I received Jesus Christ into my life at age sixteen and gave my life to Him at age seventeen, approximately six months later. I still remember my pastor asking during this one winter retreat in 1987 if there were anybody in the congregation that wanted to go on missions and give their lives to God. If so, he asked for them to stand up, and so I did. I wrote a “blank check” to God then, and He remembered my commitment years later, sending me and my wife to South Africa and England as missionaries, despite my many shortcomings. I believe that He is still using me, although maybe as a different kind of missionary, for His Kingdom today. Last week in Youth Bible Study, we talked about what it would mean to write this kind of “blank check” to God. It means giving your life up for His glory, making disciples of Jesus Christ and surrendering the right to determine the direction of your life.
Following the end of class, two youth kids sent me images of their blank checks to God, while some others said that they are still praying about it. Many of those youth kids who are still praying about it said that they want to write blank checks to God but are not sure that they can ultimately do so. Either way, once I received their blank checks for God, I immediately started praying that God may remember their commitments, prepare them for His purpose and use them as pleasing aromas of Jesus Christ for God’s Kingdom (2 Cor 2:15). I am so excited to see how God will use them in His good and perfect timing. Have you ever written a blank check to God? Do you want to do so?
The Gospel Through Broken People! It was the title of the message that God has given us through Sang and Justy yesterday. It was a great blessing to have them as our guest speakers and I enjoyed a lot listening their life stories. Following Sunday Corporate Worship yesterday, nine people sent me their commitments and prayer requests via e-mail and text. I have copied their commitments below, in hopes that our ANF family might continue to encourage and motivate one another and be reminded of the message that God had given us yesterday:
- Although I am ordinary and flawed, I want to commit my life to God and to be used for His kingdom.
- I commit to be humble in serving and loving people around and trust in the Lord in guiding my future.
- I commit to loving and serving my spiritual family more. I want to see each one of them as valuable and take practical steps to showing them that they are.
- I commit to pray for the people in my life, particularly my spiritual family, more, instead of only noticing and reacting to our differences, our difficulties, etc. I commit to trying to think more that it is not about me but that it is about God and His Kingdom and act accordingly, especially in more difficult times.
- I commit to continue to be helpers for my fellow brothers and sisters around my community. I commit in loving and serving my HC members as House Church is God's language of love. I commit to trust in God and see what He builds through ANF. I commit to pray daily for fellow brothers and sisters of African American community. I commit to not remaining silent to injustice and donating to the George Floyd Memorial Fund.
- I commit that I won’t expect that my life will be perfect like a fairytale. I may face thunderstorms and challenges as Christians. But I want to keep moving on as Sang and Justy and wait to listen to God’s message.
- I commit to God that I would use this time of quarantine wisely to build and restore the broken relationships I have with my HC members/others. I want to trust in God’s plan dealing with difficulties in HC and I should be thankful for all these relationships God gives me.
- I commit to pray especially for HC members that I don’t like and to volunteer once a week for the poor and marginalized for society.
- I commit to live my life in a way that is more honoring to God and know that it’s not about me and it’s not about us.
The Bible teaches us to cry out together with those in tragedy, to mourn together with those in tears. There have been so many innocent victims of injustice, violence, and evil in our history. Let’s shed tears over them and grieve deeply humanity’s corruption. I want to encourage you all to read the life of our fellow brother in Christ Jesus, Georgy Floyd. Here is the link: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/may/george-floyd-ministry-houston-third-ward-church.html?utm_source=ctweekly-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=31085408&utm_content=714737199&utm_campaign=email
Let’s also reflect this journal: How can we live in the midst of a world marked by fear, hatred, and violence, and not be destroyed by it? When Jesus prays to his Father for his disciples he responds to this question by saying, “I am not asking you to remove them from the world but to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world” (John 17:15–16). To live in the world without belonging to the world summarizes the essence of the spiritual life. The spiritual life keeps us aware that our true house is not the house of fear, in which the powers of hatred and violence rule, but the house of love, where God resides. (Henri Nouwen, You Are the Beloved, 302)
The Book of Acts explains to us how the Gospel of Jesus Christ was spread, how the church of God was built up and how God’s kingdom was expanded over time. Each of these things, without a doubt, was done by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, it is worth emphasizing that the Holy Spirit worked through people. Among these people who gave their lives to God, there are those famous Christians whose names are widely known, such as Paul and Barnabas. However, there are also a great number of Christians who are not written about in history, those who only God remembers. I believe that, even today, God’s kingdom is being built up by these anonymous Christians and their continued commitment, sacrifice and service towards God and His kingdom. Such Christians live solely for God, even if there is no immediate honor, recognition or reward given to them in exchange.
I believe that our guest speakers for Sunday Corporate Worship tomorrow, Sang and Justy, are two examples of such people who live solely for God. I am grateful that God sent them to our church to speak at our Sunday Corporate Worship tomorrow, and I pray that, through them, each and every one of you may be able to learn something of worth, something that you really needed to know in your life right now. I have attached Phil’s introduction of Sang and Justy below:
Sang is the college pastor for New Life, and before he came into that full-time ministry role, Sang worked at Texas Instruments (TI). He was also a full time missionary in China for a number of years before that. Justy also was a full time missionary in China, and before that, she worked in corporate America.
Sang and Justy have a son (Eli) and daughter (Gracie). Sang was also a male cheerleader in high school. I got to know Sang and Justy better when they hosted me for lay leaders HC seminar a few years ago, but I’ve also heard from many others around them while getting to see for myself that they are some of the most compassionate people I know. They care deeply about people around them that go through very difficult things in their lives while always keeping an eternal perspective when enduring their own hardships and difficult seasons in life. They are loved and respected by many near and from afar, and they are probably the most perfect people to serve in the role as college pastor for New Life’s undergrad students.
In Luke 10:38-42, one can see Martha running around, busy with all of the preparations that had to be made before Jesus and his disciples came to visit. She was cleaning the house, organizing the beds, drawing water for her guests to wash their hands and feet, preparing the dining table, cooking the meals, etc. She undertook a lot of serving responsibilities. Because of this, Martha quickly became anxious and overwhelmed and asked Jesus to tell her sister, Mary, to help her. Mary was at Jesus’ feet, listening intently to all of the things that he was teaching. But Jesus replied to Martha, “Don’t be troubled with many things; one thing would be enough.” It could be interpreted as a typical story of two sisters and their relationship. However, I want to consider the story from a different perspective today. For one, I wonder what the twelve disciples were doing while Martha was busy with all the preparations in the house.
I assume that they, too, like Mary, were not doing anything but simply listening to Jesus’ teachings at his feet. If instead the twelve disciples had helped Martha prepare the meals and host this gathering at her house, I am confident that this story of Martha and Mary would have ended differently. It is said many times in the Bible that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Likewise, we are called not to be served but to serve. It does not matter whether we gather in-person at our shepherd’s house or virtually through Zoom, house church at ANF is not a place to be served but to serve others. I encourage you all to actively look for opportunities to serve others today. I hope you all have a blessed house church gathering tonight.
Diana, Haneul, John, Jonathan, Joseph, Kathleen and Tony completed Living Life Bible Study on Monday, and Cecilia, Crystal, Issac, Jeff, Jessica Kwak, Jessica Lee, Mpanga, Phillip, Steven and Stephany completed Assurance Life Bible Study on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Continuing our Life Bible Study classes online throughout this pandemic represents our desperate desire to not only survive in our faith but also grow spiritually throughout these unprecedented times. In fact, these last seven weeks marked the first time that Assurance Life Bible Study has ever been taught among all English Speaking Congregations that are doing House Church ministry.
I want to say to every one of them, “Thank you! You have done a great job,” and share with them 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” I am confident that your labors for these Life Bible Study classes were not in vain. Likewise, I hope that our church family could continue to cultivate and prune the soils of their hearts, not becoming weak in their faith but rather growing more and more as followers of Jesus Christ, no matter the circumstance. It has been my joy to teach them and see them each week. Starting Monday, I will miss them a lot.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus told his disciples that, on that day, they would "receive power when the Holy Spirit [had] come upon [them], and be [his] witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." On that day, later named "the Pentecost," they receive the Holy Spirit, and from that day forward, they would no longer be the same. It marked the most significant turning point in the lives of each of the disciples. Even though it now refers to a single event in history that happened once at a specific time and place, the coming of the Holy Spirit is something that we as Christians all have to experience for ourselves as well, for we cannot live with the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Do you know that this Sunday, the forty-ninth day after Easter Sunday, is the Pentecost? I am eagerly awaiting this day, in hopes of experiencing a revival of our faith, our calling and our spirit. Could you pray together with me that this Sunday would be the day that we all receive the Holy Spirit again, that this day would be our very own Pentecost?
What could be the alternative to being anxious about any situation you face in life? The answer is “to pray.” This is a topic that we will discuss in the Assurance Life Bible Study this week. I want to share with you a portion from the book. It is simple but powerful.
You can do more than pray, after you have prayed. But you can do no more than pray-until you have prayed…
How much faith do you need to have before Jesus answers your prayers? Jesus said that even faith as small as a mustard seed is enough (Matthew 17:20). If you can go to Jesus with your need, it’s enough! He promised He will honor such faith. He won’t cast out anyone who trusts Him. If you have enough faith to come to Jesus with your inability to help yourself, He will deal with your doubts.
Don’t feel your faith is so weak it would do no good to pray. Remember: Prayer is simply letting Christ use His power to work in an area of need, mold your heart to be more like His, and to speak in the life of another. If your faith in Jesus is just large enough to ask Him to use His power and to reveal Himself to you, then it’s large enough. The greatest faith in the world is the one that admits its limits and then leaves everything to Jesus. Don’t be afraid you will limit His power by your faith. Pray! It is no more complicated than giving your Lord access to an area of need in your life. (The Student Survival Kit, 92).
In the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ, faith, love and hope are crucial. However, these three essential and biblical virtues can easily become superficial, philosophical and abstract if not consistently put into practice. Because of this, Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, suggests three practical forms of faith, love, and hope, namely works of faith, labors of love and endurance of hope. I hope that each of us could practice these three forms at least once each this week. There is a famous saying that goes, “Love is not a noun to be defined but a verb to be acted upon.” Likewise, Christian faith, love and hope should not be abstract nouns but rather practical verbs that we carry out. Are you willing to not only to know what faith, hope and love are but also live it out daily?
Following Sunday Corporate Worship yesterday, six people sent me their commitments and prayer requests via e-mail and text. I have copied their commitments below, in hopes that our ANF family might continue to encourage and motivate one another and be reminded of the message that God had given us yesterday:
- I commit to trying to endure and accept difficult situations in my life instead of just complaining and trying to avoid them.
- I commit to putting my faith into practice through daily works, laboring to love more unconditionally the people around me and working out my endurance of hope by lifting up all of my worries before God this week.
- I want to commit to showing more labors of love towards my family, friends and coworkers not only when I feel like it but consistently and purposefully.
- I would be to remain under tension (adverse or uncomfortable circumstances) so I can be strong in the Lord.
- I commit to trying to be a man of God.
- I commit to God that I want to work on showing my labors of love especially to my house church members and potential VIPS. I do not want to focus on the negative things but have endurance of hope. I want to trust in God and have hope whenever I am faced with difficulties.
I want to share with you what we have been learning in the youth Bible study. Can you think of the answers in the blanks?
1. As a disciple of Jesus, we believe His words no matter how much it ( ) us.
2. As a disciple of Jesus, we proclaim His words no matter how much it ( ) us.
3. As a disciple of Jesus, we will think, act, love, and live ( ).
4. Our deepest craving is not ultimately for something, but for ( ).
5. Our satisfaction is not found ultimately in gifts but in the ( ).
6. God intends for you not only to know Him but also to ( ) Him.