Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today's Passage - Psalm 1:1-6

River of Life Christian Church ︳

Psalm 1:1-6


Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prosper. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.


            The Book of Psalms uses many parallels. Some of these are parallels with the same meaning while others are parallels with opposite meaning. Verse 1 to verse 3 are a parallel, in this parallel it talks about not walking in step with the wicked, which is not standing in the way that sinners take, which is also not to sit in the company of mockers. In other words, not only we have to choose not to walk in step with the wicked, we also have to not stand in the way of the sinners. Many times we have the desire not to walk with the wicked, but in our lives we still walk with them. In fact, if we really desire to not walk in the way of the wicked, we should not take on the way of the sinners. This means we should not be friend with them, even to become separated from them.


           We need to cut tie with sin from the bottom of our hearts. Not only desire to do so, but also in our daily living and actions. Those who delight in the law of the Lord will definitely meditate on his law day and night. We can't just say in our hearts: I love the Lord and delight in His law but never spend time reading His words or drawing near to him. To meditate on His words have a price to pay, and we have to spend time. But as we meditate on God's words, we will be blessed.


            Dear brothers and sisters, what do we fill our mind with? Is it the Word of God or is it things of the world? If our minds are filled with things of the world, our lives will be filled with anxiety and fear, and we become unable to follow God. The one whose delight is in the Lord and His words are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither, and whatever they do will prosper. These are the results of being "planted by streams of water." Do you want to be prosperous in all that you do in your life? When you meditate on the Word of the Lord and stay away from the way of the sinners, the blessings of God will come to you!


Pray with Pastor Tong  


Dear Lord, I give you thanks and praise. For you promised that you will draw near to us as we draw near to you. As we meditate on your Word, you will prosper all that we do. May You grant us a desiring heart, and let us be hungry and thirst for you. I thank you and I pray all these in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!     


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Today's Passage - Joshua 10:40-43

River of Life Christian Church ︳

Joshua 10:40-43


"So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal."


          The Lord fought for Israel because He is the God of Israel. This is a very important presupposition. God has made a covenant with the Israelites to be their God and Israelites to be His people; this is why God wanted to complete his covenant with the Israelites. In the New Testament era, Jesus has shed his blood on the cross for us, and Bible says His blood is to prove his covenant with us the sinners. Therefore we need to make a choice, our Lord Jesus is willing to take control in our lives, but we need to commit our lives to Him first.


          At every turning of your life, choose the Lord to be your God. Lean not on your own wisdom but to choose the Lord and rely on Him, then you will prosper in your life. We see throughout the book of Joshua that God is our commander in the spiritual warfare. Is there any stronghold in our lives that is stopping us from drawing near to God? We can come close to God today and declare victory over the strongholds. Many Christians never experience the deliverance and victory of the Lord throughout their life because the truth of Christ's triumph only resides in their brain and never got into their hearts. May the Lord teach us not only to believe in Him but also to rely on Him in our daily life. This concludes our study on the Book of Joshua, Chapter 1 to 10.


Pray with Pastor Tong  


Dear Lord, once again I bring all the brothers and sisters to You. You know that we are weak and You know all our needs before we even ask. May the Lord strengthen our mind so that we can rely on You and by faith enter the land You have prepared for us to inherit. I thank you and I pray all these in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!    


Friday, February 16, 2018

Today's Passage - Joshua 10:28-39

River of Life Christian Church ︳

Joshua 10:28-39


"That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the King of Jericho. Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. The Lord also gave that city and its king into Israel's hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho... Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. They took the city, its king and its villagesm and put them to the sword everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.


          Every time Joshua took hold a city, he did to the city what he had done to the previous cities he took hold, all the way back to what he had done to Jericho. First, the beginning of everything is always important. If the beginning of something is good, things that follow are usually good. This is why Bible describes Jesus Christ as the first fruit. If the first fruit is sweet, the fruits that follow are sweet as well. In the same way, if Jesus Christ is the first fruit, those that later believe in Christ would be perfected like Jesus. This is the hope we who are in Christ have, that one day we will be like the Lord; And regardless how unlike Him you and I currently are, God will work on us until we are like Jesus.


          Secondly, Joshua is a submissive person. In every battle he followed the Lord's command. The best example Joshua left for us is faithfulness and submissive to the Lord. Compare to Moses, he is neither a leader with much charisma nor much gift of administration. But the reason that God used Joshua was because of his faithfulness and submission. The most important quality for a servant of God is to be faithful and submissive, and things like background, knowledge, talents are not as important. In the book of Acts, God used Apollos who was mighty in scriptures as well as Peter who had no learning; in the Old Testament, God used Abraham the father of faith as well as Rahab the prostitute; He used Daniel the righteous one as well as David the adulterer. Every man used by God has a common trait, which is their faithfulness and submission. Dear brothers and sisters, are you willing to be used by God? Let's start to be faithfulness on the little things today.


Pray with Pastor Tong  


Dear Lord, may You grant us a gentle heart to be like Joshua, so that we can willingly and joyfully follow Your commands so that Your heart will be satisfied. May the Lord add strength to us. I thank You and I pray all these in the victorious name of Jesus, Amen!    


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Today's Passage - Joshua 10:22-27

River of Life Christian Church ︳

Joshua 10:22-27   


Joshua said, "Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me." So they brought the five kings out of the cave - the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, "Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings." So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks. Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous." This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight." Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening. At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the poles and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day.


As people of God, we must remember that God has already given us the authority to defeat the enemy. After Joshua led the Israelites to defeat their enemy, he told the army commanders: "Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. When Joshua was called by God, God told him the same thing, which meant that Joshua was also easily scared. Once a person experienced God, however, his faith will be established, and he will start to develop a courageous heart. Joshua experienced God's power when He was weak, experienced God's mercifulness through his failures, and experienced God's salvation when he was in despair. Through many battles, he started to be strengthened, and not only did he know the God he believed in has authority, he also started to hold on to the authority that God gave him. God often uses circumstances to train us. Every failure and hardship is an opportunity for God to discipline us. They help our arms to strengthen, so that we can put the enemy to death. May God help us, never reject the circumstances He puts us in, for in every circumstance God has prepared grace and lesson that we should actively seek to gain and learn.


On the other hand, Joshua also encouraged his commanders not to be afraid in using the authority that was already given by God to proclaim victory against the enemy. He asked them to step on the necks of the Kings as a proclamation that they had the enemies under their feet. Lord is our victorious Savior, for He has given the authority to be victorious to us so that we may put the enemy under our feet. Perhaps you would think that you are the smallest and most lowly part of the body of Christ, but which part of the human body is the smallest and most lowly? It's the feet! Ephesians 1:22 says that "God placed all things under his feet." Even if you are the feet of Christ, He has already given the authority to overcome the enemy to you! The enemy may be the authority, power, or trend in the world, it may be bondage of sin, it may also be stronghold from idol worship pain, or even just an old habit; however, in Jesus Christ we can put all of them under our feet, Hallelujah! Let's lift up our voices to praise our Lord!


Pray with Pastor Tong  


Lord, we praise you because you are our victorious Lord. You are telling us once again not to be afraid and discouraged, because you have placed the enemy under our feet. Not just one enemy, but all enemies! In Jesus Christ we can proclaim victory against the world and again all sins. I think you and I pray and victorious name of Jesus, amen!  


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Today's Passage - Joshua 10:15-21

River of Life Christian Church ︳

Joshua 10:15-21


...When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hiding in the cave at Makkedah,he said, "Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave, and post some men there to guard it. But don't stop; pursue your enemies! Attack them from the rear and don't let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand." So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities. The whole army then returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one uttered a word against the Israelites.


"Don't stop" is an important lesson, especially when it comes to God's commandment and prompting. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul said that "do not quench the Spirit." When God speaks to us but we neglect His word, God's work will not be accomplished. Spirit of God often speaks to us through our thought and mind, and He will also prompt us deep down inside our spirit. One time Holy Spirit might have prompted you to call someone to see how he's doing. You saw that it was already 11:30pm, so you thought you'd call tomorrow. Next morning you forgot to call. Another time Holy Spirit might have prompted you to visit a brother, but it was raining hard outside and it was hard to go out, so you thought perhaps you'd go later. After a few times, you stop to be prompted by the Spirit. The enemy can often take advantage of our delay to advance its work, thus making the body of Christ suffer loss.


One time Mrs. Liu got sick, and no one called her. She felt kind of sad, because we always cared for those who are sick, but how come no one cares about us when we are sick? Later on, when we attended cell group meeting during the weekend, I mentioned what happened, and a sister said: "I was going to call Mrs. Liu on Wednesday, but then I thought perhaps a lot of people would call her, so I decided not to." I was thinking that if she had made the call, it would have brought great comfort to us!


One night I was preparing a sermon, and it was almost midnight. Suddenly I was prompted to call a sister who doesn't attend our church. I struggled for a while but kept on feeling prompted, so I called her. I said "God prompted me to call you." As soon as she heard it she cried. That night she kept on praying to God: "Lord, if you still love me, give me a confirmation." After receiving my call, she knew that God had responded to her. I thank the Lord, because of my obedience God turned her heart back to Him. Brothers and sisters, never quench the prompting of the Spirit! When God's word comes upon you, don't stop, just follow immediately!


Pray with Pastor Tong  


Lord, I ask that you give us the determination to follow your word courageously. In all things that you command us to do, let us not listen to people, but to listen to you alone. May the Lord use us to serve as vessels that bless others. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Today's Passage - Joshua 10:12-14

River of Life Christian Church ︳

Joshua 10:12-14


On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar.  The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.  There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!


Not only is God the one who fights on behalf of Israel, He's also God who listens to prayer.  Instead of having the Israelites do anything themselves, He "gave Amorites over to Israel."  This is a truth that pleases us!  God will fight for those of us who belong to Him, and He will give the enemy to us.  Not because we are strong, but it's because we depend on Him.  It doesn't mean that we don't need to do anything; we still have to offer ourselves and work with God's promises.


When God gave the Amorites to the Israelites, Joshua found one problem: They were supposed to launch attack from the hills of Gilgal going downhill, which marches towards west.  The morning sun projects from east to west, so sun light was supposed to shine into the eyes of the enemy and dazzle them to confusion.  But time passed and it was almost noon; if they kept on fighting, sun light would shine from west to east, and thus dazzle the eyes of the Israelites.  Therefore, Joshua prayed to God, and the Lord made the sun stopped at noon instead of continuing to move west, until the Israelites achieved complete victory.  This prayer didn't make sense at all - The evolution of sun, moon and planets is supposed to be orderly, how could the sun be stopped?


We thank God, for Joshua didn't have any knowledge of modern astronomy; therefore, his rationale wasn't bound by scientific thinking at all.  He had a simple faith in God, believing that God has promise to help him, so he boldly asked God to stop the evolution of the sun and moon.  Actually, there are scientific studies now that showed the evolution of sun and moon had indeed missed a day!  It was God who answered the prayed of Joshua, but why was his prayer so effective?  It was because Joshua was simple.  If it was up to us, we would first analyze the situation, and probably would have even prayed.  Joshua, however, would have prayed no matter what the circumstance was, and the Lord listened to His prayer.  In your life, are there things that you think would be impossible to accomplish?  You must continue to pray, ask God to remove the factors that made them impossible, and let God's grace quickly come upon you!


Pray with Pastor Tong  


Lord, we thank you because you are the God who alone does marvelous things.  You parted the Red Sea and stopped the sun.  May you hear our prayers and put our enemy under your feet, so that you may receive the greatest glory.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!  



Monday, February 12, 2018

Today's Passage - Joshua 10:11

River of Life Christian Church ︳

Joshua 10:11


As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.


The God we believe in is one who fights on our behalf.  On our path of serving God, He's the one sitting on the throne, and He's the general in the army of Jehovah.  He's the one who plans, and also the one who completes.  We are pawns on a chessboard that have no power alone; however, in the hands of a chess master, they suddenly have strategy and momentum.


We are all pawns in the hands of God.  We don't have any power alone, but when we stand in the places where God has prepared for us, God will work and His power will be released naturally.  When the Israelites walked into this war, on the surface the Israelites were the ones fighting, but they were merely placed in their respective positions.  Because they were standing in the positions set up for them by God, God will fight the battle for them.  In this scripture passage, God sent hailstones on the enemy, and it turned out killed more enemies than those killed by the sword of the Israelites.  Those little hailstones accomplished a big victory!


Aren't we all like that as well?  We are merely little soldiers, but in the hands of God we could become generals.  You must understand God timing and your position though: When you are at the right place in the right time, God will naturally work.  you don't need to worry about how to experience God's victory; all you need to do is to faithfully serve God in your daily life.  When you learn to follow God's will on small things and obey God in the position where He placed you at, you will experience God's victory in your daily life!


Back in the Old Testament time, Joseph had gone through tragedy after tragedy in our eyes, yet he knew that he had to be faithful in every position that God placed Him at, and the outcome was miraculously wonderful.  When the Bible talked about Joseph, one statement kept on coming up: "Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did."  That was the case when He served Potiphar, as well as in the prison - God ultimately accomplished great things for him.  We often expect to do great things, but we must start with being faithful on small things.  When you are sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in everything little thing in life, God's Spirit will naturally guide you into His victory!


Pray with Pastor Tong  


Lord, I thank you because you often lead us to proclaim victory in Christ.  You are our general and you are our overcomer.  May you once again strengthen our hearts so that we may experience your victory each and every day.  I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!