Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Jesus always loves and provides. Anyone comes to Jesus receives His mercy, love, and most of all, the eternal life that cannot be found anywhere else. Jesus said,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6b)
Yes, Jesus is the only way to the eternal life. There is no other way than Jesus to the eternal life. Many claimed, before and after Jesus, ways to the eternal life, but all failed because they were of the world. They thought that they knew the truth, but they did not. They thought that they received a special revelation from God, but they didn’t. All those who preached the eternal life could not overcome the one crucial event — their own death. They all died and buried in tombs like all other ordinary people. In the tombs, they slowly decomposed and returned to dust. Jesus is different. He resurrected from the death, and Jesus walked out of the tomb. Thus, He is no longer in the tomb, and the tomb is empty. Jesus is of the above as the Son of God. Thus, Jesus knows the truth. As matter of fact, Jesus himself is the truth and the life. Except through Him, we cannot come to the Father to receive the eternal life. Give thanks to God for giving us Jesus Christ so that we can have the eternal life!
However, as long as we are on this world, we are continuously bombarded by the world. The sin that came in the world through Adam, the first man, continuously rules over us, by forcing us to fall like Adam. Although our inner person created by the God’s image and our heart continuously yearning for the restoration of the very character of God in us, in this world, we fall again and again. This is the limitation in us as long as we are contained in this mortal body while living in this world. Thus, our heart laments:
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:24)
As we are now on earth, our destiny is sure. Yes, we are created God’s image, but the sins in us take hostage us and make us run one race that we should not run at all cost, the hell-bound race.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
(Verse 2, All I Have Is Christ)
Nicodemus, a religious leader and a teacher at the time of Jesus, came to Jesus to ask about this fundamental issue that he confronted with every day. As being visited by Nicodemus, Jesus revealed the truth. However, Nicodemus could not understand the truth revealed by Jesus although Nicodemus was an excellent teacher respected by many people at that time. Jesus said,
“You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?” (John 3:10b)
Jesus, then, kindly and lovingly explained the truth of born again because flesh of this world gave birth to fresh, but the Spirit gave birth to spirit. Jesus continued by giving out the following verse, which is the most well-known Bible verse:
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Then Jesus explained why He was sent to this world:
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3;17)
Yes, God sent Jesus not to judge the world, but save the world. This is God’s mercy, grace and love. God saw the wickedness of human beings, but He did not destroy all. Instead, He gave the way to save the world, i.e., the people living in the world. For this reason, Jesus Christ came to this world. Thus, whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. This is the Good News from God, which is the most precious serving message from God that was spoken with His Unparalleled Love. Through this truth, we received this precious salvation. Give thanks to God! This is the reason why we urgently and eagerly share this truth with all. If we don’t say, how do people know this saving message? If people don’t hear this saving message, then how will they believe and receive the eternal life? The most terrible thing of all is for people die eternally without knowing this salvation message from God.
However, at the time of Jesus people did not know this truth. What Jesus told was so strange to them and to the teachers of the Law and the religious leaders. The latter group of people did not fully understand God’s Word, bit they taught and led people. They wrongly applied God’s Word, as if God’s Word were of the world. Then as a long tradition, they slowly accumulated the tradition of the elders. Then they kept them as if they were God’s command (Mark 7:3). One of them was washing hands before eating. Some Pharisees and teachers at the scene criticized Jesus by asking, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
Then Jesus replied,
“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“ ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” (Mark 7:6-8)
The teachers of the Law and the religious leaders used the human traditions as means to worship God. Each of the human traditions was not bad by itself as long as the human traditions were only used to assist people to worship God better. However, due to the sinful nature of human, the human traditions became the primary means to worship God. They judge people using the human traditions: whether they worship God correctly or not. Why did this happen? Their hearts were far from God, and had focus on the external human behaviors, not the hearts hidden and invisible, which, however, were the source of all external human behaviors. Then they were fast to judge others by measuring them with the human traditions without knowing the true God’s nature — love and sympathy.
What was the response of Jesus to those who practiced and enforced the human traditions? Here is one of the Jesus’ responses:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:23-24)
At that time, tithing was mandatory. Each must offer 1/10 of one’s possession to God because it belonged to God. Thus, Jews faithfully offered 1/10 of their possession to God. Yes, they faithfully kept the tithing tradition. However, Jesus questioned about their behavior of faithful material tithing. By doing so, they felt good about what they did. They also could make a checkmark against the tithing requirement of the day. However, how about their heart before God? Did they offer their heart to God as their tithing by sharing their mercy and love received from God with those who were suffering and in needs? Jesus continued,
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’ (Matthew 15: 7-9, Isaiah 29:13)
Jesus’ real focus was their heart, and asked “Where is justice, mercy and faithfulness?” Jesus saw the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees who faithfully offered their tithes as means to show off their righteousness before men. Their righteous actions were for themselves and other people around them, not God. Then did they truly worship God? Which one did they really worship, men or God? Surely, their hearts were far from God, and they were filled with their own pride and their own righteousness before God. Surely, they all received praises from men, and they received what they deserve on spot on earth. If so, what else could they receive from God?
In fact, God owns everything in the world. Is there anything that He does not own? None! God created everything that we see and touch in this world. Thus, God asks,
“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” (Isaiah 1:11a)
Does God really want something from us? If so, God will tell us, but He did not. He can actually take whatever He wants by Himself because all that we see are His.
Additionally, our God is love. Do any parents want any material things from their own baby or a toddler? No, all parents want to give, provide and equip their children, which is the nature of all parents because all parents love their children. God is Our Ever-Loving Father. God always wants to give, provide and equip us with the best because each of us is His beloved child. When we compare what God does with what the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees did, we can easily see how wrong the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were.
It is very easy to criticize the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, who lived about 2,000 years ago. How about us? Are we really different? Do we really offer to God what God wants by being thankful about what He had done for us with our humble and thankful heart? Or do we offer to God because we have to checkmark on the requirement sheet of God today as if the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees did to keep the tradition of the elders to each letter?
If so, it is time to stop what we used to do? Then should we pray for to God while searching deep into our heart and carefully examining our heart motives? If we find that we have been offering to God in order to just keep the God’s commandment without pouring out our infinite gratitude to God for His love given to us, then we immediately stop whatever we do before God because whatever we offer is utterly useless. Then please say God’s question once more in our heart, “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”
Please hear what God tells us:
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. (Isiah 1:11b)
By offering anything to Him, we cannot make God pleased. God already has more than enough because He owns everything. Yes, we might make others impressed by our offerings because people see the material giving, but one thing clear is that we cannot make our God impressed by our offerings whatsoever. Then God will ask another pointy question:
When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts? (Isaiah 1:12)
Then why do we come to God if we don’t bring the offering what God really wants? Our appearance alone before Him does not make God pleased either. For example, we come to Our Father’s house on every Sunday. Will this make God pleased? The answer is depending on.
Every Sunday, countlessly many Christians come to church. Let’s examine why they come to church. What’s the main reason coming to church on every Sunday morning? In other words, which is our main focus when we step into His house on every Sunday morning?
There are, in fact, various reasons to come to church on every Sunday morning. Some come to church to see someone whom they like. Some come to church in fear. If they don’t come, they think they would be punished by God. Some come to church to get something from God because they believe God will answer and provide to those who attend church. This list can go on and on.
However, God tells, “you just come and trample My courts.” All of the above are good reasons to come to church, but they should not be only reason to come to God. If so, we just trample His courts (i.e., our church sanctuary).
For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
God sees through our hearts. When we approach to God, what God truly wants is our heartful worship in spirit and truth. To worship in spirit and truth, we must be humble and authentic before God without hiding anything in hearts. This is the first step. Then we open our hearts, and ask His forgiveness. We must repent all our sins and transgressions to Him. Our sins and transgressions are the barrier that separates us from God. Our confession should include all our sins and transgressions committed to God and others fellow human beings. When we offer our authentic and contrite heart with our humble prayer, God pleases, which is our true offering to God that God loves.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 5:51)
We should remember that our true sacrifice to God is a broken and contrite heart before God. God truly love to see such heart and He hears us with great pleasure in us. We are all sinners, but God continues loving us. We must believe this. Whenever coming before God, confidently we can offer our broken and contrite heart to God because of God’s unconditional love toward us. This should be our main focus before God whenever we come to Him.
After offering our broken and contrite hearts, our authentic sacrifice to God, we should give thanks to His love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Then we should raise up our voice and praise Him for His mercy, grace and love given to us along with His forgiveness and our right to be His eternal children that only come from God. Are there any parents who do not love to see their children singing and dancing? No. All parents want to see their children singing and dancing in joy. Is our God different from our earthly parents? No. Absolutely not. Our God indeed loves us more than the loves of all earthly parents combined. God loves us and cherish us. He always wants to see His children singing and dancing in joy while praising Him for His marvelous deeds done for us – saving us from the eternal death by the blood of Jesus Christ, who died for us on cross. Thus, we should not stop praising Him in every moment of our lives. Hallelujah! Sing and praise His name. His name will be praised from now and forever!
I will praise the LORD,
and may everyone on earth bless his holy name. (Psalm 145: 21)
the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. (Isiah 43:21)
We’d like to share about how to wisely respond to the current worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. First, except our own family living together, consider all others as a potential source of transmitting the Coronavirus because people who are asymptomatic (no symptom of Coronavirus at all) can carry and transmit the virus. Thus, please avoid a physical contact with others, and maintain distance about two meters (or six feet). This social distancing saves lives. Please wash hands with soap about 20 seconds to wash out the Coronavirus that might be on our hands. Our hand skin is pretty thick and it protects well against the Coronavirus, but our hands frequently touch our mouth, then the Coronavirus on our hands will go into our body. We should prevent this type of infection by our own hands.
Most of all, this is the time to have a quality time with one’s own family and with God, Our Ever-Loving Father with prayers, and reading and medicating Bible every day. Please fix eyes on Jesus, who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, and follow the foot step of Jesus Christ together with our own families in this difficult time. When this Coronavirus pandemic is over, we will all find that we are one step closer to each other among our own family members in Christ’s love and have a deeper relationship with God. Then we will go out and share this Good News with our neighbors and even strangers.
May God’s grace, protection, healing on all and especially for those who are physically suffering from the Coronavirus and those who are mourning for the loss of the loved ones due to the Coronavirus.