October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014
[Ephesians 4:1-16]
Pastor Brendon Wu

Eph 4
The reason why I talked about calling is that Paul says that we have a calling.  We should walk in a manner worthy of that calling.  What does that calling mean to us?  Like I said, you can’t call yourself on your own phone line, only God can give you the actual calling that your life, my life, is supposed to have.  We’re at a juncture of Ephesians, a turning point.  In the first half, God in light of how sinful we are sent Jesus Christ to save us and create a unity between God and us so that God and us can be one.  And create a unity so that we too can get along with one another.  A vertical, and a horizontal unity.  And this is only possible through the grace of God.  God only loves and saves us because he did it.  We didn’t do it.  So as Christians we’re saved by grace, not by works.  That’s eph 1-3.  Eph 4-6 is “what do we do now? Well it’s like this.  So you get married, and afterwards you’re like “ok I got married. Now what?” Some of us are in college for the first time.  Or you got a new job.  What do you do now?  And so we have to ask the question, what do we do now? This sermon was worthwhile because Paul says “don’t live your life in whatever way you want to live.” But he urges us.  He’s in prison because he gave everything up for Jesus Christ.  That’s why we should listen to what Paul is saying today.  And Paul says to live a life worthy.  Is your life that you live in Christ worthwhile?  From various dictionaries, the idea of “worthwhile” means advantageous, beneficial, constructive, good, meritorious, lucrative, important, priceless, productive, profitable, rewarding useful, worthy.  But you know is following Christ considered the most worthwhile thing in your life?  And as we are entering this passage, I want to rattle off a second list.  This is list of ways you might be thinking or feeling.  When I saw this, that I must live a life worthy of the calling, these are some of things I felt.  I felt pressure, self-condemnation, guilt, shame, weight, burden, why?, how?, and more how and why.  But what I want to emphasize right now is if you’re wondering, “why should I think more about how I should live for him?” maybe you feel guilt, you know that you haven’t lived a life worthy of him, you feel regret about something you’ve done in the past, I want to say on behalf of Paul, on behalf of Ephesians, on behalf of scripture, is that Paul wants us to remember that we are saved by grace.  In the larger catechism, it said that the more we live, we’re just going to realize that we’re sinful people.  And so we need Jesus Christ.  And so even as we’re listening, as we are learning, about living the life worthy of the calling, have no fear or trepidation.  Even as we walk, even in the midst of failing, those weaknesses as they creep up on us, those remind us more and more that it’s not about how we live but how Jesus Christ had to live in our place.  Not how we live for God but how he died for us.  How we live for God, how he died for us.  Whatever we do for God, however we live for God, does not equal what God has done for us.  And this is good news. It lifts off all the weight off our shoulders.  And this is a reminder that God loves, that he loves us.   He doesn’t change. He’s not looking for us to repay him.  He’s telling us to live a certain way because he loves us.  He doesn’t demand something from us because he doesn’t love us.  That’s a lie from Satan and from us.  So what is this life that God is calling us to?  There are 3 things I want to focus on: unity, diversity, maturity. 
1)     Unity
Ch 4.1-6
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Live a life worthy of the calling.  Humility.   Be eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  Starting in vs. 4, he lists 7 things.  1 body, 1 spirit, just as you are called to 1 hope, 1 Lord, 1 faith, 1 baptism, 1 God and father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.  And if my math is still good, there are 7 things, and those are all 1. And I think as we’re reading this, We kind of get the point of what God is saying.  Unity really matters because there is 1 body of Christ that we have.  A lot of times in our lives, we just assume that people just don’t get along.  And that in a lot of ways, that they are not supposed to get along. That’s not the intention that God had when he made us.   He wanted Adam and eve to be one with him and one with each other. But when they sinned against God and disobeyed him, their relationship became fractured.  In this day and age when we meet with people, because of our sin and insecurity, it is not our thought to become one and get to know people.  So we want to shy away and do our own things and live our own lives.  How many times have we seen church splits? I don’t think about that anymore, I think about churches that don’t have church splits because that’s rarer.  How many times do we see married people stay together? And truly have a relationship of love for each other.  And not just stay together for the children or what not.  Unity cannot be assumed.  Unity takes work.  It’s a fight.  It’s something that Paul says that we have to be eager towards.  The fact that there’s a goal for us, to be unified and become one with each other, is not something that we can just assume will happen naturally without us really trying.  And I can name so many different ways in which this is true. And I think for each and every one of us, we can think of some way this is true.  So first thing is Paul says is really important for us as Christians in our walk with God and with each other, is unity.  I remember growing up watching 3 musketeers. And what they always said to one another is “all for one, and one for all” and we see this in this world.  People collect, unify, because they have something in common. And so different people, Edward, I, and different people, have gotten together to do an experiment where we see why people stay together.  Some youth did it too.  They came to me and were like “baseball!”  And I was like “ooo. and so now that oriole seasons over, do you guys still talk and hang out?” “Not really.”  And we see this so much in society.  And I think Paul sees that having sports in common is not enough. Having anything besides Jesus Christ; one lord, one Christ; is not enough. When do you hear something like “oh you cheated on me? Well you’re a national fans so it’s okay” it just doesn’t work. When we look at the relationships we have with us and the church, what are we talking about? I don’t want to be one of those people who are like “we should talk about Jesus all the time” but the question is, do we talk about Jesus? Does what Jesus calls us to do come up? That’s what we’re baptized into; that’s what we’re immersed in.  In my own relationships, it scares me how much I can talk about things that don’t matter to us; how much we can talk about things that aren’t Jesus. And about what he wants in a relationship. And that’s something that has to matter to us.  Unity matters. Without Jesus at the center of it, no relationships make sense.  No relationship stands for eternity.  So even for someone outside of church. Is Jesus at the center?  It’s not that the first thing I have to say is Jesus, but is it our desire to have relationship with people because of Jesus.  The second point that Paul points to is that we find a diversity in Jesus Christ.  In the second part, Paul changes gears and says
Vs. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift
Oo.  He’s looking at specific individuals. 
Therefore it says,“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
    and he gave gifts to men.”[
a]9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?[b] 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
This is a lot of stuff Paul packs in to a couple of sentences.  But what Paul is saying is that grace is given to each one of us.  The universal calling or the calling that we all share is that we are unified.  But there is a specific calling, a specific one.  Not everyone is called to pastors.  If everyone is all pastors, that would not be good.  But if no one is called to be a pastor, than that’s not good either.  We are all called to different things.  We are called to different things, or called in different ways.  Some are pharmacists, some are going to be lawyers.  Do you know the way that you are specifically crafted and designed by God?  Your parents didn’t design you.  I promise that. If they could design you, they would make you so much different.  God designed us, in the very specific way that he designed us to.  Paul says that even though that he designed us in different ways, diversity is not about us.  In our culture, diversity is what determines value.  How am I different? How am I unique? We always think that the beauty of diversity has to be something about us.  Even the diversity finds its fullness in Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t give us diversity to glorify us more. I love what Paul says here “when Jesus Christ ascended on high, he was leading a host of captives, and gave gifts to men. This is from psalm 68. And what psalm 68 is talking about, is about a triumphant, victorious king that saves a village. And all the prisoners loot the city. The men are behind him, a whole host of captives.  And behind that are treasures.  Lots and lots of treasures.  And when Jesus Christ descended, when he died on the cross for us, there is something so worthwhile.  Something so powerful, so beautiful.  When he died on the cross, he wasn’t like “ok. What are all the wrongs you did? Give me a sheet a paper with all the things you did, and I’ll die for those things. Catch you later.”  NO! But when Jesus Christ died and rose again for us and sat on God’s right hand, when the holy spirit came upon the church, what Jesus did was give us the holy spirit. Do we know what the holy spirit does in us to utilize our gifts,. utilize our talents for God? He gave us gifts that we can love people and love the church. 
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[c] and teachers,[d] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[e] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
The third point that we see in these last verses is about maturity in Christ. Maturity in Christ doesn’t mean that we become more independent.  Maturity in Christ doesn’t mean we fill our heads more about knowledge of who God is. Maturity is not about being better people, but instead what maturity in Christ means is that we become closer to Jesus.  Paul has this imagery that we are a body.  A body that grows up into the head.  So we grow up to become closer to Jesus Christ. And what God wan=s us to do is that we are Christians growing up to be like Jesus.  And this is interesting.  V. 14, …
14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
 I was on a boat once; it was being tossed to and fro.  Head was dizzy, we cussed, and we were puking.  Puking puking puking and just puking.  Sorry if that grosses you out.  But to be tossed to and fro by the waves, by every human doctrine, by human cunning, by deceitfulness of human schemes, we do not know how much we listen to lies.  Without a father who is teaching us and speaking in our lives, we are like children tossed to and fro.  And we listen to our own lies and to other lies.  And if we are not listening to the bible as taught by shephards and people in church, then we are listening to lies.  “I am entitled to this, I am worthless, I am condemned, rubbish” but what Paul urges us to do, is to speak the truth in love. 
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
It’s only in Jesus Christ that we know who we are and who God is.  Jesus Christ views us as his body. In the spiritual sense, we are Jesus body.  If you are in Christ, you are God’s daughter. You are God’s son.  What kind of speaking truth in love should be in our lives?  When I read this, my first thought is “man.  There are so many times that I don’t’ speak the truth in love.”  But as I said in the beginning of the sermon, there is no way we can live a perfect life. But because Jesus lived a perfect life for us, we are called to speak the truth in love.  Because your life should be more valuable to me then my own.  Because when Jesus Christ died for me, he was looking to my life as more valuable than his own. Jesus, thinking about God and thinking about us before himself, laid down his life for us.  And, I cannot imagine that the Christ of this bible will be just inactive and silent when he looks in our lives.  But I think that actively, he will be moving us to speak the truth in love, speak the truth in love, speak the truth in love.  

October 12, 2014 [Ephesians 3:14-21]

October 12, 2014
"Brings Us To Our Knees"
[Ephesians 3:14-21]
Pastor Kenny Lee

If you are new to this congregation, we are going through the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is written by apostle Paul. Last week, we did Ephesians 3:1-13. Paul is talking about the immensity of God. He’s talking about how wonderful God is. That we’re chosen, how the father loves us. Then as Paul is thinking these thoughts, how the Bible is so perfectly written, he gets off topic a little bit. There’s a caveat to his thought. That was last week. Now Paul is back on track. This portion starts off with, For this reason I bow my knees before the father”.

What brings us to our knees?
By way of introduction, if you’ve lived long enough, you know that life can be hard. Life can be tough. But at the same time, life is delightful too. For example, when I was a child I really wanted a bike. I really wanted a bike for a long time. So my dad would go around and my dad worked really hard. And then somehow, he found a bike. It had a pink banana seat, purple all around. It was a girl’s bike! And someone was throwing it out. I looked at that bike and I was like, “Dad, this wasn’t what I had in mind”. So the very next week, my dad presented me with a bike. It was different. It was dark green. The banana seat was all of sudden shiny black. So basically my dad had painted it and was like, “How about now??”. But the tires were still girly so he put on knobby wheels. Thick, dirt wheels on a girl frame bike. Needless to say, I didn’t get down on my knees. But I did ride it for a long time. Complaining. My friend had a BMX dirt rider. My bike could do some of the things the BMX did but it didn’t quite have the same flair in it. But I still rode it. Then one day many years later, I came back home from school. It was right around my birthday. I would come back home and opened the door – lo, and behold a white and red bike. It was beautiful. It was a dirt bike. I thought my eyes had deceived me. It was white framed with red seats and rims. BMX handles and knobby tires. On the side it said, “Haro”. Woa! And it had three speeds! One speed would have been good enough but it had three! I got on my knees and screamed. That was the day joy drove me to my knees. I was so happy back then.

Thanks be to God, that nothing tragic happened in my life. I didn’t have anyone that close to me, so far die. I’m very thankful for that. But I know that soon enough, that will happen. I’m getting up there in age. My parents are getting up there. My aunts and uncles too. But I’ve seen footage, I’ve seen my friends’ parents pass. I’ve seen the way they react. And for my friend whose mother died, I saw go on his knees. The weight of the sorrow was just too much for him and he just went on his knees. And if you are old enough, you know that emotions can do that. Emotions are extremely powerful. We live in an emotionally driven world. In this world we applaud emotions. We have sayings like, “Follow the desires of your heart. Your dreams will come true.” Somehow we applaud this. But we also know that emotions can lead us into a bad situation. It’s very confusing. We’re in a world that applauds emotions but we’re also in a world that know we ought to be kind and cautious. How do I know this? The philosophy of the world is in pop culture. Christina Aguilera said, “Oh, my body says let’s go but my heart says no”. Somehow my emotions says “let’s go”, but my heart is saying – “Woa! That could lead us into a bad place!”. We have Christians that claim to be born again but often our Christian walk mimics the world’s way of thinking, rather than scripture’s way of thinking. We get so caught up in our emotions, that there is no room for God in my decision making. There’s no room for the church to say, “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t think that way.” There’s no room for true accountability. We tend to get overwhelmed by our emotions. And whenever we’re in thought, we tend to peace out. Dip out. “I’m having a rough time. I need to be by myself. Does that make sense?” No, not really. We base our thoughts. We base our decisions by our emotions. By our environment. With me at the center and no room for God. No room for scripture.

What brought Paul to his knees
Why do I talk about this? In our chapter we see Paul is really emotional right now. He’s overwhelmed by emotion. So I’m not saying emotion is bad. Emotion is good! I myself am an emotional guy. I teared up when Old Yeller died in the movie! I’m not a stoic person. So emotions are not bad. That’s not what I’m saying. So today we’re going to see what drove Paul to his knees. What drives Paul to his knees? We see verse 14 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,”. Isn’t Paul supposed to be on his knees? He’s an apostle. So he’s supposed to be on his knees, right? But you have to remember, that Paul is a person. And number two, Paul is a Jewish man, a Pharisee. And one thing Pharisees know how to do is pray. Now, in the Jewish culture there are five positions in prayer. The most common position is hands in the air. Standing with your hands in the air. Second is standing with your hands on your waist. Third, is being prostrate – laying down and praying. The other is just sitting and praying. Five, there’s kneeling. That’s what I want to concentrate on.

Jesus fell on his knees to pray. When did Jesus kneel down and pray? Jesus describes in Matthew 18 when a servant fell on his knees to pray. The servant fell on his knees before his master and pleaded “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” This servant goes before a king, falls on his knees and begs. In Luke 22, Jesus withdrew a stones throw beyond and knelt down and prayed “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. So what does it mean when Paul is on his knees? First of all, it’s the immensity of God’s word that drives Paul to his knees. It’s the immensity of God’s word that drives him to his knees. He talks about the apostles’ words. The prophets’ words. That’s scripture. And upon realizing God’s word. Upon realizing the immensity of God’s word, that brings him down to his knees. And that’s the reason why Bible study is so important. That’s why quiet time is so important. That’s the basis of our church. So get plugged in. It’s really important. If you’re not part of a Bible Study, gosh. We study mathematics. We study English. We study all these things to become a career oriented person. But how about just becoming a person? You think somehow becoming a doctor will make you a person? No, it’ll just make you a doctor. Knowing God’s word. Knowing how you were created. That’s what makes you a person. So please, that’s why it’s important to be part of a Bible Study. Because if you’re not part of a Bible Study, how can anyone keep you accountable?

God and His word at the center of your life
So first it was the immensity of God’s word that brought Paul to his knees. Second, Paul has a good sense. Because of God’s word, he realizes who God is. He knows who he is talking to. He knows he doesn’t need a high priest. A good Hebrew man would go to the high priest if he wanted to talk to God. But what Paul knows now is that Jesus Christ is his high priest. You know that Paul is able to do? For the first time in his life, Paul is able to go to the father and pray. He is able to go to God himself and pray. Do you know what that means? And that drives him to his knees. Listen. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named,”. See he knows the immensity of God. And what is Paul praying for? Paul is praying for, not his will but God’s will. Why is that important? He’s in jail. If you were in jail, would getting a 30 on your MCATs or getting a B average in school be that important? For man who is in jail, he’s going to pray for a crowbar to escape. But Paul doesn’t pray for that. Paul prays, not my will but your will. “16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being”. You try to make life work without God at the center, it will not work. And I guarantee you that. You know why? The Bible says that. Life will not work with you at the center. It cannot work. No way. You have a good job? A great spouse? Great parents? Good kids? It just won’t work. Without God at the center, your life will not work. You will fail. People have been trying it all along. God designed this world with Him at the center. Not you. Not me. That’s how God designed this world. And unless God and God’s word is at the center, your life will not work. Is that a simple enough application?

What Paul earnestly prayed for
How can Paul rejoice when he is in jail? How can Paul rejoice when he is in prison? Because God is at the center. How can there be joy when he is being beaten forty lashes, minus one? Because God is at the center. And what’s the heart of Paul’s message? Paul’s message is that, these gentiles may have faith -
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. You know, my parents love me. I’m an only child. They love me. They came down here last week and I was so nervous. My parents are late comers to Christ. The thought of me becoming a pastor was not appealing to them. And that’s an understatement. Just imagine your one and only son being a pastor when you just think that the church is full of hypocrites. Full of not no nice people – because we’re sinful you know. My parents came to America and tried to raise a son into a doctor, lawyer, engineer – something good for society. But the son wants to become a pastor. So, my parents would came and I was so nervous because they’re finally seeing what I’ve been doing for the past five to ten years. It was nerve wracking being up there. Your parents are watching you and in the back of my mind I’m thinking – “I wonder what she’s thinking”. You guys know the feeling right? And I think my parents are still questioning God due to a combination of growing up in a Buddhist home, having a tough life. Somehow it hardened her stance with church and with God and God’s people. But even when it comes to the subject of their only son, my say they pray for me. They say, “The one thing that I pray for is you. I pray that you get a good job. I pray that you meet a good girl. I pray your children do well. I pray that you may prosper. I pray for you. I pray for you”. No other prayer. Just me. And that’s what we do right? We pray about things that mean so close to us. So dear to us?

What do you pray for? What do you ask from God? Paul prays that “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” So when you see that, we may be tempted to think. He’s an apostle. That’s what he’s supposed to do. But no. When you see who Paul is, Paul is a Hebrew of Hebrews. He’s a Pharisee. And he’s praying for people that used to make fun of him. Looked down on him. Used to look down on these gentiles. But Paul is in jail, soon to be on death row. But for Paul, there’s nothing more important to him than these Gentiles. Just like for my mother, there’s nothing more important than me. Do you know how he is able to do that? Do you realize how Paul is able to do that? The only way he can get out of himself is because he experienced something. He realized that in scripture, that God – the almighty God that he’s praying to, sent His one and only son. To die for him. That God’s son became human. Right now, if you see Jesus right now what do you think Jesus is? Jesus is a man. But He humbled himself. He became man. He was raised by people who He created. He was beaten in prison and eventually crucified. And the reason why Jesus Christ did this, is to seek and save a lost world. To seek and save you and I. Did Jesus Christ want to die? Does He have masochistic tendencies? Does He like to beat Himself up? NO! That’s why in Luke 22 it says, 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed,42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Because of the Father’s will, He would eventually go and die. But do you know what Jesus Christ prays for as He is dying? Jesus Christ, as He is being crucified, looks at the world – young and old, everyone. They were all gathered to crucify Jesus that day. Everyone. Jews and Gentiles – who hated each other had one thing in common – they wanted to crucify Jesus. They agreed on nothing. But on that day, they agreed that Jesus should die. As His hands are being nailed opened, He looks at the world and this is what He says, “Father, forgive them. Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do”. Paul knows that. And because of he’s been given mercy, he can give mercy. Do you know the mercy of God? Do you have a relationship with God? I pray that you know the grace of God. I pray that you know the mercy of God. If you don’t, come talk to me. I’m alright! I want to talk to you. Please come and talk to me or Pastor Brendon. And experience the love of God. Try it! Get off your stupid high horse. This is not the place to do that. This is a matter of life and death. Take off your pride. It’s alright. Be honest! You can say, “I just don’t believe. I have doubts”. That’s a good place to start. You say, “I believe but can someone overcome my unbelief?” That’s a great start too.

October 5, 2014

[Ephesians 3:1-13]
"Christian Insight"
Pastor Kenny Lee

As a way of introduction, we’ve been going through the book of Ephesians. Paul starts off Ephesians by talking about the amazing grace of God. He talks about how we were or are completely dead in our trespasses. Eventually we will all physically die. That’s the one thing we all have in common. Because of God’s great mercy, He sends His one and only Son for us. Jesus paid for our sin with his life. He physically and spiritually passed away. The Holy Spirit comes and brings him back to life, and ascends into heaven. Christ sits at the right hand of God the Almighty. We look at that and say, “Wow too good to be true.” Paul says through Christ’s great sacrifice we are adopted into the family of God. We get the same spiritual blessings that Jesus has. People who are spiritually dead can be alive through Christ. Isn’t that amazing? Our one foot is in heaven already. We have a good theological view of “already there, but not yet.” The presence of God is with us, but there will come a day when Jesus Christ comes and we will fully be there. We are right at that time. Paul goes onto say, there was once a divide between God and man, but because of Christ there is unity. The unity doesn’t just stop with God and man; it also joins man and man. During Paul’s time, there was a great divide between Jews and Gentiles. Paul who was a Jewish Pharisee, looked down on the Gentiles. The Jews were God’s people and the Gentiles were not. We can see a remnant of that division right now in Israel. Paul reminds us that because of Jesus Christ there can be unity. We read this story right now. There are three things I want to talk about today: (1) The prisoner (2) The insight (3) The heart

If we don’t know by now, Paul is a prisoner. He is in jail. You would never think of that when you read Chapters 1 and 2 of Ephesians. Paul talks like a free man. He doesn’t complain. He marvels at God. Get an F on your exam and say, “God is amazing isn’t he?” It’s hard to do. As Paul is writing, he is explaining what he is learning. He wants us to know. When we read Scripture, we see that 11 of the 12 apostles were martyred. Because of their faith in Jesus Christ, they were murdered. The 12th man was boiled alive, but he didn’t die. The prefect put him in a penal island called the Island of Patmos, and that is how we get the book of Revelation.  In our lives, when something goes wrong we automatically assume God is punishing us. We think that God doesn’t love us. We somehow think that loving Jesus translates to wonderful things happening to us. Wonderful things do have to happen. But then why is it that 11 of the 12 apostles were murdered? Then why did Jesus Christ die? What good can come out of that? It is perspective. Are you seeing situations where you’re at the center? Or are you seeing situations where God is at the center? If you want Christianity to work for you, I suggest you put God at the center. If you want your life to work for you, I suggest you put God at the center. Why is that? God made you. He didn’t make you with you at the center. God made us and designed this world with Him at the center. If we see this world from the perspective of ourselves, it can’t work. Yet, we try so hard to see it from our perspective. Eventually, you will fail. How many of us have tried to reach for that perfection? At the end we just cannot attain it. It’s a great misconception. God is not there for you. You are there for God. He doesn’t need you. You need God.

We are called to be imitators of Christ. Jesus Christ’s life was not a breeze. We can all agree. Why did Christ die? He died for our sin. Paul was imprisoned in the time of Nero. Why was Paul in prison? Somehow it had to do with the people of Ephesus. The Ephesians were worried because they felt at fault for Paul’s imprisonment. They were probably right. As Paul is writing this letter in jail, he is learning an insight. What’s the insight?  Paul is always learning and thinking. You might say, “I think all the time. You don’t understand Pastor Kenny; I can’t turn off my mind. I lay down and can’t go to sleep.” Paul thinks a lot. It’s a great characteristic to think. It is something to be applauded. You should think about things. There are people who just don’t want to think about their lives so they are content believing lies. Paul thinks about the right things. He thinks in the right direction. He thinks as man where God is at the center. If Paul were to think with him at the center, he would say something like this, “Church of Ephesians, you know why I am here? I here because of you! Look at me! You better send me bail money. This is not right. I should be preaching and teaching. After all, I am God’s apostle. You better recognize.” Paul doesn’t do that at all. Paul examines his circumstances in the light of God. How does he do it? He does it through God’s word. Ephesians 3:5, “which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Who are prophets? They are people who hear God’s word and regurgitate it.  Apostles are disciples of God who have seen the risen Lord and are able to write Scripture. That’s why we don’t have apostles this day.

As Paul is reading Scripture, he is humble and asking what’s God’s will for him. Here is the insight that he gets- the mystery for Paul is that Gentiles are fellow heirs. In verse 6, “This mystery is that the Gentile are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promises in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” You might be thinking, “Paul that’s it? That’s the secret of life? That’s what God told you? I knew that. I’m a Gentile and I love Jesus.” Look, do you know who Paul is? He is a Jew. He is not just an ordinary Jew. He is a Pharisee. He is not an ordinary Pharisee. He is a zealot. He comes from the tribe of Benjamin.  As for the law he was perfect. He was the Pharisee of the Pharisees. He used to shun Gentiles away. He used to look down on the Gentiles because they didn’t have the promise of God. That is who Paul is. He is looking at the very people he judged and is saying, “My Lord, you love them too, don’t you? My sweet Yahweh, you love those people too don’t you?” You would think a person of that high stature would use his influence for himself.

There is something that happens to Paul. In verse 8 he says, “To me though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul has great theology. We somehow think we get success in life. “Glory to God. We can do all things through Christ who strengths us.” “I’m a CEO. Glory to God.” With Paul, it is different. It is this, “when I murdered one of God’s servants, Jesus forgave me and Jesus worked in me. When things were awful in my life, in the midst of my most heinous sin, Jesus was there. Jesus forgave me.” That is why Paul could say that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Paul says to boast in our weakness. Realize something about yourself. Realize that you are not that great. You are not that smart.

I wanted to become a pastor ever since I was 12 years old. At the age of 37 that reality came true. I love being a pastor. I love it. I love the privilege of being called a pastor. I love the privilege of being your pastor. I think about why God would use a wretch like me. It’s not holy talk. I really mean, why would God use a wretch like me. It’s such a privilege for me to be used by God. Whenever God uses me I’m amazed. Paul means it when he says, “To me though I am the very least of all the saints.” Paul means it when he says,” to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” That is why we have the book of Ephesians and you are hearing this sermon right now. It is because this man was in jail. Do you think Paul could have known that this letter written thousands of years ago would affect us and encourage us right now? All glory goes to God! Paul judged these people. Now he is in jail because of these people. Eventually, he will be on death row because of these people. How in the world can Paul do something like this? Paul knows another secret. The Holy Spirit has revealed to him another truth. Paul realized that at one point he was the object of judgment. Paul realized that he was a sinner, that we are all sinners. As a Pharisee, Paul looked clean on the outside, but he knew he was really dirty on the inside. Gentiles were just dirty inside and out. Gentiles were more honest. They reflected their inside. Pharisees put the dirt under the rug – the way I used to clean. God is the judge. God’s perfect. Paul knew that God loved him so much that He sent His one and only Son for him. Paul realized that. He realized that his sin eventually drove God’s precious Son to the cross. God’s Son died. The Holy Spirit raised Christ up from the dead and he is seated in heaven. Do you know that Paul went to jail defending the Gentiles? Paul eventually dies at the hand of the Gentiles for defending the Gentiles. Paul considers it a privilege. Do you consider it a privilege to serve God’s people?

Reminds of the movie, Saving Private Ryan. A task force is formed to save this one private named Ryan. Ryan is one of five sons. One day during World War II, his mother received four letters informing her that four of her five sons had died. Her fifth one, Ryan, is fighting one the front lines in Germany. The top brass has compassion on her and form a task force to find Ryan. They go through the hell of war trying to find this one private. Eventually they find him. He is a pretty good kid. He will not let go of his post until his job is done. Most of this task force dies trying to save him. At the end, the captain of the task force is fatally wounded. Private Ryan goes up to the captain, played by Tom Hanks, and says, “Why did you do this?” Tom Hanks says, “Earn it.” That is all you see. The camera focuses on Private Ryan’s eyes, where it pans from the hellish background of war to 50 years later at Arlington Seminary. This man with the same eyes is Private Ryan. His whole family is there, grandchildren and all. He looks at the cross and sees the captain’s tombstone. He is looking at that. There is a look of desperation. He turns to wife and says, “Martha, am I a good man? Am I a good husband? Am I a good person?” The lives of those men affected Private Ryan.

Why doesn’t the sacrifice of God affect you? The reason it doesn’t is because you don’t know the reality of it. It is not real to you. Do you believe in God’s word? If you do then trust in God’s word. Christianity is not a Sunday morning. Your life must be transformed. You life must be renewed. You must be born again.

September 28, 2014

September 28, 2014 
Pastor Brendon - "Two become one"
Ephesians 2:11-22

I’m going to do something different.  Something a little unusual.  First I want to point out to the passage that we are looking at, if we take a look at it carefully, there is only one word in there that is a command.  It’s remember.  Vs. 11+12, remember, remember.  When we get into the rest of the verses, it talks about a reality that happened.  What Jesus Christ did, and what that means for us.  That the first thing I want to say.  The second thing I want to say is that last week, we talked about how we’re all dead.  Pastor Kenny made a strong emphasis on how dead we are.  Dead.  Dead dead dead dead.  Dead.  Not physic ally dead, but we’re spiritually dead.  As in, we don’t know God on our own, we don’t love.  The only way that we can have a relationship with God is that God loved us first.  He sent Jesus Christ to die for us everyone who believes in him.  That is the most amazing truth that we will ever hear.  So if that’s the most amazing truth that we will ever hear, why should we listen to what we have to say today? Well last week we covered Jesus and me.  Jesus’ personal relationship with me.  Today we’re going to talk about Jesus and us.  Last week we were sitting trembling in our seats and we were ignited with thanks for God.  I hope today that we are ignited together for God. 
The unusual thing that I’m going to do is that I am going to share right now an abridged version of my testimony.  I’m not going to use any illustrations during this sermon.  This past week I was struggling with this passage.  But one thing stuck out; remember, remember, remember.  God’s word is coming to us and god’s word is saying to us “remember.  Remember when we were separated from Christ, from the church, and the promises of hope in Christ.  So before I came to Christ, I didn’t grow up knowing Christ at all.  I grew up in a really good family, and very loving parents, and a very very loving sister.  She just took care of me so much.  I was really rebellious as a kid.  I had glasses, a mushroom bald haircut, but I was dangerous.  I switched your Doritos with grapes, because I hated grapes.  I did that a lot.  I lied once in second grade. I was chilling with my mom and I told her “I lied 32 times today” and she was like “heh?! What?!” and when my dad came home, she told my dad.  And then he beat me.  I got into fights with kid, every kid was bigger than me, but I didn’t care.  That’s’ why my mom put me in church.  I hated it.  It was like a second version of school.  I hid there, in the graveyard, and eventually they found me.  For 45 minutes they taught us Taiwanese, and for another 45minutes, they taught stories in the bible. Basically, I didn’t learn much.  In my teenage years, God started working in my life.  I don’t know what happened, but he really started to open my ears to the sermon.  Unfortunately, I felt worse.  I felt worse and worse.  I saw that God was good, but I also saw I was such a heinous person.  I tried to be a really good son, student, and a friend.  There weren’t many times when I succeeded, but even when I succeeded, I felt so tired.  But my freshman year of College, people shared about Jesus with me.  I didn’t realize that people were talking about Jesus with me.  They used weird examples they were like “faith is like sitting on a chair.  How do you know that a chair will hold you up? If it doesn’t then it’ll break under you” I was so confused I was like “I’m 125 pounds. No chair has ever broken under me” but then a couple of months later, a miracle happened.  The grace of God just hit me and made me realize that Jesus Christ loved me and that he died for me on the cross.  I didn’t need to do anything.  Jesus Christ just loved me and died for me.  That’s when I started getting into this and started to coming out to church.  I was excited.  My life was changed.  What happened was I had a desire to be a pastor, the church invited me to be a pastor.  But then after graduating college, I thought to myself that the Holy Spirit was so powerful.  I was going to nuke every ministry and every single person I come across.  But then what happened was that, I got nuked.  I just thought that I could do it.  That I could be a pastor and the Holy Spirit would just anoint me or something.  I really fell flat on my face on everything.  I messed up everything that I could after college.  And then by the grace of God, God brought me back to church. He brought me back to church on Jan 11 2011.  The day that God brought me back to church, it started to hit me how amazing and important church was.  Without church, with Christ one on one, I completely failed.  I failed my family, I ran away from church.  My back then wife.  I hurt a lot of people in my life.  So when I read this, it reminded me 1) what this passage was about 2) why this passage should be so dear to us.  There is nothing in here dear to us, please ask yourself if you’re a Christian. Please ask yourself if you know what God has in store for you.  Ephesians is about Christ and the church.  Jesus Christ and the church. Ultimately about how Jesus Christ loves the church and cherishes it.  Paul cannot stand seeing anybody take this for granted.  That’s why it says vs. 11 it says
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,without hope and without God in the world.”
So back then what was happening was that Ephesus was a city with a lot of Gentiles, with a lot of Jews.  Paul didn’t what these gentiles to forget about their past, when they didn’t have God.  In fact back then, there was a lot of segregation going on.  Back then, the Jews were name calling, calling the Gentiles “the uncircumcision” and they were calling themselves “the circumcision” the reason why they used that, was that in the old testament, a sign that you were God’s people is that you were circumcised on the eighth day.  They took a lot of pride in that.  When I see this, it makes me think like about ourselves.  When we think”oh I m a Christian because I grew up in a churchIt’s not important for us whether we grew up or didn’t grow up in the church, we are all separated from Christ.  All of us were alienated from God and from the church.   We might have done a lot of church stuff in the past, the fact that Jesus Christ didn’t mean so much to us; the church didn’t mean so much to us.  It has to make us question, whether we really knew God’s heart.  Whether we were really Christians.  Paul says in vs. 13-17,
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
No commands in there.  It just talking about what Jesus Christ has done for you.  What Jesus Christ has done for us.  Even when we didn’t care about God, even when we didn’t love God, God wanted to have a relationship with us.  And not just specific types of people, but anyone who wants to come to him.  And Jesus brought us with his blood.  Jesus Christ is our peace.  As you read this you might think, “There’s a lot of stuff going on.  What does it mean that he is our peace? What does he mean that he broke our hostility?” Well the Jews and Gentiles, they constantly compared and competed with each other.  In fact there are records in history of there being so much violence back then, if a Jewish boy married a non-Jewish girl, they would hold a funeral for the boy.  The hatred was that extreme.  What Jesus Christ did, is that Jesus Christ eliminated the hostility between one another.  Each one of us.  And I think this is something that is so overlooked sometimes because, we always think of Jesus and me; vertical relationship.  But we don’t realize that on the cross, we shouldn’t stand for anything in the way of each other.  Vs. 18
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

In other words, because there is no hostility between God and us anymore on the cross, we don’t have to completely follow the law of God.  We are saved by grace, not by works. So because of that, also by the cross, God eliminated any reason for us to be segregated, divided, there shouldn’t be anything that gets in the way of our relationships.  Scripture is saying that Jesus is our peace.  If Jesus is your peace and he’s your savior, and He’s my peace and he’s my savior, then at some point, we’re going to have a relationship.  We’re fellow citizens.  It’s like American on American crime.  That’s ridiculous.  We’re part of the same nation, part of the same household.  Family that has been bought by blood of Christ.  And we’re the place where God wants to dwell.  I can’t imagine from scripture that God would want us to be divided.  That God would want us to go through in life at odds and in contention with each other. And what this means is that Jesus Christ came to have a relationship with us.  Any type of sinner.  That should be our aim too.  Never should age, color, sex, gender, occupation, interest, sport teams, nothing should ever get in the way of that.  When I read this passage, it says that Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone.  What kind of relationships are you struggling with?  What kind of relationships are you having trouble with?  You’re not alone.  It’s not easy having a relationship with God.  God is building this church.  It should give us so much that there is so much to come in this church.  There are people that I thought wouldn’t be here.  There are people here that I thought that I wouldn’t have a relationship with.   There are people in this church that have hurt each other and have disappointed each other.  And we think to ourselves “I don’t want to be with that person” or if we’re self condemning “I don’t want to be with myself” but the amazing thing to me is that our church isn’t founded on any person or anything else then Jesus Christ.  He is our cornerstone. Jesus Christ already eliminated sin, Satan, and death on the cross.  The victory is already there.  As we’re living in that victory, that one day we’ll see even more clearly, Jesus Christ is the reason why we can have the hope of pursuing every relationship. So practically for us, there shouldn’t be people that we avoid.  There are natural discomforts that we have.  We have to fight those discomforts.  Last week we talked about by how by nature, through our desires we do the first thing that comes to our minds and hearts.  We have to fight that.  We have to be against even our own nature.  For the youth, stop hanging out with each other all the time.  Hang out with other people.  For the rest of us, we’re just like that.  The church is not supposed to have dividing walls. Every wall should be coming down.  As we’re getting to know Christ, as we get to know people more and more, we see how beautiful God is.  That he can see so many different people and bring them together like this.