Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Today's Passage - Acts 1:10-14

Acts 1:10-14
 
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? ...They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
 
After I graduated from seminary and began to serve in the church fifteen years ago, I felt pretty lost at first and didn't even know where to begin.  One time, I read this passage and suddenly realized that the disciples back then had the same feeling as I had.  When Jesus was about to ascend to heaven and entrusted them with the Great Commission, they weren't too excited, but instead they were just "looking intensely up into the sky."  Why were they looking up?  Because they were lost; when Jesus was around, He could protect them from anything, but when Jesus was gone they didn't know what to do next.  Also, Jesus gave them a big assignment - Go and make disciples of all nations - that made them feel even more lost.  And then, angels came to remind them not to just stand there and stare at the sky, and angels reminded them that the Lord will surely return.  The Lord was not only talking about His second coming, but rather the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples.  Therefore, the angels also reminded them to pray and receive the Holy Spirit, and in verse 14 they were "joint together constantly in prayer."
 
As I began to serve in the church, the Spirit of the Lord reminded me through this passage that although I didn't know where to begin, I can always begin with prayer.  Therefore, I started to promote praying in the church, and we also recorded what we prayed things.  I later discovered that 94% of our prayers were answered by God, and for the rest God also told us why they weren't answered.  At that time, I truly understood that what I've heard before is true: More prayer more power, less prayer less power, and no prayer no power.  Before, I thought it's just a nice spiritual rhetoric, but after I experienced the power of prayer I truly believed the effectiveness of prayer.  Through prayer we can take on the Lord's assignment and receive power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will lead us into ministry by the spirit, not just by our own might.
 
Pray with Pastor Tong
 
Dear Lord, I thank you, and I ask that you give us the authority to pray.  Uplift our spirit today and place the fire for prayer inside us.  Make us a man or woman of prayer in our daily life so that we may experience your abundance and power.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
   
 
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Today's Passage - Acts 1:6-9

Acts 1:6-9
 
So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"  He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority..."  And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
 
Verse eight of this passage can be regarded as the backbone of the Book of Acts.  Book of Acts, also known as Book of Acts by the Holy Spirit, describes the process of how the apostles preach the gospel through the Holy Spirit.  This passage specifically describes how the gospel is preached first in Jerusalem, and ultimately to the ends of the earth.  In other word, gospel is always preached starting from wherever we are.  Sometimes we would consider going to distant places to do missions, but overlook the needs right around us.  We often think about witnessing for the Lord in undeveloped regions, but overlook witnessing for the Lord to our whole family.  Gospel always begins with Jerusalem - wherever we are living - and then expand to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
 
Expanding from this backbone, we also see how the Holy Spirit comes upon Jerusalem in Chapter 2, all Judea in Chapter 10, Samaria in Chapter 8 and the ends of the earth in Chapter 19.  We see how the Holy Spirit worked in every place, and every time the Holy Spirit comes upon the believers, it brought forth revival and churches were established.  We can only have real strength to live when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.  It's like the Light Rail in San Jose, where the rail cars actually have no power, and it must be connected to electricity through a power wire that connects to the top of the car.  If the wire is disconnected from the rail car, no matter how hard you press on the paddle, it's not going to move an inch.  Similarly, we the believers are like the rail cars, because we don't have any power of our own, and our source of power is from the wire above us.  Our life can only be filled with power when our life is connected with the wire.
 
The Bible clearly states that apart from the Lord, we can do nothing.  We can certainly do a lot of things, but in the Kingdom of God they won't have any meaning and cannot accomplish the will of God.  We need to ask God to help us in our daily life so that we may stay close to Him and welcome the Holy Spirit to work in our life.
 
Pray with Pastor Tong
 
Dear Lord, we thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit.  Come and empower us so that we can be your glorious witness each and every day.  May you put a clear mission inside us to urge us to let everyone around us receive the benefits of the gospel.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
   
 
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River of Life Christian Church, 1177 Laurelwood Rd., Santa Clara, CA 95054
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Today's Passage - Acts 1:1-5

Acts 1:1-5
 
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen...  He gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
 
The Book of Acts is written by Luke.  In verse one, he brought up the fact that he wrote in his former book, Gospel of Luke, was "about all that Jesus began to do and to teach."  We can see that Luke was a practical man; not only did he record the truth that Jesus Christ taught, he also recorded things that Jesus did.  In the Christian faith, what we do is more important than we say; therefore, we can see that when Luke wrote the Book of Acts, not only did he talk about the truth of God, he also talked about how apostles performed miracles in the world and testified for God with their lives.
 
May God help us, let us not only emphasize on the teaching of truth, but also let us bring our faith into our daily life.  When Luke wrote about the work of Jesus Christ, he mentioned in verse two the fact that Jesus did many things through the Holy Spirit.  When Lord Jesus was in the world, He spoke with authority and He prayed with power, because the anointing of Holy Spirit was with him.  In Gospel of Luke 4:18-20, Jesus said that "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed..."  Not only that, after Lord Jesus resurrected from death, He showed Himself to the apostles and spoke to the apostles about the Kingdom of God.
 
In the Book of Acts, we also saw how the Kingdom of God began a new era and phase of development on earth, along with the beginning of the church era.  Church started on the Day of Pentecost, which is after the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ.  When the Bible talks about the Kingdom of God, it was manifested through the church in the New Testament era.  What is one characteristic of the church era?  In verse five, the Lord talked about the baptism by Holy Spirit.  Holy Spirit is the key characteristic of the church era, because church began with the baptism by Holy Spirit.  Because of the baptism by Holy Spirit, every believer is connected to Jesus Christ.  Book of Acts talks about the development of just one church, but we also see that in the development of the entire church there must be work of the Holy Spirit.  May the Lord help us; when we are establishing our church, let us depend on work of the Holy Spirit every day.
 
Pray with Pastor Tong
 
Dear Lord, we thank you because you serve as the best example for us.  After you resurrected for three days, you sent the Holy Spirit to our midst.  Today, we can receive Holy Spirit by faith, and we want the Holy Spirit to flow in our life like living water.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
   
 
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Today's Passage - 2 Corinthians 13:12-14

2 Corinthians 13:12-14
 
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
We always hear this prayer of benediction from pastors before a worship service ends: "May the grace of Lord Jesus Christ, love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
 
We've all heard this prayer of benedictions from the pastors at the end of worship services: "May the grace of Lord Jesus Christ, love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."  What does this mean?  First, from a theological perspective, it's an important statement concerning the doctrine of trinity, because it clearly divided the work of the three persons of God and put them at the same level.  It is one true God with three different persons.  In the Old Testament time it was Father God, in the New Testament time is was Jesus, and in the church epoch it's the Holy Spirit.  Paul clearly conveyed this concept through his word of benediction.
 
Next, it's important to the content of the benediction.  First blessing is the grace of Jesus Christ.  WE really need to stand in the grace of Jesus in order proclaim victory against the enemy.  If it wasn't for the salvation our Lord accomplished on the cross, we would not have been able to stand before God.  Grace means that we are getting something we are not worth receiving and that we cannot earn, for it is completely because of the Lord's mercy.  Lots of believers are deceived by Satan to think that they are not worthy of His grace, so they cannot serve God.  This is a rather common deception on the believers.  Of course we need to ask God to cleanse us, but we can't be fooled by the enemy to think that we are not worthy serving God.  We need to know that the grace of Jesus Christ alone is sufficient for us to stand before God.
 
Second blessing is the "love of God."  Remember, Father God is loving and He loves to bless.  In the analogy of prodigal son, Jesus used the father to illustrate the love of Heavenly Father.  He's always willing  and waiting to bless us.  He has promised that "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  We can bring all our needs and burdens of the daily life before Him.
 
Third blessing is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Holy Spirit is God who's moving in our lives today, and He can also prompt us.  Prompting in original text always means fellowship.  Holy Spirit loves of talk and communicate with.  He understands the will of Father God, lives within us, and intercedes for us according to the will of Father God.  He's the one person in the trinity most closely tied to us, for it's He would let us become reborn, make us holy, give us faith, and will strengthen us until the day we see the Lord face-to-face.  The God of Trinity is willing to live with us and to become strength and help in our daily lives.  Let us give thanks for it!
 
Pray with Pastor Tong
 
True God of Trinity, I give thanks to you for everything.  I thank Father God's love, which gives us life, I thank Jesus' love so that we can receive grace, and I thank Holy Spirit's love so that we may have strengthen for our daily lives.  May the Lord's Spirit builds us up once again, so that we'd remember your grace and live for you every day.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
   
 
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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Today's Passage - 2 Corinthians 13:10-11

 2 Corinthians 13:5-9

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.

Paul was reminding the weak in faith of their responsibility and at the same time comforting them. Sometimes when we say we have faith, we actually do not really have faith, because the faith we are talking about is merely intellectual faith, not a living and active faith. Intellectual faith allows us to understand that the Lord has resurrected and overcome sin and the world and we are co-heirs with Christ. However, many believers find it hard to believe that we can do nothing without God, and with God we can do everything. Our faith is not living and active, but merely faith in theory. If we truly have faith, we need to live out our faith and declare victory over the enemy, over the world and over sin.

Next we need to understand that as long as Jesus is in our hearts, we are not forsaken. Many believers often think that they are forsaken. They are deceived by the accusations of the enemy and think that they do not belong to God. They think that their sins cannot be forgiven and live in the nightmare that God will not completely accept them. The truth is that our spiritual life is God's mercy from beginning to end. Because of God's mercy, we are born again, we can be used by God and we can stand before God. God does not bless us because we are better. In the same way, it is not because we are weak that God hides His face from us. As long as we are born again Christians, Christ is living in us and God has given us the Holy Spirit who is the Comforter to dwell in us forever.

Do you know that we are never forsaken? Hallelujah! You need to declare victory over the enemy every day. Praise the Lord each day when you get up in the morning. In everything you do, praise the Lord and declare that this day belongs to the Lord. In this way, you can experience God's victory.

Pray with Pastor Tong

Lord, I thank you because you have won the victory. May you personally comfort brothers and sisters who are weak. Help them see that they are not forsaken because you dwell in their hearts. You are seated on the throne and are leading them towards victory. May you comfort them today. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!
  
 
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River of Life Christian Church, 1177 Laurelwood Rd., Santa Clara, CA 95054
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Friday, August 19, 2016

Today's Passage - 2 Corinthians 13:5-9

2 Corinthians 13:5-9

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.

Paul was reminding the weak in faith of their responsibility and at the same time comforting them. Sometimes when we say we have faith, we actually do not really have faith, because the faith we are talking about is merely intellectual faith, not a living and active faith. Intellectual faith allows us to understand that the Lord has resurrected and overcome sin and the world and we are co-heirs with Christ. However, many believers find it hard to believe that we can do nothing without God, and with God we can do everything. Our faith is not living and active, but merely faith in theory. If we truly have faith, we need to live out our faith and declare victory over the enemy, over the world and over sin.

Next we need to understand that as long as Jesus is in our hearts, we are not forsaken. Many believers often think that they are forsaken. They are deceived by the accusations of the enemy and think that they do not belong to God. They think that their sins cannot be forgiven and live in the nightmare that God will not completely accept them. The truth is that our spiritual life is God's mercy from beginning to end. Because of God's mercy, we are born again, we can be used by God and we can stand before God. God does not bless us because we are better. In the same way, it is not because we are weak that God hides His face from us. As long as we are born again Christians, Christ is living in us and God has given us the Holy Spirit who is the Comforter to dwell in us forever.

Do you know that we are never forsaken? Hallelujah! You need to declare victory over the enemy every day. Praise the Lord each day when you get up in the morning. In everything you do, praise the Lord and declare that this day belongs to the Lord. In this way, you can experience God's victory.

Pray with Pastor Tong

Lord, I thank you because you have won the victory. May you personally comfort brothers and sisters who are weak. Help them see that they are not forsaken because you dwell in their hearts. You are seated on the throne and are leading them towards victory. May you comfort them today. I thank you and pray in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!
   
 
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River of Life Christian Church, 1177 Laurelwood Rd., Santa Clara, CA 95054
Sent by edevotion@rolcc.net in collaboration with
Constant Contact