Thursday, October 19, 2017

全心全意愛祂

“以色列啊,你要听!耶和华—我们神是独一的主。你要尽心、尽性、尽力爱耶和华—你的神。我今日所吩咐你的话都要记在心上,也要殷勤教训你的儿女。无论你坐在家里,行在路上,躺下,起来,都要谈论。也要系在手上为记号,戴在额上为经文;又要写在你房屋的门框上,并你的城门上。”

耶和华为独一真神,这是上帝对以色列人的启示,在《申命记》再度重申。当摩西领受《十诫》时,开场白表明耶和华是真神,世人应当敬爱祂。到了新约时代,耶稣基督引用经文阐明上帝是独一的:“第一要紧的,就是说:‘以色列啊,你要听,主我们上帝是独一的主。’”(可1229)。

申命记第649节,是摩西离世之前召集以色列人,当众宣讲的最後吩咐。上帝藉着摩西晓以大义,用“你要听”作为开场白,犹似古代皇帝对其子民说:“朕要你们如此行!”老百姓一致回应道:“遵旨”!场面何等壮观,多么感人肺腑。这反映出听的重要,如何明白上帝心意?一切要从“聆听”开始。

耶稣在世传福音时,经常抛出一句话:“凡有耳的,都应当听”,好一句布道结语,如雷贯耳。细嚼这句话时,我觉饶有趣味,因为凡有耳者,包括了你家里的宠物,还有宇宙间一切受造之物,尽列此清单内。然而,上帝把范围缩小了,祂要我们像兔子一样,竖起双耳留心听,谨慎的听,一字不漏的听。

到底上帝要我们听什么?祂吩咐大家尽心、尽性、尽力爱祂,并把祂的话铭记於心。这项爱的命令,以色列人称它为“示玛”(Shema),是一句经常经背诵的祷告文,意义重大。古代近东的人敬奉多神教,但以色列人只能相信那位独一的真神,换句话说,以色列人只能专爱耶和华上帝。对基督徒来说,此原则也恒久不變。

今天,基督徒敬拜独一的真神,此独特性在《旧约圣经》早已启示。以色列人蒙受祂的恩惠,被拣选专心敬拜祂,事奉自有永有的上帝。《旧约》启示中的上帝,也是今日基督徒事奉的神,对以色列民的启示和教导,也是向基督徒说的。透过聆听祂话语,我们明白祂的心意;藉着生活中的实践行动,向世人表明永活真神存在,掌权人间。

祷告:

感谢父神,在祢的慈爱中我被祢拣选,成为何等蒙福的人。恳求祢赐下力量,帮助我一生一世尽心、尽性、尽力爱祢,聆听祢的诫命和吩咐,明白祢的心意为何。同时,藉着每一天的生活实践,表明祢是宇宙间的独一真神,带领人认识你、敬拜祢。我如此祷告,奉主耶稣的名求!

Friday, September 29, 2017

《月光小夜曲》的福音啟迪

在我童年时代,父亲买了许多黑胶唱片,陪伴我度过童年时光。

听过的歌曲中,《月光小夜曲》给我印象深刻,是我喜欢的歌曲之一。它是六十年代,台湾歌星紫薇开始唱的歌,不过她没把它唱红,倒是后期的蔡琴、王菲、费玉清等人,唱红了这首歌,我们才开始注意它,熟悉它。

今天,如果你懂得唱,甚至背到滚瓜烂熟,非常好!我给你一百个赞!想唱好一首歌,除了掌握歌词,学好唱歌技巧之外,显然还不够。为什么呢?那只是表面功夫。我们要了解整首歌的背景,隐藏在背后的故事,唱出来才够味道。

唱歌,学问很大!唱得好不好,动听不动听,关键在於内涵;一旦掌握了它,便知晓你在唱什么,表达什么。一首歌你只懂得皮毛,想要感动人心,当然不可能。只有不断努力学习,下功夫研究,掌握整首歌的精髓,才可以感动自己,也感动别人。

事实上,人的一生也像一首歌,想把《生命之歌》唱得好听,唱得喜乐,必须掌握生命的内涵。生命内涵有三方面,就是长度、宽度和深度。今天,很多人只追求长度和宽度,却忽略了深度,难怪生命中没有喜乐。

长度是什么?它是指长命、长寿。你每天做运动,吃营养品,不时进补,为了什么?就是想活得久一点,健健康康走人生路,非常好的做法。宽度是什么?它是指“宽裕”,说得浅白一点,就是“富有”的意思。在座的都是生活战士,从年轻拼搏到今天,为谁辛苦为谁忙,不是想多赚一点钱,跟家人过好日子吗?你这样做,非常好,非常棒!

有了生命的长度和宽度,那可不是人生的全部。我亲眼看过许多成功人士,他们都有这一切,可惜来到生命终点时,却以“叹息”和“遗憾”走完人生路,这是为什么呢?

原来作为一个人,必须掌握“三合一”配套, 人生才不至于留下遗憾。聪明人不只追求长度和宽度,同时也会探寻生命的深度。一个懂得追求生命深度的人,他一定会思考人生的道路是什么?生命是什么?真理是什么?只要耐心寻找,不轻言放弃,总有一天找到;因为寻找的就必寻见,敲门的必为他开门。

我喜欢《月光小夜曲》,不是它的长度,也不是它的宽度,而是它的深度。要知道,有深度的东西,不会被时间淘汰,它会留在人类历史里,价值是永远的。

《月光小夜曲》深度在那里?我们看一看歌词就知道:

月亮在我窗前徜徉,透进了爱的光芒,我低头静静地想一想,猜不透你的心肠,好像今晚月亮一样,忽明忽暗又忽亮啊……,到底是爱还是心慌,啊……月光。

月夜情境像梦一样,那甜蜜怎能相忘,细语犹在耳边荡漾,怎不叫我回想。我怕见那月亮光,抬头忙把窗帘拉上,啊……我心儿醉心儿慌,啊……光。

表面上看来,这首歌好像是浪漫情歌,一般人如此体会。你深一层了解的话,内容不是单纯的。歌词中有两个词,相当深奥,涵意很深,即第一段的“心慌”,还有第二段的“怕”字。

为什么会心慌,为什么会害怕?月亮怎会变成老虎?那么凶猛?那么恐怖?那么残暴?不是啊!作曲家不只描写看不到爱人/心上人,月光照耀时心里惆怅的感觉,肯定还有其他原因,值得我们想了再想,思考再思考……

当你对此思考时,《圣经》里有一句话,描写非常生动,展现人性一面。它这样记载:“白日,太阳必不伤你;夜间,月亮必不害你”(诗篇1216)。

这句话太有意思了!太阳光照白天,给人们带来生机;月亮光照晚上,给人们指引道路。月亮本身不会发光,晚上反射了阳光,温柔地照射大地,好像母性的光辉;当你心情不好时,记得向上看,带给你心灵上的慰藉,绝对不伤害你。

什么光会伤害你呢?家里电视的光,房间电脑的光,手里电话的光—你眼睛看多了,迟早见专科医生,害处多过好处!只有晚上的月光,当你抬头看着它时,越看越着迷,越看头脑越清醒,感叹创造主的伟大!各位,那来的心慌,那来的害怕?

这首歌里头的“心慌”那里来?“害怕”那里来?当然,这背后有隐藏的故事。

《月光小夜曲》来头不简单。歌词是中国人写的,曲调是日本人的。今天提到日本人,我们心里充满羡慕:喜欢到日本旅行、学讲日本话、唱日本歌、吃日本餐,甚至穿日本服装。可是,早在60年前,情况跟今天截然不同。当时的中国人,心里很不服日本人,甚至恨透日本人,想尽办法赶走他们,要他们从祖国和家园消失,越远越好!

第二世界大战前,日本占领了中国,大家还有印象吧!事实上,日本占领最久的国土,不是中国,而是台湾。你有机会到台湾旅行,那里的导游会告诉你:日本人占领台湾总共有50年的历史,从1895年到二战结束後,你知道当代人如何生活吗?

《月光小夜曲》是在此背景下写成。60年代,台湾作曲家周蓝萍,把当时流行的日本军队励志歌曲,改头换面,填上中国人歌词,就这样流行起来。周蓝萍是一位爱国音乐家,永远站在中国人这一边,透过歌曲表达心声,激励人心。所以,歌词里提到“心慌”与“害怕”时,你应该知道是指谁?

今天,我们身在马来西亚,独立以来有60年;从我们所经历的一切,对於60年前中国人的经历感同身受。这个中秋节,当你抬头欣赏月光时,可否体会歌词所形容“好像今晚月亮一样,忽明忽暗又忽亮啊”— 在这个国家,你本来看到希望了,怎知後来是黑暗一片,看不到前路该如何走?接下来,心里又感到“心慌”和“害怕”,叫你不知如何是好?

遇到这个情况时,请不要心慌,不要害怕,因为“白日,太阳必不伤你;夜间,月亮必不害你”(诗篇1216)。太阳和月亮不只光照世人,它们也是历史的见证人,见证多少国家兴起和败亡,好像日本这个超级大国,从早期的不可一世,意气风发,滥杀无辜,突然急转直下,从“战胜国”变成“战败国”!今天,它还在经济烂泥堆里挣扎,还没有从里面爬出来,真叫人感慨万千!

《圣经》清楚记载,人类几千年下来,没有一个朝代,一个皇帝,一个政权,可以永远风光,永远稱霸。绝对没有!意思要告诉我们:地上的国如何强大,都是暂时的,好像烟花一样,在空中灿烂几分钟後,就回归平静和黑暗。惟有天上的国,才是永远长存,现在你看不到,不表示它不存在;有一天会变成事实,呈现在我们眼前。你愿不愿意,把眼光从暂时的地上,投射到永恒的天上?我们每个人都有选择权,把手中的一票投给永恒。

《月光小夜曲》这首歌旋律优美,歌词有深度,它给我们很多思考,从地上联想天上,从短暂联想永恒。的确,我们的生命有限,却非常宝贵。当你抬头望明月,要想到这轮明月背后的创造主,祂正在带领你的一生。想到这里时,我们感到宽心,感到放心,感到安心,因为掌握人的生命是祂,是祂说了算,人讲的不算!各位,有了这样的前景,有了这样的承诺,我们能够好好活下去,活出美好的明天,活出灿烂的未来!

最后,我要跟大家说一句勉励的话:月亮的存在具有代表性意义,而在宇宙中成为这个代表者,就是教会这个团体。根据《圣经》的启示,月亮象征着教会,它在地上存在有一项任务,具有神圣的使命,把太阳的光返照,照耀在这个世界、这个大地、这个国家、这个社会。当整个社会陷入巨大黑暗时,象征月亮的教会群体,就要不断发光、发热,让人们看到曙光,看到盼望,看到未来。它会告诉你:道路,真理和生命在那里?


我谢谢大家来到这个发光、发热的团体,象征月亮的团体,领受着“光与热”的喜悦,希望各位在今年过一个不一样的中秋节,喜喜乐乐,平平安安,团团圆圆。

Friday, June 30, 2017

Yesus Menyembuhkan 10 Orang Penyakit Kulit

Bacaan Injil:
11 Dalam perjalanan ke Yerusalem, Yesus melalui sempadan Samaria dan Galilea. 12 Apabila Dia memasuki sebuah pekan, sepuluh orang berpenyakit kulit yang mengerikan datang menjumpai Dia. Mereka berdiri dari jauh 13 dan berseru, “Yesus! Tuan! Kasihanilah kami!” 14 Yesus melihat mereka lalu berkata, “Pergilah dan mintalah imam mengesahkan kesembuhan kamu.” Dalam perjalanan ke sana mereka sembuh. 15 Ketika seorang daripada mereka sedar bahwa dia sudah sembuh, dia berpatah balik sambil memuji Allah dengan suara yang kuat. 16 Dia sujud di hadapan Yesus dan mengucapkan terima kasih kepada-Nya. Orang itu orang Samaria. 17 Yesus berkata, “Bukankah sepuluh orang yang disembuhkan? Di manakah yang sembilan lagi? 18 Mengapakah orang bangsa asing ini sahaja yang kembali untuk bersyukur kepada Allah?” 19 Lalu Yesus berkata kepada orang itu, “Bangunlah dan pergilah, kamu sembuh kerana lamu percaya kepada-Ku.” (Lukas 17:11-19)

Khutbah:
Bekas presiden Amerika Syarikat Barrack Obama melawat ke Malaysia pada tahun 2015. Rakyat serata negara menumpukan perhatian kepadanya, kerajaan kita membekalkan sekuriti yang ketat untuknya, sebab Obama merupakan seorang pemimpin negara yang terpengaruh di dunia ini. Amerika Syarikat bukan sahaja satu negara yang besar, kuat dan canggih, tetapi ia juga satu negara yang penuh dengan peristiwa yang ganjil dan pelik!

Saya masih ingat beberapa tahun yang lepas, ada seorang jutawan negara itu membela dua ekor anjing, satu jantan dan satu betina. Pada suatu hari, orang kaya ini mempunyai fikiran yang ganjil, dia mengahwinkan kedua-dua ekor anjingnya dengan satu acara yang luarbiasa. Dia pesan tukang jahit menyediakan pakaian pengantin untuk anjingnya, menjemput seorang MC untuk melancarkan acara perkahwinan dan menjemput kumpulan muzik untuk memeriahkan suasana hari perkahwinan anjingnya.

Apabila tiba masanya, jutawan mengajak semua kawannya menghadiri majlis perkahwinan. Semua orang menyaksikan dua ekor anjing bertukar cincin sebagai tanda cinta selama-lamanya. Selepas upacara disempurnakan, semua tetamau dijemput menghadiri kenduri. Untuk maklumat kamu, jutawan ini belanja US$30,000 (Wang Amerika) untuk perkahwinan anjingnya. Jika US$30,000 ditukarkan kepada Ringgit Malaysia,ia adalah satu jumlah yang besar, yang cukup untuk perbelanjaan saya selama tiga tahun.

Mungkin kita akan tanya macam mana jutawan ini bazir wang untuk perkahwinan binatang dan untuk bukan untuk perkahwinan manusia. Di Amerika, ramai orang suka membela anjing sebagai teman yang setia. Bagi mereka, anjing lebih baik daripada manusia. Saya masih ingat ada seorng ibu maki anaknya begini, “Lebih baik saya bela seekor anjing daripada awak!” Ini memang satu kenyataan yang mendukakan hati ibu itu, kerana anaknya bersifat degil dan enggan mendengar nasihatnya. Ini menunjukkan betapa kecewanya hati seorang ibu!

Jarang sekali kita bandingkan anak kita dengan seekor anjing, ini memang satu perumpamaan yang tidak seimbang. Akan tetapi, sebagai seorang manusia, kalau kita tidak tahu berterima kasih kepada ibu bapa yang sudi korban untuk keluarga, kelakuaan kita adalah lebih teruk daripada seekor anjing. Walaupun anjing adalah haiwan, ia tidak boleh cakap seperti manisia, ia tidak boleh senyum, ia tidak boleh respon seperti kita. Tetapi apabila kamu berikan makanan kepada anjing, ia akan goyangkan ekornya tidak terhenti-henti. Ini adalah satu isyarat ataupun bahasa anjing, dengan menggoyangkan ekornya, anjing seakan-akan berkata kepada kita: “Terima Kasih”, “Thank You” “Arikata!” Ini adalah cara anjing bercakap terima kasih kepada tuannya.   

Dari bacaan Injil tadi, kita dapat tahu ada orang yang tidak tahu mengucap shukur ataupun berterima kasih atas berkat yang diberikan oleh Tuhan Bapa. Yesus telah menyembuhkan 10 orang yang berpenyakit kulit. Akan tetapi, hanya seorang sahaja yang berpatah balik untuk mengucap terima kasih kepada-Nya. Yang lain telah hilang sekali, entah mana mereka pergi! Mungkin mereka balik kampung untuk berjumpa ibubapa mereka. Ataupun telah pergi merayakan persembuhan mereka di kedai kopi ataupun restoran dengan kawan-kawan. Ataupun pergi mencari seorang bini yang cantik untuk berkahwin. Ada banyak program mereka bolah jalankan. Tentu apa yang mereka buat setelah persembuhan adalah mustahak!

Akan tetapi, tiada suatu perkara yang lebih mustahak daripada bersyukur kepada Tuhan. Pada pendapat saya, sembilan orang ini tidak tahu ucap syukur kepada Tuhan, mereka adalah manusia yang tidak mengenang budi jika dibandingkan dengan anjing. Kita semua tahu anjing tahu  berterima kasih atas makanan yang diberikan oleh tuannya. Tetapi sembilan orang ini tidak tahu berucap syukur kepada Tuhan. Walaupun begitu, Yesus tidak maki mereka, Dia hanya mengeluh di depan orang ramai. Yesus berkata, “Bukankah sepuluh orang yang disembuhkan?  Di manakah yang sembilan lagi? Mengapakah orang bangsa asing sahaja yang kembali untuk bersyukur kepada Tuhan?”

Saudara saudari sekalian, sembilan orang itu adalah orang Yahudi, mereka ini ialah umat Tuhan, bangsa yang terpilih oleh-Nya . Sebenarnya, mereka telah tahu sejak nenek moyang dahulu bersyukur adalah kewajipan dalam kehidupan setiap hari. Akan teetapi, mereka tidak berbuat begitu. Adakah mereka ini berpendapat bahwa menerima berkat daripada Tuhan adalah percuma, suatu perkara yang biasa sahaja, suatu benda yang Tuhan harus bagi dalam kehidupan mereka. Tuhan bagi saya segala kebaikan, terimalah sahaja, jangan segan! Ini adalah suatu perangai yang tidak harus berlaku di kalangan umat-Nya!

Sebaliknya, pesakit kulit yang bukan Yahudi itu tahu bersyukur kepada Yesus setelah sakitnya disembuhkan. Ini adalah suatu perkara yang amat ganjil. Yesus memuji dia dan berkata, “Bangunlah dan pergilah, kamu sembuh kerana kamu percaya kepadaKu.” Orang ini bukan sahaja mendapat persembuhan badan, tetapi dia mendapat berkat yang amat besar daripada  Yesus sendiri. Ini bermakna orang asing ini mendapat berkat yang dua kali ganda, iaitu transformasi jasmani dan kekuatan iman. Berkat ini amat mustahak. Ia hanya diberikan kepada orang yang tahu bersyukur dan berterima kasih kepada Tuhan dan bukan untuk orang yang hanya mementingkan diri sendiri!       

Saudara saudari sekalian, bersyukur kepada Tuhan adalan satu kelakuan ataupun akhlak mulia (sifat baik) yang diajarkan di Alkitab kita. Harap kita semua akan melaksanakan akhlak mulia ini dalam kehidupan sebagai seorang Kristian. Kita bersyukur kepada Tuhan, sebab Dia adalah punca segala berkat kepada manusia. Ya, apa yang kita nikmati sekarang adalah dikurniakan oleh-Nya. Ini termasuk keluarga kita, anak-anak kita, pekerjaan kita, gaji kita, harta benda kita, rumah kita...ya segala-galanya termasuk juga masa, kesihatan dan nyawa kita. Semua ini adalah berkat dan kurnia daripada Tuhan.   


Sebagai satu respon kepada kasih Tuhan, kita harus ucap syukur melalui aksi ataupun tindakan kita. Banyak tindakan yang boleh dibuat seperti meluangkan masa untuk berdoa, membaca Alkitab dan memuji Tuhan setiap hari. Mengambil bahagian dalam pelayanan untuk Tuhan dalam gereja. Memberi sumbangan satu per sepuluh kepada gereja supaya Kerajaan Tuhan dapat dikembangkan, lebih banyak orang lagi dapat memasuki Kerajaan Tuhan. Hari ini, jika kita berhasrat mendapat berkat yang berkali ganda daripada Tuhan, janganlah ikut contoh sembilan orang yang dapat sembuh. Ikutlah contoh orang yang berpatah balik itu, yang tahu mengambil tindakan mengucap syukur kepada Tuhan. Akhirnya, dia mendapat berkat yang dua kali ganda. Semoga Tuhan Yesus membuka mata kita, supaya kita dapat lihat berkat yang tulin dan menghabiskan hayat kita untuk memperolehi hidup sejati dan kekal. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Ascension of Christ Jesus

Scripture:
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Sermon:
Good evening to all of you! I am privileged to be here to join you in the worship. I am sure you came here with a purpose: to commemorate our Lord’s ascension! This is the day when we gather together to contemplate how Jesus had his last words with disciples, issued his commission of evangelism, took the disciples out to Bethany, lifted up his hands, blessed them, and departed into heaven. I could imagine the whole scenario was filled with a sense of awesomeness and the atmosphere was charged with a mixture of emotions among disciples.

From the Gospel we read just now, although Luke did not portray on the disciples’ reactions when they witnessed how our Lord rise in the air, and soon disappear into heaven. It goes without saying that this is a defining moment for Jesus’ followers. Words could not describe the heaviness of their heart when they had to wave their hands and say good bye to their beloved Lord. Today, as human being, we often experience separations and partings with our loved ones. I am curious to know how you handle it? At times it proves our frailty in emotions and more often than not we are overcome by it and eventually broke into tears.    

I can still remember many years back, when God sent me to teach in a government school, something unexpected happened to me. As I was about to leave the school to begin a new career in newspaper office, I struggled myself very much to face the separation with my students. When they came to know my departure, most of them were heavy hearted to say good bye. During a farewell lunch organized by the Board of Directors, they presented me a song entitled The Red River Valley, the lyrics and tune made me feel like crying. These students were very affectionate and passionate, even after my farewell with them they wrote many letters to me for two consecutive years. It took me quite some time to read and reply, the letters carried weight and were piling all over my desk.  
     
I am not a professional teacher, yet I received so much affection from my students. What more our Lord Jesus who had been a divine teacher for three and half years in the lives of disciples. Surely, Peter and his companions would have controlled their emotions during the separation with their beloved Lord! However, according to the record given by Luke, it says that the disciples worshipped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with a great joy (V 52). It shows that the outcome of disciples’ parting with their Lord ended with a cheerful note. No tears, no crying, and no sadness at all! Why such a response and reactions?           

As you could see from the Gospel, Jesus’ disciples underwent spiritual transformation, their faith had been restored and their minds were opened by our Lord. We must take note before Jesus’ ascension, He had spent 40 days with disciples explaining to them the necessity for his suffering and death, and how the Cross and resurrection were relevant to the Old Testament Scriptures. Just as Luke quoted Jesus as saying “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (V44). From here we can gather our Lord not only enabled his disciples understand the Old Testament Scriptures, but explained further how the promises and prophesies all fit together in his Messiah’s mission on earth.

Dear friends, what a privilege it was for the disciples to listen to Jesus expound the Word, from there they discovered the mystery of Messiahship. Before this encounter, they used to trust Jesus in a flesh and blood manner, but now their spiritual eyes were opened and believed whole-heartedly the resurrected Lord who is above and independent of space and time. Now they began to understand they had a Master from whom nothing could separate them anymore. That was why they were filled with eternal bliss and joy, and they did not leave Bethany heart-broken, instead they departed with gladness, high-spirited, and rejoicing in the Lord!     

Dear friends, do you wish to experience great joy just as Jesus’ disciples did? I am sure you do. As Christians, we know very well our joy is entirely different from the worldly happiness. While happiness in the world is elusive and momentary, our joy in the Lord gives us peace, assurance and eternal security. From disciples’ experience, the foundation of their joy is the Word of God. I believe how our Lord opened their mind before his ascension, the Holy Spirit does the same in our life today. Have you ever wondered how to understand a difficult Bible passage? Of course, you could grasp it through inductive study, consulting reference works, and getting guidance from our clergy. Of all these efforts taken, we must not neglect the role of the Holy Spirit, for only He can open our mind, giving us the needed insight to practice God’s Word in our personal life. May the Holy Spirit come, help us, guide us and teach us!        

Jesus did not confine the heavenly joy to his circle of disciples, he commanded them to share the joy of salvation to the world. In fact, our Lord took his last appearance with them as the occasion to issue a commission of evangelism, as written by Luke, it mentions repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things (V 47 - 48). Yes, they were given a great entrustment by their Lord, to be witnesses of all that he had said and done. The message was focused on repentance and forgiveness of sins, proclaiming to the world Jesus came not to condemn sinners, but showing them the way to salvation, experiencing the real joy in their personal lives.   

Thanks be to God! The disciples did a wonderful work in proclaiming Good News to their community. Through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, they preached the Gospel with conviction, courage and assurance, hundreds and thousands of people came to know Christ! When we take a quick look at Acts Chapter 2, we would witness how Peter himself was transformed from a coward during Jesus’ suffering to a preacher with audacity before an immense crowd at Pentecost. All this took place after Jesus’ ascension. Today, we are also the disciples of Jesus Christ, receiving the same entrustment as disciples in the first century. The only difference is that they testified to what they saw personally during Jesus’ ministry on earth, whereas we bear witness to their testimonies, and to our own experiences of the resurrected Jesus. Though the nature of witnessing might differ slightly, the rewards we receive in heaven are the same. May the Lord use us mightily in the areas of our services to Him in this wicked and perverse generation.                


This evening, I could see you came here with a sincere heart, participating in our Ascension service. In some churches today, our Lord’s ascension is not given the prominence it used to be. Nevertheless, you made yourselves available this evening! I can say the time you spent here would not be wasted, and your presence here would be remembered by our Lord. Amen! As for me, Ascension is as important as Easter: celebration of Easter without Jesus’ Ascension is incomplete! This is the day we are reminded how our Lord returns to heaven and sit on the throne of glory! His ascension is the proof that He has conquered every enemy and He reigns supremely far above all. It is my prayer that God will speak to us through the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, how he touched the lives of his disciples through his Ascension message, in the same way our lives would be touched, renewed and transformed. May God bless all of you, let us pray.                  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

基督愛母之心

经文:约翰福音1925 27

耶稣见母亲和他所爱的那门徒在旁边,就对他母亲说:“母亲,看,你的儿子!”又对那门徒说:“看,你的母亲!”

耶稣面临生命终点时,并非孤单一人“迎战”,仍有四位妇女陪伴。她们现身十架下,胆量比门徒还大,甘冒众人之大不韪,甚至遭人羞辱与唾弃,也不忍丢弃耶稣於不顾,可见她们爱主何等深切!妇人当中,耶稣母亲马利亚肝肠断裂,旁人无法感受其痛楚。

耶稣在这时刻,不因心力交瘁而自顾不暇,倒是不忘为马利亚安顿日后生活。祂没有把母亲交给家里兄弟,只交托使徒约翰照顾。个中原因,耶稣看准约翰爱心与孝心兼备,最有资格接替耶稣照顾马利亚,让祂安然回到父神那里去,无后顾之忧。

教会历史证明,当耶稣复活升天后,使徒约翰陪同马利亚到以弗所,在那里落户过简朴生活,克尽己任孝敬马利亚,一直到她回天家为止。使徒约翰活出爱神爱人的诫命,他的灵命由此更上一层楼;有了如此生命活见证,耶稣把末世预言启示他,可说深庆得人。

思考:孝顺父母是十诫之一,使命约翰奉行此命超乎规定,玛利亚并非其生母,然而孝敬之心令旁人动容,被称为“爱的门徒”并非没有原因。今日,假如信徒能把爱心扩大,视别人的“母亲”和“父亲”为自己的至亲,基督爱的福音肯定在社区无远弗届。


祷文:慈悲为怀的上帝,当祢的爱子身受十架苦楚时,祂吩咐约翰孝顺玛利亚,使徒甘之如饴完成使命,为我们立下最佳模范。求主扩大我爱心的范畴,在信仰生活中落实“爱神爱人”的诫命,好让祢的名大得荣耀,十架福音广传开来。阿们!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Jesus Turns Water into Wine

Topic: Jesus Turns Water to Wine
Scripture: John 2: 1 - 11
Date: 29th February 2017
Time: 8.30pm
Venue: Christ Church Melaka
Preacher: Rev Lionel Gan.

Scripture:
1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” 4 “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. 8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” 11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

Opening Prayer:
Our gracious Heavenly Father, we thank you for bringing us together to worship you this morning. As we open your word, pray that you also open our ears to hear your voice, open our minds to receive your eternal wisdom, open our hearts to receive your wonderful love! May the word of my mouth and meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

Sermon:
Good morning to all of you! Today is the second day of Chinese New Year, I would like to take this opportunity to greet our Chinese members and friends a blessed and abundant New Year. May the Lord embrace you with His presence, His peace and His joy as you continue your walk with Him throughout the year and throughout your lives.
  
The gospel we read this morning is a very familiar text. I believe we have heard this passage being preached many times in our church, even you could share many good insights upon contemplation of the text. As a celebrant of Holy Communion this morning, I am privileged to be here to share some thoughts so that we may encourage one another in the Lord.

Today, as Chinese communities throughout the world celebrate their New Year, or the Spring Festival so called, you could hear exchange of greetings and wishes in a jubilant atmosphere. In fact, Chinese are wonderful and generous people who can give away their best wishes lavishly even though you find it incredible at times.

Why I say it is incredible? Just because the wishes you come across is too good to receive. Here are some auspicious words or phrases which you can hear, “May your wealth come to fill a hall”, “May your happiness be without limit”, “May a small investment bring ten-thousand-fold profits”, “May your happiness and longevity be complete” and many other good wishes.

As you can see, the greetings come in bountiful expressions. In a nutshell, they are focused on prosperity, abundance, fullness, longevity and so on. I am sure all these good wishes are not confined to Chinese alone, they also ring true for the people from all parts of the world. Just ask yourselves sincerely, who do not want prosperity, abundance, fullness and longevity?

I believe all these wishes are the goals of many today who regard it as the ultimate fulfillment in their personal lives! However, in the midst of all material pursuit, have we ever paused for a moment to ponder the graciousness of our divine Provider? He is the One who makes our ends meet under all circumstances, whether it be abundance or deficit we experience in our lives.             

The passage we read this morning is relevant to our daily life experiences. It serves as a kind reminder to us especially when are carried away by the clamor of celebration. At times, we shared the same experience with the host of wedding feast in the Gospel, something crop up last minute at the climax of our celebrations. We are caught by surprise and will find this saying “Nothing is so certain as the unexpected” is always right.

However, from the experiences of many God’s children, no matter what happens in lives, our Lord is ever gracious to let us experience His wonderful provision, just like the host of wedding feast in Cana, because the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not be in want. When we encounter shortage or deficit in lives, the key to His provisions always lies in whether we stand true to God and trust Him enough. May be we could learn some lessons from the host of wedding feast who experienced divine provision when supply of wine was depleted.        

Dear friends, to run out of wine in a wedding was more than embarrassing, it broke the unwritten law of hospitality in Jewish culture. During Jesus’ time, weddings were community events that lasted several days and involved countless details. It takes plenty of time to plan the days for this big event. As such, the host would ensure sufficient supply of food and beverages. Shortage is definitely out of the question. However, the case we studied today, wedding was held in a humble village. Most likely, the host was poor and he could afford only low-budget reception.

I am touched to learn that the host did something wonderful for the Lord.  He invited Jesus and His disciples with open arms, serving Jesus with whatever he had. Yes, this should be our attitude in serving our Lord. Serving God with whatever talent, gift and resources you have today. Don’t procrastinate until the day when everything goes well, only then consider offer yourselves to God. The host never turned down Jesus by saying please join me when the supply is plenty.  No, he just offered Jesus whatever he had, and miracles followed suit.         

On top of that, the host demonstrated humility in serving our Lord. At this moment in time, Lord Jesus just began his ministry on earth. He is nobody in the Jewish community, especially in the eyes of the religious leaders. When Jesus came for the feast, he had recruited only 6 disciples, in the process of getting more. In fact, this number was no match with Pharisees who had 6,000 disciples at that time. The host was willing to usher the lowly and meek, the humble ones…to receive them as guests of honor in his wedding celebration. As for Jesus, our Lord entered into the normal experiences of people’s life and sanctified them by His presence. Wise is the host, the newly-wed and the family who invited Jesus to their wedding.

Today, as we hold celebrations in our personal lives, whether it be your Wedding celebrations, your wedding’s anniversary celebration, New Year celebrations and so on…may the Lord help us to be mindful of the need of others, especially those who are needy, lowly and humble, marginalized by our society. Pray that we will receive them with the love of Christ in the midst of our celebrations. We must be reminded the purpose of Jesus’ attendance in the wedding feast, not for food or wine, He joined in the festivities because they involved people, and Jesus came to be with the people. We pray that our mission entrusted by God could be accomplished even in the  times of joyful celebration with others.             

Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of mankind. He has accomplished the mission entrusted by you, it is our calling to continue His work on earth. Father, even in the celebrations at this point in time, help us to be the channel of blessings to others, especially those who are needy, lowly and meek, marginalized by our society. May your love, grace, mercy, provision and salvation come upon them through us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen! 

Friday, January 20, 2017

基督愛的應許

经文:路加福音2343

耶稣对他说:“我实在告诉你,今日你要同我在乐园里了。”

当耶稣被钉十架时,两位强盗伴随耶稣两旁,等待死亡的降临。有关当局如此设计,尽显其司马昭之心,路人皆知!耶稣头上挂着一个牌子,上面写着“犹太人之王”,这还不够吗?他们还搞卑鄙手段,透过大盗的陪衬,大肆羞辱耶稣一番。

可是,他们却忘记了,耶稣正为了罪人而来。纵使痛彻心肺,主仍顾念两旁犯人,展现赦罪的大爱。左右强盗罪该万死,其中一人见耶稣为他们祷告,深切体会其忍耐和爱心,顿时经历到奇妙蜕变。他从初时的刚硬和辱骂主,到后来的软化与悔改,全被基督的大爱深深感动,那颗铁石之心也因此熔化了!

上帝的慈爱超乎人的想像,这位强盗起了敬畏上帝之心,责备另外一个犯人“还不怕上帝吗”?最后,他不但同情主无辜受罚,更相信所差派的救主,并求主在得国时记念他。耶稣不单告诉这犯人他必蒙拯救,祂更应许他拯救必要立时临到,并且在乐园享永生。

思考:上帝看穿人的肺腑心肠,谁敬畏祂谁藐视祂,都逃不过祂的眼目。耶稣两旁的强盗,岂不是今世人类的最佳写照?一类是敬畏上帝的一群,为自己的罪愆感到羞耻,最终忏悔并获取救恩应许。另一类诸恶做尽,良心麻木,还胆敢在上帝面前撒嘢,基督救恩擦身而过,岂不可惜?


祷文:父神,祢的奇妙大爱透过耶稣基督,在十架上彰显无遗。今天,我得以在祢面前蒙受恩典,全然是祢的伟大作为!父啊,我恳求祢在世人心中动善工,诚如祢赐下机会给那位强盗一样,尽管十恶不赦,由于忏悔而有份於祢的国度。奉主耶稣的名求,阿们!