April 30th, 2017
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
(Intro) Faith pleases God. (Heb. 11:6)
The Apostle Paul who was greatly utilized by Jesus said, “Without faith, you cannot please God.” You have to know that God exists and that He rewards you. Once you have faith in God, then you can please Him. The same thing applies in human relationships. People become happy when they buy other’s trust. In 1955, a research study was conducted in Hawaii. The research analyzed approximately 800 infants. The research was carried out for 30 years following up with those infants. It was a massive research study because they had 800 infants involved. It was a longitudinal analysis, spanning 30 years. Out of 800 infants, 200 babies were born in the poor families. So the researchers hypothesized that those 200 babies will become poor and inept for the society. However, after 30 years, the researchers got a different result. Out of their expectation, those 72 kids grew up to be wealthy. They lived with more possessions and they were respectable. Even though they did not receive any inheritance from their parents, those 72 kids grew up well. Interestingly, the researchers found one shared commonality between the 72 kids. They all had a significant person in their lives. That significant person was always around them. That person believed in them, supported them, and trusted them. For example, the significant persons were their grandparents, friends, family members, relatives, teachers, or neighbors who supported them and loved them unconditionally. Therefore, those 72 kids grew up successfully because they had someone who trusted them. It is strengthening to have someone on your side. The research result from Hawaii confirms it. There was another research conducted in Korea for unmarried males. The survey asked a question to 300 men: When are you most thankful for your significant other? The runner-up answer received from the men was “when they embrace my nagging.” 20% of the answer was “when remembering what I’ve said in the past.” 11% of them said “considering my worries as of theirs.” What was the number one answer? A third of the men said that they were most thankful when their significant others trust in them without saying anything. When you trust and believe in somebody, that gives them great strength and power. But on the opposite side, when people don’t believe in you, you lose strength and power. You become discouraged and sad. That is about today’s number 1.
1. There has been unbelief among people through generations.
(1) John the Baptist’s doubt who proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah (Jn. 1:29-34; Mt. 11:2-3)
(2) The people who did not believe in miracles that Jesus personally showed (Mt. 11:20-21)
(3) All belief and unbelief will be paid at God’s judgment (Mt. 11:22-24)
There has been unbelief among people through generations. Let’s look at Jesus’ time. People did not believe in Jesus. They did not acknowledge Him. If you look at Mt. 11:1, you will see the story I am talking about. In Mt. 11:1, Jesus was doing His ministry and met a guest sent from John the Baptist. The guest said his teacher, John the Baptist, sent him here to ask Jesus something. As you all know, John the Baptist went against King Herod and was imprisoned at the time. Because John the Baptist couldn’t ask Jesus directly, he sent his disciple. The guest did not say, “Thank You for doing the ministry for us.” Instead he said, “Are you truly the Messiah, or do we need to wait for someone else?” This is the question asked by John the Baptist through his disciple. From the very beginning, John the Baptist declared that Jesus is the One who was sent from God, that He is the Lamb who would take away the burdens of people. Earlier on, Jesus went to John the Baptist for baptism. John the Baptist realized who Jesus was and he said that he cannot baptize Him and cannot even touch His sandal. However, now John the Baptist was imprisoned so his faith might have been diminished. You all know that Jesus came as the king of the Israelites. Through him, the nation would be restored. The Israelites would be freed from Rome and Jesus would become the king. If that happened, then John the Baptist would be freed from the prison. Because John the Baptist knew about Jesus, you may think that Jesus would reward him. However, Jesus was not in the path of becoming king, but He was going around helping the poor. Maybe that was why John the Baptist’s faith was shaking. Of course this is not recorded in the Bible. However, you can see a different side of John the Baptist from the beginning. He asked, “Are you truly the Messiah?” “If you are not, I need to wait for someone else.” Jesus replied, “Are you suspicious even with witnessing all the miracles I have performed?” It is recorded in Mt. 11:5. The blind opened his eyes. The crippled was able to walk. The leper was healed. The deaf was able to hear and even the dead was revived. Just like it is recorded in the Old Testament, the Gospel was proclaimed to the poor. “Seeing all that, you still don’t believe in me?” “How can you wait for someone else?” “Are you going to look for someone in the palace?” Maybe Jesus was a little bit upset. To John the Baptist, who was considered to be one of the greatest men, Jesus said, “In heaven, you will be the smallest person.” One of the final prophets was John the Baptist. He was a great individual. In Malachi, John the Baptist was even prophesized. The Book records that, in the last day, Elijah will come. Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” By force, you can take anything. With faith, you can take all the blessings of heaven. However, if you have little faith like John the Baptist, you will not gain anything. You will have the smallest amount in heaven. Even if you don’t have the calling from heaven, you can still believe in Jesus Christ and become a great one. This is what Jesus said. It is important to have faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said this again, “You saw all the miracles that I performed, however, are you still suspicious?” Then, Jesus made a comparison. “Do you know what kind of age this is? This age is like the children in the marketplace.” When some kids play music in the marketplace, their friends did not show any emotion. Usually, when your friends are sad, you show sympathy to console them. This is a comparison. When John the Baptist was fasting, they said he was possessed by a demon. When Jesus was not fasting like John the Baptist but eating, people criticized Jesus as gluttonous. They did not realize who Jesus was. Even though Jesus performed many miracles and cured many people, people from many regions did not believe in Jesus. He was able to cast out all demons. He even healed Peter’s in-law. He saved the servant of the centurion. The rumors spread in that region and He healed everyone who was sick. Even after that, they did not believe in Him. Even the greatest prophet who was prophesized in the Old Testament lacked faith. We see that person who trusts in God can still be shaken. Although the people from the many regions saw God’s miracles, they still didn’t believe in Jesus. Jesus went to different places helping people and performing miracles but people, including John the Baptist, did not believe in Him. Jesus was fully a man. So he expressed he feelings. He was sad, frustrated, and discouraged. All those people who did not believe in Him, they were to be judged. Jesus said that people of Sodom and Gomorra were better than them. I think Jesus was upset. Not only Jesus was a man, He was also God. However, Jesus realized and confessed that all those things happening around Him were within God’s sovereignty. It is recorded in the verses 25-26: I praise you Father, the Lord of heaven and earth that you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and have revealed them to your children. John the Baptist did not realize it. Even the people in the regions where Jesus went did not believe in Him. Only young children believed in Jesus. 5000 people were starving and a child went to Jesus and gave Him 5 loaves and 2 fish. The adults did not know about Jesus but kids knew Him. Jesus said, “Thank you for revealing these to children. And this is a rightful thing. I believe you made this happen.” This is the attitude we must have as sons of God. When you are not able to have the confession of faith, you receive scars. When you have a scar and it roots down in your heart, you would become negative and your personality would become hostile. At the end, you would become a person of unbelief. One pastor said that unbelief in one’s heart is a spiritual problem that cannot be healed. But knowing that everything happens under God’s sovereignty, healing can take place. Something bad did not happen because of bad luck, but it was rightful for it to come. It was necessary for it to happen. It was the time for you to enlarge the spiritual vessel. It is a time for you to make it a platform and turn it into a blessing. I’m not trying to persuade you with words, but I’m trying to show it where you can apply it into your life. It depends on how you view this. At the end, everything is on God’s hand. He is the Almighty Father God who is the Creator and He will reward us. And for those who have disbelief, he will judge them. He knows everything and he will plan everything out. So you must entrust everything under His control. You need to confess and believe that at the end it will turn out into blessings. Throughout the history and until now, it has been filled with unbelief. In the midst of that you should not be shaken. There are many people who don’t like church officers and leave the church. You need to open your eyes to see everything. If you are in the midst of that situation, turn it into a blessing. Noah made a big mistake. He got drunk and he fell asleep. And his sons said that he became old. Even though Noah did something foolish, Ham who criticized his father was cursed and Shem and Japheth turn that into blessings. Shem and Japheth were sons who possessed the Gospel. Problems became blessings. I bless you that you will have victory.
2. True rest is only within Christ.
(1) Entrust your weary and burdened life to the Lord (Mt. 11:28)
(2) Take His yoke upon you joyfully (Mt. 11:29)
(3) Learn the meekness and humbleness of the Lord through His yoke (Mt. 11:29)
To those who do not have faith, they will face the wrath of God. Also, Jesus told us that there are ways to experience true rest. What does this mean? Jesus said that all circumstances are in God’s sovereignty. My Father has given Me everything. Except the Father, no one knows about the Son. No one knows the calling from God except through the Father. If you look at Mt. 16, Peter confessed to the Son of carpenter. He confessed before the Son of Nazareth. Peter did not confess that Jesus is a carpenter with great skills. He did not confess that Jesus made much furniture and gave them to the poor. Instead, he confessed that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God. And Jesus didn’t say, “You graduated from a good seminary school.” The person who allowed you to know about this is not from men but from God. Peter was able to confess those things because God allowed him. God allowed him to know that. By God’s grace he was able to know who Jesus Christ was and had the faith that enabled him to confess those words. For those who know who Jesus Christ is, they can come to Jesus with their burden. Those who are weary and are burdened, He will give you rest. Entrust your weariness and your burdens to God. Confess that Jesus Christ has the power to solve all the problems of your life. The problems that you cannot share with others, Jesus Christ has the power to solve those problems. Believe in His power. When you believe in God’s power, He rejoices. When the God of blessings become happy, He will pour down even greater blessings. Jesus said, “Take my yoke.” Receive His yoke joyfully. What does it mean by taking His yoke? You are confessing that I will obey you and I am your servant. You are humbling before God. At that time, He will show you His mercy. Then, He will pour down his mercy upon you. Do you remember the prayers of the Pharisees and Sadducees? The Pharisees and Sadducees prayed to God. They prayed before Him. The Pharisees prayed, “Thank you for allowing me to give tithe.” Honestly speaking, all they had was from God anyways. However, the Sadducees felt sorry to God and asked for forgiveness for not being able to do this and that. However, God listened to the prayer of the Sadducees and discarded the prayer of the Pharisees. What does this mean? God listens to the prayer of the humble who kneels down before God. That is why He said to take His yoke. There are missions you have been assigned at church through the pastor. You’re not trying to satisfy the pastor by completing the mission; rather you are taking God’s yoke. The Lord will be happy and the Lord will bless you. By taking his yoke, you can learn humbleness. As you complete the assignments or missions, you will come to understand the heart of the person who gave you the assignment. Likewise, as you carry out the work of God, you will understand the heart of God. You will understand Him and He will fill all your needs. Paul confessed: I will follow your path and I will embrace your burden. When you do that, you will grow up. God’s goal is raising us inside of Christ. When you follow after God’s goal, He will give you peace, rest, and blessings. Because Jesus rested on the Sabbath, He will give us rest as well. In the midst of your unbelief, when you hold onto His yoke, God will answer you. You will grow spiritually. You will be filled with the unexplainable emotion. You will understand the path undertaken by your spiritual ancestors. “Oh, the missionaries went through this kind of path…” Time to time, I will give the message to some people and ask them to do it. I can’t just read the message to them. They have to see it with their own eyes. And they need to memorize them. They have to understand the content. As you do that, you will understand the minister who has been doing all that before you. May we receive such blessing. When you have a position in the church and work, you will understand the heart of the church lay leaders. Things that you didn’t see before, you will be able to see them. There are people who are always late to church. Let’s say, you are the leader of the praise team. You have to come to church early. Therefore, you have to wake up early to take a shower and put on makeup. As you do that, you will learn. Let’s say the praise team leader came to church early, but none of the members came. Then the leader will get upset. However, this is what God has allowed to happen. This is how you learn the heart of Jesus and experience His humbleness. In the midst of this, there is rest.
3. There are questions that make you to win with faith in decisive moment.
(1) Is your relationship between Christ clear? (Mt. 11:27; Mt. 16:16; Jn. 1:49, 11:27, 20:28)
(2) Am I causing violence on the kingdom of heaven in my life? (Mt. 11:12; Mt. 6:33)
(3) Am I enough and satisfied with only the Lord? (Mt. 11:28-30)
Then you have to make these blessings yours. In your life, there’s opportunity for you to come in conclusion with faith. If you are able to ask correct questions in your life, you will be blessed. What are the questions? John the Baptist who was great, he was shaken. You have to examine and ask questions about your relationship with Jesus. Just as it is recorded in Mt. 11:27, you have to ask this question. Peter was a fisherman and Jesus called him. Later on Peter was able to confess that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus called Nathanael. It is recorded in John 1. Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Jesus said, “I saw you praying under the fig tree.” Then Nathanael confessed, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” If you look at John 11, Lazarus died. Upon the death of their brother, Martha and Mary cried. At that time Jesus asked, “Do you believe that your brother will rise again?” The sisters answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” “Yes Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Then, Jesus proclaimed, “Lazarus come forth.” After the great confession, important things happened. Lazarus who had been dead for a coupe of days was revived. John 20 records the story of Jesus and Thomas. Thomas did not believe that Jesus resurrected. Then, he saw Jesus’ nail pierced hand. After seeing that, Thomas was able to confess, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas didn’t say, “You are the Son of God,” instead he said, “My God.” By saying that, he meant Jesus is God. Not liking that passage, the Jehovah’s witnesses erased those verses from their version of the Bible. The Jehovah’s witnesses do not admit that Jesus is God, but He is a Son of God. Therefore, they are Jehovah’s witnesses not Christ’s witnesses. However, Thomas confessed that Jesus is indeed God. Jesus who died on the cross, he finished everything. He finished everything and He knows everything. He will plan everything for us. He is Almighty Father God. He is my Father. This is what we need to confess. Don’t come to church to listen to the pastor’s explanation of Christ. Even if there is nothing left in the world and all 7 billion people condemn you, know that Jesus Christ is on your side. Even if you go to hell, Jesus will go there with you. Jesus Christ is absolutely going to be with you. Jesus Christ will give to blessings until the end. Jesus will take care of you well. And He wants to hear “Thank you” from you. If you look in the Ephesians, it says “I will praise You forever.” To help your understanding, I will give you an example. God doesn’t need anything because He can stand alone. He could make things appear and disappear. However, He continues to give us blessings. When His child runs away, He prays for him and waits for him. If the child betrays Him, He still provides him jewels and nice clothes. Continuously, he will answer you and He wants you to be thankful. You need to know who he is. You need to be able to give confession of faith to God. Then you need to ask what kind of relationship you have with Jesus Christ. There is another question. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. However, John the Baptist was not able to enjoy that mystery. So I hope you may restore the faith that can take the heavenly blessings by force. First seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. You need to come out of the frame of self-centeredness. As a disciple of “only” Christ, you need to seek the heavenly blessings. Also, change your life as an evangelist, ask to receive the filling of the Holy Spirit, and challenge yourself. You can challenge yourself to give devotions to church once you confirm that everything has been prepared in the kingdom of God. Yesterday, we had the one-day intensive training. Some people came from far away, so I thought it would be hard for them to drive all the way back. But those people said, they are going to sleep over in Austin because the next day is the Lord’s day. Usually, younger generations do not like to sleep over at someone else’s house. They don’t like sharing bathroom. Because of the training, they slept over at someone else’s house. In order to receive the blessings, they took the kingdom of God by force. There are not many people who have such attitude. So I thought to myself that they would be blessed. You need to be at that level. Believe that God is with you and He will complete the work that He has started. Lastly, ask yourself, “Am I enough and satisfied with only the Lord?” “Is your perspective and Jesus’ the same?” “Is Jesus’ interest your interest?” “Is Jesus’ goal your goal?” “Do you love Jesus as much as you feel the take given by the church light?” “Are you happy in those tasks?” When you truly enjoy and love the task you have been given, time flies. If you truly love someone you start doing something you never thought you would do. Nothing will be an obstacle for you. If you love the Lord, you can rejoice in the tasks given by God. Or else, you will think of the tasks as something the pastor has given. So ask these questions. Do you truly like the tasks assigned by God? I hope that by asking yourself this question, you will hear God’s answer.
(Conc) Then son(s) of God will give rest to the generation without rest. (Mt. 12:8; Lk. 6:5)
It says the “sons of God.” We are the sons of God. To the people without rest, we need to give them rest. As sons of God who enjoy His rest, we need to deliver others this true rest. There are people who make others feel uneasy. When you have a conversation with those people, you feel uncomfortable. You worry that those people are quick to anger. People know when you make mistakes. They might have seen your mistakes. However, there are some people who pretend not knowing your mistake. Then, you will feel sorry. Americans call it a manner, etiquette. This is not the way people take pride in. They are being considerate of others. They could say that you broke the promise and you made a mistake. It is not wrong to say that. However, you can let it go and forgive the other person. You need to stand in the Gospel. If a person gets upset in every conversation, you can think that person has a scar and is spiritually oppressed. If you can think that, then, you don’t have to fight the person. When you don’t realize the individual’s spiritual background, you will fight with the person. May you be able to patiently wait for the time schedule of God for that person. That is the attitude of a spiritual summit and sons of God. May you enjoy the true rest that is unchanging and lasts forever. And I hope you would be able to deliver that true rest to others as an evangelist of this age.
Almighty Father God, we give You thanks. Help us to become the sons of God who resemble You inside and outside. We believe that You will take care of this age filled with unbelief. Help us to enjoy Your true peace inside of Christ. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.