3.31.2016

John 20:19-31 (1)

ppt


Can you believe that you live forever?
Reading: John 20:19-29
Additional reading: Revelation 1:4-8

Some people may say that Jesus lived a very dangerous life.
It was because he followed God’s plan.
Jesus understood God’s plan, thoughts, and understanding.
Then he chose God’s plan for his future.

Since he knew everything about his future, he knew that he would die and be raised again from the dead.
He knew everything about his life.
He knew the meaning of his life.

I wonder:
Was it more difficult to live because he knew every detail of his suffering, his humiliation, and his death?
Was it more painful to live because he knew beforehand?
Or was it easier because he focused on his resurrection?

Anyway, when his students grew a lot in faith, he talked about his life to his disciples.
Then, Peter, one of his students was like:
“That is scary.
That is crazy.
I mean, you know, I love you.
You are my lord.
But you are wrong about this.”

Peter dared to challenge Jesus.
Other disciples might have thought:
“Peter, talk with him. Yeah!
Talk him about it.”

They knew well that it would be too painful to follow this kind of the Christ.
Who wants that?

His students had their own plan about how the Messiah should live.
They had their own plan about how Jesus should live.
So, at this time, they challenged Jesus.
They hoped that Jesus would change his mind.

But then Jesus didn’t pretend that he had another plan.
Jesus never pretended that he would follow another plan.

Instead, Jesus asked them to change their mind.
Jesus was sure of his plan.

Then Jesus continually followed God’s thought and plan.
He prayed for this and continued with God’s plan.

So Jesus talked about his death and resurrection again and again.
His students could not understand this.
They didn't want to understand it.
Then they were in denial.
They were like:
"Oh, well, it must be some kind of parable.
You know he likes to tell stories.
Maybe he is trying to teach us something here.
It is not going to happen literally, right?”

“I think so.
But I am afraid to ask him more about it.”

After this unconsciously, they were ignoring him whenever Jesus talked about this.
They could not hear it.

Jesus knew of God's plan, even though they didn’t understand.
So, Jesus was like:
"Ok.
After my resurrection, I need to explain to them more so that they understand this.
But still I am going to live out this life according to the Bible.
Then they would understand.
Then they would know that God is right.

“I am fearful of this, too.
But I have this inner confidence that this would work.
I know that God planned this out for eternal salvation of all people.
So I got to go on with this plan.
God is with me.”

Jesus understood this plan had to succeed for his people.
With this plan he could change the world.
So he died on the cross.
He died in his faith.
He died because he had faith.

Even though he talked about his death many times, when he died, his students felt all kinds of emotions at the same time.
They were shocked and terrified.
They felt anger.
They felt lost.
They felt confused.
They felt powerless and hopeless.
It was just crazy.

You know people go through these kinds of thoughts when they lost something or someone.

Also it was very difficult to forgive those who killed Jesus whom they loved.

Also they might have thought:
“We had invested our three years on Jesus!
What happened now?”

But they also realized that:
It was too dangerous for them to talk about Jesus anymore outside.
It was too dangerous even to go outside.

So, they locked all the doors and stayed inside.
They were fearful.
They were totally disconnected from the authority.
They were nervous about the whole situation.

Then Jesus came back to life!
He first appeared to Mary Magdalene.

So she told them about Jesus’ resurrection.
But other students were like:
“Ohhh, Mary.
Stop it.”

Then Thomas, one of the students of Jesus, couldn’t take it anymore.
Thomas might have thought he needed some fresh air.
So, he got up and went out.

Then that evening, Jesus appeared to other students:
They didn’t know what to think.
Jesus just entered into their life again!

Jesus was peaceful and joyful.
Then he said something like this:
"Peace be with you!
Don’t be scare of me like that.
Look!
It works!
I told you.

"Well, now you have seen my life.
Now you know it works.
Now you know that my faith works.
You have seen it.

“Look.
Here is the proof.
I am the resurrection.
If you believe in me, you never die.” (Luke 24: 36-39)

Then he breathed on them, saying:
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
You have seen people giving me a hard time.
But I forgive them.

“Now remember that you also have the power to forgive.
So, you forgive people.
If you forgive, they are forgiven.”

Even after Jesus left them, they were upbeat and excited.
They were so happy.
They felt so good and amazed.
They could not stop talking about this.

Then Thomas came back home.
He saw everyone was different.
Thomas felt so confused.
He was like:
“What happened?
What? Jesus came here?”

They were like:
“Yeah, Jesus came back to life!”

His friends were explaining to him over and over.
They told him what Jesus said.

They were like:
“Do you remember when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead?
At that time, Jesus said that he was the Resurrection and the life.
That is so true.
Now he raised himself from the dead.”

But for some reason, Thomas couldn’t believe that Jesus could come back to life.
His mind could not embrace this fact.
It was not that he didn’t want to believe.
He wanted to believe the resurrection of Jesus.
But this was more than he could imagine or believe.

Have you been where you thought God could not bless you that much but later it happened?

Maybe Thomas was like that:
Thomas tried to believe that Jesus rose from the death.
But he could not.
For some reason, he could not believe this without experiencing it.

So he said:
“If I touch Jesus and see the nail marks in his hands, I think I can believe.
If I have more evidences and proofs, I think I can believe.”

But Jesus didn’t appear again, for a week.
Jesus let Thomas struggle with it.
He allowed Thomas to question about this resurrection.
Jesus just let him doubt all his wanted.
Jesus let him think about this as much as possible.

Thomas needed this.
This was also a part of spiritual training for him.

If Thomas experienced this, he could also understand those who doubt.
Then he could help them, because he knew what was like to doubt and what was like to believe.

Anyway, Thomas didn't go anywhere at this time.
Thomas was there among his friends who believed.
He didn't leave them who believed in something that he couldn’t.
He was there with them.
How awkward it could have been.

After a week, Jesus came back to this house again.
He said:
“Peace be with you.”

Then Jesus was like:
"Hey, Thomas!
That is enough.
Take your finger!
Examine my hands.
Examine my side."

Thomas saw Jesus standing there.
Jesus looked very good.
He was real.

Thomas was happy that Jesus came back to life.
Thomas was happy that he met Jesus again.
That was it.
Then he could accept this as the fact.

So Thomas was like:
"My God and My Lord!
You are alive!
Now I believe.
I believe that you are the Resurrection."

Many years later, Thomas went to India to share this message.
Thomas patiently helped Indians to believe in his message.

Then one day, those people from India might have said:
“Yes, we believe now.
We have not seen Jesus, like you did.
But we experience him, in our hearts.
We experience him in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the story of Jesus."

Then Thomas might have rejoiced and said:
“Jesus, they believe this story of resurrection without seeing it.
Do they really believe?
Wow, they are better than me."

Jesus believed in his life.
But students could not understand it at first.
So Jesus went through it all before their eyes.
Jesus helped them to experience the resurrection of Christ.
Like this, Jesus showed them the power of resurrection.

Then they have changed their minds.
Then they knew and understood that this resurrected Jesus lives forever.

And they were like:
“Now we believe in you, Jesus.
We believe that Jesus lives forever.
And because of you, we will also live forever.”

Then Jesus asked them to pay the price for what they have seen and believe in.
Then Jesus called them to live like him.
Then Jesus gave them the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then, his students also face their death with the faith that Jesus had.

This story of Jesus has been told almost 2000 years.
Many people believe and follow Jesus Christ.
Many people have been telling the story of Jesus to others.
Then more and more people get to know that Jesus is the resurrection and life.

Being a church goer, sharing this good news is our main thing.
May we encourage those who are faithful to share the story of Jesus.
May we continue sharing this so that people may believe in Jesus and experience him in their lives.
And may we also experience the power of Resurrection today.

Let's pray:
Jesus, thank you for inspiring us to live your life on earth.
Help us to remember you and your life.
Help us to follow you through our life.

Help us to share what we have learned from you.
May we experience you and share our experience with others so that more people may enjoy you and live your life faithfully.
In your name we pray.
Amen.

3.25.2016

John 19:26–27

3. “Woman, here is your son,” “Here is your mother.”
Reading: John 19: 17-37, John 19:26–27
K-hymn: 135 (434), 144, 469, 181 (Gospel), 545

Jesus took the risk of faith.
Then Jesus was on the cross.
Finishing his ministry, Jesus said that he would die like this.
Jesus had to die like this.
In this way, he carried away all our sorrows.
In this way, he opened up the heaven so that people would have a new living relationship with God.
In this way, he updated the old temple in Jerusalem.
Then Jesus became the new eternal temple through which people would receive forgiveness and salvation.

But then on the cross Jesus might have thought about his mother.
Because she came.
Jesus didn't want to show her this painful sight.

She felt terrible looking at her son at the cross.
Standing near her, there was John who also felt terrible.
Looking at them Jesus felt painful as well.

Mary was taking care of him ever since she became the mother of Jesus.
Mary was biologically wired to take good care of him.
It was in her DNA.
She would not know how to stop caring for him.

Humanly speaking, Jesus might have worried, looking at his mother under the shadow of his cross.
Jesus might have worried about his mother:
What if his mother becomes bitter carrying han?

So looking at her, Jesus might have said something like this:
“Mom, forgive all people.
I am ok.
Everything will be ok.
Forgive everyone.
You have done something so beautiful for all humanity.”

Then Jesus saw John.
Jesus loved this man.
So Jesus gave him something to do.
Jesus might have said something like this to the disciple:
“I am leaving.
I am not bitter.
I am still trying to build something good.
Now I am going to honor my mother through you.
I want you to take good care of my mother.
Help her to carry her cross.
Help her.”

Then he said to his mother looking at John:
“My lady, here is your son.”

Then he told to the disciple:
“Here is your mother.”

Then the disciple might have nodded to say:
“I promise.”
Then the disciple took her into his home, and carried out his new assignment.
And Jesus might have been very thankfully.

Then after three days Jesus rose again.
Then Jesus came to her mother to comfort her.

John was also rejoicing.
He saw Jesus’ resurrection
He saw Jesus’ ascension.
Then for the rest of his life, John preached the story of Jesus.

John also remembered his promise.
So John took good care of the mother.
John also learned about Jesus' childhood from the mother of Jesus.
John also shared with her about the ministry of Jesus that he witnessed so closely.
John lived a long life.
I assumed he took good care of the mother.

Today is Good Friday.
We remember that on this day Jesus died on the cross.
Today the world is remembering Jesus.
Then today Jesus may be saying something like this to all:
"Thank you for remembering me.
I am here with my good Father God.
So don’t worry about me.
Instead, take care of each other.
Take good care of each other just like John and my mother took care of each other."

As Jesus says this, maybe he is with all those who have gone before us to heaven.
Then these people may say something like this in heaven:
"Thank you for remembering us from time to time.
We are with Jesus.
So don’t worry about us.
Instead just like Jesus said, take good care of each other.
Take good care of each other, just like Jesus took care of his students and his mother."

Let’s pray:
Christ Jesus, thank you for your presence with us.
Whether you are visible or not, we know you are close to each one of us.

It is unbelievable sometimes, that you find joy in us.
You find beauty in us.
Then in order to help us even more beautiful, you died for us and rose again for us and ascended into heaven for us.
Then you will come back again one day to establish a new world.

Help us to take good care of each other.
Help us to see the goodness that resides in each everyone of us.

Help us to live your life on earth.
In Jesus name, we pray.
Amen

Jesus according to the Gospel of John 1

ppt

Jesus according to the Gospel of John 1
Reading: John 6: 51-58
Blanks: heaven, forever, eternal life, feeds on me

Do you know how many gospels are in the Bible?
Right.
Today, let’s have a look at the gospel of John.
Shall we?

When John was writing his gospel, he knew that there were many gospels already written by many people.
John might have also read the gospel of Mark, the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Luke.

(3) So, John didn’t need to tell those stories that people already knew.
So he chose a few stories that people might not know.
Then he explained them in detail.
So, let’s have a look at this gospel of John.
Shall we?

(2) When we open the gospel of John, we read John 1:1.
Here John is saying that Jesus is the Word of God.
But as you know John wrote this gospel in Greek.
In Greek, John was saying that Jesus is logos.
What does it mean?
Jesus is God’s logic.
Jesus is God's wisdom through which God creates the world.

It may mean Jesus is the reason of God.
Jesus is the reason why God created the world.

Then John also said that Jesus is God.
Then John explains in his gospel that Jesus has God’s wisdom and knowledge.
So in this gospel, Jesus understands everything even before people tell him anything.
And in this gospel when Jesus speaks, things happen.

In this gospel, Jesus performed 7 miracles or 7 signs.
Through these miracles, John explains who Jesus is.

(2) For example, Jesus multiplied food.
People already know that.
But then John explains the meaning of this miracle.
What is it?
John connects this miracle with the Lord’s Supper:
Then John says that it is the Lord’s Supper.

So right after this miracle, Jesus said in John 6: 51-58:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
Whoever eats this bread will live forever.
This bread is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world.”

(3) In this gospel, Jesus had long conversations with people.
For example, Jesus talks with Nicodemus, Samaritan woman, Martha, Peter and so on.
Through these conversations, Jesus gave important lessons.

(3) For example, Jesus talked with Nicodemus: John 3:1-21
What does Jesus explain in this conversation?
Jesus explained the Holy Spirit.
Jesus explained that Nicodemus needed to have a good relationship with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will open up his eyes and give him a spiritual birth.
The Holy Spirit will open his eyes to see the movement of God.
Then he will understand what Jesus is trying to do.

People need to be led by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit understands God.
The Holy Spirit guides and empowers people to live according to God’s will.

(3) Then in this conversation, we read the most famous verse in the Bible.
Jesus said to Nicodemus: John 3: 16
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God so loved the world.
God’s love is very important in this gospel.
John wrote this gospel to explain God’s love.

John also explained the feminine side of Jesus.
John explained the emotional side of Jesus.
For example, John told this story in John 11 and 12.

(3) Martha and Mary sent a messenger to Jesus to say like:
“Lord, Lazarus, the one you love is sick.
Please come and help us.”
But then after a few days, Lazarus had died.

(2) When Jesus got there, he felt their sorrow.
So Jesus cried together with them: John 11:35.
Because those who he loved cried, he could not help but to cry with them.

Have you ever seen some people cry because the one whom she loves cry?
Jesus cried, because he felt what they felt.

(3) But then Jesus said:
"I am the resurrection and life."
(3) To prove that, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

In this gospel we also see how much Jesus cared for people: John 20:1-18.
Here is an example.
It was when Jesus rose from the death.
(3) Mary was crying because she didn’t know that Jesus rose from the dead.

As Mary was crying, Jesus sent some angels to talk with her.
But they couldn’t do a thing, because Mary was not interested in talking with angels at the moment.
Mary just had to see Jesus.
So Mary cried continually.
She was crying so bad.

But at this time, Jesus was going to see God the Father.
Maybe Jesus was going to the Father to have the perfect resurrected body.

But then Jesus could not take it anymore.
Just because she was crying so bad.
So Jesus had to come and meet her.

Then when Jesus met her, Jesus asked Mary not to touch him or hold on to him, because he had to go and see his Father first.
Jesus was meeting her when he was not ready to meet her yet.

Then Jesus asked her to go and tell his students about his resurrection.
So she did.

Then later when Jesus came to his students, then Jesus was ready.
He asked them touch his hands and sides.

(2) In this gospel, Peter denied Jesus three times: John 21:1-19.
Since he denied three times, was he still a disciple of Jesus?

So Jesus came gently to restore the faith of Peter.
Then Jesus asked Peter:
“Do you love me?”
This is a loaded question, you know?

Peter answered:
“Yes, I love you.”

(4) Jesus asked two more times:
“Do you love me?”

Then Jesus gently says to him something like this:
“God will still use you.
You are his servant.
God will help you to serve my people.”

(3) John wrote this gospel to explain how gently Jesus loved people.
John wrote in this gospel the story of love.
John hoped that everyone would understand this love of God that is seen in the life of Jesus.

In this gospel, John never said that his name was John.
Instead, John was like:
“I am the one whom Jesus loves.
Are you the one whom Jesus loves?
Yes, you are.”

(4) Maybe John say to us today like this:
“I want you to have eternal life.
So I want you to know Jesus.
Jesus is also our salvation.
Jesus is our center.

What does it mean in a practical senses?
“When your mind is all over the places, when you wonder yourself ‘why do I feel like this? I don’t want to feel like this,’ then in that moment, remember Jesus.
Say to him: “I love you, Jesus.”
Love Jesus.
Then your mind may calm down again and very thoughtful again.

"Love Jesus.
Then you become whole again.

"So remember to love him.
God loves you in the name of Jesus Christ.
God helps you to love one another in the name of Jesus Christ.
God will empower you to have eternal life through Jesus the Christ.

Now here is one more thing.
Some of you are like John.
You are called to share God’s love like John.
You are called to tell the story of love of Jesus to people.

If that is your calling, I pray that you may be able to fulfill your calling.
Through your words and actions, may the love of Jesus be explained and experienced by all people.
Amen.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank you for loving us.
Thank you for choosing the way of love.
We may understand very little about your love.
May we know that you love for us and care for us.
May we live in this conviction that we are loved and are called to love.
May you enables us to live according to your love.
In Jesus name, we pray.
Amen.

3.19.2016

John 12:1-8 (1)

ppt

Thank you God
Reading: John 12:1-8
Additional reading: Luke 10:38-42, Luke 7:36-50
Hymns: 276, 369, 322

Have you heard this?
“Count your blessings.
Count your many blessings.”
Have you?
What does it mean?
Why is it important?

It is one thing to have many blessings in one’s life.
It is totally another thing to be grateful for all that.

That is what John Templeton was aware of.
Have you heard about John Templeton?
He knew that his gift was to make a lot of money.
Then he gave away more than $1 billion.
He used his gift to help many people.

When someone asked Sir John Templeton what the secret of his success was, he said gratitude.
This is an attitude toward life.

People have learned that this is important.
But sometimes, it does not come naturally.
If it does not come naturally, we need to put more effort in giving thanks to God continually.
So some people intentionally set aside a specific time for giving thanks regularly.
They learn that this is important for their lives.
And many blessings belong to those who appreciate what they have.
As we are able to be thankful for blessings that we have, we may also enjoy them in the presence of God.

There is so much to be thankful for.
God loves us.
We are here in this God’s world.
We have those who love us and pray for us.
When we seek it, we find it.

But being thankful for the right thing is also important.
So, one time, Jesus asked his students to be grateful for the fact that their name is written in the book of life in heaven.
It was right after they performed miracles in Jesus name.
They were very happy for that.
They felt great.

But then Jesus guided them to be thankful for the right thing.
Jesus asked them to be thankful that their name is written on the book of life instead.
You see, Jesus wanted them to be thankful for the right thing.

When we have accomplished so much for God, in God’s power, Jesus asks us that we give thanks for the fact that our name is written in the book of life.
Jesus asks this because when we are thankful for the right thing, we have a right relationship with God.
Then we may continually live in the right way.
We honor God in the right way.
Then we gain a good understanding.
Then God will be even happier for us.

Now, I am gonna tell you some collection stories. (Luke 10:38-42)
In these stories, Jesus was very grateful for someone.

After Jesus started his ministry, Jesus came to the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
They were siblings.
Jesus loved to teach them and guide them into a new spiritual life.
So Mary sat quietly and listened to him.

She was hungry for more.
Mary wanted to understand more.
What Jesus taught gave her a new hope, new faith, and new ideas. (John 6: 52-59)
Jesus helped her understand her life.
And she was prepared for her new future.
The words of Jesus sank into her deeper part of heart and gave a deep inner peace.
She knew that she was in the presence of God.
And Jesus was the bread of life from God!
So she rested before God, in trust and quietness. (Isaiah 30:15)

Then she started to think like a child of God.
Then she understood.
She understood that God was about to give the Son of God away to save the whole world.
That was shocking.
But she understood that this was God’s crazy love for all people.

While this transformation was happening, Martha, the sister of Mary was preparing a dinner for Jesus and his people.
When a special guest came, she liked to cook.
She liked to give an act of service.

But today, it was strange.
For some reason, Martha couldn’t focus.
Her mind was all over the places.
Martha was like:
“Why don’t I have more potatoes? Ugh!
Where do I put my special spices? Ugh!
Wait a minute.
Do I have enough vegetables? Ugh!
What was I cooking again? Ugh!
What is going on here?”

She felt a little confused.
But normally she was not like this.
But at this time, she was anxious and frustrated.
She also had a very strange tensions in her body.

She wondered why she felt like this.
Maybe she also wanted to listen to Jesus that day.
She wanted to grow spiritually.
Her inner soul wanted to have a time with the Son of God.
Her body wanted to listen to him.
Her spirit wanted to have a nice time with Jesus.
Jesus was not just another guest.

If she had a time with Jesus and understood the message of Jesus, she could go back and prepare a dinner peacefully.
She might have cooked her favorite meal in the presence of God.

But she didn't go and listen.
Then Martha saw Mary quietly sitting and peacefully listening to Jesus!
But the more Mary looked so good, the more Martha was upset.
Then she even wanted to blame her for whatever she was feeling.
She was like:
“Are you kidding?
Look at her.
I cannot believe this!
Why doesn't she come and help me?”

So, Martha marched on and came to Jesus and asked to send Mary to help her.

I thank God for what Jesus has said next.
Jesus made it clear that he was not there to have a free dinner.
His main purpose was to teach.
So Jesus said to Martha:
“Mary chose what is better.
And it would not be taken away from her.”

At this time Jesus just started his ministry.
He was waiting to start this ministry since he was 12.
Jesus wanted to help people.
As always, Jesus was hungry to help people to understand.

Mary was listening and understanding.
Mary was digesting what he had to say.
This was what Jesus wanted.

While teaching Mary and others, Jesus might have been thinking like this:
“Look at her.
She is understanding what I am saying!
She is eating my words like a delicious food.”

So, Jesus explains more and more about his life and about his cross.
He even wants to test how far she can understand him.
Mary loves this and appreciates that.

Jesus visited this house many times.
As you know, near the end of his ministry, Jesus came to this house to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Again, Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha.
Jesus raised him from the dead.
Since then Jesus was more than their teacher.

Jesus then came back to this house, about seven days before his crucifixion.
This house was very close to Jerusalem.
Jesus knew at this time he was about to die.

In this last visit, Martha was preparing a nice dinner for him.
Martha was not frustrated at this time.
She understood who Jesus was.
She could prepare a dinner peacefully, in the presence of God.

But Mary knew something was up with Jesus.
You know, Mary observed and paid attention.
Now she knew the time has come.
So Mary decided to show her gratitude.
Mary took her expensive organic perfume.
Then, she came to Jesus.
She was thinking about how to show her gratitude with it.

Then she saw the feet of Jesus: (Is 52:7)
“Hey, these feet brought Jesus to this house again and again.
With these feet, Jesus came to our life.”

So, she poured out her perfume on his feet.
Then she wiped his feet with her hair.
The house was filled with its very nice smell as Mary showed her appreciation and gratitude, in her own way.

You may say that Mary was having a quality time with Jesus.
She expressed how much she was thankful that Jesus show up in their life.
Jesus was special.

Again it was a few days before his death.
At this very hour, Mary showed her gratitude and prepared Jesus for what was coming.
Jesus was amazed and overwhelmed with gratitude because God helped this lady to understand.

Jesus must have felt peace inside.
Right before facing his humiliation and death, he needed this.
He needed someone to love him and encourage him.

Jesus performed many miracles for many people.
He taught many people.
But some people didn’t even express their gratitude.

But capturing the right moment, Mary was saying:
“Thank you.
I appreciate you.
I love you."

Jesus was amazed and thankful for this.
Jesus might have needed this as he was preparing his heart for his cross which was for all people.

Judas Iscariot was right there, too.
But he was a rational guy that couldn’t understand this kind of language of Mary.
So, he was like:
“Hey, Mary, haven’t you heard what Jesus said?
If you have been paying attention, you should have known that Jesus would have told you to sell this perfume and give money to the poor.
That is what Jesus wants." (Mark 10:21)

But Jesus was like:
“No, no, no.
Leave her alone.
I know that you always have the poor with you.
You will have more than enough chances to help the poor.
But you are not going to always have me.
So, she anointed me today before my burial."

Then Jesus might have said something like this to Mary:
“Mary, it is not easy follow your heart, isn’t it?
Even your church people think that you are strange especially when you express your gratitude like that.
But I like it.
I understand it.
I am very grateful for you.
It is very creative.
It is a beautiful expression of faith.
I am grateful for who you are.
So since you have given your heart to me and since you have been taught enough, I hope that you would follow your heart onward as God guides your heart.”

I wonder how we express our gratitude to Jesus.
I wonder how we say to Jesus:
“Thank you.
I appreciate you.
I love you.”

I believe that encourages Jesus so much.
In fact, this is the inner desire of everyone including our God.

God desires your love and encouragement.
God wants to feel welcome and love.
Jesus wants to be loved and appreciated.

So how do we express our gratitude toward God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit?
I encourage all of us to express our gratitude and thankfulness to God.
In this way we may honor God as the Person who also has feelings.

God will return your love, appreciation and encouragement many times.
God will be thankful for you.
Maybe in this way, we become a person who God can bless.
God will appreciate your presence.
This is the abundant life that Jesus may be talking about.
Then we may live well and do good in the name of Jesus.
Amen

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank you.
Thank you for coming into our life.
Thank you for your loving kindness toward us.
Thank you for understanding our feminine side.
May we also become your conduit for your love and grace for this world.
In Jesus name, we pray.
Amen

3.12.2016

1 Kings 19: 9-18

ppt

When God speaks in a still small voice
Reading: 1 Kings 19: 9-18
Additional reading: Psalm 62: 1, 5, Psalm 131
Blanks: before, whisper, return
K-hymn: 97

Have you heard about Mount Sinai?
It might look like this.
This is where Moses heard from God at about 1500 BC. (Exodus 19)
So Moses wrote about what God has told him.
That is what we see in the first 5 books of the Bible.

Then about 600 years later, that is, about 900 BC, the prophet Elijah came to this mountain to hear from God. (1 Kings 19)
At that time, Elijah was really in need of hearing God.
He was spiritually in crisis.

You know he is a prophet.
So he could roughly hear from God.
But at that moment, that was not enough.
He needed to really meet God and really understand what God was thinking about everything happening in his life and in his nation.

But at this moment he could not hear God well because there was too much going in his head.
He was burn out.
He was stressed out.
He was fearful and worried.
He had too much arguments in his head.
He also had some inner bitterness.
It seemed that it was a psychological problem.

He was lonely.
He also had a difficult time forgiving someone.
He was overwhelmed.
He thought that it was too much for him.

Then because God also saw that this was a spiritual crisis, God seemed to calling Elijah to this mountain.
God wanted to talk with him.
So Elijah went to a cave there to hear God.

Then he saw these things happening.
There were a strong wind.
There was a heavy storm.
There were earthquakes.
There was a fire.
But God was not there.

It seemed these strong weathers only show what was going on in Elijah’s heart.
It seemed to show the agitated mind of Elijah.
You know, Elijah was angry and confused and tired and so on.
And his spiritual life was shaken violently.
These wind and storm seem to show his agitated and restless mind.

Or Elijah might have thought that God is like that:
He might have thought when God speaks, these things happens.
But not always, especially when his servant needs to understand something deeper.

(3) Then after all these, there was a silence.
There was a gentle whisper.
So Elijah went out to meet God and hear God.
God wanted to meet Elijah in a deeper level.

So in this silence God explained to him and encouraged him.
In silence, God was able to speak to him much better.
God was able to reach down to the hidden corners of his heart.
God was able to touch the deeper hearts of Elijah’s heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Then Elijah was restored spiritually.
And he went back to serve God once more.

Like this, sometimes, God invites us into God's silence.
In silence, God speaks to us and even changes our hearts.
In silence, God shows clearly and heals our hearts.

What’s that mean?
It means, sometimes, in order to hear God, we need to stop everything.
We stop thinking.
We empty our mind.
We just wait for God to speak to us.
We give God a chance to speak to us.
This is how we may hear God.
In silence, we may become like sponges that waits for God’s water.

It may happen, when you dare to come to God's silence.
Then you may hear God much better.
There you may allow God to touch the deeper part of your hearts.

Here is an example.
Have you heard about Mama Maggie?
She is from a wealthy family from Egypt.
She was a professor teaching intelligent young people.

But she felt that God called her to take care of the poor children.
She saw Jesus in the face of those children.
So she ended up leave everything to follow Jesus.
And now, she is continually helping the poor children in Cairo, India.
She is known as the Mother Teresa of Cairo.

Now in terms of listening to God’s voice, this is her advice.
She said something like this:
When we silence our body, our mind, our heart, and our soul, then we may be able to listen to God.

But then there can be a time when we cannot be quiet.
We may have a difficult time quieting down our worries.
We may feel that there are too much noises in our head.
But we could not quiet down those thoughts.

(3) We may feel like there is a storm in our head.
This storm is making a lot of noises.

(3) Maybe that storm is like the storm that the students of Jesus faced in Galilee.
At that time, the students of Jesus was scared of this storm.

But then Jesus was sleeping in the boat.
So they waked him up.
Then Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea.
(3) Then there was God's silence among them.

So when we have that kind of storm in our head, we can also ask Jesus to help us: (Mark 4:35-41)
We may ask Jesus to speak and quiet down the storm in our head.
Jesus can give a silence in our souls so that we can hear God better.

But then some people may want a storm.
Some people want excitement.
Some people, or most people, feel uncomfortable in silence.
Some people may be even fearful of silence.

But sometimes God invites some of us into God's silence so that some of us may really hear what God is speaking to us today.
God may call some of us to God’s silence because then God can speak to us much better.

I am not saying that God only speaks in silence.
God may answer our questions in many different ways, because we need to meet and experience God.

But then we can also give God a silence as an offering to God.
Our silence can be our offering to God.

Psalm 65:1 says:
(3) "Silence is praise to you, O God." (MSG)

What does it mean?
It means that we offer a silence to God as praise.
We give this silence as our offering to God.
This can be our holy moment.

I am sure that you have given God a time of silence.
I am sure that you have worshiped God in silence.
So I encourage you to praise God in silence.
May we all meet God in silence.

Here is one of ways that you may present ourselves to God in silence.
We turn off whatever noise, words or distraction.
There is no words, or no thoughts from our part in this.
Then we calm down.
Then we may say:
(2) "Jesus, I am here before you.
Speak to your servant.
Your servant is listening."

Then we wait for Jesus to teach us.
Then in that silence, Jesus may come and heal us and transform us.
Jesus comforts us.
Jesus fills us with God’s unconditional love again.
Then we are restored.
Then we can love like God again.

There our inner self is listening and welcoming God's words in silence.
Our inner self understands and accepts God's words in a deeper level.

If we hear God's words, our job is to recognize it.
It was not like:
"Oh! That was a great experience."
I have done that, too.
Big mistake.
We need to remember that and live accordingly.

(3) It seems that David also learns this.
So later David wrote something like this: Psalm 131:2:
He said:
"I have calmed and quieted my soul.
I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother."

David is saying:
“I have learned to calm down and be in silence, like a child that is resting in God the Mother’s arms.
I learned to calm down and receive God’s comfort.

“I knew this is the safest place.
There I have no worry, no anxiety, no thoughts.
So I do not say any words.
I do not have any inner discussions.
I do not say anything to God.

“I just wait for God who comfort me.
There I learn of God who loves me.
There I learn to trust in God again.
There I learn to hear God’s thought and God’s small voice.
Then I have a strong inner conviction according to God’s will.
Then I have a greater inner peace from God.”

Now why don’t we try to come to God in silence from time to time?
From time to time, try to meet God in silence.
You may hear much better.
You may learn much, much better.
You may learn more about God.
You may learn more of God.

Let's pray:
Jesus, thank you for speaking to us in silence.
Help us to give you our offering of silence so that you may speak and change our life.
In your name we pray.
Amen.

3.03.2016

Ezekiel 34:1-24

ppt

Sheep, Shepherd and God
Reading: Ezekiel 34:1-24
Additional reading: Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 9:35-10:10
K-hymn: 458

Today we have read a long text.
I have been reading this text a while because I sensed that God seemed to say something to me.
So I was trying to understand this.
And now I am letting you eavesdrop on what God seems to say to me.

It seems these words are a warning as well as a promise.
Let’s think about these words.

Before we do that, here is a a little bit of its historical background.
It was about 587 BC.
It was right after the Jewish temple was destroyed.
And the Southern Kingdom of Judah faced their end.

As you know, in the beginning of this nation, David and Solomon were also kings over this Southern kingdom.
And now that kingdom was gone after lasting about 400 years.

As you know King Solomon also built the temple in Jerusalem at the capital city of the nation.
But that was destroyed as well.

Then the prophet Ezekiel heard about this in Babylon.
Being a Jewish prophet in Babylon, he must have wondered about the reason of all these destruction.
Why did it happen?

So God explained a reason.
That is what we read today.

God was saying it was because his shepherds were not taking care of his sheep.
Who are these shepherds then?
They were kings, prophets, and priests.

God wanted them to help the poor in the land.
But they were not interested in taking care of them.

So in our text, God spoke against them.
God was like:
"I am against you the shepherds of Israel.
You were supposed to take care of God's flock.
But you only used my sheep for yourself.
You used their wool to make yourself comfortable.
You used their milk.
You kept the best for yourself to eat.

“But you did not take care of the flock.
You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
You have treated badly.

"So the sheep got scattered and separated.
It was God's sheep went away to different direction.
It was God's sheep wandered over the mountains and on high hill.
They went to different part of the earth.
They went to different gods.
Then the wild animals came and ate them and rob them.

“Why did it happen?
Because they had no shepherd who took care of these sheep.”

So God says to those shepherds:
“You are fired.
You were only taking care of yourself.
You were bad shepherds.
You misused and abused my sheep.
You don’t worry about my sheep.
You scatter my sheep.

“So I have come to rescue my sheep from you.
I have come to save them from you.”

Then God became the shepherd:
Then God searched for the lost.
Then God brought back the strays.
God looked after them.
God bound up the injured and strengthen the weak.
God rescued them from all the places where they were scattered.

God brings them out from the nations and gathers them from the countries.

Then God brings them into their own land.
There God fed them on growing grass.
(2) God fed them in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.
God guided to the ravines so that they could drink good water.
God guided them to settle down and lie down in a good land.

But then there were also injustice among the sheep.
So God brought justice:
That is, God judged between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.
Then God destroyed the fat, shiny and strong sheep.
Why?
This is why:
This is what those fat, shiny and strong sheep had done:
(2) When they drink water, they drink first.
Then they trampled and muddied the water with their feet.
Then the weak sheep drink from muddy and dirty water.

The fat sheep also pushed the weak sheep with their belly and shoulder, roughly and rudely.
They stroke the weak sheep with their head and horns.
So the weak sheep were all driven away.

So God came to protect God's lean sheep.
God came to protect their right to live in peace and prosperity.
God came to take care of them and save them.
Then God became their God.
God became their shepherd.
God fed them.
God created peace for them.

Then God placed over them one shepherd, the Messiah, the Christ who is the prince among them.
With the Christ, God made a covenant of peace with them.

Then God gets rid of fierce angry beasts (evil spirits) so that God’s sheep can live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety.
They will be secure in their land.

Like this God will bless God’s sheep:
God will send showers of blessing.
God will give them the land that produces many crops.
The land will yield its crops.
The trees will yield their fruits.

They will know that God is with them.
They will know that they are God's people.

The prophet Ezekiel spoke these words especially for Jewish people.
The prophet Ezekiel knew that God would be faithful to Israel, even though in the year of 587 BC, their temple was destroyed and their nation was gone.

But the prophet Ezekiel understood what God has promised to them.
God promised that God would be faithful to them.
God would not give up on them.
The same God will not give up on you!

In order to fulfill this prophecy, God sent the Son of God, Jesus.
That is why when Jesus came, Jesus looked after the lost sheep of Israel.
These sheep were lost like that, because there were no shepherds.

So Jesus focused on serving them.
Jesus took care of the sheep.
Jesus strengthened the weak.
Jesus bound up the injured.
Jesus healed the sick.
Jesus searched for the lost.
Jesus looked for them and brought back the strays.

But when Jesus served them, bad shepherds appeared and refused to welcome the good Shepherd.
These bad shepherds continually wanted to take advantage of the sheep.
So they didn't want Jesus to work among them telling the truth.

So they killed John the Baptist who came to make the way of the Lord Jesus straight.
And then they wanted to kill Jesus as well.
They refused to welcome him.

In this situation, some people may say something like this:
“Jesus, use your power to make bad shepherds to submit to your rule.
You have the power.
Do it.
In this way, protect your sheep from these bad shepherds.”

But Jesus said something strange: John 10: 11
He was like:
“I am the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.”

Then some people were like:
“Huh?
That is not what we want.”

But Jesus was like:
“I have chosen to die in order to protect my sheep.
I am not going to use my power now in my first visit to earth.
I will give them another chance.

“So I will die for the bad shepherds and for bad sheep as well.
As the good shepherd, I will die for all.
I will die to protect them from their sins.
In this way, I will show how a good shepherd should live.
I will show them how a good shepherd loves his sheep more than his life.
Then I will see what will happen.”

Then in order to encourage people even more, Jesus also had a greater card in his hand, if you will.
Jesus had the Resurrection card in his hand.
So God raised him from the death so that all the people may have hope for eternal life.
God has also done this so that all those who follow Jesus may know that there is more than what they can see.
There is the unseen eternal world waiting for them.
Showing this glorious future, Jesus is asking his students to live boldly for him.
Jesus asks them to pray that the kingdom of God may happen on earth.

Then for this ministry, Jesus chooses his new shepherds.
Then he gives them the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus asks his new shepherds to be ready to die for God’s sheep as well.

That is what Jesus said to Peter, right? John 21: 15-19
After Jesus asked Peter to feed and take care of God’s sheep, three times, Jesus said that Peter would also died like him.
If you want to take care of God’s sheep, you may also sometimes die for them.

Jesus is still calling some people to be shepherds, pastors, elders and so on.
Jesus asks them to take care of God’s sheep whom Jesus saved through his death and resurrection.
This Jesus may ask his shepherds to lay down their life for God’s sheep.

Jesus may be saying:
"You have seen how I died for my sheep.
You have seen how I rose again and live forever for my sheep.
Now I am calling you to lose yourself in order to take care of my sheep.
Take care of the flock.
And meet me in the other side.

"Since they are my sheep, if you love them, you love me, too.
So talk with them.
Listen to them.
Seek to understand them.
Be their counselor.
Eat with them.
Pray with them.
Heal them in my name.
Strengthen the weak and sick in my name.

“Go out and search for the lost.
Call on them and go where they are.
And gather them and protect them.
Do not abandon even one.
Don't lose even one.
Take good care of them.

“Deal with them most gently.
Deal with them thoughtfully
Say things kindly to them.
Give them your best.
Provide what they need for their wellness.
Help them live in peace.
Then you will be my shepherd."

You may think that these words are only for ministers, elders and deacons.
But I think God is saying to everyone.
Because Christ Jesus is empowering everyone, we are all priests and ministers.
Because of Jesus, everyone is called. (The Priesthood of all Believers, 1 Peter 2:5)
Everyone is a minister in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, everyone is minister as God is empowering all of us to serve.

So we may say to each other:
"I am here to serve as God empowers me to do so.
I am here to listen and serve you.
That is the will of God for us.
God asks us to take good care of each other using our gifts and talents that God has given us."

May you serve each other in prayer and so on.
May all of us be healed and fed spiritually here and flourished here.
May God heal people here.
May the lost is found here.
May every person live equally here, enjoying what God provides.
May God’s blessing overflow with us.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank you for your kindness toward us.
Thank you for coming to help us and save us.
Help us to take good care of your people.
Help all of us in this.
In Jesus name, we pray.
Amen.