2.28.2012

Luke 8:26-39 (2)

ppt

“Goodness is greater than evil"
Reading: Luke 8:26-39, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

There was a man who literally became crazy.
People felt that he was dangerous to their town.
So, they chained him and bound him.
But every time, the man broke his chains and ran away.

Then he lived alone in the tombs, torturing and hurting himself.
He didn’t wear anything.
He looked like a wild animal.

But God is interested in this person.
His life was precious and priceless in the eyes of God.
He was very important to God.
God also wanted to help him serve the living God with a good purpose.
In order to do that, he needed to be healed, and discover his purpose in life.
Then he could help people to find their purpose and meaning in God.
God imagine that he could change people who live in that town.

However, the present situation did not look very good.
Evil spirits possessed him.
The problem was spiritual.
What would God do at this moment?
How would God solve this problem and bring restoration?

God likes to choose another person to solve this problem with God.
After choosing that person, God sends the Holy Spirit to teach and guide that person to be prepared. Then later, God sent the prepared to solve the problem.

To solve this problem, this time God had chosen Jesus.
Then after long training for goodness, the Holy Spirit prompted Jesus to sail across the Sea and to meet this man.
Then the demon-possessed man came right out to meet Jesus, as well.

The students of Jesus were following to see what Jesus was doing.
To discover their calling and live accordingly, they need to see and think about what Jesus is doing.

Jesus was moving on with his faith.
Jesus ordered the evil spirits to come out of this man.
Then they were shocked, looking at Jesus trying to cure this scary man.

OoO. The evil spirits were crying out:
"Son of God, Jesus, what do you want with me? I beg you, don't torture me!"

Without using his power, kindly Jesus asked:
"What is your name?"
The evil spirits answered:
"We are army, because we are just so many.
Please don’t send us to the place of empty confinement.
Instead, send us to the pigs on that hillside.”

Then as if Jesus were treating them humanly, Jesus listened to them.
He sent them to the pigs.

When the evil spirits got into the pigs, all the pigs were rushing down the steep bank and were all drowned in the lake.

Hearing what had happened, many town people came out.
As they were told, they saw the man who became very calm and gentle.

Suddenly, they were filled with more and more fearful thoughts.
They worried about what Jesus would do next.
Something had to stop for awhile so that they could relax and have time to think about this situation.
So, they asked Jesus to leave.

Well, Jesus listens to them and simply goes away.
Jesus is patient and gentle.
He wants to get involved in people’s life only when they invite him in.
Jesus doesn’t like to coerce people.
So, Jesus listens to them understanding that they need to think about this awhile.

Here we see the character of God.
God’s first instinct is to listen to you and give you what you are asking.

But now, think about this.
God wants you to ask things according to the will of God.
God wants you to ask and pray knowing that God is good to you.

Anyway, in order to leave this town, Jesus got into the boat.
But the man who was cured was thankful for Jesus.
Because of Jesus, now all is well.
Every manner of things is well.
So, he said to Jesus:
“Jesus, I want to be with you.
Now I know who Jesus is.
Can I come with you?”

Jesus not only loved this guy but also loved this man’s village people.
His village people just asked Jesus to leave.
But this person could go to them and explain about the goodness of God.
This person can share about the goodness of Jesus Christ.

Maybe, he might not need to say anything.
He just needed to simply walk around the town, being nicely dressed and having a peace of mind.
That could have been enough to say:
“I am healed.
Jesus comes and gave me God’s victory.
Jesus removes my dark and harmful thoughts; unruly behaviors; and craziness.
Jesus saves me from evil spirits that even pigs don’t like.
I am his witness.”

His healing is complete.
He can restart his life.
His mind is clean and clear.
God protects his mind to think peaceful thoughts.
God gives him good ideas.
The Holy Spirit inspires him to think, choose, and create good things.
With this good mind, he can step into his future.
Now he can truly live a good life that God desires for him.

So Jesus is saying something to him like this:
“Return home and tell what God has done for you.
The Holy Spirit will help you to explain that.
In various opportunities, try to explain how much God is good.
Then, you will experience more of me.
Then, you will see many good fruits coming out.
More people will get to know that goodness overcomes evil.”

The person experienced a tough time.
But the problems in his life turned out to be an occasion through which he could experience the goodness of Jesus.
But now his past experience can be used for good.

Even though in the beginning, he may shock people by just simply walking around, people will ask him:
“What really happened?
We were so fearful because we didn’t know anything about spiritual worlds.”

Then he could say:
“Jesus, through his goodness removes evil.
With his pure and gentle spirit, he drives out bad/evil spirits.
With his sound mind, Jesus removes bad influencing spirits that cause evil thoughts.
I have never known that I could think so clear like this.
When God works on my inner life, I can be calm and think clearly.
It is like God is purifying my heart and then use my intuition.
Then I can follow God in faith feeling the heart of God.”

Many years later, then he might have confessed like this:
“Goodness and gentleness are stronger than any wickedness and any evil.
For that good purpose, God has called me.
So, now everything works together for goodness. (Romans 8:28)
When God work in your life, you could learn how much God really loves you and your community and how much God has prepared you for a community.”

This story also tells us that bad situations can turn out to be good situations in Christ. Everything can be reinterpreted in Jesus.
Whatever happens in your life may turn into a blessing to other people in Jesus, one day.

Just like this man is called to tell the goodness of Jesus, we are also called to share the story of Jesus with our world.
In order to share Jesus, first, you need to know Jesus.
In order to know Jesus, you need to experience Jesus and reflect on Jesus.

To do that, you can read the gospels.
But you don’t learn a lot by just reading.
When you imagine as you read the story of Jesus, you learn who Jesus is.

Then try to write down your imagination and thoughts.
Writing can be your spiritual disciple or become your prayer.
Sometimes, you feel the presence of God, as you write down your impression.
That may be a sign that you come near to the mind of God.

Try to write until you can really explain Jesus, thinking about how God is working on in your life.
Try to organize your thought on Jesus.
Then you may share a deep meditated Jesus.
Then God can still produce something so precious.

I wish you always meet good and nice people in your life.
But just in case if you meet some people even bothering you, remember that every people that you meet in your life, may turn into a blessing, too.
Through them, you may move toward God and learn more of Jesus.
Through them, you may journey into fulfilling God’s perfection in you.
Through them, you may discover your purpose and meaning in life.
These experiences may force you in a way to really think about what you are really called to do.

So, just prayerize your worry.
Everything may be happening for you to find the right track in Jesus.
Even difficult experiences may produce something good if you can be patient with it.
During that time, you may patiently discover God’s hope that may be hidden in your heart.
You may hear again God’s whisper that is being proclaimed for your life.
You may discover God’s intention for your life.
You may be able to share what God has shared with you.
You may share the goodness of God.


Note:

http://www.taize.fr/en_article102.html

2.24.2012

Luke 15:1-7 (1)

ppt

The joy of God (find the lost)
Reading: Luke 15:1-7 (Matthew 18:12-14)

People don’t like losing something.
They want abundance of everything.
When people lose things they value, they have this remorse and grief and so on.

We all have an experience when we feel remorse.
We don’t like it.
This feeling comes when we lost something.

Today, Jesus told a story of a shepherd who lost one of his sheep.
Let’s try to read again using our imagination.

Once upon a time, there was a shepherd in Israel.
He was living taking care of his sheep.
He had a hundred sheep.
He knew their names.
He knew their characters and habits.
He lived with them and played with them.
He loved his sheep.

Then one of his sheep was trying to find something to eat.
But he couldn’t find any.
Then this sheep wandered off and lost his way.
This sheep was not intelligent enough to find his way back home.

Then the shepherd noticed that one of his sheep was missing.
99 sheep were eating and playing and resting.
But the shepherd realized that one of his sheep was missing.
So he left his ninety-nine sheep in the wide open field.
Then he went after the lost.

When he was about leave them, 99 sheep were divided into two different groups: Group 1 and Group 2.

Group 1:
They were shocked.
They were shouting:
“Meh, what about us?
Shouldn’t you also take care of us?
What if some wolf or other animals comes and attaches us?
Who is going to take care of us then?
We have trusted in you until now.
But what is this?”

They felt that this shepherd is not intelligent enough to take care of them.

Group 2:
Knowing well of his character, they were like:
“Oh boy, here he goes again.”
Seeing the shepherd running, they shouted:
“Come back soon!”
Then they try to take care of other sheep while he was away.
They know that the lost sheep is not able to find his way back alone and to live without this shepherd.
The sheep now needs this shepherd.
So, they pray that the lost would be found easily.

After a long search, the shepherd saw the lost.
Thinking that this sheep must have been really frightened, he was filled with compassion and ran to his sheep, threw his arms around him and hugged him.
Then he puts it on his shoulders and joyfully comes home.

When he came back, the shepherd calls his friends and throws a party.
He was rejoicing saying:
“Look, this sheep were dead but now is alive again.
This sheep now got a new life.
Hey, what is like to have a new life?”

As he had a good time like this having a party, the sheep were again divided into Group 1 and Group 2.

Group 1:
Listening to the music and dancing, they were not happy.
They wanted to stop this party immediately.
They complained about the shepherd.

Then the shepherd saw that they were angry and refused to have eye contact with him.
So, the shepherd went out to talk with them.

Then they said:
“Look!
We didn’t get lost, because we have been paying attention to what you are doing.
We listened to you and obeyed you.
But you didn’t give us a party for being good sheep.
But this one didn’t pay attention to you and ended up ruining your whole afternoon.
But you gave him a party.
He is not a hero coming back home.
No, we got to change his careless behaviors.
So, stop this party.
And punish him for not paying attention to you and following you.”

Group 2:
They understand the shepherd.
They think like him and feel like him.
So, they welcome this sheep.
In fact, they think this sheep is now more valuable because he have lived with the shepherd and for a short time suffered a bit without the shepherd. Having this experience now this one can explain to younger sheep why they need to follow the shepherd and how good is to be with this shepherd.

They also remember the shepherd runs toward the lost.
He stopped everything to run to find the lost.
This action shows what kind of shepherd he is.
He loves his sheep even when they wasted his time and energy.

After telling this kind of story, Jesus says:
God rejoices more over one sinner turning around.
God gets so emotional when a human life is changed for good.
Instead of hiding God’s joy, God throws a party in heaven.
God loves to see people come alive.
When they are changed, God rejoiced over this repented sheep more than over ninety-nine good sheep.

Unfortunately, most of us cannot see God rejoicing in heaven.
We don’t see God jumps for joy.
So, Jesus told this story so that we can imagine and meet God in our imagination.
Following this story, Jesus wishes that we experience the heart of God.
Jesus is trying to help us imagine of God who rejoices.
There is God’s kindness for those who are found by God again.

The story explains the life of Jesus.
Jesus lived his life in search for the lost.
Jesus work together with God
His job was to take care of people.
In order to do so, Jesus searches to find the lost.

Do you want to make God happy?
Do you want to work for the joy of God?
Then ask God to use you to help a person to get to know of God.
Ask God to help you to help a person to be found by God.
Ask God to help you to help people to use their gifts and share their talents to help people to be found in God.

Even though we hear this kind of story at the church, sometimes, we feel we are abandoned by God.
We feel that we lost our way.
We feel that we have sinned and could not return to God like before.
So telling this story, Jesus is saying that God will graciously welcome us back.

Jesus was telling this story two thousand years ago.
There is another reason that Jesus is telling this story.
In those days, there was a group of religious people who didn’t even hang out with the lost.
They called them sinners.
These sinners made a living in not so honorable fashion.
Because of their occupations, religious leaders judged them and treated them as if God didn’t love them.
Then they “sinners” have believed it was so.

But our strange Jesus welcomes sinners and had a good time with them.
Then religiously mistaken people blamed Jesus for eating and hanging out with sinners and social outcasts.

So Jesus comes to explain that God loves the lost and searches carefully to find them.
God values them very much.
In fact, God sent Jesus to find the lost.
God sent Jesus to help these precious “sinners” to understand to God.
Jesus guides them, teaches them and loves them.

On the other side, Jesus is explaining that how sad he was, when people used religion to judge others.
Jesus is explaining how sad he was when people use religion to accuse anyone.
People do that because they don’t understand God.
Instead of judging, we are called to love them and forgive them so that they may experience new life in God and that they may rejoice in God.

Lastly, let’s think about how do people get lost?
They may have been pursuing some important goals in life.
They may have worked hard for what was before them.
Then after awhile, they may feel, “I lost the way.”
Their goal became an idol.

Some of them might have thought that they were living for God.
But they lost joy, purpose, pure love for God on the way.
Then they felt this feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness.
When we get lost, we experience some frustrations.

They want to get back to God.
They wonder whether God is going to love them the same.
They wonder whether it is possible to get back to God as before.
They wonder whether God is going to accept them or not.

But some other people left God willingly.
So, God does not push or coerce them to come back.
God waited.
Then they tried everything to live without God.
God might be worrying about them since God had a better plan for them.

But, when God sees a sign that they want to serve God again, God leaves everything and runs after them.
When people confess their sin and returns to God, God welcomes them with open arms.

Of course, we don’t have to get lost in order to meet this God.
I hope that you never leave God.
I hope that you experience God and God’s love all of your life.
I hope that you share God’s personality with others.
I hope that you share how much God wants to be a friend to people.
I hope that you read the story of Jesus to remind you.

God loves you.
But for some people, it is not easy to imagine.
They may want to serve God.
They may want to experience God’s love.
Then they may also hear God saying:
“You are precious to me.
I love you.
You are my people.
You are my coworkers.” (Isaiah 43:4)

When you hear God saying this to you, you feel satisfied.
You feel you are found in God.
You feel you don’t need to search anymore.
Then you know you are called.

Then as you grow in God, understanding you are chosen, you will be able to work with God.
Through your ministry, people will get to know more of God and know how to serve God with you.

The more you know God, the more you become like God.
Your character and your personality become like that of Jesus.
Then, you can share the love of God with the world.

God is going after the lost.
Jesus invites us to search for the lost together with him.
People need to know that God welcomes them.
For some people, this may be difficult to imagine that God throws a party for them even though they have turned away from before.

Jesus asks you to pray for the lost because they are so precious.
As you pray for people, you may feel the heart of God.
You may feel the guidance of Holy Spirit, as you pray for them.
So pray for people.
They may be your children, parents, teachers and friends.

Even though you may do a lot things at the church, we know our ministry does not end here.
Our ministry is taking care of people who already love God and serve God.
Our ministry is to search for the lost and the confused inside and outside the church.
We are called to help them better imagine who God is.
We are called to help people imagine that God dances for joy, as they come to God.

You may meet someone who say:
“I don’t know how to serve God.
I don’t know who God is.”

I hope that you can explain God to them.
I hope that you explain as if you are explaining someone you know so well.

Ask the Holy Spirit will also explain to them.
I hope that you can explain the story of Jesus to them.
I hope that you help them to imagine God who is the Good Shepherd.
I hope that you explain God who is looking for the lost.
I hope that you rejoice then when God rejoices.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, help us to imagine you looking for the lost.
Help us to march with you to find the lost and have a party of finding all your sheep.
Thank you.
Thank you for finding us.
In your name, we pray.
Amen.


2.13.2012

Luke 15:1-10 (3)

ppt

ppt2

The joy of God (What happens when a person confesses their sin and returns to God, the love of God)
Reading: Luke 15:1-10
Additional reading: Matthew 18:12-14

Have you ever got lost somewhere?
What do you do when you get lost?
You might become anxious, right?
Or, you might regret about your lack of preparation.
Sometimes, when you get lost, you worry about those who are looking for you.
If you cannot call them, you may be more anxious, right?
Your phone died.
You know your friend was waiting.
Or your parent was waiting.
You know that they would worry about you.
But you have no way to reach them.
When we get lost, we might have this kind of situation.
So, we don't want to be lost.

Today, Jesus is talking about those kinds of situation.
One of the reasons is because some religious people didn’t understand why Jesus was hanging out with sinners or, losers.
So, they complained about that.
They didn't eat with sinners and social outcasts.
But Jesus continually welcomed sinners and had a good time with them.
Now, Jesus tried to explain why.
It was because Jesus understood about the gracious God who welcomed those who were disliked or despised.

Shall we listen to this story again to understand the mind of Jesus?
Jesus said something like this:

(1) “There is a guy who has a hundred sheep.
In the afternoon, he realized that he lost one sheep.
So, he left the ninety-nine and goes after the lost sheep.

(2) He searched and searched for the sheep.
He went to everywhere.
He felt that this sheep might be in deep trouble.

In the story, of course, this guy who goes after his lost sheep is God.
God goes after the lost.
God goes after those who lost their way.
God tries everything that God can do to find.
Then God sent Jesus to find them and bring them back.
So, Jesus stopped everything to find them.

(3) Then he found the sheep.
(4) Rescuing the sheep, he was so happy
He picked him up and joyfully carried him home.

(5) Then he returned his sheep to his mom.
Now he was so joyful, he couldn’t just sit and watch TV.
He called his friends and neighbors together and says:
“Rejoice with me.
I have found my lost sheep.
Let’s have a party!”

This is how Jesus explains about God.
So, Jesus is looking for those who have never experienced anything about the goodness of God.
Jesus is saying:
“This is how God rejoices over one sinner who turns around.
God has ninety-nine good people who do not need to change their lives.
But God rejoices and throws a party when one sheep comes back to God.”

This is how Jesus understood about the heart of God.
Through this story, Jesus said that he has joined God in this search.
In spiritual world, finding the lost is more important than taking care of the rest.

So, Jesus goes after the lost, knowing the heart of God.
Then Jesus guides and teaches them, because God desires to add them into God’s kingdom.

Let's think about this story again.
(1) First, we can imagine what some of the ninety-nine sheep might have said about God?
They also need this shepherd.
So, some might say:
“Hey, God, what about us?
If you go after the lost, who is going to take care of us?”

Or, some might say, “Oh boy, here God goes again.”
Or, some might pray that the lost be found easily.
Some might start to take care of other sheep while God was away.

(3) Some of them might wonder: how did this one get lost?
She might have just followed the path that looked good.
Or in a human life, she might have been just pursuing some important goals in life.
She might have worked hard to achieve something.
But then later, she realized that she got lost.
Things seem blurry and vague.
He cannot think clearly.
She tried to get back to God.
But she didn’t know how.
She couldn’t discern which way leads to God.
She used to walk along with other faithful people who helped her to find the right path.
For some reason she lost it.
So, Jesus needs to bring her back.

(3) Jesus told another story to explain the heart of God. (Luke 15:8-10)
He says something like this:

(3) “There is a woman has ten silver coins.
They used to wear them like this at that time.
(2) Then she realized that she lost one.
(3) Then she lighted a lamp and searched inside the house.
This was so important to her.
(4) She cleaned her house room searching carefully to find it.
(5-7) She looked everywhere to find the lost silver.

(8) Then she found it.
(9) So she called her friends and neighbors together and said:
“Rejoice with me.
I have found my lost coin.”

Finishing this story, Jesus said:
“Likewise, God's angels throw a party every time when one person turns to God."
As for God, people are so precious.
They are precious more than anything else.
God values them so much.
So, God searches for people who got lost in the house of God.
God searches for people who got lost anywhere in this world.
God wants to find them.

So God sends us to search for them.
God shows appreciation when we find them.
Then, God wants to give them gifts.
God does not want them to be buried somewhere in the room.
God does not want them to be buried in some corner of this world.

God searches for them, because God loves them.
In the same way, God loves you, too.

Can you imagine this is what God is trying to in this world?
God desires to touch our hearts so that we may sense God’s love.
God is always speaking to us:
“You are precious to me.
I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4)
When we realize this truth, we may love others like God.
Then we can help them to listen to God, who says:
“I love you. You are my servants. I have chosen you.”

Those who love God need to remember this.
God loves everyone.
Jesus is sent to explain this simple truth.

So, Jesus invites us to search for the lost together with Jesus.
People need to know that they are precious and loved.

So, Jesus may ask you to pray for the lost.
They are so precious.
We are called to try to reconcile between God and people.

When God finds the lost, God cannot hide God’s joy.
God rejoices.
God is so emotional about this.
When a person is changed, God throws a party.

Have you ever seen God rejoicing?
Have you ever seen God jumps for joy?
Now you can imagine.
Then you may meet God in your own imagination.
Jesus says this imagination is the truth.
Jesus explained that through this kind of stories.

Because God rejoices like this, the best way to serve God is to go out and find the lost.
It is true that sometimes we can find the lost inside the church.
So if you want to serve God, you may need to move out, seeking every chance to help the lost come home.
Through our words and deeds, we hope that we could help people to find God.
How do people find God?
Sometimes, they find God by talking about their disappointing experience of religious people.
That's okay.
As they talk about it, they may think about the true God.
Because we know what makes God happy, we may pray for them as we listen to their stories.
Then they may gain understanding.
Sometimes, people find God by looking at you.
People find God by being with you.
God will speak through you even when you don't recognize.
So, Jesus sends you to this world.

Think about it.
Let’s pray.