Sunday, June 25, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 5:7-12

Matthew 5:7-12
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Firstly, blessed are those who are merciful for they will be shown mercy. The Lord is full of mercy. The Bible talks about how Jesus had compassion on many. Because when the Lord saw that they were helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Using the word "helpless" to describe the modern day men is indeed appropriate. Modern day men are trapped in their bondage and have no way out. Those who are merciful to people as the Lord was, will be blessed because they will be shown mercy. Not only can we show mercy to others, but we can receive mercy from the Lord as well.
Secondly, blessed are the pure in heart. Being pure in heart means to be whole-heartedly devoted. When you come before God, you need to have a pure heart. Do you seek God or seek your own interest? May God open our hearts so that we seek Him wholeheartedly and find Him.
Thirdly, blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God. When Jesus came to this earth, he was a peacemaker. While we were still sinners, the Lord died for us on the cross and reconciled us to God. In the same way, in our everyday lives, we need to be at peace with God and at peace with men. When we can live in peace with men, the blessing of Jesus Christ can be manifested in our lives.
Fourthly, blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. As Christians, we may not be physically persecuted for our faith, but here it says that being persecuted has many facets. Sometimes we are ridiculed by others because of our faith and sometimes we give up our rights because of our faith. All of these are considered being persecuted for righteousness. Note that we are referring to being persecuted for "righteousness" and not for "sin". Many people suffer as a result of their sin. If you are persecuted for your sin, you need to repent. However, if you are persecuted because of righteousness, you should rejoice because yours is the kingdom of heaven.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, may your Spirit open our eyes so that we can see that your grace is sufficient for us and that your presence and blessings are real in our everyday lives. Let us be like you and live out the life of Jesus. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 5:1-6

Matthew 5:1-6
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
The Lord taught us through the sermon on the Mount how we may experience God's blessings. Each of the "blessed" here has the meaning of joy in the original language. In other words, the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek and those who hunger for righteousness are all filled with joy. Why? Firstly, those who are poor in spirit can come before the Lord and truly receive His blessings. The poor in spirit acknowledge that they are inadequate. The greatest weakness of men is thinking that we are self-sufficient, and hence this hinders us from receiving God's blessings. When we recognize our inadequacy, we can come before God and seek His blessing.
Secondly, those who mourn are blessed. The mourning here does not mean that we need to be filled with sorrow, but that we should be sensitive to our sin. Christians are not perfect people, but are people who recognize themselves to be sinners. Once we have the sensitivity toward sin, we know to come before God to confess our sins and ask the blood of Jesus to cleanse us. Each time we confess, we can have the peace of forgiveness from God. This peace is what this generation needs.
Thirdly, the meek are blessed. The meek here does not refer to being indecisive or weak, but the attitude that a person has towards God once they recognize their own condition. Hence meekness comes after being poor in spirit and mourning. When we are poor in spirit and we mourn, we recognize God's will and recognize our role and position. Only then, can we understand true meekness. Hence when we share Christ with others, we will not merely say, "You are a sinner and you need to repent."  When we have disagreements with others, we will not put others down, but will learn to respect others. The meek will inherit the earth. The earth refers to the abundance that God has prepared for us. Those who lay down their rights for the Lord will have a great reward.
Fourthly, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. What do you hunger and thirst for in life? When you hunger for something, you will seek it until you receive it. When you hunger and thirst for righteousness, it is not men's righteousness, but God's righteousness. When we seek God's righteousness, we can enjoy true satisfaction in Him. Are you a joyful and blessed person? When you seek God, you will be filled.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, thank you because only you can bring joy, comfort and satisfaction in our lives. When we come and seek you, may you be the strength and wisdom in our lives. Help us to enjoy your blessings each day. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 4:23-25

Matthew 4:23-25
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
The Lord did not only save us from sin, but He is also our healer. He has conquered all things. Not only did he overcome sin on the cross, but he also defeated all powers of the enemy. The Bible tells us that there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. The meaning of "salvation" in the original language means "being healed". The Lord's salvation does not refer to only to the salvation of souls, but also for the healing of bodies. Not only can we ask in Jesus name for salvation, but we can also ask for healing. In Acts Chapter 3, when Peter and John were arrested for healing the lame man, they declared to the people that it was Jesus who healed the man. Actually, modern medicine is also a blessing from God to people. However, for those of us who believe, God has also given us another special blessing, which is the prayer of the saints that can bring healing. We are indeed blessed! There is no contradiction between prayer and medicine. They are actually complementary because many sicknesses cannot be healed by medicine alone and some sicknesses are brought about by sin, or by curses from evil spirits. Often only by prayer and confession can these bondage of sickness be released.
Healing is often a difficult ministry because we cannot understand why God chooses to heal some, but not others. We can only acknowledge that we are weak and ignorant and humbly declare that only Jesus is Lord. On the other hand, God also teaches us not to focus on the result of healing, but to bring hearts before God. Because physical healing is only temporal, but in God there is eternal life. We need to use prayer to bring people before God, so that they can meet God. When the person encounters God, they may receive blessing directly from the throne of God anytime. If God heals them in the process, we will give thanks and glory to God. If they do not get healed, we should also give thanks to God for His presence with us. May the Lord help us to seek his grace in the lesson of healing.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I pray especially for my brothers and sisters who are sick. May you place your healing hand upon their bodies where it is weak and hurting. In the name of Jesus, we command all sickness to leave and bring about healing to our brothers and sisters. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 4:18-22

Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." At once they left their nets and followed him.  Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
When the kingdom of heaven comes, the first thing that happens is that people will acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and follow him. When Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon, Andrew, James and John, and called them to follow Him. When Jesus called them, they were very busy fishing because it was their job. In other words, they were busy with their lives, but when Jesus called them, they left their nets and followed Him and walked His ways. They placed the Lord above their careers and jobs.
What position does the Lord have in your work and career? It may not be God's will for every person to quit their jobs to go into full time ministry, but His will is for us to declare Jesus as Lord in our everyday lives. Things that keep people from following God may not be evil things, but are often the little things in life. Many people say, "Lord, you know I am busy with feeding my family, wait till my job is stable, kids are grown and I've made enough money, then I will follow you." Jesus' calling in our lives is never in future tense, but is in present tense. It refers to follow Him in your current job position, to be a witness for Him. The Lord wants you to draw near to Him, to serve Him and to follow Him.
There is no place in the world where following the Lord is easy, but as long as you are willing to live for the Lord, He will give you wisdom to solve your work problems, and give you strength to face the difficulties in relationships. The Lord will also give us the joy of winning souls. Jesus said, "Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Although catching fish is a joy and your work accomplishments may bring you joy, these are temporal. There is no earthly joy that will surpass the joy of winning souls. When you win a soul for the Lord, it last for eternity. The more you serve the Lord, the more joy you will have, Hallelujah!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, thank you for calling us to follow you every day. May your Holy Spirit guide us so that we can declare you as our Lord in our jobs and may your glory and blessings be manifested in our lives. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 4:17

Matthew 4:17
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
The message of the kingdom of heaven was the main message Jesus preached while He was on earth. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the kingdom of God is something that God wants to reveal. In the Old Testament, God wanted to build this kingdom. Jesus came and died for this. He was resurrected and will return again for this. The kingdom of heaven is the motivation, goal and direction of Jesus' ministry on earth. For those of us who follow the Lord, we are born-again into the kingdom of heaven so that we can be God's stewards on earth, and ultimately enter into His glorious kingdom.
The kingdom of heaven has two interpretations: Firstly, it refers to the kingdom of the coming Messiah. This is a narrow interpretation. When the Lord returns, the kingdom of the Messiah will come. Evil will be eliminated and the devil Satan will be judged. His Kingship will be fully manifested on earth. The wider interpretation of the kingdom of heaven is wherever God demonstrates His sovereignty.  No matter where it is, as long as God's will is established, that is the kingdom of heaven. Hence in the Lord's prayer, it says, may Your kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Wherever God's will can freely move, that place is the kingdom of heavens.
The kingdom of heaven is not just the kingdom of the coming Messiah, but it is today and now. We can experience the kingdom of heaven in Christ. Jesus often teaches this. One time a Pharisee asked him when the kingdom of heaven will come. Jesus replied that the kingdom of heaven is amongst them. The kingdom of heaven is not referring to the future, but it is now. In Colossians Chapter 3, Paul says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things". When you first read this, you may think that Paul is teaching us not to go after worldly things, but pursue spiritual things, just like the priests. The truth is Paul later on explained that setting our minds on things above is forgiving one another, submitting to one another and giving thanks in all circumstances. All of these are very worldly things. In other words, when we set our minds on things above, we are referring to our lives on earth. Each day we live on earth, we need to reflect God's will and God's sovereignty.
The kingdom of heaven is not something that is out of reach. It is in our lives. On on hand, the kingdom of heaven can be filled with miraculous things, but on the other hand, the kingdom of heaven can be filled with little things in life. As long as we are willing to honor God and allow His will to be accomplished, the kingdom of heaven can come into our lives. May God give us a sensitive heart so that each day we can allow the kingdom of heaven to come and God's will to be accomplished in our lives.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, thank you because the kingdom of heaven is not out of reach, but is among us. Let us turn back to you in our lives to seek and act according to your will so that your kingdom may come into our lives. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 4:12-16

Matthew 4:12-16
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.  Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali - to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
I had the opportunity to take a course in Israel, and when we passed by Sea of Galilee I saw that it was surrounded by tall mountains.  There are not mountains with gradual slopes, buy very steep cliffs with mountains that top at least 3000 feet.  Therefore, Sea of Galilee lives in the shadow of the mountains around it.  When I had the opportunity to walk on the shores of Sea of Galilee, I deeply felt that it was like the condition of the whole world.  We are like living under a shadow; even though there are many joyful and cheerful moments, but we are undeniably living under some kind of shadow deep down inside our soul.  People can't see direction under such shadow, their way forward is unclear, they don't know where they should go, and they have no real sense of security.  People had no hope and only wanted to survive for their own benefits.  There's no peace between people and the world is filled with conflicts.
Our society today is filled with dark shadows.  Not only is our environment dark, hearts of people are dark as well.  We might not be able to see it from the outside, but hearts of people are filled with vicious thoughts.  I once saw an ad on the newspaper for a machine for releasing anger while driving.  If someone cuts you off when you are driving, you can use this machine to make some special noise.  You can choose from minor assault, major assault or death - Once you press the button, it will make a machine gun noise that makes you feel that you've shot someone.  Even though you didn't shoot anyone, but in your mind you feel that you've put someone to death.  Even though everyone looks like upright and happy people from outside, only we know all the thoughts of darkness and filthiness inside us.  To make matters worse, even though we living in darkness, we are unable to free ourselves from it.
Praise God, because of His word we don't need to stay in such despair and darkness.  Even though people were disobedient and have rejected God, He has sent Jesus Christ according to His eternal plan so that He can enter into our lives.  Those who are supposed to suffer, who cannot see, are living in the darkness or have been neglected, will all receive glory!  Those who are walking in the darkness will see great light.  Those living in the shadow of the valley of death will have light shining upon them.  This is a picture of leaving the darkness and entering into light, which is what Jesus Christ wants to accomplish in our lives!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we welcome you into our lives, just like light entering into darkness.  You can remove all the shadow and darkness in our lives so that we may be delivered from the bondage of sin.  I thank and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 4:8-11

Matthew 4:8-11
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.   "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."  Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"  Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
The devil presented the entire world before Jesus in order to tempt Him, and he mentioned two things that represent the foundation of the worldly value, which are authority and riches of the world.  Authority is for ruling over others, and riches are for satisfying ourselves, and these two things form the foundation of the values of the world.  Trend of the world wants us to rule over others and satisfy ourselves, so we often experience how, in both life and work, people work hard towards rising up by stepping over others.  Those are not the values of God's kingdom though.  Values of God's kingdom are the same as family values, and in family it's more important to love one another and be accountable for one another.  We no longer rule over others, but we want to build up others; we don't just seek to satisfy ourselves, but rather to satisfy others.
Jesus clearly knew that He bellowed to God's kingdom.  He was there to lead the sinners to enter the family of God.  Therefore, the Lord clearly recognized the devil's ploy and He rebuked the work of the enemy.  We belong to God; we no longer follow the trend of the world, and we shouldn't allow the values of the world to influence us.  Instead, we should follow the values of God's kingdom and be willing to build up others and satisfy their needs.  On the other hand, the secret of dismissing the enemy is to rebuke the world of the enemy with the words of God's kingdom when we are confronting the world and Satan.  When the devil tempted Jesus, the Lord rebuked him, so when we confront the enemy we should also proclaim the word of God's kingdom.  Jesus has already granted us the authority to overcome.  When we pray for others, we don't need to beg for mercy.  We can come before God knowing that we have the authority and assurance to overcome, and we need to proclaim victory again the enemy and the world according to the authority that God has given us.
It is important to proclaim in our daily life in order to overcome by the name of the Lord.  When we proclaim the victory of Christ against the enemy, the enemy will flee from us.  Not only should we rebuke Satan, we also need to worship true God.  Jesus said here: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."  When we worship true God, we welcome the throne of Christ to be established among us, and the devil must flee because there's no room for him.  Let us worship continuously in our daily life, to welcome the authority of Jesus, and to rebuke the work of enemy Satan by the authority that Christ has granted us.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we welcome you to sit on the throne in our lives.  We want to worship you and serve you alone.  May your spirit help us to understand the authority that you've given us.  In the victorious name of Jesus, I rebuke any of the enemy's work on me.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!