Mark 7:1-23

God, may our hearts worship you (Heart Religion)
Reading: Mark 7:1-23
Additional readings: Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14
Object: a stop sign

Are you a person who keep most signs on the road?
For example, when you drive, you see the stop sign.
Do you really stop and look both ways and then start driving?
Or do you try to stop and if you see other car is coming, you just continue driving?

Or when you see various commandments in the Bible, are you trying to obey everyone of them?
Or you just pick and choose.

When I was a young Christian, there was a medical doctor who suggested people should eat only vegetables.
He used various Bible verses to back up his teaching as well.
He was popular in TV for awhile.

And at that time, I didn’t know the Bible very well.
So I thought he was right.
I trusted his stop sign and tried to eat only vegetables.
But it seems my particular body is designed to have meats.
I could not function very well.
So I started to eat meats again.

So today let’s think about that:
What does the Bible say about food?
Does the Bible talk about what we should eat or what we should not?
What does Jesus say about that?
Shall think about that today?

When we read 11 chapter of the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, Jewish people were told about what to eat and what not to eat.
So even today some Jewish people eat only kosher food.
You know, they don’t eat pork, shrimp, shellfish (조개) and so on.

Now we are Christians.
Should we eat also kosher food?
If not, why not?

Before we go there, let’s see what are eatable food according to Leviticus 11.
Jewish people were told to eat cattle, deer, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, pheasants(꿩), turkeys.
They could eat Tuna, Salmon, Bass (농어), Cod (대구), Herrings, Red Snapper, and Smelt: 청어, 적도미, 빙어.
They could eat locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers: 메뚜기, 귀뚜라미와 메뚜기.
But they cannot eat other insects.

They were not to eat pig, horse, rabbit (토끼), squirrel, cat, shrimp, lobster, catfish (메기), squid(오징어), crab(게), oyster(굴), camel, and hyrax (너구리).
They were not to eat vulture, kite, falcon, raven, eagle, owl, seagull, hawk, cormorant, stork, heron, hoopoe, and bat: 독수리, 솔개, 매, 까마귀, 독수리, 올빼미, 갈매기, 매, 가마우지, 황새, 왜가리, 후투티, 박쥐.
They were not to eat rat, lizard, gecko, chameleon: 쥐, 도마뱀, 도마뱀, 카멜레온.
These laws were given 1600 years before the time of Jesus.
Did anyone still practice these laws in the time of Jesus?
Yes, the Pharisees kept these dietary laws.
They also added many more traditions along with it.
For example, they washed their hand before each meal.
If someone didn’t wash their hands, their hands are religiously dirty to eat anything.
For them this was a religious ceremony.
When they came from marketplaces where there were unclean stuff, they washed their hands and then they ate food.

Also in order to have clean hands, they religiously washed their cups, pitchers and kettles.
They wanted to use clean pitchers and kettles to wash their hands.
This was their religious duty.
They practiced their religion like this following the tradition of the elders.

So their religion became more like legalistic rituals.
These become more important than listening to God.
These become more important than having clean hearts that are free from envy, jealousy, bitterness and pride.

Those who lived in Jerusalem might have practiced more rigidly.
Then one day the Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus.
But they saw some disciples of Jesus eating food without washing hands!

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus:
“Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders?
Why do they eat their food with religiously dirty hands?”

Jesus said something like this:
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you.
You are hypocrites who just appeared to be holy.
You honor God with your lips.
You worship God in vain.
Your teachings are only human rules and human traditions.
You let go of God’s commands.
So your hearts are far from God.”

Why did the disciples of Jesus eat food without washing hands?
Because Jesus ignored those rituals and tradition purposely.
Following those legalistic rituals and traditions would not make them holy.
These rituals and traditions could not save people.
Jesus freed his students from carrying all those burden and guilt that the Pharisees placed on them.
The students of Jesus understood.

Then now Jesus called the crowd and said:
“Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.
The food cannot defile a person by going into him, because it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.
But it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

What is Jesus saying about food here? Mark 7:19
The food doesn’t go into our heart.
The food only goes into stomach, and then out of the body.

What does it mean?
Jesus is saying that all foods are clean!
All foods are clean in Christ Jesus, without saying the right prayers over them or washing their hands in the proper way.

So the food can not make people clean or unclean before God.
So it is not what comes into the mouth defiles a person.
It is what comes out of the mouth defiles a person.
All true cleanliness comes from hearts.

So people become holy by washing their hearts.
They are holy when their hearts are holy.
When good thought comes out of our mouth, we are clean and holy before God.

But when people bring out these dirty thought, they are dirty before God.
Evil thoughts are the thoughts of sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly: 음행, 도둑질, 살인, 간음, 탐욕, 악의, 사기, 방탕, 시기, 중상, 교만, 어리 석음의 악한 생각.
When these evil thoughts come out, that makes people religiously dirty.

When I have these thoughts, I am dirty.
It does not matter whether I have been coming to church for a long time or not.
It doesn't matter whether I am a pastor.
I need to ask God’s forgiveness.
I need to pray:
“Jesus, please forgive my thoughts.
Guide me so that I may only have good thoughts.”
Change me us to think your pure and true thought.”

But those who don’t know about this heart religion, may say:
“I have no sin, because I didn’t kill anyone, or steal anything.
I might have wanted something that belongs to someone else.
I might have wanted to do something that is not right.
But that was just a thought.”

When we don’t know God, we may say like that.
But when we know God, we know our hearts and our motives are important for God.
God does not judge our outer appearances.
God judges our hearts.
God listens to our heart and our motive.
When we have truth in our heart, God is pleased.

But we also know that Jesus accepted every sinner.
Jesus freely accepted the outcast, the guilty, the lonely, and those who doubt.
Jesus also accepts us and welcomes us, even though our hearts may not clean.

Then Jesus may try to make our hearts holy.
Jesus may try to make our hearts clean.

Jesus also tries to make the hearts of his first students pure and holy.
Jesus wants their hearts to be holy and full of faith.
So Jesus often asked these rhetorical questions:
Why did you doubt? (Matt 14:31)
Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)
Do you understand? (Matt 16:8)
Are your hearts hardened? (Mark 8:17-18)
Why are you afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
Why do you worry about that?
Can you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? (Matt 6:27)
If even this smallest thing is beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:26)

Jesus asked these questions to change their hearts.
Why did Jesus want to change their hearts?
Because then God could use them.
When God chooses people for God’s service, God chooses looking at their hearts.

God uses those whose heart is pure and clean.
God uses those who have gentleness and calmness in their hearts.
God uses those who love others.
God uses those who pray for others.
God uses who who think like God.

So God may ask:
I care about what kinds of thought you have.
Are you protecting your hearts to serve me?
Do you bless people?
Do you have some people that you hate?
Have you forgiven everyone?
Do you pray for your enemies?
Do you bless your enemies?
Do you think like Jesus?
That's what I care about.
Then I can use you.”

We live in the world where other people care about appearance.
We live with those who are busy cleaning the outside.
They dress beautifully.
They have a clean house.
But if they start talking gossips out of wicked hearts, they are dirty before God.
They need to focus on cleaning the inside.

But then some people tend to make a mess of their home.
They may have tattoo and so on.
But now if their heart is clean and pure, then God uses them.
When they believe in God, God can use them.
When they want to serve God with their hearts, God can use them.

Jesus was a homeless, you know.
So his outer appearance might have been dirty according to the Pharisees.
But his inner part is holy.
Jesus is clean inside.
So he is free from sickness, germ and virus.

Being a pastor, I think about how to dress in the church.
I don’t wear clerical dress.
I do not want to wear too formally because then young people may not be comfortable with it.
But then let’s say one day I come wearing jeans and running shoes on the Lord’s Day.
Are you ok with that?
Are you ok that we become a church where people come wearing casually?
So I think about what to wear when I come to church from time to time.

But Jesus may say:
"Why are you anxious about clothes? Matt 6:28
I want your hearts to worship me.
I care about your hearts more than your outer appearance.
I care about what kind of heart you bring to church.”

Being a pastor I heard about some churches argued about various issue.
Some argued about what color of carpet was better for their church.
Some argued about what kind of music should they used in service.

God may not care.
God cares about what kinds of thoughts they bring to church.

If am mad at someone, I need to come to God and pray about that.
Because when I have mean thoughts, I stop God from blessing me.
If I have mean thoughts, God may not come close to me, because God is holy.
So God may guide me to have other thoughts that is ok with God.
God may guide me away from mean thoughts and guide me into good thoughts.
Then as I ponder good thoughts, God may use me.

If I have good thoughts toward others, Jesus may say:
“Now you are blessable.
I can use you.”

Again I may be a pastor, a deacon, a elder.
The title is not important.
If I live with a good and pure heart, God can use me to change the world for good.
God can bless me when my heart is right with God.
So we pray:
“God, guide my heart.
Guide me to have a better heart so that you may bless me.
May I worship you from my heart.
May I think about what you ask me.
May I honor you with my life.
May I see your possibility in me.”

Anyway, today, we learn that all food are clean in Jesus.
We also learn that we don’t want to ponder just any thoughts.
We want to have good thoughts.
We want to imagine along with the holy imagination of God:
We want to imagine God healing everyone, restoring everything and making this church pure and holy until Jesus comes.
We want to be holy before God.
We want to dream God’s dream.
That is our prayer.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, guide us to think good thoughts.
Guide our heart.
Save our heart.
May we want what you want.
May we serve you and live with you.
In Jesus name we pray.


Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 (2)


Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
Props: Mustard Seeds, water, and some rich soil

What is this?
Can you see?
Yes, these are seeds.
These are mustard seeds.
Do you know what seeds are?
We can eat them.
Or we can also plant these seeds under the ground.
Then they will grow and become a tree.

So if we plant these seeds on the ground, we may have a mustard tree that produce many fruits, many mustard.

Now let’s see.
Where can I plant these seeds?
Can I plant these seeds right here?
(Place some seeds on the floor)
I can give some waters to it.
(Spray some water)
Now will these seeds grow?
No, why not?
Right, because this floor is too hard.
This floor would not allow these seeds to put down its roots and grow.
So, I cannot plant seeds here.

Now let’s see:
Then where can I plant these seeds?
What if I plant this seed here?

We have good soil here.
So, I can dig a hole.
And I can bury these seeds under the soil.
Then I can add some waters.

Then what do you think?
Will these seeds grow?
Right, these seeds may grow because the soil is not too hard for them.
They can put down their roots and grow.

Have you heard about Jesus?
Jesus says his words are like these seeds.
Jesus spreads God’s words everywhere he goes.

But if our hearts are like this floor, nothing may grow.
Even if we listen to Jesus, nothing may grow.

But if our hearts are like good soil, his words will grow within us.
The words of Jesus will grow in our heart and our mind.
that is soft and gentle and kind.
Then we can understand Jesus.
Then we may experience Jesus and hear his good thought.
We may become like Jesus who is gentle, kind and good.
Then Jesus can do many things through us.

Then, we may be able to help people like Jesus.
Then we think good thoughts.
We may be able to bless people like Jesus.
We may love other people more.
We may love granny more.
We may love ourselves more.
We may forgive people.
We may also receive the words of Jesus and speak for other people.
Then things will happen according to God’s good plan.
Then Jesus will be very happy.

So we also want to ask Jesus to make our hearts soft so that we may be ready to receive his words.
We want to ask Jesus to make our hearts gentle, kind and good so that his words will grow and make our world beautiful.

When Jesus makes all of our hearts soft, gentle and kind, Jesus can really plant his good words and one day, we will see many fruits in our life.
So let’s ask Jesus to make our hearts soft and good so that his words may grow in us.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, please make our hearts soft and good and ready to receive your good words so that your good words may grow within us and produce wonderful fruits.
Help us to grow according to your words.
We pray this in Jesus’ name.


Luke 16:1–13 (1)


God's financial management
Reading: Luke 16:1–13
Additional reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Blanks: manager, welcome, debtors, owe, commended, friends, welcomed, true
Props: four volunteers: a hat for the rich man and a hat for the money manager and two friends, a chair, two papers

Let’s say that there is a good billionaire.
Let’s say that this billionaire gives you a lot of money, and ask you to manage his money for him.
What would you do?
Let’s say that this billionaire wants to hire you as his money manager. Would you like to manage his money?

If yes, how would you invest that money?
Would you put his money to work thinking of 10 and 20 years?
Or would you invest his money just to make a quick profit?
Would you study to find out how to manage money wisely?
Would you study to invest his money to have a good return?
Or would you just save the money in a bank until you find out what to do?

Or would you do your project with that money?
Or would you spend that money for yourself?

Today, Jesus told a strange story:
There was a rich man.
He hired a money manager to take care of his money.

But this money manage didn’t seem to know how to manage money.
He didn’t study to have a better investing strategy.
He didn’t study other good money managers.
He didn’t invest the money thinking of 10 or 20 years of good return.
He didn’t seem to make a good plan for the money.
He just didn’t take care of the money.

It looked like he didn’t want to be a money manager.
He might have wanted to have another career.

Then since his master was a good man, he could have told him.
His boss could help him to find another job based on his interest.
His boss would love to help him finding a right career.
Then he might have been successful and happy.

But this man also had a wrong belief.
He believed that in order to be happy, he needed to cut corners.
He believed only those who cheated and cut corners, succeeded in life.
Because of this wrong belief, he cheated and cut corners.

But he really didn’t need to be cheap like that because he was serving a good boss.
If he just had a good common sense and followed some proper procedures, he could have lived a good life.
His boss would help him and he could have been very happy.

So other managers might have said to him:
“Why do you not think about 10 or 20 years ahead?
Think about a long term consequence.
Think some good thought.
You don’t need to cut corners in order to be happy and successful.
You just need to take good care of what you have.”

But everyday, he cut corners, when he didn’t need to.
He was spending his boss money without much planning.

Then eventually a local newspaper wrote an article about his terrible practices of money managing.

So the rich man came and asked:
“What is this I hear about you?
We are going to investigate your money managing records.
Then we will determine about your future with this company.”

Then this man knew that he would be fired very soon.
He knew what he did.
So the money manager said to himself:
“O boy, I will be fired very soon.
What shall I do now?
I’m not young enough to get a new job.
I'm not strong enough to work in the field.
I'm too proud to beg on the street.
What shall I do?”

Flipping through his boss’ account book, he had another idea to cut corners.
So he said:
“Oh! I know what I need to do.
If I do this, people will welcome me into their homes!”

Then he started to call various people who borrowed money from his master.
He asked them to come to his office.

When the first came, he asked:
“How much do you owe my master?”

He replied:
“Nine hundred dollars.”

Then he told him:
That doesn't sound right.
Sit down and make it four hundred on your bill.”

Then he asked the second:
“And how much do you owe?”

He replied:
"A thousand dollars.”

He told him:
That must be a mistake.
Take your bill and make it eight hundred.”

He was on and on like this.
Until the very end, he was using his brain to cut corners.
I guess he really could not serve his good boss any longer, after cheating his boss like this.
He could have used his brain to study how to invest money.
Then he didn’t need to live like this.

Anyway, if you were his boss, what would you do with this sneaky money manager?
How would you deal with this employee?
Of course, you need to fire him.
That is for sure.

But then there is an even more surprising end of the story.
The rich boss praised this manager.
The rich man was like:
What a sneaky way to gain friends!
Let’s give him a big hand.
Isn’t this a great idea or what?”

The boss praised as he gained new friends who would be grateful to him.
His new friends would be kind to him or welcomed him into their home.
The boss seemed happy because this man used his money to gain friends.
What a boss!
What a generous boss!

This is the end of the story.
Can you hear why Jesus is telling from this story?
What can we learn from this story?

Obviously, the rich boss in this story represents God.
God may deal like this with his sneaky money manager who does not believe in God.
What kind of God is this?
Can you understand this God?

God hires many money managers.
God gives his money and wealth to his money managers.
Their responsibility is to take care of God’s resources.

Some money manages take good care of his money.
Some do a good job and utilize God’s resource very well.
When they use well, God knows that they love God.
When they do good job, God knows that they love God.

But some managers would not utilize God’s money very well.
Instead, they may waste God’s resources.

Then God may say.
“If you waste my wealth like that, I will take it away.”

They may say:
“But other people are doing this.
I am just doing what they are doing.”

Then God may say:
“That is not a good answer.
You have a very good brain.
You have enough time and money and so on.
Come up with a better answer.
It is your life.
You need to answer for yourself:
Why do you do what you do with what I have given you?
Why have you used it in that way?”

But let’s think about the strange part of the story again:
When that sneaky money manager used God’s money to gain personal friends, God praised him.
When that money manager was falsely generous with new friends misusing God’s wealth, God was happy.
When that money manager has boldness to carry out his sneaky plan to earn friends, God is happy.

God was ok with it.
It was ok for God to give away like this.
God seems saying:
“At least, he is not wasting my money like before.
At least, he is learning how blessed is to be generous.
He is using my wealth to enrich his relationship with people.”

Telling this strange story, Jesus was also trying to explain what God values more.
God has a lot of money.
God has more money than the Federal Reserve.
God can print more money.
God can create more wealth.
God has unlimited resources of money and power.
So money is not a problem for God.
God wants to use his resources for people.

God creates everything to bless us and free us.
For people, God created the Bible to free them.
For people, God created Sabbath to free them.

For people, God gave Jesus to free us.
For people, God gave his church to free us.

God frees the church to use various resources and opportunities to benefit their friends.
God frees the church to use God’s money to gain friends.
We are free to use God’s blessing to enrich the lives of others.
When we are free to use money like this, we please God in heaven.
In this way, we may use God’s money in God’s way.

We are also God’s spiritual managers.
God has entrusted to us with God’s spiritual wealth.
God's managers also use God’s compassion and forgiveness to make friends.
Then God would be very happy.

This is how we may manage God’s spiritual wealth.
Some people may feel like this because of their sins:
"I am doomed.
How could I be forgiven for what I have done?
God must be very mad at me."

But God’s managers may say:
“Come to God.
Then your are forgiven.
Don’t worry.
God forgives your debts.
God cancels your debts and guilt.
God will takes care of you.”

When we use this encouraging words, God would be happy, because God wants to give this assurance to them.
God wants to help people like this.

At the church we learn to share spiritual and material blessings with others.
At the church we learn to give what God gives.
The church gives, because God gives.
The church helps people, as God helps.
The church uses their opportunity to help others, as God provides those opportunity to serve God and serve people.

So God gives the Church, God’s words, spiritual gifts, talents, skill, spiritual understanding, intellect, wisdom and creative ideas.
Then various ministries have started from the Church: various medical ministry, school ministry, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army and so on.
God is interested in this kind of works.

But then the church can do this only when she has God’s faith.
The church cannot do anything, if she doesn’t have the faith of Jesus.
If we believe in God, we also understand that God has unlimited money and spiritual resources.
We understand God is unlimited.
We understand God can multiply food, money and everything.
When we understand God, we may use God’s resources to enrich the lives of others.
If we understand God, we can use our gifts that God gives.
If we understand God, we can help the elderly.
If we understand God, we can help those who have not heard the gospel of Jesus.

Jesus also said that in order to live like this, we need to find the narrow path and walk on the narrow road.
Meaning, in order to live like this, we cannot follow what other church is doing.
We need to listen to God and follow God on his narrow road.
We need to listen to God and think with God’s creative ideas.
Only then we may become the friendly church that God uses to bless people.

May God help us to find the narrow path to walk on it.
May we serve God in God’s way.
May we manage well God’s blessings and wealth that are given to us.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank you for giving all the blessings.
Help us to give as you provide for us.
May we be generous with your money so that the world may experience you who are generous.
You provide generously.
Help us to use what you give.
Help us to use your resource to make friends.
Help us to believe God and live accordingly.
May we enrich people’s lives in your name.
May we become your good friend.
In Jesus name, we pray.


Luke 12:49-56 (1)


God’s flaming love
Reading: Luke 12:49-56
Blanks: baptism, completed, present

Do you like campfire?
I guess in the ancient time, people started to make a little campfire so that they cook what they caught or they sleep at night at a warmed environment.
They must have gathered woods.
They must have tried to spark the fire and try to make a fire going.
When they get their fire going, they add woods to make the fire become big enough to cook or stay warm at night.

Jesus also wanted to start a different kind of fire.
When his fire is going, the whole world may experience God.
So Jesus wanted to spark the fire.

In order to spark the fire, Jesus had to finished his story.
When his story is finished, he could spark the fire.

So Jesus said something like this:
“I have come to bring fire on earth.
I wish I have already kindled it!
I wish it is already blazing!

“But my spark is the story of Jesus.
I need to complete my story.
Thank God, I am near the end.
But this is the most difficult part.
I have to suffer and die on the cross.
Then I will rise again.”

His story will explain the love of God.
So when people understand the story, they understand how God loves them.
When people understand the story of Jesus, they understand God’s love.
Then they experience God’s love.
Then they have God’s fire in their hearts.

For this kind of result, Jesus wants to share his story.
So Jesus gathered his woods.
His woods are the hearts of people.
He want to spark his fire on the hearts of people.
Then his story will change people’s hearts.

But then Jesus said something like this:
“I am not trying to use my story to bring peace on earth.
I am going to use it to bring division first.
It will disrupt and confront!”

That means, at first, his fire would not bring people together:
Jesus would divide people and separate those who believe what is right.
Those who believe in the truth and obey what Jesus teaches will be united for the truth.
Jesus will separate them from those who do what is wrong.
Jesus will separate his people from those who lie and deceive.

There is another reason that Jesus made this decision.
Two thousands years ago, Jewish people had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah.
Some wise people sensed that the time has come.
But they thought that the Messiah would come and remove the Roman Government to establish a Jewish state.
They got it wrong.
Because they got it wrong, they noticed nothing.
The time of the Messiah had come.
But they would not know.

So Jesus said something like this:
"You look at the sky and tell very well whether it is going to rain.
Then look at your generation and try to tell what is happening.
Is it now the time of the Messiah?
How do you read the Bible?

“The Bible prophesies over the time of the Messiah.
What do you think?
Is it the time of the Messiah?
John the Baptist came and taught about me.
I performed miracles and healed people.
I teach and challenge wrong theology, wrong authority, and wrong ideas about God.
I preach the truth.
I explain what is right and pure.
Are these signs of God’s Messiah?
What is God doing?”

Jesus asks people to decide whether they want to follow him or not.
Because Jesus wants to divide people into two groups: those who follow the truth and those who don’t.

As Jesus continually stood up for the truth, his students understood the right path of life.
They were gaining wisdom to know what is true.
Then because of the words of Jesus, they also become pure.
They started to understand that Jesus is God.
They wanted to obey him their Messiah.
They took risks and stood up for Jesus the Messiah.
So they stood up for his way of life.

So Jesus said something like this:
“I am going to divide people first.
You need to decide whether you are going to follow me or not.
You need to make a decision.

“If you follow me, your family may not like it.
Your family may disagree and don’t understand it.
Is ok with you?
Will you still stand up for the truth?
I know this is a big challenge for many people.
Can you follow me when you experience a division in your family?
Can you stand up for the truth before your family and friends?
Will you follow me, trusting that I provide everything?”

If they say yes, Jesus wants to set them apart, since they commit their life to follow him.
Jesus wants to set them apart for God as they get ready to do God’s will.
Then one day, they will be able to carry God’s fire.

But this God’s heavenly Fire is also Refiner's Fire:
Every gold goes through a refining process.
Then it becomes a pure gold.
Then it is true gold.

Like this, God’s fire purifies our hearts.
God’s fire cleanses us from our sin.
God’s fire cleanse us from deep within.
God’s fire makes us holy and holy and holy.

Through his words, Jesus is purifying our hearts.
Then our hearts become holy.
Our mind changes.
We experience a transformation of our emotional life.
Our appearance will change.
Our faces and skins change and become beautiful.
Our thoughts changes.
And we live a new life.

When people get to know God, they change, because Jesus will mold them and make them beautiful in the eyes of God.
With his words, he does this process.

So the more we know Jesus, the more our hearts become pure.
Then we live in God’s presence as we choose to be holy.
As we desire to be pure before God, we experience God.

God’s fire is God’s love.
When we experience God’s love, we are on fire.
When we understand God's love, we are on fire.
We change and become a holy fire.

But some people may refuse God’s fire.
They may refuse God’s love.
They may not give their lives to God.
They may not spread God’s love.
They may come to church but don’t listen to Jesus or obey Jesus.
They may not forgive another person.

These people may be pastors.
They may be elders.
They may deacons.
They may be missionaries.

But they may try to do their own things, instead of seeking to do God's will.
They may try to make their church grow in their own way.
They may try to have a church with a lot of money.
So other people may watch them and follow their examples.

Then Jesus will pray:
“God, forgive them for they do not know what they're doing.”
Then Jesus will try to show God’s true love to them.
Jesus may ask them:
“Have faith in me.
Choose God over anything and everyone.
Desire to obey God's words.
Desire to live a holy and pure life.”

God may also give them many opportunity to repent until the last day.
But if they don’t repent, Jesus may say to them on the last day:
“I don't know you anymore.
You don't know me.
We don’t know each other.
Get out of here.”

So we will see one day, who has been listening to God and obey.
One day everybody will know.
Everything will be revealed.

If we listen to God and obey, we don't need to worry about that.
We don't need to worry about other things.
As long as we listen to God and obey, we are fine eternally.
God will welcome us into heaven.

But of course, we are not perfect.
We need to repent and try to listen and follow Christ.
But as long as we want to listen and learn to obey God, we are fine.

When we read the story of Jesus, we are dealing with God’s fire.
Then God’s power shows up when the story is known.
When the story of Jesus is known, people experience God’s love.

Then we know Jesus is the most important person in the world.
Then we may have enough faith to choose Jesus, and move with Jesus and carry on his mission in the world.
So we choose Jesus over our family and friends.

When we experiencing God's love, our minds changes.
Then we will have less doubt and more faith.
Then we become like Jesus.
We use holy and pure words.
We pray a holy and pure prayer.

Then the whole church will experiences God's presence together.
The whole church will be grateful and be kind with each other.
The whole church will be patient with each other.
The whole church will be able to pass on God’s love.
The church will be able to spread God’s love.

Then through us, God will change people’s hearts.
Jesus will change many people around us.
Many people around us will get to know Jesus and follow him.
This is a miracle.

John the Baptist said:
‘Jesus would baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’
So we thought about that.
We know that God’s fire is God’s love.
The Holy Spirit is like the flame of God’s love.

When we open our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit, we will experience God’s Heavenly Fire.
Then we are changed, as we experience the Holy Spirit and God’s power.
Then the Holy Spirit will use us to explain God’s true love.
The Holy Spirit will use us to help other people to find God.
Then the whole world could receive the Holy Spirit and experience God.
Jesus wanted to start this God’s Heavenly Fire spreading all over the earth.
And this God’s Heavenly Fire will last forever.

So when the Holy Spirit is working in our hearts, we experience God's love.
Then we may be on fire for God.
We may be fully committed to Jesus.
Then because of God’s love, we may live differently.

Then in the moment of decision making, we choose God over our family and friends.
We love God more than them.
In the moment of decision making, we choose God above all.
We love God more than any others.
Then God will also decide to use us and work with us.

God is interested in helping us making good choices for our life.
God is helping us to make good choices.
If we obey, God can bless us.
If we choose what God wants for us, God can bless us.
And nothing can stop God.

If we live like this, making holy choices, one day, our family and friends may also find God.
They may also choose God over us, and live peacefully as God blesses them.
Then Jesus may bring his peace into our family and friends.
As as we follow Jesus, we may become one in God.
Jesus may bring us together and help us live in peace.
Jesus may help us to become one with God.
May this blessing be ours.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank you for your story of love.
We want to understand you and believe in you.
We want to love you.

We want to have a pure and holy heart.
Help us to have your mind.
Help us to love you as you love us.
Help us to spread your love.
Help us to be part of your team.
In Jesus name, we pray.


Luke 14: 25-33 (1)


What do we need to know before following Jesus?
Reading: Luke 14: 25-33
Props: half done picture, building and so forth, one chopstick
Blanks: disciple, cross, money, complete, finish, able, everything

There was a person who loved to start something.
So he started many things.
But he never finished it.
He finished only about the half.
Then he stopped and started something new.

For example, he wanted to be a sportsman.
So he worked hard on it for a long time.
Then he gave up.
Then he wanted to be an artist.
He studied and worked hard on it.
Then he stopped and changed his direction.

It is like this:
When he prepares a meal, he cooks only the half.
His noodle is half cooked.
His soup is half cooked.
His vegetables are half cooked.
Everything is like this.
When he prepares the table, he puts one chopstick for each person.
That is really irritating.
He drives everybody crazy.
So people could not trust him.

Jesus talked about this kind of person:
This person started to build something new.
He laid the foundation and so on.
Then he realized he didn't have enough money.
So, he left his unfinished building in his town.

Then his neighbors were like:
“What a waste of money!
Didn’t he know whether he had enough money?
Didn’t he know the cost beforehand?
If he understood the cost, he could have built something smaller.
He could have finished what he had started.”

Why would Jesus tell this kind of story?
At that time, there were some people wanted to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus for a couple of days could be fun.
But they wanted to be his disciples.
They wanted to live like Jesus.

So Jesus wants them to understand what was like to follow him.
Jesus told them something like this:
“I ask everything, as I give my everything.
I'm asking you to give yourself to me as I give myself to you.
Then you'll be happy with me.
That is how my disciples live:
My disciples love me more than their father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even their own life.
My disciples carry their cross and follow me.”

Jesus might have wanted to say to some of them:
“If you want to be my disciples, you may need to give up something.
You may need to give up something because you love me.
Meaning, you cannot love your success more than me.
You cannot love your reputation more than me.
You cannot love your friends more than me.

"You need to love me more than yourself.
You need to love me more than your family.
You need to love me more than your church.
You need to use your time, money, energy, mind, heart, and prayer for me.
Otherwise, you are like the guy who finished only the half.

Jesus wanted them to think about and understand:
What is like to follow Jesus daily?
What is like to follow Jesus for all the days of their life?
What is like to follow Jesus all the way to the end?

“Following me also means if someone hurts your feelings, or wrongs you, you still act like me.
You pray for your enemy.
You bless them.
You pray to help them.
You patiently pray for them.
You ask me to help you to love them.
You pray to understand them and be able to sympathize with them.
You forgive them and care for them.
Through prayer, you support them to live in the right way.
You pray that I may help you to love them in the power of the Holy Spirit.
You pray that you may live peacefully with them.
You pray and welcome them.

“If you say, ‘I give up because it is too difficult.’
Then, you are not my disciple.
Otherwise, other people may say:
‘You give up now?
Didn’t you know what was like to follow Jesus in the first place?’”

Jesus may continue saying:
“Following me means you also go where I lead you.
I am asking you to listen to me and obey.
I am asking you to follow me, even when it is not good and convenient.
You follow me even when your friends do not understand.
You follow me even when your Christian friends do not understand.
Do you think you have enough faith to follow me?
Do you think you love me enough to follow me?
Do you want to pray to follow me thinking of eternity?”

“Then follow me at home.
Follow me at your street corners and marts.
Follow me at school and in your neighborhood.
That's what it's like to follow me.
Do you want to follow me?”

We know that some may come to church to explore what Christianity is all about.
Some may come to church thinking that it is like a social club.
Some may come like that before they get to know Jesus.

But then someday some may start to pretend to follow Jesus.
Then Jesus may ask them:
“Now do you understand me enough to follow me?
Do you understand the cost of following me?
If you understand, I could call you my true disciples.
If you understand, you may commit your life to me.”

When they understand, they may love God and follow God in the power of the Holy Spirit of Jesus.
They may know the cost of following Jesus and follow Jesus.

Knowing that there are those who try to do what God asks them gives me joy and encouragement.
What a joy to know that there are those who follow Jesus!
God loves them and cares for them.
God gives what is best for them so that they live in joy experiencing God’s blessed rest.

But then there are this kind of people.
They always overcommit.
They commit more than what is asked for.

They may be like this:
When they prepare a meal, they overcook everything.
When they prepare the table, they put too many chopsticks and spoons. People could not trust them.

Some people are overzealous for Jesus.
If you think about, at first, many of his first disciples were like that.
John and James were like that when they stopped those who cast out demons in the name of Jesus because they didn’t follow them.
John and James wanted to destroy a Samaritan village, because they thought that they were rude to Jesus.
They wanted to sit in the right and left of Jesus’ throne.
If Jesus didn’t stop their overenthusiasm, they could have done things just because they thought it was good idea.

Peter was like them when he wanted to protect Jesus from his crucifixion.
Peter wanted to lead Jesus into his “right” way.
Jesus had to deal with his overenthusiasm as he could have tried to lead Jesus into a difficult situation by doing what Jesus was not asking him to do.

Judas Iscariot even pushed Jesus into a situation because Judas thought that Jesus would show up his power.
Some thought that that is why Judas betrayed Jesus.
Then he miserably failed because he didn’t understand Jesus and his life.

Many have wasted their efforts following their idea instead of following Jesus.
Meaning, overenthusiasm or overzealousness does not help.
Overenthusiasm means some may act out of pride, competitive spirit, hate, hurt, anger, or some kind of unhealthy emotion.
Other people may not notice at first.
Or it may appear to be good.
But they might have done things in their way.

God searches all hearts and examines secret motives.
So God may ask them:
“What is your motive?
Why do you do what you do?
Your motive is important:
I want your heart to be right with me.”

Jesus served God with pure motives:
God’s love motivated Jesus to do God’s works.
Jesus served God and people out of pure love.
So in order to help people understand, God asks us to follow Jesus.
When we listen to Jesus, and discern his will for our life, we learn to live with with pure motives.
As we follow him and understand to live like Jesus, we may live with pure motives.
We may speak Jesus’ holy words and live his holy life.
Then we may encourage others to do God’s works with pure motives.

Many people failed in their attempt to calculate what the Messiah should do.
When Jesus was young and overzealous, he might have not understood either.
But later, Jesus understood his own calling and the right price to pay:
He understood everything about God.
Jesus was able to see what God was doing in heaven.
Then Jesus understood what God requires exactly.

He prayed many years to understand the exact price for this:
How much should he pay so that God may save us from our sin so that we may do what God wants?

After he understood, he must have thought about whether he could pay the price.
He thought about whether he could finish his task.
Then he pay the price: he began his ministry and finished his ministry.
Jesus offered his life for God’s greater cause.

In order to do that, Jesus gave up marriage, home, and biological family.
Jesus focused on God and did only what God was doing in heaven.
Jesus understood and did everything including what he didn’t like to do.

In order to serve God, we need to understand what Jesus really did.
We need to understand why Jesus died for us.
Why did Jesus have to die for us to save us?
Were we that bad who required this kind of savior?

Anyway, Jesus provided how God would live in this world.
When people understand his story, they understand God.
So through his life, Jesus helps people understand the living God and become like God.
This knowledge has been used to save many people.

Jesus also opens the door of heaven in his name and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
So now we may worship God in the name of Jesus.
God may help our hearts to be right with God.
Then we may serve God in Jesus’ way.
We may pray and worship God in the right way.

Jesus frees us to do what God wants us to do.
This is what Jesus got after paying the price of the cross.
Then Jesus has a new God’s family who listens to God and obeys God.

When we understand Jesus, we may understand the right price for following Jesus.
We may understand and pay the exact price to follow Jesus.
We may not pay more or less:
We may pay the exact price to follow Jesus.
We may have the exact courage to follow Jesus.
We may have the right faith to follow him.
Then we may walk with Jesus daily as Jesus leads us.

May the Holy Spirit helps us to understand.
May we understand and be able to truly obey Jesus.
By God’s grace, may we truly know God and hear God.
May God empower us to follow Jesus.
May God help us.
May God bless us in this.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, we love you.
But you know us.
Forgive us for not loving you enough.
Help us to love you.
Help us to understand and love you in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Help us to follow you.
We want to follow you.
We know it is the best life for us.
Help me understand and have power to follow you.
In Jesus name, we pray.