....the true light that gives light to every man was coming to this world. He was in this world, and though this world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.
Jesus Christ is the light of men given by God. This light illuminated not only people in the past, but also those living in this age. It has also become the true light in our lives. Verse 11: He came to His own world, and yet His people did not receive Him. The Israelites in the Old Testament had longed for the coming of the Messiah, but ironically, the Jews in the New Testament at the time of Jesus flatly rejected Him. Men are so blind-sighted! We have been seeking for the answer to our life, but when it is revealed to us, we would not only dismiss it, but try our very best to reject it instead - what a pity! As people often live in the dark, they are in need of God's illumination. May we come to recognize where the answer and the blind-spots in our lives are, so that we may be freed from all our bondages and accept the answer we have been seeking so diligently for - that is Jesus Christ himself.
Just image, as we become the children in God's kingdom, aren't we now the prince and princess in His kingdom? My heart is filled with excitement every time when I think about this! God loves us so much and we are so precious to Him, may we fully comprehend His love and open our lives to Him willingly so that we may walk with Jesus Christ, live in the light and never to walk in the dark again!
Verse 12: "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God" In this verse, believing means receiving. It is like I am knocking the door at your house today, and you notice this is Pastor Tong as you open the door. You would say "Welcome to our house Pastor Tong" - this is an act of "receiving". Likewise, when God is knocking at the door of our hearts, as we open the door and realize that He is our Lord Jesus, we would happily receive Him so that He would have sovereignty over every part of our lives. This is the meaning of believing. When we welcome Jesus into our lives, we are now believers of our Lord. To those who believe in His name, the Lord will give them rights to become the children of God. What a precious promise!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Dear Lord, we thank you because as we come before you, receiving you, believing in you, you give us the right to become your children. May we follow you closely every day and live for you. In the victorious name of Jesus we pray, Amen!
...In Him was life, and that life was that life of men. The light shines into darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
The Gospel of John is a book especially about God's life. It talks about Jesus Christ being the bread of our lives. Some may say this Gospel is actually the word of life, because besides teaching us with His words, Jesus Christ used His life to nurture us. It is somewhat abstract when we think about God's life. What exactly is God's life? It is clearly recorded in chapter 4 that when a life is in Christ, this life becomes the light of men. In other words, the day when we receive Jesus into our lives, God's life is dwelling in us and we become the light of men.
We now come to understand more clearly about God's life all of a sudden, because we had always been in the dark, isn't it? We have no idea how to choose the path in front of us. We are struggling in the dark without knowing which way to go. When living on earth, how often had we cried out in our hearts "Who can help me!". We are struggling in the dark without a direction. Especially in this day and age, there are so many choices in front of us, and yet we lack the wisdom in making the right decision. In other words, we are in need of a light and guidance inside us, so that we would choose the right path.
Indeed, we are in need of God's life living in us! When we welcome Jesus into our lives, God's life then becomes our light. We no longer live in darkness, our lives got light up instead! It is like finding your way around in a dark night, you feel like being trapped inside four walls with no way out. Suddenly when a beam of light shines through, you realized there is a little opening where you can make your way out. Similarly in our live journey, whenever Jesus is in our lives, the lights inside us shines through, we come to realize that we are able to emerge without being trapped! Hallelujah! We can overcome all lives' obstacles. This is the very reason that we need Jesus in our lives, because we are truly living in darkness and we need the light of God in us. This light will become the wisdom and guidance of our lives.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we thank you for you have become the light of our lives. We pray that we would no longer walk in darkness, but in the light. We pray that you will become our strength, help and guidance. In the victorious name of Jesus we pray, Amen!
Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. Tell Archippus: 'See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.
Paul knew how to collaborate with coworkers in the Lord. In the Book of Acts and his epistles, Paul has mentioned no fewer than 100 names. Not only did he bring up their names, he also expressed his concern for each of them. It could be just one or two sentences, but he really knew the needs of his coworkers. His relationships with the coworkers were not just casual, but they were deep and spiritual. Also, every time Paul went out on mission trips, he seldom went alone, for he always brought a team of coworkers with him. Even while in the prison, he had good coworkers and they supported one another through prayer. Paul really understood how to collaborate with others!
The other principle concerning coworkers that Paul taught us is that we must encourage each other. Archippus was only a lay believer in the Colossian church, for we don't even know what position he held at the church. Paul, however, encouraged him to take all the work assigned to him seriously and cautiously. When believers get together, sometimes we just talk about business, work, investment, stocks and TV, and that is a real pity! When we meet at church, we need to encourage each other with God's work and remind each other of God's will. When the believers in the early church got together, they always said to one another "Lord is alive!" We also need to encourage each other with "brother, you need to love the Lord more" or "sister, surrender your worries to God." Paul, for example, often reminded Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God" and "point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus."
The act of reminding I'm talking about here is not for picking on others or unveiling their shortcomings, but it's to bless each other with God's word. Starting today, when you run into brothers or sisters, you should greet them using God's word. You can say "peace to you, brother, and may the Lord's joy fill you!" This might sound simple, but it will give the person strength for renewal. Are you willing to start today?
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord Jesus, I thank you because by the example of Paul we understand our responsibility to encourage one another and running the good race together in the Lord. I ask you to forbid me from speaking any word on malice or complaint. Let my mouth be filled with your promises and your comfort. Whenever I speak to other brothers and sisters, your grace will flow from my mouth. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
Epaphras is a man of prayer. Not only does he pray for himself, he also prays for the needs of brothers and sisters. He didn't just pray like it's just a daily routine, but he was "always wrestling in prayer." Prayer needs to be done feverishly. When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed feverishly and was even sweating like blood drops, but the disciples were sleeping beside him. After Jesus prayed feverishly, He was filled with the wisdom and strength of God, but the disciples scattered in chaos and Peter even denied the Lord three times.
Prayer is a lesson that we need to pay a price to learn. No one is born knowing how to pray. The Lord has said that "My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." The "house" He was referring to was not just a structure, but it's every believer. Lord wants every one of us to become man or woman of prayer. Above all ministries, the most important thing is to pray. Not just to pray, but pray feverishly! Lord wants to see our eagerness and trust for Him. The attitude in praying feverishly represents out dependence on Him, for there is no way other than God, and God is pleased with such a heart of complete dependence! On the other hand, a careless and casual attitude towards prayer represents our pride and arrogance, and we might think it doesn't matter whether God helps us or not or whether we pray or not pray. The Book of James says that this type of person will receive nothing from the Lord.
How is your prayer life? Your prayer life is a reflection of your church ministry. Do you often feel dry in the spirit and you don't have the zeal to serve? That is because your prayer life is lukewarm. You need to ask God to give you an eager heart - you must hold on to God! Only such a prayer can touch God's heart and let Him release His grace upon you from the throne. Are you willing to learn how to pray feverishly?
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord Jesus, I once again bring all the brothers and sisters before you, and ask that your word may once again set their hearts on fire. If any of us have had lukewarm hearts for prayer for many years, please ignite the fire for prayer in them again! Give them a spirit of feverishness to respond to your highest calling in their life - to become a house of prayer today! I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
Who is Mark? He is the coworker whom Paul and Barnabas brought with on their first mission trip. The young Mark did not adjust well to the journey for evangelism, so he left the missions team half-way during the trip. Because of his departure, Paul was unable to accept him again. On the second mission trip, Paul insisted that Barnabas should not bring Mark along; because of this he broke up with Barnabas, but he later regretted. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul said that "...get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." He was willing to accept Mark again and he also said that he's collaborating with Mark for the Kingdom of God. We can learn a few lessons from this story:
First, learn to give others a second chance. Our God is willing to give a second chance. Among Moses, Jonah, David and Peter, every one of them fell but stood up again by God's grace. In our life, God has given many second, or even third and fourth, chance. May God give us a tolerant heart, become someone like Barnabas who can comfort others, and learn to give others a second chance.
Second, learn to stand up from failure. If you study the Bible carefully, you will find that all spiritual giants have experienced failure. We all can fail, but the important thing is not to let failure defeat you, or allow the enemy to use failure to deceive you, thinking that God doesn't love you anymore or is no longer with you. Failure is actually always the process for God to shape us; it is never God's intention for us to fail, but through failure He wants us to experience more abundant grace. Although Mark bailed out of the team and was rejected by Paul, he was not defeated by the failure, and ultimately he was a vehicle in God's hand and he was also the author of Gospel of Mark. This is a remarkable testimony!
Are you in the state of failure? Don't just pity yourself or blame on God and others. Accept the reality of the failure, but trust in God's presence. Rise up and trust that God can save you!
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord Jesus, I once again bring all the brothers and sisters before you. You are everyone's great shepherd, and the paths of their lives are all in your hands. May you open their eyes so that they can see the work that you are performing on them, so that they may be restful in your working hands. May you guide them with your skillful hands. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
...that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
Paul really knew how to comfort people. He knew that the Colossian church really cared about him and his situation, and he sent Tychecus and Onesimus back to Colossus to brief the church of his status, thus comforting the concerning hearts of the brothers and sisters.
Comforting each other in the Lord is one virtue that the church really needs to restore. Nowadays, it is difficult to find friends who can comfort each other. In the Bible, Job didn't lose his faith when the disasters happened or when his wife passed away, but he almost lost his faith when his friends came to visit him. That's why Job said: "A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty." When a person is in despair and disappointment, a friend's comfort is extremely important. True friends can bring comfort to others around them, so are there people around us who are in despair and disappointment? Are we bringing them comfort in the Lord with our love?
Most importantly, we must be sensitive the hearts of people. Being sensitive doesn't mean agreeing with them or doing exactly what they expect. When we are sensitive to others, it makes them feel respected and understood. What people really need is the feeling of being understood and accepted. Also, if you really want to comfort someone, you must take action of caring. If you are sensitive to someone's feeling but never express it, they will still not be comforted. Really caring might not involve some major action, but sometimes a call, a card or a visit can bring someone comfort that is far beyond what you can imagine.
Are there people who need to be comforted around you? We very often know what to do, but we need the determination to actually do it, and then we can bring out the momentum for love in our life.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord Jesus, may you open our eyes so that we will see people in need around us. Please send me among the people in need so that I may spread the love of Christ. Through phone calls, cards and visitation, I want to share the love of Christ. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
How should we share the gospel with our family and friends? Paul taught us to exercise wisdom when we are with the non-believers among our family and friends. He instructed us to "make the most of every opportunity." When God gives us opportunities to bear witness, do we seize them by telling them about your faith and sharing the message of salvation of the soul with them? How exactly should we bear witness?
First, our conversation must "be always full of grace." We must try to avoid argument while witnessing for the Lord. Even if you win a debate, the person won't accept the faith; if you lose, then the person won't bother to come to church! Your words must be graceful, for the Bible says that "a gentle answer turns away wrath." Being graceful can turn away anger and also soften hearts, so that people would be more ready to accept the gospel.
Second, our conversation must be "seasoned with salt." The Bible never described Christians as sugar of the world so that we would be sweet and loved by everyone. Christians should speak positive words that edify people, but more importantly our words must agree with the truth with no false context. Our words must be like salt; when placed on a wound, it will hurt at first, but it will disinfect the wound. Some people preach the "sweetened" gospel, telling everything that peace and joy will come with believing, while bypassing the truth that all have sinned and fell short of God's glory. People need to first repent and accept the Lord in order for them to have true peace and joy; therefore, our words must abide by the truth.
Third, we must be prepared to address questions. We never know when an opportunity from God is going to come, so if your colleague or friend suddenly asks, "can you tell me about your faith," would you be able to explain your faith to him clearly? Or, if a dying patient asked you, "can you lead me to believe in Jesus," would you be able to lead him to do a prayer to commit his life to Christ on the spot? May God help us, let us always be prepared to share the good news of the Lord.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord Jesus, please open my eyes again so that I can see the opportunities to share the gospel that you have placed in my life. Give me wisdom and courage, and let me depend on the power of your Spirit to spread your word everyday. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!