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St Timothy Presbyterian Church in Toronto. Our master feed of our sermons, Bible studies, special seminars and lectures. Continue Reading >>
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Featured Audio
Take Care of Your Soul Scripture Passage
Psalm 42
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Sermon Script
Welcoming
Happy Father&apos;s Day. Also on this day, St. Tim had a joint Picnic traditionally. It is time for Korean-speaking congregation and English-speaking congregation to celebrate our oneness by having worship together and sharing a meal together. We thank God for giving us this wonderful church. God gave us a beautiful weather. And we thank you all for coming out early and preparing for worship and lunch.
We could not have had the joint picnic since 2019 because of Covid. Let us have great time and enjoy our outdoor fellowship which we took for granted. We have realized that we can take nothing for granted. When we can, let us enjoy it with thanksgiving.
Longing and Thirst
I am gonna have a very short reflection today
In today&apos;s passage we hear this.
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1, 2)
LONGING AND THIRST – that&apos;s what our healthy soul has. Like a root of a tree stretching itself towards the water, our healthy soul will move towards its creator. As a deer longs for flowing streams, our soul longs and thirsts for the living God. But that longing and thirst for God do not come automatically. When our soul is not well, it doesn&apos;t have this longing and thirst.
We need to take care of our soul. When our soul is well, everything else will go well.
This is what John said,
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2)
But we are busy pleasing only our body, not our soul. We listen to the needs of our body but we don&apos;t pay attention to the needs of our soul. When our soul gets neglected, it becomes saddened. It slowly dies away.
The psalmist saw that happening within himself and so he said.
My soul is cast down within me. (Psalm 42:6)
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? (Psalm 42:11)
Good Food For The Soul
We need to take care of our soul as we take care of our body. They both need our attention. They are connected. We are a psycho-somatic being.
Don&apos;t just eat good food. Don&apos;t just exercise for your body. Feed your mind with good thoughts. Have a quiet time to be reconnected with God who provides you with all your needs. Be in touch with yourself. Be thankful for all the good things that you enjoy in your life.
Know that you are the beloved. When you feel loved, you will be able to connect with others. Know that you are a beloved child of God. Also treat others as beloved children of God. When you love somebody, your soul comes alive. But when you hate somebody, that hatred will poison your soul.
Accept each other. Forgive one another. Appreciate each other.
Have peace in your heart. Do not worry. Turn your worries into prayer. Feel the presence of God in your life.
These are all good foods for your soul. This is how to take care of your soul.
When your soul is well taken care of, you will have longing and thirst for God. With that longing and thirst, we worship God and our worship will come alive. And our life will come alive.
The Psalmist lastly said this.
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
The post Take Care of Your Soul appeared first on St Timothy Presbyterian Church.
Newest Audio
Take Care of Your Soul Scripture Passage
Psalm 42
Worship Video

Worship Audio

Sermon Script
Welcoming
Happy Father&apos;s Day. Also on this day, St. Tim had a joint Picnic traditionally. It is time for Korean-speaking congregation and English-speaking congregation to celebrate our oneness by having worship together and sharing a meal together. We thank God for giving us this wonderful church. God gave us a beautiful weather. And we thank you all for coming out early and preparing for worship and lunch.
We could not have had the joint picnic since 2019 because of Covid. Let us have great time and enjoy our outdoor fellowship which we took for granted. We have realized that we can take nothing for granted. When we can, let us enjoy it with thanksgiving.
Longing and Thirst
I am gonna have a very short reflection today
In today&apos;s passage we hear this.
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. (Psalm 42:1, 2)
LONGING AND THIRST – that&apos;s what our healthy soul has. Like a root of a tree stretching itself towards the water, our healthy soul will move towards its creator. As a deer longs for flowing streams, our soul longs and thirsts for the living God. But that longing and thirst for God do not come automatically. When our soul is not well, it doesn&apos;t have this longing and thirst.
We need to take care of our soul. When our soul is well, everything else will go well.
This is what John said,
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2)
But we are busy pleasing only our body, not our soul. We listen to the needs of our body but we don&apos;t pay attention to the needs of our soul. When our soul gets neglected, it becomes saddened. It slowly dies away.
The psalmist saw that happening within himself and so he said.
My soul is cast down within me. (Psalm 42:6)
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? (Psalm 42:11)
Good Food For The Soul
We need to take care of our soul as we take care of our body. They both need our attention. They are connected. We are a psycho-somatic being.
Don&apos;t just eat good food. Don&apos;t just exercise for your body. Feed your mind with good thoughts. Have a quiet time to be reconnected with God who provides you with all your needs. Be in touch with yourself. Be thankful for all the good things that you enjoy in your life.
Know that you are the beloved. When you feel loved, you will be able to connect with others. Know that you are a beloved child of God. Also treat others as beloved children of God. When you love somebody, your soul comes alive. But when you hate somebody, that hatred will poison your soul.
Accept each other. Forgive one another. Appreciate each other.
Have peace in your heart. Do not worry. Turn your worries into prayer. Feel the presence of God in your life.
These are all good foods for your soul. This is how to take care of your soul.
When your soul is well taken care of, you will have longing and thirst for God. With that longing and thirst, we worship God and our worship will come alive. And our life will come alive.
The Psalmist lastly said this.
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
The post Take Care of Your Soul appeared first on St Timothy Presbyterian Church.
Homo Sapiens – Wise Human Scripture Passage
Proverbs 8:22-31
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Wisdom in the Darkness
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1, 2)
This is a familiar image we have about creation. Before God created the heavens and the earth, there was nothing but a formless void and darkness. Empty and dark: That was what was like before creation.
But today&apos;s passage tells us something else. There was something else, something more than emptiness and darkness. There was wisdom.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. (Proverbs 8:23)
This I&apos; is the Wisdom. When you read the whole chapter, you will see that.
There was wisdom right from the beginning before the creation of the world. Wisdom has been all along in this world. The world was created by this wisdom and therefore, the world is permeated with wisdom. So wisdom is all around you.
Pursuing Wisdom
You know what!
Happiness is finding this wisdom that is in the world. Our journey is a journey to find this wisdom. Pursue this wisdom and find this wisdom. That will make you happy.
We call human beings Homo sapiens in Latin. It means wise human. Yes, that&apos;s who we are. We are creatures that are imbued with wisdom. We are characterized by wisdom. We are creatures that are made to pursue this wisdom.
We need to search for it to live a meaningful life.
Proverbs said,
seek it (wisdom) like silver, and search for it (wisdom) as for hidden treasures. Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:4, 5)
When you pursue wisdom, it will ultimately take you to the knowledge of God.
What You Need to Hear
Life is complex. People are complex. To deal with complexity of life, we need wisdom. To understand the depth of life, we need wisdom. To have deeper joy of life, we need wisdom. To live a meaningful life, we need wisdom.
When you have wisdom, not only it helps you but you can also help so many people with the wisdom you have. The community that is filled with wise people is the blessed community.
One thing great about wisdom is – you cannot abuse it or misuse it or have it too much. Money – if you have too much, it can corrupt you. Intelligence – you can misuse it for bad things or you can use it to make fun of those who are less smart than you and take advantage of them. But wisdom – you can never abuse it or misuse it or have it too much. It is always good for you.
So in that sense, wisdom is not just intelligence or knowledge. Just because you know the Bible a lot, it doesn&apos;t mean that you will become wise. There are thousands of good advices in the Bible but what is the advice you need to hear right now at this point of your life? Knowing that is the wisdom.
We all know the famous Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
The wisdom is to know whether your situation is what you can change or what you cannot change. Without wisdom, a good advice cannot be a good advice. If you have wisdom, so many good teachings in the Bible will benefit you tremendously. Those words will become like treasures. But if you don&apos;t have wisdom, the Bible can be a dangerous book.
You cannot just randomly choose a passage in the Bible and follow it.
Long time ago, I heard this story. It&apos;s kind of a funny made-up story. It&apos;s funny but it gives us an important lesson. There was a person who was struggling to deal with his complex problems. He didn&apos;t know what to do with his life. So he wanted to get wisdom from the Bible. But he didn&apos;t know how to read the Bible or what to look for. So he just opened the Bible with closed eyes and whatever came to his eyes, he read it.
It was this.
Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he (Judas) went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:5)
No, this is not it. So, he tried again. And this he got this passage.
Do quickly what you are going to do. (John 13:27)
You cannot just choose advices randomly from the Bible. You have to know exactly what you NEED to hear, not what you WANT to hear. That&apos;s wisdom.
Knowing the Difference
The writer of Ecclesiastes said this,
(There is) a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time
You Are Not Alone Scripture Passage
Romans 8:14-17
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A Strong Anchor
It is important to have an anchor in life. What is the anchor? The anchor is what holds us together no matter how strong the wind may be. A boat with a strong anchor will not be drifted away even though there is a strong wind.
In the same way, when we have a strong anchor in life, we will not be drifted away when life&apos;s storms hit us.
Last week, I received very difficult phone calls from all kinds of people. A person who just discovered she had cancer. A person whose marriage almost ended. A person who has a serious issue with her child. It all happened in one week. Life is not easy. Our circumstances are not always good and stable.
I prayed for them. Do you know what I prayed for? Of course, I prayed for their problems to be resolved. But I also I prayed that they may have a strong anchor. I don&apos;t know how they are gonna handle all these problems they are facing right now. I felt for them. They need an anchor.
What is the anchor in your life? What is one thing that holds your life together? For me, the anchor that holds my life together is the fact that I am a child of God. Whenever I face problems, I remind myself that I am a child of God. Yes, that is our anchor. You are a precious daughter of God. You are a precious son of God.
Abba
God will never give up his children like no parents will give up their child.
That was what Isaiah saw.
But Zion said, The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.&apos; Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:14, 15)
God will never forget his precious child.
That was what St. Paul realized in his life.
When we cry, Abba! Father!&apos; it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are CHILDREN OF GOD (Romans 8:15, 16)
Abba is an Aramaic word and it means father. When you call father in a very intimate way, you use Abba. It&apos;s like daddy, , Papa. But it&apos;s more than that.
Only three times, you see this expression in the New Testament. Here, and Galatians, and Jesus&apos; prayer in Gethsemane in Mark.
He said, Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.&apos; (Mark 14:36)
So it is an intimate way of calling a father but not a childish way of calling a father. Behind calling God as Abba, there is deep spirituality of total dependence. It is like a helpless child calling out her parents, totally depending on them. That was how Jesus used Abba. He had his own wishes but he left his life totally in God&apos;s hands.
The Spirit Cries Out
It is a desperate child calling out the father.
St. Paul used this expression.
When we CRY Abba Father.&apos;(Romans 8:15)
It&apos;s like crying out from suffering, crying out for God&apos;s helping hands. There is somebody TO WHOM we can cry out. You know what? When we cry out, the SPIRIT also CRIES OUT for us.
You are not alone. The Spirit is with you. Recognizing that the Spirit is with you is the beginning of spiritual life. The Spirit cries out with you when you cry out.
A little later in the same chapter, Paul talks about what the Spirit does more specifically within you
He said this.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26, 27)
The Spirit cries out when you cry out. When we feel helpless, the Spirit helps us. When we don&apos;t know how to pray, the Spirit prays for us. WE DON&apos;T KNOW HOW TO PRAY - this does not mean that we don&apos;t know mechanically how to pray. It means we are so deeply saddened, so overwhelmed by our problems, so helpless that we don&apos;t even know how to pray. When we see no way out, when the darkness is too dark, and when we see no future, so we don&apos;t even know where to start, that is when we don&apos;t know how to pray. That is what St. Paul is talking about.
Life With The Spirit
When we have no strength left in us even to pray, the only thing that comes out of our mouth is sigh. Karl Marx was not very favourable with the religion. He said that religion is the opium of the people. But he also said right after that, religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. Yes, he saw it right. Religion is the sigh of the
Singing In the Darkness Scripture Passage
Acts 16:16-34
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Culture in Christianity
When you go to Europe, you will see so many beautiful churches and cathedrals. Their culture has been totally rooted and entrenched in Christianity. So many famous artists produced their master pieces with Christian ideas. So many genius musicians composed beautiful music with Christian themes. So many brilliant writers wrote wonderful books about spiritual ideas Jesus taught. Christianity has influenced the whole Europe. Politics, culture, art, architecture, and lifestyle.
Do you know where it all started? It was at Philippi. It all began from Philippi. We read the story today. This story was the beginning of European mission. Philippi was the first city in Europe to receive Jesus&apos; teaching through Paul. The entrance gate for the Europe mission.
It was Paul, Silas, Luke, and Timothy who started the mission to Europe. The very first European Christian was a woman and her name was Lydia. She was a business woman.
Paul did not plan to go to Philippi originally. He had somewhere else in mind. But the Spirit prohibited him from going to a place he wanted to go. And instead, the Spirit sent him to Philippi.
In fact, Paul was sick and he couldn&apos;t go where he wanted to go. He had to go to Troas because there were hospitals. And there he met Luke. He was a doctor and also he was the author of this book, Acts. From there, Luke joined Paul to go to Philippi. That&apos;s why Luke is using the word we . Because he was there too.
We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. (Acts 16:11, 12)
Luke stayed on in Philippi and Paul went to Thessalonica. Luke used they instead of we .
After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. (Acts 17:1)
Luke saw all this as the work of the Holy Spirit. That was how Luke saw his life. There may be visible reasons why we did this or did not do that in our lives. Why you chose to go to that school. Why you chose that job. You may have human reasons to do that. Obvious, Visible Reasons!
But behind it all, there is the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul was sick and that&apos;s why he couldn&apos;t go where he wanted to go but instead, he went to Troas. But Luke saw it as the Spirit blocking him from going to where he wanted to go and sent him instead to Troas. That&apos;s why Paul went to Philippi and Luke joined him. I agree with the way Luke saw what was going on in his life.
The Work of The Spirit
Behind what we do, there is the Holy Spirit who is working. We don&apos;t understand everything but in retrospect, we will be able to see some of it, not all of it. St. Paul had the same attitude. St. Paul believed that the Holy Spirit was working behind what he was doing. That is the power. That gave Paul joy. Knowing that the Holy Spirit was working behind him gave him joy.
He had this joy when he was at Philippi. Whenever he was thinking about people at Philippi, he was filled with this joy. Later when he wrote a letter, thinking about people at Philippi, this was what he said.
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-6)
Paul never imagined what he was doing at Philippi would be the beginning of occupying the whole Europe. A small thing he started became so big. Paul didn&apos;t know that what he was doing was that important. But he had confidence that the one who began a good work among them would bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. That is the power of the work of the Spirit
That was exactly what Jesus said.
He said therefore, What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.&apos;(Luke 13:18-19)
He believed that behind everything he did, there was God and he would make everything beautiful. This belief gave Paul joy.
Singing in the Darkness
Mission at Philippi wasn&apos;t easy in the beginning. The first thing that happened to Paul was injustice, flogging, and imprisonment. He experienced racism there. Anti-semitism.
When they had brought them before the
Life Is Full of Mercy Scripture Passage
John 5:1-9
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Beth-zatha
Beth-zatha! Its meaning is house of mercy. But it wasn&apos;t really a merciful place. The pool had the reputation of healing people. That&apos;s why there were a lot of sick people.
In these lay many invalids blind, lame, and paralysed. (John 5:3)
Once in a while, an angel would come to the pool and stir up the water and if you went into the pool when the water was stirred up, you would be healed. But there was a condition. Only the first person who entered into the pool when the water was stirred up, would be healed.
Imagine what would happen when the water was stirred up. Imagine how they lived their lives there. How they had treated each other every day. They could not be friends. They were competitors.
It was not a merciful place. Only the best of the best could benefit the healing. Only one person who was the fastest could get the reward of healing. Is that mercy?
Mercy – It is hard to understand the concept because we don&apos;t see it often around us. You deserve what you get – that is much more around us and more understandable. If you work hard, you will get a reward. If you are the best, you deserve the honour. If you are bad, you should get punished.
We all live in Beth-zatha. To be healed, you have to be the best. To be happy, you have to be the best. To be loved, you have to be the best.
The Best
This creates tremendous pressure, stress, disappointment, anger, and hopelessness. We can see this hopelessness in the man who had been sick for 38 years. 38 years is a long time. It is how long Israelites wandered in the wilderness.
And the length of time we had travelled from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the Wadi Zered was thirty-eight years, until the entire generation of warriors had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn concerning them. (Deuteronomy 2:14)
For 38 years, this man lived with the mentality of Beth-zatha. He continuously repeated to himself that he could never be the best. That meant he could never be healed. And he could never be happy. He was obsessed with being the best or the fastest.
So, when Jesus asked this very simple question, he couldn&apos;t answer him. Jesus asked him, Do you want to be made well? It is a strange question to the man who had been sick for 38 years. Of course, he wanted to be made well.
But this man could not even answer this simple question of Jesus.
He couldn&apos;t say, Yes, I want to be made well.
Instead he said,
Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me. (John 5:7)
In his mind, he was thinking, What is the use of wanting to be made well? I cannot beat others. I can&apos;t be the best. I cannot go into the pool before other people.
He didn&apos;t understand the concept of mercy. To him, being made well meant being the best. That&apos;s all. There was nothing else. And he could not be the best.
Ask yourself. Do you have to be the best to be happy? Do you have to be the best to be healed?
Mercy From God
Sometimes, we think of our faith in that way too. We think faith is the condition for God&apos;s love. Didn&apos;t God love us even before we believed in him? Faith is not our condition for God&apos;s love but our response to God&apos;s UNCONDITIONAL love. Why does God love me when I haven&apos;t done anything that deserves that love? That is the beginning of having faith.
That was what Paul discovered. Pure mercy of God.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Unless we understand God&apos;s mercy, we won&apos;t understand the joy of life. Joy of life does not come from being the best. THAT&apos;S AN ILLUSION. Joy of life comes from experiencing this mercy. This mercy comes from God. When we live day by day, experiencing the mercies of people, and mercies of life, you become very happy. Our life is full of mercy. Salvation comes from experiencing the mercy of God and mercy of life.
This is what Jesus said.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward w
Prayer, Not Affirmation but Transformation Scripture Passage
Acts 11:1-18
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What Peter Saw
It is a very interesting story and a weird story. Many of you may not even understand what the issue is here. What&apos;s with these animals and eating them? Why was Peter so reluctant to eat them? There are a lot of questions to be answered. It is hard to make sense of this story unless you understand the culture of that time, 2000 years ago. But I won&apos;t go there.
Peter was praying and he had this weird experience.
I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. (Acts 11:5-6)
I don&apos;t know exactly how Peter saw this. Was it a dream? Did he fall asleep while praying? Or did he have some kind of supernatural vision? We don&apos;t know. But that was what he saw. Not only he saw this wonderful vision but he also heard a voice and the voice said to Peter,
Get up, Peter; kill and eat. (Acts 11:7)
Peter protested,
By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth. (Acts 11:8)
Peter was very reluctant. Because all his life he believed that these foods were unclean and so he didn&apos;t eat them.
But the voice told him to eat. This voice was supposed to be the voice of God. That was hard to take for Peter.
The voice not only told Peter to eat it but it also said,
What God has made clean, you must not call profane. (Acts 11:9)
This happened three times. So it was quite clear to Peter. It wasn&apos;t what Peter misheard. It was a clear message.
Peter&#8217;s Prayer
One thing I learn about what prayer does from this story. Prayer does not affirm what you are thinking. Prayer changes what you are thinking.
Many people use prayer to give themselves absolute affirmation for what they already want and what they already know. To them, prayer is affirmation of who they are, what they believe, and what they firmly hold unto. Through prayer, they don&apos;t change. They become more of their old self.
But Peter&apos;s prayer was not like that. In prayer, Peter&apos;s old belief was challenged. What he believed about what was clean and what was not clean was challenged. His attitude, his perspective, and his belief were all changed because of his prayer. Because he met God who was greater than himself. That is what true prayer is like.
If prayer is simply to affirm what you already know and what you already believe, then it can be dangerous. What was just your personal opinions before prayer becomes divinely ordained absolute truth after prayer. Your personal opinions become God&apos;s will through prayer. That&apos;s dangerous.
Peter&apos;s prayer was very different from that kind of prayer. Jesus&apos; prayer in Gethsemane was the same. What Jesus wanted was not affirmed. What he wanted was not granted. Jesus knew clearly the difference between his personal desire and God&apos;s desire for him. That&apos;s spiritual maturity.
St. Paul&apos;s prayer was like that too. Once St. Paul prayed because he had thorn in his flesh. We don&apos;t know exactly what that thorn was. But it tormented him. It hindered not only his ministry but also his life. He prayed to God three times. Again three times. He prayed that God might remove these thorns. But God didn&apos;t. What he wanted, he didn&apos;t get through prayer. He knew clearly what he wanted and what God wanted. That is spiritual maturity.
Affirmation and Spirituality
God did not remove the thorns but instead, God gave him this great insight.
My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I know we have this tremendous desire to be affirmed. That desire is our idol. We have to be right. We have to be correct. We have to be righteous. We have to be considered as good and perfect.
People will do anything to prove this. Of course, people&apos;s context will be very different and so in a different context, people will use different ways to affirm that they are great. In the job, going up the ladder will affirm who you are. In a religious circle, being kind and being good will affirm who you are. In an academic field, being smart will affirm who you are.
Being spiritual does not necessarily affirm who you are in that way. When you are spiritual, instead of being affirmed, often you will encounter your own prejudice and narrow mindedness. You encounter your own limitedness.
You are exposed to your raw self
Beautiful Faith, Beautiful Sacrifice Scripture Passage
Revelation 7:9-17
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John&#8217;s Vision
The passage we read is a beautiful vision of the future. Multitudes from all the nations worshiping God together. No more hunger or thirst. Every tear wiped away. What a vision!
But this vision was far from the reality of the community that this letter was addressed to. John, the writer of Revelation, was writing to people going through great difficulties. They were under great pressure. They faced persecution because of their faith. They were weak and powerless politically, socially and economically. The world they lived in, the world as it was, was not a world that was favourable for them.
In these undesirable circumstances, John had this vision of a very different future. It was so different from their present reality. It was a vision of faith. This is where I realized: faith is a vision for a different future. Faith is having a vision and belief that this future can come into being. The Hebrews writer said this:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Many people in John&apos;s communities were starting to give up on this dream. They were starting to lose faith. Life as it was seemed too entrenched, too powerful. They started to orient their lives toward life as it was, not on the future that God would bring. They began adjusting and adapting to life as it was, even if it wasn&apos;t really what they wanted. John shared his revelation so that they would continue on in faith.  To not give up.  To hold firm.
Faith In a New Future
On this Mother&apos;s Day, I think of many of our parents, the 1st generation of immigrants to Canada. After experiencing war and poverty, the future they wanted was different from the present they knew. Coming to Canada was an act of faith: faith in a new future. This faith gave them tremendous energy. Starting with nothing, they worked day and night to get established and settled in this new land. Their energy and desire for a different future left them very open to faith in God. They welcomed God to usher in this new future they desired. Their faith led them to sacrifice tremendously for the church. I mean, think about it: they&apos;re working at their store from 7am to 11pm, 7 days a week. But still, they managed to go to church every Sunday. I look back now with amazement how I went to church pretty every Sunday without fail. Not only that, they gave so much and so generously.  They were not rich or wealthy. But they gave so much (time, money, energy) to build the churches we enjoy today. As I think about them I realize this: when you have faith in a new future, it gives you great energy, and you make great sacrifices to bring that future about. They had faith, and from that faith came sacrifice.
John saw a clear picture of this new future. At the end of Revelation, he describes what this looks like:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2)
He was imploring his communities to hold fast in faith for this future that God would bring. It was a cry for them to keep the faith.
The Faith of The Next Generation
A common question in our churches today is: where is the faith of the next generation? We see young people leave our churches and leave the faith. This has been the concern of many 1st generations. If you probe deeply enough, I think the question that comes is: why do I need faith? That is really the reason so many have left our churches and the faith. I mean, the 1st generation needed faith.  They yearned for this new future, but knew that on their own they were weak and powerless. They had experienced their powerlessness as a nation in the face of the great global powers. They welcomed God&apos;s help. But times have changed, and we don&apos;t have the same yearnings that they had. Their wishes came true, and we live quite abundantly now.
Here&apos;s the simple truth: if you are content with your present life, your present situation, and life as it is, then you don&apos;t need faith. If your goal is to simply adapt to life as it is, to plug into the world as it is, then you don&apos;t need faith. All you need is effort, smarts and good luck.
The thing is, I think most people know that all is not right. Even in the midst of our abundance, we feel that things are not all right. We know the problems. We know that things need to change. I don&apos;t think people want to simpl
Move on With Love Scripture Passage
John 21:1-19
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Peter&#8217;s Pain
Jesus asked Peter, Do you love me? Why did he ask this question? He could have said many other things but he asked only this one question three times. We automatically assume that he asked this question because Peter denied Jesus. Definitely, this must have been in Peter&apos;s mind. He connected Jesus&apos; question with his denial. So when Jesus asked him the same question three times, Peter was hurt.
He said to him the third time, Simon son of John, do you love me?&apos; Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, Do you love me?&apos; (John 21:17)
This question was a very difficult question to answer for Peter. A very uncomfortable question. He must have asked himself this question numerous times. Do I really love Jesus? If I do, how could I deny him, not just once but three times? What a coward that I am!
Peter was going through a painful time. Deep sorrow and deep regret! When Jesus said, everyone will become a deserter, Peter said I will never.
Even though all become deserters, I will not. (Mark 14:29)
But Peter realized that these were just empty words that carried no weight. He realized he was too weak. He was filled with fear. That&apos;s why he deserted Jesus.
So when Peter heard this question, Do you love me? , he automatically connected that with his denial.
BUT JESUS WAS DIFFERENT. Peter might have thought of it that way but Jesus&apos; thinking was different from Peter&apos;s. His mind was not on Peter&apos;s denial. Jesus didn&apos;t even mention about Peter&apos;s denial. Jesus was not concerned about what Peter did to him in the past but he cared about how Peter would take his future. Jesus&apos; mind was not focused on Peter&apos; past but on his future.
Every time Jesus asked Peter, Do you love me? , at the end, what did Jesus say? &#8220;Feed my lamb , Tend my sheep , and Feed my sheep. Jesus was very focused not on what Peter did but on what Peter would do.
Jesus came to Peter not only to forgive what he did but also to restore his calling and prepare him for the future.
What Peter needed was not just to feel better. What Peter needed was not just comfort. What Peter needed was to pull himself out of a rut he was in. Peter was too sad to think about his future. He was too heart-broken to move on. He became stuck in his past.
Look at what he did! He went fishing. When he first met Jesus and followed Jesus, he left the net and followed Jesus. But now, he picked up the net that he left and went back to fishing.
This whole scene was like the first time, when they met Jesus the first time. They fished all night but they caught nothing. And Jesus told them to cast the net to the right side of the boat and they caught so many fish.
Jesus knew that Peter was stuck in his past because of his guilt. Peter was disillusioned about himself. Jesus wanted to take Peter out of a snare of his past.
Move Forward
You know what happened in the past does not stay in the past. Just because time went by, what happened in the past does not pass by. It still affects us. Especially, our painful past does not just stay in the past. It pulls us back into the rut. It is like a black hole. It pulls us back into the dark hole.
People who suffer from PTSD still live in the fear of their past. They can never let go of their past and move on. There are people who still live with guilt, anger, and disappointment because of what happened in the past. Their past holds them back. They can&apos;t go forward.
We have to go forward. Not because we did everything well in the past. We have a lot of regrets. We have a lot of mistakes that we made. But we cannot get stuck in the rut.
This is what St. Paul said
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
St. Paul also committed terrible sins against Jesus. He persecuted those who followed Jesus. Jesus appeared to Saul and said,
Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?&apos; (Acts 9:4)
He wanted to destroy Jesus&apos; movement. He persecuted the church. But after meeting Christ, he realized how sinful he was. He regretted what he did.
For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:9)
But he didn&apos;t get stuck in the past. Forgetting what lied behind, he pressed on. He moved on forward.
That was what Jesus wanted Peter to do. Je
Faith, More Than Me Scripture Passage
John 20:19-31
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Honesty
Thomas said,
Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe. (John 20:25)
He was very specific. He knew exactly the condition for his belief. He demanded this condition to be met before he said he would believe.
Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was resurrected. Unfortunately, Thomas wasn&apos;t there. The other disciples told him that they saw the Lord.
But that wasn&apos;t enough for Thomas. He needed to see Jesus with his own eyes. He needed to feel him with his own hands.
I can understand how he felt. He could not pretend that he believed when he did not have this conviction. He was honest.
I think there is a lesson for us to learn. Honesty is the first step of faith. Honesty is where our spiritual journey begins.
Fake Faith
Faith is not something you can fake. Faith is not something you can pretend to have. What is the use of it even if you fake it? For whom? Fake faith will not give you peace and confidence. Counterfeit bills may have the same benefits and power as the real bills but not counterfeit faith.
Last week, one of ESM members told me that what I said about hope rang true to him.
Hope in a good situation is not really hope.
And he asked me about hope without action. Is it real hope if it doesn&apos;t lead to action? I told him, if it is real hope, it would lead to action. Hope and action are not two separate things. They are connected. One and the same.
Faith is the same thing. If it is a real faith, it will give you peace and confidence. Fake faith will not be able to give you that. Thomas could not fake it. He was honest. He showed us a good example of finding faith. Because of Thomas&apos; honesty, he was able to meet Jesus again and see him. His honesty brought back the resurrected Jesus again. Just for Thomas, Jesus came again.
Struggle
We realize that Jesus will never leave us alone in our struggles. That&apos;s what I believe. God never leaves us alone in our struggles. That was what Jesus promised.
I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. (John 14:18)
God wants you to honestly struggle with your questions and even doubts. He would not rebuke you for that. He would not leave you alone as you struggle with your doubts. He would be there and reveal himself to you. That was what Jesus did to Thomas.
Jesus knew Thomas&apos; struggle. He knew Thomas&apos; doubt. He did not abandon him. He rather revealed himself to Thomas.
When you honestly seek God, God will show himself to you. Yes, that&apos;s all you need. HONEST STRUGGLE AND HONEST DESIRE TO MEET GOD.
When Thomas met Jesus, what did he do? Did he look for the mark of the nails in Jesus&apos; hands? Did he put his finger in the mark of the nails? That was his condition for his belief, wasn&apos;t it? Unless that condition was met, he said he would not believe. But when he met Jesus, this condition was not necessary. Even when Jesus invited him to see the nail marks and touch them, he didn&apos;t do that.
He simply said,
My Lord and my God!
That was the highest confession anyone could make about Jesus. Until then, nobody really called Jesus God. At most the Son of God.
But Thomas looked at Jesus and said, My Lord and my God! (John 20:28)
There was change in Thomas. He thought his faith was BASED ON WHAT HE COULD SEE AND WHAT HE COULD FEEL. He thought it was very much to do with how he perceived. He thought faith was to do with him, his conviction and his assurance. We are like him too. If we feel good about God, then we can say we believe. If we see some assuring signs, then we say we believe. How we feel and how we perceive are very important to us. It&apos;s all about me and how I feel about God.
Absence
When I was in university, I used to study at Robarts library. It is U of T library. 13th floor, Red section. That place was like my second home. When you get to the corner, it faces East and you can see the whole campus. That corner was my sanctuary. It was my sacred place. Jesus often went to the mountain to pray. That was my mountain. I often went there to pray.
One day, I wanted to feel God more. So, I asked him. Lord, can you show me a sign? You are almighty. You can use the cloud. Maybe something similar like heart shape? Or do anything to assure me that you are there. God didn&apos;t give me any sign. Even if he gave me the sign, soon, I would have wondered whether it was just a coincidence. That is not how faith
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