blessing and were excited to see such miracles. But God revealed to Moses why He was doing such things, and where He was guiding them, because Moses was His partner. 

 

Who are Jesus’ friends? Those who know His business. Even if Jesus is on a trip to a distant country, even if he does not supervise, they take his business as their own and strive all the way to serve and promote his business, even sacrificing their whole life for itWe have so many examples: Abraham was God’s friend; Moses was God’s friend; Paul was Jesus’ friend; Count Zinzendorf, John Wesley, William Booth,… The list goes on and on – such dedicated and great people, so many of them, just like stars in the universeDr. Samuel Lee was Jesus’ business partner. God did not need to bother him asking him to do this and that. Even if God left him alone and let him do whatever he wanted, Dr. Lee figured out what to do and how to do it all by himself and served the world mission even at the cost of sacrificing his entire life. Mother Barry is his business partner. When she accepted God’s world mission command, she gave her whole life to this mission, giving up her comfortable life as the princess of Mississippi, going to a poor, war-ridden country, Korea, at the age of 24, serving Kimchi-smelly Koreans. For this mission of serving Koreans, she even sacrificed her marriage dream. Why did she do so? Because Jesus’ business of saving souls was her own business. When we obey Jesus’ commands really, we come to understand Jesus’ heart; then, our obedience to his commands is no longer out of obligation or for a free ticket to heaven. At that time, Jesus calls us, Friends. When we love each other in Christ really, we are Jesus’ friends, and he entrusts his most serious business of saving souls in our hands. When we love each other in Christ, we are Jesus’ business partners, carrying out his mission here in the world. Are you Jesus’ friends?

 

Look at verses 16 and 17. Let’s read these verses together:

 

16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.

 

How happy we are to hear this passage: Jesus says, You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. We are here today not because of our own decision, but according to Jesus’ choice and his selection, and there cannot be any mistake. God does not make a mistake; he doesn’t say, Ooops! Now as Jesus called us and brought us here together, he will fulfill his purpose upon us. What is his purpose? Jesus says, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Here, the expression, appointed you to go,… shows his mission assignment. We call this, God’s calling. None of us chose to be Jesus’ disciples. Yet, while we were still messing up, Jesus chose us to be his disciples, and he called us and appointed us to be his disciples to go and do God’s work on the college campuses. That’s why we live as Jesus’ disciples; that’s why we go to school and strive to take care of his sheep there. Jesus’ purpose in calling us and assigning us to the mission is so that we may go and bear fruit.What kind of fruits? When you go out to the mission field, you will know – there are so many souls waiting for God’s salvation, but dying in their sins. We are sent to go and find all these lost and wounded sheep and bring them back to Jesus, their shepherd. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. 

 

How can we obey this will of Jesus? We must go! In order to bear fruit, what shall we do? We must go! Jesus appointed us to go to the mission field. Modern day, many Christian churches do not go, but ask people to come, as a result, they never bear fruit despite gorgeous looking church programs. They decrease, instead of increasing. We must go and find souls. If we stay home comfortably, we are disobeying Jesus’ purpose. We must get out of our cozy home, and go into the mission field, our campuses, and look for the lost, saying, Are you interested in studying the Bible? Jesus chose us and appointed us to go! Let’s go! And we will bear fruit—fruit that will last forever.

 

Third, If the world hates you… (18-27). Look at verses 18 through 21. Let’s read these verses responsively: 

 

18If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 18If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 

 

Jesus now foretold them that they would be hated in the world. People’s behavior of hating Jesus’ disciples is really illogical because they hate those who do only what is good and noble. Jesus’ disciples are those who struggle really hard to serve and love selfish, sinful and irksome people in the world, even sacrificing their own promising future, comfortable life, and even shedding tears for them. So, the world must love them and honor them. But instead, the people of the world hate them. Surely, they hate them without cause. Then, why do the people of the world hate the disciples? Jesus says that they hate them because the disciples do not belong to the world any more. Not because of anything they have done wrong, but simply because they do not belong to the world any longer, but to God. Because they do not belong to the world, they are different in every aspect – their words and actions are different; their perspectives and value system are different; their hopes and directions are different. No matter what the world suggests, they do not go by it or live for it. So, the world hates them. 

 

Jesus tells us that since people in the world hated him, surely they will hate us, his disciples also. In Jesus’ eyes, it is a part of our life as Jesus’ disciples. So when we are hated without cause, we should not be surprised too much. Jesus says, If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. Who persecute us, his disciples? Those who persecute Jesus! Who obey our teaching? Those who obey Jesus’ teaching. Many people say, I obey God alone, not you. But it is spiritual impossibility to love Jesus and hate his disciples. Either you hate Jesus and his disciples, or you obey Jesus and his disciples. Due to people's religious life, what people say and do look confusing, but to Jesus, there is nothing confusing. Those who hate Jesus hate his disciples no matter what they say or no matter how religious they are; those who obey Jesus obey his disciples. People do not want to obey God, so they disobey Jesus' disciples. But there are people who listen to us humbly and follow our guidance. They are Jesus’ sheep who obey his teaching. 

 

Jesus also says, They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. This is really remarkable. The Jews thought that they knew God because they believed the Bible, confessed that the God of Abraham is the only true God; they had worship service, brought offerings, and taught the Bible. But Jesus proclaims here that they did not know God. In verse 24, Jesus says, Yet they have hated both me and my Father. Before the truth came, it seemed that they were lovers of God. But when the truth came, their true identity was revealed as haters of God. Then, they felt so bad that they killed the person who told the truth instead of repenting. They were haters of God.

 

When we are persecuted, what should we do? How does God help us? Look at verses 26 and 27. Let’s read these verses together:

 

26When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

 

God sends us the Holy Spirit whenever we are hated and persecuted so that we can testify to the truth boldly. By faith, we have been eye-witnesses of Jesus’ birth, teaching, death and resurrection. God chose us to be Jesus’ disciples and has revealed to us all deep hidden secrets of the spiritual world, especially the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Why? So that we can testify to the truth, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the people of the world. So, we must testify.

 

In today’s passage, we heard Jesus’ command to love each other. The disciples of Jesus are those who love each other with Jesus’ love. We have Jesus’ encouraging promise: You are my friends if you do what I command. May God bless us to love each other and live as Jesus’ friends. May God bless us to take care of Jesus’ business as his friends.

 

One Word: You Are My Friends If You Do What I Command 

 

 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

posted Apr 29, 2019, 8:25 PM by Site Administrator

I AM THE VINE

 

John 15:1-10

Key Verse 15:5

 

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

 

In the previous passage, we learned how we must love Jesus. We experienced Jesus’ love, and we now want to love him. But while he is in heaven, while he is God the Almighty, how can we love him? Jesus gives us a clear direction, saying, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” He also says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” All Christians say, “I love Jesus.” But Jesus does not accept that kind of a lip service. Instead, he wants real love that is shown in action of having his commands and obeying them. Show your love for Jesus by accepting his commands and obeying them. After this, Jesus gave them his teaching of the vine and the branches, showing them how they were related and how they would live a truly wonderful life. May God bless us to accept this teaching.

 

First, “I am the vine” (1-3). Look at verses 1 and 2. Let’s read these verses together:

 

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

 

Jesus says, “I am the true vine.” The true vine is the vine that has everything for its branches to bear really good fruit. Any branch that is in this true vine, is to bear good fruit. When Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the vine,” and “you are the branches,” he meant that they were essentially related to him, and that he was the essential part for them to live truly meaningful and fulfilling lives. Originally, Adam was beautiful, powerful, glorious and full of life because he was connected to God, the source of life. But when he was disconnected from God due to his sinning, he became like a laptop computer whose plug was pulled out from the wall outlet. Still he was alive because he had been charged fully with life power that came from God, the source of life, and this one time fully charged life lasted about 1,000 years. But when the battery ran out, he could not be recharged any longer, and simply, he collapsed. Jesus is the true vine to which all his creation should be connected so that they can thrive and prosper. 

God the Father is the gardener. He is actively involved in the lives of those who are connected to Jesus the Son, to make sure that they become fruitful. How happy we are that God the Father is actively involved in our life! Surely, we are not alone, but we live our life together with God, and his whole concern for us is that we may become truly fruitful in our life. As the gardener what does he do? Jesus says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruithe prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” His main job is pruning. There are many branches in the vine tree; some branches bear fruits, and some others do not bear fruit; these fruitless branches are only leafy. What the farmer desires from the vine tree is not leafy branches, but fruit – grapes. These branches that have a lot of leaves, but do not have any fruit are useless and even harmful because they suck up a lot of nutrients, which, otherwise, would have gone to the branches that bear fruit. So he cuts them off. God’s desire is to send all nutrients to the branches that will bear fruit. 

 

God as the gardener, also prunes any branch that does bear fruit, so that it may be even more fruitful. This fruit-bearing branch has great potential to bear really best quality fruit. But it also can produce many twigs that will eventually be developed into many small branches, then, the nutrients that come to this fruit-bearing branch will be distributed to so many small branches, resulting in only small, sour and low quality fruit – such small, sour and low quality fruits have no value in the market. So, the gardener prunes these small twigs in the fruit-bearing branch so as to secure big, sweet and best quality fruit. When one person dedicates himself to Jesus fully, he has great potential to bear good fruit – through this one person, so many people can be inspired, encouraged and strengthened to repent and come back to God. Through this one person, God’s kingdom can advance powerfully in the world; he can grow to be a world class leader, very influential, honored and respected, bringing glory to God. But, like the 11 disciples, he may have some other hidden worldly desires that will suck up a lot of time and energy from him. Maybe, he has unique weakness or unique sin problem that makes him very ineffective. God helps him to be cleansed of all these things so that he may be even more fruitful. 

 

How? Through the words of God. Jesus says in verse 3, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” Through the word of God, they could see what was right and what was wrong; through the word of God, they could see what God wanted them to do. And as they accepted and obeyed the word of God, their own selfish desires and sins were removed from their hearts and lives. For example, they were competing with each other to be the greatest among them; they were still worldly and self-seeking even in Jesus. But Jesus showed them who is the greatest, saying, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) When the disciples James and John saw that the people in a Samaritan village did not welcome them, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" (Luke 9:54-55) They were immature and proud. But Jesus turned and rebuked them. With the words of God Jesus taught them, they were cleansed of all sinful, selfish and worldly desires and lives and became children of God sound and healthy.

 

As we strive to serve God’s will, we find that there are many things that suck our strength and time. Among them, sin is worst - it sucks up a lot of time and energy, which otherwise, would have gone to fruit-bearing in serving God’s kingdom. Some people are proud, and as a result, they spend tons of hours in judging and condemning others and in suffering from jealousy. Many people spend their time and energy in self-seeking worldly desires. Some people spend tons of time and energy in seeking lust in darkness, as a result, they are not productive. So in order to cleanse them, in order to prune all these things from their hearts and lives, God challenges them and convicts them with the word of God, showing them what He wants them to do. Those who love Jesus – good branches – open their hearts and accept God’s challenge in repentance and are cleansed and sanctified. In this way, they grow in Jesus continually and become more fruitful than before. 

 

Some people, out of good intension, do so many different types of God’s work, such as taking care of homeless people twice a week, visiting hospital to comfort patients there every Saturday, visiting Los Angeles county prisons for the prison ministry, visiting many countries for a short term mission, and attending three churches. As a result, all of their time, energy, potential and talents are distributed to so many ministries and works that even after working so hard, they only bear small, sour and low quality fruit. That’s not what God wants them to do. Instead, God’s desire is to prune them, to remove all other small twigs and small branches so that all their energy, strength, time and talent may be poured out on what God wants them to do so that they may bear really good fruit, best quality fruit, making the gardener so proud and happy. They become big, juicy and sweet fruits the Gardener desires. Through them, God fulfills his purpose and reveals His glory to the world. 

 

“God cuts off every branch in Jesus that bear no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” This shows us how seriously God desires fruit from us, Jesus’ disciples. No Christian can be casual about this will of God for them; all Christians must seriously and sincerely aim to bear fruit as Jesus’ disciples and pursue it. God called us to be shepherds, shepherdesses, Bible teachers and disciple makers. Right now, each of us is like a small mustard seed, so tiny and insignificant. But God is helping us to bear big, juicy and best quality fruit in our life; his desire is that all of us may become world best Bible teachers, world best disciple-makers and good shepherds and shepherdesses for God’s flock, and that each of us may become like a big gigantic mustard tree that covers the whole world. For this, God is working on us and cleanses us with his word so that we can live up to our true potential – how happy we will be when we live up to our true life capacity! Again, in this life as Jesus’ disciples, we are not alone, but we are with God the Father, working together to fulfill God’s purpose upon our life. Thank God! Let God’s work be done in our life!

 

Second, “Remain in me” (4-6). Now the disciples were clean and ready to do the works of God. But fruit-bearing requires one more step to go, that is, to remain in Jesus. Look at verses 4 through 6. Let’s read these verses together:

 

4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 

 

In these three verses, Jesus uses the word, “Remain,” six times” - Remain, remain, remain, remain, remain and remain. This shows Jesus’ burning wish for his beloved disciples to remain in him. They had been with Jesus for three years; as they were submissive to him and followed him, Jesus could shape them up according to his plan and purpose, and had established them as Bible teachers, shepherds, and leaders – now they were living according to God’s will as His servants. But now, Jesus had to leave them and go home in heaven. Now Jesus’ burning wish for them was that, despite his absence, they would remain in him continually as they had remained in him for the past three years. He wished that they would continue to live as his disciples, as God’s servants, taking care of God’s flock just as they had been doing, even when he was not with them physically. Then, he would continue to lead them, shape them up and fulfill his purpose upon their lives. Only when they remained in Jesus continually, as branches of the true vine, they would come to bear great fruit in their lives, doing very important things for God, and becoming very great – at that time, their life would be truly fulfilling and meaningful, and they would become truly important, valuable, precious and even glorious both to God and other people.

 

 The word, “remain,” implies a certain period of time, during this time, until any branch bears fruit, there may be many challenges, obstacles and difficulties – maybe, some bugs bother it, or a strong wind may blow on it – but no matter what, the branch must remain in the vine continually. As we struggle to live according to Jesus’ plan and purpose, we come to have difficulties such as financial difficulties, or academic difficulties; but still, despite such difficulties, we remain in Jesus, living according to Jesus’ will and purpose. Sometimes, we have deep pains and sorrows due to misunderstanding or persecutions from our beloved people, but still we remain in Jesus, doing what Jesus wants us to do. We deny ourselves to follow Jesus. Psalm 126:5,6 describe a real Christian life very well: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Why, sowing in tears? Because of pains and sorrows! But still, they keep sowing, doing what is asked. Then, at the harvest time, they sing songs of joy. As we serve God’s work, often we carry deep pains and sorrows in our hearts, but still, we keep doing what God wants us to do, asking students with smiles, “Would you be interested in studying the Bible?” While carrying such pains and sorrows, we still teach and preach the word of God. In that way, we remain in Jesus’ will and purpose both in good time and in bad time. No matter what, we do what He wants us to do. As we do so for 10 years, 20 years and 30 years, our life is being built up in Jesus completely according to Jesus’ will and purpose, becoming so holy and sanctified to God, and we end up seeing God’s great vision upon our own life coming true – we become fathers and mothers of many nations; we become fishers of men; we become a source of blessing that, through us, God blesses so many people in the world. When you remain in Jesus, you bear good fruit according to God’s plan.

 

What will happen if anyone does not remain in Jesus? Not good at all! In the passage, Jesus shows us repeatedly what terrible things will happen if any of his disciples does not remain in him. Verse 4b, “No branch can bear fruit by itself.” Verse 4c, “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Verse 5, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” And verse 6, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” If anyone does not remain in Jesus for whatever reason he may have, that person cannot bear any good fruit, nothing. Moreover, that person’s life withers moment by moment, because he becomes like a branch that is cut off from the vine; such branches are thrown and wither. The word, “wither,” illustrates the life of those who do not remain in Jesus very well; maybe, for success or money, they go out of Jesus’ will; maybe, for a romantic relationship or for their marriage dream, they go out of Jesus’ will and purpose; at first, they feel good at the thought of having secured what they have desired, but as time passes by, their life withers in them moment by moment, and they come to lose joy and peace little by little, and eventually, they completely wither that nothing can make them joyful and happy any longer; simply, they are dead spiritually. Such branches are good for nothing but firewood. Jesus talked to them about this over and over to make sure that all 11 of them really understood that, once they went out of Jesus’ will and purpose no matter what reason or purpose, they would not be able to do anything well or achieve anything in their life; Jesus really wanted to make sure that they understood that, once they went out of his will and purpose in anything, their life would surely wither. Simply, their life would wither, once they went out of Jesus’ will and purpose, whether they secured their dream job or not, whether they successfully built a dream family or not. All these people die sorrowfully regretting terribly of their wrong choice. This is Jesus’ warning for all his beloved disciples, for all Christians.

 

When we study the Bible, we find that this is actually, God’s warning for all mankind from the beginning of God’s creation. After creating the first man Adam and giving him the perfect paradise, the Garden of Eden, God told him very clearly to not go beyond his will and purpose, saying, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden. But you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” (Gen 2:16,17) But alas! Adam didn’t pay attention to God’s warning; he took it with a relativistic attitude, something optional. As a result, he and all his descendants came to die. When God brought the Israel people out of Egypt, he told them about the blessings when they obeyed his commands and warned them about the terrible consequences of disobeying his commands; he had Moses tell all Israel people about these, and later, had six tribes stand on Mount Gerizim to pronounce blessing if they obeyed God’s commands, and the other six tribes stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce curses if they disobeyed. Deuteronomy 27 and 28 talk about this; an interesting thing is that God mentioned about blessings in 14 verses, but curses in 66 verses, showing what terrible things might happen to them if they disobeyed. God really warned them about it, and tried to engrave into their hearts these warnings through this special ceremony or performance. But they didn’t pay attention to God’s warning – so they were destroyed and suffered terribly. Now in the New Testament, God came to the world, found some people who loved him, and gave them the same direction – blessings and warnings. He used very strong words: “No branch,” “must,” “nothing,” “thrown away,” “withers,” “thrown into the fire and burned.” Remember that the direct audience of this teaching was his 11 apostles – even these apostle whom Jesus loved so much were not exceptional. There is no exception, and this principle is applied to everyone absolutely. If you remain in Jesus, you bear good fruit; if you don’t remain in him whatsoever reason you may have, you wither, and die miserably. Remaining in Jesus is as important as receiving the forgiveness of sins. Jesus never wants his disciples to make a mistake in this matter. 

 

Jesus was like a mother who is going to be on a trip leaving her children behind – before leaving, in order to make sure that nothing terrible shall happen to her children, she would give all important instructions to them, saying, “Don’t play with fire! Don’t turn on the gas! Don’t go to the street!” Jesus never wanted something terrible happen to any of his beloved disciples. So he warned them continually, and strongly that they must not make any mistake in this matter. Otherwise, they would be like a branch that is thrown away and withers, only to be picked up and thrown into the fire and burned.

 

This is Jesus’ anguished heart for his believers, but many people think differently. Instead of striving and making conscious efforts to remain in Jesus, they conveniently say, “God is in control,” or “If this is not God’s will, he will let me know,” and pursue what they desire in finding a job, in finding a marriage partner, and in choosing a housing location. They go out of Jesus’ will and purpose in these things very conveniently, relying on theology or quoting from Bible verses easily. As a result, they become like branches that bear no fruit. Also, many people think that they are remaining in Jesus because they say that they believe in Jesus. They are really blind and ignorant. If they have been remaining in Jesus, they must have borne great fruits for God’s glory, but instead, the fruits they have borne are broken families, wandering children, bitterness, anger, sorrow, loneliness and depression. It is no wonder that the divorce rate among the church going people in America, this so-called “a Christian country” is so high, even higher than that of among the unbelievers. Their fruit testifies loudly of what they have become – not branches of the vine, but dried wooden sticks that are good for nothing but firewood. Jesus’ message is this: Remain in me. “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.” 

 

Third, “Remain in my love” (7-10). Look at verses 7 and 8. Let’s read these verses together:

 

7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 

Now, here Jesus explains the meaning of remaining in him as his words remaining in the disciples. The disciples might have their own ideas and desires. Then, Jesus’ words, which show Jesus’ will and purpose come to them, and there is a conflict between Jesus’ desire and their own desire; then, after some struggles, they choose Jesus’ will and purpose upon their life over their own will and purpose. As a result, their own desires and plans do not remain in their hearts and lives any longer; instead, Jesus’ words remain in them and they live according to Jesus’ will and purpose. At that time, they remain in Jesus, doing what Jesus wants them to do. At that time, as they struggle to serve Jesus’ will and purpose, if they face any challenge or difficulty, or if they need anything, they simply ask God for it, and God will answer their prayer. The expression, “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you,” shows how those who remain in Jesus will come to experience God’s help and intervention in their practical life of serving Jesus’ will. Because of God’s practical help in their life of mission, their Christian life is so abundant and they grow in their faith in God more and more. They are the ones who grow from glory to glory. When you remain in Jesus, when you know how you have obeyed God’s will despite such challenges, even pains and sorrows, you can enjoy such a heart’s consolation that you have not denied the words of the Holy One. At that time, your conscience is free; at that time, you have nothing to fear or worry about; instead, in all circumstances, you can confidently pray to God, asking for his help and blessing. Such people are really blessed; they are God’s beloved people. They are Jesus’ disciples. In that way, when they bear much fruit by the help of God, God is happy with them. Jesus says, “This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” 

 

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

 

9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 

 

Here, Jesus explains that remaining in him means to remain in his love. What does it mean to remain in Jesus’ love? It means to accept Jesus’ love for us and love him back; simply, it means to remain in the love relationship with him. How can we remain in his love? By obeying his commands, as Jesus obeyed the Father’s command and remained in his love. What if his command is conflicting with our own desires and plans for our future career or marriage dream? We choose to remain in his love by obeying his commands. We choose his love over our dreams and desires. What if his command is very costly and painful to obey? We still accept it and do it, willing to bear such pains and sorrows for his sake. The Father’s command for Jesuswas to die on the cross for sinners; it was scary. But see what Jesus says: “As the Father has loved me,...” There was no hint of doubt about the Father’s love for him even at this kind of command. Indeed, he loved the Father and remained in the Father’s love by doing whatever the Father asked him to do. Those who love Jesus trust in his love for them that no matter what, in any circumstances, they don’t doubt or complain, but happily follow Jesus’ guidance – they remain in Jesus’ love by obeying his commands absolutely.

 

Again, Jesus is the vine and the disciples are the branches. As long as we remain in Jesus, the vine tree, we are branches of the vine, but if we don’t remain in Jesus, we are no longer branches, but wooden sticks and become firewood. When we don’t remain in Jesus, we lose our identity and we don’t know who we are and what we are supposed to do. We, Christians must remain in Jesus so that we can live up to our potential, bearing great fruit for God’s glory. Then, how can we remain in Jesus? By obeying his commands. 

One Word: Jesus Says, “Remain In Me.”

Sunday, April 21, 2019

posted Apr 21, 2019, 7:51 PM by Site Administrator

MY LORD AND MY GOD

 

John 20:1-31

Key Verse: 20:28

 

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

         

          First, “Woman, why are you crying?” (1-18). Look at verses 1 and 2. It was Sunday morning, the first day of the week. While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She was the one whom Jesus set free from seven demons. Once she experienced Jesus’ grace, she was truly thankful for his grace. Since then, she followed Jesus, supporting his ministry together with other women. Because of Jesus’ grace, she lived a totally different life, the life of God’s servant, and she became a happy woman. But when Jesus died on the cross, she became utterly sorrowful. Now the only thing she could do as the final act of love for Jesus was to anoint his body with spices. So, early morning on Sunday, she went to the tomb. But when she arrived at the tomb, she found that the stone had been removed from the entrance of the tomb, and the body was gone. She was shocked, ran to Peter and John and told them about it.

 

          When Simon Peter and John, the author of this book, heard this, they started off for the tomb. Both were running as fast as they could, but John outran Peter, and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then, Simon Peter arrived, and went right into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head, folded up by itself, separate from the linen (2-7).

 

          The empty tomb is the first piece of evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. The strips of linen and burial cloth prove that Jesus’ body was not taken away. In that case, the linen and burial cloth would be gone also. The burial cloth0 testifies that Jesus had truly been raised from the dead, unwrapped himself, folded his burial cloth and left. Look at verse 8. “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” When John saw the evidence of the empty tomb and the burial cloth, he believed. When he saw the evidence, he reasoned, “Jesus must be alive!” What an amazing thing to believe! What did John do after believing such an amazing fact? He quietly went home (10). His understanding of the resurrection based on reasoning and evidences did not give him anything; he saw and believed in the resurrection of Jesus, but it did not mean anything to him; it was just like knowing that 2 + 2 = 4.  If he had real resurrection faith, he could have been changed completely and become powerful. If he had genuine resurrection faith, then even though Jesus had died, the reality of Jesus rising again could have been burning in his heart, and he could have gone to the people of Jerusalem and proclaimed by faith, “The Lord is Risen!” But instead, he just returned home quietly, keeping his thoughts to himself.

 

          The author John shares with us the problem in verse 9, saying, “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” Their faith was not based on the Scriptures but based on evidences and reasoning. At that time, even though John believed in Jesus’ resurrection, his so-called faith had no power to remove fear from him, and no power to change his life; it was just head knowledge. People think that, if they have evidences, they will believe. So, they watch a lot of youtube videos. The problem, however, is that, even if they think they believe because they are convinced by many evidences, that faith does not do anything. 2+2 = 4. What does that mean to you? Nothing!

 

          John’s case portraits so many Christians’ problem. They ever go to church on the Easter and hear the resurrection message; it seems that they believe in the resurrection. But despite their faith in the resurrection, there is no real change in their life; their so-called faith has no power to remove fear or sorrows from their hearts; it has no power to change them into powerful servants of God. They just have knowledge of the resurrection, and nothing more. Why? It is because their so called-faith is not from grasping God’s words; it is not great revelation to them based on God’s words, but just head knowledge which they have acquired in the Bible, just like in the way they acquire some knowledge by studying the history. Verse 9 shows us the importance of having the resurrection faith based on the Scriptures. That’s why we struggle hard to write deep testimony every week so that we can really grasp God’s message through the word of God. When we grasp the resurrection through the word of God, at that time, great revelation comes to us, and we are amazed at the reality of the resurrection, and we are completely fascinated about it. At that time, all things in this life suddenly loses its power and grip on us, and we are set free to love God and pursue God. This is the principle for all aspects of our spiritual life - God’s creation, God’s love, God’s plan, God’s goodness, God’s power, resurrection, and eternal kingdom - faith in all these things through the Scriptures. 

 

          Look at verses 10 through 13. The disciples went back to their homes, but Mary could not simply leave the tomb because of the deep sorrow that filled her heart. She just stood outside the tomb crying. Even though Jesus died, her love for him did not die.

 

          As Mary wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him” (13b). At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

           

          When Jesus was standing right in front of her, she did not recognize him maybe because the Risen Christ looked a little different in appearance or because she did not expect that it would be Jesus, even if he looked like him. But when Jesus said, “Mary,” she was surprised because it was exactly the same way Jesus had addressed her before. She recognized that it was Jesus - no question about it at all! After rising from the dead, Jesus now was God in glory, yet he was the same Jesus who knew and loved Mary. Several years ago, you met Jesus personally; at that time, his love for you was so tender and satisfying that you wept a lot with tears and snot. Today, Jesus is the same for you, so loving and compassionate. Often, Christians are scared and troubled because they think that Jesus may be angry with them for their poor performance. But today, Jesus calls you with his loving voice, “Mary,” just in the same way he used to call you before. Later, when we go to heaven, when we stand before him, he will call us by our name just in the same way he called us first. And we will recognize his voice. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

 

Look at verse 17. Let’s read this verse together:

 

17Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.””  

         

          “Do not hold on to me,” means literally, “Stop clinging to me” (NASB). Mary was so happy that she ran to Jesus and clasped his feet, determined never, ever to let go of him again. But Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me.” “Stop clinging to me.” She could not cling to Jesus - that kind of relationship with him would not be possible any longer, because Jesus would leave her and return to the Father. Now, instead, Jesus showed her how she would be with him continually, saying, “Go instead to my brothers and tell them.” Often, we dream about holding onto Jesus physically, having him sit right next to us, bringing all our questions and requests, and Jesus solving them immediately so that everything would go well with us, and we would have no problem ever. But that kind of relationship is not possible, because now Jesus is in heaven. But Jesus shows us that we can still hold onto him, remain in him and enjoy such beautiful relationship with him by holding onto his mission, by obeying his command to bring this good news of his resurrection to the ends of the earth. As long as we live for this holy mission, we are holding onto him, and we remain in him. That’s how we can love him and enjoy life together with him. Today, he is with us in our life of serving his mission.

 

          Jesus gave her the exact message she should deliver to the disciples, saying, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Jesus was returning to the Father, but he did not simply say to them that he was returning to the Father. Instead, he emphasized that he was returning to his Father and their Father, to his God and their God, showing that God was their God and their Father also, declaring the restored relationship between God and his disciples. That was the result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. He paid the price of the sin of the world through his death on the cross, and thereby, the relationship between God and those who believed in him was restored - they became God’s people and God became their God. God is Jesus’ Father and Jesus’ God, and now God is our Father and our God. As Jesus returned to the Father after completing his mission, we too will return to our Father and our God. This was the message Jesus wanted Mary to deliver to his disciples. Today, this is the message Jesus wants me to deliver to all of you. Jesus’ Father in heaven is your Father who loves you; Jesus’ God is your God who watches over you; and you will return to the Father as Jesus returned to the Father. There, you will spend eternity with Him in joy, thanks and happiness. How great it is that we now are in the right relationship with God, calling him, “Father.” How great it is to live as children of God! Now we have our eternal home, which we will go back to and spend eternity, our Father’s house. Now we do not live as endless wanderers on earth. Instead, we know where we are going and what is waiting for us. This is the true condition of all those who believe in Jesus. This is the result of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. And now this is the message Jesus wants us to deliver to all peoples on earth. 

 

          At this, Mary went to the disciples and gave them the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her (18).

 

          Second, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (19-23). Look at verse 19. That Sunday evening, the disciples were altogether. It was only three days since Jesus had been arrested, convicted, crucified, and killed. The disciples knew that the Jewish authorities would be coming for them next (18:19). So they cowered together in fear behind locked doors. Because of fear, they were paralyzed and useless. As they sat there, the Risen Christ was suddenly in their midst, even though the doors were locked. He said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

 

          When Jesus rose again from the dead, the first thing he did was to visit his disciples and restore their spirit - first, Mary, and then, other disciples. Jesus visited sorrowful Mary, and kindled fire in her by planting the resurrection faith in her; then, she became overjoyed, and her spirit was revived; she ran to his disciples and delivered the resurrection message. Then Jesus visited his fearful disciples and kindled fire in them by planting in them the resurrection faith. Then, all fear disappeared from their hearts and they were overjoyed. This is what Jesus wants to do for his disciples - kindling fire in them by planting in them the resurrection faith. Due to life’s challenges, often Jesus disciples are discouraged and lose their spirit - thanks to so many problems in their life such as job problem, marriage problem, family problem, sin problem, and sheep problem, their spirit is damaged and fire is gone in their hearts and life; some disciples are sorrowful, while others are fearful. Jesus visits them and kindles fire in them by planting the resurrection faith. This is Jesus’ heart’s desire for you. Today, Jesus kindles the fire in us and revives our spirit. He says to us, “Peace be with you.”

 

Look at verses 21 and 22. Let’s read these verses together:

 

21Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

         

          Jesus said to them, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus commissioned them as his missionaries. God sent his Son as the first missionary to this world to save men from their sins, and the Son fulfilled his mission successfully. As he was sent, the Risen Christ also sent his disciples into the world as missionaries to spread the good news of eternal salvation. With that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So, what happened? Did they feel warmth filling their hearts? Or, did they feel strong wind blowing upon them? Or were they suddenly in the Supersane mode and their bodies glowing in gold color? No. Nothing happened! Actually, about 47 days later, they would receive the Holy Spirit. But Jesus here said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” with his gesture of breathing on them, showing that, when he sent them out, they would not be alone in doing God’s work, but Jesus would equip and empower them by sending them the Holy Spirit. So, they should not be scared or worry about it; instead, simply, they should accept Jesus’ will and obey his mission assignment. This is the confidence now we have in Jesus Christ that when we obey God’s world mission command, God sends us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do His work. As we go out to the campuses and teach students the words of God, we can be rest assured that the Holy Spirit is working in and through us, guiding us into all truth and letting us know what to say and how to teach the Bible to the students. Eventually, it is God who is at his work to save souls to this very day, and we are only his instruments - just simply do what God asks you to do and God will do His work in and through you.

 

          Look at verse 23. Jesus said to them, “23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” This means that Jesus entrusted all the matters of God’s salvation work that would be going on here on earth into the hands of the disciples. As they proclaimed the forgiveness of people’s sins in Jesus Christ, their sins would be forgiven. If not, no one would be forgiven. They were now in charge of serving God’s salvation work here on earth.  

         

          Without the resurrection faith, the disciples had no direction for their lives because they were under the power of death. They did not know what to do and where to go. The only thing they could do was to tremble behind locked doors out of the fear of death, and the only thing they wanted to do was to run away to save their lives. But when they met the Risen Christ, they were changed, and because of this life-changing grace, they lived as missionaries for God’s world salvation purpose. “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” This statement of Jesus shows what we must do as the people who accept Jesus and have resurrection faith, that is, we must live as God’s missionaries bringing the message of sin-forgiveness to many dying people in this world. Why does Jesus reveal Himself to us? Why does Jesus give us His Holy Spirit? It is because he wants us to live as witnesses of his resurrection by preaching the message of eternal salvation. Without resurrection faith, we are lonely, sorrowful, and fearful. Without resurrection faith, we live a life ruled by our emotions, desires, and feelings. But with resurrection faith, we become God’s missionaries.

 

          Third, “My Lord and my God!” (24-31). Look at verses 24 and 25. Thomas called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came the first time after his resurrection. Later, when Thomas joined them, he found that they were different; their faces were shinning, their words had changed, and their demeanors had changed. Something great must have happened. And they all told him the same thing, “We have seen the Lord! Jesus is alive.” But Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” He must have recognized the changed mood of the other disciples: they were fearful, but now they were confident and joyful. When all other disciples whom he had lived together for a few years said that they had seen the Lord, he could have believed what they said. They were not the ones who would make up a story altogether and pretend to be joyful - he knew them. But still, he refused to accept their message. He was a stubborn person.

 

          Look at verses 26 and 27. A week later, Jesus visited them, and rebuked Thomas, saying, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Jesus used exactly the same words Thomas had said one week ago – busted! Don’t utter unbelieving words, or you will be really embarrassed when Jesus mentions about them. What a shocking moment and puzzling experience it was for Thomas! At this, Thomas fell to the ground and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” The word, “Lord,” means, “the one to whom a person or a thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding.” When Thomas called Jesus, “my Lord,” he meant that Jesus had the absolute control and right over his life; it meant that Thomas would not decide anything by himself any longer, but Jesus would decide - where to go, how to live and what to do, and Thomas would simply obey whatever Jesus decided for him; in this way, when he said, “My Lord,” he surrendered his life to him, yielding his own sovereignty to Jesus.

 

          He also called Jesus, “my God.” God is the object of worship, the true worthy object of our life’s complete devotion. He would live the life of pursuing Jesus, because Jesus was his God, the only true worthy object of his complete life devotion. Finally, Thomas stopped doubting; finally, he had made his heart’s complete determination to serve and live for Jesus his God. “My Lord and my God!” Jesus died on the cross for you; Jesus rose again from the dead and sits on the throne in heaven. Who is Jesus’ to you today? Is Jesus your Lord and your God? Surrender your life to Jesus; live your life for Jesus. 

 

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

 

Then, Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

          The 11 apostles saw the Risen Jesus and believed. So, they lived and died for Jesus. We envy them – they saw the Risen Jesus. But Jesus shows us here that those who don’t see but believe are really blessed. Today, even though we have not seen Jesus physically, we love him and dedicate ourselves to him; we call him, “my Lord and my God.” We are really blessed.

  

Look at verses 30 and 31. Let’s read these verses together:   

 

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

          This is the conclusion of John’s gospel. John’s purpose in writing this book is not to entertain people with amazing stories of Jesus’ miracles, but to help them understand who Jesus is, the Christ, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, your Lord and God, so that by believing you may have life, zoe, eternal life in him. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and your God, you live for Him. That life which lives for Jesus is zoe, eternal life, which is truly fulfilling and wonderful.

 

One Word: I Have Seen The Lord

Sunday, April 14, 2019

posted Apr 14, 2019, 9:14 PM by Site Administrator

IF YOU LOVE ME, YOU WILL OBEY WHAT I COMMAND

 

John 14:15-31

Key Verses 14:15,16

 

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--

 

First, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (15-20). Look at verse 15. “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” That’s Jesus’ understanding. If you love Jesus, then, naturally you will obey Jesus’ commands. That’s what Jesus expected from his disciples. The opposite is true too as Jesus says in verse 24. If anyone does not love him, he will not obey his teaching. Maybe, they will do some Christian things; maybe, they develop a lot of Bible knowledge. But eventually, they do not obey his teaching. Why? It’s because obeying his commands is challenging and costly. Not only obeying Jesus’ commands, but obeying anyone’s commands is not easy. Let’s say, your father’s command is that you eat breakfast together with the whole family at 7 o’clock. How is it? It’s not easy to keep it. Let’s say, your father is so generous that he says “8 o’clock breakfast”? That’s still not easy. Then, what about 11 o’clock brunch? Still not easy. Indeed, living in obedience someone’s command whoever that person may be, or whatever that command may be, is not easy. Then, what about obeying Jesus’ command? His way is higher than our ways; his thought is greater than ours. Sometimes, we have to do what we do not want to do; sometimes, there are a lot of pains and sorrows. Sometimes we have to sacrifice a lot of things we hold dear. Who are willing to bear such pains and sorrows continually to obey Jesus’ commands? Only those who love Jesus. They value Jesus far more than those things. What about those who do not love Jesus? They may try, doing this and that, doing many Christian things. But what? Eventually what do they choose to do? They choose what they really value; eventually, they cannot obey Jesus’ commands. So, in Jesus’ eyes, while everyone says, “I love Jesus,” only those who obey his commands are the ones who love him. Based on that fact, Jesus sees who is who.

 

When Jesus sees those who love him by obeying commands, he supports them by sending them the Holy Spirit. He says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you foreverthe Spirit of truth.” Here, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit in two ways – another Counselor and the Spirit of truth. The title, “another Counselor” shows that the Holy Spirit’s main job for the disciples is counseling service, showing them which way to go and what to do and what not to do. The disciples could understand this term very well, “another Counselor,” because Jesus as their leader and shepherd had been their Counselor thus far. Even if Jesus would be gone, indeed, he would come back to them in the form of the Holy Spirit. The expression, “the Spirit of truth” shows the Holy Spirit’ truthful character. The Holy Spirit leads Jesus’ disciples into the way of the truth, showing them what is really right and what is wrong, what they must do and what they must not do. Through having fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the disciples come to know the truth and develop the truthful character too. In that way, they grow in Jesus as men and women of truth, knowing the truth and exercising the truth.

 

Look at verse 17. Let’s read this verse together:

 

17 The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

 

The world does not acknowledge the Holy Spirit, so it cannot accept Him. But Jesus said to the disciples, “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” At this, maybe, the disciples scratched their heads, wondering if they really knew the Holy Spirit; indeed, they were not sure of it. But Jesus confirmed with them that they did know him. On what basis? Jesus said to them, “For he lives with you and will be in you.” As the disciples served God’s work together with Jesus, the Holy Spirit was with them, helping them. The disciples had no idea about it, but that’s the fact, and that’s how they could do many great things by the help of the Holy Spirit. And later, when God’s redemption plan was fulfilled through Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit on the day of the Pentecost, would come into them and live in them, in their body.

 

Jesus says, “But you know the Holy Spirit, for he lives with you and will be in you.” When we serve God’s work, the Holy Spirit lives with us, helping us and guiding us. That’s why we have come to experience many amazing things. Sometimes, during Bible study with our sheep, we find ourselves speaking amazing things of God, which we have never thought about; sometimes, out of nowhere we see sheep jumping into our boats; sometimes, we see our midterms or finals are postponed for no reason, only to help us. The Holy Spirit, the Almighty God, lives with you to help you and support you in doing God’s work. What great life we enjoy then! You know the Holy Spirit, for he lives with you.

 

But that’s not all. At a certain time, when the right conditions are met, the Holy Spirit will come into you and live in your body. As a result, two persons – your own person and the Holy Spirit – will live in your body. This is a divine mystery, but this is really true. Many years ago, in regard to speaking in tongue, some people challenged me, saying, “How do you know whether it is the Holy Spirit praying in you, or an evil spirit screaming and cursing? If it is the Holy Spirit, do you know his prayer topics?” It was obvious to me that He lived in me, but their question was a kind of intriguing. I accepted their challenge. I went to God in prayer that night and pretended to be like a sullen kid, saying, “Lord, you say that you love me. But how can I know that you really love me, when you do not let me know what you pray for?” While I was praying, other disciples who were praying together with me in the church giggled. Later, they said that they had never heard that kind of prayer, so funny.  Then, God’s answer was: “I live in you despite your sins.” I was so embarrassed. The expression of God’s love for me was that despite my sins, the Holy God was staying in me, bearing with all my smelly and dirty sins. Suddenly I was reminded of my sins, and I felt so ashamed. At the same time, I could see his love for me – because he loved me, he was enduring such smells and filthiness. At this, I shouted, “I am sorry, Lord. I will never ask you such a thing. I repent.”

 

When the Holy Spirit lives in your body, the fellowship with Him becomes much more real, and your understanding of God and having fellowship with Him deepens. Jesus says that on that day, when the Holy Spirit lives in you, you will realize that Jesus is in the Father, and you are in him, and he is in you. When Jesus mentioned about forming oneness with the Trinity God, it sounded conceptual and theological, simply not so realistic – being one with the Almighty God???!!!. But when the Holy Spirit lives in them, they would really understand what it means for them to form the unity with the Trinity God, because it is a reality in their life.

 

After getting the answer and gentle rebuke from the Holy Spirit about his love for me, I thought about it a lot. It was really touching. Living with a proud person in a studio apartment, or even taking a class with a sinful person is hard; people cannot bear with such people; they hate each other or they become enemies; that’s why people marry because they think they love, but in two years, they hate each other and divorce. But the Holy Spirit, despite our smelly sins, lives with us, and even in us, bearing with all our sins and filthiness, with long suffering patience. That is the expression of his intense love for us, and that is the evidence of his amazing humility. Sometime later, as I was meditating on this, I was really amazed at His humility. His humility was perfect – nothing to add or improve, just perfect, so marvelous and beautiful. Through it, I could see what kind of person Jesus was, and how he dealt with all kinds of people – Jesus was so beautiful in his meekness. Then, I suddenly realized that I had been exposed to God’s person, God’s character – the perfection in humility. Then, out of the depth of my heart, praise and thanks rose; I praised the Holy Spirit with all my heart and strength. Then, for the next two days, I became like Him in humility, in meekness, speaking tenderly to my children. When God’s glory was reflected on me, I became like him, being so meek and humble. When I had humility like the Holy Spirit, nothing was bothering me. Then, my daughter Sarah said to me, “Dad, today you are different.” I answered, “Yes, I am different, because I have been exposed to God’s person.” Jesus says, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Today, the Holy Spirit lives with you. Praise God! You can enjoy fellowship with him and do mighty works with him. But He also wants to live in you. Seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness with all your heart and strength so that you may be prepared as a vessel for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. Worship God in spirit, for God seeks such worshipers. Indeed, we are living in a blessed era – the last days when God pours out his Spirit on everyone, on anyone who is prepared.

 

Second, “And I too will love him and show myself to him” (21). Look at verse 21. Let’s read this verse together:

 

21  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

 

          Everyone says, “I love Jesus.” But in Jesus’ eyes, only those who have his commands and obey them are the ones who love him. What commands? Notice here, “commands” in plural. Didn’t he issue only one command, that is, to love one another? Then, how come, “commands”? There are many commands Jesus issues for us: “Love one another” is his command. “Go and make disciples of all nations” is another command. “Feed my sheep” is another command. When we think about the expression, “Whoever has my commands,” we can see that having his commands is personal. You personally accept certain instructions or directions as Jesus’ commands. People do not show absoluteness toward the Sunday worship service, but you accept it as Jesus’ command for you, and thereby, you keep it absolutely above your family gathering or your business trip – they do not have this command, but you have it; no matter how other Christians do, you keep the Sunday worship service absolutely, arranging all your schedules around the worship time. You accept Jesus’ command to be a shepherd for his flock on college campuses personally, and thereby, you make complete devotion to it that despite such rejections and persecutions, you keep doing it, even shedding a lot of tears – you have Jesus’ command, but others don’t have it. People consider sin casually, saying, “No one is perfect. God loves sinners,” and they keep sinning. But some people have Jesus’ commands in regard to their sins, and thereby, fight against their sins wholeheartedly. There are many commands you accept as Jesus’ commands for you personally such as writing a sincere testimony and attending the Friday meeting absolutely, or honoring your physical and spiritual parents and obeying them. Having Jesus’ commands and obeying them is personal. You keep them absolutely no matter how others say or do.

 

In Jeremiah 31, God talked about the New Covenant He would make. “The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant… This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time… I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Writing his law on the peoples’ hearts indicates that it is personal. When God’s laws are written in your hearts, you struggle to keep them absolutely, while others who don’t have God’s laws just do whatever they want to do. They cannot understand why you do so; they just ridicule you as exclusive people, or as even legalistic people. Simply, they don’t have Jesus’ commands, and thereby, they don’t obey them. As a result, in their Christian life, there is no true turning to God, no true commitment, no mission, and no purpose; they just go through the motion and talk all kinds of things which they don’t know. Maybe, only their mouths are spiritual. Those who have God’s laws written on their hearts and thereby keep them are God’s people according to the terms and conditions of God’s New Covenant. Those who have Jesus’ commands and obey them are those who love Jesus really. Blessed are you when you have God’s laws in your hearts. Blessed are you when you have Jesus’ commands and obey them. You are God’s covenant people.

 

          Jesus says, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” When you struggle to keep Jesus’ commands, willing to lose your own dreams and desires in this life, how do you look in God’s eyes? You look so precious – God can see your heart’s love for him. While you keep looking for students, despite many rejections, how do you look in God’s eyes? You look so beautiful. Think about a child who struggles hard to do what his father wants him to do – the task is so challenging and painful for him to do, yet, he struggles all the more, shedding tears for pains and sorrows; while crying and crying, he still does what his father wants him to do. How does he look in the eyes of the father? So cute! In this way, when we have Jesus’ commands and struggle to obey them, we are so beautiful and precious in God’s eyes - we are indeed, his treasured possession. God’s heart goes to us naturally, and He loves us so much. God loves the world, yet his love for those who have Jesus’ commands and obey them is different – God’s treasured possession.

 

          Not only so, Jesus says, “and I too will love him and show myself to him.” Obeying Jesus’ commands is not easy, because he is holy and we are not holy, and because his ways are higher than our ways. But when we have his commands and struggle to obey them, he watches over us, and helps us. When our pain grows more, when we reach our limit, he reveals himself to us, usually, right before we collapse. He is always at the right time, and He is never late. When he shows himself to us in our struggle to obey his commands, there we experience him very personally. Experiencing him personally is the most amazing thing. Once you experience him, your eyes are opened to his beauty and his grace becomes real to you, and you love him all the more. There, once you experience him, you come to see everything differently – what is really beautiful and what is really important, what you must really hope for and pursue. There, everything changes – your life purpose, your hope, your desire. Long time ago, I experienced him. When I reached my limit, he visited me in my small common life room and showed his glory to me, saying, “I know you.” There, all sorrows and loneliness were gone from my heart; happiness and the sense of satisfaction filled my heart. The eternal life I tasted there was so good and wonderful. Then, everything changed. Until then, I pictured my Christian life as the life of a wounded wolf. My Christian life was so difficult – I had many wounds and scars, deep pains, sorrows and loneliness – I became a man of sorrows. Yet, still there was no other choice, because, as I was born again, heaven was real and the hell was real too, and I must not go to hell, but heaven. So, embracing all pains and wounds and scars, I was struggling to live as a Christian. But when Jesus showed himself to me, everything changed; Christian life was a wonderful life, having fellowship with him, and working together with him, and experiencing him. Wow!!! What a wonderful life it was! Then, my whole life purpose and hope changed: It was to meet him and know him, and for this, I would go wherever he led me. Do you want Jesus to show himself to you? Do you want to experience him? Then, have Jesus’ commands and obey them! Love Jesus by obeying his commands, and he will show himself to you.

 

          Third, “We will come to him and make our home with him” (22-31). Look at verse 22. Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" During the upper room dialogue, Jesus revealed himself as God, the way and the truth and the life; he identified himself with God the Father, saying, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” And now he said that if they obeyed his commands, he would show himself to them. Thaeddius wondered how come Jesus didn’t show himself to the world so that all people would know him and worship him, if he were really God. How com he chose to reveal himself to only the 11 apostles. He could not understand Jesus’ way of working. Actually, we too think in the same way. If Jesus reveals himself to the world, many people would worship him. How come Jesus chooses to reveal himself to his disciples?

 

What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verses 23 and 24. Let’s read these verses together:

 

23  Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

 

At a first glance, Jesus’ answer sounds incoherent; it seems that his response is not related to the question. But it was. Jesus says, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” Even if Jesus reveals himself to the world, even if he proves himself as God, still eventually people will not obey his teaching, because they do not love him. Then, his point was: What’s the point of showing myself to the world? In his eyes, no point at all. But what about his 11 apostles? They loved him, and thereby, obeyed his teaching. So, he chose to show himself to them continually. What do you see here? We see here the ultimate result Jesus expects from us, that is, we live the life of obeying his teaching, obeying his commands. That’s the ultimate goal, real essence of our Christian life. Only those who love Jesus live that kind of life, and Jesus shows himself to them continually, and thereby, they come to know him more and more. In such peoples’ life, God’s creation order is restored. This is what the Bible is talking about from Genesis to Revelation. In Jesus Christ, we finally live in obedience to God’s commands, God’s will and purpose. This is what Christian life is about – not that we live a religious life, having Christianity as our religion, and doing some Christian things just in the same way the Muslims do Islam things, but that we live the life of obeying God’s commands, God’s laws. That is the real essence of our Christian life. Do you love Jesus? Then, have Jesus’ commands and obey them. That’s what Jesus expects from you. Without it, your Christian life has no purpose, no direction and no point. Only those who love Jesus do so, while those who do not love him don’t. When you do so, Jesus will show himself to you continually, and you will be really happy with him.

 

          Look at verse 23 again. Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Here, pay attention to the expression, “We will make our home with him.” God the Father and God the Son comes to you and make their home with you – this is very touching. When you love Jesus by obeying his commands, God the Father and God the Son offer you a home environment relationship. At home, you relax; you don’t have tension. You sit around the table with Jesus and God the Father, and you talk mouthful. There you are free to talk to him and enjoy fellowship with him; you can talk about anything. Indeed, there you enjoy freedom.

 

          Here we see great contrast. As you have Jesus’ commands and obey them, you show absoluteness toward his will and purpose, no compromise, but absolute loyalty and faithfulness, just like well-disciplined and reliable soldier. Your obedience to Jesus’ will and purpose is complete. Then, God offers you a home environment relationship so that you can enjoy life together with them freely. This is the real picture of our Christian life. We love God above all other things and thereby, obey his commands, his will and his purpose absolutely. As we do so, we come to enjoy such wonderful fellowship with Him. Think about Abraham. He enjoyed such wonderful fellowship with God. But when God’s command came, he was absolute, even obeying the command to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering to God. He was indeed free to love God and serve Him. This is what Jesus talks about when he said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

 

          It is all Christians’ dream to have this kind of wonderful fellowship with God the Father and God the Son – a home environment fellowship with God. But the problem is that they don’t have God’s commands and they don’t obey them. Without doing their portion, they just claim that wonderful fellowship. It does not work. They must love God. How? By accepting God’s calling, God’s will as God’s commands for them and obeying them absolutely. They must do their portion first so that they can have real fellowship with God.

 

Look at verses 25 through 27. So far, in his upper room dialogue, Jesus talked to his disciples very heavy messages and it seemed that his disciples neither understood nor accepted his teaching. But despite their objections, Jesus did not despair because he knew that when the Holy Spirit came to them, He would teach them all things and help them remember his teaching. So entrusting all other matters into the hands of the Holy Spirit, he blessed his disciples, saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

 

Look at verses 28 through 31. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

28"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. "Come now; let us leave.

 

Dying on the cross was painful and shameful. But he died willingly, of his own accord. Why? Because he wanted to obey God’s command by any means. Thus, he proved that he loved God more than anything—even more than his own life. As the time of his crucifixion was approaching, he became victorious in spirit, because his death on the cross was his victory that, despite such difficulties, he obeyed God’s command. Despite such difficulties, he did not forsake God’s mission or make any excuse, but he obeyed God to the end. He was so victorious that he said, “But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” If we love Jesus, we do what he commands us to do no matter how hard and costly it may be. Then, we become victorious, having a powerful testimony, saying, “Despite such difficulties, I have obeyed God’s command.” Even in a seeming difficult situation, we become powerful like warriors. Think about you saying this with cracking voice in your death bed, “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” An electric shock will go through their bodies, and they will have goose bumps. When you have this testimony, you are true victors in life.

 

One Word: If You Love Me, You Will Obey What I Command

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