March 31st, 2019
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
At this place so far, there are more Koreans than non-, so, I want to share this Korean story with you. In Korea, there was a very famous soccer play named Ji-Sung Park and even referenced as a legend. But, even for this player, he had a time where he was unknown. During the years where he was unknown as a play, he should’ve spent his full time trying his best, but during one of his games, he got an injury and was hospitalized. He was on the brink of being eliminated from the list of representative players, but the coach at the time, coach Hiddink, said these words to him. He was saying to the people around him as well as to Ji-Sung Park that despite the fact that you might be suffering an injury at this time, you’re mentality is top state. Later on, we knew that player Ji-Sung Park developed all the way to the European league…and was able to make a name for himself. He then became the national representative for the country and led his team to the semi-finals. Later on, this is what the player confessed in one of his interviews. He confessed that when he suffered an injury and was hospitalized, he really thought that was the end of his career. He confessed that it was the words of coach Hiddink at that time who told him that even what is going on with you physically, because your mental state is the best in the world—that’s what allowed him to start anew. It was a situation in which his career could’ve stop as being an unknown player. It as a moment where the injury was so critical, it came close to ruining his entire career. Coach Hiddink understood what player Park was going through, and that’s why he shared these words of warmth and encouragement. They had a heart to heart connection, and because of his kind words, it led to the revival of this great soccer player. It means coach Hiddink fully comprehended the heart of Ji-Sung Park. And, player Ji-Sung Park was so greater that the coach understood his heart.
Whoever it might be, if you realize someone is understanding of you and understands your heart, the simple words of warmth will go very far. So, who are the people who are more likely to share these words of kindness and warmth? It is very common for this to happen through the parents to their children. Lovers in a relationship also share these words of warmth and encouragement with each other. Furthermore, friends who are very close and care about each other share these words together. For coach Hiddink, it is very likely he shared these words to the player with the heart of a father. Whether it is the kind and strengthening words of the parent, of the lover, or of the friend, it could really strengthen that person and change that person. And, in today’s scripture, when you look at the word Peter shared, he shared with the heart of a parent, a friend, and a lover. Furthermore, what we need to realize as we return, God’s heart toward us is similar to that of a parent, friend, and a lover.
We know the situation Peter was actually facing during the times of sharing these words. The situation was that it hadn’t even been 2 months since the passing away of Jesus by the hands of the people he was preaching in front of. Think about this. Peter had followed Jesus for over three and a half years, and during that time, he spent the days and nights with Jesus. He heard all the words that Jesus proclaimed. He experienced the miracles that Jesus performed. All the amazing parts regarding God, he learned from Jesus at that time. He could have had the expectation and anticipation that when Jesus becomes the king of Israel, the country could finally free from Rome. And not only that, his state and destiny could be cured. But, it was the very Israelites that killed Jesus themselves. So, all the dreams of Peter were completely shattered. All of these expectations that Peter had were completely broken because the Israelites crucified Jesus on the cross and killed him. But, as Jesus was sharing His amazing messages, Peter realized a lot. If it were for us, how would we have shared the message to the Israelites? We would’ve said, “You killed him, you have to repent. Corner yourself, and you need to be punished. You have killed the sinless one who has been righteous. Because of you, all of my dreams are now meaningless.” Peter could’ve become angry—that was the situation he was in. But, how did Peter relay the message? As he was saying to them that the one whom you killed was Jesus, the Son God sent Himself, following that, what else did he say? God had given us a gift. And if you accept Jesus, whom you had killed, and are baptized by the Holy Spirit, then you can be saved. And, this gift of God, anyone can receive. It is said that he used many words to persuade them. He was able to do this because he also had the heart of God. Let’s us look at one thing. We need to confirm what this salvation is that contains the heart of God.
1. We are the people who received the blessing of the triune God.
We have all been saved, and there is a need to understand what this salvation contains. God has saved me, and what does that mean? It means that God is with you forever. To describe this in a more elaborate and complicated way, it means that the blessing from the Tribune God dwells inside of us. It means that the blessings of the Trinity God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit is inside of us. God the Father, what kind of blessings did He bestow on us? We have to believe that God, because He is our Father, will take care and be responsible of every aspect of us, including ours sins and weaknesses. The fathers in the world we live in, they try so hard and but in so much effort to care for their families and children. It’s usually the fathers who strengthens and tries to take care of the family and children. Then, what kind of responsibilities will God have towards us?
The reason why unhappiness came toward us was because of the first mistake that came from the first man, Adam. Because of the first mistake, failure ascended on Adam, and this curse fell upon all human kind. We were clothed with this curse with no choice but to live with this suffering and be judged in disaster at the very end. But, toward the mankind who committed sinned and was wrong from page one, God gave us the covenant of Genesis 3:15 that He will deliver us the offspring of the virgin. That the offspring of the virgin will shatter the head of the serpent. That He would completely shatter the head of the serpent, the devil, who brought sin to mankind. God promised to us that Jesus, who is this offspring of the woman, will come to deliver us and save us and resolve all of these problems for us. Do you believe this?
This is the first thing you need to realize. Until now, we have lived our lives dependent our own efforts and our own attempts, but it’s not enough. We’ve migrated to the land of America, holding to this American dream, and lived okay feeding ourselves until now. If you have succeeded in accumulating a certain amount of wealth, maybe your senior life, your retirement, will be taken care of. But, I would like to ask a question. Let’s say you have solved the issues of your senior days, have you resolved the issue of after death? It isn’t something we can control. God needs to allow it. More than the 70-80 years of the life we live here, it is the life after that is more important. God has given us this eternal life and is responsible of us because of Jesus, offspring of the version, who He sent to us.
When you make the confession that Jesus is not only the Son of God, but also the Christ, the one who solves all the problems of past, present, and future, that is when we can be saved. That He has forgiven us from all the sin from our past. Not only the problems of the past, but the present as well, you have been confirmed as a child of God. Moreover, into the future, because He has already reaffirmed us, that all things will come together to fulfill what is good, He has confirmed that we have been blessed and all these blessings will come to us. All for one reason. He has finished everything for the sole reason of accepting Jesus Christ who had come to deliver us 2000 years ago as our Lord and Savior. This is the promise He has given to us and has also fulfilled. He’ll be responsible of this. The reason why His Son was crucified on the cross and died was to fulfill this promise. He sacrificed Himself to the extent of death. He loved us to the extent that He sacrificed His death for us. Is this true? This is the responsibility of the trinity God has toward us. This is the extent of His love for us. That is why in John 10 it says, I have given you eternal life, and you shall never perish. And, the God that has given to us, greater than entire creations, that no one can break us away from God the Father. He will be responsible of us. And, in Romans 5:8, it says the love of God is sure. That was when we were still sinner did God send His Son to us to deliver us and save us. When there is true love, you can take even death. When there is true love, even lovers can face death to it. The Father like love. The love of Christ like He is our lover.
There is one more, the Holy Spirit abides in us. That is called Immanuel. That He will be with us for all eternity. Jesus said, John 14:16, I will make this request that the Father will send a separate counselor to be with you forever. If you are really close friends, you’ll want to be with that friend. God not only loves us and wants to be responsible of us, but also wants to always dwell in us. That is when the Holy Spirit enters inside of us. There is a Korean term meaning you are like gum or like glue—the Korean phrase that you’re glued together. They will be referenced as gum, meaning those people are glued together. It’s when two people are very close and love each other. In customary Korean culture, it’s not common that you see Korean who only share the good things. It’s because of the culture and religious background that transcends down. Because of the Christian background in American history, you’ll see Americans spouses being much more affectionate whether it is during worship, they will hold hands and even kiss. But, Korean people aren’t usually very good at this. That is when this adjective is used—when you see Korean people, spouses, who are very close to each other and always doing things together. In a way, they’ll be ridiculed in saying they are glued together. There is this heart of wanting to be together. So, the Holy Spirit of God wants to be so close to us, even beyond being glued to us, and that is why He dwells in us. He wants to do everything together with us.
God’s desire is to save people and to evangelize to all of the world. But, even that desire, He wants to do together with us. Let’s say that God evangelizes Himself—it makes everything much easier. Let’s say He used His mighty forces and performs His works in the middle of the ocean, then it’d be broadcasted to all over the world whatever miracle He performs. God could directly speak to us, too, and all the mass media of the world would broadcast this. He could speak to us, “I am the Lord Jehovah spoken about in the Bible. I have sent to you Jesus 2000 years ago through the people of the Jews to save you. He wasn’t a simple, but My only begotten Son. And, whoever believes in Him will become my Sons like Jesus.” If He just says this, everything becomes so simple. But, that is not God’s method. Despite this being His greatest desire, salvation of the souls and world evangelization, the love He has for us is greater than that so He wants to do this together with us. So, He gives us the opportunity to realize the Gospel and gives us the time to do so. He also gives us the strength to pray for Gospel world evangelism. He attaches people into our lives who also need the Gospel. He’s telling us to do it, telling us to spread the Word of God. He is waiting for us, strengthening us, for His master plan so that, with what He gives to us, we can share this Gospel with others. This amazing work, God can do in one go and one strike. But more than His desire to do so for the sake of world evangelization, He loves us more. That’s why in His master plan, He’s waiting for us to give His word. During the mists of that, He is strengthening us; He is cajoling and waiting for us. It is the same for humankind, for people.
Let’s say you are a person of great wealth. And, after you die, you have to pass on these riches. Let’s say you have a son you can leave your inheritance for, but that son is incapable—doesn’t realize monetary value, doesn’t understand management of wealth, and often times, forget about the money. Could you easily hand off this inheritance to him? That is why, often times, you create a fund and hire an expert CEO to manage that. If he really loves his son, then he’ll use his resources to train up his son. It is the same with God. Whenever He saves a soul, it is the difference between eternal heaven and eternal hell. That is why it is the work of most importance, is amazing value. It is this important work that He entrusted to us. Why? Because He wants to be with us. More than this ministry and this work, the love He has for us is greater than that. I pray that you will realize these are the blessings of the Trinity God. It is God who will be responsible for us. The love that even defeated death, and the love greater than friendship, that He wants to be with us to the very end. That is the heart of God. It was this heart that Peter embraced and preached during the Early Church and during Mark’s Upper room.
2. They were the people with God’s heart.
We need to the people of Mark’s Upper Room also had the heart of God. We can tell by looking into the scripture of Acts chapter 2, starting from verse 38, Peter replied, Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you’ll receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t accuse them of killing the teacher. He said that if you are baptized, you’ll be forgiven of your sins and be gifted with the filling of the Holy Spirit. The salvation and receiving the filling of the Holy Spirit, he is describing it as a gift. He didn’t say that because of what you did, you must become servants or slaves. He is describing that God has prepared this gift. There is no cost, no price, you need to pay. You can freely receive it. Who gives gifts? Who are the ones who unconditionally provide gifts? Parents unconditionally, without a cost, give gifts. That is the heart of God the Father. When there is true love, you give presents without any price. I heard that these days, when young people date and later on depart, they return the gifts they had received from each other. It is not this kind of conditioned-based love. But, Peter already understood God’s heart was to give these gifts. Try to understand this kind of heart and have a similar heart. When you connect to God’s heart in this way, even when you sit still, God will pour down His answer upon you.
In the following verse, it says the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off. It is the heart of embracing all and everyone. That is the heart of God. Peter had this kind of heart. And, this was the heart the people of Mark’s Upper Room processed. Honestly, we only want to hang out with people who have similar hearts and connect with them. But it says God embraced everyone in His heart. If you look at the Old Testament, we all remember the story of prophet Jonah. God command prophet Jonah to go the Gentiles of Nineveh, but he refused to do so. He was saying that these people had harassed and brought abuse to the people of Israel, and that he did not want them to of God so they could be cursed and judged. But, God had a different heart, that to even them, you must share the way to salvation. Because he was disobeying these words of God, he was swallowed up by a fish and in its bellow for three days. God told him that when a tree provides you shade and protects you, that is value and that is important. Then how much more are the people? All the people who need to receive the gift of God, God has embraced everyone. This Gospel was first relayed to the Israelites, and God’s heart was for them share this to even the Gentiles. Jesus, what did He say? He even said to love your enemies. We all have our personal enemies. We might not speak of it, but we surely do have that person. And, anytime you see that person, it riles you up inside. But it says that even to those kinds of people, God had embraced. Peter began to embrace that kind of heart. Explaining and reflecting that kind of heart of God, he relayed these messages—the heart of embracing everyone. We need to begin prayer so that if there is anyone amongst you that you have yet to embrace, pray to embrace them. You need to connect to God in this heart, and that is when God pours down all these answers upon you to the point where you can’t even manage the amount. Does that mean you must become a bigger person with a bigger heart? In a way, you could describe it that way. But, what is the conclusion? It is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gave Himself for all people and told to love even our enemies. Because of Jesus Christ inside of us, we are asked to do this to reveal Jesus Christ inside of us.
Let’s say personally you can’t accept that person. You want that person to fail and be cursed. Because the Lord who saved me, who is my Lord and Master, is inside of me, I’ll embrace that person even if that person is my enemy. In other words, that deed is the deed of confessing the fact that Jesus is the Christ. Do you understand these words? Jesus who is inside of me has separately embraced that person. But, let’s say you aren’t able to do so, you don’t even want the sight of that person. That coincides. You and God go toward this person. Let’s say you might not want to, but already your leader, king, and savior has all ready accepted that person. What can you do? Are you going to say, “Oh, Jesus, You already love that person, accepted that person, but I don’t want to do so. I don’t want to be in the same heaven as this person.” No matter you dislike this person, goes against this person, if a king shows up and accepted this person to go along with you, what can you do? The action that you take is acknowledging that Jesus is the King. Let’s say the children are fighting and the father arrives, everyone stops. What does this happen? Everyone stops because they are acknowledging that the father is the head of the household. It’s a very similar thing. Because God has accepted everyone within Jesus, we must also take that step, as well. Because of Mark’s Upper Room, they embraced this kind of heart of God. That’s how they were able to conquer Rome.
Let’s get one more thing. In verse 40, it say with many other words, he warned them. It is the heart of continuously trying to persuade them, warn them. Let’s say you have something that is so good, you’re going to try really hard and continuously plead with them in order to share what is good with the other person. Let’s say your children or friend is having a hard time understanding, you’re going to try to help them understand. Why? Because you want the best for that person. That’s why it says with many words, he warned them, pleaded with them, and continuously tried to persuade them. Do you believe this? God also Himself continuously tried to persuade Abraham, the father of faith. There is a verse that says God the Father spoke and convinced Abraham. In the English version, God persuaded him. God called Abraham as the forefather of faith. Abraham only look at the situation in front of him and fell into disbelief. Each time, God presented an event to force Abraham to understand. Then, one day, when Abraham was 99 years old, God said to him that he will be given a son. But what was Abraham’s response? I’m close to a 100 years old, and all ready my wife is barren. How can we bare a child? Even at that time, God persuades Abraham. Come before me. Look toward the star light in the sky. God continuously persuades Abraham by saying just as the number of stars in the sky is countless, your future descendants will also be numerous. God uses His messages as well as events to present to Abraham in order to finally persuade him. God raises Abraham up to the point that when He tell Abraham to sacrifice His only son Isaac, Abraham automatically responds with obedience and faith. That is God’s heart. Is that true? It is heart wanting to give us His gifts. It is the heart of embracing all people. The heart of continuously persuading us. Embracing this kind of heart of God, Peter shared the Gospel.
As we know, Peter was from the country side of Galilee, and he was a mere fisherman. But, because he embraced the heart of God, connected heart to heart with God, God raised him as a leader of the Early Church. God blessed him beyond the extent of his prayer in unfathomable ways. That is why when we embrace the heart of God and connect with His heart, God will bless us beyond our imaginable ways, beyond that prayers we have. I bless you in the name of Jesus Christ that you’ll be able to embrace the heart of God and receive these tremendous blessings.
3. The works that happen when you have God’s heart
Then when we embrace this heart of God, what are the things that will take place? When you embrace God’s heart, the moment you receive the word of God, that word will strengthen you. You might ask how can it be so, that by listening to the sermon, I can be empowered? Of course, if you listen to the message as the words of the pastor, you will not be strengthened. But, when you receive the preachings of the pastor as the word of the voice that God is giving to you, that’s when you’ll be strengthen in ways that are invisible to us in your life and surrounds your life. This is the reason why Jesus says in John 6, it is the word that saves, the body is meaningless, and what is saved is the spirit. But, what is the spirit? Is it a ghost? That’s not what it is. That the word that I give to you—that is the spirit, that is the life. What will bring you life is the Word. When you receive the Word of God, you’ll be strengthened. That’s the reason when you start the day, start by holding onto the word. As you pray, receive God’s answers. Because, when you pray, regardless of what that is, shapes, and forms, you’ll be answered. When you dwell within me and my Work dwells within you, than ask anything in prayer and it will be given to you. When you hold onto the word and pray, you’ll absolutely be answered. Then, you’ll be able to live your life as an evangelist fulfilling the wishes and desires of God. 1 Timothy chapter 2, God desires for all people to receive salvation and to know the truth. It is fulfilling this desire, this work, that God wants to do with you. When you embrace this heart of God, that’s when you, through the word, you can be strengthen. And, with that strength, you could share this with others and receive this answer.
That is why when you start you day, start by confirming today’s word, today’s prayer, and today’s evangelism. You might ask how do you do that? This is week 12 of the pastor speaking of the three today’s in the pulpit. How do you do that, then? Just look around, and you could easily catch on to who has been coming here for a long time. You could ask them if you don’t have the courage to ask me directly. Just look around, be aware. You can tell who’s been here for a long time and just ask them how to do the 3 today’s. It will light a fire and embark a new day in your walk of faith as a Christian. I pray you’ll be able to embrace this heart of God, start your three today’s, and be answered and bless to the extent that it surpasses the extent of your prayers.
Let’s pray. Oh, living Father God, at this time, help us embrace the heart of God. Help us have the same heart of sharing this gift to others and embracing all people. Give us the heart so that we will, in the same way, continuously persuade. Help us be the people who connect with You and share the same heart of You. May all the blessings and answer You have prepared in heaven, may it fall to this Earth. Especially help us be strengthened by Your word. And, through our prayers, help us to experience Your answers. Help us to live the holy and righteous life so that our evangelism can fulfill the desires of God. In Jesus Christ name we pray, Amen.