Thursday, March 12, 2009

I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.

Can you describe your relationship with God by sincerely saying, "I love you with all my heart?"
We could say we obey Him, we serve Him, we worship Him and we fear Him. But we cannot say that we love Him.
Do you really want to love the Lord your God with all your heart? He will allow no comparison. He says:

You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matt. 6:24

I love Rhea F. Miller's expression of love for Jesus in the hymn she wrote.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Reflect on the meaning of the words. If you could only have one or the other, which would you honestly choose?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

God's love sustains us through difficult times

Have you really felt God's love?

For a long time as a Christian, the phrase "love of God" for me was just an idea and a theological concept. From the moment I heard my first Bible story, I was told that God loves me and I had no trouble believing that because I could feel it from my parents and other people around me. But I could not remember that I really experienced it as a warm physical affection from God Himself. It may be wishful thinking to really expect a hug from Him for God shows His love for us through His creations. But everything changed when I came to understand the cross.

John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 3:16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

1 John 4:9-10 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Everytime I start to doubt and question His love, I just look at the cross. In the cross, all my doubts and questions are answered. The death of Jesus-Christ and His resurrection are God's final, total, and complete expression He loves us. Some may have trouble believing that because they could not experience it from the people around them. But if you have accepted Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord, and everyone else turns against you, be assured that God's love has not and will never change. Look at the cross where He has proven it. And that love will sustain us through difficult times.

Romans 8:35, 37, 38, 39
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our success in the ministry will not exceed our dependence on God

As a young pastor, I can't help to think of ways to grow His church in our area. I read several books and articles looking for "best practices" we can employ in our church to be more effective. I "interact" with successful pastors online, trying to learn their secrets. I listen to podcasts. Certainly I learned so much from them. But with all those strategies I have learned from them, I feel worry and pressure. I am afraid I might fail. I know in my hearts of hearts that strategies and ideas are not really what is essential.

The other night, as I was having my time alone with God, I asked Him what it really takes to be His faithful servant. A thought just came to me. All men and women who were used by God were people who were totally dependent on Him. Their exploits were not because of their own abilities and strength but by God's power working in and through them. Even as they were experiencing victories and success, when they would start working on their own, they would be brought down.

I believe that should be the same for us now. The moment we take our eyes off Him, and start to believe that our ideas and efforts are what will make things happen, we are in big trouble. We should always rely on His Holy Spirit to guide us and empower us. "Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit," says the Lord.

My success in the ministry will not exceed my dependence on God. My dependence on Him is determined by my devotion to a love relationship with God. This is manifested in my obedience to His commands, my prayers, in my time spent in His words, and in fellowship with other believers.

Monday, March 9, 2009

First Membership Class - March 8, 2009

We had our first session in our membership module that will run until April 19, 2009. On that Lord's Day, that is also our 13th church anniversary, as a congregation we will sign a Membership Covenant together. This is the first time we are doing this in our church. Not many churches in our area require their members to sign a covenant. Churches and attenders have this habit of "assuming membership", that when somebody has been attending church services regularly, they are assumed to be members already. I think that is one of the many reasons why there are so many Christians not actively involved in their local churches. Because when they joined the church, there were no expectations, responsibilities, and priveleges. Some of them even don't know what their churches believe in. They think it's all the same, so when they have the slightest reason to leave that church, they can hop to another so easily.

I hope this step that we are doing as a church will be used by God to strengthen His people. Ironically, during this first session, attendance is cut almost to half. That is something I have to be thinking for a good one week.

Sunday Service March 8, 2009

At 9 AM as people are coming in, we have time for thanksgiving. We usually encourage people to tell the congregation of answered prayers and victories. But this morning is different. I asked them to tell us their failed expectations, and seemingly unanswered prayers. I thought it would be uncomfortable for them to do it. But I was surprised how they could readily speak of their frustrations yet thank God for allowing them to happen. Some of them took it as an opportunity to release the pain kept inside for a longer time, and turned it into a learning experience. It was not emotional. The smile was surprising though. I was not necessarily that that they thanked God for the pain, but they were grateful for the change it brought about in their lives.

As a young pastor, I have also my frustrations and failed expectations. I am not the poster boy for 1 Thessalonians 5:17, but I thank God that this morning of the Lord's day, our members taught me to thank Him for everything.