Saturday, May 25, 2019

Today's Passage - Galatians 5:7-12

River of Life Christian Church ︳www.rolcc.net/english

Galatians 5: 7-12

   

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?   That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.  "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."    I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.   Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.   As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

 

Why is the cross offensive to some people? Often time, we follow God according to our desires, and why is it necessary for us to confess our sins?  Wouldn't it be terrific if we do not talk about sins?  God wanted us to confess our sins because He is a God of justice and we, as sinners, cannot stand justified in front of Him.  Therefore, we need to confess our sins and receive  the redemption that God has prepared for us in Christ Jesus with humility.  As a result, we are able to come before Him openly without fear.

 

Why then is our total submission to God necessary? Would it suffice if we give our free offerings to the church as well as being a good person performing good deeds as the Buddhist suggests? In reality, God looks not only to our outward actions, but our total submission to Him also.  Making offerings,  performing good deeds and being  a good person do not really reflect  the changes in  our lives, nor do they represents that we are truly Christians. God demands our total submission to Him and follow Him.

 

 Why do we need to follow His commands?  Would it be sufficient if we just mind our own business and do our own things in this day and age?  In fact, it is His desires that not only we are saved, but perform His will that is preordained for us.  We, therefore, need to come before God and follow His commands so that we no longer walk on our own ways but do what is righteous in His sight so that His glory may be manifested in our lives. 

 

Why do we need to love one another? Wouldn't it be nice if we just mind our own business? In saving us, it is God's desire for us to grow together in Christ, help and be responsible for one another.   May God help us love one another just as Christ loves us, and this is exactly God's desire.  Jesus said your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. We need to follow Christ not according to our own will but His,  and this is the very nuisance of the cross.  We need to make sacrifice and give up ourselves to fulfill His will.  May God's spirit help us to carry His cross and follow Him from this day onwards. 

                                                                        

Pray with Pastor Tong     

    

Lord, we thank You for Your sufferings on our behalves.  May we follow You with a heart to withstand suffering.  Let the cross no longer be a sign of nuisance to us , but a way to glory instead.  With thanks we pray, in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!
 


 

                                                                                              

Friday, May 24, 2019

Today's Passage - Galatians 5:1-6

River of Life Christian Church ︳www.rolcc.net/english

Galatians 5:1-6

  

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor circumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

   

Paul says here that Christ has indeed set us free, therefore we are no longer in bondage to anything. In the early church, "circumcision" exerted considerable bondage over brothers and sisters. However, Paul emphasized once more that "neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value". The true value is in depending on the Holy Spirit and awaiting by faith the righteousness for which we hope. In the same way, we need to know that in Christ we have been set free. We don't need to let any circumstance or anything keep us in bondage and stop us from enjoying the true freedom in Christ.

   

Many years ago when I went out of town to preach, there was a brother from China who came to talk to me after the meeting. He worked in a restaurant and was very unhappy because his boss often gave him mean looks. He wanted to leave America and return back to China. I told him, "Why do you allow your boss' mean looks to affect you? You need to trust in the Lord Jesus and in him there is true freedom. You don't need to be affected by your circumstance, but every day you can depend on Christ to live a joyful life." Afterwards, I went to the airport to go home. Unexpectedly, heavy snow started falling on the way to the airport. When I arrived at the airport, I found there was no seat for me. There were a couple of travelers like me. Immediately, the air was filled with everyone's complaints because we don't know when the plane will depart and even if it departs, we still don't have a seat.

   

At that moment, God's Spirit reminded me, "Didn't you just say to that person: "Why do you let the circumstance control you? In Christ you have true freedom!" Consequently, I quieted down before the Lord. I went outside to eat something and then came back to wait for the flight. Suddenly, I noticed a Chinese elderly couple beside me who were very anxious, and like me don't have a seat on the flight. I said to them, "Don't worry, I am just like you, when they call us I will let you know." They were very happy when they heard this and repeatedly thanked me and calmly waited for the flight. It was already evening when it was time for us to finally fly. It would be around 2am when I get back to San Jose. Even though I was physically tired, yet my heart was filled with joy. Once again I have experienced not being under bondage to the circumstance because in Jesus there is true freedom. Praise the Lord!

                                                                        

Pray with Pastor Tong     

    

Dear Lord, in Christ we can enjoy true freedom. No matter what circumstances brothers and sisters encounter, may the Spirit of the Lord set them free. May they receive from you true peace, joy, and satisfaction.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 



 

 


 

                                                                                              

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Today's Passage - Galatians 4:27-31

River of Life Christian Church ︳www.rolcc.net/english

Galatians 4:27-31

   

...At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

   

There is something that will keep showing up in your spiritual growth process. It is that those born according to the flesh will often persecute those born by the power of the Spirit. The moment you commit yourself to follow God and walk in his path of renewal, you will always meet resistance, and there will always be people who will make fun of you, hinder you, criticize and judge you. When I encounter these situations, I see them as small things, because in the Bible the Lord has already warned us these things will happen. When we come to the Lord, not only do we need to trust and obey Jesus Christ, but we also need to suffer for Christ. We not only need to suffer for our own sins, but also for the work of God in our life. And other people may not understand that we will also suffer.

  

What should we do when we face these circumstances? First, we need to examine ourselves to discern whether we are following God himself or whether we are following some kind of experiences. Especially in the Charismatic Movement, there are many people who pursue experiences more than they pursue God. We need to examine ourselves, whether we are truly following God or whether we are only pursuing our own self-satisfaction. If we are only pursuing our own self-satisfaction, it is very easy to fall into fleshly conflicts. If we are following God, we will be patient and wait on God.

   

Second, we need to pray for our current circumstance. When we are facing persecutions, there's nothing we really can do. We need to believe only God can bring about the change. Sometimes we depend on our own power to think of a solution to solve the problem. But man's method may not be God's method. We need to pray for the current circumstance. Maybe you and I are standing firm in the truth and are doing the right thing. But the timing depends on God. We need to respect the timing of God's work. Like the farmer waiting for the crops to grow, he needs to wait patiently in order for the crops to mature and bear fruit.

   

Third, as much as possible we should live in peace because this is God's will. In the future we will see our brothers and sisters in heaven. Let us keep a patient heart to live in peace as much as possible. God will bring about justice for us. He will reveal his way and his will. May the Lord help us to stand firm in the faith. As we follow God, let us not be moved by the external things in our life. 

                                                                        

Pray with Pastor Tong     

    

Dear Lord, I thank you for suffering for me and going on the way of the cross. You also told me that I will be persecuted on earth. May you help me, give me a humble and moldable heart, and fulfill your work in my life. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen! 


 


 



 

 

                                                                                              

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Today's Passage - Galatians 4:21-26

River of Life Christian Church ︳www.rolcc.net/english

Galatians 4: 21-26

    

...For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

                

There are two types of Christians; one type is to live the Christian life according to the flesh and blood, and the other type is to become a Christian as the result of a divine promise. Many people live their entire Christian lives according to the flesh and blood, only after the church to do this and not to do that. This mode is hard for Christians, with no breath of life, the gathering is just for the peace of mind, the ministry is just a responsibility, and so it gets more trying the more you serve. The result is bitterness for Christians living according to the flesh. The other type is Christians as the result of a divine promise; there is the relationship in Christ. Once he accepts Jesus as personal savior, then he forms a close relationship with the Lord that is a loving relationship, no longer working for the sake of work, rather it is for the sake of love. A Christian born as the result of a divine promise no longer live according to his own talents and he is willing to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and follows the leading of the Spirit, enjoying God's presence. We need to learn in God to live the Christian lives as the result of a divine promise, and let this loving relationship to become the power of our ministries.

                

I once saw a card with a picture of a housewife in the act of hanging garments on the clothesline with a note below it: "Never-ending tasks". Washing and drying the clothes every day, it's never ending work, why would this housewife readily keep repeating these never-ending tasks? Because of love, she loves her family members, so all these are not sufferings. It's the same in the process of serving, in Christian lives; it's also because of love and the loving relationship with the Lord.

                

Why do you attend every Sunday service? Is it for the gathering among the few friends? Is it the sense of responsibility? Or is it you really love and desire God? Then why do you serve God? Is it because the pastor has asked you to do so? Is it because you feel you have to do it? Or is it the love of the Lord that draws you? It is difficult to sustain a Christian life without the love of the Lord; ask the Lord to help us enter the ministry of divine promise, not the flesh.

                                                                        

Pray with Pastor Tong     

    

Lord, we ask your Spirit to check and forgive us if we serve according to the flesh and the blood. Lead us into serving by divine promise, having a close relationship with you, and give us the desire to long for your presence. We give thanks and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!


 


 


 


 

                                                                                              

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Today's Passage - Galatians 4:12-20

River of Life Christian Church ︳www.rolcc.net/english

Galatians 4: 12-20

  

...... My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

                               

According to Paul, it takes the pains of childbirth to lead one soul and to change one's life. It takes to pay with the cost of time to go through this process of suffering. A mother is in pregnancy for nine and a half months before the baby comes to term for its birth; similarly, when we lead our non-believer relatives and friends to God, or one soul to changing life, it takes to pay with the cost of prayers, until their lives are changed, as well as caring for their needs, offering them help in their real lives.

                

Next, it takes to pay with the cost of anxiety. How anxious is a mother in labor who is eager for the child's arrival; similarly, it's also the case for the saved soul and changed life. We have to wait patiently, like the farmer waiting for the produce from the field; there are no quick fixes, only sustaining prayers. I remember knowing a couple with the husband deserting the family long ago, abandoning the wife for another woman, but his wife continued waiting for him to change his mind, praying unceasingly for thirty-three years, and finally the husband changed his mind, and the two remarried again. Thirty-three years is none too short, but this wife has this faith to wait in hope; it's really not easy.

                

Third, it takes to pay with the cost of self-sacrifice. A mother would rather see herself suffer, neither sleeping nor eating well, for a smooth delivery. Ask for God's help when we guide and lead others, to pay with the cost of self-sacrifice. Not caring for our own needs, but caring for others' needs so their lives can be changed. Let us while leading others that we are willing to go through the pains of childbirth for God's sake as well as for the sake of brothers and sisters, and we can enjoy the good fruit of the childbirth.

                                                                        

Pray with Pastor Tong     

    

Lord, remember the relatives, friends or brothers and sisters that we lead; although feeling the pains of childbirth, yet it bears fruit. Let us continue to pray and wait, because you will do more than what we ask or think. We give thanks and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!


 


 


 

 


 


 

                                                                                              

Monday, May 20, 2019

Today's Passage - Galatians 4:12-20

River of Life Christian Church ︳www.rolcc.net/english

Galatians 4: 12-20

  

...... My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

                               

According to Paul, it takes the pains of childbirth to lead one soul and to change one's life. It takes to pay with the cost of time to go through this process of suffering. A mother is in pregnancy for nine and a half months before the baby comes to term for its birth; similarly, when we lead our non-believer relatives and friends to God, or one soul to changing life, it takes to pay with the cost of prayers, until their lives are changed, as well as caring for their needs, offering them help in their real lives.

                

Next, it takes to pay with the cost of anxiety. How anxious is a mother in labor who is eager for the child's arrival; similarly, it's also the case for the saved soul and changed life. We have to wait patiently, like the farmer waiting for the produce from the field; there are no quick fixes, only sustaining prayers. I remember knowing a couple with the husband deserting the family long ago, abandoning the wife for another woman, but his wife continued waiting for him to change his mind, praying unceasingly for thirty-three years, and finally the husband changed his mind, and the two remarried again. Thirty-three years is none too short, but this wife has this faith to wait in hope; it's really not easy.

                

Third, it takes to pay with the cost of self-sacrifice. A mother would rather see herself suffer, neither sleeping nor eating well, for a smooth delivery. Ask for God's help when we guide and lead others, to pay with the cost of self-sacrifice. Not caring for our own needs, but caring for others' needs so their lives can be changed. Let us while leading others that we are willing to go through the pains of childbirth for God's sake as well as for the sake of brothers and sisters, and we can enjoy the good fruit of the childbirth.

                                                                        

Pray with Pastor Tong     

    

Lord, remember the relatives, friends or brothers and sisters that we lead; although feeling the pains of childbirth, yet it bears fruit. Let us continue to pray and wait, because you will do more than what we ask or think. We give thanks and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!


 


 


 

 


 


 

                                                                                              

Today's Passage - Galatians 4:8-11

River of Life Christian Church ︳www.rolcc.net/english

Galatians 4: 8-11

 

"Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God-or rather are known by God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you."

                

At that time the church valued appearance over the life in Christ. Observing the Sabbath was the most contested issue of the early church when the Jews often accused the Christians for failing to observe the Sabbath. Some also ask the same question today, since the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, why do Christians fail to observe the Sabbath? It is to celebrate Jesus Christ's back to life from death that Christians gather in the presence of God on Sundays; the Sunday service is not for observing the Sabbath, instead it is to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, it's not that Christians fail to observe the Sabbath; rather it is observing the Sabbath every day. The Sabbath of the Old Testament in itself does not bring people to rest; the purpose of the Sabbath is to bring rest, but people may not actually get to rest on the Sabbath. True rest points towards Jesus as we can find true rest in Christ only; when we live with the Lord, Jesus becomes our rest. Every day is observing the Sabbath for Christians; every day is the Sabbath in Christ.

                

So what should be valued is the truth in Christ instead of the appearance, we'll fall into self-righteousness if we care only about the outward appearance. Only in Christ can we truly enjoy all the blessings from God. Like Baptism, some vouch for the practice of sprinkling while some vouch for the practice of immersion; in fact what matters is the joy of salvation through our belief in Jesus. When you believe in Jesus, the appearance is not important at all. The same goes to the Holy Communion, some say breaking bread every week, some say having the Holy Communion once a month. The importance is not the frequency, but whether our lives are united with the Lord; once the lives are united with the Lord every day, it in fact is having the Holy Communion every day. The same goes to washing the feet; some churches today still emphasize washing the feet; washing the feet is to express the loving of one another, no matter washing the feet or not, the importance is whether you have Jesus' love in your life, so that you can love your enemies, and even pray for those who persecute you.  Ask the Lord to help us not to only value the appearance; but to enter the life of Christ.

                                                                        

Pray with Pastor Tong     

    

Lord, please open our eyes, if in the past we valued the appearance, feasts or the law, help us enter the real lives, enjoy in Christ all the blessings, grace and mercy from God. We give thanks and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!