July 26th 2015 [Genesis 2]

July 26, 2015
[Genesis 2]
“God's Relationship with Man"
Pastor Brendon Wu

God vs. Man

The epic movie, Batman vs Superman, which the trailer for that movie I've been addicted to; that movie is coming out March 25th 2016. There's a line from that movie by the mega villain, Lex Luthor, that keeps sticking in my head. He says, and this is Jesse Eisenberg saying this: "Black and blue, god versus man, day versus night, the red capes are coming, the red capes are coming." Anyway, you should check it out. I think this thought of God versus Man is really what was driven to my head, what really popped up when as I was looking into Genesis 2. In Genesis 1 last week, we saw a macro-picture (meaning like a bird's eye view) of Genesis 1, as Pastor Kenny put it, is written in the form of poetry describing how God made creation in six days and rested on the seventh day. But, in Genesis 2 today, we see a micro-picture (like a street level view) of the chapter. We kind of have an insider news - "Hi, this is Anchorman Joe reporting to you live with Santiago...Santa. Hi this is Santiago Santa, I'm on the street right right now reporting live about how God made man here." So that's what Genesis 2 is like, it's reporting to us the insider scoop, the insider details, the "micro." 

The question that we should really have as we look into Genesis 2 and how God first made man is: What kind of relationship does God have with man? Is He someone that we're suppose to be opposed to or against? God versus man - Is he someone we're suppose to be in an epic battle with? or Does God actually have our good in mind and care about us? [God is] not someone that we're suppose to be against but someone that we're actually suppose to be with. When we look into how God made man, it says that He made man so differently. That's the first thing that really pops up in Genesis 2 - God made man so differently from the rest of creation. To just give an example, yesterday I showed the awesome magnitude of my parenting skills when I went to the house of an old friend of mine and he and his wife recently had a little boy - 8 months old and named Asher. This little Asher was being propped up onto his mother's lap and I went up to Asher and I showed off my awesome parenting skills by saying, "Asher, sit...Asher, sit!...Asher, paw...Asher, hand...alright, good boy!" A lot of you would know why I was talking to Asher like this because I recently got a dog and so it subconsciously comes out. Sometimes even in PACE Academy I'm just like "So and so, sit!...Good boy!...Thank you!...Listen...Good, good girls." Ok, but that's not how you teach kids, that's now how you raise kids, not as dogs, not as creatures. So there is something very different in how we're suppose to respond to human beings versus animals. Even we kind of know that, but sometimes we don't. 

When we look at scripture, we're reminded that God formed the man out of dust from the ground and put His spirit into man. It reminds us of how God first created everything else. Pastor Kenny was preaching last week, and he said that in Genesis 1:2: "God, His spirit, had been hovering over the chaos of the waters before anything was created." In other words, God was ruling and in control over everything. Here, we see in Genesis 2 something so intimate, something so special that I just don't understand. God takes His spirit, this same spirit that has been hovering over all of creation and never became a part of creation, and now goes into the very fabric or substance or dust of man. So God breathes Himself into man to create him, and that's what makes Man so different from everything else. 

The other day I had a really kindred spirit moment, that's what I call them, with Brian. We were on a rooftop somewhere and we were just looking at different things. I was like "Yo man, look at that tree. God's spirit is not in that tree. God's spirit is in us! Hey look at that little pole, that metal pole, haha you stupid pole, God's spirit is in us, not in that pole!" Man, it gives us such a heightened appreciation and thankfulness for how special God made us to be. But at the same time I think there's something so amazing about this when we really think about it even more. God who is everything put himself into something that came from nothing. His spirit is everything meaning everything that was formed came out of God and His word. His spirit was put into something, this dust, but this dust even originally came from nothing. It was what Pastor Kenny was calling "Ex Nihilo" - "Out of Nothing" that is how God created everything. 

Out of Nothing

When we think about that ["Out of Nothing"], there should be this humility yet at the same time this gratitude. The humility comes in the fact that when we see each other, when we look at each other, we realize: Wow, we shouldn't be spending so much time thinking about us or how great and magnificent we are, boasting in ourselves. We should have this thankfulness, to look at each other and realize what makes us great is not man or woman, what makes us great is that God made us in His image. That's why our church exists. Our church does not exist to take different talents of people and just show those things off to the world. Our church exists to show how God wants to redeem us - to take our talents, to take everything we have and glorify who He is. So, there is a humility and at the same time a gratitude, a thankfulness to God for who we are. This is something that really blessed me and hopefully blesses our church. 

You might look at this and say, "I'm not Adam, I'm Brendon. I'm not Adam, I'm...Santiago. I don't know why I keep repeating this name. Who is this man haunting me? Anyway, I'm not Adam, I'm a woman named Annie or I'm a woman named Katherine. This doesn't apply to me, see?" Well, put it another way, God put his spirit into us and not just in a physical way but also a spiritual way that applies to us today. Meaning, at Pentecost, on the day God's spirit came down to dwell in us, God put his very spirit, his everything into something that came from nothing. That is something we hear a lot. But what is even more amazing is that not only does God rule over everything but He goes through everything with us. We been learning in different bible studies or we heard of how during exodus or in the book of exodus, God went through 40 years of wilderness with his people. He was over them, loving them, protecting them, and providing for them, but do we also see and think about how He went through everything with them? You know we might say "Oh, God was impervious, He was invincible, He was untouched by the scorching hot heat of the dessert cause He's God. He never feared being destroyed by his enemies because He's God." But, what is so amazing is the fact that God knows what the Israelites went through. God knows what we go through today. Because of the fact that when we look even further at the cross, which is the center of Christianity, that shows that God didn't just put something into us, it shows that God who is everything became something that came from nothing. Even more amazing than that, the fact that God the creator would eventually become a piece of creation- a man or a woman like you and me, the mortal human flesh. What Jesus Christ did for us was that while He didn't need to become this weak form of who we are and essentially become nothing, as Philippians puts it, He became just like you or me. [He became like you and me] because of the fact that He not only wanted to experience some of the things we experience, but Jesus Christ loves us so much that everything that we struggle and deal with He went up on the cross to resolve that. 

If we could kind of piece this together, God is making man in Genesis 2, but while He's making man in Genesis 2, He knows that eventually man will disobey Him. Even when He knows that this person that He's making that He loves so much is going to sin against Him, He still loves him to the point where He's ready to die for him and eventually and become like him on the cross. When I look at this, I think it really challenges me and give me a new perspective on what love is. Most of the time I struggle with, "Man, this person did this," or "Man, I felt like when my parents said this, they hurt my feelings," or "This person hurt me that way." But, what if we could look into the mind of God and He's the only being who not only sees how people have sinned against Him, but even see how people will sin against Him. Yet, this is how much God loves us. Practically speaking, we have a God that loves us in spite of what we did in the past, in spite of what we're going through right now, and even in spite of what we will do against Him. That is how much Jesus Christ and God loves us [now] and loved us [before] when He first made us in the garden. 

The Garden

In the garden, it says that it was made in the east. Mt. Sinai was the place where Moses was writing this book of Genesis. To the east of Mt. Sinai was this land called Mesopotamia that was very rich and very luscious and everything. That was where the Garden of Eden was made. It said that God made every tree to spring up from the ground. It was pleasant to our eyes, it was good for food, and not only that, there are all these verses about rivers and waters that I don't personally understand completely, but it showed me that there was a lot of water. So, a lot of water means there will be no shortage of water which is essential to life. When we see how God made man and how He takes care of Adam and how He takes care of us, He really puts us and provides everything for us to the point where we lack nothing. This is a great question the bible really challenges us with. Do we know that we have a life where we lack nothing because God just provides everything? Do we really think that we don't have enough in life? So many times I think we think things like, "Man, I need this so badly," "If I only have this relationship," or "If I only have this job," or "If I only get into this school, then I will have what I need." In scripture, it's pointing out the fact that it's not that Adam has to go in pursuit and search for the things that he needs to survive but it's God providing those things. I think that is so different. 

The modern day philosopher who has lost a lot of credibility, but anyway, he speaks some ounce of truth, the philosopher, Bieber...Justin Bieber - He once sang this song that people couldn't stop singing around me so it got stuck in my head. He said, "I need somebody to love, I need somebody to love, I need somebody to love." He stressed this so much and to this day I'm like, "Need somebody to love? Who do you need to love?" I see him, I'm reading the news and he's loving all these people, and I'm like I don't think you need all these people to love. I don't think you need to love these people or maybe they are the wrong people. You need Jesus. That's who you need, that is the person you need to love. You know, who is the person that we need to love and we need to love us? Are we going to be like Bieber or are we going to look at Jesus' lyrics and what he says here? The fact that we need God providing things for us. It's not about us going into this world and forging for ourselves, but God provides for us. That in itself answers one of the hardest questions that we'll ever ask in our lives. That question is: Is God good to us? And that [answer] is, "Yes!" The reason why that question is so important is because we're about to read this seemingly diabolical thing where God puts some trees out there and He's like, "You can touch this tree, but you can't touch that tree!" Whoa what a weird game He's playing, you know? What kind of game is that? It seems like some kind of PACE Academy game or something that I'll make for my kids. Great idea! "Touch this tree, but don't touch that tree, let's see if you'll obey or not." The fact of the matter is that if we see that God provided everything for Adam and for us- He's a good, benevolent master, not a malevolent, malicious dictator, that'll form how we see this thing right here [scripture]. 

Why is God good? It seems like in scripture that He's saying you can eat off all the trees, one the Tree of Life you can eat from that too, but one tree called The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, you cannot. "But God, I want to eat from the tree of Bing, from the tree of Google, from the tree of the ultimate Yahoo. I want to know! All of us were raised with wanting to know, pursuit of knowledge." It's like, "God, why wouldn't You want me to know?" But God is good. For one, what we just talked about. One reason - He provided everything so we lack nothing. I don't think I realized how amazing earth is. I realized it a little bit more this past week. Thanks to the fact that CNN keeps putting these updates on my phone. CNN told me personally that there were these Kepler astronomers and scientists that found this planet-like thing recently that might have water and oxygen. They said the probability is one out of just so many number that I couldn't even understand. I was like "Whoa, earth is really special." When I went outside to potty my dog [Take dog out to for a walk], I looked at the grass and was like, "Whoa, it's amazing. The plants are giving oxygen and they're living because of water so I can live. That's amazing." God provides everything and we lack nothing. Do we think that we need to know more than what God has revealed to us? or Do we see that God provides everything we need? Maybe there's a reason why in the Garden, God said, "You don't need to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. You don't need to know everything about good or everything about evil. You need to know Me." 

God Doesn't Need Us, but He Loves Us

A second reason why God tells Adam to not eat from the tree is because the fact that He wants to give him a choice. He wants to tell him what's right from wrong, and He's already teaching him, molding this image that He has formed. After all, man is made in God's image. It gives him a choice. A choice between loving God or not loving God. God doesn't force us to love Him. Why not? I think about that a lot. Even now, why not?  "God, you're so powerful, You created things with Your words. You're over-dominating. You're the ruler of all the universe, why don't You just force everyone to love You?!" God doesn't do this because He doesn't need us. He simply loves us. Wherever we turn in scripture from Genesis to Revelations, God will never say that He needs me. Or you. Or her. Or him. Or any of us. But it says that God loves us. That is why He gives us His word. 

If we could just imagine. Let's say we're in a relationship with someone. We're with that person and we hear them say, "Hey I need you and I'll be with you as long as I need you." We're like, "Aww, they need us." But, at the same time we're like, "But how long will you need me?" And then we become our own Biebers and we cry, "How long will you need me?" That'll just be feeding our insecurity. What if there was a relationship where someone says, "You know what, I don't need you." "What? You don't need me? You don't need me?! Well, I don't need you!" But, hold on, hold on. "I don't need you, but I do love you and I'm committed to you forever." That will make us the most secure person in the world and we wouldn't have to become Bieber. That would make us secure and that love can't come anywhere outside of scripture because God is the only one who can give us that love. God doesn't need you, God doesn't need me, God doesn't need this church even. This church needs Him. But instead what God says to our church and to us is that, "I love you. I formed you. I went to the cross for you, and I put my spirit in you now. I give you My word that I love you and I'm committed to you." Do you see God's commitment? Do you see that, that is what we need to know? That God give us a choice: Love Him or not. 

A Choice

The third reason that I think it's so beautiful of why God just tells them [Adam and Eve] don't eat from The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil and they don't have to is the fact that salvation doesn't come through the Tree of Life, damnation not really through The Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil (although we always think of it like that), but actually salvation comes from through God's word. It's the very word that made us, is the same word that saves us. 

Now I think a lot of times when I read this passage, I'm thinking of Morpheus. The reason I'm thinking of Morpheus from the movie, The Matrix, is because there's a scene in The Matrix where Morpheus, this wizened man (played by Laurence Fishburne), sits in this nice couch and he offers to Neo [two pills]. He says, "Neo, do you want to enter The Matrix? There's a blue pill and then the red pill. Take the red pill and you'll get out of the Matrix, and you'll become a new creation [Neo will learn more about The Matrix]" I forgot the line from the movie. "The blue pill, stay just as you are and go back to your life." We think like we have to decide some how. Morpheus gives Neo two pills, "Better pick the right one!" That's true. God gives us two trees, "Better pick the right one!" No. That's not it. God says Himself that it's not up to us to make the choice. God says himself that His word save us because His word saves. It says that if we eat from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we'll die. No rocket science. The simplest law. God tells us, and God speaks to us. I'm so thankful for that. That God takes time out of eternity to speak with us and to converse with us and show us between right and wrong, between making a choice for Him or not for Him, between what we should do, and that's what God's word is. Not this ambiguity, not this "I got to make my own decisions." But what does God want for us? And that's what we see from this passage right here. 

It's so amazing because as we look on, there's something not good in The Garden of Eden. "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa...How can there be that is something NOT good? Not good? No, God doing something not good, that's impossible." But, not good for man to be alone. And that's what God says: "I will make him a helper fit for him." We see, "Wow, a helper - Not good for man to be alone." Why does he [Adam] need a helper? Didn't we just see that God put His spirit into Adam? Didn't we just see that God provided Adam with water and oxygen and plants, everything he needs? Didn't we just see that God walks with Adam and even gives him a Tree of Life and instructions how to do all that? Why would Adam need other people in his life? Why would we need other people in our life if we have God and God's word and that's all we need? Right here, on the third page of my bible, it tells me it's not good for me to be alone. That Christianity isn't just and God and me relationship, but there has to be a "us" in there somewhere. I think this is something that just destroys any ideas that we have that we can love God or have a relationship [with Him] on our own. 

A Helper

God says, "Let me make him [Adam] a helper." Is that like a side-kick? Is that like a Robin to a Batman? or Scottie Pippen to Michael Jordan? Or Joe Biden to Obama? Like what is that? What is a helper? Elf to Santa? But, no. Scripture shows that this helper that is being described throughout the bible, the helper often refers to God. In other words, what God is saying is that it is not good for man to be alone because he needs help. God decides the way in which he needs help. It comes in a very special form, and so that is why God chose to make woman for man. 

She's a wonderful helper, someone who is so crucially important to his mission and existence. Apostle Paul said that, "It's not that man was made for woman. Woman was made for man." Man was not made for woman, but woman was made for man. I think that is so important because of the fact that man needed her not the other way around. Man doesn't even know how much help he needs. "Man, you don't even know how much help you need. Man, I don't know how much help I need." Do we think that we know how much help we need? Yet so many times in our lives we think like, "Oh, I don't need any more help, I'm good." "I have everything that I need in my life, I'm good." "Everything's good. How can it not be good? I have a bible. I have Jesus. He sitting in my heart. How can it not be good?" We live in this age of self diagnosis where a lot of times for sicknesses, I've done this a couple times, I'll go on WebMD and other things to self diagnose myself. I end up like, "Wow, I didn't know I had five terminal illnesses running at the same time. God made a really powerful creature out of me." We can self diagnose ourselves and think we have all these sicknesses yet that's what we do spiritually. What God is saying that's true is that: Not Good - Man alone needed a helper. Right there in the garden, if God is saying to Adam that he needs a helper and sin hasn't even entered the world yet, how much for us who are sin-tainted, sin-corrupted, sinful, we're just sinful creatures in an sinful world, do we need help? In a form that God provides to us. 

I don't know how else to stress this: Not "A good" [thing], alone, need a helper. God is the only one that alerts us how much help we need. We don't know how much help we need for ourselves. God goes through this creative creating process where he creates woman from man. He puts him [Adam] in a divine sleep like a spiritual anesthesia. When that happens, what God does is that He opens up Adam's ribs, He takes the ribs from Adam and He makes it into a woman. When I read this, I'm thinking "Why is God making a woman out of man?" If you look closely, he makes this [woman from man] and bring this woman to the man. "What is God doing?" God knows that the other animals weren't intimate enough for Adam. He knows that they were not enough help, so He brings enough help to Adam. He [God] leads His woman, an intimately crafted creation, (that's what a woman is- an intimately crafted, beloved person made by God personally), He leads her to the man and says, "Man, here is your woman. Woman, here is your man." And Man sings the first song in history- a love song. An ode to true joy. The woman God provides for him just enchants him and brings joy out of him. He [Man] explodes in song. How many times when we're really excited we just break out into song? You know Hayden Lee? I know Hayden Lee. The one thing I love about Hayden in our church is that a lot of times he just breaks out into song. There are these weird tunes I guess he learned from school or from somewhere, but he's just so excited about life and when I see that, that is the kind of joy that we're suppose to have when God brings help to us. That's what God is doing, bringing a woman that He loves, the help man needs to man. 

But, what's God really doing? We know that it's not really about man. We know that is not really about woman. So what's God really doing? What God is really doing is that God wants us to have the same relationship with each other that He has with us. [Pastor Brendon Wu Repeats] God wants us to have the same relationship with each other that He has with us. He has a relationship with Adam, with man, but now is the time for Adam to experience that with another Adam or a woman that came out of Adam. That is why God made relationships for us, our relationships. Because He wants us to have the same relationship that He has with us. The reason why He made us in the first place is because He wants us to have the same relationships that He has within Himself, the Trinity. When I see the love that Adam has for Eve, what Apostle Paul later says, is that this [Adam & Eve] is an example of amazing love because this is the kind of love that Jesus Christ has for us. In Ephesians 5, it compares Adam to Christ or it compares man to Christ and compares his wife to the church. Ephesians 5 says, "He who loves his wife, loves himself." Adam loves woman here because he sees that she came out of him. It's just a glimpse into the love Christ has for us. Just a fraction. And yet, what the gospel and the good news says is that, Jesus loves us so much more than we could ever be loved by someone else. Even more than how Adam breaks out into song for Eve, that's how much Jesus Christ loves us. 

God's Love

What happens when we utterly fail to keep God's laws and designs for us? God tells us not to eat from The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God tells us to love Him and Him only, and yet many times we don't. God tells us to love our neighbors, and even that we don't do properly a lot of times. But again, it's the fact that God doesn't need us but he chose to die for us on something called the cross. From the cross, this crucifix made out of a tree, comes our life. Put it another way, we have a new "Tree of Life." Adam and Eve eventually eat from the tree that they shouldn't have eaten, and they are exiled from the garden. All of us eventually do the same thing where we sin against God, where we don't listen, where we don't obey, where we don't honor our parents, where we've told lies, where we've hidden ourselves from God - we've don't countless things. Even still, Jesus Christ, the creator is the one who became a piece of His creation and died for us. 

Man, that's how much Jesus Christ loves us. That after all this goodness that we even read in Genesis 2, even when we've sinned, no matter how much we've sinned against God, Jesus Christ still loves us. He just didn't want to make us, but He desires to save us. That's how much He loves us. What we're called to do is submit under God's love, to be like Eve, to leave our father and mother, and cling to Christ and Christ alone. Jesus Christ is greater than us, He loves us so much, and wants us to know that even more than how Adam sang a song of thankfulness for Eve, He went up on the cross to buy us back and to redeem us. To put His spirit into us, to give us His word, to give us Himself because that's how much He loves us. That's the kind of relationship that God has with us. What kind of relationship do we have with God? Are we running from God? Do we think he hasn't provided enough for us? Do we think we don't need a helper? Do we think that we don't need the church or don't need Jesus? But even while we are still going through all those questions that we need to answer, Jesus Christ is still who He is: Perfect, loving, a master, and a savior. 

July 19, 2015 [Genesis 1-2:3]

July 19, 2015
[Genesis 1-2:3]
“In The Beginning”
Pastor Kenny Lee

Setting The Stage
I want to set a stage for what I am trying to get at when I'm preaching out of Genesis. The reason I want to provide that for you is because of this: I was talking with Pastor Kwon who's the one who kind of split up this Genesis series, so he asked me "Pastor Kenny, how do you want to break this up?" "I don't know, probably by chapters right? Chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, etc." And he looked at me and goes "...yeah?" And I'm like "yeah". And I know what he meant, and what he meant by that is that this chapter, Genesis, especially Chapter 1 is so packed with stuff. How are you just gonna talk about all of creation in one sweeping sermon, right? You can't. And so what I want to do is provide you with what I want to do. And this is what I want.

The introduction goes something like this: we live in an extremely hectic world. Even now, all of you guys are tired. Some of you came late, some of you barely made it. Why is that? It's because of the fact that you're so busy, right? You're busy. It's funny even at church you guys are busy. you come in, there's things to do. "Oh I have to serve in this way, that way".We're all busy. We've got people to see, things to do, you know. I remember talking with some people at church, sitting down, and I asked "how were you in high school?" They replied "oh you know, I would come home; barely have time to eat; go to hagwon; get tutoring and do this and that". Wow, that's pretty hectic. And isn't that the norm? Somehow that's our society. We're busy.

At that time you know what we have to do? We have to make it simple. A lot of times we forget who we are or why we are. And what we need to do is go back to the basics. For example, if you try to build a whole car, it's hard. A car is just four wheels and a motor. Add some seats and from that you can create a BMW or an electric car. It's so complicated but with that complicated thing you start simplifying and you start seeing things a lot easier. And that's what we're going to do right now. We're going back to the beginning so we know what our real purpose and what our true design is. And from that, are we living up to that? Or did we kind of diverge somewhere?

It's very important to know what your design is. You need to know why you're made, how you're made, what the purpose of you is. What is it? Is it just do well in school, get a good job, make a whole bunch of money and pump out some kids? Is that it? Is that the purpose and design for who you are? I mean it could be, maybe. If you ask your parents, it almost seems like that right? Marry a good man/woman, make sure you have a nice 401K package and a nice pension here and there, and have 2.5 kids and a dog maybe. It could be. But is that your design? So what we're going to do is go back to Genesis to see the purpose of life. And are we living according to that.

Ex Nihilo
So when we go back to the beginning, we have to see who the person that's behind all this is. What's important to see is who the creator is. Who's the one who created us? So what we have to ask is, who is God? Who is He? The answer to that is, I'm not too sure. See, we can't say that God is like me. Well, I can say that God is like me, but He's not. He's so different. God is kind, but He's beyond that. God is love, but He's beyond that too. God is just God. He stands by Himself. He stands alone. We sometimes think that God is so powerful. He's the creator and that's his nature. For example, there's a theological statement. It's called "out of nothing", in Latin it's "Ex Nihilo". And that's who God is. It interprets what God is able to do. God speaks something and it becomes true. And because of that, He IS the truth. Let me throw out an illustration to you. In the movie Bruce Almighty, he tries to test God by making him guess how many fingers he has behind his back. He tries to trick him and when God says "seven" he scoffs and pulls out his hand holding up three fingers. Except there are now seven fingers on his one hand. And that's the concept of this. Meaning when God says something, it becomes true. That's how powerful He is.

If you think about these things, it's like #boom #wow #allthesethings. Why? Because if you look at the bible, the bible says "contains God's word" and what that means is God's word is true. Do you get that? The very word that spoke earth, heaven, every matter into being is God's word and that word is contained in scripture. That's what the bible is saying. That's what it means when it says "in the beginning, God...." There's a reason why you shouldn't fast forward. It contains the very fiber of creation: God's word. You could make a Marvel story out of that, "The Bible". It's the very fiber, the stuff that earth is made out of, that heaven is made out of. You know how scientists are trying to find that stuff that originated the whole world, the galaxy, that carbon stuff, this is it. You're holding onto it. Amazing, right? Just imagine, that everything that I'm saying is true. You're telling me, that this very being created me? Yeah, that's what I'm telling you. This very being, this person of God created you and I. We see that He creates the heaven and earth, and the earth was dark and void and filled with water. You know who wrote this? Moses. Moses was a land dweller. A nomad who didn't like water so much that he cleared water all the time (to cross it). Who has time for boats?

How do we see water? Even now, we describe our emotion as being turbulent or chaotic. And in the beginning, when God created earth, there was darkness, turbulence, water and all of that stuff. And with the beginning statement, it says something like this. That God's spirit was hovering over the waters. And that begins the cycle of creation. The fact that God's spirit was hovering over the chaotic waters, the chaotic darkness. That tells me a lot of things. What does that have to do with me? This is a little side thing, let me just tell you. Do you ever feel chaotic? Do you ever feel out of control? Do you ever feel like 'nothing is going my way'? "My life seems turbulent, out of control. My parents are doing this, that. School is...forget it. Work. Marriage." You throw anything out there, your heart is not settled. God is able to hover over the earth and with his presence make things order and creation, sun, stars, sky, sea, birds, fish, elephants, zebra, us, vegetation. Is God not able to do that with you? Is God's spirit not able to do that with you? Of course He can. He's able to do that with the whole entire universe. I look at the newest hoopla in astronomy/NASA, it's Pluto right? All the scientists are really giddy about Pluto. For me, I'm like "oh God, You created Pluto". That's what I'm giddy about. The fact that God created Pluto.

Do you know why God created all these things? The bible says it. God created all of our humanity. God says that humanity is made in the likeness of Himself, of God. Can you imagine? All of you, whether you believe in this stuff or not. You know what God says? "I'm going to make man into my own image and I'm going to make them male and female." In other words, we're image bearers of god, we're made in the likeness of god. And what God does is create all these things for our pleasure. You know, he even created time by setting the stars in the sky to mark the seasons. He sets time and because of that, we're born into time. God is outside of time because God created time. (I hope I'm not confusing you guys, I'm sure you know.) God does that for us, why? It's because when we look at all those things, God wants you to realize that He loves you. He loves you to the point where Ge provides all this for you. He provides this harvest moon so we can do all this farm work under it's bright light. And now He provides the harvest moon so that we can hang out a little later and have fellowship and isn't that great? But in our hectic world we kind of perverted that a little bit, haven't we? In our hectic world we kind of twisted that around so that we don't even recognize that. But God gave us the moon and the sun. God loves you that much. What do you see when you see the stars? When you see everything? What do you see when you see each other? Do you see a nuisance? Or do you see an image bearer of God? God wants you to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish in the sea and the birds of the heaven over every living thing that moves on the earth. And you know that does not mean for example, you're a hunter there's a big old elk and you step on the elk and proclaim "I am man. I have dominion over this animal" That's not the dominion God was talking about. Rather dominion in the sense of how God has dominion over us. I got a dog a couple months ago and I'll tell you, living like my dog wouldn't be a bad life. It gets fed, it gets played with, it gets belly rubs. Every time it wants a belly rub, it just lies down and gets a belly rub and it's great. It plays around with the kids and he has a wonderful life. I take care of that thing like none other. We serve that thing like no other. Our whole life revolves around that dog...sometimes. Meaning I have dominion over that dog. I care for it, I love that little fluffy thing.

We are called to have dominion over the earth, care for it. Not just that we are to love one another. Why? Because when we see each other, we see God. Look, you don't understand how much God loves you, listen. When you look at the stars, God created that for our pleasure. For our enjoyment. For our ownership over it. Instead what we do is, we are dominated by it. But we are to have dominion over the earth. We are to have dominion even over things like fame, popularity, acceptance and all that stuff. Those are just man made. What we are to do is have a relationship with God, knowing we have acceptance from God. That God himself through our relationship with Him will make our name great, if you want that. Even in Genesis 1, Does god really have to work? We call that an anthropomorphic language and what that means, is we can't quite get the grasp of God so we have to put it into human form. And so what God does is He loves us so much that He wants to show us a pattern and what He does is show us a pattern where He works. Even to that degree, God would do that. It's brilliant. And what God says is "work" and He doesn't over work.

Are You At Rest?
This is how you know that you're overworking/working. Overworking: "I worked so much that I have to rest. I have to recharge my battery so I can work tomorrow. Okay forget it, I'm going to rest" so you go to bed. That's overworking. When we see God, what God does is God works. And there's a completeness to God's work. What's that completeness? God works and says, "let there be light" and there's light and light was formed. And God looks back on the day and says "I saw that light and that light was good" and He rests. And He goes onto the next day. And what I mean by that is this: Is there a completion to your day? Do you ever look back on your day or do you just think you don't have time? You need to look back on your day and say "you know what, God has done some amazing things in my life. It's a good day, I can't wait for tomorrow".  And God does that. On the seventh day after God created the earth, God looks back on the whole week and says "boy, things are really good" and goes into a rest. He rests, doesn't think about anything else and just rests. In other words, you work to rest. In our culture, we rest so that we can work a little bit harder. i know that for me, sometimes on vacation I'm restless in thinking about all I have to do. What you should be doing is as you're working, you're working towards that rest, reflecting on your past rest instead of our culture when you're resting thinking about all of the work you have to do. Instead of that, when you rest, you just rest. And when you work, you think about that rest. Are you at rest now? You should be. Why? You have to realize how much God loves you and God adores you, that God created all of this for you.

But the problem came because of sin. God still loves you. How much does God love you? The fact that God would send His one and only son for you. That when God sends His one and only son to die in your place (note i said in your place because the penalty of sin is death) and God takes your place so that you don't have to die an eternal death. And when you believe, you're not left alone. That God sends His spirit, the same spirit that hovers over the chaotic waters. Why do you think He does that? Because God wants to recreate you, God wants you to be born again. That's the reason why God sends his spirit down on you. So that you all can be born again. In other words, so that you can be recreated.

Do you find that your heart is chaotic? Do you find that you seem restless? That other people's opinion matters so much, their view of you matters so much. You covet, you're jealous, somehow your heart is chaotic. Have the spirit of God to hover over you and watch and see your life get recreated. Be born again

July 12, 2015 [Jonah 4]

July 12, 2015
[Jonah 4]
“Do you do well to be angry?”
Pastor Kenny Lee

The title of this sermon comes from a verse itself in Jonah 4, where God questions Jonah and says, “Do you do well to be angry?” God is asking Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry? Are your feelings right? Are your thoughts right?” Often times our emotions drive our thought. Instead, our thoughts should drive our emotions. In the end our thoughts can be wrong. The more and more I am in ministry and get to know people, I see we live in a crazy world. There are a lot of crazy people whose thoughts are just wrong. We have the assumption that we are right and the rest of the world is crazy. As I read Scripture, I start realizing I’m not right and my thoughts aren’t right. That is what we see in Jonah. The whole theme of Jonah shows God’s mercy. The book of Jonah reveals how amazing, steadfast, and kind God is. It also shows how our hearts are just wrong. God goes out of His way even for one person, Jonah.

Last week we left off when Jonah reluctantly goes to Nineveh, an evil city just to the point of its destruction. God is telling Jonah he needs to go to Nineveh. God goes to Jonah twice. Once is enough, but He goes to him twice. Why? God doesn’t really need Jonah to send His message. God could use a donkey. God could use anything and anyone. Yet, God chooses to go to Jonah again. It is an act of grace. Jonah reluctantly obeys and heads toward Nineveh. To the center of the city is about a three days journey. He purposely goes one day, and says to people of the outskirts of the city, “In forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown!” This is the worst sermon ever. That’s it. What if I came up to you guys and said, “In forty days all you guys are going to hell. See you later. Bye.” That is basically what Jonah does. Upon hearing this prophet’s word, all these common people start repenting, changing, and transforming. This reaches the ear of the king. The king hears and makes a proclamation that everyone including animals, from highest to lowest start repenting with the hope that God would save them.

[[Christianity doesn’t start with high to low. Christianity is not a high-class religion. We try to make it a high-class religion. In fact Christianity is a low-class religion. Do you realize that church has always failed if you make it an official state religion? Look at the Lutheran Church and Anglican Church. Revival happens with ordinary people on a grass roots level. If you look at church history you will see that. It is never top down. It is always bottom up. We see that in this case too. The king changed because of the common people.]]

This week we see Jonah is going out of the city. Jonah is as mad as can be. Jonah 4:1, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” He was exceedingly angry. It wasn’t enough that he was angry. He was exceedingly angry. We see why in his prayer. Note how his thinking is just off. Listen. 2And he prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” What? God you’re patient, you’re good, you’re loving- now take my life. How does that thinking work? We assume that God is on our side. If we don’t like somebody than God doesn’t like somebody. If we hate, loathe, and despise a person, we expect God to do the same thing. In other words, God is our helper. Are you going to tell the God of the universe who created carbon based life form to be your assistant?  How does that make sense? Why is our life so chaotic? We have the wrong viewpoint. Do you think God is on your side OR are you on God’s side? This is what God has to say, “Is it right for you to be angry? Is it good for you?” Interestingly, Jonah doesn’t answer. Is it because his heart has changed and now he sees? No, not at all.

Jonah is leaving the city. He creates a front row seat to watch the destruction of Nineveh. He is hoping that maybe these people will not repent. Remember, Jonah is a prophet of God. He is hoping for the destruction of Nineveh. As he is sitting down, God does not leave Jonah alone. God will never leave one of His alone. Jonah is sitting down and it is pretty sunny. The sun is beating down on him. If you stay out in the sun too long somehow the sun just drains you. Hours pass and Jonah is getting hotter. As that is happening, God appoints a plant to give him shade. Jonah looks at the plant and he is so happy. “6So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.”  He wasn’t just glad, he was exceedingly glad, to the same extent as he was exceedingly angry at the thought of God saving Nineveh. Jonah is going to camp for a long time because destruction will come in forty days. Jonah sleeps and wakes up. God appoints a worm. The worm eats away the plant. The plant withers away and dies. God appoints a scorching wind and sun to beat down on Jonah so that he would faint. You ever been so hot you fainted? That is where Jonah is right now. After all of this “8he asked that he might die and said, ‘for it is better for me to die than to live.”  We see how God responds in verse 9, “But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you do well to be angry for the plant?’ And this time because Jonah is so angry he responds, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” That’s right. My feelings are so right to the point of death. I’m right. Oh, Jonah. Oh, beloved CCC. Lets hear what God said, “10And the Lord said, ‘You pity the plant for you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in the night, and perished in the night. 11And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which they are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Do you see what God is saying? He saying, “Should I not care for people? Look you care for a plant. Is that right?” We read this and think Jonah is so messed up. Yet, I see so many people (I’m a recent dog owner) say, “I’d rather spend time with my dog than people. I’d rather spend time on my computer than with people.” We all know that feeling. People are annoying. Is that right? Are you right? Let me tell you something, by taking you all the way back to creation. God created the sun and the stars. Then he created the sea and the sky. As the waters were formed God created the land. Next, God created birds of the air and fish of the sea. After the environment was set up and good, God takes man and forms him out of the ground. Unlike the other animals, God takes man and breaths life into him. That is us. We are the pinnacle of creation. We are made in the image of God. Beloved, we need to adjust our thinking. We need to realign our emotions. How do we do that by our own thought? No, that is what got us into this mess in the first place. We need to be aligned with the word of God. You know how Jonah sees he is messed up? It is not by looking at the Ninevites. Jonah realizes his thoughts are not right by his interaction with God. If Jonah did not have an interaction with God, Jonah would think he was right. Look at the world’s atrocities. The world is so awful to one another and they think they are right. It is because they are left alone to their own thinking.

We need to have a relationship with God where we are honest. “God, I’m bitter. I just don’t like these people.” In your relationships with God, when you read God’s word, in the context of a church, God will set your thinking straight. God is more reliable than your feelings. God is more reliable than even your love. How do I know that? In the context of the church now, we are gathered together because he sent his very only Son for us. Not to just show the way, so he could be the way. Christ was the perfect sacrifice for my sin and your sin. The way he did that was not by saying a magical chant. According to the law God created the penalty of sin is death. Because God’s word is perfect, He is bound by that law. God sends Christ to die for us. If you believe in God’s word, if you fall in love with God’s word, if you fall in love with Jesus and have a loving relationship with Him, you will not die but have eternal life in Christ. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God adores you that much. God doesn’t leave us alone. He sends us the Holy Spirit that is now residing in the people that God chooses. God does not leave you alone. God reminds you. He gives you an identity of His child. So listen to God’s word.

Do you do well to be angry? Is it right for you to be angry and ignore God’s word? If you’re left alone to your thoughts do you think you’re right? Beloved, you need to know God’s word. Young people, you need to be guided by God’s word. We are consumed by technology. Society is just doused with all this stuff. More than ever we need God’s word. You want hope for your individual life, you need God’s word. Church comes and tells us to know right from wrong, to know that the life of 120,000 people is worth more than one plant. Know that spending time with people is much better than spending time with a dog. Saving a life is better than saving a tree. People matter because God matters. God loves people. He loves you. We need to remind ourselves of that. Practically speaking, it is much more productive getting to know the people around you rather than putting that ear phone in you ear and looking at whatever you look at. Leaning not on our own understanding, but in all our ways acknowledging God is a much better thing. We have to know that God will set our paths straight because He loves us. That is our response to Him.

July 5, 2015 [Jonah 3]

July 5, 2015

[Jonah 3]
“Repenting and Relenting Together”
Pastor Brendon Wu

Today we come to the third chapter of the book of Jonah and it’s a mixed bag of feelings here because Jonah has been a book that has been extremely challenging and really hard for me, personally. At the same time there's such amazing grace that we see in the book of Jonah. When we take a look at chapter three, we are going to focus on the Ninevites and more of their perspective because that’s what chapter three is highlighting. Then in chapter four, we are going to be looking at Jonah’s perspective and how he is seeing everything. But for this time right now, in Jonah chapter three we have a man who was just vomited out of a fish and that is a miracle? And before that he was drowning to the bottom of the depths of the sea and was swallowed by that fish and that’s a miracle? And before that he was in the middle of a storm, that we have ever seen, or read about, and he was thrown overboard by sailors, and that’s a miracle? And before that he had paid a large sum of money to pay for a ship to go to Spain, which is this way and he was running away from this place, called Nineveh, which God told him to go, to share God’s good Word. Somehow in all of this, in the book of Jonah, as it's been under God’s good plan, can it not be seen as miraculous? The fact that a person, with all their brainpower, all of their heart, all of their money and everything, was running away from God, running away from God’s word, running away from God’s people. Running away from God’s calling. And yet, somehow everything that God has been doing up to this point, led him back to God. God just works in such miraculous unexpected ways. 

This sermon is titled Repenting and Relenting together because of the fact that, we see God working in very unexpected ways, here today. And yet he is not doing it in private and for the sake of one person, but he wants to do it for a whole city. And today its the city of Nineveh. And as we look at the city of Nineveh, I can't help but be reminded that in my life , how it's not that God just came to me, or God just came to you, God has come to us collectively as a church. We repent together, because the word of God is shared with all of us. There’s something so amazing, powerful and beautiful about the word of God shared with us every Sunday because its the one time that all of us hear this word. 

When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and call against it, Jonah went according to the word of God. Nineveh was a huge city. In scripture it says, "three days journey in breadth." In other words, If you started at one end, It takes three days to walk through the whole thing. One time I walked through New York City with my friend and we started at Penn Station and walked north as far as possible and it took eight hours to get to the end. That took eight hours. I can't imagine walking through a city from one end to another and it took 3 whole days. That’s a huge city. This is the kind of city that God’s Word was going to. Reading about this and hearing about this, it seems so small. God's Word being carried by a single person, Jonah, who, as we've been reading about, He doesn't understand fully, how much God wants this city. Instead, it's a lot of him constantly thinking, "You know what, I don't’ want to be here. I am reluctant to preach God’s word to these people, the Ninevites because they and I are enemies, I don't like them at all. And yet God’s word is going to somehow be transmitted to them somehow. And as he goes into the city, and walks a day's worth in, he calls out, “Forty days Nineveh should be overthrown” Modern day translation, "You have forty days, you have a countdown. Boom, Clap, Booyah, Everything is going down." Not going down, in a good way, like partying, but everything is going to get annihilated. It’s like the bank going to your company or your house saying “Forty days, and you have to declare bankruptcy, or forty days you have to go through foreclosure.” Forty days and everything will be overthrown. 
It’s so unexpected. The fact that God uses Jonah, the most reluctant prophet out of all the prophets. God’s message is "you have forty days and Nineveh will be annihilated." God works in such unexpected ways. What’s even more unexpected, is what happens next. Most of the time we read the old testament  and it's all about God and his relationship with Israel. All these foreigners never seem to believe in God and they always seem to be fighting with Israel. But right after Jonah shares this message, it says that the people of Nineveh believed God. So in other words, the most unexpected people, believed in God. 

Do you think that you're out of the bounds of God’s grace. Do you think that, after everything you're going through, that God can't rescue you?  That God can’t help you or deliver you? 

It’s not that we're underestimating ourselves, but what we're underestimating is God. It’s not that the people of Nineveh had this amazing faith, that they were amazing people, they were actually horrible people. They were so horrible, that back in chapter one, it says that their evil was so evil, it's came up before God. It reached heaven in other words. That’s like if, pardon this example, that if  someone from this side of the sanctuary emitted a certain body odor and the people on this side of the sanctuary smelled it. "Whooo, some evil has reached me." Oh man that’s bad. I mean that’s a pretty far distance. Considering the breadth of our sanctuary. 

You know, but the Ninevites were so evil, so sinful, so despicable, so decrypt and wretched. Their evil reached God. If God is a god of justice, wouldn’t his first instinct be to destroy the city? Because they deserved it? And yes, that’s the message God sends them. But at the same time it's God’s grace that worked in the Ninevites lives. It says that from the greatest of them, to the least of them everyone who was within an audible radius of Jonah, they believed in God. They called for a fast, they put on sackcloths. In other words, they stopped all their eating, all their drinking, and their daily activity. They were getting out of uncomfortable clothes, and putting themselves in an uncomfortable place. So they could pray and repent to God. What’s even more amazing is that, eventually this word , reached the king of Nineveh. And the king of Nineveh himself gets up from his throne. He removes his royal robe, he covers himself in sackcloth and this king has never done that before. He goes to where all the other people are, and he’s sitting there in ashes along with them. The reason why they are fasting and wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes, is because what everyone in the city is doing is, they are getting rid of, what they normally do, or think they are. They are taking off their normal identity and they are humbling themselves and realizing they are sinners before this almighty God, who has the power to destroy us. 

Who do we think we are, here? In this church? From the greatest to the least of us, do you think that you are so great, or you are so beautiful or smart, that you are so beautiful and smart to a point that you just don’t need Jesus. God’s word is being shared right now. and Jonah is saying , it doesn't matter how beautiful or smart or accomplished we are. If we don't’ have Jesus Christ, we're nothing. We're like ashes. They sit, in those ashes and realize that they are just like these ashes. And that if they don't turn to God at that time, Nineveh itself will turn into ashes. 

Do we realize that without Jesus Christ, we're just nothing? We will be turned to ashes. Or do we think that were so small, so little, that we're the least of them, that God wouldn’t show any grace or favor to us? We think we're not that smart, we're not that confident, we're not that accomplished, we're not that athletic. The Word of God shows that from the greatest to the least, God's word is meant to rescue everyone. What moved me so much, is that when it reached the king, he issued a proclamation. He published through all of Nineveh, the king saying by the decree of the nobles, "Let neither man nor beast nor herd nor flock taste anything let them not feed or drink water but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let them call mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil ways and violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger. So that we might not perish."

In other words, this whole city was doing it together. They were repenting together. Scripture shows that when we try to have a relationship with God on our own, it cannot work out. When we compare and contrast Jonah who seems so close to God, a prophet and Nineveh who seems so far away from the almighty God. There’s something different. Jonah we see, never engages in a relationship with anyone, if anything, even when he is sharing the word of God, even when he is doing God’s good works. Maybe for us, even when we are serving in the CM (Children's Ministry), or serving in the church, by giving out food or drinks, we can't have repentance or a relationship with God, just on our own. There is a personal relationship that we have with God. Scripture shows that repentance is done in a community. Together. When Jonah does this all on his own. There’s no one to share with him, God’s word. He's the only person that shares God's word. There’s no one to talk with him about God’s grace, God’s mercy, about what it means to turn to God. What the king does here, by the grace of God, he tells everyone here, to stop what they're doing, individually, and come together, communally, together and talk, not only with each other, but primarily to God. He tells everyone to turn from their own, individual evil way. And his decree, is ringing and bringing people together, saying, “ Who knows?” 

Maybe we’re here, and we're thinking God doesn't listen to me. God just doesn't hear me. God doesn't want a relationship with me anymore. The Ninevites, are so far from God, so evil, but the king can say “Who knows?” God may turn and relent from his fierce anger. Something that is so practical, that comes from here is the manner in which they come together before God. Its not a simple. Okay Jesus I believe in you, now i'm just going to pray a prayer. In our day and age we have something called the sinner's prayer. Where we  pray one prayer before God and accept Jesus into our hearts and then, we're good to go, we're on our way. Is that repentance? Other forms of repentance that we think of a lot of times, is “I’m sorry God, I did this. I promise I won't do it again.” Just, I’m sorry, A lot of times, we think that’s repentance, because in our families or groups of friends, is sometimes all we say is “I’m really sorry” and then we’re okay. But that doesn’t really cover it either, but the reason why God turns and relents from his anger is because of the fact that, what the people are doing are they are surrendering. All of their mind body and soul. They would normally be eating, they aren’t eating at that time. They would normally be drinking something, they aren’t drinking at that time. They would normally be wearing really comfortable clothes, going about their lives, they aren’t doing that either. They are stopping everything, just to pay attention and look to God. Practically speaking, is there a time when we do that? When we hear the word of God we repent and turn to God? Or after hearing God’s word, are we so quick to go back to eating, drinking, go home, we run back to our comfort. Continue that Netflix miniseries , or continue that youtube mini series and we just drown ourselves out? that’s not repentance. What God calls repentance. Is a complete surrender of our mind body, soul, of everything. To acknowledge who God is and realize God I’ve turned away from you in every way not just my actions. Not just my heart. Not just my mind. But in all of this, that’s way in all of this God help me Lord to stop everything i’m doing and take the time  to read your word, to pray to you and repent. Lord forgive me.
I’m not a good person by what i do normally, without Jesus Christ, God you think all those things are so evil, and the reason why God thinks, even good things we do are so evil. Is because of the fact that, if there’s no Jesus. It’s definitely evil. We have such an amazing God. If God saw us being good students, good sons and daughters,  good fathers and mothers, good engineers, good pharmacists, Its good to be a pharmacist, to give pills to those who need pills, those are all good things. But God considers those things, to the extent of evil, if there’s no relationship with him. If a good thing turns us and takes us away from God, God considers that evil. How evil can we be? We don’t need to slay someone, we don’t need to steal from someone Just the fact that we could do things without a thought of God or a care for God. Or remembrance of Him. God loves us so much, and he’s so holy, that he considers that evil. 

This whole thing ends, with God seeing what they did. They turned from their evil ways, not by being a good person and turning from evil ways. And by being a good person, the evil person goes down, and now God’s good person has come up. That's the way we constantly think of things. "Scripture is telling us, through the sermon or someone at church, that i’m so insecure. So let me turn my insecurity down and turn in my security. Let me just turn down my fear and turn up my courage. Let me just turn down my pride, or laziness or whatever it is that i’m being challenged with. And let me just turn up this holiness." That’s not what it is. When they turn from their evil ways they were turning to something, rather to someone. The king says “Who knows?” Who knows us better than God? Who knows? There’s a chance, that in the realm of who God is We can be saved. In who we are, we cannot be saved. The king called himself violent and evil, and he realized that, he was so violent. Meaning if it was up to him he would just take control of his whole life and it would be violent and he wouldn't count on God. But he got off his throne and got rid of all that. He’s saying, "it’s God who may turn and relent from this fierce anger, so that we may be saved." It’s not that we have to become a sinless person, and then in order to worship God. But it's that God’s care for us, as we care for God and as that increases All these other things, will decrease. It’s God's grace that triumphs over our sin. Its not that somehow we get rid of our sin and then we can experience God’s grace. None of these Ninevites turned to God first. Jonah himself, a prophet of God, didn’t turn to God first. It was God who went after Jonah, it was God who went after the Ninevites. AS God’s word increased in the minds and hearts of the Ninevites. All their self consumed, self absorbed , all their ways of doing things, started to go down. 

Practically speaking, this is the way in which we have to see who God is , it’s not we become good and then go to God. But do we see how much grace God has for us , how much care God has for us, If we see how much God loves us, then that love will triumph over all the sin in our lives. When God saw the repentance of the Ninevites, he relented of the disaster that he said he would do to them. and he didn't do it. God’s word is good. In this story we have a king, who commanded and instructed this whole city to repent to God. For us, we have a greater king, wand that king is Jesus Christ himself. Unlike this king, Jesus Christ is perfect. Jesus Christ, got up from his throne in heaven, he took off his clothes of righteousness. He did much more, than cover himself in sackcloth. Jesus Christ is the perfect king that has never done any wrong. Came down to where we are, our sinful ashes. He went upon a cross. The King of Nineveh was with the people in the city, repenting with them. Jesus Christ did even more than that, Jesus Christ was expelled. Jesus Christ was kicked out of the city of Jerusalem. He was marched out of the city, carrying a cross on the road to Calvary. No royal clothes, nothing of royalty or perfection could be visibly seen. Instead, he was carrying his cross to where he would die. This king, Jesus Christ did more than just proclaim something, but when he was on the cross, Jesus prayed to God and said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” From the greatest to the least, forgive them for they do not know what they do. On the cross, Jesus Christ died for all of our sins. For all the times we turn away from God. 

When I see this, its not just up to us to somehow repent to God, when I see this, I see a God relenting. Meaning it's God who ultimately saves us. With the NInevites, God relented of the disaster, that he was going to throw upon Nineveh, Because of Jesus Christ, God relents. There’s supposed to be a judgement that annihilates us, because of our wretchedness . But with us, because of what Jesus Christ has done, even more than that, God relents of all of that judgement, of all that wrath, because it is poured onto our  king, Jesus. Instead for us, God gives us every good thing. He gives us his grace he gives us brothers and sisters in church. He gives us the beautiful Word of God. He gives us amazing things, in our lives. Above that, he gives us his life and his presence. That’s what God does for us. 


How do we apply a passage like this? There are two things that we really see. There is a repenting and there is a relenting. 
1) There is a repenting that happens on the part of Nineveh, and we think they're evil. We should talk with one another, and look at how we are in the light of scripture, and we'll see each other as even more evil. Really, if we don't’ think were as evil as the Ninevites. Are we repenting as a community, or are we trying to repent in our own special way, individual private way? That’s separate from the word of God? Because there’s one word of God that lead all of the NInevites to repent. 
2) But there’s also relenting. I think in our life, it can be really easy for us to always thinking “God just give me your grace, God just do all this for me. But the essence of a Christian is not just someone who’s been shown the grace of God, but the essence of a Christian is someone who’s been shown the grace of God, and now loves to show the grace of God. To love other people, to be patient, at times, to be even a little hard, tough love. Just like the message that Jonah gave, "Forty days, Nineveh shall be overthrown."  But to show that kind of grace, to relent. 

Do we have a practice, do we have a life, where we love receiving God’s grace where were amazed by God's grace that he gives us, and because of that we love showing grace to people. In our church, in our communities, and in our families, everywhere. Sharing the word of God. Loving and worshipping God, because of how compassionate and how merciful he is. 

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.