Saturday, March 14, 2015

Love Within the Body of Christ

Romans 12:9-10 Untitled
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
I remember in our church every time we had finished taken the the Lord Supper, we would read the Church Covenant and there is a part there that says:
“We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.”
These words remind me that wherever we go as family, the first priority for us to look for a local church where we can serve God. So it makes me sad that many people claims to be Christian but do not want to be part of a local church. It just doesn’t make sense. In order for us to have a clear understanding of or passage, we have to read it in its context. In verses 1 and 2, Paul talks about spiritual worship and in verse 3 to eight, he talks about our humble service to the body of Christ by using our spiritual gifts. We need to understand that Paul refers specifically to the local church because every believer should commit to serve God through a local church. Some believers would make excuse that it is not necessary because they are part of the universal invisible church. Warren Weirsbe tells a story of a free-lance missionary that visited a pastor friend asking for financial support. "What group are you associated with?" his friend asked. The man replied, "I belong to the invisible church." His friend then asked, "Well, what church are you a member of?" Again he got the answer, "I belong to the invisible church!" Getting a bit suspicious, his friend asked, "When does this invisible church meet? Who pastors it?" The missionary then became incensed and said, "Well, your church here isn't the true church. I belong to the invisible church!" His friend replied, "Well, here's some invisible money to help you in your invisible church!" God called us to serve Him in a local church through our worship (12:1-2), our service by using our spiritual gifts and then by loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. This morning the word of God challenges us to follow Jesus command to love one another. We follow Jesus example when he demonstrates his love when he died on the cross to suffer in our behalf. He did not do that because he wants to do something nice for us but because of his obedience to the Father. By following Christ’s example, we are commanded by the Father to love every person in the body of Christ.

Love in the body of Christ must be sincere (12:9a)

The English word “sincere” comes from two Latin words meaning “without wax.” In Paul’s time, potters would sometimes take wax and fill in the gaps in broken or cracked pottery. Then they would paint over the wax and sell it. The only problem was that when someone bought this pottery and put something hot in it the wax would melt and it would leak. Good potters distanced themselves from this practice by saying that their pottery was “sine-cere,” meaning it was pure with no wax. Likewise, our love must not have cracks in it, or wax that is simply a cover-up. The Greek word that Paul uses means “without hypocrisy.” The word was used of the masks used by actors on the stage. During Paul’s time, the actors used the mask to show the role that he was playing not his true character. Paul says that our love for one another should be without mask, but rather should be real. We should truly desire God’s best for others. Now, I think the question is how we can love our brothers and sisters in Christ in the church, John puts it very clearly in 1 John 3:16-18, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

Love in the body of Christ must be holy (12:9b)

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. In order for love to be sincere, it must also be discerning. Love should know what is good and what is evil. It never endorses or encourages in others attitudes or behaviour that is evil. Rather it embraces what is good in God’s sight. God’s standard of what is evil and what is good does not change with the times or with different cultures. God reveals his holy standards of right and wrong in His Word. For example, when the Bible say that homosexual behaviour is sinful, then it does not changes even if public opinion polls or scientists say it is acceptable. If it is sin in God’s sight, then it is not loving to treat such behaviour as morally acceptable, because sin hurts people. Instead, the loving thing to do is to gently and with compassion, tell that person about his sin and point him to Christ so that he can be saved before his sin destroys him. Also Paul does not just say to avoid evil, we are to hate it. It is an strong emotional reaction against all that do not please God. Since God hates sin, we should also hate sin. We should not laugh at evil or be entertained by evil. The opposite of hating evil is to cling to what is good. The word “cling” is quite descriptive. It means to stick to something like glue; to hold fast, to join or keep company. It has the idea of tying ourselves to what is good. We must focus our minds on what is good and make sure that we keep company with people who will build us up, make sure we’re connected to church, and that we’re equipped to serve. We can flip it because they are really two sides to the same coin. The more you cling constantly to what is good, the easier it will be to hate what is evil. The word “good” was used of things that were morally good and beneficial or useful for a productive Christian life.
7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. -1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

Love in the body of Christ must be brotherly (12:10a)

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Here Paul is challenging us to love as family members love. Here’s the deal. When we come a Christian we only get a birthday present called spiritual gift, we also become part of a new family. Each one of us is a child of God so we are a brothers and sisters to each other. The Christian community is composed of people from very different cultures. In the New Testament the church is composed of Greeks, Jews, Barbarians, Slaves, and free men and women but because of their faith they become one family in God. I believe it is not different from our present situation, we are all very different people but because of our faith in Christ, we become one family. Everyone of us has a family. There are times when we are not in talking terms with a member of our family. We fight, we argue and don’t talk with each other for a long time but we still love each other. The kind of love we should express within our families, is to be the kind of love God expects for us to express within the local Church: The church, is first and foremost the family of God, and each member of that family is important, with no distinctions, no discriminations.

Love in the body of Christ must be humble (12:10b)

Honour one another above yourselves.
The word “honour” literally means to put a “heavy weight.” It implies that we assign the greatest possible weight to a person in terms of respect by holding them in “high regard.” To honour someone is to measure his or her value on a scale and conclude that it is “heavy.” On the other hand, to “dishonour” means to treat someone as if they were “light or insignificant.” It would be used to describe a child that treats his parents lightly because he or she does not value them. We’re called to prefer others above ourselves. The idea is that we will take the lead in showing the honour that is due to each other in the family of God. This passage means that we do not wait around for people to recognise what we are doing good and praise us. Instead, we should be alter to what others are doing good and honour them. We are not to seek honour for ourselves, but rather we truly rejoice when others receive honour and we don not. It is easily said but it is hard to practice. If we will keep this principle in our hearts we will never look down upon other people especially our brothers and sisters in the church because at the very moment we look down on them, we actually are putting ourselves lower than them. Let us think of this truth always if you heard someone who are putting down a brother or a sister in Christ consider other Christians as second class citizen, according to God’s Word he or she is actually lower than the person he is putting down. So when Paul says, “honour one another above yourselves,” he doesn’t mean that we should deny our gifts or knowledge. Rather, he means that we should have a true estimate of ourselves. We should not over-estimate ourselves and under-estimate others. As Paul says in 1 Cortinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

Conclusion

It would not take you too long to live in Mae Sai to realise that some Christians lack commitment to a particular local church. And I cannot blame them, there are just too many local churches here. They have a lot of options. I know a village that have five small churches and two Bible schools. I wonder how much influence they have in the community. In fact, I know a Christian leader who moved here last year and in just a few months was able to start a new local church disregarding local churches that are already existing. I am not saying that it is bad, I even think it is good. But I believe if we Christians want to have a weight in this predominantly Buddhist nation, we should better get our acts together. And we can start by committing ourselves to a local church: commit ourselves to Jesus Christ who is the head of the church and commit ourselves to the members of the local church we are a part. How can we do that? By keeping this verse always in our hearts: Love one another sincerely, hate evil and cling to what is good, be devoted in loving one another like a family and honour one another above yourselves. Before I close I want to read part of the church covenant: We engage by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations. We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer, to help each other in sickness; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Network for Children and Women Under the Same Sky (NCWSS)

Ncwsa logo copy During our early years in Mae Sai, God clearly impressed upon us that we will be working with children and women. So it is only logical that we are now working together with NCWSS. We are hoping to do more projects through NCWSS. Below is the document describing the organization's activities and projects. NCWSS is an orgnization who woks to help the child and women in the provinces of Northern Thailand like Mae Sai, Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Kong, Chiang Saen, Mong, Lampang and other places. Many children and women became victims of abuse, exploitation and human trafficking. These problems are real but the community seems oblivious to the increasing realities of these evil deeds being committed against children and women. Therefore, different organisations and individuals who are genuinely concern to fight against these problems work together to protect the right and welfare of women and children. NCWSS goals are as follows:
  1. To provide accommodation and education for the homeless children.
  2. To assist in the care of the orphans.
  3. To help the children who are the victims of sexual abuse.
  4. To assist in protecting the children from human trafficking.
  5. To help women from abusive husbands.
  6. To assist women and children from labor and sex trafficking.
  7. To help women workers from exploitative employers.
  8. To increase knowledge of the communities to enable them to have a greater concern for being part of the solving problems.
When there are several groups and organisations which have the same mission and vision, they can work together to achieve their goals. NCWSS has been established for the purpose of:
  1. Unite together to help and protect children and women’s right.
  2. Share information, problems and experiences for better solve the problems.
  3. Coordinate with the government, community organisations and individuals to achieve the goals.
  4. Educate and encourage community and individual to work together on solving these problems.
The organization is registered with Ministry of Social Development and Human Security as Network for Children and Women Under the Same Sky as a public welfare organization by Legal Principle Section 82 of the Civil and Commercial LA. In September 15, 2008 and was awarded a certificate from The Association Registrar of the Chiang Rai Province. Main activities of the association:
  1. Annual meeting to update and revise policy for the members’ guidance.
  2. Organised seminars to educate and train the members how to extend assistance to the victims and to be more informed about the law and regulations.
  3. Help and assist the children and women who are in danger of becoming victims.
  4. Educate community, individual citizens and schools about the problems confronting the children and women in the society and how to acquire help to solve the problem.
  5. Encourage the citizen to have an active part in solving these social problems.
  6. Help the poor children by donating food, clothes, medicine, school supplies, finances for school fees, etc.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Through the years



Happy New Year! It’s a bit late greeting but we missed the opportunity to do it because we skipped sending you our January Newsletter.  We thanked the Lord for your continued partnership through out the years. Nine years to be exact.

We came to Mae Sai in January 2006 hence we are now on our ninth year here. This year, we were together in celebrating God’s faithfulness in our lives and ministries. We are grateful that Jared and Jillian were able to come to celebrate Christmas, New Year and the anniversary of our coming here in Thailand.

Team Visits
They came with a purpose to help the children at risk and we happen to have ten of those. Seven wonderful young ladies from YWAM DTS-Madison came to help us with the children and also with teaching English at the Municipal school. They stayed in our house for almost a week. We also took some time out to show them to few interesting places in Mae Sai. They came at the right time because we needed to go to the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok that weekend because Reuven had to take the Alternative Learning System Accreditation Equivalency (ALSAE) Test. We had people who looked after the children while we were away.

We also met with a 32-people team from South Korea through our Pastor friend. They were doing mission exposure in Southeast Asian countries. We were grateful to them for taking the time to visit our place and for encouraging us. We were able to help them in our own small way to look for an overnight accommodation.

We will also be working with YWAM Team from South Africa this month. Please pray for the school activities where these young people who will minister among the students of the municipal school.

Children Update
We thank the Lord for his provision for all the children’s school expenses. They are all doing good in the school. Being with them and seeing them 24/7 make us oblivious to the physical changes happening to them. We just noticed that their clothes are getting too small for them.  So we are again buying them new set of clothes and school uniforms.
Our own children are doing well in their studies. But Narlin and I think they need somebody to be with them to help them keep the house tidy and prepare food for them. Jared will be graduating in May and Jillian will be in her third year. The fact that they are in the Philippines in college is a miracle of God’s provision.

Reuven took this year ALSAE Test. If he passed, he will go straight to college in the Philippines. The test is specially difficult for him because the test is 90% in Tagalog. For someone who who live in Thailand for most of his life, written Tagalog is not easy to understand. Please pray that Reuven will pass the test this time.

HT Related Projects
Please continue to pray for us as we help our friend to start his ministry projects in Mae Sai that seeks to prevent young women from becoming victim of human trafficking (HT). We hope to find a place to rent to be used as vocational trainings centre (initially sewing for crafts like dresses and bags and maybe more courses later) and another place for shelter. Pray for our friend's health and pray for wisdom and provision.

During our last meeting with the Network for Women and Children, someone brought out a pressing problem. We are told that the Thai Immigration Office deported several young women who are working illegally in Thailand. Although these girls are from Burma, they practically grew up here. They couldn’t speak Burmese and they don’t have any idea where their family are located. Allegedly, they ended up homeless and raped by the police.

We are hoping to help provide solution to this problem by having people in the immigration office to look for the deported girls and provide them temporary shelter until such time they locate their family in Burma. This is a good opportunity to share God’s love to them.  Please for God’s guidance and provisions.

Members of Network for Children and Women (NCW) sharing problem on human trafficking and sharing ideas on how to provide solutions.

Thanksgiving
  • We thank the Lord for another year he has given to us. We are looking forward for a fruitful 2015.
  • We thank the Lord that our children from the Philippines were able to celebrate holidays with us.
  • We thank the Lord for friends who are faithfully supporting and praying for us. We pray that God will bless you always.
  • We thank the Lord for leading us to a local church where we can serve him.
  • We thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve with the international community (who need spiritual feeding too) in our once a month English worship.
  • We thank the Lord for the opportunity to teach English and the Word to the children and young people in the community. 
  • We know it's still early but please help us pray for our visa and work permit this year. We are grateful that we did not have major difficulties in extending our stay in Thailand.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Thanksgiving Message

Philippians 4:4-7


We non-Americans will never fully understand why the Americans celebrate thanksgiving. Sure we can know its history and how it is being celebrated, but for us it is totally an American holiday just like Loi Khratong is a Thai festival. We may know about it and participate in it but we it would not be meaningful if we are not a Thai.

Charles Dickens once said that they are somewhat mixed up in America. He told an audience that “instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have 364 “days of thanksgiving.” Use that one day just for complaining and griping,” he said. “Use the other 364 days to thank God for the many blessings He has showered upon you.”

As Dickens suggested, we should not wait for a special holiday to express our gratitude to God. Instead, thanksgiving should be a part of our daily lives. In fact the bible is very clear that thanksgiving is perhaps one of the most vital characteristics of any child of God. And there’s good reason for that.

As a Christian, God expects us to have a thankful spirit. We should be the example of what it means to be a thankful person.

Let us look at Philippians 4:4-7 to know how we show to people that we have a thankful spirit.

A thankful spirit is a joyful spirit (v. 4)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice.

A thankful person is always rejoicing in the Lord. As you may already know, when Paul was writing this letter he was not in a comfortable position. He was actually in prison. The reason we have a joyful spirit is because we know God through our personal relationship with Jesus.

The joy we have inside our hearts should not be affected by the bad circumstances that are happening around us. Paul shows this truth to us. He is full of joy because he knows that no matter what happened to him, he has Jesus Christ in his life. We can be joyful because we know for sure that God will provide for us and takes care of us.

And God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always. Whether we like it or not, we are commanded to  do so not because we could not do it but because it is something that a true Christian should be doing. It is our testimony of how faithful God is to us.

We rejoice because he makes us happy. We rejoice because he gives us exceeding joy. In this passage Paul are trying to resolve some problems in the church, but in spite of that Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always!

To rejoice means to be exceedingly glad The ability to rejoice or to have a joyful spirit is built on our relationship with God, not with what is happening around us.

A thankful spirit is a gentle spirit (v. 5)

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Joy is not always evident but the way we relate to other people is. A thankful person will treat people as Jesus would treat them.

The word “gentle” is very difficult word to translate in English. One word is not sufficient to get the full meaning of it. Different translations translate it as gentle, moderate, kind, reasonable, considerate.
The word refers to a spirit that is reasonable, fair-minded, and charitable. It describes someone willing to yield his or her own right to show consideration and gentleness to others. We may find it easy to be gentle with some people but it is hard to be gentle to the people who makes our life difficult.

Paul is saying that “gentleness”  towards all people should characterise the people of God. He is calling the Christians in Philippi and us for that matter to have the gentle forbearance and meekness of Jesus. It should be one of the most prominent attitude that Christians should show to all people.

The sudden inclusion of the sentence, “the Lord is near” is ambiguous. Paul could have intended it to be like that. First, it may mean that Paul is saying “Rejoice in the Lord always,  and let your gentleness be evident to all for the coming of the Lord is near. On the other he may mean to say that the Lord is always near. Or he says it to mean both.

In the light of the persecution the Christians are experiencing in the hands of those who proclaim that the emperor is Lord and God. These words, I believe, serve as encouragement and affirmation.  That they can do all these commands because the Lord’s second coming is very near and while he is not yet coming…the Lord is near in a very real way to those who are praying to him.

And because of these truths, we are motivated to be gentle to the people who live around us. First, to our brothers and sisters in Christ and second to those who are lost.  A thankful person will treat other with love and respect.

A thankful spirit is a trusting spirit (6)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Circumstances will not shake us. A thankful person  will have full trust in God. This verse literally is saying to us that we should stop being anxious! We should stop worrying. This is the scope of our trust. We are to trust God in every situation.

Three words are use for prayer here: prayer, petition and requests. I looked at the definition of these words. Petition is a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority with respect to a particular cause. A request is an act of asking politely or formally for something.

So this verse clearly tells us that if something is making us anxious we have to pray to God and we have to pray together to God and trust him that he will take care of it.

We cannot let circumstances shake our faith. Anxiety can cause to be irritable and defensive. It is like a fertiliser that make little problems grow bigger. The church at Philippi are having internal problems and it is causing disagreement among the Christians there. It might have been easy for the church to just stop carrying out their ministry that they are called to do.

I had seen the enemy use anxiety to keep us from serving God. If he can get you to focus on problem and be anxious, then we lost our focus on God.

Here Paul says that prayer is our first line of defence. The cure for anxiety is not inaction but prayer with action. Sometimes preparing a message can give like this gives me anxiety. I may get extremely anxious to the point that I can not do anything.

On the other hand, I cannot just pray to God that he will prepare the message for me. I have to read and study the Bible, study other resources and pray for guidance that I can write this message.
Do not let our anxieties stop us from doing our best. Do not let it stop us from serving God instead trust that God will take care of our problems and then we will be empowered to do God’s works.

A thankful spirit is a peaceful spirit (7)

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live for Him. When i read this passage the first image that comes to my mind is the image of secret service guarding the president of the America. And I believe Paul has the same imagery in his mind when he wrote this passage. The image of Roman soldiers standing guard all over the city. Peace is guarding our hearts and minds against the attack of anxieties and many other negative influences.

When things are falling apart around us, we have peace within us that we ourselves could not fully understand. All we know is that God gives us the wonderful gift of peace. This peace gives us clear mind and correct judgement when bad things happened around us.

People might see it as indifference. Sometimes we ourselves thought we should be more worried than we should be. But we need to realise, it is not us. It is the peace that guards our hearts and minds.
Jesus said that he will  give us a unique peace that the world will not understand. It is hard to explain, we may not be able to explain it to others or even to ourselves but we just praise God for it.

If we don have a peaceful spirit, we will have a hard time being thankful. If we are worried and afraid all the time, we will not be able to thank God for what He has done because we will be distracted on the problems before us. Being thankful help us to focus on God more and more.

Conclusion

During a harvest festival in India, an old widow arrived at her church with an extraordinarily large offering of rice – far more than the poor woman could be expected to afford. The itinerant pastor of the church did not know the widow well.

But he did know that she was very poor and so he asked her if she were making the offering in gratitude for some unusual blessing. “Yes,” replied the woman. “My son was sick and I promised a large gift to God if he got well.” “And your son has recovered?” asked the pastor. The widow paused. “No,” she said. “He died last week. But I know that he is in God’s care; for that I am especially thankful.”

For Christians, every moment is an opportunity to give thanks to God. Everyday is thanksgiving day.

The image is from wikimedia.org

Friday, November 21, 2014

We're back

We made our trip to the Philippines and back. Our son, Jared passed through a personal crisis. Relatives and friends thought we need to come home to help and support him. We agreed and besides we already missed our children and it's about time we should have time together. Thankfully, Jared was able to settle the issue by himself while we were still on our way. Regardless, we thought that it is about time to have bonding time with Jared and Jillian. We enjoyed spending time with them helping them with their house chores as they were very busy with their studies. We also had the opportunity to be with Joey’s mother when she celebrated her 71st birthday. The first time in eight years. Reconnecting with old friends was also another blessings we enjoyed during that time.

 We have many things to be thankful for with regards to that visit home. First we are thankful for God’s provisions for the airfare, housing, food and other travel expenses. Thankful for friends who are always ready to extend help may it be encouragement, prayers, cash and in kind. Thanks for Sayarma Beauty and Joanne for looking after the children while we were away. They did a great job. Thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

Thankful for the opportunity to share our ministry and message at PBTS chapel and other three churches. Thankful for friends who picked us and brought us back again to the airport. We thank the Lord for everything. We took the opportunity to have family portrait while we were in the Philippines.

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Christian Hospitality Network GetAway

We praise the Lord for the opportunity to rest and be refreshed. We were recommended by a missionary friend to avail of the R&R being offered by Christian Hospitality Network in Horizon Village & Resort in Chiang Mai. It was God’s timely provision because he knew we needed a rest after airplane ride from the Philippines, sleeping on the airports, waiting on the bus terminals and thirteen hours bus ride from Bangkok. We are thankful for the wonderful time of rest, for the encouraging and inspiring messages and for meeting wonderful godly people. We are also thankful to its Founding Director Paul Cowell and the staff for working so hard to make this ministry possible. You are all a huge blessing to many missionaries serving around the world. We are hoping and praying that they will welcome us again in their ministry in the future.

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We’re definitely back

We’re back to reality. After being away for almost a month, we were expecting that many things will be out of order in the house. The children did a great job in our backyard garden but there are jobs that only adults can do. We fixed those that can be fixed and replaced those we could not. We also trimmed the trees and revived the dying ornamental plants. Sad to say, the fish on our small ponds are all dead. We made a couple of trips to the dumping area to get rid of the garbage that was piled up when were away.

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As soon as we are back, Narlin resumes teaching English to the young people in the neighborhood. The younger students may start coming next week. Joey will also have English and discipleship classes starting next week. He will resume his preaching ministry at Pantamit Church. Please pray that the Word of God could be preached clearly to the Thai people.

 Next week, we will have meeting again with the Network for Children and Women to plan for more activities. We also praying that we can help a friend to start a ministry for the young women in Mae Sai. It will be difficult because it will take a lot of planning and funding.

Please pray for that this project will have a good jumpstart so that young women can be rescued from human trafficking. The children, all eleven of them, go back to school after a three-week break. Reuven is already a week late. His school started a week prior to our return in Mae Sai. This is a start of another school term so we need to pay their tuition fees. We thank the Lord for his provisions for most of the fees. Please help us to pray that God will provide for all the school expenses this term. 

Thank you once again for your prayers with regard to our trips to the Philippines and now that we are back, you’re love and prayers are a big encouragement to us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Part in a Miracle

John 6:1-13 Feeding to 5000

What is your favourite miracles of Jesus? For me it is the feeding of the 5,000. Many people think and agree that if you assume that each man may have brought their wives and at least two children with them, the number of people may have been like 15,000. The people witnessed how Jesus performed miracles and people are excited to follow him everywhere he goes. Jesus wanted to get away from the crowd cross the river by boat with his disciples hoping that the people would stop following him and he would have time alone with the disciples. But the people would not give up, seeing that Jesus and his disciples rode the boat, the people started running along the shore through a rough woods and headed where the boat was going.

So when Jesus saw arrived some of the people were already there and had looked for a place to settle down. Instead of getting angry with the crowd, the Lord Jesus had compassion to the people and do something to take care of their needs. In this story, we will learn how the Lord Jesus did a miracle and we will learn what did the people do to experience that miracle in their lives.

Jesus wants our participation (5-6)


5.When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6. He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
These verses clearly say that Jesus did not have to ask this question because “he already know what he was going to do.” He asked the question to test the faith of Philip and in effect the other disciples too. The Lord Jesus Christ does need anybody to tell him what to do. The only reason he asked this question is to know what the disciples are thinking and he wants them to share their thoughts and ideas. Jesus want his disciples to participate in helping to resolve the problem at the moment. 

Apparently, Philip is very smart because after looking at the crowd he knows right away how much money they need to feed all the people. He comes up with 200 denarii. In present times it is roughly equivalent to 4,000 US dollars or roughly 124,000 baht. And would not be enough to buy a bread enough that each person to get a little piece. Andrew, on the other hand, share his idea by getting Jesus’ attention that there is a little boy who is willing to share his food—five small loaf of bread and two small fish. He thinks it is impossible to feed all the people with this amount of food. I believe the important truth here is not only Jesus tests the disciples but also he wanted them to share ideas, do something to help with the problem. Jesus wants everyone to participate.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. We all know the saying, but we often fail to apply this lesson in our lives. If you view the elephant as one big goal that your whole life depends on, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Why not enjoy the bites along the way? If you ask somebody what goal they’re working on, what kind of answer do you think you’ll get? Assuming they even have goals, they’ll probably say they’re working on something really big, maybe even something that will make them feel like they’ve achieved their life purpose.1 Our church have big vision and big goal. We want to share Jesus Christ to many people as possible. We envision that our church will grow big and have many people come to worship our God. This goal is big. It is like an elephant. We can not eat it. It seems impossible. But if everyone of us will cooperate and will take a little bite one at a time. 

We will eventually accomplished the goal that God has set before us. The problem is only very few in the church like to cooperate. This is God’s challenge for us this morning. All of us should cooperate to accomplish our goal as a church.

Jesus Wants Our Contribution (6-9)

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
In verse 6, it says that Andrew speaks up and says, "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" Some Bible teachers think that this little boy is employed by the disciple to carry their food. But I believe, this little boy has committed himself to following Jesus wherever he goes that he make sure that he is totally prepared. 

The other people who follow Jesus and even the disciples never bother to bring their own food. I want you to take note the way John describes the situation. Here is a “little” boy with five “small” barley loaves and two “small” fish. I believe John is trying to show the greatness of our God that a miracle has come out using these small things. But, of course, these small things from little boy are what all Jesus need. He never asks us to have more education, more talent and more money in order to serve him and minister to others. All he wants is what we have right now. And as soon as he found out what is available in the crowd, Jesus performs a wonderful miracle. 

 There was a story of a little girl who stood outside the church crying. She could not get into the church to attend the Sunday School because the church was too small and there was no space for her. So the Pastor saw him and took her hand and found a place for her in the Sunday School class. The girl was so touched that night she went to bed praying and thinking of the children who have no place to worship. The Pastor told her that someday they would have a building big enough so that all the children can worship and attend Sunday School. Later the girl got sick and died. They found out that the little girl has a purse that contain 57 cents with a note saying that she was saving the money to help build a bigger church building. The 57 cents became the seed money that inspired many people to contribute to the fund that eventually built a 3,300 seating capacity of Temple Baptist Church in Philadelphia, USA. This story is being told to show what God can do with 57 cents. This is what God wants us to do, everyone can bring something to God. He teaches us that it is not the gift that is so important, it is the heart of the giver. 

In our church, people contribute different things. We need people who will be prayer warriors. We need musicians and singers to lead in worship. We need workers to clean and set up our church. Some contribute money, some contribute things that we can use in the church. If everyone of us will contribute to the ministry of the church, the Lord will do miracles in our church.

Jesus Wants Our Cooperation (10-13)

Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:10-13)
When Jesus learns that little food is available, he asked the disciples to make the people sit down. Just imagine 15,000 hungry people want to eat and food was so little, it is surprising that everyone including the children are cooperating with Jesus. We read how orderly and organise was the event in Mark 6: 39-44:
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
In this passage we learn how every one including the children cooperate with the process. John MacArthur: "Godly, Biblical church growth results from every member of the body fully using his spiritual gift, in submission to the Holy Spirit and in cooperation with other believers.” When each one of us is willing to cooperate with the church’s ministry and activities, cooperate with our leaders and with each other, the Lord Jesus will perform a miracle though us and through our church.

 

Conclusion

Imagine yourself asking someone to be part of our church. “Do you want to be part of our church?” And imagine that the person will answer like this: “I want a church will accept me as I am.” “I want a church that will care for me.” “I want a church that where my needs are met.” “I want a church that makes me feel happy.” “I want a church that will feed me spiritually and make me grow.” We can answer that is our church… provided (if) that: “If you and other church members will accept others as they are.” “If you and other church members will care for one another.” “If you and other church members will make others feel happy.” “If you and other church members will feed and make help each other grow spiritually.” Miracles happen or at least great things happen when the people of God all participate, contribute and cooperate in what God desires to do through his people.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Be still and know

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
We are blessed to live in a place where the weather is friendly most of the time of the year. Just enough heat on summer, right amount of rain during the rainy season and comfortably cold during the winter. However, this blessing has been taken for granted by the people of Mae Sai. Waking up with a heavy downpour is normal but if it had lasted for three hours or more, we have a feeling that something unusual was about to happen. We seldom experience this kind of rain. We thought if the rain would continue for another thirty minutes, flooding was a sure thing. Thankfully the rain stopped but the flooding still happened. The water came with tons of mud in it.

We were not directly affected but those who live beside the mountains had a difficult times. For the last three years, construction business is booming here in Mae Sai. Rice fields are being converted into subdivisions and these construction projects need tons of filling materials. Contractors are cutting the mountains like crazy to meet these needs. This is a disaster waiting to happen that may be triggered off by even hours of heavy downpour. We are praying that would be last heavy downpour this year and that the government will do something with the cut mountains. Once again, we thank you for your partnership in the gospel.

We sincerely thank you for your untiring prayers which we feel every second of our life. His protection surrounds us his provision is constant.

  Flooding in Mae Sai

Flood in mae sai

NCWSS against human trafficking

The Network for Women and Children Under the Same Sky (NCWSS) is determined to be more proactive in fighting human trafficking. Many NGOs have data to prove that Thailand is on the top tier of human trafficking activity. Mae Sai is considered as gateway for transporting people from poor country like Burma, Laos and Cambodia to the target market. Our last three meetings were very fruitful in laying out plans of actions we need to do as Christian leaders so that children and young women might be protected and prevented in becoming victims. Most of the network members are already involved in providing shelter for children, we thought of having projects that will give empowerment to children and young women to fight against the evil of human trafficking. Please pray for NCWSS members to be more supportive and pray for financial provisions to support some of the programs and activities we hope to implement in the future.

  NCWSS Members

United Christians in Mae Sai

It is safe to say that Joey and Narlin have a small part in the early years of the United Christian in Mae Sai. When the organization decided to go bigger to include all the churches in Mae Sai and neighbouring towns to become The United Christian Protestant in Mae Sai, we thought our participation was no longer needed. However, this month, the President invited us to attend the meeting for the election of new officers, I learned that we are considered as representative for Filipino workers in Mae Sai. We are thankful to the Lord for this opportunity of being a part of God’s bigger work here. United Christian Protestant Mae Sai

More Prayer Requests

We are praying to go home next month. We did not have plan to go home this year. But our children in the Philippines are facing personal difficulties Our children need our presence Please pray for God’s provision for our air fare. Please pray also for our children in the Philippines. Please pray for our health. Perhaps is a break out of “pink eyes”(conjunctivitis) here in Mae Sai and Tachilek. And at the moment, two of the children are infected already. We are doing our best not to spread it to everyone in the house. Moreover, Tina has fever and suffering from most probably a flu. Please pray for our health. Pray for that we can go home to the Philippines in October. Wehad no plan to go home this year. However, our children are experiencing difficulties back at home. We feel that our children need our presence at least for a month just to be with them and settle a personal problem. Please pray for God’s provision and for the safe travel. We are also asking you to pray for our children’s needs and difficulties.

  Fluke s Conjunctivitis Pray for our teaching and preaching ministry. More children are coming to us to learn English. We are thankful for this opportunity to bless the children and their parents too. In addition, we will be teaching young people to prepare them to university or church ministry. Also, Joey was requested to become a regular preacher at Pantamit Mae Sai Church. Please pray that God will use these opportunities that more people will come to know Jesus Christ.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

We Are Never Alone

Ephesians 2:19-2:22
Brick in grass We live in an entertainment culture. People want to be entertained all the time. We want to watch movies, play games, do social media, listen to the music. We do want to feel good all the time and we easily get bored. Sometimes we think that people who comes to the church need to be entertained. So we want our worship service to be more appealing to the people so that they will come back again and again. However, we should keep in mind that attend worship not to be entertained or not to get something out of the service. If we come here for that reason then this is a selfish motive. We are here not to feel good or get something out of the church service but to give our worship to God. In Ephesians Chapter 2, the Apostle Paul reminds us that when we go to the church let us forget about ourself but think about God and the church. So let’s read our passage together: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. - Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)
Many people think that being a Christian is all about their needs. They think it is all about me. Or it is about me and God. Being a Christian is about God, me and other Christians. As Christian we should think we are not alone because…

God has made us part of the new kingdom

…you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people…(verse 19). Paul is mainly writing to the Gentile believers. In verse 12, he described how these Gentiles were excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise. But the point he is making here is that it doesn’t really matter because they are now citizens of a new kingdom that is higher than the kingdom of Israel. For us who lives near the border, we know how important is citizenship. For those who are not citizens, we watch closely the changes to the immigration laws. As citizens, you have benefits that you enjoy. You have the right to travel wherever you want and to choose wherever you want to live and work. Your rights are also protected by your laws. You have benefits that we non-citizen will not enjoy. But you also have responsibilities to pay taxes (although some do not). You have the responsibility to follow the laws and obey your leaders. When we choose to be followers of Jesus Christ, we also become citizens of His kingdom. And that citizenship also comes with privileges and responsibilities. We get the privilege of being part of a body where we can be encouraged and where we can grow in our faith. We get the protection of our King – the Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, we also have a responsibility to participate in the life of the body and submit to its leadership. We have a responsibility to give financially so that the church can do the ministry. We have the responsibility to minister to those who are in need. We have the responsibility to live a good Christian life. We have the responsibility to obey our leaders.

God has made us part of a new family

…members of God’s household… (verse 19) Again, Paul has already made reference to this aspect of our life in the church earlier in His letter. You’ll remember that at the beginning of chapter 1 Paul wrote that when God chose us He also adopted us into His family. As great as it is to be a citizen in God’s kingdom, it’s even better to be a part of His family. Look at how John described the greatness of being God’s children: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 (NIV) I was reflecting this week on all the benefits that I enjoy by being part of a family here on earth. Nobody love us like our own family. Our family will protect us if somebody will try to do us harm. Our family will lift us up when we fall. We may have arguments with our parents, brothers and sisters but the family relationship will never be broken. A family is also the place where we experience the deepest intimacy here on this earth. The relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters provide a far greater opportunity for intimacy than any other relationships we have. Our church is our family in Christ. We should love each one like a true family. We have responsibility to one another. God has chosen us this family to help us grow in Christ. God brought us to this church so that he can use us that we can help each other to be strong in our faith. This is the place where we can develop deep intimate relationships more than any other people outside the church family. Our common bond is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the strongest force that connect us with other Christians. God does not create spiritual orphans. It is never His intent that His children would be estranged from His family. So why would any Christian want to try to live out his or her faith apart from the family that God has given to them?

God has made us part of a new building

The third imagery that Paul uses to describe our place in the church is a building. The church is not the building but it is like a building. It is built on the foundation of the Word of God—the Bible. …built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets… When Paul mentions the apostle and prophets, he is referring to those who received and proclaimed the word of God. The preaching and eventually the writings of the apostles and the prophets is passed on to us. Joined together in Christ …with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling… When Paul talks about Jesus being the cornerstone he is thinking of the cornerstone that was used in Jerusalem Temple. It was a stone as big as a Green Bus and it weighs about 600,000 kilos. The cornerstone was the most important stone in the building. It marked the point in which the rest of the building would be constructed and in a sense it held the whole building together. But Jesus is more than just the cornerstone. He is the means by which all of the individual stones are being joined together in this building. A single brick is worth nothing, in fact, it is not much to look at. But when we have thousand of bricks and put them together we can build a beautiful house. The bricks do not put themselves together. A workman had to prepare a plan, make it square and they have to be put on top of one another and bond them together with a cement. This is like what Jesus does when he builds the church. He takes a lot of bricks that are not really good and worth nothing on their own. He first them together with other blocks and bonds them together with a cement. Although Jesus is concerned with the each brick, his overall purpose is to create a building that will give glory to his name. On our own separate from the church, we cannot do anything. But if we are bonded to Jesus Christ and to each other. We can do great things for God and we can win more people to Jesus. Indwelled by the Holy Spirit …in which God lives by his Spirit. Most of us are probably familiar with this passage that describes how God’s Holy Spirit lives within us: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV) At the moment we received Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. And we all become the temple of God. Here the Apostle Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit dwells within all the believers but there is only one temple. All of us who believed in Jesus Christ are joined together to become one spiritual temple where God’s spirit dwell. God does not want Christian to be away from the church. Every follower of Jesus has been designed to be joined together with other believers into beautiful spiritual temple called the church in which God lives and works. This is the challenge for us. God wants us to stay and minister in this church. Otherwise, we will not be here. Those who are not here or who went to other church maybe does not belong here. But we are here and God called us to be here. There is no perfect church and no perfect pastor or church members. But Jesus wants everyone of us to be part of this church. A certain writer said: If we consider ourselves followers of Christ. We need to know this. The church is not here for us. We are here for the church. And the church is here for the world. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we can choose a church that make us happy. He died to give us abundant life, bring that life to the church and to share that life to the lost world.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Father Cares for Us

Red whiskered bulbul 2 EDIT The sweet songs of what seem like a hundred birds awaken us from our sleep every day. In fact, they sing the whole day, come rain or shine. A reminder to us that God’s faithfulness is new every morning. Jesus asks us to look at the carefree lifestyle of the birds to teach us not to worry about life’s necessities. God uses these little feathered creatures to tell us that we have a caring heavenly Father who looks after our needs.
“I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food or clothing? Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?” - Matthew 6:25-26
But to be honest, in our moments of weakness, we could not help but feel anxious. We worry about our own children who live away from us. Are they safe? Are they in the company of good people? Do we have the financial capability to see them through college? We worry about our children here. What would happen if for some reasons our visa is not renewed? Who will take care of them? Do we have enough funds to provide for their needs? But then we heard the birds sing, remember God's constant care and our friends whom he uses. All our worries are gone as soon as they came. Thanks again for your love and prayers. Our appreciation could be expressed in words.

Nobody Saw It Coming

The Mae Sai municipal school English drama team composed of five of our children that represent Mae Sai a drama competition won the third place. It was an English drama competition among municipal schools in Northern Thailand. Nobody in the school thought they had a chance but the children outdid themselves and and to everybody’s amazement was able to snatched the third prize. By virtue of their win, they will represent three teams that will represent Northern Thailand in a nation wide competition in Bangkok on first of August. The municipal and school officials, recognising that the team has the potential to win the first prize, are exerting extra effort to make the drama better. They allocate more funding to replace the hand drawn backdrop with the printed tarpaulin and the recycled plastic costumes with the real dresses. Narlin has been spending sleepless nights sewing dresses. She will also accompany the children to Bangkok. Please pray for their safe travel. The children are praying for another opportunity to win. Please help them in prayer. This is another to give glory to God through the lives of our children. Cinderella Casts
DSCN0503

We Can Call This Place Our Home

Thank you for helping us in praying for the extension of our visa. We went to Chiang Mai immigration office on the 18th of July. The process was a bit different from last year. This time, we had an interview with the immigration officer and our photo was taken while they are receiving our payment for the visa fees. It makes you wonder why they are doing that. We were given the usual provisional period of one month and by 19th of August we expect that our visa will be extended to full one year. Thank you so much for praying for us about our visa and also for helping us financially. God has allowed us to stay in Thailand for another year and now we can really now call this place our home.

When We Pray God Works

At the moment, the cost of education of our children adopted and natural, here and in the Philippines is really overwhelming. But we are grateful to the Lord that we still have enough to pay our bills, eat good food and have transportation going and to and from school. Having said that, we are grateful to God for his faithful provisions. I was reminded again by Hudson Taylor's words: "God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supply." I believe God's supply does not refer only to crisp dollar bills, it may refer to people touched by God to become our friends and partners in the ministry. We are greatly blessed to have you. Pray for Jared and Jillian studies. God’s provision for their studies is nothing short of a miracle. Their monthly expenses can be considered a heavy burden for parents who have regular job and income. We neither have both but we have a great God who provides for everything that they need. DSCN2777 Pray for Reuven. We are hoping that he can take and pass the test for Alternative Learning System (ALS) this year. He needs reviewer so that he can properly prepare for the test. If he passed, he will qualify for college in the Philippines. He will be going home to be with Jared and Jillian maybe in the same university. Pray for Aipang, SamChing, Dina, Yekchai, Muey and the other members of the English Drama Team. They will go to Bangkok for the competition. They will be going with other teams from their school that will compete with dance and recycling contests. Narlin and the other school staff will go with them. Please pray for safe travel and that God will give them favour to win the English drama competition. Pray for Joey as he will take care of the seven other children who will be left behind for three days. Pray for the Network for Children and Women. Some of the members opted to disassociate themselves. Khun Ngaw, one of the founding members is now back and bright prospects are now possible under his leadership. Meetings with the members makes us realise that many children still need home and they asked us if we could take more. Unfortunately, we our house and resources are just enough for the children we have at the moment. Please pray for the network that God will use this to help minister to children and women needs help. NCWA Meeting Pray for our need to build a quarter for the boys. We are seeking God’s guidance regarding this need. We believe that if it is God’s will for us to have this building, will receive confirmation and funding. Please pray about this particular need. Please continue to pray for our teaching and preaching ministry. Through this community service to the children and young people, we are able to connect with other schools. Please pray for Joey's as he is regularly been asked to share the Word to Pantamit church. English Teaching 1
English teaching

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Higher Calling

"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

Goose chicken
Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, told a story about a goose who was wounded and landed in a barnyard with some chickens. He played with the chickens and ate with the chickens. After a while, that goose thought he was a chicken.

One day a gaggle of geese flew overhead, migrating home. They gave a honk up in the sky, and the barnyard goose heard it.

Kierkegaard said, "Something stirred within the breast of this goose. Something called him to the skies. He began to flap the wings he hadn't used, and he rose a few feet into the air. Then he stopped, and he settled back again into the mud of the barnyard. He heard the upward call, but he settled for less."

Is there a chance that this story is about you? Are you settling for being less than you know in your heart God has called you and created you to be? It's not just for your sake that you must respond to God's call on your life — it's also for all the other meaningful people in your life. The longer you wait before answering, the more annoying your life becomes to those around you. There are few things as disruptive to the peace and well-being of other people than a person who is running from God. How many lives are being distressed because you won't answer the call? And besides, are you really that happy clucking with chickens?

Rylisms: Daily Devotion, by Pastor James Ryle
The photo is taken from Google images.