Sunday, July 23, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 8:14-17

Matthew 8:14-17
When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.  He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.  When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases."
When the Lord was on earth, He saw many people in need and had mercy on them.  The Lord's healing power came upon each patient through His mercy.  When we pray for healing, we never emphasize on power, but rather God's love and mercy.  Healing is not a cold hard release of power, but rather the outflow of God's love in many forms.
First, healing originated from the love from the cross.  We are often concerned whether we will be healed, but Isaiah clearly says that "by his wounds we are healed."  This passage means the Lord has taken on all our weaknesses and diseases.  When we seek for healing, we must learn to focus on Jesus Christ who loves us dearly, and contemplate about His love and salvation on the cross.  The process of waiting to be healed might cause anxiety, so we need to quiet down and think about the Lord, because only the Lord's love is the source of healing.  We need to come before the Lord, pray to be touched by His mercy.  Just like when the Lord was in Jericho, and the blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing through, and he shouted: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"  Jesus heard him and stopped, as such pleading touched his merciful heart.  Only the Lord mercy can bring forth true power of healing.
Next, it's the love of the church.  Each time brothers and sisters get sick in the church, they need to be surrounded by other brothers and sisters who'll pray for them.  Not only would the prayer allow the Lord's love flow through the patients, it also lets the love among the body of Christ flow through the patients.  When we are face to face with God and people, the faith inside us will be revived, and in the love of Christ all of us are brought before God.  James 5:16 says that "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."  We don't have any power to heal, but because of the Lord's love on the cross, the stream of healing will flow out to all those in need through brothers and sisters.  Jesus took up our infirmities and bore our diseases, so if you bring your infirmities and diseases to the Lord today, He will surely take care of you!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, please pour down the Holy Spirit on all brothers and sisters, and let them deliver all their infirmities and diseases to your hands.  You said that you will take up our infirmities and bear our diseases, and we ask that you save us from the hands of the enemy and let us once again be made perfect.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 8:5-13

Matthew 8:5-13
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.  "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly."  Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?"  The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith...."
This centurion has great faith in God, so much that even Jesus praised him.  True faith is based on knowing God, and firm trust in the word of God.  Even though we often come before God with eagerness, but the eagerness won't give us faith.  Some people think that if they pray earnestly, God will surely answer them, but things didn't happen that way, and that is because the foundation of faith is not our wishes or the circumstances, but rather the Lord's word.  Romans 10:17 says that "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ," and Hebrews 11:1 also says that "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Faith is not only having a clear goal, but also receiving a clear assurance from the Lord.  This assurance should be built upon your knowledge of God and trust in the Lord's word.
Do you know God and understand His will?  Hebrews 4:14-16 says that "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  No matter whether we are in sin, suffering or disease, we can always come before God.  We are often like the Samaritan woman; when she was arguing with Jesus, Jesus told her: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."  Unfortunately she didn't know who Jesus was, so she was still arguing with the Lord over theology and tradition.  If you know about the Lord's grace, you should ask for His grace as soon as possible!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you for giving us your grace and letting us to come before you and pray to you by faith.   Every word of yours carries power and it'll never return.  May you once again grant your grace to the lives of all brothers and sisters, let us depend on you and receive strength and help from you.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 8:1-4

Matthew 8:1-4
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.  A man with leprosycame and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.  Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
Back then, leprosy was considered a disease of uncleanness.  In fact, all the leprosy patients must live outside of town and cannot enter in town center.  In the Old Testament law, even those who are touched by lepers are also unclean.  Therefore, when the leper went to Jesus, he was truly desperate.  He might be thinking it was impossible for him to be healed, but he still wanted to give it a try.  So, he might have been surprised when Jesus said "be clean!"  From this story, it is evident that the Lord is willing to heal our disease!
I used to think that God only heals in exceptional cases.  If God doesn't say He's going to heal, how could I pray for the patient?  Therefore, in my early days as a pastor, I didn't pray for patients often, because I didn't know that it's God's will to heal.  In the recent years, God showed me that healing is a fundamental part of God's will.  When a sinner comes before God to confess his sins and repent to turn back to God, not only will his sins be forgiven, God is also willing to heal all his diseases.  Psalm 103:3 says that God is "who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases."  God didn't say that He will forgive all our sings and some of our diseases, but ALL of our diseases.  God is willing to forgive our sins, and also heal our diseases.
Therefore obviously cases where we are not healed.  First, there are exceptions when God wants to train you with diseases in your life.  Paul prayed three times for the thorn in his body, but God didn't remove it, because God wanted to use this thorn to train him.  We must praise God for these cases because His grace will always be sufficient for us.  Second, your days on earth are about to end.  The Lord may want to take us back to our heavenly home; our body will change to be like the glorious resurrected body of Christ.  It is our ultimate healing - We'll get rid of our death-bound body and enter the glory of God.  Therefore, I am more than willing to pray for patients; as long as the Lord doesn't say He won't heal, I will pray for all kinds of patients until we see the Spirit of God move in the patients to perform wonderful work of healing.  May God place such faith insides us because He is both willing and ready.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Brothers and sisters, if you are in any kind of disease, I ask that you lay hand on wherever the disease is right now.  The Lord's blood will cover everyone - Not only forgive all sings, but also heal all diseases.  In the victorious name of Jesus Christ I rebuke all diseases and ask them to leave now, so that we will be complete.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 7:24-29

Matthew 7:24-29
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."  When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
We are always seeking to feel secured in the world, aren't we?  We want to have job security and financial security; we want to be secured after retirement, and we keep on thinking what would happen if our future is not secured.  Chinese people like to think and plan for the worst scenario; we like to save money, invest or buy insurance, but few people actually think about whether their spiritual future is secured.  When people read this scripture passage, they only read about the wise man versus foolish man, rock versus sand, but they overlook the basic truth here: No matter whether a person is wise or foolish, they'll encounter rain, stream and wind in their lives.  No matter how wise or foolish, or how godly or ignorant one is, they'll always encounter many storms in their lives that are allowed to happen by God. 
We like to ask "why" when we encounter them, but God seldom answer the question of why.  Instead, God is using this question to ask us: During the storms in your life, how is the foundation of your spiritual life?  As soon as people hear this question, they will pick up a Bible and say, "the foundation of spiritual life is the Bible!"  But the Lord said that only those who heard His word and put them into practice are the ones who built their house on a foundation of rock.  A preacher once said: "it's not enough to own a Bible - you must read it.  It's not enough to read a Bible - you must let is speak to you.  It's not enough to let the Bible speak to you - you must trust God's word.  It's not enough to trust God's word - you must live it out."  At which stage if your devotional life - Are you a the first phase, where you just own a Bible, or are you already living out of God's word?  May God help us, not just own a Bible, but actually read it.  May the Holy Spirit shine upon us and let us understand God's will, and may God give us courage to live out His word in our daily life.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we ask you to help us to see that we must have a solid spiritual foundation in our life.  Give us a heart that is eager for your word, willing to follow your word, and to live it out.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 7:21-23

Matthew 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
May God help us not just to see the outside of those who serve the Lord.  God values the servants much more than the work assigned to the servants.  He values how the life of a servant is shaped.  People often only see the outcome on the outside and determine whether the servant is godly, but when God looks at the servant He looks at the inside.   This is evident from comparing David and Saul.  From human perspective, David committed adultery and indirectly murdered someone.  How could someone like that ever enter the kingdom of God?  Saul was actually not a bad king and he rules the country well, but the Bible praised David because he was a man after God's heart.  God saw David's inside; David repented for his sins and turned back to God and cried out to God.  Saul, however, committed sin but never dared to accept his own failures, and used all kinds of excuses to blame on others.  God values how a life is shaped; even though some people can perform miracles, it's wrong to just focus on the miracles because enemy can also perform miracles.  Verse 21 clearly says that the condition for entering God's kingdom is that you become "one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."  In other word, it's not critical whether miracles are performed, but whether one understands and follows the will of God.
Some people quote this passage when they oppose signs and wonders, which is wrong.  The passage is often used to criticize the validity of miracles by those who don't understand the complete truth of God.  They use partial truth based on self-righteousness to criticize the signs and wonders performed by others.  Actually, this passage means that if one wants to enter the kingdom of God, he must understand the will of God and be willing to follow it.  No matter whether one performs miracles or not, if he doesn't follow God's will, he will not enter the kingdom of God.  May God help us, let us be reminded through this passage that God values the most how our life is built up and shaped when we are serving Him.  May God receive the greatest glory through our lives!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we thank you because you value and also shape our lives.  Help us to fix our eyes on you and what you what to do.  In our daily life, let us not just value the outside, but instead our life inside you, and help us to follow your will.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 7:15-20

Matthew 7:15-20
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
The Lord taught us how to discern false prophets by the fruits they bear.  Fruit means a few things: First, what truth they teach, whether their teaching complies with the complete truth.  Some teaches partial truth.  For example, some keep emphasizing the time the Lord will turn.  But Bible clearly teaches that no one knows the time that the Lord will come. So anyone who prophets the time the Lord will come is not conforming to the complete truth.  We must judge whether the truth they are teaching conforms to the whole truth of the Bible.
Second, their life testimony.  Are they living according to their own teachings?  Not only that, do they live according to the complete teaching of God?  Some people may live according to what's been taught.  However, their behaviors are full of judgment of others, conviction of others. Their lives do not reflect the whole truth of God.  When you see these people, you must observe whether they try to help others selflessly, or whether they convict others' sins day and night to boast their righteousness. Do they try to glorify themselves? Or do they try to empathize with others? To discern what they are, we need to see their testimony in life.   
Third, the people they lead.  Although students are not above their teacher, when you look at the people they lead, it reflects the teachings of their teacher.  Look at how their disciples live, you can see whether their teacher's teaching is coming from God or not.  May God help us by giving us the wisdom of discernment. At time that is, which is full of heresies and false teachings, many people use the words in Bible to confuse others.  May God give us sufficient wisdom to discern the truth, so that we can stand upright in this wicked time and be a glorious witness.

Pray with Pastor Tong Liu

Oh Lord, may you give us sufficient wisdom to discern what is from you and what is from our enemies among all the teachings. Let us know your words well and help us to stand firmly on the foundation of truth, so that we may resist accusations and attacks from evil doers, and live a victorious life daily.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus Christ, Amen!  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Today's Passage - Matthew 7:13-14

Matthews 7:13-14

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    Lord said that the door to eternal life is narrow.  Why is it narrow?  Because if it by our flesh, we will not prefer it.  Jesus says, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.' The road of cross is a road that denies oneself. It feels narrow because if by our own will, none of us is willing to follow. Why does it feel so narrow?  Because people are self-centered, which is the origin of sins.  Had we not followed the Lord, and still lived in the past with ourselves as the center, no matter how wide our road is, it eventually will lead to destruction.  So the Lord says in verse 13, 'wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction'. A man can live according to his flesh, walking down a wide path, a path that look as if everyone can walk down.  However, down this path, the conflicts brought upon by our self-centered behavior will lead us to the road of destruction.   
On the contrary, when one walks down on a narrow path, at first he feels that the road is too narrow, because it is painful to abandon his own will.  As he keeps walking, he will find a road that gets wider and wider.  He starts to understand God's will on all things. His inner path gets wider and wider. The road of denying ourselves starts out a road of sacrifice.  But it ends at the road towards glory.   As Lord said, "unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."  Our Lord has walked on the path that denied Himself, and died for us on the cross.  By His sacrifice, a new and living way opened for us.  He's leading His sons and daughters to enter God's glory.

The road of the cross is the road to victory, narrow at first. But it gets wider and wider, brighter and brighter. The road of self-centeredness starts wide but gets narrower and narrower, darker and darker.  We face this choice daily - should I follow the path in my heart, or should I follow the path that denies myself?  We pray that Lord helps us to make the right selection, choose to deny ourselves and walk towards the path to glory.

Pray with Pastor Tong Liu
Lord, thank you for sacrificing yourself for us, leading us to a path of glory.  We pray that you help us understand how to deny ourselves in our daily lives, so that we can experience your victory in us.  This road starts out narrow, but you will lead us into a wider and wider path.  May you give us confidence and strength to follow you. Prayer in the victorious name of Jesus Christ, Amen!