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!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

基督赦罪之愛

经文:路加福音2334

当下耶稣说:“父啊!赦免他们;因为他们所做的,他们不晓得。”

耶稣在世传讲天国福音,说过许多宝贵话语,而十字架上第一句话,竟是流露爱心的宽赦宣言。主没得罪任何人,为何主动赦免恶人?从主祷文内容,耶稣教导我们赦免别人,正如上帝赦免我们;耶稣在十架上为人留下典范,落实宽赦的真谛。

慈爱的主道出此话时,谁是第一被宽恕对像?若从现场来看,罗马兵丁衔命处决耶稣,他们是首批获宽宥的人。兵士仅奉命行事,执行本身任务而已,谁敢抗旨下场严重,可能被判渎职而处死,乃出于百般无奈!然而,耶稣宽赦的对象,不仅兵丁而已。

那些跟仇敌“暗度陈仓”的宗教领袖,为了自私目的将耶稣置于死地,他们的罪行比兵还严重。尽管如此,这般人也是耶稣赦免的对象。除此之外,耶稣身边的亲近门徒,恩师面临十架酷刑时,竟然没有人敢出面向官方交涉,让仇敌任意妄为,情何以堪?

需要赦免的不只是兵丁、宗教领袖、彼拉多……,也包括无知的门徒,都在基督的大爱中被宽赦了。时至今日,基督赦免的大爱仍然向世人召唤,藉着你和我的向他们展现,在这赦免的大爱中,人们可以得到救赎厚爱,丰丰富富的有恩典,有真理。

思考:当耶稣教导信徒要爱仇敌,所谓爱就是用主的慈爱宽恕他们,对我们来说深具挑战性。初期教会司提反,临终时所说的那句话,仿效了耶稣典范:“主啊,不要将这罪归於他们”(徒760)。司提反效法了耶稣,他的好榜样流芳百世,基督门徒无不景仰,在生活中落实宽恕的真谛。

祷文:慈爱的父神,感谢祢差派独生爱子来到世间,为我们在十架上完成救赎功劳。尽管受尽被钉剧痛,祂仍然道出赦免世人的宣言,这是何等的宽赦大爱!父啊,请祢加添我力量,在信仰生活中去赦免得罪我的人,虽然这是一件不容易的事,但是我不依靠自己,而是全然仰赖祢的厚恩大爱,去落实赦免别人的真谛。阿们!

Friday, November 11, 2016

申命記綜覽

申命記DEUTERONOMY

“申命记”(意思是“律法的重述”)是摩西五经最後一卷的名字。本书的希伯来文卷名是elleh haddebarim(“以下所记的是…… 所说的话”),或简写作 (“话”参11)。事实上,申命记并非第二本或另一本律法书,只是作者将上帝在西乃山上颁布的律法重申,以及再次阐释清楚而已。

作者與著作日期:
摩西著作此书的证据处处可见,好些地方说明是由他执笔,犹太人及撒玛利亚人传统的说法也认为摩西著作此书。耶稣和新约作者都引用申命记,以它为律法书,而且所引用的经文,比别的旧约书卷还多。本书写作的日期,大约是摩西向以色列人训话完毕(13)至死前(主前1405年)的一段日子。

主題大綱:
壹、前言(11 - 5
貳、历史性序言(16 443
叁、盟约的条例(444 2619
        一、重大的诫命:要求对上帝绝对效忠(444 1132
        二、进一步的要求(1226章)
                1. 按礼仪分别为圣(121 1617
                2. 对政府领袖和一个公义之邦的要求(1618 2121
                3. 上帝国度的神圣,不可玷污(2122 2519
                4. 认明上帝是救赎主、是君王(26章)
肆、同意立约;咒诅与祝福(2730章)
伍、遵约移交领导权(3134章)
        一、领导人交接(311 - 29
        二、摩西之歌(3130 3247
        三、摩西遗言祝福十二支派(3248 3329
        四、摩西之死与约书亚接任(34章)

主題與信息:
申命记可按摩西的讲话分为四个段落,即一、重温上帝在西奈山到摩押平原如何保护以色列人(1 - 4章);二、重申上帝与以色列人的盟约和诫命(5 - 28章);三、重新呼吁以色列人委身,要在生死祸福中拣选生命(29 - 30章);四、委任新的领袖,摩西之歌和他的逝世(31 - 34章)。

本书第二段落是全书的核心,展示古代近东社会里君臣立约的特别形式。摩西以中介者的身份呼吁以色列人,若要得到耶和华的保守,就必须一心遵守祂在西奈山所颁布的律法。摩西先阐述十诫(5 - 10章),然后阐释其他从十诫引申出来的律例和规则(11 - 26章),最后是警告,把祸福摆在以色列人面前(27 - 28章)。

在旧约圣经,申命记有着承上启下的作用。此书要以色列人记念他们出埃及和在旷野飘流40年的日子,并要他们以上帝的律法为未来生活的基础。因此,本书可谓重申上帝与以色列民的盟约,亦总结了摩西五经的教训。

結語與應用:
申命记非常关心社会上容易受迫害、被剥削的人,这一点也反映在耶稣关怀寡妇和穷人的工作中,耶稣曾提到那最重要的诫命(申65)。此外,以色列在申命记中被刻划为一体,是一神、一民、一地、一圣所、一律法;教会也受到劝勉,要成为类似的一体,因为只有一个身体、一个圣灵、一个盼望、一位主、一个信仰、一个洗礼、一位神—就是众人的父(弗44-5)。耶稣也为祂子民的合一祈祷。

講義書目參考:
邝炳钊:《创世记卷一》。香港:天道书楼,1997
吴罗瑜:《圣经新辞典上下册》。香港:天道书楼,1993
罗庆才、黄锡木:《圣经通识手册》。上海:学林出版社,2005
朗文、狄拉德:《21世纪旧约导论》。台北:校园书房出版社,1999
鲍会园、陆苏河:《新国际版研读本圣经》。美国:更新传道会,1996

詹逊(Irving L. Jensen):《旧约精览》。中译;香港:宣道出版社,1989

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

民數記綜覽

民數記NUMBERS

本书书名来自七十士译本,它是根据第126章所提之人口普查而来。其实,本书的希伯来书名(“在旷野”参11),更适于形容它的内容。民数记是记载以色列人与上帝立了西乃之约以後,在旷野飘流三十八年的历史。

作者與著作日期:
在民数记本文内,只有一处提到摩西的写作(331 - 2)。不过,整卷书都可以看见,摩西是领受上帝启示的人,也是全书内容的形塑者。本书以第三人称提到摩西,而非第一人称,但这个事实并不能否定摩西的作者身份,只反映古代文体的惯用模式。摩西在摩押写此书,那时约为主前15世纪末,正值他生命末期。

主題大綱:
壹、以色列人在西乃山下,准备向应许之地出发(11 1010
        一、数点百姓的命令(14章)
        二、百姓要洁净的诫命(51 1010

貳、从西乃山到加低斯的旅程(1011 1216
        一、旅程的开始(1011 - 36
        二、悲剧的开始:火与鹌鹑(11章)
        三、米利暗和亚伦毁谤摩西(12章)

叁、以色列人在加低斯,因抗命而耽延(131 2013
        一、十二探子以及他们对迦南美地不同的报告(13章)
        二、百姓违抗上帝的命令而遭惨败(14章)
        三、有关献祭、安息日及衣裳缒子的条例(15章)
        四、可拉及其同党的叛逆(16章)
        五、亚伦的杖头发芽:背叛者之记号(17章)
        六、有关祭司的职责及应得之分(18章)
        七、纯红母牛及除污秽的水(19章)
        八、摩西犯罪(201 - 13

肆、从加低斯到摩押平原的旅程(2014 221
        一、以东人的抗拒(2014 - 21
        二、亚伦之死(2022 - 29
        三、亚拉得遭毁(211 - 3
        四、铜蛇(214 - 9
        五、井边之歌(2110 - 20
        六、战胜西宏和噩(2121 - 35
        七、以色列人进入摩押(221

伍、以色列人在摩押平原,期望攻取应许之地(222 3242
        一、摩押王巴勒雇巴兰咒诅以色列人(222 - 41
        二、巴兰七次作歌祝福以色列(23 - 24章)
        三、巴力毗珥与以色列人的背道(25章)
        四、第二次人口普查(26章)
        五、对新一代的训诫(27 30章)
        六、与米甸人之战(31章)
        七、在约但河东定居的支派(32章)

陸、附录其他有关事件(3336章)
        一、全程中安营之处(33章)
        二、划分继承为业的疆界(34 35章)
        三、女人的继承权(36章)

主題與信息:
民数记所描述的历史长达38 从出埃及记的第2年到40年。在开始部分,以色列人仍然停留在西乃山附近,本书10111216记载他们从西乃山到加低斯的旅程。事实上,上帝子民在出埃及记後第二年已经到达加低斯,惟他们误信十位探子所报的恶信,以致灰心丧胆,结果便在旷野漂流多年。

在这38年期间,以色列民人口变动极大,60万的男丁相继死亡,有些是横死荒郊(1649),葬在旷野,作为上帝惩罚的警告。然而,上帝为他们保留馀种,二十岁以下的孩子和青少年长大成人,结婚生子,新的一代又告兴起。

全书可分为三个段落。第一段落描述以色列人第一次预备进入迦南的情况(1-9章)。这是以色列人离开埃及後的第13个月(11),还有19天他们就要起行进入迦南地(1011-12)。上帝指示摩西,统计那些能参与征服迦南地的成年男子(20岁以上)的人数;全数目之大,已表明以色列人是有能力征服迦南地。为准备他们在迦南地生活,耶和华特地给他们严格的指引,使他们从邻近各族中分别出来,过圣洁的生活(5 8 )。

第二段落主要记述以色列人在旷野飘流40年的情况(10 21章)。第一段落的经文描述以色列人的理想生活,而随后的11章彻底暴露了以色列人的叛逆行为。虽然初次入迦南地的探子认为迦南地肥沃,是上帝所厚赐的,但除了约书亚和迦勒外,所有探子和以色列人都认为他们不可能敌过迦南人(10 14章)。以色列人既对上帝没有信心,上帝就不准许他们进入迦南,由此展开了漂流日子。

第三段落描述第二次预备进入迦南的情况(22 36章)。以色列人聚集在摩押平原,为第二次进入迦南地做好各种准备,这包括第二次的人口统计,因为背叛的一代都去世了,其中只有约书亚和迦勒能与新一代的以色列人进入迦南地。此外,上帝亦在此颁布其余的律例(26 30章)。

結語與應用:
民数记的角色很重要,它讲述离开埃及的旧一代,提及在旷野所犯的罪,一直接续到站在应许之地旁的新一代。因此,这卷书为读者带来新的开始与希望。此书刻画一个重要主题:第一代的罪可能导致救赎故事的完结,上帝子民可能全然毁灭;尽管上帝的子民犯罪悖逆,上帝还是没有弃绝他们。


对今日基督徒来说,我们必须汲取属灵教训:当把自己置身於民数记中新一代的立场,上帝已经在我们当中施行了救赎,赐予我们生命的意义与盼望。正如民数记的新一代,上帝呼召了我们,我们当以顺服来回应祂的恩典!