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When We Crash Our Own Illusions

In today’s passage, what Jesus struggled to affirm in the wilderness was a message that he received at the Jordan River, verse 11, saying, “A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you, I am well pleased.’”

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Our Own Blindness to the Word of God

In today’s passage, Jesus led Peter, James, and John up the mountain and was transfigured before them; Elijah and Moses appeared to them.

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We Are Partners in God’s Plan

In today’s passage, it was awful when we imagine the wet chaos below, where the rest of creation was perishing. The result was so devastating that God promised never to will such a thing again.

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Unfaithful Insider VS Faithful Outsider

In today’s passage, Jonah’s story features a number of reversals and contrasts between human actions and the divine will.

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Discovering God's Fingerprints and Following God's Footprints

In today’s passage, “It was not you who sent me here but God,” Joseph reassured his brothers when he first told them who he was. In verses 19-20, “But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

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God Gives Us What We Needed Instead of What We Wanted

I believe that returning to the homeland was not the best option for Jacob because he clearly knew about the things that he did to his brother, Esau. Jacob still feared his brother whom he had robbed.

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The Dream God Dreams

Today, the first Sunday of 2021, the passage tells us about another longest and hardest trip for a better Christian life from the dream God dreams and to the dream we dream.

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Looking Forward to 2021 by Looking Back at 2020

Early in Jesus’s adult life, those who knew him, or at least many of those who knew him, especially the twelve disciples, began to see Jesus was more than the son of Mary, more than the son of Joseph, and more than a just carpenter.

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We Are God Bearers

The final Sunday of Advent calls us to one of the most beloved scenes in the Scripture: that intimate moment between Mary and the angel Gabriel in which the story of God’s love began with a young girl’s “yes” to the divine proposal.

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We Are Witnesses

In the Gospel reading for today, we are told about another identity and another role as the prep to keep preparing the way of the Lord who comes to us.

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What Are We To Do?

The Gospel of Mark starts the Jesus story by looking back to Isaiah 40:2-3, who said, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness; prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

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We Are Not Onlookers

On this first Sunday of Advent, Advent begins with a prayer of the prophet Isaiah that is both a lament and a plea, a lament to God who hid oneself and had hidden God’s face from the people of Israel, and a plea for God’s visible and powerful actions.

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A Good Tool for Measuring Our Relationship with God and Our Neighbor

In the passage, we are reminded that how we spend our time and whom we actively love and do not love provides a diagnostic tool to help us evaluate our spiritual health.

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God, Are We There Yet?

In today’s passage, the parable of the Ten maidens speaks a profound word to each one of us; it is a fresh reminder of the need to prepare for delay by living the present moment faithfully, courageously, and hopefully.

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In this parable, for whatever reason, the groom did not show up on time; the hours passed, and many of the waiting wedding party fell asleep. The only difference between wise and foolish maidens in the passage is this: the wise virgins prepared for the wait and therefore brought extra oil while the foolish virgins failed to stock lamp oil. What does it mean to be prepared for the wait? Assuming, that it does not look like stockpiling toilet paper or canned goods. Rather, the text asks us to prepare to wait and to avoid assuming that we have enough oil in our lamps right now. Sometimes, the present moment may be too slippery for most of us to hang on to. As hard as we try, we tend to slide off into what happened yesterday or what we have to do tomorrow. While we may obsess with the past or the future, we easily pull away from the present moment, right now, as my sons may keep missing a beautiful sight while they travel in the back seat of a car with this question, “Dad, are we there yet?” We all may have a closet that we may store all of our good intentions about the things we are going to be and do better one day. Perhaps, we all presume that we may tend to put off certain matters for today that which can presumably be done tomorrow. Perhaps, it happens more on our faith journey. I am going to be a better Christian. I am going to pray and serve more one day. I am going to love and share more one day. And I am going to contribute to church more one day. I am going to follow Christ more faithfully one day. May we remember that there is no time for that. Go ahead and make the decision right now. According to today’s passage, it is time to wake up. No matter where Jesus is and where we are, it is time to stop living in the past and in the future. And it is time to start living the present moment right now by living in hope for what has been promised and what will be but is not yet. Today, we all still question God about God’s timing, “God, are we there yet?” The only thing we are required to do is we should decide to live the present moment as a gift God has given every morning when we wake up. Let’s keep refusing to live yesterday over and over again. Let’s keep resisting the temptation to save our best self for tomorrow. Let’s keep living the Good life no matter how much time is left. Amen.

The Communion of Saints

Today’s passage is one of the most beautiful, meaningful, and poetic of the New Testament passages, known as the Beatitudes, which serves as the introduction to Jesus’s sermon on the Mount.

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In the passage, Jesus just redefined what the Good life may look like by manifesting nine portraits of the people in the kingdom whom the world may consider losers, pushovers, and fools. This is a list of losers, make no mistake about it. The merciful who keep forgiving their enemies so their enemies can beat them all over again. The pure in heart who believe everything they hear and empty their bank accounts to keep crooks in business. The peacemakers who step into the middle of a fist fight and get clobbered from both sides. Never stop forgiving enemies, believing in everything and everyone like a fool, and stepping into the middle zone, these are God’s favorites. Think of Jesus in the gospel, he never stopped forgiving his enemies until he died on the cross. Please remember what his last words was on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.” Jesus believed in everyone until he got betrayed by one of his best friends. And Jesus came to the middle zone in order to erase and push the limit of its lines among people, which include Jews or Gentiles, men or women, young or old, and majority or minority. Jesus preached and lived such a way of life, which challenged his audience in the first century, and even today. Perhaps, we all may be too good to re-interpret the Beatitudes in this way: “Blessed are the strong, for they will not be fooled; Blessed are the rich that the world recognizes your faithfulness in God; Blessed are those who are pure of heart, for they will not see the value of the stock market; Blessed are those who pay an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, for their enemies will fear us.” However, today’s passage challenges us to redefine what the good life means as if we may be seen as losers, pushovers, and even fools. Yes, Jesus turned the known value of the world upside down. Upside down, we begin to understand Jesus, his ministry, and even the reason that he came to the world. Upside down, we begin to live out the dynamic of “dying is gain.” Upside down, we understand that when we are weak, then God will be strong. In addition, upside down, we begin to see a real benefit of the Beatitudes. The world may look funny upside down, but maybe that is just how God sees the world and each one of us according to the heavenly view. Amen.

What Does It Cost You To Follow Jesus?

In the passage, Herodians who supported the Roman government were pleased to pay the tax to Caesar. By contrast, Pharisees, who were committed to every detail of Jewish law, opposed paying the tax to Caesar for religious reasons.

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Given their divided loyalties and positions of the Roman empire, the Pharisees and the Herodians posed the either A or B question to Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” When the Herodians and the Pharisees tried to mix religion and politics by asking the trick question, Jesus’s answer was wise enough to make them silent and amazed, and they even went away, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The question for us is not whether we should pay or should not pay taxes anymore. My questions for each one of us are these: “What things should we give to God?” and “What does our faith cost us?” Throughout the Bible, the Old Testament and New Testament remind us that faith in God cost one’s life, not money. Paul suffered opposition, including beatings and imprisonment for his preaching of the Good news. How about Jesus? The opposition that Jesus faced with the Pharisees and the Herodians in the passage finally led Jesus to the cross at Calvary. We all may have our own story about what sacrifices might we have had to make for our family or our profession. What sacrifices have we made to follow Jesus? What does it cost us to follow Jesus? In verse 36, the answer that Jesus gave to the Pharisees reminds us what costs we should pay to follow Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Do we love our neighbor? Well, we do. However, we should question ourselves and keep checking around us about who our neighbor is. Isn’t it true that we consider our neighbor to be those who look like us, think like us, speak like us, pray like us, and vote like us? As the Presidential election of 2020 is coming up, of course, we are facing either A or B question again. Surely, we all have a civil liberty to choose and cheer a certain candidate. However, your choice should follow a responsibility to love other people who do not vote like you. The great commandment still invites each one of us not only to make a commitment to the faith community, but also to surrender our assurance, pride, and will in order to love our neighbor, who doesn’t look like us, doesn’t think like us, doesn’t speak like us, doesn’t pray like us, and doesn’t vote like us. Amen.

We Keep on Doing What Seems Like Ordinary Acts

In today’s passage, Paul’s plea for rejoicing, saying in verse 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice,” challenges each one of us in what our main thing is, a source of our joy.

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We may think of joy as a private overflow of good feeling in response to happy circumstances. For Paul, joy is shared, not individual; a byproduct, not an end in itself; a discipline of Gospel living, not a feel-good factor; thus, joy is a command, not an option dependent on our circumstances. Therefore, joy was not an escape for the pain of his life; it was a reconsideration and reinvestment in life from a different view. In other words, joy was a practice of regarding the same painful situation from another angle, one that made him see his struggle in prison as an opportunity for God in which he asks his beloved friends at Philippi and us to stay in gratitude, even in difficult situations, such as Covid-19. The “anything” and “everything” of our life can be sources of endless worry. So, we all wish we knew a perfect solution to fix all kinds of our problems. We probably have a tendency to have an illusion that a big solution may bring joy when time comes. However, Paul’s solution for us in the passage seems very simple, “letting your gentleness or forbearance be known to everyone, letting your requests be made known to God, and beloved whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable.” Words for “joy” and “rejoicing” appear more than a dozen times in the book of Philippians, which is the letter from Paul’s prison cell. Unlike Paul, I wonder if our joy may become too optional or emotional depending on what our circumstances are. Paul’s words to the church, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” calling us to say what the source of our joy is. Joy may appear when we stand in gratitude and God’s grace. Joy may emerge when we reconsider our painful situation from another angle. Joy may be seen with us and through us when we keep on doing what seem like ordinary acts. Amen.

A Quite Different Conversion of Before and After

In today’s passage, we see Paul’s dramatic story of conversion. Paul used himself as an example, so he gave a personal testimony, which is the story of “before and after.”

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Well, I am not against this story of “before and after,” and even I have also experienced “before and after” in some way. However, Paul’s story of “before and after” is a quite different one than we have had. Well, Paul gave up only good stuff to gain and become like Christ Jesus. Let’s imagine putting ourselves in Paul’s shoes. His identity, his genealogy, his family tree, his connection, and his standing in his community—Paul was so proud of all those things. However, Paul counted all that he had and achieved as garbage. Paul tossed it, and he took it to the dump. Paul’s invitation for throwing away the good stuff in the passage reminds me of this story. Let’s think of traveling on a cruise as our faith journey. Some people may able to buy the ticket for the first class or the business class, some don’t. Depending on the class, maybe, some may have a little bit wider, larger, and cozier space. As passengers on a cruise ship, some people may load more cargo—precious and good cargo including fine clothes and luxurious jewelry. You know what? Regardless of the size of their bed, all passengers have the same destination and the same captain for the cruise. What is more, all may have the same fear when the cruise ship might be tossed by strong wind and a storm. Suppose, though, if a cruise ship had a tiny hole at the bottom, all passengers should throw away all kinds of cargos to lighten the ship for them. In view of the crisis, even that which is seemingly good and precious has to go. Probably, we are not ready, or do not even imagine that we need to throw away the good stuff even if the ship we are taking is tossed by a heavy storm. Yet, Paul’s invitation to be like Jesus still challenges us to love, to care, to give, to serve, to suffer, and to sacrifice like Jesus did. And the passage reminds us we are not alone for this race, but rather we need each other to get the prize of heaven. Let’s keep running toward the goal, a goal of becoming like Jesus and imitating Jesus. Let’s keep running toward the downward mobility, not the upward mobility. Let’s keep running toward not just imitators of Christ, but fellow imitators of Christ. Amen.
First Christian Church

254-965-4878

KJ Kim, Pastor

450 W. Tarleton St.

Stephenville, Texas 76401

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