Father’s Love

Have you ever gotten to the point where you feel like you keep coming to God asking for forgiveness for the same sins? You pray that He would forgive you for doing something, and few days, weeks, or months later you come back and pray again for the same problem. I have. And many times I hesitated before praying. I feel like I shouldn’t ask Him for forgiveness because I am afraid that I would come to Him again for the same exact problem. What should I do? I hated myself because I sinned against Him again. I had asked Him for forgiveness already for the same problem, and I did it again. I feel like I am asking Him for too much. I think I shouldn’t ask Him to forgive me again. What should I do? I felt helpless, ashamed, and miserable. Have you ever felt the same?

Let me share with you the message He gave me today.

 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.’ For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

This is the kind of love that He did and still does. He gave up His own son when you and I were still sinners, His enemies. We were at a war against Him, the Creator and the Lord. And after redeeming us from that status, adopting us as His children, Jesus Himself intercedes for us. I was afraid of going before Him because of what I had done, but He encouraged me to come before Him with every burden I had. He reminded me that He is God who forgives. He reminded me of His mercy and grace that He has poured upon my life and many others’. Honestly, I do not understand why He loves us that much. Why is He so gracious and merciful towards us? My heart breaks but, at the same time, rejoices. I am deeply grieved that I am so weak that I fall over and over again. I am sorrowful that I am no way close to be where God desires me to be. I am so blessed that He chose me to be His. I am so thankful for who my Father is. I am so overwhelmed by His grace and mercy and love that He has shown me.

The Basis of My Faith in Jesus

So many things are happening in my life now, and, as I am walking in the midst of all of them, I often feel overwhelmed and discouraged. So I began to ask the “why” questions, but last Sunday God taught me something that I should never ever forget. I am recalling the message to remind myself as I am going through this moment that saddens me.

Preaching on Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, my pastor asked, “What is the basis of your faith?” When things are not going well, many people lose their focus and start looking at the circumstances. They began to wonder “Does God really love me?” I was there with them. Although I knew in my head that God loves me, my heart was saying another thing. I was getting tired of the problems I have. I was getting exhausted, but it was not the situation that was wearing me out. It was the lack of faith.

I did not become a Christian because I wanted everything in my life to go well perfectly in the way I wanted. I did not become a Christian because God gave me all the things that I wanted to have. I did not become a Christian because He told me that I would be happily ever after without no suffering, no hardship, and no difficult decisions to make. I put my faith in Jesus because He is the Son of God, Christ, the Lord of all. He died on the cross for sinners, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. The basis of my faith is not what He does for me but who He is. I put my trust in Him. This fact gives me the greatest comfort and peace. Even if not everything goes well, I know I can trust my God because He is righteous and just but also merciful and gracious.

Are you having a hard time? Keep trusting Jesus whom you have always trusted until today. He knows what is the best for us. What He does might not seem to be good for us in our eyes, but we do not know the ultimate answers to our problems. Many times we do not even know what the real problems are, but Jesus never fails because He is God, the Only One who gives life.

A Must

When I realized how lost this world is, how much God my Father has loved it, and how little I prayed for this world, my heart fell. He wants us not only to go out to preach but also to pray for those who need to hear the Gospel of Christ. I pray that I would pray not only for my personal relationship with the Lord but also for everyone for whom our Lord and Savior Jesus died.

No Other Gospel

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:6-9 / NIV)

Knowing the true gospel of Christ is so important. Being able to discern false teachings is so important. It is because there is only one way, Jesus Christ, who redeems and saves. He is the Word who was, in the beginning, with God and who was God (John1:1).

And he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And it is not by good works or any works we do, but “by grace” one receives salvation. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are redeemed. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom.3:22-24). Because of salvation that we have received freely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we do the good works. Because we are redeemed, we want to live the life that is worthy of the gospel. Let’s not forget that what count is not our deeds but Christ’s. Our deeds are the fruits of the gift we received from God in Christ.

Amen!

The Foolishness to the World,

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

18 For the message of cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

            “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

            the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greek look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

There is nothing for us to boast about but the Gospel.

We do not need to add anything of our own because cross itself is the power and the wisdom of God. And our humanly intelligence cannot grasp the depth and the power of the cross, so it tells us that the cross is foolishness. However, that foolishness is of God, which is wiser than our wisdom. Preach the Gospel. We do not need to add anything to it although we might be mistakenly thinking that our words and thoughts would make it sound better. Preach the Gospel. Preach the cross of Christ.

“The cross is not something to which one may add human wisdom and thereby make it superior; rather, the cross stands in absolute, uncompromising contradiction to human wisdom” (Fee, 66).

Who could have thought of God to be crucified? It is God’s scheme. God’s promise for the redemption of His people had been foretold over and over again throughout the Old Testament. Yet, crucifixion of Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Redeemer, had never come across the minds of the people who heard the message. Why? Because it is, according to Fee’s terms, “too preposterous” and “too humiliating” (Fee, 68).

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom. 1:21-23).

This is the result of human wisdom. All we can do on our own, at the best, is to create something like us and label it ‘God’ and worship our creation. As Paul wrote in verse 21 of 1 Corinthians 1, we did not come to know God. Through the foolishness of what was preached, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God revealed Himself so vividly to redeem the ones who believe. Things from our own do not help us know God. Only God shows Himself to us so that we may know Him. Then, why do we even try to add our own voice and lowly wisdom to what is so powerful as it is? Why do we try to empty the power of cross?

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians1:17).

Cross was the way of God. Cross was the way no one had expected. God works in the ways that often seem “foolish” to us.  Paul in v.22-23 says, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greek look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified

Fee informs us, “Messiah meant power, splendor, triumph; crucifixion meant weakness, humiliation, defeat. Little wonder that both Jew and Greek were scandalized by the Christian message” (Fee, 75). The Jews could not be angrier than they were about such a blasphemous message. For Greek, the message could not be crazier than it is. But that was the way of God by which He gives salvation to all who believe. For those who are called, the crucifixion of Christ is the power and the wisdom that is the greatest of all.

Sometimes, I find myself being frightened by the demands of the world. I become anxious, thinking ‘what if I do not know the answers?’ or ‘what if I cannot show them what they are looking for?’ But there is no need for me to worry. What the world really needs is not my wisdom and knowledge, but Christ crucified. Christ resurrected. Christ the living. This is a simple truth that I have known since I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, yet I often forget. This is not to say that I want to be lazy about learning and growing in my knowledge. I should not be lazy. But through this passage, God is reminding me that what I need to take with me when I go out to the world is the Gospel, the living power and wisdom of the one true living God.

 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans1:16).

Source Used.

Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. In The New International Commentary on the New Testament.Grand Rapids,MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987.

One Body, Many Parts

About two weeks ago, my church kids and I put the puzzle pieces that have unique designs,various colors, and our names on our wall. We were talking about how each individual has different roles and gifts that he or she plays in a church (1Cor. 12) and how we, all together, are the body of Christ, the church.:) We are going to add more puzzles as more kids come to become the parts of the body !

“Personal Relationship with Christ” that We Speak Of …

Christians, including myself, frequently speak of a “personal relationship” that we have with Christ. I often wondered what people meant when they said, “I have personal relationship with him.” When others asked me about it, I simply said things like “I know him and he knows me”, “The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in me”, “The relationship between me, as his servant, and him, as my LORD and Savior”, “loving relationship”, and so forth. I believe all of them are exactly what any other Christians mean when they talk about the relationship with Christ. However, God taught me through a particular passage about the relationship we speak of in more vivid way.

Romans 6:4-10 (NIV)

4 We were therefore buried  with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we  know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin – 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer  has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In this passage, the apostle Paul wrote about what takes place when a person accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior. When a person accepts Christ, his old-self, which is controlled by the power of sin, dies with Christ’s death on the cross. And, the person receives new life, which is under the Lordship of Christ, completely released from the power of sin, with the resurrection of Christ. The radical change from death to life takes place when we believe Jesus Christ in our hearts as our Lord and Savior. Our union with Christ as believers is  the “personal relationship” with him that we speak of.

This fact has a significant implication. Union with Christ that has brought us from death to life has made us new creation of God. Our lives should reflect the change! We cannot be the same as we had been before we met Christ. In the passage we are looking at, we are not necessarily talking about how much or how often we read our Bible, how much we pray, or how much we are involved in church activities. We are talking about whether our lives show the freedom from the power of sin. Are we living as the ones who are under the Lordship of Christ? Are we becoming more and more like Christ?

Paul in verses 11-14 commanded believers to remember the change in the state of our being that occurred when we accepted Jesus Christ and to live as who we are in Christ. We cannot say that we have personal relationship and live as the ones who do not have it. We must be different not only in the ways we participate in religious activities but also in the ways we actually live our lives. Being active in religious activities does not necessarily mean that you have personal relationship with Him!