Month: January, 2016

Our Father’s Will

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Discovering Your Life Goal

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I asked my son when he was very little, “How much do you love papa? This much?” I asked, showing a little pinch between my thumb and index finger. “This much” he replied with a generous spread of his arms to the max. I was setting him up. I then asked, “And how much do you love mama?” It took him only a split second to extend his arms beyond the 180 degrees of his arms for his mother.

Kids tend to love their mother best, and their father next. Why? Someone suggests it is because mothers are unconditional in their love. Fathers love their kids too, but they tend to set goals for their kids more than mothers. Now we must not push this into an absolute statement. There will always be the tiger moms. But I find that observation true within my immediate circles. I think I am very engaged in my kids’ career and future. My wife is engaged too, but she engages them by simply loving, encouraging and supporting them. I deal with the nuts and bolts.

While I don’t tell my kids what they should become, I do tell them what they cannot become. There are perimeters, and my guidance is for them to have a vision within their God-given talents for God’s glory. Life must be lived for God if we will see abundance in our life. I see too many Christian parents talking about putting God first, but in raising our children we put their financial interest first. We undo our teachings with our life. We say put God first, but we put tutoring before worship, dance and music class before Christian community. We say God is priority, but when we deliberate on careers with them, it’s about money, prospects, benefits, or even their own happiness.

But Jesus is consistent. “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’” (John 4:34). Jesus lived his life on earth doing his Father’s will. It is like food to him. There is nothing better than living out God’s will in our life. Jesus lived it and taught his disciples to do the same. “When you pray,” Jesus said, “pray saying, ‘Our Father … your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

When I pray God’s will to be done on earth, I am also affirming God’s will must be first done in me. But it is not the will of God in opposition to my will. We want the best for ourselves. That is exactly what God wants for us! Tension arises is when we disagree with our Father what is best for us.

Let’s say there is this young lady who is gifted with a good voice. But she is not so talented that she can become a famous performer. However, her God-given talents are more than adequate for use in worship, for personal enrichment, to give her joy and satisfaction, etc. We need not think of every God-given talent as a career calling. Let’s say, she eventually becomes a dentist, or a store assistant, a counter sales lady, or a cleaner. These are God’s provisions for her daily bread. Her singing ability may be that area that connects her most intimately with God. Whatever she does to supply her daily bread, be that high or low in the eyes of the world, she continues to fulfill God’s calling for her because she uses her voice to praise God and to encourage worship.

We tend to think that if we are “in the center of God’s will” we will enjoy the type of accomplishment that the world recognizes as successful. Yet, if we look at the life of Jesus through the lens of the world, his life certainly did not qualify as success while he walked this earth. He wasn’t rich. He didn’t have a lot of disciples. He had no political success. But he was in the center of God’s will.

Similarly, look at the greatest prophet belonging to the old covenant – John the Baptist. John the Baptist did exactly as God wanted him to do, and he lost his head. Not the world’s idea of success. From what we know all the apostles died as martyrs. Is that success?

YES!!! According to God’s word! We all die, but they will forever be the 12 patriarchs of true Israel.

We are ready to discover our life goal when we have a different value system from the world. When we are ready to say our Father loves us, knows us, sees much more than we can, looks beyond this short life in this corruptible body, and we are ready to say, “Abba Father, not my will but yours be done,” we will discover God’s will.

Not everyone is worthy to die in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Most of us have a lower calling. But the principle remains the same. Until we are willing to let go of our own agenda, and embrace our Father’s agenda for us, we will never discover our true self, or reach the full potential God has for us.

I write to you, not as one who has arrived, but as one who has to learn to take up my cross daily and follow Jesus. I come to you as a fellow pilgrim who finds the surpassing liberation of surrender only to lose it when self takes over. The apostle Paul speaks to me when he says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Someone rightly observes the problem of the living sacrifice: “It wants to crawl off the altar.” That is what I tend to do, even though I have experienced the surpassing goodness of being a living sacrifice. If I will stay on the altar, I will find my greatest fulfillment. If I will trust my Father, that he does not make a mistake when he calls me to a certain path, I will not meander so much.

So let me affirm the goodness of my Father’s will when I pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” … and let thy will be done first in me.

Pastor Peter Eng

Understanding Revelation 3 – The Seven Churches (LECTURE)

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Our Father’s Kingdom

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Matthew’s Story

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The Apostle Matthew begins his Good News with the birth of Jesus. Immediately after the account he tells us, “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 3:1-2) What it is about the kingdom of heaven that the people need to repent? Many Christians think of the kingdom of heaven as a place we go after we have repented. Here John the Baptist speaks of the kingdom of heaven in a completely different way. He tells his audience, the Jewish people, they need to repent because the kingdom of heaven is about to come.

In the tradition of the great prophets, John the Baptist gives the Jewish people a dire warning, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:9-10). Unlike the great prophets of old who target their messages to the political leaders of Israel and Judah, John the Baptist was addressing the religious leaders of Israel and Judah – the Pharisees and Sadducees.

They are to repent because God’s judgment is about to fall on the children of Abraham in the flesh. The ax is about to fall on the roots of the tree. The Jewish people are about to be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. But God is faithful. He will keep his promise to Abraham by raising up children to Abraham “out of these stones.” From what seems to be impossible, God will perform the possible, and will raise up children to Abraham as people of his kingdom.

Do you get the sense that the kingdom of heaven is not about going to heaven after we die? John is talking about something else! He is talking about the impending kingdom of heaven that will impact the Jewish people in a certain way unless they repent. The coming kingdom of heaven will result in judgment on the Jewish people. At the same time, it will be God’s fulfillment of his promise to Abraham, that through him all the nations of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 18:18).

The kingdom of heaven is good news because it is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. All the nations of the earth will be blessed in a way the earth has never experienced. It will still come through Abraham, but it may not come through the children of Abraham who are children in the flesh.

Jesus then comes to John to be baptized by him. When that happens, the mandate passes from John to Jesus. Not long after Jesus’s baptism, John was imprisoned. “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17). Jesus takes over where John leaves off. It is the same message. The Jewish people must repent because the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Jesus then begins to bring about the kingdom of heaven.

The very first thing he does is to call disciples to himself. Disciples who will make other disciples. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19).

John the Baptist, like every other Jew is still looking for a kingdom of heaven that involves the military overthrow of Rome, so he sends word of Jesus from prison asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3)

“Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4-5) Jesus assures John he will bring about the kingdom of heaven.

One day, Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey as the Messiah king is supposed to do so. He then lays claim to the temple by cleaning it out. Next, he comes across an unfruitful fig tree. Jesus curses a fig tree, and it withers immediately (Matthew 21:1-17). The fig tree is the national symbol of Israel, even to this day.

Then he tells the story of two sons, one refuses to obey the father and one agrees to obey the father. But the son who agrees did not do as he says, and the unwilling son proceeds to obey his father. (Matthew 21:28-32)

Next he tells the story of how the tenants of a vineyard beat and kill the people the landlord sends to collect rent. Finally, the landlord sends his own son. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.” The landlord removes the old tenants and brings in new ones “who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Matthew 21:33-44)

Jesus tells a third story. “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.” So the king opens the invite to all who are not on the original list.

The message is clear. The Jewish people are to repent because the kingdom of heaven is about to go to the nations of the world.

Jesus rises from the dead, and declares, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

The kingdom of heaven goes out to all the nations through the disciples. The warning of John the Baptist and of Jesus comes to an end. The Jewish people do not repent. In AD 70, the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem. The ax falls. The fig tree withers. The disobedient son obeys. New tenants take over the vineyard. Strangers come to the banquet. Abraham blesses the world through Jesus.

Pastor Peter Eng

Understanding Revelation 2 – John’s Introduction (LECTURE)

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Our Father’s Holiness

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ABBA

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“Abba.” That’s how people call their father in Aramaic. Scholars debate what the equivalent in English might be. Some say it is like “Dad” or “Daddy,” or “Papa.” Others say it is not so casual, it’s like “Father.” Why the debate? Or even a discussion?

That is because Christians are trying to determine how to address God as Father. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he tells them, pray saying, “Our Father …” When Jesus himself prays, he says, “Abba, Father.” (“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36). When the early Christians pray, they are taught to address God as “Abba, Father” (The Spirit … brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15).

In the original language of the New Testament, we see “Abba, [ho] pater.” They used the combination of Abba (Aramaic) and pater (Greek). I believe the translators are exactly right to follow this pattern when they give us Abba (Aramaic), Father (English). So the Aramaic-Greek is now expressed as Aramaic-English.

The early Christians follow how Jesus teaches them to pray, calling on God as “Our Father.” In addition, they follow the example of Jesus, calling God “Abba, Father.” We should do the same.

When we pray ALOUD, and call on God as ABBA, FATHER, our prayer dynamic changes. We begin to understand God as Father. We are not petitioning to a King. We are not ordering a genie to obey our fancies. We are talking to a perfect, all knowing, all wise, all loving Father who knows our needs and will give us everything that is good for us, and withhold everything that is harmful to us. We begin to experience the presence of God as the Holy Spirit in us empowers us to speak to God personally, intimately.

Just in case you have not read the New Testament, I will present you a small sample of the hundreds of times God is referred to us Father. You will see it is the normal way Jesus talks about God. And he calls his disciples to do the same.

Pastor Peter Eng

A Sample of God as Father in John’s Gospel

1:14. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1:18. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

2:16. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”

4:21. “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

4:23. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

5:17. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

5:19. Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

5:20. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.

5:21. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.

6:40. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” 

Understanding Revelation 1 – Overview (LECTURE)

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Our Father in Heaven

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