Manahawkin United Methodist Church

Today Pastor Choi talks about the power of fellowship and importance of gathering in the name of Jesus in the believer’s life.  As the Day approaches, we ought not to neglect to meet together all the more provoking one another to love and to good deeds.

 Live the New Life (5): Fellowship

 

Following is a summary of the sermon:

Live the New Life (5): Fellowship

Matthew 18:20, Hebrews 10-24-25

  • Matthew 18:20
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
  • Hebrews 10:24-25
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Introduction:

  • 1996 was a tough year for me and my family.  It all began with my wife losing weight.  At first, it was great news (who doesn’t want to lose a pound or two, right?).  However, as she continued losing weight and became very thin, we began to be concerned about it.  Furthermore, because she couldn’t handle stresses well (part of the symptoms), she began to isolate herself from people including her own family.  Later on, her illness was diagnosed as overactive thyroid.   It was finally regulated through radiation treatment.  Anyway, for about six months, while this was going on, I did as much as I could as a husband and as father.  One night, though, I had enough.  I had to let out my pent-up emotions by opening the backdoor of my house and screaming into the corn field.
  • While this was going on, I had to preach on Sundays.  I still remember one Sunday, during the Passing of the peace, one teenager, whose name was Chris, came up to me and said, “Pastor Choi, how are you?”  I don’t think he knew what was going on in my life at the time.  However, his simple three words of greeting brought me to tears.  I felt like, “Here’s someone who finally cares about me.”  That day, I experienced the power of words.  Furthermore, I experienced the power of gathering together.  Without church and without him being there with me, I would have never experienced the power of words that brought me comfort and encouragement.  That’s what I am going to talk about this morning: fellowship and being together.
  • John Donne once said, “No man is an island.”  The Chinese knew that as well.  The Chinese character for “people” also indicates that we need each other in life.  We rely on each other.  We are interdependent on each other.  We are designed to need each other’s company.  E.g.  After God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone (literal meaning of ‘not good’ here is ‘evil’ or ‘wicked’) [Genesis 2:18].  We need each other’s company.  We need to get together even in the context of church, which leads me to Matthew 18:20.

Matthew 18:20

  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
  • For where two or three are gathered: How many people are needed to have church?  Two.  That’s the quorum.  Two or three who have the common faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
  •  in my name: At church, we always gather in Jesus’ name, not in the name of the pastor, not in the name of council, not in the name of the township, but in the name of Jesus, because there’s power of gathering in Jesus’ name.  Where does the power come from?  From His presence and from Jesus Himself.
  • I am there among them: When we gather in His name, Jesus too IS there in our midst.  He is present whenever and wherever we gather in His name.  He also provides His protection in our gathering so that Satan can’t touch us.   E.g. It was fun growing up in Korea in the 1960s.  Every family was having babies after the Korean War.  My neighborhood was swarming with boys and girls.  We even organized our own neighborhood boys’ army.  My brother was second-in-command in that army.  I was so proud of him and, whenever my brother was with me, no boy dared to harass me.  He provided me with protection so that I didn’t need to worry about bullies.  Same with our gathering.  When we gather, Jesus is with us.  When He is with us, because of His protection, Satan can’t touch us.  Sadly, though, we often fail to see and realize this truth in our worship, Bible studies, and committee meetings.
  • Think one more time how precious Jesus’ presence is to us.  E.g. King David wrote our favorite Psalm where he said, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).  He believed that one day in God’s presence was far better than a thousand days somewhere else.  He also said,  “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life (Psalm 27:4).”  Who was David?  He was king.  He was living in palace with gourmet food and all the things he wanted, yet he desired to be in God’s tent in the presence of the Lord.  Oh, I wish all of us had such a longing and desire to be at God’s church with God’s people in His presence!  The good news is this: God provides us with a means to create God’s presence among us: getting together in Jesus’ name.
  • So, what do we do when we get together in Jesus’ name?  We do everything in His name, because there’s a power in His name; we praise God’s name among us.  We pray together in Jesus’ name.  We worship together in His name.  We encourage one another in Jesus’ name.  This leads us to the next verse.

Hebrews 10:24-25

  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • Let us: It invites everyone.  It includes everybody.  It’s not just the minister’s job alone.  Rather, it’s everyone’s (old and young, male and female, members and friends) to stimulate each other to love and good deeds.
  • Consider how to provoke (stimulate, spur, challenge, and rouse) one another onto love and good deeds:  We need to keep praying about fresh ideas to stimulate one another.  We need to come up with creative ways to encourage each other to love more and to do more good.  We can encourage each other by our examples and testimonies to the point where everyone wants to grow in Christ.  E.g. Stella wants to be like Thelma; Thelma wants to be like KC, and so on.
  • Not neglecting to meet together: Two thousand years ago, the author of Hebrews warned us of the coming of the neglect of Christian worship.   In fact, this is Satan’s strategy to keep us from gathering together and driving us into further isolation, loneliness, and depression (by the way, loneliness is one of the biggest problems in our society today).
  • The American church has been neglecting the practice of meeting together in Jesus’ name in the past 50 years.  E.g.  During the 1960s the mainline denominations would have Wed. night and Sunday night services.   Fifty years later, we all dropped those practices.  Nowadays, only Sunday morning services are offered.  Even with that one, the average attendance is now once a month.  At this rate, another 50 years later, we may have no services on Sunday morning on physical premises; maybe only virtual worship will be available encouraging us to worship wherever we are through the internet (by the way, this is already happening).  Folks, by all means, we need to get together in Christ’s name; physically, not virtually, in God’s temple.
  • Encouraging one another all the more as you see the Day of Christ approaching: Church is like a fireplace.  The more we gather together, the stronger our faith will be.  Vice versa.  E.g.  Fireplace.   Each log must stay together for the fire going strong for some time.  Pulled apart from each other, even the log with flame won’t last.  Each one of us is like that piece of wood.  Flame is like our faith.  Our faith gets strong and lasts long when we are together.  Vice versa.

Action Point:

  • Here’s a challenge for the congregation: perfect attendance for the next year.  Make a goal to worship God every Sunday.  As long as you are in town, come and worship with us at our church.  On vacation, worship in a nearby church on Sunday.
  • Tip 1: Be proactive by blocking Sunday mornings strictly reserved for worship.  Do not schedule anything else but worship services.
  • Tip 2: Go to bed early on Saturday night so that you may wake up fresh on Sunday morning ready for church.  Don’t expect that you will be fresh and good when you stay up until 2 a.m.
  • Let us pray: Help us , Lord, to take it seriously to meet together in worship in the name of Jesus.

 

Today Pastor Choi shares his personal testimony regarding prayer: He shares how God revealed Himself to him in prayer, what are the conditions to answered prayers, and some practical tips to effective prayer life including Prayer Journal.

   Live the New Life (4)

 

Following is a summary of his sermon:

Live the New Life (4): Prayer                John 15:7, Philippians 4:6-7

  • John 15:7
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
  • Philippians 4:6-7
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • Do not worry about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Introduction:

  • Testimony: My New Year’s Eve prayer in 1975.  I still remember what I prayed to God that night. By then, I have been a Christian for two years.   I was a senior in high school and was about to apply to my dream college.  I was a promising student all through the high school years except the last semester which was very critical: I wasn’t doing well in academic tests.  For instance, my Korean SAT scores didn’t turn out good.  Unlike today where you can take two or three tests and choose the best scores, back then in Korea, it was a one-time deal.  I wasn’t doing well in school tests, either.   Those two poor scores convinced my guidance counselor (also my home room teacher) not to allow me to apply to the best college in Korea.   I was crushed.  The hope to get into my dream college was slipping away from my hands.
  • You see, that’s when your loving mom comes in.  Knowing her son was having a hard time at school with the counselor, she came to my aid.  She went to the counselor and tried to reason with him that her son was well qualified to apply to the best college.  If not, she argued, at least he deserved to give it a try.  Well, he wouldn’t budge.  For about a week in December, a tug of war was going on between the two.  In the meantime, I was frustrated.  So, I decided to go to the Lord in prayer.
  • You see, I learned from the church that we Christians are supposed to pray to God in our hardships, right?  Up until that point, although I prayed every day, like anybody else, I didn’t truly understand what the prayer is all about.  My prayers were more likely lukewarm and nominal, not meaning much, all words that are cut and dried.  Anyway, that night, I walked into the prayer room of my church around 11 o’clock.  It was New Year’s Eve.  Normally, there was a curfew after midnight, but that night was special, so I didn’t have to worry about rushing home before midnight.   So, I prayed to the Lord as follows: “Lord, I am confused and frustrated.  I need to hear your voice right now.  All I care is to know what you want me to do.  Just tell me which college: do you want me to apply to my dream college or the other college my counselor recommends?   I really need to know tonight before I go home.  If you don’t tell me tonight, I won’t believe in you any longer!” How foolish I was to give the Lord such an ultimatum!   I will continue my story later in the sermon, because it is connected to Philippians 4:6-7.
  • This morning, we are going to think about prayer.  If the Word of God is the food to our soul, prayer is the breathing to our soul.  Our soul depends on it.  Without prayer, our soul will perish.  If you think your soul will be fine without prayer, you are gravely mistaken.  When you don’t pray, your soul dies deprived of spiritual breathing.  When you don’t pray, your soul would pant for prayer, like our body would pant for the air if we don’t breathe even for a minute.  Consider all the people of God in the Bible.  Did they pray?  Yes, in fact, every one of them prayed to God:  Abraham did.  So did Moses.  So did King David.  All the prophets did.  Even Jesus did.  God revealed to them and communicated with them in prayer.  He answers those who call upon His name (Ps. 99:6).
  • Let’s listen to what Jesus says about prayer.    First, John 15:7.

John 15:7

  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
  • If you abide in me:  Jesus lays out here two conditions to answered prayers.  First, we need to abide in Jesus.  What’s that mean?  It means to remain in Jesus.  Remember, my sermon point in the past few weeks?  The sign of a believer in Christ is to remain in Him.  To remain in Jesus means to be in Him.  To be in Christ means that whatever happened to Christ also happened to you.  When Christ was crucified, so were you.  That means, your old self is dead when Christ was dead.  When Christ resurrected, so did you as a new creation.  Your old boss, that is you, is gone and the new master has come, that is, Christ.  He reigns in you.  You no longer live for your selfish interests.  Rather, you live for Christ to bring glory to His name.  You no longer pursue your selfish desires.  You rather serve Christ and others.  Don’t forget: no prayer based on selfish desires and motives is affirmatively answered.
  • If my words abide in you:  this is the second condition to answered prayers: let Christ’s words abide in you.  This means that when you pray, you must cling to the word of God and to the promise that God has given you.  It will make your prayer life very effective.  What is Christ’s words to prayer?  It is like the nail on the wall to the clothes.  Let’s say you want to hang your coat on the wall, you need something to hang onto such as a nail.  No sane person keeps trying to hang the coat on the flat surface.  It’s the same with prayer.  You pray to God with the backup of God’s promise.  For instance, if I ask for peace in my heart, instead of saying, “Lord, grant me your peace,” I would say, “Lord, you promise that you will give me peace that the world cannot give nor take away from me (John14:27).  You are the author and giver of peace.  So, Lord, please grant me that peace.”  It has a much better chance of being answered.
  • Ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you: Christ wants us to expect great things from God in our prayers: ask for whatever you wish.  Wow!   When we seek God’s glory and do what He is pleased with, and when we cling to His promise in the Word, we can ask whatever we wish and it will be answered: E.g. My experience with my brother who was involved in a motor cycle accident.  Serious head injury- blood clot in his brain, a size of tennis ball–doctor told the family, 50-50 chance of survival after surgery–family opted out–in comatose for 15 days–woke up on Day 15, after another two weeks he walked out of hospital on foot without having any surgery.   God gave his life back to me after I asked for a miracle in prayer and fasting.

Philippians 4:6-7

  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • Do not worry about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Many of us are familiar with this verse.  In fact, it is one of my favorite verses in the Bible.
  • Do not worry about anything: It literally means to stop worrying.  Worries won’t do anything, will they?  Actually, they do one thing.  They keep us awake at night; they keep our prayers from reaching God’s throne room.  They also choke up our prayers. They are the enemy of prayers.   So, stop worrying.
  • But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving:   The key word here is thanksgiving.  We must wrap every prayer with thanksgiving to God.  Thanksgiving is a key to the answered prayers.  Many of us, though, don’t bring thanksgiving in prayers and wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers.  In fact, some of us bring in the opposite of thanksgiving to our prayers: grumbling.  From now on, be sure to bring thanksgiving into your prayers and see how your prayer life changes.  E.g.  A child asks for her favorite candy from her mother.  She wouldn’t start with grumbling.  She would have a far better chance if she starts with words of gratitude.  It works the same way with our heavenly Father.  Wrap your prayers with thanksgiving.
  • On Petitions: be specific.  Don’t ask God for general things: E.g. Lord, give me a good day today.  Lots of people who don’t believe in God have a great day, too.  This kind of prayer is too general.  Here’s another one: Lord, give me good health.  A lot of people who don’t say a prayer enjoy excellent health as well.  Whatever you pray for, be very specific that once answered you cannot deny that it is from God.  E.g. Gideon and the wool test.   E.g.2: Blind men and lepers asked for a specific healing from Jesus: “I want to see, I want to be cleansed.”
  • Peace of God will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus: E.g. The second half of my story “New Year’s Eve Prayer.”  Remember I gave God a foolish ultimatum that night?  Well, my prayer time was over and nothing happened.  I didn’t hear anything from God saying either way.  So, I said to God, “All right, then.  This is it.”  And, I went home and had a midnight snack.  While I was eating, the Holy Spirit in me said to me, “My child, everything is going to be all right.”  Then, for the first time in my life, I had a peace overflowing in my heart that surpasses all understanding.  The end result?  My teacher reluctantly allowed me to apply to my dream college.  And, I took another entrance exam and I made it!  Praise God!  Then, one day not long after, I went to the school to thank my teacher for his support.  I saw him working at his desk.  As soon as he saw me, he stood up and literally ran up to me.  He grabbed my hand and said, “Congratulations!  Kyewoon, you saved my face!  Thanks a million!”  Later, I discovered that out of 54 students in his home room who all applied to college at the same time I did, I was the only one who made it into any college.  The others all failed.  Praise God who does things beyond our imaginations!

Action Points:

  • Start your own prayer journal today:  Three columns: first column is for the date when you started your prayer.  Second column is for description of the prayer: what you pray for.  The third column is for the date when your prayer was answered.  E.g. During my first year in college, I kept my prayer journal for six months.  96 entries were all answered (Yes, No, and Wait).  That convinced me that the Lord answers my prayers.  Prayer is real.
  • Never assume that prayer won’t work until you try it.  God wants you to discover the power of prayer by yourself by experimenting with it.
  • Don’t expect that God will always answer your requests immediately.  Sometimes He does.  But, other times, the answer is to wait.  God answers our prayers in His time.
  • Don’t assume that God will always say yes to every request of yours.  Sometimes He says no, like any other loving parent, especially when He knows it would hurt you rather than help you by granting your wishes.
  • Don’t assume that God will say no all the time, either.  He will surprise you with answers beyond your imagination.
  • One thing is for sure: once you experience the power of prayers firsthand, you will never depart from it.  We cannot live without prayer.
  • Start praying today.

 

Today Pastor Choi talks about the importance of getting into God’s Word daily.  He expounds on 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Joshua 1:8 followed by his challenge for the congregation, that is, to finish reading the entire Bible in a year.  Several people took up this challenge today.

 Live the New Life (3)

 

Following is a summary of the sermon:

Live the New Life (3)    2 Timothy 3:16-17, Joshua 1:8

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
  • Joshua 1:8
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.

Introduction

  • Story: A youth group leader, in front of the youth group one night, threw a Bible on the ground saying, “This Bible is useless, unless you use it!
  • None of us would throw the Bible to the ground; most of us would get offended with the way the youth leader treated the Bible even for the sake of illustrating his point, but it surely makes us think about the way we treat our Bible.
  • What is the Bible to you?  I believe all of us have a healthy dose of respect for the Bible:  we readily acknowledge that it is more important than any other ordinary book.  We also know that it is the best-selling book in human history.  No book ever broke that record or will.  Some of us are even proud to have family heirloom–antique bibles that dated 200 years back, printed in the 19th century, so and so on.
  • However, when it comes down to using it, to many of us, it is a useless book since it is a closed book.  I heard about some churches in the medieval times that literally locked the bible in chains so that no one would dare to steal or open it, but today doesn’t seem much different from those times: the Bible is rarely opened, although it is never kept in chains.  The Word of God rarely gets our attention except on Sunday morning services; except on weddings and funerals; except at Sunday school.  To be painfully honest with yourself, when was the last time that you actually opened it for the sheer joy of reading it, studying it, and finding God’s will for you?
  • Someone told me this joke: a pastor once visited a family and asked them to bring a bible.  In no time, a child went in and brought out Sears-Roebuck catalogue!  Some of us spend more time in watching TV, surfing the internet, reading newspapers, magazines, and shopping catalogs than spending time with God’s word.    Welcome to the spiritual reality in America!
  • I am not merely interested in pointing out how poorly we the believers do in terms of getting into God’s Word.  However, if we believe that the church is the hope of the world, if we claim that we are the agents for the transformation of the world, and if we preach that we can cure many of the societal maladies, then we must start with our own malady first.  Before we dare to fix all the problems of our society, we need to go back to our basics so that we start with a right foot.
  • Do not believe in Satan’s lies: 1) The Bible is too difficult to understand.  2) The Bible is a myth.  3) The Bible is not relevant in today’s world.
  • It is sad that we don’t get into the Word of God, even though Jesus said that man cannot live by bread alone but by the Word of God.
  • Yes, it is equally tragic that the vast majority of the believers in America don’t even try to open the Bible of their own volition.  In my humble opinion, though, the greatest tragedy of all is that we don’t even know what we are missing in our life journey.  We are holding the Bible in our hands, yet we don’t even know the worth of the Bible in our lives: the Bible, the greatest tool God has made available for His children for their life journey.  E.g. Like a beggar holding a $100 bill in his hands not knowing what it is worth.
  • So, today, as part three of my series, “Live the New Life,” I am going to focus on the importance of getting into God’s Word.  Anyone who takes his/her faith seriously also takes God’s Word, the Bible, very seriously.
  •  2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. 
  • Let me unpack this verse sentence by sentence.
  • All scripture is inspired by God: All means everything: every scroll of the Bible.  Every passage.  Every chapter in the Bible.  From cover to cover.  Every single book in the Bible.  From Genesis to Revelation.  Every single of them was inspired by God.  The meaning of “Inspired by God” is God-breathed.”  E.g. God created Adam out of dirt [Hebrew word for dirt is ‘adama’] and “breathed” into him “life.”  That is, the Scripture is God-initiated, God-planned and God-completed.  It is not human-made or a myth.  God is the author using human hands and minds to write down His words.  The Bible is the compilation of words that God has spoken to humanity through prophets over centuries.  For your information, there are 66 books altogether (39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament) and over 40 authors.  It took centuries to complete, yet there’s one consistent theme underlying the Bible, that is, God’s covenantal relationship with humanity (from Genesis 2:16-17 to Revelation 21:3).  The Bible is not a book for science nor for history (although there are some elements and references to them), but it is a book about God’s salvation plan for humanity.  So, naturally, anyone who is serious about salvation also needs to take it seriously.  Let’s pay attention to the next phrase in the verse.
  • useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness:
  • The Bible is good for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
  • My own translation: The Word of God is useful for teaching, conviction, improvement, and learning through discipline in righteousness.
  • Who doesn’t need wisdom from God?  Who doesn’t need conviction from God once in a while?  Who doesn’t need improvement in character which God is specialized in?  Who doesn’t need discipline?  For all these benefits in life, God has given us the Bible.  It is the best tool for teachers and parents, the best tool for repentance, the best tool for improvement, and the best tool for learning through discipline.
  • so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work: This explains why we need God’s Word.  God has called us for good works.  He has called us to be the changing agents of the world.  And, God uses the Bible to equip us so that we may be proficient and be effective in every good work.
  • Out of so many things He could’ve given us for the preparation for our life, He has chosen the Bible.  This leads us to the next verse.
  • Joshua 1:8
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.
  • Background information on this verse: Moses passed away after leading the congregation of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness.  Joshua was chosen to be the next leader.  This verse is a part of God’s command to Joshua.  As God commanded him to lead the congregation of Israel into the Promised Land, He commanded him to be strong and courageous –4 times in one chapter! (v. 6, 7, 9 and 18).  Be strong (firm) and be a man (Greek translation).  As God sent Joshua and Israel on the road, He promised that He would be with them (v. 9).   He commanded Joshua not to be afraid of anything but rather be careful to act on God’s Word.  Then, He gave this verse to Him.
  • Have you ever wondered what makes a person strong and courageous?  It is not the muscles of Mr. Universe that make us strong (maybe physically but not spiritually).  You don’t have to be a man of steel (Superman), either, to be courageous.  What makes a person strong and courageous?  God’s Word.
  • Think again.  For the great task of conquering the Promised Land, the LORD gave Joshua two things: assurance of presence, and the Word of God: not a million soldiers, not an army of angels, but the Word of God.
  • What would you ask God for your life tasks that await you?  More money, more education, more technology, more troops?  Let me tell you what God would give you: His promise that He is with you and His Word—the Bible.
  • Once I read a book of a man who claimed that he had been to Heaven.  One of the questions Jesus asked him in Heaven was: Have you read my Book?  I hope all of us would answer, “Yes, I have.”
  • I thought about myself the reasons for knowing God’s Word.  It is always good to ask questions like “Why do I need the Word of God?”  Here’s my answer: first, I read the Bible to know God and His plan for me.  God reveals Himself to me through the Bible.  That’s why I want to read the Bible.  Next, I want to have a life fulfilled (connected, balanced, and meaningful).  God’s Word always gives me the right perspective and makes me wise.
  • Challenge: Read the entire Bible from cover to cover in a year.  Then, I will record your name in my book “The Book Club” (like your names are recorded in the Book of Life in heaven).
  • The Book Club: at Embury (previous congregation that I served as pastor), 27 people in 16 years completed the challenge and their names were recorded in the Book Club (hall of fame).  Can Manahawkin beat that?
  • Let us pray.

 

 

 

 

 

As part 2 of his new series on “Live the New Life,” Pastor Choi talks about the meaning of worship and the meaning of love of Jesus.  The marks of a believer in Christ are to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and to keep Jesus’ commandments.

Live the New Life (2)

 

 

Following is the sermon script in its entirety:

Live the New Life (2): Worship and Obedience to Jesus

Romans 12:1, John 14:21

  • Romans 12:1
  • The New Life in Christ
  • 12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
  • John 14:21
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Introduction:

My story in 1980 in R.O.K. (Republic of Korea) Army:  A superior of mine hated me for no reason from the day one and persecuted me for the next year to the point where one night he humiliated me in front of everyone.  He landed his fist on my chest several times that night….  To be continued later in the sermon.

Recap: 

  • I spoke last Sunday about us the Christians being in Christ.  If Christ is the book, we are the bookmark.  Whatever happened to Christ, in God’s eyes, it also happened to us.
  • That’s why the Bible says that when Christ died on the cross we our old self died, too.  When Christ resurrected from the dead, we were resurrected, too: being born again as a new creation in Christ.  I said that it is the Christ who makes us a new creation, not us changing our behavior.
  • If you consider yourself a new creation in Christ, check out whom do you serve in your life: Do you serve your selfish desires, your old master?  Or, do you serve the new master Jesus Christ?
  • Remember you are in Christ.  You serve only Christ, not yourself.
  • Let’s go to our first verse Romans 12:1.
  • 12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Present Your Bodies:

  • Apostle Paul makes a plea for us here in Romans 12:1.  Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable.     He exhorts you and me to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God.  The new life in Christ means to worship God every day.
  • Present your bodies:  Do you do that?  Most of us don’t, because we didn’t hear about it before, right?  Do I do that?  Yes, I do.  Why?  First, God commands me to do so.  Next, I think it is a great way to start the day.   It works much better than a morning coffee for me. This is what I do every morning in my bed.   Every morning as soon as I wake up, I say to God, “Lord, I offer myself to you today as an instrument of righteousness, joy, and peace.  Use me for your glory.”
  • Living Sacrifice: Sacrifices had been an integral part of worship.  Where there was worship, there were sacrifices.  We can use a historical understanding of worship here.
  • In the Old Testament days, no one would ever go to God’s temple without sacrifices/offerings.  Of course, you go there to pray and worship; however, you always bring something to God, either animals or grains in the form of sin offering, or peace offering, or even thank offering.  We the people of God in the past two thousand years, inherited and we still continue the tradition; no more animal sacrifices but we bring offerings to God in worship.
  • Offerings were more than bringing animal sacrifices to God back then.  Today, offerings mean more than just dropping a couple of dollars on the plate on Sunday.   It means to give all you have—yourself.  E.g. A missionary to Korea, Horace Grant Underwood: when he was a child, he had no money to give, so he wanted to give himself on the offering plate.
  • Holy and acceptable to God: You don’t want to give God anything that isn’t the best.  You want to present yourself as holy and acceptable to God.  That means, you examine yourself before you give yourself to God.  You repent any sins you have committed and ask God to forgive your sins.

Spiritual Worship:

  • What is worship? Is it to show up, sit up, sing up, listen up, pay up, and stand up?  No, it is much more than that.  Worship is an encounter with God where you offer yourself to God.  That’s why even though you can’t sing, even though you have no money to give, and even though you don’t get a thing from the pastor’s sermon, you still join others to worship God.  The main purpose of worship is for you to come and offer yourself to God.  It seems, though, we do everything in worship but the offering ourselves part.
  • Paul talks about spiritual worship.  What is spiritual worship, then?  It means for us to offer ourselves to God in spirit and in truth.  In spirit means we are not limited to space and time.  Although it is important to worship God with other believers at church, we don’t have to limit our worship services only to Sundays.  We can worship God more than once a week.  God wants us to worship anytime and wherever we are; we can worship in nature (note: it doesn’t replace the regular corporate worship at sanctuary).  We can worship in the car.  We can worship in our private room while praying.  We worship God in spirit, because God is spirit.
  • Spiritual worship also means that we worship God in truth.  In other words, we don’t worship with our feelings alone.  We worship God with God’s Word the truth.  That’s why in the Protestant tradition, the Word of God is so important that it takes up about 1/3 of the worship time.  We Methodists take this tradition of proclaiming God’s Word very seriously.  I will speak more about how important God’s Word is in our life next week.  Let’s move on to the next verse, John 14:21.
  • 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Love of Jesus:

  • Does everyone love Jesus?  No, not really.  I got that.   What about you?  Do you love Jesus?  If you say, “Yes, I do,” have you thought about what you mean by that?  Is it that fuzzy and cozy feeling that you have toward Him?  Is the love of Jesus arbitrary that it changes often depending on whose definition of love we go by?  E.g.  A popular song I used to hear on radio in 1970s:  “Love is feeling, feeling is love.”
  • Let’s hear what Jesus says about the love of Him.  He says, if anyone loves Me, s/he will know My commandments and keep them.  His love language is action, not just words.  E.g. Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages”: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  Obviously, the love language for Jesus is action.  Love is a verb.  Jesus says, “Show your love through keeping my commands.”  We would be a hypocrite if we confess that we love Jesus and yet don’t keep His commands.  E.g. “I love Jesus to death, yet I will not forgive John Doe.”

Revelation of Jesus:

Remember when Jesus revealed Himself to you?  I do.  I am sure you too can share with everyone how Jesus appeared to you.  Of course, Jesus can use different venues to appear to us; dreams, visions, written words, prayers, and circumstances; however, there’s a common denominator:  Jesus reveals Himself to those who obey Him (differently put, to those who keep His commandments)—that coincides with the Bible:  E.g. My experience in the ROK Army (Part 2).  On the following day after this private lynching in front of everyone, he came up with a bad gum infection that made his mouth swollen twice bigger than normal.  He couldn’t eat or chew anything.  He was lying down in his bed that day.  As soon as I heard the news, I said, “Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  The Lord finally avenges for me!”  Well, that joy didn’t last long.  A minute or two after the celebration, the Lord quietly spoke to me saying, “Go and pray for him.”  I said, “No, I don’t want to!”  Of course, you know who won.  The Lord convicted me with the verse where He says, “Love your enemy (Matthew 5:43) and “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head” (Romans 12:20).  So, that afternoon, I visited him with a loaf of soft bread and a carton of milk.  I also prayed for his healing.  After he got better, he changed 180 degrees!  My worst enemy became my best friend.  From then on, every Sunday morning, he ordered everyone under him to go to church.  I couldn’t have dreamed of any other better way!  I have experienced God’s promise fulfilled here: When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
 New King James Version (Proverbs 16:7). Jesus also revealed to me through my obedience to His commands.

  • All of us want to experience Jesus in a real way, not a superficial way, don’t we? In reality, though, many of us know Jesus only through our head knowledge: we read devotionals and commentaries or we hear someone else’s testimonies.  Jesus too wants you to know Him in person.  He wants you to experience the living God, the Almighty God, in a tangible way so you can say to everyone that you know God and Jesus.
  • So, how do we fulfill our desire to know Jesus personally?  By fulfilling the prerequisite first, that is keeping His words.  Let’s say you want to take a course “Economics 201” in college.  Now, you are told that you have to take Economics 101 first before you take this class.  Same with experiencing God.  You have to love Jesus first through keeping His commandments before you expect Him to appear to you.  When you love Him, He promises that He will love you back and reveal Himself to you.
  • Remember: To love Jesus boils down to know Jesus’ commandments and keeping them.  I will speak about this more next Sunday.

Action Points:

  • Say a daily prayer to offer yourself to God as a living sacrifice.
  • Dust out your Bible and put it in the most visible place.  Start using it.  Download the Bible on your smart phone.  In fact, next Sunday, I want everyone to bring your personal Bible to church.  Invite your friend to bring the Bible to church, too.
  • Amen.

 

 

Pastor Choi started a new sermon series today “Live the New Life”:  Today he talks about what and who makes a person a new creation.  It is not what we do or say that makes us a new creation in Christ.  It is “being in Christ” that makes a person a new creation.

Live the New Life

 

Following is the sermon script in its entirety:

Live the New Life                            2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20

2 Corinthians 5:17

New King James Version (NKJV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Galatians 2:19-20

New King James Version (NKJV)

19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Let me begin my sermon with a definition of Christian: a follower of Christ.  This definition comes from Christ’s own words in Matthew 10:38: He said, “and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (New Revised Standard Version).   In Mark 8:34, Christ said to the crowd and His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (New American Standard Bible) .

  • You are not a Christian if you don’t follow Jesus.  And, you can’t be a true follower of Jesus until you deny yourself, take up your cross, and live a life where your old self is dead.  Neither can you claim that you are a new creation until your old self is dead and gone.  Without the old self passing away, there’s no new creation.
  • Irony: A vast majority of Americans claim that they believe in Christ.  Today I see so many crosses that are abandoned by so-called “believers” and strewn along the path to heaven.  There are so many “church goers” who never deny themselves, either, that means, their self is still well alive and kicking, yet they all claim that they are Christians.   Are we not kidding ourselves?
  • Listen to the Bible truth: it says that your old self is already dead, because you too were crucified with Christ.  “Wait a minute,” you might say, “I have never died, let alone being crucified!”  Yes, you heard me right.  Let me say it again: your old self is dead, because you have been crucified with Christ.  Yes, you too died when Christ had died two thousand years ago at the cross.  Hard to understand?  Let me explain to you what I mean by that.  I must go back to today’s verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17.
  • Listen again what it says: if anyone is in Christ, s/he is a new creation, behold the old has passed away (like people passing away) and the new has come.  It is absolutely crucial for you to understand this verse so that you may realize what makes you a new creation in Christ.  It is not what you do and say that makes you a new creation.
  • The Bible doesn’t say: if anyone prays, s/he is a new creation.  It doesn’t say: if anyone goes to church, s/he is a new creation.  It doesn’t say: if anyone reads the Bible, s/he is a new creation.  It, rather, says: If anyone is in Christ, s/he is a new creation.  The old has passed away and, behold, the new has come.  What’s that supposed to mean?
  • The key phrase here is “in Christ.”  Let me explain the meaning of being “in Christ”—bookmark (I owe this understanding to Watchman Nee, the late Christian leader in China).  Consider that Christ is the book and that we are the bookmark in the book.  Whatever happens to the book also happens to the bookmark: if it goes in the water, the bookmark too gets wet.   If the book goes through fire, so does the bookmark.  Everything that happens to the book also happens to the bookmark.  Same way with Christ and you: since you are in Christ, whatever happened to Christ, it too happened to you in God’s eyes.  Therefore, when Christ died to pay the wages of your sin, since you were in Him, you too died.  When Christ resurrected three days later, since you were hidden in Christ, you too were resurrected as a new creation.  That’s what it means in Christ you become a new creation.
  • Now, with that understanding, let’s go to Galatians 2:20.  Paul says here that he has been crucified with Christ.  Do you understand now what he’s saying here?  He’s in Christ, therefore, when Christ was crucified, so was he.  When Christ resurrected from the dead, so did Paul.  No longer is it I who lives, he declares, but Christ who lives in me.  He recognizes the very important spiritual truth here that his old self is dead.  His old self, his old master, is dead and gone forever.  And, behold, the new master, Christ, has arrived.   The old master has passed away and the new has come.
  • Let me reiterate what it means that your old self is dead.  It means it is dead.  It means it’s gone forever.  It means you are no longer in charge of your life.  You no longer serve the selfish desires of your old self.  Your old self no longer calls the shots.  Instead, you now listen to your new boss who’s in you (remember Christ is in you?  Revelation 3:20).  His name is Christ.  He calls the shots in your life: in all you do and say.  Not you.  But He.  By the way, don’t worry.  He is not a cruel dictator who takes advantage of you and serves His own needs at your expenses.  Some of us have that kind of misunderstanding of Jesus (E.g. my high school friend).
  • Listen to me again.  You never meet such a wonderful person as Jesus.  He, the new boss, is the Savior who loves you so much that He died for you.  He laid down His life for you.  He always means nothing but the best for you: both in this life and in the life to come.  That’s what Paul means when he says Christ lives in him and he lives for Christ.  Do you hear him here?  He says, he wants to serve his new boss voluntarily and willingly, not reluctantly or under compulsion.
  • Remember this spiritual truth: the selfish old master is out and the benevolent new master is in.  You’d better celebrate this change of ownership in your life.  E.g.  A certain prison inmate hated himself all his life.  His trouble began as soon as he was born.  His mother was involved in adulterous relationship and gave birth to him.  Discovering that the boy wasn’t his own, the husband always hated the boy, although he never divorced his wife.  As the boy was growing up, his stepfather would abuse him both verbally and emotionally everyday by calling him “You carry the dirty blood in you, you son of a bitch!”  All his life, the man desired to replace his “dirty” blood if possible.  He actually did when he met the Lord Jesus.  He replaced his dirty blood with Christ’ blood and replaced his old master with the new one.  He had a complete transformation and became a new creation in Christ.  E.g. 2.  Imagine at the center of your heart, there’s a throne: whoever sits on it calls the shots in your life.  When Christ sits on the throne, and you listen to Him, everything is in order.  When your old self sits on the throne, and Christ serves as a “Genie in a bottle,” everything in your life is in chaos.
  • Closing: Who makes a person a new creation?  Christ.  There’s no other way for you to become a new creation but being in Christ.  You must deny yourself.  Your old self must be crucified.  If your old self is still alive and kicking, you are not “in Christ,” then Galatians 2:20 doesn’t mean anything to you.  2 Corinthians 5:17 doesn’t apply to you, either.  If your old self is still alive and kicking, you still serve the old master, you.
  • If you want a new life, listen to what Jesus is saying: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.  Your old self, your old master, must pass away so that a new master may arrive.  It is only possible in Christ.  There’s no other way.  Amen.

 

 

Today Pastor Choi concludes his mini-sermon series on basic Christian beliefs: in today’s sermon he talks about what it means to be a child of God, believing and receiving Christ, and having daily communion with Christ.

What We Believe (4)

 

 

Following is his sermon script in its entirety:

What We Believe (4)                                                    John 1:12, Revelation 3:20

 

  • John 1:12 (NRSV: New Revised Standard Version)
  • 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,

 

Revelation 3:20 (NRSV)

  • 20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

 

Recap

  • Jesus came to call the sinners to repentance.  He didn’t come for those who consider themselves righteous enough that they don’t need a Savior.
  • We cannot earn our salvation no matter how hard we try.  Salvation is a gift of God, given to us absolutely free, by God’s grace.  We receive God’s salvation through our faith alone.
  • Faith and works are inseparable. Faith goes first, works follow. Faith is the only thing required for salvation.  Works is not.  What is works, then?  It is not the condition for salvation but the fruit of our faith. We are called to demonstrate our faith through good works not to gain salvation but to bring glory to God and His name.

Child of God

  • One of the misused phrases among people today (both in the church and outside the church) is: child of God.  Without a proper understanding of the Scriptures, we tend to say that everyone is a child of God.  Sounds wonderful and very inclusive.  Yet, if you listen to what God’s Word says, it is a quite different story.  The Bible is very clear on this: Not everyone is a child of God. In fact, God doesn’t mind calling some folks children of wrath, children of darkness, and even children of the devil (1 John 3:10).  E.g. Jesus called some Pharisees children of the devil (John 8:39, 44).
  • Yes, everyone is created in the image of God, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is a child of God. God loves them all, He’s gracious to all even to the evil ones (by giving them life, health, and etc.), and He wants everyone to come to repentance, yet when it comes down to who’s a child of God, God is very peculiar.
  • Who are the children of God?  Only those who are born into God’s family through faith.  Born again, born anew, and born from above mean the same of spiritual rebirth.  Only those who satisfy the condition of spiritual rebirth in Christ are His children.  E.g. I love children, however, that doesn’t mean that every child in the world is mine.  Only the one that was born into my family through either natural birth or adoption is my child.  Same with God and His children.  Becoming children of God requires birth into God’s family.
  • So, how can one be born into God’s family?  By believing in Jesus and by receiving Him as Savior and Lord.  Only those who believe in the name of Jesus and what He has done for humanity (John 1:12) and only those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord become God’s children.

Believing and Receiving

  • Let’s talk about believing and receiving business.  To believe in Jesus means to receive Him as the Lord and Savior.  They are one thing.  Two are the same.  Yet, not everyone does believe/practice so.  In fact, some believers think and treat believing and receiving as two separate things.  In other words, they intellectually agree what Jesus has done (that is believing), yet in real life, they take Jesus not as Lord and Savior but rather as a servant or even an insurance policy (this is receiving).
  • E.g. Calling Jesus Lord (intellectual agreement) yet not doing what He commands (not taking Him seriously): 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
  • E.g.2. Charles Blondin–a French acrobat walking on a tight rope over Niagara Falls.   —-“crossing the Niagara Gorge (located on the American-Canadian border) on a tightrope, 1,100 ft (340 m) long, 3.25 in (8.3 cm) in diameter and 160 ft (49 m) above the water, near the location of the current Rainbow Bridge. This he did on 30 June 1859, and a number of times thereafter, always with different theatrical variations: blindfolded, in a sack, trundling a wheelbarrow, on stilts, carrying a man (his manager, Harry Colcord) on his back, sitting down midway while he cooked and ate an omelet and standing on a chair with only one chair leg on the rope.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Blondin
  • Story goes on when the acrobat asked if anyone was willing to ride in the wheelbarrow, no one wanted to take a chance.

Dine with Jesus

  • Imagine: Jesus standing at the door and knocks.  We hear His voice and open the door.
  • He’s still knocking:  Do you hear His voice?  Not many of us hear His quiet voice speaking to us.  Why?  Because, there are too many distractions and too much noise going on in our lives that drown Christ’s voice.  We need a routine for your soul to catch Christ’s calling.  E.g. Worship on Sunday mornings is a good start.  E.g. 2.  Spend time with God’s word and in prayer (15 minutes a day means 1/100th of time given to Jesus).
  • If anyone: everyone is invited to salvation.  No exception.  No discrimination against any personal background.  Jesus knocks at everyone’s heart.  God invites them all.
  • Opens the door is to ask Him in.  If you invite Him in, He will come in.  If you don’t invite Him in, He will not come into your life.  Jesus is very gentle and mild.  He is so polite that He never forces us to do anything that we don’t wish to do.
  • Once you invite Him in, He comes in and dines with you:  Dining with Him means to commune with Him.  It means a close relationship with Him.  It means to talk to Him, listen to Him, and to walk with Him.
  • Communion with Him is a daily thing: not weekly, not monthly, not even yearly thing.  Yet, to some of us, it’s been years since we talked with Him.  Having Jesus in our heart and yet never talking to Him is like inviting a guest to dinner; once the guest is seated at the table, you never talk to him/her and never pay attention to the guest.  Worse, you even don’t know that the guest is still there.  It is time to restart our communication with Jesus.  Every day.  More than once a day.
  • You will never be disappointed.
  • Once the salvation is given, it is not taken away from us, unless we ask God to do so.  You have eternal life in Christ.  John 5:24: 24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life (NRSV).  Amen.

 

Pastor Choi explains that no human merits can buy or earn God’s gift–salvation.  We are saved by God’s grace through our faith alone.

 

  What We Believe (3)

 

Following is the sermon script in its entirety:

What We Believe (3)                            Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5

 

  • Ephesians 2:8-9
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • Titus 3:5
  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
  • he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Recap:

  • Repentance is the beginning of our relationship with God.
  • All have sinned and need salvation.
  • Definition of sin: violation of any God’s commandments.
  • Wages (consequences) of our sin were paid by Christ that proves God’s love for us.

Saved not by works but by faith:

  • We are saved through Christ’s merits not by our own.  Let me tell you a story of a man whose name was Martin Luther: He hoped that his act of penance (through climbing stairs on his bare knees) would count something in his salvation.  Later he realized that that’s not the case.  He also said that the practice of buying indulgences for loved ones in purgatory was unscriptural.  He declared that salvation is not earned by his good deeds, in fact, by any human good deeds. Nor can it be bought with money.  Salvation is, rather, a gift of God attainable only through faith not through our works.  It is our faith in Christ, not our own good deeds that counts in our salvation.  “Luther wrote to Melanchthon on the same theme: “Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides.”(Martin Luther, “Let Your Sins Be Strong,” a Letter From Luther to Melanchthon, August 1521, Project Wittenberg, retrieved 1 October 2006).
  • Indeed, that’s what the Bible says: we are saved by God’s mercy and grace not by our own deeds.
  • What about James, then, some might argue, who says that faith without works is dead? (James 2:26) If faith is all we need in our salvation, then, we don’t have to be good, right?  No, you still ought to be good and will be, not for the salvation but for the glory of God. The fact that we don’t need human works or good deeds for our salvation, or the truth that human merits is not the necessary condition for our salvation, doesn’t mean that we are exempt from living a moral life.  Let me repeat what I have said: works don’t get us into heaven; they are not the necessary condition for salvation, either.  What are they, then?  They are a result of our faith and a fruit of our salvation.  E.g. Horse and a cart: they go together, yet, you always put the horse before the cart, not the other way around.  The horse here is faith and the cart is works.  Faith goes first, and works follow.  Anyone who claims to be a believer in Christ will demonstrate good works as a fruit of his/her faith.   In other words, God only requires us to bring faith into salvation, yet He expects us to live out our faith through our good works to bring glory to His name.
  • When it comes down to salvation, I am so glad that God doesn’t require us to bring any human merits to the salvation table.  Any human merits such as education (B.A.), money (million dollars), physical condition (6 foot tall), beauty, age, race, sex, can never buy salvation.  We can’t fully satisfy any of them, either.  So, God came up with another perfect solution: faith that believes in Jesus and what He has done on the cross.  In my humble opinion, that’s the perfect and the fairest solution for all to satisfy in salvation.  E.g. A street vendor who accepted Christ.  E.g. 2. Criminal crucified at the same time with Christ.

Created for Good Works

  • So, do we still have to be good even after we believe?  Yes, we still need to live the moral life.  We are the children of God, created for good works in Christ (Ephesians 2:10).  We are the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13, 14).  We are the children of light.  We are to demonstrate how great our God is through our good deeds (Matthew 5:16).  Works are not the condition for salvation but they are the demonstration of your faith in Jesus (E.g. helping the homeless, helping Sandy relief).

Closing:

  • Freedom from God’s punishment cannot be purchased with money.  God’s grace cannot be earned.  No one is justified with his/her own works and merits.  Salvation is by God’s grace through faith alone.
  •   For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
  • he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy” (Titus 3:5).
  • Amen.

 

Pastor Choi continues his series on basic beliefs of Christian faith: Christ paid the penalty of our sins–this proves God’s love for us all!

  What We Believe (2)

 

Also, following is the sermon script in its entirety.

Title: What We Believe (2)

Scripture Lessons:

Romans 6:23

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

 

 

Consequences:

Imagine this: you want to hang a nice picture on the wall.  You need a tool to do that.  So, you bring in a hammer and a nail.  You choose a spot that seems perfect for the picture.  You put the nail in and hang the picture frame.  When you are done, you step back to see if it looks alright.  Then, you realize that you made a mistake.  It was hung too low and too far to the right.  You need to move the picture up a little bit and about a foot to the left.  Well, what you do?  You need to pull the nail out, right?  When you do, there’s a hole on the wall now.  You made the hole on the wall. You realize that next time, you want to measure twice before you start hammering.

If the hammering of the nail on the wall is the act of sin, then the hole, the nail mark on the wall, is the consequences of our sin.  We regret what we’ve done and later pull the nail out, yet there is still the mark on the wall.  We live with the consequences of our sin.  We reap what we sow.  We cannot harvest corn from soy beans.  We harvest soy beans only if we planted soy beans.  We harvest corn only when we planted corn.  We reap what we sow.  That’s a spiritual law.

Wages of sin:

Same with the sin: When we commit a sin either against God or against people, we always harvest the consequences of our iniquities.

Recap of sin: anything that violates any of God’s commandments either against God or against people.

There are always consequences of our sin.  The Bible calls the consequences of sin the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). And, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  In fact, the same Bible explains that’s how the physical death came into our lives after our forefathers have sinned against God.  E.g. Adam and Eve’s disobedience—eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, not apple.

Some of us wonder how and when we pay the wages of our sin.  The Bible says that we pay the wages of sin when we die (Heb. 9:27) Hebrews 9:27 “And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment”(NRSV)

God of Justice and God of Mercy:

Let’s face it.  It is we who made a bad choice to sin, and therefore, it is we who should pay the wages of sin through our own death.  However, our God, the God of love, loves us so much that He wanted to spare us from the judgment.  So, He came up with a solution for our sin problems.  Particularly, the end result, the consequences of sin, and the wages of sin: who’s going to pay for the wages of sin.

His plan: let someone else take care of that so that we may go free.  And, who was that individual of God’s choice?  It was Jesus known as the Christ or the Messiah.  E.g. story of a king and his son who had a bad habit of stealing.  Even though everyone else in the palace knew about it, none dared to tell the king.  One day, the prince was caught again red-handed by one of the king’s servants.  This time it was different, though.  The servant was a new hire but a man of integrity and he wanted to stop this problem.  So, he reported to the king.  Soon the prince was summoned.  The king asked his son if it was true that he stole someone’s property.  The prince said yes.  The dilemma king faced was: to uphold the law and to spare the prince.  Then, the king ordered the executioner to bring in the sword to cut the hand of the perpetrator (it was the law of the kingdom)…..  In the end, to make the long story short, the king both kept the law and saved the perpetrator.

Same way, it was God’s solution for the wages of our sin: let the sinless pay the wages of sin for the sinful once and for all.  That’s why Christ went to the cross.  To pay the wages of our sins.  Then, the God of justice kept His law and the God of love also saved us from eternal punishment.

Shadows in the Old Testament:

In fact, the Old Testament already gives away plenty hints of how God was going to save the humanity from their sins.  For instance, Isaiah 53, the chapter known as suffering servant chapter, which prophesied on what the Messiah was going to do.  Also, Leviticus shows the shadow of what Christ Jesus would do for us.  E.g.  In the Old Testament times, when people sinned against God and against people, they would bring a sin offering to the priest– animal without blemish for their sins committed.  Then, the priest declares the forgiveness of sins by the death of the innocent lamb.

Jesus the Lamb of God:

Did you know that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? (John the Baptist—John 1:29)

By sending His own son Jesus to the cross to pay the wages of sin on our behalf, God demonstrated His love for us.  Christ’s death on the cross paid the wages of our sin once and for all, forever and ever, and we go free of punishment.

I would call such act of God, that is, to let His son die on the cross on our behalf the greatest mystery of all.  God’s love saves us despite all we have done.  On the cross, in Christ, God’s justice and God’s mercy were fully fulfilled.  We are spared from the wages of sin.  I would call such love: Amazing.  Marvelous.  Awesome.

I will continue next Sunday.

Let us pray.

 

 

Pastor Choi explains the spiritual reality of America where people shun certain words such as sin, sinner, or repentance.  To hear his message in audio, click here:

     What We Believe

 

Pastor Choi talks about who Jesus is to people, to His disciples, and to you.  Your confession of who Jesus is makes a world of difference in your walk with God.

Who do you say Jesus is?

Pastor Choi’s first sermon at Manahawkin UMC talks about who he is:
Not a Messiah, but a messenger of God and His Word.

Each month we offer a new member class entitled “Methodism 101” on the third Sunday of the month at 9:45 a.m. (see church calendar for any changes due to holidays).

This class is an overview of the origins of The United Methodist Church, an introduction to our local church and a general discussion time.

If interested in attending simply stop in.  All are welcome.

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Sunday school students of the Manahawkin United Methodist Church help fight the spread of Meningitis in Africa.  Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.  Though rarely seen here in the United States, Meningitis is ravaging the child population in sub-Saharan Africa.  Each year thousands of children die from this disease and approximately 10 to 20 percent of survivors are left with permanent aftereffects such as mental retardation, deafness, epilepsy, or other neurological disorders.

The World Health Organization in partnership with PATH created the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP).  The mission of the MVP is to eliminate meningitis as a public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa through the development, testing, introduction, and widespread use of conjugate meningococcal vaccines.  From this partnership MenAfriVac™ was created, a vaccine to be delivered to the children in Africa.  The cost of each vaccine is around fifty cents.  It is projected that MenAfriVac™,  in sub-Saharan Africa use could prevent more than 1 million new cases of Meningitis.

Motivated by the prospects of saving lives, the students committed to try and raise $200 to donate to MVP.  Penny by penny students added to the collection.  Some students performed extra chores to gather funds, others created and sold artwork for their donation and some emptied their piggy banks.  Within three months the students raised $498, well over doubling their goal!  This donation provided just under 1000 vaccines.

For more information on MVP and how you can donate go to www.meningvax.org.

For those interested in receiving prayer from our Prayer Group please fill out our online form.

Prayer requests can be submitted during Sunday Worship as well.  Prayer Request cards are located on the back of each  pew and collected by the Ushers.

 

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