Manahawkin United Methodist Church

Sermon: The Secret of God’s Provision

Today, at Manahawkin UMC, Laity Sunday was observed where everything was led by the members of the congregation.  Guest speaker was Sarah Choi, also member of the church.  She talked about the secret of God’s provision.

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Sermon: Why Do People Need MUMC?

Today Pastor Choi concludes his sermon series on the Church of God.  He exhorts the congregation to focus on what God has in mind for MUMC and be faithful to His call as the Church in Philadelphia did: with a little power, keep His Word and not deny His name, hold fast Christ’s Promise on Second Coming, and listen/obey what the Holy Spirit says to the churches.




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Sermon: Concerning the Lord’s Supper

Today, World Communion Sunday, Pastor Choi explains why the Church celebrates the Lord’s Supper.  He also discusses the nature of the Lord’s Supper based on Jesus’ own words.  Finally, he talks about the proper attitude in receiving Communion.


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Sermon: Why Do People Need the Church?

Pastor Choi talks about the necessity of the Church in today’s sermon.  The Church of Jesus Christ is commissioned to take the message of reconciliation in Christ to the world (Matthew 28:19-20).  No other organizations in the world was chosen by God for that task.  God reveals salvation the divine mystery through the Church.  That’s why people need the Church.

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Sermon: Why Do People Need Jesus?

Today Pastor Choi addresses the congregation on the question of why people need Jesus.  For healing, for peace, for happiness, for teaching, and for eternal life.  Yes, they are all legitimate reasons, but the true reason why every soul on earth needs Jesus is because of their broken relationship with God through sin.  Everyone is a sinner and every sinner needs a Savior.  That’s why we need Jesus the Savior and Lord.


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Sermon: Why So Much Evil?

Today Pastor Choi examines the question of why on evil.  In the time of violence, evil, and injustice, he exhorts the congregation not to run away from God but to run towards Him in search of hope, courage, strength, and wisdom to overcome evil.

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Sermon: Will He Find Us Watching?

Pastor Choi talks about the importance of watch and pray in the believer’s life.  Explaining the background information of the wedding in Israel at the time of Jesus, he exhorts God’s people to saturate their lives with prayer in earnest anticipation of Christ’s return.



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Sermon: Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Pastor Choi’s sermon series on Jesus’ Why questions ends today.  Jesus’ question of “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” was directed not to humans but to God the Heavenly Father.  He cried out to God not because His disciples betrayed and abandoned Him.  Nor because of the mockery and insult from the religious leaders and bystanders.  He rather did so, because the sin of entire world entered between Him and His Father and created a total separation between Christ and His loving Father in whose presence nothing unholy or impure is allowed.  That separation made Christ cry out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”


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Sermon: Why Are You Thinking Evil in Your Hearts?

Through the story of a paralytic man who was healed by Jesus, Pastor Choi highlights the following: Be the friend to bring your loved ones to Jesus in prayer, God searches all hearts and understands every intent of our thoughts, Forgiveness trumps all other blessings, and Accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

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Teen Challenge Presentation: 2 of 2

Today Teen Challenge from Philadelphia shares their testimonies and praises with the Manahawkin congregation.  This is part 2 of 2.

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Teen Challenge Presentation: 1 of 2

Today Teen Challenge from Philadelphia shares their testimonies and praises with the Manahawkin congregation.  This is part 1 of 2.


Posted in News

Sermon: Why Do You Break the Commandment of God?

Pastor Choi talks about breaking the commandment of God with human teachings and tradition.  In today’s story, he draws three lessons: beware of human tradition that invalidates the Word of God, do not worship in vain, and watch out what truly defiles you.

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Sermon: Why Do You Test Me?

Today Pastor Choi talks about putting the Lord to the test: what constitutes testing of the Lord.  Not every act of asking for God’s sign is considered ‘putting the Lord to the test.’  The Scripture identifies three elements of testing the Lord: 1) Unbelief of God’s wisdom, power, good will, and His existence  2) Demand of wanton cravings  3) Rebellion against God.

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Sermon: Why Do You Not Do What I Say?

Today Pastor Choi talks about the importance of obeying Jesus’ Word in the believer’s life.  Those who hear and do Jesus’ commands are like a wise builder who built a house on the rock; those who call Him Lord yet don’t keep His words are like a foolish builder who built a house on the ground without any foundation.



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Sermon: Why Do You Call Me Good?

Pastor Choi talks about three approaches people take in terms of salvation and eternal life: human goodness, the Law, and Christ.  He explains how the first two approaches fail to bring us into God’s eternal presence.  He reiterates what God’s Word says about salvation: Christ is the way, the life, and the truth.  No one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).


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Sermon: Why Do You Not Analyze This Present Time?

Today Pastor Choi expounds Jesus’ command on discerning the present time (Kairos).   Kairos is God’s appointed time that demands God’s people to live a holy and godly life, spotless and blameless, for the day of Christ (2 Peter 3:11, 14).

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Sermon: Why Do You Judge Others?

Today Pastor Choi talks about the meaning of “not to judge” others.  They are stop being self-righteous, stop being judgmental, and stop condemning others like God.

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Sermon: Why Do You Doubt?

Today Pastor Choi talks about Jesus and Peter walking on the water.  Three lessons he points out in the story of Jesus: God’s in it, so is our faith, and fix your eyes on Jesus.

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Sermon: Why Do You Worry?

Pastor Choi today talks about the cure for anxiety.  First, he points out four characteristics of worries: useless, evil, stressful, and contagious.  Next, he identifies four ways to handle life’s worries: keep a heavenly perspective, have faith in God, stop worrying, and seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness.


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Sermon: On Divine Anger

Today Pastor Choi expounds the Scriptures on divine anger.  In the Old Testament, God’s anger was ignited when people of God followed other gods, grumbled against God, and afflicted orphans, widows, and foreigners.  In the New Testament, Jesus also got angry at hypocrisy, commercialism in God’s house, belittling of children, stubborn heart and unbelief.  May God help us never provoke Him to anger.

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Sermon: How to Control Anger

Today Pastor Choi concludes his series on anger.  He introduces four biblical ways to control anger: S.L.O.W.—Slow to anger, Let go and let God, Overcome evil with good, and Work it out (Reconcile).


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Ghana Wells Dedicated

Manahawkin UMC helped to install a borehole well in Ghana.  The well was recently dedicated.  Praise God!

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Sermon: Angry at God?

Pastor Choi talks about anger at God.  Taking the example of Jonah, he explains how to handle our anger with God: Avoid bad theology.  Be humble before God in anger.  Choose to trust in God not own feelings.

Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: What does this mean?

Acts 2:1-13

Substituting for Pastor Choi, John Parker delivers a sermon on Pentecost when everyone asked “What does this mean?”

Pentecost is considered to be the day that the church was born. Ten days before, the apostles were with Jesus when He told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit came upon them and that they would be given power through the Spirit to be His witnesses to Judea, Samara, and all the earth. This was the last thing that Jesus said to the disciples before He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father.

After waiting and praying for 10 days, for the first time the Holy Spirit baptized all of the believers and they were forever changed. The power of the Holy Spirit made them boldly proclaim the great works of God in every language and dialect of all of the devout Jews who had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks. Peter became the rock that the church would be built upon reciting passages from the prophet Joel as he gave the first sermon of the Christian church.  As prophesied in Jeremiah, the Word of God and the will of God would be written on people’s hearts and “they will be My people and I will be their God.”

These 50 days were perfect fulfillments of the Jewish feasts. At Passover, the sacrifice of the sinless Jesus, God’s only Son, the perfect Lamb of God, Mashiach ben Joseph , was the final payment for all sin of all mankind. At the Feast of Firstfuits Jesus was resurrected from the dead and so became the firstfruits of the new covenant. And at Pentecost or Feast of Weeks when the wheat harvest is celebrated, over three thousand souls were saved as Peter delivered the first sermon of the Christian church reaping the first harvest of souls ripe for salvation.

120 believers had faith in Jesus’ promise that He would never leave them alone even though He had gone to be with the Father. The believers waited patiently, expectantly, and prayerfully for the Holy Spirit to come to them.  And on this Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven with the sound of a mighty wind and these 120 believers turned the world upside down. We are this generation’s body of Christ and we are called to do the same. We are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth proclaiming the great works of God in every tongue to every nation.

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Sermon: Mary of Bethany

Today Pastor Choi talks about Mary of Bethany who poured the very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.  Three lessons to learn from Mary: a. Give all you have to Jesus.  b. Jesus remembers your love and acts of service and reward you accordingly.  c. Don’t wait until tomorrow to serve the Lord.

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Sermon: With All Your Heart

Today Pastor Choi concludes his series on the heart: we are to love the LORD God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might.  May God approve us like He did King David whose heart was wholly devoted to the LORD.


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Sermon: the Lord’s Prayers—part 4 of 4

Today Pastor Choi concludes his sermon series on the prayers that Lord Jesus has actually said.  He focuses on the last word of the last sayings of Jesus: Father, into Your hands, I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).

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Sermon: the Lord’s Prayers–Part 3 of 4

Pastor Choi talks about Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane the night before crucifixion.  He prayed on His knees, for God’s will to be done not His, and commanded His disciples to keep watch so as not to fall into temptation.

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Sermon: the Lord’s Prayers—Part 2 of 4

Today Pastor Choi continues his series on the Lord’s Prayers. He points out that Christ’s prayers were relational, personal, and grateful (full of gratitude).




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Free Washer/Dryer Service

Free Washer/Dryer Service is coming to town on May 26 sponsored by Manahawkin United Methodist Church.Loads of love banner final

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Sermon: the Lord’s Prayers—part 1 of 4

Today Pastor Choi talks about three characteristics of Jesus’ prayer: intentional, habitual, and alone with God.  The sermon exhorts the congregation to cultivate the habit of spending time alone with God in prayer throughout the year.

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Sermon: Jesus: Risen or Stolen?

Pastor Choi invites the congregation to examine the biblical accounts on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  “Where has the body of Jesus gone?”  Two theories: one by the Christian community that He is risen indeed.  The other theory by the chief priests and the elders that the disciples of Jesus stole away the body of Jesus, that’s why the tomb was empty.

Which theory do you believe?  The sermon urges the congregation to make up their minds.

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Sermon: Jesus the Servant King

Pastor Choi talks about Jesus the humble king who fulfilled the prophecies on Himself by entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey.  The servant King demonstrated that He came not to be served but to serve and give His life as ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

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Sermon: Lead Us Not into Temptation—the Lord’s Prayer part 6 of 6

Today Pastor Choi concludes his sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer.  He covers three areas of temptation: definition, nature, and ways to overcome temptations.

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Sermon: Forgive Us as We Forgive—the Lord’s Prayer part 5 of 6

Today Pastor Choi continues his series on the Lord’s Prayer: Forgiveness.  He explains the biblical understanding of forgiveness, expounds on the nature of forgiveness, and offers four practical reasons why we should forgive each other.

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Sermon: Give Us Our Daily Bread–the Lord’s Prayer Part 4 of 6

Pastor Choi talks about three characteristics of our “daily bread.”  First, it is our daily “necessities” not daily “luxuries” or “desires.”  Secondly, daily bread means daily trust in the Lord.  Thirdly, it also means our daily “bread of Heaven” the Word of God.

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Sermon: Thy Kingdom Come—the Lord’s Prayer Part 3 of 6

Today Pastor Choi focuses on two sentences in the Lord’s Prayer: Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done on Earth as It Is in Heaven.  He explains that we the believers in Christ are living in the times close to Christ’s coming and that we are called to work as God’s Kingdom agents to reclaim God’s Kingdom here on earth one individual, one family, and one community at a time.

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Sermon: Hallowed Be Thy Name–the Lord’s Prayer Part 2 of 6

Today Pastor Choi talks about the name of the Lord: The Lord commands everyone to revere, esteem, honor, fear and stand in awe before His name.  Why should we care about His name?  Because He does care about His name. Because He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  And, because He will hold accountable those who don’t.  This attitude of “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is the foundation of every answered prayer.


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Sermon: Our Father in Heaven—the Lord’s Prayer Part 1 of 6

For the next six Sundays, Pastor Choi is going to do a sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer.  Today, part 1 of 6, he focuses on the beginning sentence of the prayer: Our Father in heaven.  The sermon emphasizes on prayer as a relationship and urges God’s people to approach their heavenly Father with boldness.





The following is a summary of the sermon:


Our Father in Heaven: the Lord’s Prayer—part 1 of 6

Matthew 6:9-13   King James Version (KJV)

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.


A Bible trivia: Did you know that you can say a beautiful prayer without the mentioning of ‘God?’  Not even once?  Look at today’s text.

For the next six Sundays, we are going to learn about a prayer, commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer that the Lord Jesus has taught us to pray.


This morning, part 1 of 6, let’s think about how we start our prayer by looking into how Jesus did.  He began the prayer with a sentence: Our Father which art in heaven.  In short, ‘Our Father in Heaven.’

Our Father: most of us would start our prayers with either ‘O, Lord,’ or ‘Our God’ instead of ‘Our Father.’  In fact, that’s how, I believe, the disciples of Jesus would’ve begun their prayers, too.  So, when Jesus taught them to call God ‘Our Father,’ it must have shocked them.  Jesus must have appeared to them very unconventional, even radical.

A little bit of information on how radical Jesus was in His time.  In those days, ordinary Jews would not dare to even think about calling God ‘Father.’  Up until that time, for over 2000 years, they often called their human ancestors ‘father(s)’ such as Abraham (Matthew 3:9, John 8:41), Isaac (Romans 9:10), Jacob (John 4:12), or David (Luke 1:32, Mark 11:10).  They also would call the LORD ‘God of our fathers,’ but seldom ‘Our Father.’  Never call God the Father, they were strictly reminded by their teachers, because it makes you either too high above or too close to God.  Know your place: you’re human.  He is divine.  Actually, calling God ‘Father’ in such an affectionate term as Jesus did was considered by the religious leaders a blasphemy against God—that deserves the penalty of death by stones.

I looked up in the Old Testament to find out how often the Israelites called God Father: three times.  The first one who ever possibly called God his Father was King David.  There’s no actual evidence that David did: rather it was God who gave David a permission to call Him thus: He (David) shall cry unto me (God), Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation (Psalm 89: 26, KJV).  Prophet Isaiah once prayed to God: For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us.  And Israel does not recognize us. You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name (Isaiah 63:16, NASB).  Another time Prophet Malachi called God Father.  He was lamenting the fact that people of God treacherously dealt with each other: Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us? (Malachi 2:10).  Besides these instances, no one in the entire Old Testament ever called God Father.  The people of God would restrain themselves from calling God their Father.  They showed the utmost respect when it comes down to the name of God.

Well, that tradition was about to change when Jesus instructed His disciples to start their prayer calling God ‘Our Father.’  They might have thought to themselves, Rabbi, You are intimate with Him that You can call Him Abba (Mark 14:36) alright.  But, we?   No way.

The best part of prayer and the power of prayer lie right there in two words: Our Father.  It reminds me that prayer is not a religion (cf. the older son in Luke 15:29).  It is a relationship (cf. the younger son in Luke 15:12, 18, 21).  You begin the prayer in the right status before God remembering who God is, who you are, and to whom you pray: He is your father (holy and righteous—John 17:11, 25), you are His child, and you are praying to your Father in heaven!  By instructing His disciples (and us) to start calling God ‘Our Father,’ Jesus elevated their (and our) status from a sinner to a saint: from a commoner to a royal child of God, and from a complete stranger to God’s adopted child.  It gets even better.  Later on, after His resurrection, Jesus ultimately promoted us to the same status as His: My Father Your Father, My God Your God (John 20:17).  From then on, every writer of the New Testament was inspired and instructed by the Spirit of God to boldly call God the Father, Abba (the most affectionate term).  E.g.  Philip called God Father (John 14:8).  Peter did, too (Acts 2:33).  Paul called God Abba (Galatians 4:6).  We the believers in Christ today also call Abba Father because we are His adopted children: For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15, KJV).  Jesus called His Father Abba all the time: in good times (John 11:45) and in the moment of distress (Mark 14:36) (e.g. Luke 2:49— the 12 year-old Jesus “In My Father’s House.”  Later, Jesus called God ‘My Father’ over a hundred times in the Gospel according to John alone).   So, He called His Father Abba all the time.  So did His disciples.  So do we God’s adopted children in Christ.  In good times and bad times, we call Him Abba Father.  All the time.  In prayer.

One more thing: all are invited to be God’s child but not all of them become a child of God; each one must believe in Jesus to be so.  Anyone can recite the Lord’s Prayer and call God Abba Father until his face is blue.  Yet, it doesn’t automatically turn him into God’s child.  Faith in Jesus does.  For instance, Jesus said to some of the Jews your father is the devil (John 8:44) when they claimed that their father is God.  Why did Jesus call them the children of the devil?  Not because they didn’t believe in God.  Yes, they did.  What, then?  But because they rejected Jesus and refused to acknowledge Him as the Messiah (John 8:45).  The same thing goes with anyone today that refuses to accept Jesus as the Messiah.  Once again: what makes a person child of God?  Listen to Jesus out of His own mouth: if you believe that I came from the Father and if you love Me by keeping My commandments (John 16:27, 14:21).   If a person fails this test, s/he is not a child of God.

In Heaven: What is Heaven?  Simply put, it is the eternal home of God and the saints in Christ.  It is the final destination that God has prepared for us (Hebrews 11:16).   It is the counterpart of Hell.  God is the architect and builder of Heaven (Hebrews 11:10).  It is the kingdom where He is the King (Matthew 5:16), and we His children are citizens therein (Philippians 3:20).  We will reign with Christ for eternity (Revelation 22:5).   Of course, angels will be with us.

Who enters Heaven?  Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27, 22:14).  Only those who are born again (John 3, esp. v. 15).  Nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood (Revelation 21:27).  I will elaborate on this later.

Now, here’s the list of the things we will see in Heaven.  First, the tree of life that will bear twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month, and its leaves will heal the nations (Revelation 22:2).  Next, we will have the New Jerusalem, the holy city that is made of precious stones (its foundations and walls) and whose streets are made of pure gold (Revelation 21:18-21).  It will have twelve gates.  Also, there will be the river of the water of life that flows from the throne of God through the middle of the street of the city (Revelation 22:1-2).

What about the things we won’t see in Heaven?  First of all, there will be no sea, no light of lamp (no electricity), no sun or moon (God is the light), and there will be no night (Revelation 22:5).  There will be no Temple, because God will be the Temple (Revelation 21:22).   There will be no closed gatesNo curse (Revelation 22:3), no tears, no death, no sorrow, no crying or pain will be there, either (Revelation 21:1-4).   No more Satan.  No more devils or evil spirits.  And, there will be no people of low character (the Bible calls them “dogs”–cf.  Philippians 3:2), no cowards, no sorcerers, no fornicators, no murderers, no idolaters, and no liars (Revelation 21:8, 22:15).

Now, a word of caution.   Some of us have heard or read about Heaven through different sources (books, tapes, personal experiences, and so on).  You must test all those stories and testimonies against the Bible.  If they are in agreement with the Bible, then keep them.  If not, don’t take them as truth, because you don’t want to establish your faith on something that is not absolutely true or attested against God’s Word.  Even Paul the Apostle who went to the third Heaven and tasted the life in Paradise wouldn’t elaborate much on that.  Rather, he simply said that the glory in Heaven is so great that no human sufferings are worth comparing with that (Romans 8:18).  One thing is for sure: Heaven is the place worth being in for eternity.

The real question is whether we will be there or not, right?   There is only one condition we must satisfy: Our sins to be washed with Jesus’ blood (Revelation 22:14).  That enters our names to be written in the Book of Life.  That means to be born again.  That means, to live a life holy and righteous before God.  That means, we sincerely believe Jesus as our Savior and obey Him as our Lord.  Be careful here.  Believing in Jesus never means a mere intellectual agreement with what Jesus has done on the cross.  Even the evil spirits believe in God (James 2:19).  Rather, faith in Christ must include sincere repentance of your sins living a life worthy of God’s name and keeping God’s commandments (Matthew 7:21).   It would be very foolish of us to assume that God will get us into Heaven with our words of confession in Jesus alone when we never do what He commands us to do in our daily lives.  Those who believe in Jesus with words only will be disillusioned and sore disappointed in the Last Day.


Prayer is not a religion.  It is a relationship.  You speak with your Heavenly Father.  So, begin every prayer with ‘Our Father in Heaven’: He is your loving Father and you’re His child.  He is delighted to see you in prayer and have you in Heaven forever with Him.  Amen.

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Sermon: How Did I Get Here and Show Me the Way to Go Home

Today we celebrated Sunday School Sunday.  All the Sunday School children and teachers participated in the worship services.  Pauline McShea the teacher preached a message on how we started our faith journey and where we are going.



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Lenten Challenge

prayer 4

This year the saints at Manahawkin are participating in a Prayer Challenge using a prayer journal.  During the 40 days, each one records specific prayer requests in the journal and keeps track of the prayers: the date started, what the prayer is about, date answered and how it was answered.  Want to participate?  Click here to download the form of prayer journal and start praying.   May the Lord bless you in your daily prayers!

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Sermon: Watch Over Your Heart

Today Pastor Choi continues his sermon series on ‘heart’—part 2 of 3: how to take care of your heart.  After a brief recap of the last Sunday’s message, he points out three excellent ways to watch over the heart: 1. Screen out all negative and destructive thoughts.  2. Store up good and godly thoughts beginning with God’s Word—the Word of Life.  3. Stay on whatever is noble and honorable.  By doing so, we will have the life God intends us to have.


How to Take Care of Your Heart



Following is a summary of the sermon:


Watch Over Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23   New American Standard Bible

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.


This morning I will continue my sermon series on heart- part 2 of 3: how to take care of our heart.

Recap of the Last Week’s Sermon

  1. Remember that the heart is the innermost seat of emotion, will, thoughts, and appetites.   It is an open bowl where all the thoughts freely come and go.  Three parties have access to your heart: you, God, and the devil.  It is also a battleground where God and the devil vie for your worship, affection, and devotion.
  2. Remember that you’re the sole caretaker of your heart.  You are the guardian appointed by God and your heart is a ward under your protection.  Your job is simple yet very important: to keep your heart safe and secure.
  3. I am sure every one of us wants to take good care of our hearts.   A healthy and strong heart begins with our desire to provide excellent care to the heart.  Unless we want to take care of our hearts, no one will.  Even God cannot help us on that.  Why?  Because God never overrides our free will.   Without our desire or invitation, God won’t be able to help us much.  The neglected heart becomes confused, unruly, and eventually we suffer the consequences thereof, that is, evil things march out and defile us (Mark 7:21-23).


Today’s verse expounded:

The first half of today’s verse reads: “Watch over your heart with all diligence.”  The literal translation of the original Hebrew is:  Above all guarding, guard your heart.

Definition of “to guard”: “to protect property, places, or people from attack or danger” (Oxford Dictionary).   We all protect something or some people from attack or danger.  A question: what do you guard?  Life, health, wealth, house, bank accounts, investment portfolios, family, jobs, image, identity, and so forth.  One thing is for sure: none of us guard anything worthless.  We only guard something precious, valuable, and essential.  So, out of all things worthy of our guarding, which one does God command us to guard most?  The heart.   Our heart is the number one priority to protect.  Guard it fiercely.

Why the heart?

The second sentence of today’s text reveals the reason why we must guard our heart above all things.  Once again the English translation reads: For from it (heart) flow the springs of life.   The literal translation of the same sentence is this: For from it come out the sources of life.  All things of life stem from your heart.

Let me elaborate a little more on ‘life’ here.  The life here means more than just daily survival.  It is the life meaningful.  It is the life fulfilling.  It’s the life of contentment.  It’s the life God intends us to enjoy.  In fact, Jesus wants us to have that life—and have it abundantly (John 10:10).  It’s the life that consists of “earthly felicity combined with spiritual blessedness” (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Cesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, p. 313).  To ‘life’ here, the Septuagint (LXX) Bible renders a unique Greek word ‘zoe’ instead of ‘bios.’  In other words, things that matter most in life originate from our heart.  The essential elements of the blessed life come out of our heart.   And, whatever comes out of our heart even determines our final destination.   That’s how crucial our heart is in life.  So, if you want to live a life satisfactory and meaningful, and if you want to live a life with purpose and destination, and if you want to secure your life eternal,  then learn to take good care of your heart.

Once again, understand your identity: You are the watchman.  You are the guardian of your heart.  Your job is to keep your heart pure, innocent, and blameless in the sight of God until Christ comes (Philippians 1:10).  So, based on these understandings, I am going to introduce three ways to take a good care of your heart.  Let’s not forget.  The entire well-being of your heart and the quality of your life are determined by your desire, discipline, and diligence.

Three things we can do for our hearts: Screen out, Store up, and Stay on.

Screen out.  You are on guard duty for life on behalf of your heart: to prevent the enemy infiltration.  E.g.  The army uses the daily password.  Whoever says the correct password may pass, whoever doesn’t, the guard can shoot.  Same goes with our guard duty for the heart.  For any thought trying to enter the heart, ask the password which is always the same: are you in line with God’s will?  If so, enter. If not, stop.  Never allow anything bad to enter your heart: only good things.

God commands us to take captive every thought and bring it to Christ.  Listen: … we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB).  We must learn to screen out thoughts and feelings especially those that are negative and destructive.  Some of us are in the habit of following whatever our heart says.  Follow your heart, they say.  However, beware: the same heart can deceive us.  In Jeremiah 17:9, God says, “The heart is deceitful above all things…”  I would rather let God’s Word guide me not my own feelings.  E.g. 1.  “I cannot forgive my brother.”— Remember the Lord’s Prayer.  E.g. 2.  A young couple wants a divorce due to no more feelings of love to each other.—Marriage is a commitment.  Let no one separate what God has joined (Matthew 19:6).  E.g. 3.  Depressive / Suicidal thoughts.  Check out the source of every destructive thought.  Satan can prompt such a thought in your heart (John 13:2).   Give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).  Bring every thought and feeling under the control of Christ.  Filter it.  Test it against God’s Word.  E.g. Practice the screening on TV and movies you watch.  Pray before you watch.  Place guards on your eye-gate and ear-gate.   Stay disciplined on it.  Payoff will be huge.

Store up.  There are many good things we can store up in our hearts; good memories, good music, good stories, good images, good thoughts, and so forth.  But, first and foremost, begin with God’s Word the Good Book.  Why?  Because it is the Word of life (1 John 1:1).  It gives you peace.  It restores your health (Proverbs 4:22).  It is essential for your eternal life, too.  Do you love God?  Then, you will love and cherish His Word.  It would be an oxymoron if you say, “I love God, yet I never open the Bible.”  It would be equally contradictory if you say, “I care for my soul, yet I never read the Bible.”  Why? Because God’s Word is the food for your soul, and if you don’t feed your soul with God’s Word, your soul will starve to death.  Never believe in the devil’s lie that the Bible is too difficult to understand.  He does everything to keep you from getting into God’s Word for your salvation.  You need God’s Word for your eternal life.  You need God’s Word to protect your heart (Matthew 15:19).  Listen to the Psalmist:  How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 11 Your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against You (Psalm 119:9, 11, NASB).

Stay on good and godly thoughts: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8, NASB).  Whatever comes into our hearts, it stays in our hearts and it is extremely hard to remove it.  That’s why we need to make every effort to put godly things in our hearts in the first place as a daily positive reinforcement.  Then, we keep on dwelling on such things all the time.  Chew on them, sit on them, and meditate on them daily.  You will have a blessed life.


Above all guarding, guard your heart: screen out all bad thoughts.  Next, store up God’s word diligently; fill up your heart with whatever is honorable and noble.  Finally, stay on them daily.  Then, you will enjoy the life abundantly in Christ.   Amen.


Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: What Is the Heart?

Today Pastor Choi talks about the human heart.  Pointing out that the human heart is a battle-ground between God and the devil who vie for our worship, devotion, and affection, Pastor Choi exhorts the people of God to take good care of their hearts by asking for God’s help.


What Is Heart


Following is a summary of the sermon:


What is the Heart? 

Jeremiah 17:9   New American Standard Bible

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?


Recently, after 25 years in ministry, I wanted to have a deeper understanding on one subject: the heart.  Not that I wanted to be a cardiologist or a psychologist.  It seems to me that everything in our life (both good and bad) stems from the heart such as kindness, love, greed, and even hate.  Heart matters in every relationship with God and with people.  So, this is how I reasoned myself: the better understanding of the heart, the better understanding of myself and others, and the better relationships with God and with each other.   So I started my study on the heart.

It still has a long way to go before I can even say that I understand the human heart.  This morning, you are about to hear my preliminary study on the subject.  In fact, I am going to do a three-part series in the next three Sundays.  I hope and pray that the series will lead us to a better understanding, better care of our hearts, and better relationships.   Here’s part 1 of 3: what is the heart?


Definition of the Heart

Let me begin with what I mean by the heart.  There are three definitions of the heart: medical, poetic/artistic, and scriptural.

  • Medical: a hollow muscular organ that pumps the blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation (Oxford Dictionary)
  • Poetic/Artistic: the center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotion (
  • Scriptural: the innermost seat of emotion, mind, will, conscience, and appetites.

This morning I am going to strictly focus on the scriptural sense of heart: the heart as the innermost seat of emotion, thoughts, will, and appetites.  Our western mindset is tuned to the separation of heart and mind (or heart and head) due to the Platonic distinction. Please note here that I make no distinction between heart/emotion and mind/intellect, because the Scriptures don’t make a clear-cut distinction between emotion and intellect.   In fact, the Ancient Hebrews believed that all the characteristics of modern-day “heart and mind” were interconnected and originated from one entity, not two, and they called them “heart.” So, will I.  When I say “the heart,” it covers both the mind and emotions.

Three Kinds of Heart

The Bible talks about three kinds of heart.

  • The Heart of God (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 32:41, Ezekiel 28:2)
  • The Heart of Man (Jeremiah 7:19)
  • The Heart of Beasts (Daniel 5:21)

The Heart of God

I am so thankful that God too has the heart.   God’s heart deserves a full sermon for another time.  This is how much I will tell you, though.  Out of His heart, God created the heavens and the earth (intellect).  Out of His heart, He has chosen us to be His children (will).  Out of His heart, He loves us unconditionally (emotion).  To Him each soul is equally valuable, sinners and saints alike (e.g. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous—Matthew 5:45).  He never gives up on anyone unless they reject Him first.  In fact, His loving kindness, generosity, and mercy endure forever!   They blow us away!  All out of His loving heart!  Isn’t it wonderful that we worship and belong to such a God with a loving heart?

The Heart of Man

When God created Adam and Eve in His image and likeness, He has given them the heart that shared the characteristics of God’s heart; pure and innocent, loving, kind, creative, and no sign or touch of evil at all.  However, when they disobeyed God, sin came in and that changed everything.

In fact, sin corrupted the human heart to the core and forever.  For instance, during Noah’s time, God was deeply grieved with the constant evil thoughts of humans to the point where He regretted that He had created humans.  He wanted a new start.  So, through the Great Flood, He wiped humanity off from the surface of the earth except for Noah’s eight.  However, Noah’s eight still had the old heart—still depraved as before.  Thousands of years later, God described the condition of the human heart to prophet Jeremiah as follows:  the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

Almost three millennia passed since prophet Jeremiah; in the 21st century, our heart still is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.  Wouldn’t you agree?

The Heart of Beasts

The reference on the heart of beasts is also found in the Bible; only once.  The heart of beasts demonstrates basic instincts of survival: no reason, no ability to create, no conscience, or no reverence of life.  It only knows daily survival among prey and predators.   One man actually experienced and had it for seven years (Daniel 4:32).   E.g.

21 He [King Nebuchadnezzar] was also driven away from mankind, and his heart was made like that of beasts, and his dwelling place was with the wild donkeys. He was given grass to eat like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven until he recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and that He sets over it whomever He wishes (Daniel 5:21).

Once again, my focus will be on the human heart.

What’s Happening in the Heart?   

  • You can forget all the rest of my sermon this morning.  However, please remember this: Your heart is a battle ground between God and the enemy of God (that is, the devil) who vie for your worship, devotion, and affection.   For instance,

–     God sows the Word of God in the heart (Luke 8:11).

–     The devil snatches away the Word sown in the heart (Luke 8:12).

  • Remember: Your heart is like an open bowl and both God and the devil have access to it.  In fact, three parties have access to your heart: self, God, and the devil.  All of them can throw in and take out any thoughts out of your heart.   Let’s think about this a little more, beginning with “self.”

What Each Party Can Do to Our Heart

  1. Self: we can initiate/retain/remove any thoughts, wishes, and plans in our hearts either good or bad.  Here are some examples of what we can do with our hearts.

–     We can humble ourselves and incline our hearts to God.

–     We can watch over our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23).

–     We can also neglect the care of our heart and let it be defiled:  See what happens to the heart that is neglected, that is not properly cared after or not protected from the devil.  Listen to Jesus in Mark 7.

–     From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deed of coveting and wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man (Mark 7:21-23).

  1. The devil: too many a Christian have a very naïve understanding of the devil: some of us think he is not real; others believe that it is just a personification of evil.  Others depict him as the guy holding a pitch-fork with two horns on his head and a tail.  Or, a cute little guy sitting on our shoulder whispering to us.  No, he is much more a cunning creature than those images.  He has only one goal: to steal, kill, and destroy your soul into hell (John 10:10).  In order to achieve his goal, he diligently works, first and foremost, on your heart.  He enslaves your heart through temptation, fear, deception, and confusion.  He snatches anything good and godly away from your heart especially God’s Word sown in your heart (Luke 8:12) [e.g. distractions during sermon].  Then, he fills up your heart with evil/unclean/negative/destructive thoughts that you often take as yours.  E.g. Judas Iscariot (John 13:2).
  2. God: He is the expert in the human heart and He is most interested in your heart and mine.  Our hearts are His business.  In fact, He cares about our heart more than any one of us ever would.  How much does He know about our heart?  Everything.   Through and through.  Remember: He is the designer and creator of the heart.  He is the divine heart surgeon.  He can make our sick hearts healthy again.  In fact, the Bible lists 32 things that God can do/does with our heart.  For instance, He searches the heart, weighs, examines, tests, strengthens, revives, renews, changes, and sets the heart free, to name a few.  However, one thing He will never do to our hearts: control.  He leaves the full reign of the heart to us to the point where we can abuse such freedom to even curse the Creator.  Such a freedom is the sure sign of love.

The good news is this: God can help us to remove evil/unclean/destructive/negative thoughts.  He also can fill our hearts with good/godly thoughts.  He can purify and strengthen our hearts as well.  All of these would He do only upon our invitation and requests.  Without our desire to keep our hearts pure and clean, and without our invitation, God wouldn’t do it.   We must ask for His help from the heart.


We all have a job to do: to take good care of our heart.  Where do we start?  Ask God for His help today.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit will help you.   Next week, we will think about some practical ways to take care of our heart.  Let us pray.

Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: 2016–the Year of Prayer

Today Pastor Choi designates 2016 to be the Year of Prayer.  Beginning with the definition of prayer, he covers basic characteristics of prayer. He exhorts the people of God to call unto God throughout the year so that they may undeniably experience the living God who answers their prayers.


    2016-the Year of Prayer   



The following is a summary of the sermon:


2016: the Year of Prayer     

Jeremiah 33:3   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’                       


The top ten most googled New Year’s Resolutions in 2015: the top ten most searched “how-to” questions in the U.S. during the week before and the week after New Year’s Day 2015:

1. how to get rid of stress

2. how to make kale chips

3. how much water should I drink to lose weight

4. how to write a resignation letter

5. how to cook lentils

6. how to cook cabbage

7. how to write a letter of recommendation

8. how to cook collard greens

9. how to steam broccoli

10. how to crochet a beanie  (Olivia B. Waxman, Here Are the Most Googled New Year’s Resolutions –

Well, one thing is for sure: people want to get rid of stress.  Let me tell you the best answer to that quest: prayer.   Let’s think about prayer this morning.


I don’t exactly remember how my prayer life has started.  Neither can I recall when I first started praying to the Heavenly Father or who taught me to pray.  I never took a course on prayer such as “Prayer 101: Introduction to Prayer,” either.  Yet, sometime in high school, I started praying to God.   

Prayer is the breathing of our soul. 

Let me define what prayer is before I go further.   

Oxford Dictionary defines prayer as follows: a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.   

Here’s my own definition: prayer is a series of thoughts or words, either spoken or unspoken, directed to God on behalf of others or for self.   

Another definition: prayer is the breathing of our soul to God.    

Whatever definition you follow, one thing is for sure:  prayer is an activity of our soul.  Prayer is to our soul as breathing to our body.  Without it, our soul perishes.  With it, our soul thrives. 

We learn to pray by doing it, not by studying about it.  

If someone asks you what breathing is, you may explain that it is ‘the process of taking air into and expelling it from the lungs’ (Oxford Dictionary).  But, anyone can breathe in and out with no understanding on the lungs; where they are located in our body and what they do, right?  In fact, we naturally breathe in and out; we never stop breathing until we die.  Same thing goes with our prayer.  When we first confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord, our spirit becomes alive and our soul begins to breathe, that is, pray.  From that day on, our new born soul is to pray to God without ceasing. 

You don’t need a sermon or training to start praying.  You just pray like a new born baby breathes from the moment of birth without training.  You learn as you go. 

Prayer works. 

Some of us are skeptical about prayer when it comes down to actual praying.  However, don’t say that prayer doesn’t work until you try it.  E.g. When I first started praying, I was not 100% sure about the effectiveness of prayer.  In fact, I wondered about the practicality of prayer: whether it works or not; and if so, how exactly God answers prayers.  So, one year in college, I decided to experiment on prayer.  I started a prayer journal where I recorded all my prayer requests: the date I started praying, the contents of prayer, the date it was answered, and how it was answered.  I kept journaling for the next six months.  At the end of the sixth month, I found 96 entries in the journal.  To my great surprise, I found every single one of them answered in one of the following ways: YES (majority). NO (some).  WAIT (a few).  That’s how I discovered that prayer is real, not just a psychological hypnosis to comfort myself (note: prayer is not eastern style of meditation, either).  

Fasting is a prayer that works ‘fast.’ 

Some of you heard about fasting.  What is fasting?  It is more than skipping meals.  Fasting is an intense prayer.  It is a prayer that works ‘fast.’  There came the time when I did some serious prayers with fasting, especially during my major crises in life.  Pouring my soul in anguish, I would cry out onto the Lord to deliver me from my troubles.  The Almighty God surely listened and answered my humble pleas in the ways beyond my imagination.  Praise God!  If you haven’t tried fasting, try it.  It works really well and fast. 

God speaks to us in the ways that we understand. 

I must point out that prayer is a two way communication: we speak to God and God speaks to us.  Most of us consider prayer, however, as one way street: we are good at telling God our shopping list but poor at listening to God.   

So, how do we listen to God?   God uses many different ways to speak to us: to some, through visions and dreams.  To others, through audible voices of angels.  To more others, through the open doors and closed doors.   And, through the Scripture passages, too.  No matter which way God communicates with us, let us not forget: He speaks to us in the ways that we can clearly understand (this one requires some training.  I will talk about this later; how to discern His voice).   

One of the ways that God speaks to me in prayer is reasoning: through questions He leads me to come to my own conclusion.  Whenever He does that, I find Him very gentle and kind, patiently listening to my worries and frustrations.  Then, He leads me through reasoning to His assurance that eventually takes away my worries.    

The result of Prayer: peace and assurance 

After prayer, we come out of God’s Throne Room with the assurance that He is in control, faithful, and alive in our lives.  He is not the God who stays aloof from our daily challenges and struggles.  Rather, He is deeply involved in our daily affairs.  No wonder our God is Immanuel (‘with-us-God’).  E.g. Philippians 4:6-7:  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   


As your pastor, I designate this year “the year of prayer.”  Let’s call it: the year of P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens).  

This year I urge all of us to get on our knees to fulfill God’s will for us.  

This year let us refuse to sit in the darkness or despair.

This year let us not stop praying until we see God’s promises fulfilled.

This year let us not stop praying until we undeniably experience the Living God. 

This year let us press on and cry unto the Lord to see how He answers us. 

This year let us claim the abundant life that Christ has promised to us.  

This year let us offer our thanks to God for all the answers to our prayers.  

This year let us praise His name among us. 

This year let us declare to everyone that God is alive. 

This year let us walk with God in prayer who leads us in victory.     

Let us pray.

Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Blood Drive

In loving memory of Emily Eisamann, MUMC once again sponsors blood drive at our church on Tuesday, January 4, 1-5 p.m.  We appreciate all the volunteers and donors.

Posted in News & Events

The Year of Prayer

prayer 4

The Year of Prayer

This year,2016, has been designated the Year of Prayer so the people of Manahawkin UMC will cultivate the habit of getting on their knees in prayer and undeniably experience the living God in their lives.  Pastor Choi will preach on prayer periodically throughout the year to encourage God’s people to stay on prayer.

Posted in Featured

Sermon: Reflections on 2015

Today Pastor Choi takes a moment to reflect on the goal of 2015 for Manahawkin Congregation: the Year of Knowing Jesus.  Out of many lessons he learned through the year, he shares the following three: first, love the Lord with a pure heart.  Next, do everything for the glory of God and His pleasure (I Corinthians 10:31).  Thirdly, brighten the corner where you are.


     Reflections on 2015



Following is a summary of the sermon:


Reflections on 2015

Today we have the cantata, so my message will be brief.

First of all, as pastor of this congregation, I would like to thank God for His faithfulness.  He has blessed us to finish this year strong, therefore, let us praise our Heavenly Father who sustained us both physically and spiritually.  I also thank all of you for loving the Lord and being faithful to His ministry through your presence, gifts, and talents.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on our goal of 2015—“the year of knowing Jesus.”  I hope and pray that all of us have made progress in our faith and practice.

Personally, this year was one of the most productive years in terms of growing spiritually.  I have discovered Jesus in new and refreshing ways that, in turn, energized my walk with the Lord.

I’ve made over 30 discoveries throughout the year in knowing Jesus and they can be squeezed down to the following three:

First, love the Lord with a pure heart.  The Lord taught me to check on my motive why I wanted to know Jesus on a deeper level in the first place: it is never for selfish gains such as ‘doing great wonders and miracles’ or ‘making our church ten times bigger than it is now.’  Rather, He wants me to know, enjoy, and love Him with a pure motive for the sake of relationship not for the benefits thereof.  E.g. In any healthy and thriving relationship, no one looks for what’s in it for them first; rather, they love each other first, and enjoy the benefits thereafter.

Next, do everything for God’s glory and His pleasure (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Often times, I find myself keeping God’s commands for fear factors such as ‘to avoid the consequences of sins’ or ‘not to fall into temptations.’  The Lord wants me to change that attitude: keep His word, not because I’m afraid if I don’t, but because I love Him.  E.g. English sentence: I don’t have to, but I love to.  From now on, I will keep His Word not because I have to, but because I love Jesus (John 14:23).  Jesus also reminds me of this: whenever I keep His Word, it pleases Him.  E.g. Eric Liddell “God made me fast.  And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”  Let us do everything, from reading the Bible to prayer, from worship to our words, for His pleasure.  When He is pleased, it makes us pleased in turn.

Thirdly, brighten the corner where you are.  I realize more and more that the Lord doesn’t expect me to save the entire world (it is the job for Jesus).  Rather, He expects me to brighten the corner where I am and to blossom where I am planted.   E.g. A young man in 1930s wanted to liberate Korea from Japanese occupation by joining the armed resistance.  His mentor’s advice was to stay home instead and brighten the corner where he was.  What matters most in the sight of the Lord is: not how many great achievements we make but how much we love people around us with Christ-like love.  “Fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22, NASB).

2015 is almost over.  However, knowing Jesus doesn’t stop on December 31.  It is an ongoing process for us.  Let us keep growing in His love, knowledge, insight so that we may test and know what matters most and stay pure and blameless until Christ comes (Philippians 1:9-11).    Amen.

Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: Rejoice

Today Pastor Choi talks about true joy and where we can find it: in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Sharing stories of three believers in Christ who found true joy in the Lord, he exhorts the believers to do the same by fixing their eyes on Jesus the true source of joy and light in the world.




Following is a summary of the sermon:


Philippians 4:4   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!


Have you been in the mall lately shopping?  Have you ever closely observed people’s faces?   Were they all happy, beaming, or joyous?  Or, rather, empty, tired, and even grumpy?  I’ve seen more weary faces than merry ones in this season of joy.

During this season of Christmas, we hear and speak a lot about joy: Christmas joy, joy to the world, and so forth.  One question arises in my mind: where’s the joy in this season of joy?  What has gone wrong in our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ?  Although joy should’ve been the central theme of the season, some of us find burden in our hearts instead.  Some folks even suffer from ‘holiday blues.’  Sure, we can find fault with commercialism for the loss of our joy.  Yes, we can also blame our kids for their unreasonable requests of very expensive toys.  Yet, seriously, what happened to our joy?   How can we find true joy and where should we look for it?  That’s the topic this morning.


Where can we find joy?  Would you believe if I said that you can find joy in the midst of cancer treatments?  Would you say amen if I said that you can find joy even in a prison cell?  Would you agree if I said that you can find joy even in your disabilities?

I am going to tell you stories of three individuals who found their joys in the midst of hardships.  After their stories, I will briefly speak about the common thread that binds them together.

First, please come and meet a sister in Christ.  I will leave her unnamed.  I will simply say she was one of my parishioners some years ago in Michigan.  She was very ill at that time, because she had cancer and had been through a series of chemotherapy.  As a result, she lost all her hair and no physical strength was left in her body.  Believe me: none of us wants to be in such a state.  One day I met with her to pray for her healing and strength.  Humanly speaking, she had nothing to be joyful about.  However, that day, on her face I saw something priceless and heavenly: a smile.  In fact, I haven’t seen such a beautiful smile on anyone’s face in my life.  It left such an indelible impression on my mind that I wondered where this kind of smile / joy came from.  You simply cannot buy such a smile with money for sure.  Her smile definitely didn’t come from her circumstances, either.  Yet, I witnessed it.

Next, come and meet a brother in Christ who found a similar joy in a place where we would least expect to find it: in prison.  His name is Paul a.k.a. the Apostle.  In today’s passage, he says to us, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I will say rejoice!”

Now, please consider the circumstances in which he wrote his letter.  He wasn’t vacationing in Hawaii basking in the sun.  Rather, he was sitting in a dark and damp dungeon in Rome.  He was a prisoner for Christ.  Mind you that he was not enjoying benefits of modern prison such as TV, internet, library, three square meals, medical benefits, exercise room, and so forth.  As far as his sentence was concerned, he had no hope of release.  Why?  Because he was on death row.  He was waiting for his last day on earth.  Yet, writing this letter with his own hands to the believers in Philippi, he commanded them twice to rejoice in the Lord.  How can a person on death row encourage the people outside to rejoice always?

Have you ever visited with a man who was terminally ill?   You go there to comfort him.  Yet, instead of comforting, you come out being comforted by him.  The same thing was true with Paul and the Philippian believers.  Humanly speaking, Paul was the one who needed to be comforted big time by the believers outside, because he was in prison with no hope of clemency, waiting to be executed.  The saints in Philippi, on the other hand, were the ones who were free and able to do whatever they wanted to do.  Furthermore, they had lots of blessings to be grateful for such as family, food, clothing, and shelter.  As far as material possessions, Paul had nothing to share with others.  Yet, the one with nothing actually did comfort those with much.   ‘Rejoice and again I say rejoice,’ the same prisoner urges us this morning.

Here’s the third story to ponder.  Feel free to guess who this lady is.  She was born in 1820 and died in 1915.  She became blind when she was six weeks old through an improper medical treatment.  She was married to a blind musician and had a child who died in early infancy.  She was rather petite in appearance; less than five feet tall and weighed less than one hundred pounds.  To some, she was physically unattractive —“a long face, prominent front teeth with a gap between them; thick, wavy hair parted in the middle and pulled backward in curls that hung to the shoulders”; she also wore the dark rectangular glasses obscuring her sightless eyes.  “Yet, when she spoke, it is said that there was an unusual charisma about her, as her face lit up with an expression that gave her great charm and attractiveness” (Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 More Hymn Stories, pp. 239-240).

You need more hints?  She wrote lots of poems for the Lord, and, in fact, we know well a number of hymns she wrote: “Blessed Assurance,” “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” “Rescue the Perishing,” and etc.  Got the idea now?  Yes, her name was Fanny J. Crosby.

By the way, folks, do you know that she had a true conversion experience at a Methodist revival meeting, and said about her conversion experience as follows? “The Lord planted a star in my life and no cloud had ever obscured its light” (Ibid., p. 240).

Now, speaking about the light, Jesus says He is the light of the world (John 8:12).  As long as He is in you, no cloud in your life will ever obscure His light, and you will walk in the light.  Jesus is also the source of our joy and delight.  Can you imagine a person like Fanny J. Crosby, who was blind, did one of the most wonderful ministries in history?  What did she do?  She led numerous souls to Christ through her songs.  Although she could’ve pitied herself for her handicap through her entire life, she was never imprisoned by self-pity.  Rather, she stayed very active for the Kingdom of God for years.  Who made all the difference in her life?  Wasn’t it Jesus Christ the Light and the Joy of the world?  She lived for 95 years on earth and now is with the Lord.  What do you think she would say to us, if she became alive at this moment among us?  Wouldn’t she say the same thing she did through many words of hymns she wrote?  That is, the best blessing anyone can have is Jesus Christ–Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

True joy is found in the Lord:

I promised at the beginning that I would briefly share with you one thing that is in common among these three individuals.  They were all Christians.  They all had the same faith in Jesus.  Their circumstances were different, yet they all found the same joy in the Lord—the source of true joy in our lives.  Let me say it one more time: True joy is only found in the Lord.  It doesn’t come from anything material.  That is, you still may have emptiness even when you are surrounded with a plethora of things.   However, you can have true joy without spending a dime, too, as long as you are in the Lord.  True joy also transcends circumstances.  That’s why I would call it true joy.  It doesn’t depend on circumstances.  Prosperities don’t guarantee it.   It doesn’t disappear in adversities, either.   It is unshakable.  It is immovable, because it comes from eternal God.  Circumstances may change, but God never does.  Therefore, let us learn to refuse to fall into your mood swings that go with the circumstances.   Rather let us tell God that we will put our 100% trust in Him no matter what.   E.g. Fanny J. Crosby story again.   “At the age of eight years she wrote her first poem:

Oh what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t;
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot nor I won’t. (


Do you remember what happened on the first Christmas Eve in the region of Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-12)?  That night the heavenly angels appeared before the shepherds out in the field and proclaimed the good news of a great joy for all the people in the world.  Since then, Jesus Christ has been the true joy to many.  He may be the greatest joy for the world, but He can’t be yours, unless you too have Him in your heart as your Savior and Lord.

Do you miss joy in your life?  Does your soul cry for help?  Have Jesus Christ right now in your heart.   Have Him as your personal Savior and Lord today.  Ask Him to come into your heart and be the King in your life.  Then, your heart will be filled with heavenly joy.  You can have this joy all the time as long as Christ reigns in you.  Fix your eyes on Jesus, because He is the only one who can give you true joy.  Ask Him, and He will give it to you.    Shall we pray?

“Say after me, if you would like to have true joy in your life.  Lord Jesus, I repent my sins.  Forgive my sins through your precious blood.  Please come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior.  Be my true joy for the rest of my life.  In Christ’s name, I pray.  Amen.”

Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: How to Live W.E.L.L. in End Times

Today Pastor Choi continues his series on Jesus’ Second coming: how to live W.E.L.L. in end times.  He focuses on Watch and Pray, Encourage each other to assemble, Lay aside the deeds of darkness, and Love fervently.  Those who daily live these principles will be ready for His coming without fear.


  How to Live W.E.L.L. in End Times



Following is a summary of the sermon:


How to Live W.E.L.L. in End Times

2 Peter 3:10-18   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

A New Heaven and Earth

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.


In the past few months, I have been praying and pondering on Christ’s coming.  I asked the Lord to help me to prepare for what’s coming.  Over time, my study of God’s Word and answers to my prayers began to crystalize in my thoughts on how to live in end times.   The discoveries I have made and the insights the Lord gave me is what I shared with you last Sunday and I will continue so this morning.

Last Sunday I talked about three things we must be aware of concerning Christ’s second coming: Why He comes again (to judge the ungodly), How He comes again (in the clouds with a trumpet sound), and When it is going to be (no one knows but God).

Today, we are going to think about how we the people of God ought to live our lives as we await His coming.  In fact, I want all of us well prepared as we go through difficult times.  I want all of us to live W.E.L.L. in the end times.  W.E.L.L. stands for Watch, Encourage, Lay Aside, and Love.  When we live out these four principles, we will be ready for His coming without fear.


As far as the first component of living well, that is watch, I pretty much covered it last Sunday, so I won’t repeat the whole thing again.  However, for those folks who missed the sermon, and for all of us to refresh our memory, I would like to briefly mention it.

Out of so many things we can possibly do to prepare for His coming, Christ commands us, first and foremost, to be on the alert and be on our guard.  Simply put, watch and pray.  If God wants us to pray without ceasing in ordinary times (I Thessalonians 5:17), how much more urgent it is for us to watch and pray in difficult times?  Therefore, I urge everyone to increase your time of prayer.  Remember: no matter how godly we may think we are, if we don’t spend time in prayer, we are asleep and we will find ourselves unprepared for Christ’s coming.  May the Lord find us on the alert at His coming.

Now, I am going to focus on the other three elements of living well in the end times: (Watch), Encourage, Lay Aside, and Love.

A. Encourage one another to gather in Christ’s name (Hebrews 10:24-25).

God’s Word commands us to encourage each other to get together in the name of our Lord as we see the day draw near.   Listen to the Word of God in Hebrews 10:24-25: 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Reality check: today in America, many Christians get into the bad habit of not going to church.  92 % of Americans believe in God (  Only 37% of Christians attend worship services weekly and 29 % of Christians seldom or never attend church (  The average worship attendance of Methodists is once a month and it is not getting better.  I am grateful and proud of my congregation, though, because you are faithful worshippers.  Some of you even drive more than 10 miles one way each week.  Worship on Sunday morning is well ingrained in our spiritual DNA and we worship the Lord every Sunday.  Please keep up the good work.

Now, let’s think about why the Lord commands us to keep up this great practice of gathering together.  The answer is found in verse 24: so that we may stimulate one another to love and good deeds.  When we get together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, first we worship the Lord; next, we also stimulate each other to love and good deeds.  We need each other’s encouragement and stimulation.  In God’s kingdom, “no one is an island” (John Donne).  E.g. Church is like a fire-place.  We are like firewood.  Like the logs are put together for fire going strong, so are we for our faith going strong.   Like the logs are separated and the flame dies out, so does our faith and practice when we are not together.  E.g. the other day I heard a story about one member who was exhausted with her week and almost didn’t come to church that morning.  But, when she did, her tired spirit was refreshed during the service by the children’s sermon.

Even though our technology-driven society keeps us more isolated than before, and some of us love the virtual reality through social media, let us not neglect our physical gathering together in the name of our Lord.  We need each other.

B. Lay aside the deeds of darkness (Romans 13:11-14)

The next key to living well in end times is to lay aside the deeds of darkness and conduct a holy life.  Listen again to the Word of God in Romans 13:11-1411 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

In the Scripture, the Day of the Lord is compared to the wedding day in Heaven: Christ is the groom and the church (that is, body of Christ) is the bride.  Imagine the day of the wedding.  Both the groom and the bride make sure that they are pure and clean.  For instance, they take a shower/bath and put on the best clothes.  The same idea applies to our Heavenly wedding: we the church of God, the bride of Christ, must prepare ourselves with the cloth that is pure and clean; acceptable to God and to Christ our groom.  The Bible puts it this way: put on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Put on the armor of light (Romans 13:14, 12).  Why do we put on Christ?  Why do we need the armor of light?  So that we may not give any provision for the flesh; so that we may not succumb to the sin and lusts that defile our souls such as carousing, drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, sensuality, strife or jealousy (Romans 13:13).
The armor of light is also called the armor of God.  To partake in the Heavenly wedding, we need to put on the armor of God such as truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God so that we may endure the difficult times and stand firm before God.  Listen to Ephesians 6:10-17:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Be sure to wear the armor of God for yourself in the end times.  You need it for your defense.

C. Love fervently (1 Peter 4:8)

Lastly, we can live well in the end times with love.  Peter the apostle emphatically says to us to love fervently.  I am sure all of us have been doing that.  But, let’s listen to him one more time in 1 Peter 4:7-8: The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  

Please notice here the context of Peter’s exhortation of fervent love: the end times. In verse 7, he says, “The end of all things is near therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”  Then, he goes onto verse 8 saying, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love coves a multitude of sins.”

Let’s think about it for a moment.  Have you ever loved someone to the point where your deeds of love actually cover the multitude of sins of the person who received your love?  Few of us have such experiences.  However, Christ did.  He loved us so much that He laid down His life for us.  Ultimately His death on the cross covers a multitude of our sins.

Folks, we have a job to do.  From today until the Day of the Lord, let us imitate Christ and keep ourselves fervent in loving each other until our love covers the multitude of sins of others.


As for closing, I would repeat what Peter the apostle said in verse 14:  14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.  How do we do it?  By living W.E.L.L.: watch and pray, encourage one another to get together, lay aside the deeds of darkness, and love fervently.

Let us pray.


Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: Watch!

Today Pastor Choi talks about Christ’s second coming in three aspects: A. Why He comes again?  B. How will He come again? C. When is it going to be?  In conclusion, he reminds and exhorts the congregation that they must be on the alert in prayer while they await their Savior.





Following is a summary of the sermon:



Mark 13:32-37    New American Standard Bible (NASB)

32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”


According to the Church calendar, today is the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent consists of four Sundays before Christmas Day.  During this Advent season, we remember the spirit of Christmas from awaiting the promised Messiah to witnessing His actual coming as our Savior and Lord.

In the past, God communicated with His people through many means such as nature and people, dreams and visions, signs and wonders.  Today He mostly communicates with His people through the Bible (because the Bible is freely available—the best-selling book in history).  However, when the Scripture was not available, for instance, in the Old Testament times, the primary way of communication was prophets.  For hundreds of years God has spoken to His people through prophets (Hebrews 1:1).  Through the prophets He promised to Israel that He would send them the Messiah who would restore God’s reign on earth.  That promise had been fulfilled 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.  God sent His Son to humanity.  In fact, that’s what Christmas is all about.  Jesus Christ was born with a mission: to save His people from their sins.  Let me assure you again the very reason for Jesus’ first coming: (as His name says the Lord saves) He came to save humanity from sin and to give them eternal life.

Now, our Lord Jesus Christ lived on earth for 33 years.  Especially, the last three years of His earthly life, He did many miracles, healed the sick, preached the good news, and taught the Word of God.  At the cross He completed the work of salvation: His body was broken so that we may be healed.  His blood was shed so that the wages of our sins may be paid.   The best part is this:  He arose from the dead in order to show us that death is not final.  We do have hope of eternal life.

After His physical resurrection, for the next forty days, the risen Christ repeatedly appeared to His disciples and performed many more miracles.  Eventually, He ascended into Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God.  As He was ascending to Heaven, He promised His disciples saying, “I will come again.”

Since His ascension, 2,000 years have passed.  We Christians still await the fulfillment of His promise.   We are still waiting for His second coming.  In the New Testament Jesus in His own words had already told us about His coming (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21).  So, it would be foolish of us if we fail to take heed to what He said about His own second coming.  That’s our topic this morning.


One day Christ’s disciples asked Him about His second coming (Mark 13:4).  Today’s passage is part of His answer to them.  If Jesus were here today in our midst, and if we asked Him the same question (that is, when He is coming to us and what signs we should look for), I doubt that He will change His original answer.  He would give us the same answer and say to us, “I already have given you.  Read My Book—-Mark 13.”   Based on that chapter, I am going to explain to you three parts of His promise of coming:  A. Why He comes again?  B. How will He come again? C. When is it going to be?

    A. Why will He come again?  (Hebrews 9:28)

One thing I know about His second coming is this: He will come to judge the world.  It is going to be different from the first time.  When He came first time, it was for salvation for all.  But this time it’s going to be for judgment.  The Bible says He will come to judge the ungodly.  Listen to 2 Peter 3:7:  But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men

Christ will come again for the judgment of the world, not for its redemption.  It is not going to be pretty for those who refuse to obey God.  It is going to be miserable for those who are ungodly.   We don’t have to be afraid of His coming, though, because it is going to be our salvation and deliverance (Luke 21:28).  It is going to be our glorious day to meet the Lord in the air.  Listen again to Hebrews 9:28: so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.  Folks, His coming is great news for us!  Rejoice!   Let’s share this great news with others so that they too can be included in salvation not in judgment, Amen?

B. How will He come again?  (Acts 1:11, Matthew 24:26-27, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

In what manner He will come, first, Jesus said that He will come in the same way as He was taken to Heaven (Acts 1:11).  In other words, as the disciples of Jesus witnessed with their own eyes Him taken up into Heaven, we too will be able to see Him come down with our own eyes.  Furthermore, when He comes, everyone on earth, with no exception, will be able to see Him simultaneously.  It won’t be like: we Americans see Him, but folks in Australia won’t.  Rather, everyone in the world, from America to China, from Antarctica to Greenland, even people in North Korea will be able to see Him at the same time.  How do I know?  The Word of God says so.  Listen to Matthew 24:26-27: So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Next, He will come in clouds with great power and glory (Mark 13:26).  He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven (Mark 13:27).  He will come in the clouds with the trumpet sound.  No one will miss His coming.  It’s going to be loud and clear to all ears.  Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  [play Handel’s Messiah: The trumpet shall sound].

    C. When will He come again? (Mark 13:32)

We must know that His coming is the appointed time (Kairos) (v. 33).  It is firmly written in God’s schedule book.  He has every intention to keep it.  Therefore, Christ’s second coming is not a matter of “if” it happens, but “when” it happens.

As far as the exact time of His coming is concerned, no matter how curious you are, don’t waste your time in speculating, because no one knows the day or hour, neither the angels in Heaven, nor Jesus; only the Father knows (Mark 13:32).  In the past 2-3 years, many God’s servants say that we are getting close to His coming.  Don’t blindly believe what they say.  Rather, check yourself with what’s going on in today’s world.  Collect all the news yourself and compare them to the words Jesus has spoken in Mark 13, Matthew 24, and Luke 21.   Here are some of the signs of the end times that I checked myself in recent months: wars, rumors of wars, nation against nation, earthquakes, famine, darkening of the Moon, persecution against Christians, and false prophets.  Consider also other signs in our society.  Paul the Apostle prophesied about them well in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.

In terms of what we must do while we await His coming, the Lord Jesus commands us not to panic (Mark 13:7), or be deceived (Mark 13:5, 21), nor worry (Mark 13:11).  The first and foremost of Christ’s command for us is to be on the alert [γρηγορειτε]—four times in today’s text (v. 33, 34, 35, 37).  Watch’ in KJV.  By the way, how did the disciples of Jesus understand the word ‘watch’?  Here’s how they understood:  watch means to ‘remain awake’—Oxford Dictionary— ‘for a period of time.’  It is also used in the context of ‘pray.’  So, ‘to be on the alert’ means ‘to watch and pray.’  And, ‘to watch and pray’ means ‘to stay spiritually awake and keep on praying.’

Why do we need to stay awake and pray?  Because, we don’t know the day or the hour of His coming.  He will come like a thief at night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).  Since we don’t know the time of His coming, we relax our attitude and our expectation of His coming.  Consequently, our hearts will get dull to the signs of the times so that we live out our lives as business as usual.  Our hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life.  Another translation (the Message Bible) puts this way—Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. We must watch lest we live a life of dissipation, our hearts be drunk with the worldly pleasures and wrapped with the worldly cares.  And to those souls, the Lord warns, the day will come upon suddenly like a trap (Luke 21:34—NASB).

Don’t think that His warning is just for some pastors.  It is for every believer in Christ.  Jesus says in v. 37: What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!  Listen again.  But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).


Be on the alert.  We can do it, until He comes, Amen?

Next Sunday, we are going to listen again to the Word of God: this time what kind of life we should conduct while we await His coming.

Let us pray.

Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: The Old Man and the Horse

Today Pastor Choi talks about God’s will in Christ for all God’s children: be thankful in all circumstances.  He shares with the congregation three keys to thankfulness; thankfulness is a choice, thankfulness is a trust, thankfulness is an attitude of worship.


    The Old Man and the Horse



The following is a summary of the sermon:

The Old Man and the Horse [subtitle: three keys to thankfulness]

1 Thessalonians 5:18   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Let me begin with a Chinese folk tale.  It is called “The Horse of an Old Man in a Remote Village.”

Once upon a time there was an old man in a village in the northern Chinese border.  He lived with his only son.  He also owned a horse and one morning his horse was gone.  The village people came to see if he was all right.  They comforted him saying, “We are sorry that your horse is gone.  It is a misfortune!”

The old man responded with little emotions saying, “Don’t be sorry for me.  Who knows if this may turn into a blessing?’

Several months later, the horse came back.  Not only had he returned, he also had brought a beautiful mare with him.  Once again, the village people gathered around and said to the old man, “We are glad that your horse is back with another horse.  Congratulations!  What we thought a misfortune was a blessing!”

The old man replied as-a-matter-of-factly saying, “How do I know if this is a blessing or not?  It may turn into a curse.”

Sure enough.  His word came true a few days later.  While the old man’s son tried to break the new horse, he fell from the horse and broke his legs.  Once again the villagers comforted the old man saying, “We are sorry about what happened to your son.  This new horse is a bad news!”

The old man spoke plainly. “Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse?”

A year passed and China was engaged in a war against a neighboring country.  All the able men of the village went to the war and many of them died.  Only the son of the old man was spared because of his injury.

The morale of the story is this: Do not jump to conclusions too quickly.  No one is wise enough to know how things will turn out in the end.  Only God knows.


Thanksgiving is just four days away.  As we gather with our families and friends, let us not forget giving thanks to God for all the blessings.  

A pop quiz for you: If you squeeze the entire population of the world down to 10 people, how many of them would actually remember to say “thank you” to you when you do something nice for them?  The answer: only one (10%) [Both statistics and the Bible confirm it].  This is true when things are good.  For bad things, very rarely people give thanks to you and to God [actually we tend to blame God for bad things, don’t we?].  But, God commands us to be thankful in all circumstances; both good and bad.  That’s our topic this morning.

Before I dig deeper, let me read today’s text one more time to you: this time my own translation of the original Greek: in all circumstances and all the time be thankful; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Some of us already think that it is impossible to be thankful in all circumstances.  You’re right.  In fact, with our own power, we can’t be thankful especially in adversities.  I am here to remind you, though, that God never asks us to do something impossible.  For the things that He asks us to be thankful, He also equips and enables us to do it.  Being thankful in all circumstances is not only possible but also doable [but only in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13)].  I am going to share with you three keys to thankfulness in all circumstances. 

First, thankfulness is a choice.  It is not a feeling.  We don’t thank God only when we feel like it.  We don’t thank God only for good things, either.  In fact, even the people who don’t know God can be grateful for the blessings.   We, God’s children, are different.  We choose to be thankful no matter what (why?  Because it is God’s will).  In the midst of all life’s situations, we choose not to go with our emotions but with our will.  Don’t misunderstand here: when God commands us to be thankful, He doesn’t mean that we should be happy because bad things happened to us.  No, He rather expects us to stay thankful to Him despite bad things and despite our bad feelings.   

There are two words in English we interchangeably use to express our gratitude: ‘grateful’ and ‘thankful.’  Let me point out here that it was rather intentional when the Bible translators chose the word ‘thankful’ over ‘grateful’ in today’s text.  In the Bible, ‘grateful’ is used for only good circumstances, while ‘thankful’ covers a greater territory and is used in both good and bad circumstances.  For instance, we are grateful for a promotion at work.  We are not grateful, however, when we are laid off.  Let’s say we lost our jobs.  We may not be happy; we may be far from grateful for the situation.  However, God still wants us to be thankful.  Remember: we are commanded to be thankful not just grateful.   We choose to stay thankful.  We choose to obey God’s will even when we don’t understand why bad things happen to us.  Thankfulness is a choice.

Next, thankfulness is a trust.  Without God, you can’t be thankful in all circumstances.  Without trust in God, you can’t be thankful at all, either.  Thankfulness begins with the understanding of who God is.  God is all-powerful.  He is everywhere.  He knows everything.  He is the author of time: He sees everything simultaneously; the beginning, the end, and everything in between.   He is the only One who sees the entire picture of our lives.  He knows when we were born.  He sees when we are going to die.  He sees everything in between.  He sees the whole picture of our lives.  That’s why we can trust in Him.  That’s why we can rely on His wisdom.   Remember the story of the old man and the horse?   We humans pretend that we know all about our lives, yet the truth is that we don’t.  We only see a piece here and a piece there.  Without looking at the big picture, we make quick judgments on our situations (either good or bad) and we are bound to make mistakes.  None of us knows how our life will turn out in the end.  But, God does.  Do you believe in God’s faithfulness and goodness?  Then, trust in Him and put everything in His hands.  Defer your judgments to God.  He is the fairest of all.  Trust in His good will that He will cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28).  Thankfulness is a trust.

Lastly, thankfulness is an attitude; the attitude of worship.    

You may wonder: what does worship have anything to do with being thankful to God?  How can worship help me to be thankful to God in all circumstances, especially in bad ones?  

By the way, the worship I am talking about is more than Sunday morning worship services.  Worship can take place, if we choose to, anytime and anywhere; we can worship God when we drive.  We can worship God when we rake the leaves or even in the shower.

This is how it works: worship shifts our attention from us to God.  In worship, we fix our eyes on God and His greatness, not on our problems.  In worship, we remember who God is.  We adore and praise His Holy name and invoke His help for our situations.  In worship we remember who we are; we are God’s children and we call out to our Heavenly Father who cares about every need of ours.  In worship, we encounter the God who is faithful to His children.  In worship we remember God’s goodness and hold unto His promises, not unto our fears or anxieties.

Let me put it a different way.  In worship, we don’t focus on the bad things happening to us.  We focus on God, His greatness, His faithfulness, and His goodness.  Worship helps us to look up to God and trust in Him who makes all things beautiful for those who love Him.  Worship reminds us to trust in God’s ultimate good will for us.  You see, we can be thankful to God only when we trust in Him who turns all the bad things into our good in due time. 

Stay in constant spirit of worship of the Lord wherever you are and whenever it may be, and you will be able to be thankful.   Thankfulness is an attitude of worship.


A well-loved hymn: It Is Well with My Soul—the words were written by Horatio Gates Spafford in 1873.  Mr. Spafford was married and lived in Chicago with his family.  He was “professor of medical jurisprudence of Lind University and he bought a great deal of real estate on the lake front.  Then tragedy struck repeatedly.  First, the Chicago fire of 1871 wiped out his real estate holdings.  Then, in 1873, he planned a family vacation in Europe.  Spafford sent his family ahead aboard the ship Ville du Havre.  Out on the high seas, the Ville du Havre collided with the Lochearn and sunk.  Mrs. Spafford was saved but their four daughters perished.  Spafford took the next boat to meet his wife in Cardiff, Wales, where the survivors had been taken and while sailing past the spot where his daughters perished, wrote It is Well With My Soul.  Their son also died an untimely death in 1880” (Charles Johnson, One hundred & One famous hymns, p. 144).   He lost his five children in 7 years.  [Hymnal #377] Verse 1: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.  I have no doubt that only his determination to trust in the Lord in the attitude of worship carried him through his life’s tragedies.  

Anyone can be grateful for good things.  Very few people in their own might can be thankful in adversities.  However, God’s people are called to be thankful in all circumstances.   In Christ and with God’s help, we can and will be thankful all the time in all circumstances.  Thankfulness is a choice, it is a trust, and it is an attitude of worship.



Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

Sermon: Don’t Be a Fool

Today Pastor Choi urges the congregation not to be a fool in the sight of God.   He points out a three-fold error the rich fool made: fixing eyes on the life on earth only, setting his heart on the increase of wealth, and neglecting the welfare of others.  He exhorts the believers to be rich toward God by living with an eternal life perspective, setting their heart on true riches of God, and giving to the poor.


    Don’t Be a Fool



Following is a summary of the sermon:


Don’t Be a Fool.

Luke 12:13-21   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Covetousness Denounced

13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21 So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”


Some years ago, I was much into children’s literature all over the world: from Europe to Africa, from India to Korea.  After reading scores of them, I began to notice certain common themes such as ‘don’t be greedy,’ ‘be honest,’ ‘honor your parents’ and so forth.  One of the themes across the board was this: don’t be a simpleton.  Don’t be a fool.   I guess it is a universal lesson for humanity for centuries.  Even the Bible talks about it.  That’s our topic today: don’t be a fool.


Let me begin with a question for you.

Are You a Fool?

  • It all depends.  Some of us would deny that we’ve ever been a fool.  Others may say that sometimes we are but most of the times we are OK.
  • One thing is for sure: none of us wants to be a fool, either before people or in the sight of God.
  • Definition of “fool”: person without much sense; stupid or rash person (Oxford Dictionary)
  • Biblical Definition: person who says there’s no God.  Psalm 14:1: “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’”  E.g. April 1—Fool’s Day.
  • By the way, we all know that the belief in God alone doesn’t automatically make one wise.  We can confess our faith in Jesus until our face is blue, but we can still be a fool.  How?  Here’s how: if we believe in Him with lips only not in action.  The lip-service people in Christ are fools.   You don’t have to take my word for it.   Listen to Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27):  24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
  • Jesus, in today’s text, gives us another example of a fool.  We’d better pay attention to this story; because it’s one thing if people call us a fool, but it’s quite another if God calls us “You Fool!” (Luke 12:20).  We sure don’t want to be called by God a fool, right?
  • Let’s check it out: the parable of the rich man.  It is a simple story yet its message is powerful: don’t be a fool to God.Meet the Investment Guru
  • I must say that the rich man in today’s story was quite smart in the worldly sense back then.  He must’ve been the envy of the town-folks.  I doubt they would ever call him a fool.  In today’s standards, no one would call him a fool, either.  Far from it.  On the contrary, people would seek after his wisdom as a businessman; he would make a conference speaker on investment.
  • Here’s why I believe so.  This man did so well in his business (in this case farming).  One year his land produced unusually good crops that would take care of him for the rest of his life (excellent hedge fund manager would he be at Wall Street today and we would invest with him any time, wouldn’t we?).  He did so well that he needed a bigger storage space.  So, he ended up tearing down old barns and building them bigger, setting up a sufficient retirement funds, and he was ready to enjoy many years of relaxation and fun (the joys of eating and drinking).
  • The trouble I have with the story is this: why did God call him a fool in the end?  Not just a fool, but “You FOOL!” (with an exclamation point).   Why did God call him that way?  The answer is found in verse 21: (he was a fool because) he stored up treasure for himself but was not rich toward God.  May I say that his life was always about “ME” and never about “GOD”?   His life was full of ME and none of GOD.  I am not the only one who believes so.  Fred Craddock (preacher and commentator) asserts that the man lived totally for himself, talked to himself, planned for himself, and congratulated for himself [Interpretation, Luke, p. 163].  That was the problem: a fool’s life is totally immersed with self and no room for God.  To a fool, everything is about himself and nothing for God.   Fools not only say that there is no God, but indeed they have no room for God in their lives.THE Rich Fool’s three-fold Error
  • Here’s my humble analysis on the life of the rich fool.
  • He fixed his eyes on life on earth only.  He was well prepared for “many years” of his life on earth. Yet, he wasn’t interested or prepared for the life eternal that never ends.  Remember: this life on earth is four scores if we are strong; soon it is gone and we fly away (Psalm 90:10).  There are things that we have no control over.  Death is one of them.  The eternal life starts afterwards and lasts forever.  The wise ones live everyday with eternal life in mind and prepare themselves accordingly.  Fools don’t.  They may gain the whole world yet lose their life (Luke 9:25).   E.g. Movie–You can’t take it with you.
  • Next, the rich man set his heart on the increase of wealth.  A lot of us do, too.   Did you know that there’s a warning from God’s Word on such attitude?  Psalm 62:10 says “though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.”  Why?  Because, the riches in the world can and will fool us with its deceitfulness (Mark 4:19).  They rot; thieves get into them, too.  They are fleeting and uncertain for sure (1 Timothy 6:17).  E.g. Retiree from Lucent Technology lost his over-a-million-dollar assets overnight.  Trusting in material possessions is like trusting in a paper umbrella in the storm.  Listen to what Christ says in today’s text: “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15).
  • The rich fool was only interested in his own welfarethat he ended up neglecting the needs of others.  The Other’s Welfare (T.O.W.)=100-mine.  A trade-off.   When mine is 100, then zero for others.Rich toward God (Be Wise)
  • Let’s think about being rich toward God this time.  If we take Jesus’ warning seriously, we all would desire to be rich toward God.  How do we do this?  By doing the following three things:
  • Live your life with eternal life in perspective.   Prepare for the future—eternal life—not just with lips but in action.
  • Set your heart, not on riches, but on God and His kingdom.  Seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33).  Seek after true riches of God: glory, kindness, tolerance, patience, wisdom, knowledge, and grace (Romans 9:23, 2:4, 11:33, Ephesians 1:7).  These are heavenly currencies.
  • Increase the welfare of others by decreasing of your own.  How do we do it?  Only one way: give to the poor (Luke 12:33).  The more we give, the richer we will be toward God.  Giving and richness toward God is proportionate.  Remember the welfare equation? [The Other’s Welfare (T.O.W.) = 100-mine].  By giving to the poor, we prepare purses in heaven that do not wear out; by doing so, we keep our “unfailing” treasures in heaven where no thief comes near or moth can destroy.John Wesley’s Way of Living
  • Let me introduce a man who was rich toward God; his heavenly account is pretty solid.  His name is John Wesley.  He took Jesus’ word very seriously and methodically practiced it throughout his life.  To him giving was living (and vice versa).  He wasn’t a poor man.  In fact, he was a wealthy man according to the worldly standards.  He said, “Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” “When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart.”  E.g. His expenses for 60+ years remained the same.  He pre-arranged to hire six beggars to be his pall-bearers at his death.  That way, he spent his last £ 6, paying them £ 1 for each).
  • Chart: John Wesley’s Way of Living


    Income (Annual)


    To the Poor


    47.40 (Pounds)

    44.24 (93%)

    3.16 (7%)



    44.23 (47%)

    50.56 (53%)



    44.24 (31%)

    97.96 (69%)



    44.24 (23%)

    148.36 (77%)



    47.40 (2%)

    2,164.40 (98%)

  •  Source: Wesley’s Giving ( 


  • I hope and pray that none of us would ever hear from God “You Fool!” in terms of our own wealth management.
  • Rather, I pray that every one of us would hear from God saying, “Well done, my faithful servant! You are rich toward Me.”
  • Go and do like John Wesley did.
  • Let’s pray.
Posted in Media, Pastor's Blog

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