Blog

Jesus Unseen
Oct 18, 2018

In light of our current series “Things Unseen,” I was reading John 1 this morning and saw it from a different angle. So go with me for a second and imagine…

It’s the year 35 AD, a few years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The disciples, who previously leaned in to learn for three years under Jesus, were now apostles and sent out to serve. After all they had witnessed, they now saw things very differently than they did those first years following Jesus. They now knew Him for who He really was, not only a great teacher, but God.

Do you ever wish you could go back to your teenage years and get a second chance at those awkward moments and fails? I bet this is how the disciples felt looking back. I bet they wished they could get a redo of those three years spent doing life with Jesus 24/7.

And here’s what I think would happen…

It’s not that many of the scenes that we’ve come to know in the Gospels would change that drastically. People would still oppose Jesus, they’d still come to see the miracles, hear him speak, and leave when they had their fill. Storms would still happen. But one thing that would change is the disciple’s reactions and responses in many of these stories.

In the storm they would’ve stayed calm.

They wouldn’t have tried to send the 5,000+ away due to lack of food.

They might have brought people to Jesus instead of rebuking them from bothering Him.

The circumstances of the disciples in all these stories probably don’t change, but what would change, is the men themselves.

But see, they weren’t alone, many had missed Jesus as God in those first years. John tells us…

He [Jesus] was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. [John 1:10-13]

Things unseen. God unseen.

Many people saw a great teacher, an influencer, an advocate of justice. But they missed the divine. And John directly links recognising (seeing) and receiving.

See, we must first recognise His divinity to truly receive from Him as a counsellor, a trusted friend or a gift giver. That first century mistake John speaks of, we make it too. We go to Him seeking to receive before recognising Him as God. We want the counsel, friendship and gifts, but they can only really be understood and transformative if approached with His divinity in mind.

Because when we do that first, it breeds a beautiful humility. And humility is the posture needed to truly receive.

So friends, be still and know He is God. Acknowledge that first continually as you approach Him and be blessed.

Recognise, and receive.

Blog

Pay It Forward
Oct 14, 2018

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13

Who does the good work? What is your interpretation of good work? When have you done, prioritised or planned to do His good work? Where do you see God calling you to do His good work? How do you trust or know you are doing His good work?

Have you ever paused and realised that we were made to do His good work? In John 13, there are three major themes, starting with Jesus washing his disciples’ feet; Jesus predicting his betrayal; and Jesus predicting Peter’s denial. The wisdom imparted in these events to come is simply breathtaking.

After washing the disciples’ feet, the question he asked was profound. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” When we come to faith or re-commit our faith, maybe through Alpha, a conference, an outreach event, ministry or some form of gathering, the question is “What’s next?” The excitement, tenderness and vibe gets to us like when we have a nice cool drink on a summer day or going to a dream holiday to satisfy that hunger to do good work.

The issue is when all these emotions of good work taper off. Our heart, mind or even our soul is longing for the next thing to uplift the doldrums of life. We prioritise our life according to what fulfills our desires, and we leave our relationship with God on the back burner. We don’t see God’s good work being able to fill that cup and overflow it with happiness compared to what the world has to offer.

Now going back to John 13, this reminded me of the part when Jesus predicted his betrayal and told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” Clearly, no matter what, God is unchanging and His grace and mercy is on full display.

Everyone is in a different season. By imitating Christ’s humility, the theme of Philippians 2, we can truly love one another and look past turbulent emotions. Before reminding Peter of his future denial, Jesus gave us the key to do His good work. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). It starts with us by not denying our calling but paying it forward by confirming our calling and election as His disciples (2 Peter 1:10), his chosen people, his royal priesthood, his holy nation (1 Peter 2:9).

I will leave you with this quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

“Faith is a decision. It is not a deduction from the facts around us. We would not look at the world of today and logically conclude that God loves us. It doesn’t always look as though He does. Faith is not an instinct. It certainly is not a feeling – feelings don’t help much when you’re in the lion’s den or hanging on a wooden Cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things always work. It is an act of the will, a choice, based on the Unbreakable Word of a God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ.”

Let us pay it forward by:

  • Thanking God that our life is purposeful when we choose to be partakers (2 Peter 1:3-4) and our impact can be greater (John 14:12) to glorify Him.
  • Asking God to help us be in awe of Him by knowing the truth that gives us freedom if we see ourselves as his disciples (John 8:31-32). 

Blog

Share Your Story: Jason Li
Oct 07, 2018

Jason was born and raised in Hong Kong, and has been going to a Christian school since he was young. He knew the stories about Jesus but as he went to university, he grew even more distant from the faith. He eventually returned to Hong Kong as an investment banker and while things were going well; he began to feel a deep sense of emptiness. After searching for a way to fill that gap in his heart, Jason was invited to Alpha by a colleague and began to relearn the faith again. In a mission trip to Mongolia, Jason found Jesus.

Blog

Share Your Story: Karen Koh
Oct 07, 2018

Karen feels that she is able to better portray her feelings through art. She struggles fitting in because Hong Kong values certain academic pursuits, and for university, Karen subscribed to these requirements by majoring in mathematics. She returned to Hong Kong to work for the marketing department at Uber and her creative passions were rekindled. She walked away from everything to pursue this dream, which brought a lot of difficulties but she was encouraged by a Christian. This led her to become curious about God and from there, she came to deeply know God.

 

Blog

Too Difficult to Refuse
Oct 05, 2018

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11

My son is transitioning from a baby to a toddler. He’s making funny faces, learning to walk, baby talking his way through conversations, and pressing any button he lays eyes on. Whenever he wants to be freed from his “prison”, I mean playpen, he stretches his arms above his head, spreads his fingers, stares at me wide-eyed, and makes this sound that mimics a small injured animal. When he does that, I have the hardest time resisting to pick him up. Such difficulty in refusing a request is something I have never experienced until I became a father.

Upon pondering this feeling and where my son’s influence comes from, I came up with two reasons. First, he is my son, and this unique relationship creates a responsibility in me that is greater than all of my other responsibilities. Being a father makes me want to provide for his needs, attend to him at all times, and make sacrifices for him. The second reason is, that he is a helpless baby who depends on and trusts my wife and me for everything. Knowing this makes it hard for me to refuse his requests. This is especially true when the request is something as simple and innocent as holding him.

When someone relies on and trusts you 100%, it brings out an eagerness to try and satisfy one’s request. I imagine that this is the same between God and us. He is our Heavenly Father and when we rely on Him completely, He wants to satisfy us. As Matthew puts it, God’s natural tendency is to give us great gifts and blessings that are good for us. Our issue is that we don’t usually rely on Him the way babies rely on their caregivers. Instead we feel that we know better, we quit relying on our Heavenly Father and act like spiritual adolescents.  

Let us come before God:

  • Thanking Him for His grace and patience in not refusing us; and,
  • Asking Him to help us be a person who always has the spiritual heart of a baby and to rely on Him for everything.

 

 

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