Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Today's Passage - Hebrews 9:23-26

Hebrews 9:23-26
It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Jesus Christ is the great high priest we have in heaven and the sacrifice we have on earth. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to bring people to repentance before God. Although the Old Testament people did not see salvation being completed, they could repent and ask for forgiveness by faith, and make earthly sacrifices to God. When they confess their sins before God, it is not that their sins are removed when they make earthly sacrifices, but their sins are paid on credit, looking forward to the coming of Christ. It is like using a credit card, first the debt of sin is placed on account, and when Jesus came and died on the cross, the sins are paid for in full. Everyone in the Old Testament who confess their sins by faith, and all in the new Testament who confess their sins, had their sins paid for completely at the time when Jesus was crucified on the cross! Jesus made the sacrifice once and for all and it is effective forever. This is why we no longer need to make any sacrifices, because the blood of Christ covers all our sins. Of course, this does not mean that we can do whatever we want. Once you understand the love of Christ and how great is His salvation in your life, your heart will be filled with awe and you will not dare to act recklessly because you know how much Jesus loves you.
In the same way, in your walk with God, once you understand how much God loves you, you will be careful in how you act. Of course, we will still sin, but when we come to God and confess our sins, God will have mercy on us. Our faith in God is not built upon laws, but is build on love. When we receive God's love, we can gladly love God. This is because the blood of Christ is so precious, we can live for Him each day. We love, because He first loved us; Once you understand this, you will gladly live for the Lord each day!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you because your grace in our lives is so great. Open our eyes to see how precious your grace is and help us live for you each day. If there is anything in our lives that is not pleasing to you, help us to bring them before you and cleanse us of our sins. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Today's Passage - Hebrews 9:19-22

Hebrews 9:19-22
When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep." In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
The blood is the guarantee of the covenant we have with God. In fact, every covenant will require some guarantee. As children when we make a promise to another child, we will say, "XXX", hoping for some sort of guarantee. When we grow up and get married, we hope that the marriage vows will be some kind of guarantee. But how limited is the guarantee that comes from man! We are often disappointed by the guarantees made by men. There are broken marriages that come about because people change. Only God never changes. He is faithful, loving and righteous forever. The Bible says, "God is not a man that He should lie". God wants us to clearly recognize His nature. God never goes back on His Word. When God establishes a covenant with us, it is definitely dependable. In fact, He even used His own blood as a guarantee, referring to the blood of Jesus Christ. If someone guarantees us something, and uses the life of his son as a guarantee for his promise, can you not believe his words? I believe you will, because the price of that guarantee is simply too high, so high that he would not go back on his word. This is what God wants to speak to us today.
God loves us and wants to establish a covenant with us. God shows us His faithfulness by His Word, and also gave us His son to prove His credibility. Hence, we can see that this covenant is dependable. Whoever believes in Jesus can have eternal life in Him and have peace to overcome the world. God's Word brings power and God's Word is dependable. We need to cling on to God's promises and depend on Him each day. God wants to use His power to fulfill His own Word in our lives.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you because your word is true and trustworthy. Let us come to believe in you and submit ourselves to you each day, so that your blessing may come upon us. Thank you for the blood you shed as a guarantee of this covenant you have with us, so that we can enjoy all your blessing.  I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Today's Passage - Hebrews 9:15-18

Hebrews 9:15-18
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
The will is like a covenant that comes into effect as a result of death. In the same way, if a covenant is to have effect, there needs to be blood. For this reason, Jesus has become our ransom in the New Testament. Firstly, He needs to be without sin. If He had sin, how could He save others? Those who have sin cannot redeem others from their sin. The one who can save us from sin, must be a sinless Savior, which is Christ Jesus!
Secondly, He must have the identity of a man in order to understand the suffering of man. Jesus came in the flesh for us. He understands our limitations and weaknesses, and bore our suffering. When you are suffering, what you cannot stand most is someone tapping your shoulders and saying, "I understand it all." Your heart will be thinking, "How would you understand?" The truth is no one understands the suffering that we are going through ourselves. No matter what suffering someone else has gone through, it is different from what you are going through right now. Who can say that they understand? It is impossible! Yet today Jesus lives in us and He truly understands us. He has experienced the same suffering with us and can help us overcome!
On the cross of Calvary, Jesus completely defeated the power of the devil and brought us peace, joy and satisfaction. The Lord can be our help and strength, if we would come to Him and ask. The grace of God is sufficient for us. No matter what difficulties you have in life, you can come before the Lord to seek Him. Jesus Christ is our high priest. He is our help and strength, and can be our soul mate. Fix your eyes on Him and give your life to Him!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you because in you there is unlimited grace and power. We come before you and pray for our brothers and sisters. If there are difficulties in our lives, I pray Lord that you will release your grace and blessing. You know their needs and can open a way for them. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Today's Passage - Hebrews 9:11-14

Hebrews 9:11-14
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Jesus is interceding for us in Heaven. The precious blood of the Lord can turn our lives around. The Lord's precious blood has the following power: Firstly, it cleanses our heart. THe blod of Jesus removes our sins and transgressions, so that our lives can be like a blank sheet of paper before God. A sister once came to me and wanted me to pray for her about something that she has done in the past, and ask for God's forgiveness. After that, she came back to me again because she still felt very guilty about it and wanted me to pray again. When she came again the third time for the same matter, I told her, "Sister, I am not praying for you today. Do you believe that Jesus is your Savior?" She said, "I do." I took a white sheet of paper and told her, "When you come before God to confess your sins, the Bible says that the blood of Christ washes away your sins. You are like this clean sheet of paper before God. You keep asking me to confess your sins over and over. God is going to say, 'I can't find your sins! It's already been cleansed!" Believe what God has done for you and that the precious blood of Jesus can wipe away all sins.
Secondly, it takes away our punishment of death, which is comes from the acts of the flesh. If we depend on our flesh to please God or serve God out of our human enthusiasm, these will all be in vain. Only when we are being filled with the Spirit of God, our lives can be changed by God's Holy Spirit, and we can live out a glorious life. Not by our own strength and might, but by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
Thirdly, the blood of Christ will help us to serve the living God. God saved us not just to give us a ticket to heaven for ourselves, but He wants us to serve Him. In Exodus, Moses came to the Pharaoh to say, "Let my people go, so they may worship me"; Here we see that God not only wants to save us, but He wants us to come before Him to serve Him only. Let us give thanks for the work of the blood of Christ in our lives.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you that by your precious blood, our sins are forgiven, our punishment is removed and for the opportunity we have to serve you. Strengthen our hearts Lord to follow you and serve you all the days of our lives. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Today's Passage - Hebrews 9:8-10

Hebrews 9:8-10
The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning.   This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper.   They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings - external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
None of the special festivities and ceremonies back in the Old Testament time could "clear the conscience of the worshiper."  In fact, if following the festivities and ceremonies drive us to depart from God, they actually make us even more self-righteous.  The Pharisees of the Old Testament time strictly followed the law, but it didn't draw their hearts closer to God, but rather they became more distant from God, because they felt that they've done things that satisfied themselves and they no longer need God.
Jesus once preached the parable of a praying Pharisee.  The Pharisee entered the sanctuary and started praying: "Lord, I'm not like that tax collector.  I fast twice a week and offer one tenth of everything I make."  Jesus said that this person was not praying, but rather just mumbling, because his prayer was filled with "I".  He was just exalting himself, not really praying.  A tax collector entered, and he prayed very differently.  He said "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."  Jesus said that this person is actually righteous.  Pharisees followed the rules, but their hearts are not close to God.  That's why God said "To obey is better than sacrifice," for He doesn't really care what we sacrifice to Him, but rather He values the attitude inside our hearts.  He wants us to completely belong to Him.  We are often trapped in law and ceremonies, but overlook the meaning behind what we do, thus our hearts never really become close to God.  Many churches sing a hymn in the beginning of the Sunday worship service that says "Lord is in the sanctuary, all shall remain silent."  Most people don't know the meaning of singing this hymn in the very beginning, and their hearts do not have any fear.  When the church hears this hymn, people simply stop chatting and wait for the service to begin, but their hearts aren't really prepared to receive God.
The "time of the new order" in verse 10 is same as what Acts 3:21 says, "the time comes for God to restore everything," which is the time when Jesus Christ comes again.  When Christ comes, He will become our eternal sacrifice of redemption, and we will no longer live under the restrictions of law and thus be released from the bondage of law.  Are you still living under the bondage of the law?  We are often busy with observing the law and festivities, but our hearts become distant from God.  So, how about you?  Let our hearts turn back to God today!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you because you are indeed filled with grace.  When we turn back to you, you will bless us.  If we were trapped in law, customs and ceremonies, may the Lord release us from all these bondages, and let us enjoy true freedom and joy in you.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Today's Passage - Hebrews 9:5-7

Hebrews 9:5-7
Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.  When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry.  But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.
There is an atonement cover in the Most Holy Place, which is used for atonement of our sins. Why do we need God's atonement when we come before Him?  It's because we are sinful and God is holy and righteous.  When we have sin inside, we are overruled by the sense of guilt, which makes us afraid of coming before God.  When I was little, once time I failed an exam, and that way on my way home I was so filled with fear that it took me two hours to walk the distance that usually took ten minutes.  I wandered in front of our house because I was afraid that my parent would scold me harshly after they saw my grade.
In the same way, we are afraid of coming before God because we are sinful.  Why can God bring us atonement?  Bible says clearly that sin must be redeemed with blood, so in order for our sins to be forgiven, we - the unrighteous ones - need to be replaced by the righteous one.  We were deemed as unrighteous before god, but when something replaces us, we can be regarded as righteous before God.  Back in the Old Testament time, it was done through blood from sacrifice of killed cow or lamb, but how can blood from animals truly redeem for our sins?  It was only a sign for the salvation of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, in the New Testament time, the Bible says that the blood of Jesus washed away all our sins; it not only cleansed us, but it covered all our sins.  When we come before the Lord, we are viewed as righteous before Father God and in the eyes of God.  Jesus has replaced our unrighteousness with His righteousness, so that we may be viewed as righteous before God.  This is the truth of justification by faith.
When we come before God by faith and claim to be righteous, Hebrew 4:16 says that we can come before God without fear and we can receive God's help and strength any time.   This is such a wonderful grace, and we shall give thanks to God for it.  So let's come before God and pray to Him without any fear now!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we thank you because in you we have abundant grace.  If there's any fear in the hearts of brothers and sisters that make them afraid to coming before you, I rebuke all their fear in the victorious name of Jesus!  Let our hearts be freed from any fear, so that we may enter your glorious abundance and enjoy your grace.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Today's Passage - Hebrews 9:1-4

Hebrews 9:1-4
Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.  A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place.  Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.
The tabernacle in the Old Testament time had two parts - The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.  The Holy Place had lampstand and consecrated bread, and the Most Holy Place had a golden altar of incense and God's ark of the covenant.  The items in the tabernacle had different significance.  First, the consecrated bread represents redemption by the Lord.  When Jesus Christ established the Holy Communion, He used his own body as an analogy.  His body was the bread, and He died on the cross for us as if His body was broken apart for us.  When the bread was torn apart, it was broken for us, which symbolizes how our relationship with God is restored.  This is the grace of the Lord, the great work of redemption that the Lord accomplished for us on the cross.
Next, the lampstand represents the presence of God.  The authority of darkness has overshadowed our hearts, particularly in our time.  Nevertheless, if a lamp is lit up in the darkness, its light will cast out darkness.  This is a simple principle - God is the true light, and when God enters this world of darkness, the authority of darkness is cast out.    The church is not just a place where people congregate or has lots of activities, but it really needs God's presence.  Today, the church often focuses on the activities that attract people to come, but what will actually attract people is the presence of God.  The world has plenty of activities that are attractive, so how is the church different from them?  Isn't it the presence of God?  When people enter the tabernacle of God, they will see God's presence, fall down before God and acknowledge that God is among us.  The lampstand represents how God's presence will manifest among us.
Third, the golden altar of incense represents our prayer before God.  Tabernacle is the place where God and people meet.  Not only will people speak to God, God will also speak to people.  Every single prayer that we make before God is heard by Him, and God's grace can come upon us through prayer.  Therefore, we can indeed come before God without any fear.  The most precious thing in the New Testament era is that the tabernacle is already inside us - We don't need to go very far, but we can just come to God's tabernacle every day to meet the true God who lives inside us and receive grace from Him.   That is so precious to know!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you because we have such abundant grace in the New Testament era, but your grace can directly enter our lives.  Please help us to not still live in the Old Testament era, but to move on to the New Testament era, so that we can enjoy your redemption, your presence, and your grace that comes upon us through our prayer.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!