June 28, 2015 [Jonah 2]

June 28, 2015
[Jonah 2]
“Salvation belongs to the Lord”
Pastor Kenny Lee

I’ve forgotten to send the over the title of the sermon, so I could change if I wanted to, if I wasn’t pleased with it. But anyways the sermon title will be called “Salvation belongs to the Lord. ” Salvation belongs to the Lord. Let me just recap for you for those who do not know this wonderful story. Just to start off, Jonah is not the… Jonah is very different; Jonah is not the usual prophet that you might think. Most prophets are like Noah in the flood, Noah is obedient, so he went into the ark and there was a flood. Abraham, father Abraham, the father of faith, Israel. David, a man after God’s own heart. Isn’t that a great title? You know what Jonah is known for? A fish. Being stuck in the belly of a fish, that is what he is known for. Even Samson, Samson he kind of not a good figure, but at least Samson “Grrrrrrr” destruction, takes the jawbone of a donkey, he starts hitting people, that’s pretty cool, you know? And its not like Jonah was fishing and caught a big old fish; he got eaten by a fish. In other words he was the bait, not a good look. But yet its funny the prophet I most associate with is happens to be this man, Jonah. Why? How many times does God tell me to go this way and I go that way. How many times does God say “Love.” “Oh Lord I just don’t like this person.” How many times do I disobey God? Anyways, Jonah is a person I can identify myself with right? There are some wonderful things about Jonah though, that we should see, that we should look into. Something that we need and there are so many people who came up to me and said “I’m so glad we’re doing the book of Jonah.” I wanted to kind of avoid the book of Jonah but as we’re going through Jonah you know, I mean I was like saying “Pastor Brendon, why don’t we do this, what do you think about Deuteronomy, what do you think about that?” I just didn’t want to do Jonah, but no Pastor Brendon is like “How about Jonah?” “How about no?” No. But anyways as we’re doing Jonah, I’m glad we’re doing Jonah. It’s a very hard, difficult book for me to swallow, you know?

How does Jonah get to be where he is? Disobedience. What happens is that God tells a prophet, “Hey prophet, you know my Word. I want you to go to Nineveh and it’s a very sinful place. It’s a place that probably did you wrong. They probably treated your people in a very wrong way. I want you to go to those very people and I want you to preach the good news to them.” “No! Anything but that Lord, you could feed me to a pack of hungry hounds, you could do anything, you could even kill me, but the last thing that I will ever do is go into Nineveh and preach your good word. I wont do that. Never.” “No Jonah, go.” “No I will not.” And the text says he went to Tarshish, Tarshish, Tarshish. He went to a city that is opposite of Nineveh. As he’s on that ship he is rocking back and forth, the text says, “God hurled a wind, a mighty tempest grew” and in the end what happened was that Jonah says that storm is because of me and all you have to do is throw me overboard. In other words, Jonah says you know what, I’d rather die. Just throw me overboard and everything will be all set. So the mariners, the boat people reluctantly throw, hurl Jonah overboard. The storms die down and Jonah is in the middle of the sea about to die, when he gets eaten up or swallowed up by a big fish. Some people say that it’s a whale, a hump backed sperm whale or something like that, but the Bible says it’s a big fish. And do you know what I stick with? It’s a big fish. Okay? But here is what we can learn from Jonah.

A lot of scholars say that when Jonah is swallowed up by the fish, that represents death, that represents him just dying, or he’s at the point of death, or he thinks he’s at the point of death. So the question I have is what does a man who knows the almighty God, what does a man who knows God, what does he do when he’s at the point of death, when everything is said and done, when storms arise and after that he thinks that because of his running, because of all this turmoil in his life when things are going bad, what does a prophet do? What does a Christian do? What does a person who loves God, who has a relationship with God, what does he or she do? We know that Noah has a relationship with God, we know that why? Because he’s a prophet. Not to say that all pastors are Christian, not to say that all people who go to church are Christian, of course not. But we know that Jonah has a relationship with the Lord. And what does a person like that do? Well he prays. So what does that mean? One of the first things that happen is when he’s in distress he and he’s alone and he thinks he’s about to die, he depends on God. 2“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol”, out of the belly of death I cry out, out of the belly of grave I cry out and you hear my voice. We could learn a lot from that. Do you remember what Jonah was doing? Jonah was going in the opposite direction of what God told him to do. In other words, he was rebelling directly against God. He knew it, God knew it, every body knew it. Even the ship, those pagans, “Why is this?” “Because of me, because I’m running away from God.” Even they knew it. But one thing that Jonah knows is this. Even out of the belly of a fish, or what Jonah considers, out of the belly of the grave as it were that God hears my voice, that God hears my voice. Do you know that? Really do you know that?

You know a lot of times when people come into my office, they talk and things are not going bad they go “Oh yea, I have to praise God...yea. I have to go to God. I have to talk to God, yea, yea, yea.” And then things get worse “Yea I got to talk to God, yea I’ve got to praise God, yea. I’ve got to do that to God…God…God.” Things get a little worse than that. “Oh yea I’ve got to… yea I’m depending on God, I’m talking to God, and I’m doing this and that.” And things get worse and worse and it’s to the point of death. And do you know what I see? What I see is that they don’t go to God. They ultimately go to something that they depend on or something that they’re comfortable with. A lot of times people go to things that they go somewhere to forget, they drink, drugs, some people party it up, some people spend, some people want to have influence over other people, sex, or even a good thing like “I’m going to study” and they study. Some people want to…they don’t want to think about things so they concentrate on just being a good person, even things like that. Even those things are bad. Is that all you are? No. If at the end of the road, when everything is not going well, not going your way, or who do you, who or what do you turn to? Do you turn to things of creation? Which is this world, everything is created or do you go to the creator, the one who created everything? One wonderful thing that Jonah does, Jonah may have done a thousand, a thousand things wrong but one thing that makes him okay, more than okay, is that he goes to God. And he knows that God will hear, that’s wonderful news folks. That’s amazing news that should make you jump up for joy! You could do a thousand things wrong. You could sin after sin after sin; do you know that God will hear you? Do you know that God will forgive you? Do you know that God is waiting for you? The only way you know is if you have a relationship with him. That was, that was… if you walk away with that, if you walk away today with that, you’ve gotten your money’s worth I’m telling you.

You know you notice that if you look at the text, if you look at the scripture reading of Jonah 2, it is a little bit different from Jonah 1, 3, and 4. What so different about it? Well, this is almost like a poem, right? It’s a prayer, it’s a poem, it’s a wonderful, beautiful poem. It looks more like the book of Psalms than a historical prose narrative, right? Instead of like the regular Bible right? That’s because it’s a prayer, because it’s a poem, its poetry, its song-like. And this is what most scholars call a chiastic structure, a chiastic structure, a chiastic structure. What’s a chiastic structure? Well it’s a form of an x, x marks the spot right? So what it does it has similar themes on the opposite side and as it goes, as it goes closer to the x, to the point, that is the main point of this whole text, right? Don’t worry if you’re curious more about chiastic structure come to Bible study and we’ll learn more about it. Ding! Great. So this is in the form of chiastic structure, okay? And do you know what is at the center of the chiastic structure? What is the whole point of this, of this whole prayer? At the end we see verse 1, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress…out of the belly of” hell, of Sheol I cry out and you hear my voice and “you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas” and all that stuff and you know we look at that and in verse 4 it says “Then I said ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ “ That is the center of the chiastic structure, meaning the center of this whole thing is that I will look upon you, I will look upon your hole temple. Why is that the center? I will look upon your holy temple, why is that? What is the current day temple? Well the current day temple is the church, right? So I will look upon your holy temple back in these days, right, the temple was where the spirit of God reigned, where the spirit of God came down. The current day temple right now is the church. And I’m not merely just talking about CCC, what I’m talking about is the universal church. You, me, everyone who loves Jesus, you know all of that.

So what is Jonah saying that we can apply to ourselves right now? See Jonah was during the time when Israel was flourishing, the temple was being created; the temple was built during that time. And you know it’s a wonderful time and when the temple was being built to dedicate the temple, this is what it says in 2 Chronicles 7. This is what the writer of Chronicles says, “11Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king's house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,” and here’s a famous passage, okay? 14If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” See that? 14If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And Jonah knows that and what Jonah does is Jonah says “I’m going to look again upon your holy temple, where your presence is, because that is the most important thing right now.”

What is the most important thing to you? And I’m going to go more into that holy temple. Do you know where that holy temple is right now? It is not in this place. You know who makes up the church? You and I, those who believe, see Jonah knows one thing, is that salvation belongs to the Lord. We see that at the end. “9But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Don’t you know that salvation, your salvation is from the Lord, do you know that? It is not from anything else, it’s not from being how smart you are, how pretty you are, or anything like that. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Beloved CCC, what we need to do is we need to know the reality of things. Do you know that God has a plan for you? Even now do you realize that whatever situations that you are in, whether you are in a tempest, you are in a flood, whatever state that you’re in, do you know that God has a plan for you, God has a purpose for you, God has a design for you. Who do you look towards? What do you look towards? Do you have God at the center? Or do you have yourself; do you have this dream of being a successful person? Do you have this dream of being an extremely smart person? Do you have this dream of being an extremely pretty person? Or even good things like so you dream about being a good father or good mother or good son? Those are wonderful things, but if that’s your end all be all, its nothing. Who do you look to? Look Jesus, God has individually called us to him, don’t you know that, for those who are in Christ, so that you would make him the center of your life. God loves you so much; God loves us so much that he would literally send his one and only Son for you and I. And for those who believe and have a relationship with him, can have eternal life, that’s the gospel. And what God does is this. God puts people in your life, God puts, God sometimes allows hardship in your life. God doesn’t merely put things in your life. God allows things in your life to happen. It is because he loves you and wants you to come to him.


Do you think that Jonah was really, really mad because he was in the belly of a fish? No. How do I know that? In the end you know what he says? “9But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” So in his prayer, you know he was running away from God, he gets swallowed up by a fish, he is not a happy camper, he’s bitter, he’s angry, but towards the end of his prayer, him realizing everything. You know what he is? He’s thankful. He’s thankful. Are you thankful for your life? Are you thankful for the fact that you have a relationship with God? So all these whether you have a good mother, good father, bad mother, bad father, a bad situation, a bad school, bad friends, good friends, whatever situations that you are in that God has a design and a purpose for you and you’re here. And you have a relationship with the Almighty God and that makes all the difference in the world, do you know that? So that you can look back on your life and say thank you, thank you, thank you, because ultimately salvation belongs to you oh God. This is how I know you Lord Jesus, its through series of these things. Do you know why a lot of you come to church; do you know a lot of the reasons why? I know some of the reasons why you guys come to church, because your mom and dad forces you to come to church, okay great. But you’ve got to go beyond that, go beyond just “Uh. My mom tells me to go to church because of that I want to come to church.” No you cant do that anymore. You’ve got to think. You know why I come to church? I come to church because I love Jesus, and I want to follow him for the rest of my life. You cant do that anymore. Do you know that God has a design for you right now? God has a purpose for you right now. What he wants to do is meet you face to face and know you face to face. You know in the end it has to be thanksgiving.

June 21, 2015 [Jonah 1]

June 21, 2015
[Jonah 1]
“Run, Run, Run”
Pastor Brendan Wu

You know I was trying to sleep last night, just trying to get some rest, put my phone on silent, and the thing is, you know how you get those alerts, any of you guys get those alerts last night? Flash floods! Flash floods! And then my phone is vibrating, ding-a-ding-ding! It was like crazy and it disrupted my sleep twice. And I would look out the window and everything would just be whoa, it was like, I felt like Jonah 1 was coming true, but not really the same at all. So anyway that was interesting, just wanted to share my side of the night. We’re going to be looking at Jonah and Jonah is a great book because I just think its really humorous at times, but at other times there’s just such striking things.

The first thing that we see is that “1Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai.” And you’re probably wondering who the son of Amittai is. Well Amittai was a prophet that made Jonah a prophet’s son, so he was a PK, a prophet’s kid. And when the word of the Lord came to Jonah, you know a lot of us would think like “Oh okay.” You know if you’re a Christian, if you’re a believer, or if you were an Israelite back then, you’d be really excited when the word of the Lord came to you. And the word of the Lord came to Jonah and it said, 2 ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ ” And we would think Jonah would be excited to be called by God, to be used by God, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t excited for God’s word. And instead what we see is that, yeah Jonah got up, he rose, and he 3[But Jonah] rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa” first, he “found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.” So I think that this book of Jonah is just so amazing in a lot of different ways. For example, one of the things that we’re going to really briefly is how every single time we see the word great, great city or we see the word extremely or exceedingly, in the original language they didn’t have any adjectives like that, they didn’t have the adjectives in Hebrew, great, exceedingly, extremely, and instead the kind of adjectives they had were the way they would describe a city as being great is that they would say it twice, so they would say like “Wow. This is food, food. This is food, food” in Hebrew or something. Or if a pit were very deep, they didn’t have any way to say it was deep, so they would say “Oh wow. Look at, be careful don’t fall into the pit, pit.” Or “You are ugly, ugly.” Or “You are handsome, handsome.” And then you know, for all of us who might be familiar with interestingly enough the only place where something is said three times in order to emphasize it, is when Isaiah is talking about how he is seeing God, oh no, no, the angels, he sees the angels and sings “Holy, holy, holy is God”, so oh perfect. But most of the time we get two of them. So here we see this fact that God sees the city, city called Nineveh and Nineveh back then was the capital of Assyria, which means nothing to you right now because we live in post-Modern America and we don’t have a good grasp of history, but back then Assyria was the nation that was on the brink of climbing up the ladder of success, and it was going to destroy Israel. Assyria was like Floyd Mayweather coming for all the other innocent boxers, no just kidding. But he was like the… Assyria was like the Floyd Mayweather, the best of the nations then, and so this was basically Israel’s enemy.

God has a gracious heart, for those of us who have gone to church for more than a little bit, God has such a gracious heart and Jonah knows this. And actually when he thinks about how God has a gracious heart, that’s why he choose to run in the opposite direction of Nineveh and go to Tarshish, which is modern day Spain. Jonah thinks that Nineveh isn’t deserving of him and that’s not the case. Meaning it’s not up to Jonah the prophet to think whether he should or shouldn’t love or speak to a person. Its not up to us to think that “Oh as Christians, we’re better than others.” And so its up to us to think about whether we want to really love and care for someone. And I think that as I read this book Jonah its really showing off our self-righteousness, how a lot of times just because we think we’re Christian, just because we think we know a lot about Scripture, or we grew up in church, that we’re better than people. Scripture doesn’t show that we’re better than anyone else in any kind of way. I believe that scripture shows that we’re better off because we have the presence of God, the word of God coming to us. So in that sense we have Jesus Christ who loves us and died for us on the cross, died for our sins, but we are not better off than any person here, we’re not better off than any of the 7.2-3 billion people on this Earth. Yet a lot of times we have this hierarchical view or this totem pole view of Christians being higher than non-Christians, and it’s just not true. In fact when I see Jonah act like this, I see myself and I see us. Meaning even when we have the word of God coming to us, even when we have the presence of God, we still run away, we still act in ways that are ridiculous. A non-Christian, someone who isn’t a Christian doesn’t have Jesus Christ in their lives, so it makes sense for them to run to different addictions, to run to different desires, because those are the only things that they really know, and those are the greatest things in their life. But for those of us who are in Christ, for those of us who are Christian man its crazy, I see my life, I see myself, I have Jesus and yet at many times, I still act in the ways I do. Where I see myself not trusting God, being jealous, being lazy at times, and I have Christ and I think its this very point that Jonah this book is trying to strike, that we need to come back to the grace of God, that we’re not that good. And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve walked with Go, but the longer that you walk with God, the more and more we should realize that we’re not that good, but God is extremely good, so run, run, run.

Point number one is we run away from God and we see Jonah running away from God. We all run away from God. Jonah got up because God said get up, but when Jonah got up he fled in the opposite direction of the Lord. And it’s very interesting, this a little bit of a nerdy sermon, but every single time we see the word down, its really kind of describing what Jonah is doing, he’s running away from the word of God and you see his life go down. He goes down to Joppa and he finds a ship going to Tarshish and he pays the fare and as scripture is describing this the idea of him finding a ship there’s a sense of pride, like he found this great deal, like he went to REI and found this great deal, like he went onto orbit or kayak.com and he found this great deal and then by the time he gets there he pays the fare, he goes down into the ship “Whoa, I’m going to Spain and I’m going to see Barcelona and Madrid and all theses other places and yea!” But at the same time scripture is saying that he’s just going away from the presence of the Lord. We all run away from the Lord and his word. And we think that we’re doing so well in our lives. Think about this. What is your focus in your life right now? Or what is even the focus of your summer or summer break? Are you running in the direction of God’s word, wanting to learn more about God’s word? Or are you running in the opposite direction, thinking that your job is a big deal, school is a big deal, or something else is a big deal? That cannot be the definition of your summer break or any of our summers for all of us who are working.

But we see that God is gracious and that’s the second point. That God runs after us even when we run away from him. We see that in verse 4, God “4hurled a great wind upon the sea” so we see the world great, so God if you take a look he’s hurling a wind, wind on the sea, a wind like you never saw before, WHOOOO! Like whoa, like wind, wind, I’m reading this and I’m like Whoaaa! You ever see those advertisements where it’s like people getting blown away and then there might be this girl in a dress like “Ahhhh!” I just imagine that or like in California you know maybe there is a tropical island storms and the palm tress are going like “Ahhhh!” And the hair of palm tree is going like “Ahhhh!” That’s what is going on, it’s the wind, wind upon the sea. Mighty tempest. Tempest, tempest upon the sea. And the ship is threatening to break up. Imagine if you’re one a ship and it is threatening to break up, man I don’t like ships, I like some ships, I don’t like big cruise ships, I’ve had bad experiences, but this great storm, it is horrible. These mariners, these sailors are afraid, and they are crying out each to their own God. At some part of it, it is just so comical; they each are going to like “I’m going to cry out to this god! I’m going to cry out to that god!” And then they are hurling their cargo into the sea, trying to lighten the ship up. “Oh maybe we’re too heavy, we need to lose weight. Our ship needs to lose weight, okay. Lets take our ship to the gym or something. Lets lighten the cargo.” And man, but when we look at Jonah the only Christian, the only person on this whole ship who has a relationship with God, what’s he doing? “Oh he’s praying to Yahweh, he’s praying to his god right? Right? “ No. It says… man look at this fool, I mean look at this fool. He went “5down into the inner part of the ship” and he started, he lain down and he lain down like a bum and “was fast asleep.” (Snoring sounds) Look at this fool, seriously. So the captain has to come up to him and say to him “6What do you mean, you sleeper?” What do you mean you sleeper? I don’t know how he talked. “Get up! Call to your god! Maybe your god will pay some thought to us so we won’t die. What are you doing? Everyone else is about to die and you’re just fast asleep not caring about anything in life.” And so they start casting lots, they start thinking about, we got to try to figure out in our own non-Christian, pagan way, whose evil this is from and so they take Jonah and you can just imagine, Jonah just standing there on a deck, this storm is raging around the ship and all of them are surrounding Jonah and they are all asking questions at the same time. It’s like relatives who haven’t seen you in a long time. They just don’t know how to, no filter, no filter. They are like 8Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And Jonah is just like, “9 I am Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” And so because of that the men are afraid, afraid, exceedingly afraid, so afraid, they have never been so afraid. And they are saying to him 10 ‘What is this that you have done!’ ” And the reason they say that is because the men know, they are non-Christian, they’re pagans, they’re non-believers, they don’t go to church, they go to…they don’t even go to Yahweh’s temple, they do a different temple, but they know that this is just not right, that this is just not good. Let me say that again, they’re not Christian, they’re not of the faith, but they know that if a person is running away from God, his people, and his Word, that’s a bad thing.

Why is it that for us when we are running away from God and his word, we’re like “I’ve been really busy? God’s been calling me to other stuff.” “Like what?” “Umm, school?” “You know I’ve been too busy to care about people in my life.” “Why?” “God’s been calling me to a new promotion and once I get that new promotion coming out two years from now, then I will evangelize to people with that new status I have.” Its crazy just to see how heinous our sin can be even when Jesus Christ is supposedly in our lives. But these pagans, these people who don’t even know Jesus, know that running away from Jesus and running away from God’s word is something extremely dangerous and awful. So they say to him to Jonah, the sailors “11 ‘What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?’ ” Because the sea was growing more and more and more tempestuous, life wasn’t getting any better. Jonah was moving farther and farther from the Word of God and life was not getting any better. “12He said to them, ‘Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.’ “ And when we look at this, verse 13, it says “13Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.” We can just feel the hopelessness, the helplessness of these men. Jonah is saying just sacrifice me; I am really the only one to blame for this. And the sailors are saying “No way, no way, no way Jonah. We’re not just going to commit murder like that.” Even these pagans have a greater sense of life, appreciation of life. In verse 14 by the grace of God, we see right here that they call out to the Lord, they say 14 ‘O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.’ So they picked up Jonah“ and I can’t imagine that they were happy about this reluctantly probably and they “hurled him into the sea” and finally the sea stopped all it’s raging. And 16Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” What happened to Jonah? A giant fish swallowed him up. God chose a giant fish to swallow him up and Jonah was in the fish’s belly for three days and three nights.

What are we to gather from this? One thing, we have Christ and yet we run away from God and we act in such incredible ways as if we don’t have Jesus that should humble us. In many ways the sin of a Christian, from that prospective is actually worse that the sin of a non-Christian who just doesn’t know Jesus. How much more should we know. But two, this church is so precious, meaning this church is wide variety its like a sashimi boat, wide variety of sashimi, okay wide variety. A lot of us are Jonah’s at times, we think that we’re Christian; we think that we’re important, that we know and we have some kind of goodness or righteousness, something to stand on, but we don’t. When we run away from God’s word, we’re running away from him. But when I look at this, the church is so precious, because we in here are all the last people that God should ever care for and reach out to. I believe it. I believe it because in the New Testament the apostle Paul says something like I am the chief and foremost of sinners. I am the worse of sinners on the whole planet that’s what Paul says. And I don’t think theologically he’s saying that he’s sinned more or in graver ways than everyone else, and so he is literally the worst sinner. But from his perspective and his heart, he knows he’s the worst sinner. And so because he is the worst sinner, grace can abound for him even more. We don’t deserve to be here but it is God who’s run after us runaways. Its God who has sent us storms into our lives and messed up our plans. And if God still loves us he will continue to do that. And in fact he will eventually capture us and just put a vice grip of grace upon us, in the way that he appointed, elected and chose a giant fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, having his relationship with God be redeemed.

I think it’s so amazing because in the New Testament, there’s another story that sounds almost like this story. And its one where Jesus Christ tells his disciples to go fishing and this big storm comes, and Jesus knows, I think Jesus knew the storm was coming, the disciples didn’t know, they never know, what do they know? But Jesus knew and then as they are on the ship and everything, Jesus Christ is in the inner part of the ship and he’s sleeping. But we all know that Jesus ain’t lazy right? Okay. He’s not lazy, he’s not apathetic, its not like he doesn’t care, but the sailors, the disciples on the ship they go up to Jesus and say “Jesus, do you care about us? Why are you not doing anything right now?” And they think that Jesus doesn’t care, that Jesus isn’t gracious. And what Jesus does is he comes out onto the deck, cool, calm, and collected, CCC, cool, calm, collected and he words the storm away. With a single word the storm goes away. That’s a great miracle to show that God really is the Lord over all creation, but not only that Jesus Christ later on goes on a different travel where he goes to the cross, where he dies on the cross, where he undergoes a different storm, where the whole judgment of God comes upon him. Just as the Red Sea collapsed on the Egyptians instead of the Israelites, just like the flooding waters of Noah’s day collapsed, the flood gates of heaven opened up and water came up from the ground, judgment surrounded all the people in Noah’s time, the judgment water of God’s wrath came and descended upon Jesus Christ. A great, the greatest tempest. Tempest, tempest, tempest, storm, storm, storm, wrath, wrath, wrath upon Jesus Christ on the cross. And do we think that Jesus Christ knew that he was better than everyone else? Of course, because Jesus Christ is perfect. He is the best being that ever lived. And yet he did not think that who he was and his relationship with God was something that he could just cast aside and not care about. But he viewed his life as precious. He viewed his relationship with God as precious and he decided with my life, even though I am truly better than everyone else in this whole universe, I will choose to die on the cross. I just think its incredible because there are so many times where I am just such a not good guy, not such a good guy, not good guy, not patient, not grateful and to think that there are times where…that I think that I’m better than someone else. We are not better than anyone else. And although Jesus Christ is better than all of us, he died and gave up his life for us and that’s how much he loves us and that’s how much he loves the presence of God and loves the Word of God and loves people.

Question is when you see the story; do you see the Jonah in you? The question is when you see this story, do you see that not only have we run away from God and that God has run after us, but God gives us a way to run to him. Hebrews says that because of Christ, we can have great confidence to approach his throne, because of his mercy, because of his grace. And that’s the mercy and the grace that the pagans so desired and when I see their desire its just so, its just so, they want it so badly, its so succulent. I don’t know how to describe it. Its so whoa. They are hungry, they are thirsty, they really want a relationship with this God and for us my hope and my challenge is that, as we grow older as a church together our desire would become even greater, even greater, like that first day we first realized who Jesus is. We need him that much. We’re runaways but God has run after us. Now let us run to him. Let us run together with his Word.

June 14, 2015 [Exodus 14]

June 14, 2015
[Exodus 14]
“Crossing the Waters”
Pastor Kenny Lee

I know that some of you are maybe kind of freaking out right now because of the fact that how many verses are there. Thirty one. I mean Pastor Kenny spoke thirty plus minutes on three verses last week and what does that mean now? Don’t worry, just chill out. Its okay, its alright. And then we have the confirmation by Hyo Joo, what is going on? Are we going to stay for 10 hours? No, you’re not. You know there are certain things that I just want to address. That’s why because of the fact that the sermon is going to be short, so that we could have the confirmation, so we could have Hyo Joo give his confirmation today. That’s why the chapter is long because I wanted to get the feel of what’s going on in Exodus, okay, I hope. Brendon did a wonderful job reading and there are certain things that I just wanted to point out. I just want you to get. A lot of times when we look at baptism we look at it in terms of salvation. In 2 Peter kind of alludes to this chapter right here and says we’re saved by the same thing, we’re saved you know… 2 Peter alludes to the ark with Noah and this chapter right here, so I just wanted to point that out. And that’s why I titled this “Crossing the Waters”, in the Bible the water, right, the water describes chaos, describes turmoil, describes death, right? And you could kind of see that if you’re a land locked person like the Israelites were nomadic, they travelled in desert, you know. They were land locked people, so the things that they feared the most was water, so they fear water, they associated water with like turmoil, just really chaos, and so if you see in Genesis, in the beginning, God and his Spirit was hovering over the deep, over the waters. When the flood came God remembered Noah, God’s wind blew over the waters, his Spirit blew over the waters, saying that God is above the chaos, God is above the turmoil you may be having, that we may be having, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and all that. So we’re talking about salvation today, we’re talking a little bit about salvation. I want to see this and I’m going to take an example from a pastor who gave a wonderful description describing this scene right here, and I’m going to say that kind of reiterate that for you.

You know, one of the things we talked about was the fact that we forget. Often times that’s what happens, we tend to forget. We get into an emotional…something is going on in our lives and we often times we forget, we forget about what happened, we forget about all the things God has done in our lives, and just like the Israelites do. Why are the Israelites there in the first place? Why are the Israelites in the wilderness? The Israelites are in the wilderness because they were slaves in Egypt; they were slaves in a garden, they were slaves in paradise, now they are free people in a dessert, right, very ironic. Anyways the way they got there was a series of ten plagues that God just put on the Egyptians and God just beat up the Egyptians, Pharoah, particularly. And finally Pharoah was like “Alright, alright, get rid of them, tell them to leave this place.” And what do the Israelites do? They leave, they flee Egypt, they go into the wilderness guided by God. So you can just imagine for a period of time you see all these supernatural miracles going on. And as they leave, they’re at the beginning celebrating you know, its desert all around and their spirits go down a bit and they are confronted right by the waters, right by the Red Sea, and they’re like “Oh, okay. What are we doing here? Why would God lead us here?” And then all of a sudden, they look back and see chariots coming at them, six hundred of them and they are just going to mow them down like a lawn mower. And the first thought is, Moses why did you bring us here? Moses you came here, so that we can die? Why is that the first thought in their head? It is the first thought because number one they don’t trust. They fear. They trust their eyes and they think that they know a little bit better, they forget. If you’re kind of level headed, you saw everything that God has done up to this point, what would a levelheaded person do? Like for example, we’re so levelheaded when we’re watching the movie. “Hey, hey, hey don’t walk through that door. If you walk through that door you know.” You know in Poltergeist the ghost goes, “Get out.” “Hey, hey, hey you better get out of there, if you don’t get out of there then something bad is going to happen.” You know somehow like if we’re kind of away, if we’re the audience, we kind of know a little bit better. Jurassic World is out right? So Jurassic Park, “Hey, hey don’t mess with creation like that. You know if you’re going to mess with a Pterodactyl you better not do that.” You know, you kind of know. We’re so levelheaded when it comes to that. But when we’re in the situation, often times we forget. So I’m here to tell you remember. Do you realize what God has done for you to get you to this point? Remember.

And I’m not saying that you can’t fear. You know in verse 13, I realize that it says 13And Moses says to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. Right? Moses says, “Fear not.” How come he says fear not? Because there is a presence of fear. There is a presence of fear, and I’m telling you even as God parted the waters, is there fear? Yes, there is fear. Life is scary, life is unknown, just like death, our future life is kind of unknown, that’s why we want to be like “Oh if I have this kind of job I’ll be secure, if I have that kind of job I’ll be secure, so we want some kind of security so we want to have a good job, that’s why we want to work and all that stuff, right? Because we want to know something in our life that we can grab on to, you know? But life is scary. Salvation is a scary thing. And here is the second thing, and I’m going to conclude with this, here’s the second thing that I kind of want to say. Its not like you have to have the faith of like Moses to be saved, its not like you have to have faith like David to be saved. We often times we think that and this is what one pastor says, “As the water parted and as a million plus people are crossing that sea, and the Bible says it’s a wall of water. Can you imagine you are there and you’re walking through and this kind of represents salvation you know? And you’re looking and you’re looking, there are various forms of faith, but all those faiths are valid. In spite of their fear they trust. In spite of their timid-ness they trust God’s Word. There are some people that cross that river saying, “This is what I’m talking about. This is God, that’s right.” They see Moses’ hand up, “Yup that’s my boy Moses. Yup that’s right.” And they are easing their way down the road. But as this one pastor was saying there are other people that are saying “Oh my gosh we’re going to die. Oh my goodness we’re going to die. Oh Lord, we’re going to die. Please.” Nevertheless, they went and crossed the water. You know when Moses says, “Fear not.” I don’t think Moses is saying “Hey what’s wrong with you? Don’t fear. Stop being insecure.” I don’t think it’s that. In spite of your insecurity, in spite of your fears can you trust God? Can you trust God by remembering? Don’t you remember what God has done? Do you think God will drop you now? No, not at all. And that’s what it is.

Hyo Joo today will be doing confirmation and what confirmation is, is the fact that you know baptism, infant baptism we baptize the child and what we say is that we as a community will raise up this child in a covenantal community as covenantal parents we will raise this child, that’s what we say. And as you are being confirmed, Hyo Joo was actually baptized as an adult and is now confirming himself and what that is, Hyo Joo is going to look back upon his life and remember what God has done that led him up to this point right now. And we’re going to see that. So if we could have Hyo Joo, is Hyo Joo here? Good job. You ready? All right come on up. God loves you so much, that God wants you to hear this right now. And what he says is “Don’t you know that I sent my one and only Son for you?” See the problem is the fact that we’re all sinners, no one’s better, no one’s worse, we’re all sinners. And what we deserve is death, that’s what Romans says, that’s what Paul says in the book of Romans, that we all deserve death. But the wonderful thing is that God provides his Son, a gift, if we believe, number one is we have faith. If we trust we somehow realize that God has this plan for us and we love him and we have a relationship with him that you will not die and you will have everlasting life. Remember that, remember that, and that’s why we live.

June 7, 2015 [Genesis 8:20-22]

June 7, 2015
[Genesis 8:20-22]
“Life Giving Word”
Pastor Kenny Lee

I wouldn’t say it’s a sermon; it’s almost like a sermon-ette, alright? Today is a special day. Why is it so special? Because it’s our first baptism, that’s awesome, it’s wonderful. I believe that actually there are two people getting baptized today, right? Hyo joo right? No? Come on, okay. (Points to come to the front row) What’s going to happen is this: we’re going to have actually two baptisms. When we have two baptisms, what’s going to happen is that it’s going to be a baptism-slash-confirmation because of the fact that they’re older. Infant baptism you can’t have a confirmation, because they can’t talk. You know, they’re babies. This will be a baptism and confirmation as well. With that said, we’re going to take… you know because baptism is a… we only have two sacraments in the church. One is communion and the other is baptism, so it’s an amazing thing. We are ushering a person into the kingdom of God and of course I’ve known David and I’ve known Hyo Joo as well and were they saved even before baptism? Of course they were, you know. But this is an outward sign and acknowledgement of an inward transformation. Why else do we do it? God told us to do it, see that’s the reason why we do it, you know. We’re going to take Genesis 8 and I’m going to give my sermon-ette and what we’re going to do, we’re going to do the baptism ceremony in which what we’re going to do is we’re going to have David and Hyo Joo come up, and I’ll be baptizing them, and then what’s going to happen is Hyo Joo is going to sit down and David is going to come up here and give his testimony, you got that all set? Okay, great. And then next week we’re going to do the same thing, and Hyo Joo’s going to do it, okay? Why? Look you know we want to hear from them, we want to hear what did God do in your life? Why are you making a choice for God? Why do you want to go into God’s family? Why do you want to do that? And we want to hear from you guys, you know. And I’m excited, even though I’ve read some. I’m very excited.

I take this little sermon-ette in Genesis 8:20-22. And of course it’s the story of Noah. But I took Chapter 8 because the fact that, that’s a weird chapter to take, right? After all the exciting part happened, so you just give me the conclusion? And the conclusion is not so epic. Why don’t you tell the story of when he’s building the ship and water is coming in? Why don’t you tell us the story about that? That would catch my eye, you know. If it was a movie, that’s what catches the eye. There was actually a movie called Noah wasn’t there? With Russell Crowe, didn’t do so well, but the main part is argh, water coming in and all that stuff, why don’t you do that? For me, you know what the very most exciting part of the whole story is right here, when Noah builds an alter and I’ll tell you the reason why. Let me tell you some issues that I have with this. Why did God destroy the world in the first place? Because of sin. It’s because of sin. Sin was running rampant. People were living a long long life and what they did was they just sinned. And sin went too far. Can sin go too far? Can you go so far that you can’t be saved? Yeah of course. Sodom and Gomorrah is a testament to that. This world, right now is a testament to that. The issue is not the fact that God destroys the world because of sin. But the fact that sin still remains on the Earth, that’s the issue. Right, isn’t that right? After God destroys this world that’s full of sin, water settles down, almost like a recreation of the Earth, but sin is still in the world. It seemed like the World 2.0 is kind of worse than the first one. The first one at least started with God and everything was good. When God created man it was very good, but when this destruction happened and the flood and the waters receded, sin was in the world still. And I don’t know about you, but as your reading this passage, you should be if you’re a very careful reader of God’s word, you should be like “Huh? God this doesn’t make sense.” “20Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart,” Now listen. Now listen. Here’s where I get huh? ““I will never again curse the ground because of man,” Okay, alright so that’s good, I will never again curse the ground, I will never destroy the Earth because of man. Great. Why? Because they learned their lesson? Because they kind of changed their ways? But no, God says, “For the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth.” Okay. “Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” Does that make sense? God destroys the world because of sin, because it was so sinful, but then he says I will never strike the Earth down again and I know the hearts of men, and the hearts of men is evil, even from their youth, even when they’re young, and somehow God is pleased with that. God is somehow pleased with the aroma. How does that make sense? How does that make sense? God must have a different insight than us. God must being thinking a different thing than us. You see, when we look at this whole thing, what made him happy with the alter, with the sacrifice? What was God thinking? You know we have the privilege of living in this world right now, in this time right now. What we’re able to do is we’re able to look back and using the guidance of the Holy Spirit and all that stuff, we’re able to see what God was thinking and that’s what I want to share with you all today.

You know why God was so pleased with the aroma. In God’s eyes, in God’s mind he was thinking about another sacrifice. He knows, he knows that you guys and me we are not worth saving. He knows that this world is not worth saving, in fact, what he knows is that the intention of man, the intention of people all of us were sinful even from our youth, and God knows that fully well. God had another way you see. And it has to do with the sacrifice. The reason why God was so pleased with the aroma is because of this; someday I’m going to provide a sacrifice. I’m going to provide a sacrifice and when judgment comes, somehow through that sacrifice you will be saved. And that’s why God was so… in the light of that. You know what I’m talking about, in the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was that plan. Jesus Christ was that ark, as it were. So with that in mind let us read these verses again. “20Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Do you see God had a plan all along, even from the times of Noah? That pleasing aroma, that pleasing smell of the sacrifice, it wasn’t because boy God likes a nice barbeque, that’s not the reason why it was good. Because it reminds him of another sacrifice. His Son, that God will send his one and only Son for you, because those who come to Christ should know one thing, that we deserve death, that we deserve the flood. Don’t you know that it was God’s Word that saved Noah? It wasn’t the ark. It was God’s Word talking to Noah. That flood was meant for everyone and only those who listened to God’s Word and obeyed God’s Word were saved.


Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 3:20-22. 20because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.” Did you get that? While the ark was being prepared other people, a lot of people did not obey. Only eight people, only eight people obeyed. Those eight persons were brought safely through the water. Here is what Peter says “21Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” What’s that mean? Just like in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared, other people could have obeyed, other people could have listened, but they didn’t. Only eight people out of the people in the world, only eight of them survived, because of their obedience to God’s Word. That’s the same thing with us today. Baptism, being a Christian is not a removal of dirt, its not taking a good shower. It’s not about appearing in a nice, nice way. What it is, is an admission, number one I’m dirty, I’m dirty beyond belief; I’m a sinner. And I know today, and that’s what makes us a Christian. Not the fact that wow I got into this good school, I got into that good school, but I am a sinner. I am just… I can’t save myself. And what I need is God’s Word. In other words, I need something outside of me to cleanse me. It is the instruction of God’s word just like in the days of Noah. If you have faith and believe in Jesus Christ that Jesus Christ saved you. Why? Because you couldn’t save yourself because you’re a sinner. And because of that you read God’s word, you hold onto God’s word and you love him. You’ll be saved, you will be saved, that’s what God had in mind.

May 31, 2015 [2 Peter 3:14-18]

May 31, 2015
Pastor Brendon Wu – “Looking Forward”
2 Peter 3:14-18

What are you looking forward to? I think in this life because of our nature, there needs to be things that we look forward to. Yesterday, I woke up really looking forward to Chris and Nancy’s wedding. It was a really awesome, joyful time and on top of that I got to witness some people who I didn’t think were dancers just came out dancing. God really surprises you. Even if you’re not looking forward to that, God will surprise you. That should be our relationship with God. To look forward to what God is doing. Not only because that is what the word is saying today. I don’t think you want to be here because you have to be here. Don’t you want to be here because you want to be here? As I’ve been thinking about my relationship with God and going on this journey that’s been pretty hard and challenging lately, I’ve been thinking about God and getting to know Him as my heavenly father. When I was growing up one of the things that I really looked forward to was Saturdays. On Saturdays my dad would not be working at all. Monday through Friday he worked really hard commuting from Jersey to New York City. On Saturdays he would hang out with me and I looked forward to that. One time I was sick and he brought me my first Big Mac ever. I was about 2nd or 3rd grade when I ate it I thought, “Wow, my dad is the best”. Twenty years later I still associate Big Macs with my dad. But I also associate it with unhealthy ingredients and other things. Or another thing was that my dad loved to take me to the movies. He didn’t like being around a lot of people so he would find these random theatres in the most ghetto neighborhoods. It would like there was a missile attack on the buildings next to the theatres. It would literally be my dad and me in the theatre and a few other random people. I would always look forward to Saturday because of the time I could spend with my dad.

I’m wondering as a church and something that I want to challenge us with is – do you look forward to the time that you can spend with God and His people? Do you want to get to know God? Do you want to get to know the people that God placed at this church because the people that God placed in this church is the people that God wants us to get to know. Do you have that kind of desire or do you feel like your settle already, nowhere to grow, nowhere to expand in your relationship with God, your good, your okay. Yet Jesus died on this thing on the cross and somehow you’re just okay because you think your saved. I think from what Peter is saying is that if you don’t look forward to what God is doing in this world and what He wants to do in your life, then you are lost! You do not care about how God is. You do not care about the things of scripture. You are either asleep in your faith – is which is a not a good place because if you are asleep through all of life then you’ve missed all of it. And if you’re asleep in eternity than that’s nothing. Or you may be dead. You may be dead in your heart. You may be dead in your spirit. There’s no real heartbeat for God or looking forward to Him. But if that’s the case, then that is really an urgent matter but at the same time we have God’s word. So this where we listen to Him and find our salvation.

The new heavens and new earth
In 2nd Peter, as we’re finishing out this book, I think there are some amazing things that Peter wants us to know. He’s about to die soon so that’s why he’s writing this letter to people. And one of the things that he is telling us is that in verse 14, “therefore”. So whenever there is a “therefore”, there is something that comes before that word. And what Peter is trying to get our attention to is this promise that God has for us. What this promise is, is a new heavens and a new earth. And I think this is so amazing. So practical. In the verse before 13 he was talking about “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” Right now we’re living on the old earth. It sounds weird but as we’re living on earth right now – it’s something called the old earth. In Revelation 21 it talks about the earth that is going to be burned up by fire. Eventually this earth will be burned up by the fire of God’s judgment because this whole world is just corrupted and tainted by sin. Do we really want to make this place that is tainted and corrupted by sin our eternal home? But at the same time there is something called the old heavens too which is heaven right now. Meaning, if died on earth and we are in Christ, then we would go to this heaven. But what God says is that when Jesus Christ returns one day – and He will – Jesus Christ is going to totally destroy by fire the old heavens and the old earth. And I’m thinking “Woa, this is some crazy stuff I’m reading. But God, earth I get it because it’s tainted by sin but the heavens– if it’s a good place right now, if it is really good right now, why would you have to destroy that?” Because what I’m realizing from scripture is that – even that has to go because of the fact that at the end of time God wants a perfect, complete union with us. A perfect oneness. God desires to destroy that good home so that there is something better. And that’s His final heavens and earth where the new heavens and the new earth are one. Where God’s final heaven actually comes down where from He is and meets earth and is intertwined with it and becomes one final eternal dwelling place – where God says, “I didn’t need to have a relationship with you. I didn’t need to save you. There’s no real benefit to me having you in my midst. But out of the joy and out of the desire that I want to just spend with you, calling you my beloved son, my beloved daughters, in the end there’s going to be a final heaven and earth.”

And that’s what we can look forward to. That’s what we should look forward to and practically in life, what that means is that it asks us the question – “How are your relationships? How are our relationships with God and with people in our lives. Do we think they’re just good? Do we think they’re just okay? Or do we strive and look forward to what God has in mind? Something that’s even more perfect? I am so blessed by this because I’ve known a lot of people at this church for a while but even after knowing them for 7, 8, 9 years, there’s a joy that God has blessed me with to get to know them even more. A lot of us here have broken relationships with our parents. It’s not because we come from some ridiculously broken family or even if you came from a good family. A lot of us just don’t have a relationship with our parents. What Jesus Christ gives us is new life saying that just because we have an okay relationship with our dad or mom, in Jesus Christ because of the love that He has to get to know us and for us to get to know Him, there’s a desire that is put into us where we want to get to know our parents even more. People that we’ve known for a while, we want to get to know them even more. People that we’re just starting to get to know, we want to get to know them even more. Are you looking forward to a new heavens and a new earth? Are you looking forward to the fact that God placed you at this church, not just so that you can sit here on a Sunday morning, hear a sermon, sing some songs, but it’s a relationship with Jesus. It’s a relationship that Jesus gives for us to have with each other where as we’re getting to know Jesus more and each other more, it’s bringing life into us, pointing us to what God is doing. It’s just the joy knowing God and knowing people.

Active patience
I think when we read how we’re looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth, God says something like – “be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace”. That’s not telling us to be perfect. What it is saying is that, it’s telling us to count the patience of our Lord as salvation. When I think about this, when we think about patience naturally, we think of patience like, “Oh, okay. My dad told me that I have to wait until Christmas to get the next game system so I have to be patience. So in the mean time, I just do nothing”. Or, one time I wanted to see a film called, Apollo 13. I said to my dad, “Dad, I want to see Apollo 13. It looks so mature. These grown men are flying to space! Can I please see it?”. And my dad said, “Alright, alright. You have to be patient.” So I just went back to my room and did nothing. I was waiting. And my dad saw me he’s like, “What?! What is this? What are you doing?”. I responded, “Dad, what do you mean? You told me to wait to watch Apollo 13!”. My dad was like, “You know what you should do? Go to the encyclopedia, go to the “S” section”, and read everything about space”. There were like 40 pages! And this thing is written for adults. So I’m reading this, it’s like all these measurements, physics. I don’t know what is going on but I’m just reading it because my dad told me to be patient but at the same time do something in the meantime. As ridiculous as this sounds, I realize that a lot of us when we think of being patient, or God being patient, it’s just waiting around and doing nothing. Man, doesn’t that describe our relationships a lot of times? Where we’re just waiting around and not doing anything when it should be the opposite. It’s not a passive waiting where we’re standing in line, waiting for cafeteria food or standing in line at the DMV and just waiting. But in the mean time, there should be an active patience that we have. An active love. If we are waiting for our one true love, Jesus Christ to return, do we really think that Jesus Christ wants us to just sit on our butts, go to our rooms, and do nothing and just wait for Him to come back or Him to do something? And I think that is what God means here. When God says to be diligent to be found by Him, God is not saying, “All we gotta to do is sit back and Jesus Christ will return one day and everything will be perfect.” But what God is saying to us is, even right now are you actively loving Jesus? Are you making efforts in your life to actively love Jesus, not only on a Sunday, but how about throughout the week? The way that we love Jesus is through Bible Study. Do you have a Bible Study? Do you love God’s word? Do you love talking about God’s word? If you don’t have a Bible Study, then maybe your Bible Study is you hanging out with your friends and your friends making you more like them. Maybe that’s what you’re looking forward to then. Maybe that’s where your true hope and your true salvation lays. And God out of His love for us, is just speaking to us through these words saying, “Be diligent, not to lazy. Be diligent, not be apathetic. But, make effort in this relationship with Christ if He is your savior.”

Peter needs Paul
And it’s not something we perfectly understand. This is where we see Peter give a “shout out” to Paul. In verse 15-16 it says, “just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” When I read this at the beginning of the week, it really challenged me a lot. Do you know how many times Pastor Kenny has said to us as a church community, “You think you know, but you don’t know”. We always hear this and as we were talking throughout the week, I was realizing that a lot of us talk about things in life like we know. Or we talk about God like we know Him perfectly. Peter himself, one of the authors of the books of the Bible, admits that another author appointed by God to write scripture says things that he doesn’t understand. There are hard things to understand. But at the same time what is so amazing about Peter is that he’s not faking it. Why do we feel like we have to fake it? Why do we feel like we have to pretend? That we understand scripture. Wouldn’t it be more in the eyes of Jesus, if we actually said to God, said to one another, “I’m reading this and I don’t know what is going on”. For example, I was in a Bible study this past week and last week’s passage talked about “heavenly bodies melting as they burn, the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved”. Kid you not we’re reading that and all of us were just nodding our heads but in my mind I was like, “I have no idea what this means”. Then one brave soul (shout out to DJ), DJ said, “You know what, man does this mean? That the heavens will be burned up? That sounds scary!”. In that moment I realized, that wow because DJ asked that question, it provoked me and challenged me to think about the new heavens and the new earth and what that meant. If he didn’t ask that question, I don’t think I would have thought about that. What makes you think that you know everything about God, about scripture, about everything that there is to know? If you’re not going to Bible studies and you don’t care about that stuff or even try to ask questions when you see the pastors or leaders, then maybe your faith is dead. Maybe you are just sleeping or dead. Where is the curiosity? Where are the questions? Where is the longing and desire to want to get to know what God is saying because someone as amazing as Peter is saying, “I don’t know what Paul is saying. But I do know what he is saying is scripture.” So Peter is not thinking, “Oh, I have to know or I have to pretend that I know God and scripture”. But there is a want and desire to get to know God in scripture. In fact, Peter is realizing that when we pretend to know God and not need Bible study and not need sermons or not need God’s people in our lives, we are ignorant. In our ignorance, we become unstable. We get rocked so easily. God’s word says that if we are not planted firmly on God’s word, and learning more and more and more of God’s word, this world will rock you. Sin will just overtake you. If we are not growing in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ, guess what you are growing in? Other things. Maybe your own stubborn ways. The pressure or thoughts of your friends. Media. Culture. You’re becoming ignorant to God’s word and only knowledgeable to other stuff. In the end, in eternity, you will know those things but you will not know Jesus Christ. And in that, there is not stability. No security.  

Looking at scripture together
I think because this is so important, I want to share a few ways that we often twist God’s scripture because that can be very general or vague. How can we guard ourselves from twisting God’s scripture because in verse 17 it  says, “You therefore, beloved (this is God saying, “I love you! Listen to this!), knowing this beforehand, take care (guard yourself) that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” And what that means is to guard our relationship with God’s word. First, the Bible is not a book that we put our meaning into. But instead, it puts its meaning into us. When we read God’s word, we’re not just thinking, “Oh, well this is what I think based upon my experience or my opinion or what I’ve heard from this other person” The question is, “What does God’s word say?” That’s what’s important. It’s what God’s word says to us. Not what we say and put into God’s word. Second, however God’s word goes, that’s how far we go. If God’s word says, “Do this”, you don’t do a little bit less or a little bit more. You just do that. Third, (and I think this one really shook me up this week). Your quiet time is held accountable by the church. Not the other way around. This is something that our budding and growing pastoral intern Steve and I talked about together. We were realizing how many churches have pastors that somehow climb up a mountain, get God’s word, they say a bunch of stuff to people, and then later on they come right back down. Or pastors climb to the top of an ivory tower of knowledge or something and come back down and they think they know. That they know all of scripture. If that’s the way it’s supposed to be, then I feel really insufficient. Because I don’t know all of scripture. In fact, more than I know scripture, I don’t know scripture. And then when I’m hearing Peter admit that, I’m feeling a little better. But how many churches have pastors that just tell people, “This is what you do. This is what you’re supposed to do or not do. And then that’s it”. But one thing that’s so challenging and refreshing to me is that even Pastor Kenny, me, Steve – as we’re part of this church and community, we’re held accountable. And its actually not so much by just ourselves, but we’re held accountable in the context of a community that loves God’s word and I love dearly the times where someone else and I would get into a kind of different thought about scripture. And then we have to go to scripture and see “Okay, what is really right, biblical?”. And if that’s true for us as pastors and if that’s even true for apostle Peter, who in another place of scripture was actually rebuked by Paul once, how true is that for all of us? Do you have a stable, not unstable, consistent, committed, daily relationship with church. Or are there so many dark spots in your life, so many times where the church is absent from what you are doing or what you are thinking, in your relationship with God? In those times, you will be forming your own spots and blemishes. Meaning, your own ideas of who God is. And the fact of the matter is that it takes a church that loves God’s word to love one another and keep each other accountable. It’s not me and my personal quiet time that says, “I know all about scripture”. But it takes me needing the church more than the church needs me. This church does not need me. Never needs me. And I sleep well at night because of that. But what I do know is that I need this church. That God has placed in my life. Do you need this church? Do you need a friend? When Peter is saying that Paul is writing things he doesn’t understand, Peter needs Paul. Peter needs another Christian, someone who is committed and consistent in his life, to get to know God and grow.

The final thing in verse 18 that Peter says to us is, “18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” . In another words, everything we do has to be centered on Jesus Christ. It’s all about Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation, it’s all about Jesus. And it’s all about His grace. There’s not a single page of scripture where you will not find His grace. Do you experience God’s grace? Do you want to get to know Jesus Christ more and more as your Lord and Savior. And I can say as someone who has been walking (I don’t know the definitive time) with God for about nine or ten years, I’m still getting to know Jesus Christ more as my Lord and Savior. And I don’t think that I have perfect grasp on Jesus or 2nd Peter or anything. But I think the reason why God would allow me to even be a pastor to preach is because 2nd Peter and Jesus Christ have a perfect grasp on me. It’s not so much that this is a book that we understand and master over. But to borrow one pastor’s thinking, this is a book that understands us. This is a book that realizes that when we only listen to people who do not care about God’s word, we lose our stability in our relationship with Christ. Who are the people that we are listening to in our lives? Are they people who love God’s word and also love us. Or are they people that don’t know God and don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior? That is our biggest peril and danger. But Jesus Christ loves us so much that He looks forward to a new heavens and a new earth. And when Jesus Christ went up on a cross, He looked forward to knowing us even more. He looked forward to becoming even closer to us by His grace. That’s what got Him through the cross. The joy of not only His relationship with God but He wanted a relationship with all of us. So in our life, our eternity, what gets us through life and eternity, is looking forward more and more to being closer to Jesus, to God our heavenly father, and to each other. Do you have that kind of desire and does it burn within you?

May 24, 2015 [2 Peter 3:8-13]

May 24, 2015
“Almighty God”
[2 Peter 3:8-13]
Pastor Kenny Lee

Sermons are a very long process, I don’t know if you know that. Its not like I come up here and say, “Hey guys, let me preach to ya. Here you go, off the cuff.”  It takes a while, you know. So it becomes very personal to you. These sermons become very personal. Why? Because as I’m reading this, I’m being challenged and affected in a very massive way. And so the last thing that I do is “Now what do I call this thing?” Somehow I have to embody the whole message. I entitled it “Almighty God”, seems so bland right? Because in our culture, almighty God, yeah yeah. We’re so flippant about Almighty God. We shouldn’t be.

By way of introduction to this sermon, this is something that I often heard. People always compare. When I was a child, I would go to church with my parents and there were these people who knew me when I was young and they would say, “Oh Kenny, you are just like your father, you are just like your mother. Wow. You are the spitting image of your mother.” Now that I have a child, what I hear is “Your children are nothing like you, they are exactly like their mother. Praise God.” But as they get older, “You know what Pastor Kenny, they are mostly like your wife, but as they are growing older they are picking up some of your traits, and they’re becoming kind of like you.” I’m sure you’ve all heard that while you grew up and I’m sure that you’ve been compared in many ways. So we grow up with that kind of thinking, and we grow up in church something like “Jesus is my homeboy, Jesus is my friend, Jesus is my buddy” and you combine those two together. In our culture, we have this tendency to almost envision God to be someone like me, or maybe a better version of me. The reason why I say that is because I think that that becomes dangerous. Somehow God is somehow like me. God thinks like me, acts like me, but is just better. It’s a very dangerous way of thinking. And does Peter know that? Yes.

Last week, we kind of addressed the fact who is Peter talking to. Peter is talking to a beloved. Someone Peter loves, someone that Peter has an intimate relationship with. We also established the fact that beloved in the Greek is agapetos. The word agape is there. The same love that God loves us with, an agape kind of love. So what was important to Peter was this. He says this in verse 8 “ 8But do not overlook this one fact”. There are many facts, but Peter says, “Do not overlook this one fact”. Because it must be a really important fact, what’s that fact Peter? “Beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” And what Peter’s trying to say is that God is not like you. You are nothing like God and God is nothing like you. Get that fact straight. You cannot compare yourself to God. You cannot put God in a nutshell. You can’t say “that’s God in a nutshell, a perfect version of me, that’s God in a nutshell”. No. God is God.

That’s why we can’t just do a good deed and say that’s what God would do. We can’t grow up in our culture, and perfect our culture and say, “that’s like God, that’s what God would do”. That’s why it’s imperative if you are a Christian, what that means is, you have to throw away everything, and you have to learn under the submission of God. In other words, you have to, must, imperative, important, vital, that you make the Bible the centrality of your life, that you make the Bible, and I’m talking about Bible, you know we talked about last week, Bible, the thinking, the practical thinking, the sincere thought, the sincere way of thinking, and what that sincerity means is that thought that you are able to survive life with, you know what I’m talking about? Here’s what I‘m saying. You know how you come to church and you act all nice, “Hello. Hello Pastor, oh how are you?” And you’re very Christian like, but when you go out into the world you act a little differently. When you go home you act a little differently. Peter’s saying how you act in the world, I want to kind of influence that part of your mind. How you survive in this world, how you thrive and survive in this world. I want to peer into that part of your mind, your sincere mind. And get this fact straight God is not like you. You’re not like God; God is very different. God is holy; God is almighty. And God must be known on his own terms, not compared to you or I.

Because a lot of times, face it in this world, if you ask most people, if you ask a lot of people in this world, even in our community, anywhere you go, do you think humanity has thrived, and morality, sin? Have they thrived, have they become better or have they become worse? Has the world become better, or has the world become worse? I would say a majority, about 90% of our society would say, “Yeah, our world is messed up”. You know you ask people that are older, “Yeah a long time ago, it was okay to open my door at night, leave the door unlocked. It was a safe community, but these days nope. I keep it locked up.” Why? Because the world has gone done and morality and sin is rampant. You see that. You listen to the news. I listened to the news just a minute and all I hear is four people got murdered at a mansion, a child dies, another police brutality. And you’ve heard this before, people say something along this line “Does God care? Does God care? Look at him; look at how God cares. Does God care? Can’t God just come down right now and fix all of this? Why can’t God get rid of sinful people? Why can’t God get rid of the bad people?” You see people who say that think they have a good view of themselves. They think that they are good. They think that they’re not sinners. They think that they are somehow above it all. And so how do they view God? They view God as a better version of me. And what Peter is saying is this. “9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Did you hear that? Why does God wait? Why is the Lord up there is heaven patient? Why isn’t the Lord coming right now? Because if the Lord were to come right now, the Lord would have to destroy sin, sinful people, sinful world. And what that means is God would have to destroy all of us that have not come to repentance upon the Lord. In other words, God is waiting; God is patiently waiting, God wants to come, but God’s waiting because God doesn’t want any of his to perish. So Jesus Christ not coming back again it should usher in a thought of thanks. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.

Don’t be fooled. Don’t be fooled. God will come. God will eventually come. If God doesn’t come, if God doesn’t come in our lifetime, God will still come. We live what? Eighty to eighty-five years average maybe. That’s a short amount of time. I just got a dog and they say that the dog will live if it’s healthy to twelve years. Like man that’s short. That’s a real short amount of time. Man. And then I started thinking about my life. Eighty, eighty-five years, man, that’s a short amount of time. I’m already forty, I’m a little past forty, I’m middle aged. Man, that’s a short amount of time. God will come. What Peter says is that God “will come like a thief in the night”. God will come when you least expect God to come, but God will come. Just like God came thousands of years ago. God will come again. That’s what scripture says. When God comes, “the heavens will pass away”. The heavens will be gone. Heaven will be gone; the world will be gone. And the world’s work will be exposed. We will be exposed. We will have no excuse. Can you imagine? You won’t have any self defense mechanisms. You’ll just be exposed. The evidence is so plain and clear, in front of God you’ll be like “I’m a sinner”. You know how right now, if people were to approach you. “No, no, no, no, no. No. I do care, I really do. Okay see you later. Bye. No I do love you. No I don’t look down on you, of course not.” “ Why’d you do this?” “Oh I didn’t really do that.” “Did you lie?” “No, I didn’t quite lie. I just omitted a certain thing or two.” You’ll be exposed. We will all be exposed for the sinners that we are, whether you like it or not.

So what are we to do now? What are we to do now as people of God? What are we to do now? Well as a person of God. You’re slowing exposing yourself. Do you know what that means? Do you get that? What you’re doing is, when you have the Holy Spirit, when you have God in your life, what you do is you have that security and you know what you do? You open yourself up. Why? What do Christians know? When you’re a Christian, what you know is this, that you’re a sinner. And we mean it. We’re sinners, I’m a sinner. “Pastor Kenny you’re not perfect.” “Oh yeah I know that.” “You’re a sinner.” “Oh yeah I realize that.” Do you know that you’re a sinner and that it’s okay? It’s okay because that’s the reason Jesus Christ came. In front of Jesus Christ, in front of God, you are exposed. It’s all right. That’s the whole purpose, that’s the whole reason why Jesus Christ came. Jesus Christ came not to put a spot light on you and say “YOU SINNER! SINNER, SINNER!” Not that. Jesus Christ came to say, “Look. Here. Let me take your place. I came here so that you don’t have to die. I know exactly who you are and I know you deserve death. And I can’t see you die. And so what I’m going to do is take your place and die in your place. It’s all right. It doesn’t end there. I’m also going to rise from the dead and I want you to identify yourself with me, so that you can be perfected in the death and resurrection. Identify yourself with me. How do you identify yourself with me? Have a relationship with me, have a friendship with me, be a part of my family. It’s all right.”

When you do that, what we do is, we take God’s word and when we realize that day-by-day that Jesus Christ died for me and he loves me so much that we don’t hold any pride in ourselves. That doesn’t mean that we’re like “Oh I’m nothing, I’m a loser.” It doesn’t mean that. But what it does mean is, “Yeah, I’m a sinner through and through, but Jesus loves me and somehow Jesus would use a sinful person like me.” What the Christians, what they do, is they know that this world is going to be dissolved. They realize that. Because that’s what scripture says. What the rest of the world says, “Hey look I’m not dissolved yet. Hey look at me! Where’s your Lord, where’s your God? ” But the Christian knows better. Right now, it is all a façade. You are trying to make a home here, but Jesus Christ is coming. Jesus Christ will come. Even if he doesn’t come in my lifetime, you have a very short life and then Jesus Christ will come. So what the Christian does is this, verse twelve “12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” And what that means is the Christian, what they do is they wait in anticipation for God to come. They take delight in the fact that Jesus Christ will come. How do we know that? How does the Christian know that? Because it says that in the Bible and Jesus Christ will take us to our real home. Are you comfortable in this world? Is this it for you? Is this it? After this, you’re just done? Because we are all going to die. Or is there more to your life? Think about that. Is your life going to be, be the best student that you can? Or be this, or that? Be the best? Whatever you’re occupation will be, be the best that person you can be and after that, you’re just going to die and then people are going to say “Boy, that person was a good smart person.” Or this person was a whatever good person. Is this life it for you? Or is there more? If there’ s more to this life than whatever this is, then don’t you think you have to invest in that?

Because in our world we invest so much on five, ten, twenty years into the future. “By this age, I want to be retired. At this age, I want to be a millionaire. At this age, I want to be CEO of my own company. At this age and at that age, that’s it?  And you invest nothing in heaven. You only invest in yourself. If that’s the case the Bible says that you’re not going to make it. Beloved, I implore you not to believe what this world says. Academics are not all. Business is not all. Politics is not all. You know, even secondary philosophers like current day pop stars, Jay Z, Beyonce, Oprah, they have their own version of life, so many young people get influenced by those things. Jesus Christ will come back. Jesus Christ is Lord. God is nothing to be trifled with. He’s the Almighty God, he created the heavens and the Earth. Invest in that reality, because that is the true reality. Why? The Bible says so.