Luke 14:1, 7-14


Those whom God uses (the humble church)
Reading: Luke 14:1, 7-14
Additional reading: Matt 20:25-27, 21:33-34

When we read the Bible, it seemed there was the proud church in Jerusalem.
This church didn’t obey God.
The proud run this church as they see fit.
It seems people of this church worked for their glory.
They worked to make themselves known.
Meaning, they didn’t serve God or glorify God.
They don’t mind using various tricks to make their church grow.
They use their worldly methods to to make their church fund grow.
When God blesses them, they only give glory to their own worldly tricks.

Then they made their church structure is also hierarchical.
So when people became church officials, they insisted their own opinion and ordered people around.
People came to experience God.
But they looked down on them and rule over them.
They were not honest with them.

Then some cult members came to their church, easily proved that they were good workers.
They showed that they had a lot of energy for the church.
They had worked hard for the church.
Then the proud thought these people are very dedicated to the church.

Then they attract all kind of the proud.
Some of their members speak and act like as if everyone should listen to them.
They didn’t try to make decisions asking what the Holy Spirit wants.
They speak like as if God were their servant.
They looked down on the poor.
But still the proud didn’t repent of all what they did.

Since this church was going like this for a long time, God was able to say:
“That is not my church.
I don’t know them.”

But then it seemed a member of this church invited Jesus for a meal.
So Jesus came to their home.
Other church members came to see Jesus.
Then they tried to take the better seat.
Jesus watched as they tried to pick the places of honor at the table.

They think that humility is not a virtue at a time like this.
They wanted to show their power.
They wanted people to respect them.

You know after all, they were the ones who gave more donations to the church than anybody.
They were big contributors.

So later Jesus started to say like this:
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor.
Someone more important than you may have been invited.
So the host might come and say to you:
‘You are in the wrong place.
This place of honor belongs to this man.’

“Then you will be humiliated in front of everyone.
Then you go down and sit at the very last table, that is only left at that time.

“So, when you are invited, take the lowest place.
The host may come to you and say:
‘My friend, come up to the front.’
Then you will be honored in front of everyone.

“Like that, if you exalt yourself, you will be humbled.
If you humble yourself, you will be exalted.”

This is God’s law.
This is God’s spiritual law.
It is more than a practical advice.
But only those who believe in God could accept these words.

God is humble.
So God loves those who are humble.
So God uses the humble.
God works with those who take the lowest place of honor.
God will honor them in front of everyone.
God will say to them:
"My friends, move up to a better place."

In God’s humble church, God honors those who humble themselves.
The humble experience the humble God who dwells in their humble hearts comfortably.

So when Jesus builds his church, Jesus builds with the humble.
The humble enjoy a good relationship with God.
The humble live very well with God.

Jesus understands how God works.
So Jesus is saying:
“If you want to go some higher place of honor, humbly wait on God washing other’s feet just like I have.”

Jesus lived the life of the humble:
Even though Jesus made this world, when he came to this world, Jesus took the lowest place of honor.
But people didn’t think that this kind of person is their creator.
The proud didn’t think he was their Messiah.

Only God knew who Jesus is.
And Jesus touched the very heart of God.
So God started to lift him up.
When God lifted him up, nobody can stand against him.
All people can see soon or later.
This is God’s heavenly law.

But life is complex.
So sometimes, it does not look like God blesses the humble.
But if we wait, we will see that God bless the humble soon or later.

To understand that, we read the story of Jesus.
We need to understand God who live like Jesus.
When we understand, we learn that that the humble way is beautiful.
So we follow the gentle and humble Jesus and humble ourselves.
We humbly welcome children and play with them.
They humbly help people.
Like this. we also humbly become like God.
Then we wait humbly as God uses us and lifts us up.

Jesus the Christ also honors the humble in his church.
Sometimes, when one humble person appears at a church, this person may change the whole church.
Because they serve humbly and set an example for other people.
They love to serve.
They only want to glorify their God.
They practice what Jesus teaches them.
Other people learn about Jesus looking at them.
Other people are encouraged to follow Jesus.

The whole church notices this humble person listens to God and does God’s will.
They watch God uses the person.
They watch how they serve God and work with Jesus according to his will.
They see God shows up and does what God desires.

So because of this one person, everyone learns God’s humility.
Then people of this church is not like any others.
Because God turns this church right-side up.
People respect those who serve others.
People listen and understand each other.
Everybody serves each other.
And many things get done according to God’s will.
God bless this church as they obey God.
God chooses to work with them.
God works powerfully in the church.
God builds his church.
People experience the presence of God.
God is freely doing his work.
God enriches their life, as well.
They enjoy, having a good fellowship and friendship with God.

Then even their neighbors see that God is at work.
Then when they come to this church, they also learn God’s humble way.
They learn to follow the humble way.
So they learn about the humble God likes to work with this church.

When I watch the humble, they seem to live like this.
First of all, they want to do what God asks them to do.
So they want to hear God and discern God’s will.
They do this, because they know whatever God says will happen.
So they want to learn to discern God’s voice first.
And this is their starting point.

They believe in God's power.
They pray and trust in God.
They humbly pray and wait on God to do his work.
Then God shows up.
God works in their life and in the life of their church.

The humble live wisely.
The humble also ask God about God’s plan for next 5, 10 and 20 years.
You know why.
They want to prepare for their future.

God may use the humble to bring church together.
God may use the humble to help people live peacefully together.

They are also wise financially, because they do not spend money just to be looked nice.
They seem to do a lot of good works with less money.
They use money that God gives in God’s way.
So God can do a lot works through them.

The humble don’t worry about money though.
They just want to hear God and do what God wants.
Then as they obey, God provides money and everything.
As they obey, God blesses them financially.

God can also freely bless them.
God does not worry when God bless them.
God freely blesses them as they do what God would do in this world.
They understand God, live like God, experience God, and think like God.
So God lifts them up so that everyone can see them.

As they believe in God, God is having an easier time to bless them.
God uses them to bless people.
God uses them to bless the poor.
God uses them to continue the ministry of Jesus.

Today Jesus also said to his host something like this:
“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors.
Other people may build their world taking care of their friends, family, relatives and rich neighbors.
They may invite those who succeed in life for a meal.
Don’t do that.
They have enough without your help.
They may easily invite you back and pay you back.

“So when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.
Then you will experience the kingdom of God.
God will bless you.
Although they cannot repay you, God will repay you at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Jesus invited people to sit with the poor and share their life with them.
Jesus is saying:
“Let God bless you, by offering a party to those who could not invite you back.
Offer a party to those who don’t know you.
Offer a party to the poor.
God will remember and pay you back.”

Jesus is saying to his church.
Jesus is saying:
“If a church offers a party to the poor, God would be very happy.
God would also provide money for the church to do what God wants.”

God is looking for the humble who obey to serve the poor.
God is looking for the humble church:
Because the humble would not look down on the poor.
The humble would not serve the poor as if they were better than the poor.
The humble would not lose their humble holiness.
The humble would become their friends and companions.
They will just share their life with them.
That is what is beautiful.
That touched the very heart of God.
So God uses the humble to bless the poor.

The humble love God.
The humble continually serve God.
And they may ask these questions to themselves:

What does God have been saying to me?
What do I know about God’s will for me?
How may I grow and mature in terms of faith?

Do I really want to obey God?
Do I seek only God’s glory?
Do I trust God?
Do I fear God in the right way?

Do I find God’s humble character in me?
Am I humble like God?
How am I becoming like Jesus?
When do I experience Jesus in my lives?

Does God use me?
How does God use me?
Is God working with me comfortably?
Does the Holy Spirit want to stay with me and like to work with me?
How does God bless me?

May we continually be the humble church that obeys what the humble God asks of us.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, help us to understand the mind of Jesus.
Help us to serve God.
Help us to have an humble attitude as we serve God and people.
If I have been trying to lord it over other people, please forgive me and change my mind so that I may serve you, only you.
Help us to understand Jesus and serve like Jesus.
Help us to understand so that we may respect those whom you like to work with.
Help us to walk humbly with you, our living God.
In Jesus name, we pray.


Luke 13:10-17 (3)


Those rules of life of Jesus
Reading: Luke 13:10-17

There are many rules and laws in our world.
Most of them are good and serve the common good of our society.

But some of them are bad.
So they needed to be changed for the common good of our society.
You know, when a nation has bad rules and laws, they could almost imprison their civilians.
So we pray and wait for them to change their laws.

But anyway, we want good rules and laws.
And we pay attention to those good rules and laws, because it will help us.

For example, Billy Graham and his team made their rules.
When they made their rules, they asked this question:
“If Satan wants to destroy our ministry, how would he try to do that?”
Then they made a long list.
Then they tried to protect their ministry.

One well-known example is this:
“Billy Graham would never be alone with a woman who was not his wife, not in a car, an elevator, or a meal.”

They really follow this rule.
You know Billy Graham was very well known.
So if he was bombarded with gossips and rumors, they might have a very difficult time spreading the message of Jesus the Christ.
So for God and for their ministry, they wanted to be free from any potential rumor of scandals.

It turned out that this rule somehow helped Billy Graham.
So he never had any rumors of scandals or any false accusation in terms of relationship.
He followed this rule to preach the gospel.

I also hear that some pastors made a rule for their life.
That is, they try to spend five hours of prayer per day.
During this hours, they just spend time with God.

I read somewhere that Pastor Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church made a rule:
When a new member joins this church, they need to sign a covenant that says that they would not avoid gossip and maintain a godly lifestyle and so on.
If someone does not fulfill this membership covenant, they remove their names from their membership.

We may also make some rules for our church, asking this question:
If Satan wants to destroy our church, how would he try to do that?
If Satan wants to disempower our church, what kinds of ideas would he provide?

We know that Satan wouldn’t want us to do God’s will.
Satan doesn't want us to pray.
Satan doesn't want us to have faith.
Satan is the father of all lies.
So Satan may want us to lie and spread false gossip and so on.

So we may pray to have faith and to do God’s will.
We pray that God would protect our mouths.
Anyway thinking about our church, we may make some rules to protect our church.

We may also ask ourselves:
If Satan wants to destroy my life, how he would try to do that?
Satan may try to attack mentally, physically or spiritually.

So we may pray believing that God is stronger to protect us.
We may pray saying: “lead us not into temptation but deliver from evils.”
We may also make some rules to protect our life.

Jesus also had many rules.
Let’s think about his rules, habits or tradition.

One of his rules is to give people opportunities to serve God.
So from the start Jesus was giving his students opportunities to help out his ministry.
Jesus was raising his students to do his ministry.
For example, in his early ministry, Jesus didn’t baptize people but asked his students to baptize people for Jesus.
Because they could do that.
From the start, Jesus uses his church to train his people and help his people to train new people.

Jesus also has another habit.
Jesus visited many Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath in his days.
It was his custom to visit various Jewish synagogues.
There he read and taught God’s words.

Jesus has another rule:
Jesus forgives people’s sins.
Jesus spoke to people:
“Your sins are forgiven.”
Or “I do not condemn you.
Go and sin no more.”

Some religious people didn’t like this at all.
But Jesus continually says:
“Your sin are forgiven.”
Jesus was freeing people from their feelings of guilt, fear and anger which could make them sick again, then they have a good health in the faith of Jesus Christ.

His another rule is to heal people on any day of the week.
Jesus healed people continually.
Jesus might have gotten tired after healing so many people.
But he continued to help people to get well.

Jesus also helps his students to stay healthy.
Jesus healed them inside and out, mentally and physically.
Jesus kept them from getting sick.

Jesus also believes that his disciples could heal too.
So Jesus gives them power to do so.
Jesus said to them:
“Go and say to people, ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’
Then heal people.”

They have observed how Jesus practices his power.
Then when Jesus gave them power to do his ministry, they did what he did.

When we observe how Jesus is doing his ministry, we may be able to do what he does when Jesus gives his power to us.
So we read the four gospels of Jesus.
We understand, believe and follow Jesus and do what Jesus is doing.

Jesus has another rule.
Jesus wants his people to think good thoughts.
Jesus help them to think God’s good thoughts of faith.
Jesus guides them to think wonderful thoughts of faith.

Jesus also has another important rule.
Jesus asks his disciples to love one another just like he loves them.
Jesus asks his disciples to follow his examples.
Jesus expects that they do what he is doing.

Jesus was also against some bad rules.
Jesus challenged some of those rule that Jewish religious people kept.
Jesus said that those were not in line with God’s words.
Those were nullifying and ignoring God’s words.
Then Jesus and his Jewish students didn’t follow those Jewish tradition.

For example, Jesus healed people on the Sabbath.
Some jewish people thought Jesus was breaking the Sabbath, because he was working, that is, healing people.
They understood that Sabbath meant no working.
So they thought in order to obey God, they needed to stop Jesus from healing people on the Sabbath.

But Jesus continually healed people on the Sabbath.
Jesus wanted them to understand God who is full of grace and compassion and wants to heal people and frees them.

But they didn’t understand.
But Jesus would not back down and heal people only on other days.

Then today Jesus got another chance, when a woman entered their synagogue on the Sabbath.
She had been crippled for eighteen years.
She was bent over and could not straighten up.

This crippled lady entered the synagogue while Jesus was teaching.
When Jesus saw the lady, Jesus understood her situation that all the medical facilities that could not heal her.

Jesus called her forward and said to her:
“Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”
Jesus put his hands on her.
Immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Jesus wanted to teach this on the Sabbath:
God loved her and loved to free her.
So Jesus heals her on the Sabbath, or on the Lord’s day.

But the synagogue leader spoke out and said something like this:
“There are six days for work.
Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath....
Jesus, you should not work on the Sabbath.
You heal people on some other days.”
Those who religious people didn't understand.
So they gave Jesus a lot of troubles.

This synagogue leader was upset because probably his religious authority taught him to keep the Sabbath like that.
So this man didn't want Jesus to start his healing ministry in his synagogue on the Sabbath.
He tried to forbid Jesus to heal in the middle of the Sabbath service.
He thought he was doing right before God.

Even after seeing this healing, he could not understand God.
But God has a very different understanding about the Sabbath.
So God understands Jesus.
Jesus understands God.
In fact, Jesus is God whom they think they serve.

But those religious authority continually challenged Jesus.
And Jesus continually heal people on the Sabbath.
Jesus did not lie or pretend that he agreed with them.
They could not agree with each other.

When those people said something like this to Jesus:
“On the Sabbath you're not supposed to heal people.
You're supposed to rest.”

Jesus said something like to them:
“You sound very strange.
You sound irrational.
You don’t understand God.
In fact, you are hypocrites who only pretend to love God!
On the Sabbath you untie your ox or donkey and lead it out to give water.
Or in order to save your ox and donkey, you can break the Sabbath.
So then let me put it this way:
Just like you violate Sabbath for your donkey, God would break his Sabbath to heal this lady, because as for God this lady is more valuable than 1000 donkeys.
She is a daughter of Abraham.
Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years.
Why should not God set her free on his Sabbath day?
Can you understand God?
God is love.
God would want this lady to be healed on any day.
Do you understand that?”

Jesus understood they would not understand God.
They would not believe in Jesus whom God sent.
They would rather kill Jesus, thinking Jesus created problems.
They would rather get rid of Jesus.
So they talked with Roman Government officials in order to kill him.
Because they didn’t understand God, they were against Jesus and condemned Jesus.

These people would also kill the students of Jesus, who serve God.
They would persecute his students.
They didn’t understand God.
So they were so upset with his students as well.
But God sent Jesus into the world.
And Jesus sent his students into the world.
If they understand God, they could do what God wants.

You see those who do not understand God, could not follow Jesus.
How could they serve God when they don’t understand God?
So the more they tried to serve God, the more they made God mad.
We cannot expect anything from those who don’t understand God.
So if we don’t understand God but are energetic, we may be like those religious people who did nasty things, thinking that they served God.

But because Jesus died in order to show the world that God is love and compassion, some people question their wrong traditions.
They realized that their tradition does not help them to serve God.
Their tradition does not help them to obey God.

When they understand God who is love and compassion, they may be able to live like Jesus.
When they understand, they may listen to Jesus who says something like this:
“I am the Lord of the Sabbath. (Luke 6: 5)
I am the authority of the Sabbath.
I create the Sabbath.
I own the Sabbath.
And I use the Sabbath for people.
So listen to me on the Sabbath.
And let me heal people on the Sabbath.”

God is love and compassion.
So Jesus want to free us from wrong traditions.
Then Jesus wants to teach good tradition according to God’s will.

When we understand God, we may remove wrong tradition and only keep good tradition.
When we understand God, we may make rules that Jesus agree.
When we understand God, we may know how to practice our faith.
Then we can live with God and do a greater good with God.

May Jesus help us to understand the mind of God.
May Jesus let us know how we should live our lives.
May we allow Jesus to do more healing ministry here.
We may allow Jesus to continually do good here.
We may allow God to do wonderful things in our days.

Let's Pray:
Jesus, thank you for all the good rules and laws.
Thank you for healing us.
Help us to heal people in your name.
Help us to understand God whom we want to serve.
Help us to have holy thoughts and tradition that will build us up.
In Jesus name, we pray.


Luke 4:1-13 (1)


Learning our calling at the desert
(Focused life)
Reading: Luke 4: 1-13
Additional reading: Romans 10: 8-13
Hymns: 324, 322, 316

Last week, we have looked at the baptism of Jesus:
After his baptism, the Holy Spirit came down on him like a dove.
The Holy Spirit loves Jesus.
And Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit.

As you know, the Father God also said to Jesus the Son:
“I love you.
You are my Son, my loving Son.
I am so well pleased with you.”

But then Jesus went to desert.
Why did Jesus enter the desert?
So today we are going to think about that.

Jesus entered the desert, because the Holy Spirit led Jesus there.
When God loves Jesus, God led him, into the desert.

So we may ask:
“Holy Spirit, why did you take him to the desert?”

The Holy Spirit may say:
“I am taking him to a school.
There Jesus will learn to prepare his ministry.
There Jesus will learn to become the Savior of the world.
Nobody can teach him how to become a savior.
He needs to figure out for himself.”

I wonder whether Jesus enjoyed this or hoped that this desert experience would end very soon.
But anyway, this school lasted forty days providing no food.

But anyway the Holy Spirit led him there.
We see Jesus was willing to go.
Jesus understood that through this experience, he would figure out who he is and what he needs to do.

I am sure that God was continually assuring him, saying:
"I am with you.
I love you.
I am hearing your prayer.
I am hearing your thought.
Keep on thinking and building a firm foundation for your ministry.”

So Jesus relaxed and saved his energy to survive in the desert.
Jesus might have talked to God or to himself.
Jesus might have asked many questions to God and to himself:
“Who am I?
What do I need to know about my ministry?
What does God bless?
What do I really care about?”

No friends, no family members were there.
No church friends were there.
He simply goes deeper into himself.

Jesus was also asked again and again by Satan:
“If you are the Son of God, do this or do that.”
But these questioning rather helped Jesus to figure out what he really is about and how to live for God.
Jesus realized that the way of the Messiah is the way of obedience:
The Messiah is to help people to obey God instead of following worldly passion.
The Messiah is supposed to worship only God.

In the desert, he learned to choose God’s perfect will over any other opinions of any other spirits.
Jesus learned to discern the voice of God.
He learned to understand and discern the wisdom of God.
Then Jesus realized who he is and who he is to become.

I guess that in the desert Jesus was able to think and question for himself:
He listened to his own heart.
He listened to God’s own heart.
He realized more and more for himself.
Jesus realized that he just wanted to obey God’s will.
Jesus realized that he just wanted to do God’s will more than anything else.
So he gave up other things to do what God plans for his ministry.

Jesus knew for sure that God has chosen him as God’s Messiah.
So Jesus started living for God.
He started to help people to find the way of God.
So he went out and started to preach.
He talked about God’s love, and God’s will.
So the ministry of Jesus began.

Now our question may be:
Are we also entering the desert?
Probably yes!

Since we are followers of Jesus, we may enter the desert, like Jesus.
The Holy Spirit may lead us into our desert.

Some may not want to go there.
Some may want to go there.
Some may not know how to enjoy.
Some may relax and enjoy.

Some may enter there after experiencing some kinds of defeat or failures in life.
Some may enter there when nothing makes sense anymore and when they feel confused.
Some may enter there because they feel like quitting or giving up.

Either way, when they enter there, they will find what to do with their life.
The Holy Spirit may reveal to us what we need to do with our life.

We may also find answers to our deepest questions that existed within souls.
Jesus is there to help us see what is our heart’s true desire.
Jesus is there to show us about God’s will for our life.
Then we may have a deeper inner confidence about God’s calling in our life.
So we discover our deepest desire that God placed in our heart.

God may have tried to let us know about this for many years.
But it might have not been paid full attention.
So it was hidden in the corner of your heart.
Then in the desert, finally, we learn about our inner life that we didn't know before.
So after this we may say:
“Oh, this is what God wants me to do.
This is what God has been speaking to me.
Now I know what to do for sure in order to make God happy.”

So we discover God’s hope for us.
Usually it is not something new.
God has been saying to you all these years.
But we know now how important that is.

So after these experience, you know who you are.
You know what kind of person you are.
You know what you need to focus on.
You realize what you truly want with all your heart.
You realize what you should think about as you live your life.

There we may hear God says: (Isaiah 43:9-12)
“You are my witness.
You are my servants.
I have chosen you.
Do not fear.
I love you.”

When you have this quiet and humble confidence, you will never ask again whether God has chosen you or not.
You would not doubt God’s calling.
You know that God deeply loves you and chooses you for God.
You know that God cares about you.

Our mind is clear about our goal.
Jesus shows us that God has chosen us for this.
So we may focus on one thing and live accordingly.

This kind of learning happens in a desert.
So if someone experience this desert, they do something for a long time.
They do something for many years, because they know who they are.

But like me, sometimes, someone may forget what they experience in their desert:
For example:
When I forgot and then made my choices without thinking about what I have learned there, I usually regretted later.
Meaning, if I forget what I learned there, I didn’t know how to live my life.
So I may waste my life and suffered.

Then Satan may challenge us to worship falsehood that leads to destruction.
If we are deceived, it may take a little while for us to get back to the right path and serve God.

So if you remember, you may save a lot of times.
We know how to live.
We know what to do.
We know what God has asked us to do.

As for me, before I went to my deserts, I have done various things.
I thought I have done many things for God.
But I didn’t know what is important to God.

Then in my deserts, I learn what is the most important for God and for me.
In my deserts, I learn how important the story of Jesus is.
Since then, I didn’t try to do everything.

When I learn that I need to remember my lesson in deserts, and I don’t want to forget again, I put these words “the story of Jesus” wherever I am.
You know I wanted to be reminded.
I don’t want to waste my life again.
Then I was able to do what God asks me to do.
I was able to grow.
I was able to help other people according to God’s will, I think.

So I think in the desert, we may realize what we need to focus on as we live our life.
It is wonderful and good to know about that.
Because then we would not waste our life.

Anyway, are there anyone who feel like living in a desert?
Or do we remember what we learn in our desert experience?
Or have you run away from the desert, thinking that it was a waste of time?

Our life can be complex.
Our inner life can be confusing.
So we may go through a desert experiences.
We lose clutters.
Then we may understand and realize what God is trying to show us.
Then because we have been in the desert, we tend to live a very focused life:
We know what is important.
We know God loves us.
We know God has chosen us for God’s ministry.
So we focus on doing God’s will.

Those who went through their deserts tend to focus on what God asks them to focus on.
They don’t try to do everything.
They choose the important thing that God showed them.
Then they trust that God will take care of the rest.
They know how to live their life.
They remember the important thing that God pointed out to them.

So God can use their life.
God can use them more easily.
God can give them God’s support and God’s power.
God can bless them.
Even when God bless them, they continually serve God.
Other people may lose their focus when God bless them so much.
But since they learned what they need to learn, they would just do what God asked them to do.
They obey what God has showed them.
So they will help so many people for a long time according to God’s plan.
God will produce many heavenly fruits through them.
Then people around them will know that they are God’s partner.
They also experience God more and more.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank you for guiding us and leading us.
Help us to learn what we need to learn so that our life may be meaningful to you.
May we also be faithful to you according to what we learn in the desert.
May we remember and live the more focused life that you desire.
You are our focus.
Help us to focus on you.
We pray this in Jesus name.


Matthew 3:13-17 (1)


What is like to be baptized or confirmed?
Reading: Matthew 3:13-17
Prop: water, bibles

Today we are going to think about baptism.
It is an important sacrament in our church.

We baptize people because what Jesus said: Matthew 28:19
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Since I am a new pastor, you may need to know how I think about baptism.
Then we may talk about our understanding of baptism together.

So in order to think about that, let’s think about Jesus and his baptism:
Then we may understand our own baptism.

Jesus was baptized when he was about thirty years old.
Before his baptism, he learned various things.
He learned from God.
He learned to think like God.
Then he was ready to live for God.
So Jesus decided to live doing God’s ministry as a perfect human being.

At the time John the Baptist was talking about Jesus.
John waited for Jesus to start his ministry.
John knew that Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John knew that Jesus could really show who God is through his heavenly baptism.

Then in order to make a way for the ministry of Jesus, John preached and baptized people with water, as they repented.
Again what does “Repentance” mean?
It means to turn toward God and follow God’s way.
John asked people to turn away from their sin and live the life of God.
John asked them to share with their neighbors what they have.
John asked them to share if they had more than what they needed.

Jesus also came to John from Nazareth.
Then one day, Jesus also wanted to be baptized.
But John was like:
“You need to baptize me.”
But Jesus persuaded John saying:
“This is the right things to do.”
So, John obeyed. (Matt 3: 15)

So let’s think about this:
Jesus is fully God.
God asked John to baptize people to prepare the way of the Lord Jesus.
So it was Jesus who asked John to baptize people.
But then why did Jesus want to be baptized by John who was a human?

I think Jesus was recognizing that John was doing what God has asked him to do.
So Jesus honored John who was doing what God asked him to do.

But still, he didn’t need to be baptized.
Jesus was a perfect human being.
He didn’t have sinned.
He didn’t need to repent and be baptized.

But Jesus humbled himself.
He wanted to identify himself with the human.
Since Jesus became fully human, Jesus wanted to make a way so that other human beings may follow his way to serve God.
Like this, Jesus became the humble savior of all people.

God is like this.
God is always like that.
That's why God asks us to pray.
God doesn't need to hear from us.
God knows everything.
But God still wants to hear from us.
This is who God is.

So by being baptized, Jesus showed the humbleness of God.
Showing God’s character like this in his life was right things to do.
Following God’s humble design for his life was the right thing to do for Jesus.

So Jesus humbled himself and obeyed God’s way.
Then God honors Jesus.
God opened the heaven.
Then the Spirit of God descended like a dove and landed on Jesus.
The Holy Spirit came to Jesus so that the Holy Spirit may work with Jesus.

Then God the Father said:
“This is my beloved Son.
I am so well pleased with him.”

Then Jesus began his ministry as the savior.
After his baptism, Jesus started his ministry.

But right after his baptism, where did Jesus go?
Jesus was led to the desert.
If you will, he went to the school of desert.
There Jesus learned to understand the way of Cross.
There he decided to live his life as the Messiah.
There, he decided to obey God no matter what.

But at the desert, no one noticed what he was doing.
When no one saw, Jesus was faithful to God.
Then there Jesus started his ministry for God.
From this desert, Jesus continued serving God.
Then Jesus also taught people after that.

Now what do we learn from looking at the baptism of Jesus?
What does this baptism of Jesus explain about our baptism?

As we grow in faith, we were asked whether we wanted to be baptized.
Then we might have experienced this process after a water baptism:
We might have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Then we might have gone to the school of desert.
There we started our ministry to God when no one saw.
Then because of God’s grace, we were able to start living the life of Jesus in the desert.
Then from the desert, we continue serving God like Jesus.

When we are baptized, we may enter into this process.
When we are baptized, we are saying that we are willing to receive the Holy Spirit so that we may start serving the Living God.
When we are baptized, we are saying that we are willing to obey Jesus.
When we are baptized, we are saying that we want to follow the Spirit of Jesus who leads us and guides us.
We are saying that we want be trained by God to do some good works of God.
We are saying that we want God to train us to understand God’s way.
We are saying that we want to learn to obey God and be humble like Jesus.
And as always, obedience and humility leads us to Jesus.
Like this, we become a minister of God.
You know, every Christian is a minister of God.

Then we may be able to explain the way of kindness, peace, and humility of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit may help us to understand God and ourselves.
Then people around us may also experience the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit may help them because of us.

I remember my own baptism.
I remember before my baptism, there was baptismal classes.
It dealt with basics doctrine of faith.
And an elder of the church also talked with me about his faith and his testimony.
I think I also shared how I experienced Christ in my life.

In some church, if you want to be baptized, they baptize you right away.
But if we are not in hurry, I usually give about three classes for baptism.
It is to help them understand about their faith.
We may discuss some of these questions:
Who is Jesus?
What do we think about him?
How did we get to know Jesus?

I may ask them:
Do you have any questions about Jesus?
Do you have any questions about Holy Spirit?
Do you have any questions about God?
Do you have any questions about faith?
We may discuss what they need to know before their baptism.

They may ask:
Why do we use water in our baptism?

John used water because in his day, water is related to cleaning process.
Now we understand this water is like the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from our sins.
So through the baptism the church proclaims that our sins are forgiven.
We are cleansed spiritually and symbolically.

Through baptism, we also proclaim that we die with Jesus and rise with Jesus.
We are born again to live the life of Jesus.

After these classes, I ask them again if they still want to be baptized or they want to postpone and think about more.

In our church we also baptize babies.
It is called infant baptism.
When we baptize a baby, we baptize them based on parents’ willingness to raise the baby as a follower of Jesus.

But since they were babies, they didn’t really knew what was happening.
So when they are about 13, we give them a chance to decide whether they want to be followers of Jesus.
In our church it is called confirmation. 견신례
Through confirmation they recognize their own baptism.

As a church, we give them a chance to claim their own baptism.
Since they were baptized when they were babies, we don’t baptize one more time.
No one needs to be baptized twice.
If someone was baptized in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our church usually accept their baptism.
We recognize their baptism.
We do ask for another baptism.

But then there are those who are teenagers but have not been baptized.
Then we baptize them if they want to be baptized.
But since they can think for themselves, we ask some questions for them to think about their faith.
We try to help them understand their faith journey.
We try to help them to understand about Jesus.

Then during baptismal classes, I may ask:
Are you ready to be baptized?
I'm not asking whether your parents want you to be baptized.
I'm not asking whether your grandparents want you to be baptized.
I'm asking whether you want to be baptized.
It has to be your decision.

Since they are old enough, I talk to them like this so that they may make their own decision.

Again when church baptizes a person, the church is simply recognizing them as someone who want to follow Jesus.
The church baptizes them based on their willingness to follow Jesus.
That is what the church does.
After baptism, the church is called to work with them to follow Jesus and spread his gospel.

In a sense, baptism or confirmation is like an engagement with God.
Someone has been dating with God awhile.
Someone has learned of God enough.
They have learned of Jesus enough.
They have experience God’s grace enough.
So they wish to live according to God’s will and plan.
They wish to receive the Holy Spirit.
They are ready to publicly announce their relationship with God.
Then through baptism, they publicly announce their relationship with God.
Then the whole church members also think about their own baptism and how far they have come.

The marriage of the Lamb will happen later.
If you will, the marriage with the Christ will happen later.
Then we may have a total union with Jesus the Christ. So at this time, we get ready to marry with God Jesus later.

Personally, I think it is good to be baptized during the Baptism of the Lord (January 2017), Pentecost (June 2017) or Easter (April 16 2017) because these days seem to explain about baptism very well.

When we are baptized, we become a member of a church.
That means, you may vote in church meetings.
So as members, we need to discern God’s will together so that we may follow Jesus together.
As members, we try to listen what God is saying to us.
Learning to listen to God is important for each member, because then we may be able to vote and help a church to do God’s desire.

Anyway, if someone wants to know more about baptism, it is important to understand about the faith of Jesus the Christ.
So it is a good idea to read four gospels of Jesus.
Then they may get to know Jesus enough to make a decision.

I guess that is enough about baptism.
Next week, we are going to learn more about why Jesus went to desert and what he learned there.

Let's pray:
Jesus, thank you for showing us the way.
We have looked at your humble way.
Only those who are humble can enter into your narrow path.
Help us to be humble so that we may follow you, our humble savior who love us and has given your life for us on the cross.
Thank you for your love.
Thank you that you baptize us with the Holy Spirit so that we may live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Help us to be with you forever.
Help us to live with you forever.
In Jesus name we pray.