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Saturday, December 27, 2014

2015 Africa New Year Conference

The conference took place at the Milele Nairobi PCEA Conference Site from December 26-28, 2014. The Conference Theme is "The Gospel: God's glory in the face of Christ".

For fear of contracting Ebola number of visitors to Kenya dropped to less than half, according to Msn. Jacky. But this time the record number of  people attended (92 persons). 

Despite financial difficulty Nigeria LAGOS UBF sent James and Abraham. From Egypt Shepherd Ayman came. From S. Sudan Dr. Oyo Moses and Padiet Deng joined. 

Since Ayman speaks only Arabic Dr. Oyo stayed close to him translating English into Arabic. 

Children 12 of them were served with a special program prepared by Rosa and Anna Lee from Tongkyo UBF. 

Shepherd Moses Yoon brought from buckets of Korean Kimchi . In Redding Kimchi is rare, but here in Nairobi I was able to enjoy Kimchi every meal. 

 prayer meeting, testimony sharing meeting. One Abraham and Sarah of faith in Botswana.

Egypt Mission Report by Shepherd Ayman speaking in Arabic with Dr. Oyo Moses translating. He believes that Egypt will be the mission center to spread the gospel through UBF mission. He rented a Bible center near the house in the name of NGO. They studied Luke gospel. They held Esther conference with 55 students attennding. During conference some repented of their sinful lifestyle. More than 20 attended Friday worship. In September Msn. Andrew and Hope Kim family joined Egypt UBF. Prayer topics: faithful and  deep Bible study every week; invitation of university students to Bible studies; moving the Bible center to a more convenient place; for Ayman to grow as an excellent Bible speaker; for Ayman's academic success as a law shool student; for peace of Egypt.
Ghana Mission Report: Truman Lee
Truman family moved to Ghana 2012 from Nigeria. Linda and Appian faithfully studied the Bible. Linda faithfully attends the worship. When he just obeyed God's lead, God does his own work through him. At a hostel they have sunday worship. Neighbors complained about singing. Then they found one secure place near the campus as a Bible center. Two years ago James left UBF but last year he came back Next month he is going to build a house church. This year he looks for another company, for the work is too demanding. God led his life in the best say. He has sweet wife and two lovely daughters. Linda invited her friend's sister to the Bible study. Appian invited another sister. James' coworker will join the ministry. Dr. Evan joined the ministry. He prays for weekly testimony sharing on Matthew. Pray to raise one faith of Abraham and Sarah in Ghana.
Yabateck - Shepherd Duke reported. One house church was established. Weekly Bible study. Easter Bible conference. Duke served a message. Another shepherd served a message. Three shepherds led group Bible studies. Three new students attended the conference. New disciple team was established. Bible study increased 60 weekly. Christmas Bible conference was held. Seven new sheep attended. Timothy Lee has to travel two or three times to bring sheep between center and campus every Sunday. Center relocation is needed. 15 weekly one to one, 14 sunday worship attendants, visit campus daily to invite  students with 20 weekly one to one's. Pray for two house churches.
Peter Park: See vision of God; Beginning June next year he is going to begin a contract with Samsung Heavy Industry. Eighty eight students attended the Spring conference.
The sign of Redemption camp is shining. God may bless Nigeria with young men and women coming to Jesus.
Vision 2015 - Isaiah 43:19
Financial stablility; vision to have 70 sunday worship. Build a house church; one to one; lead three chapters;
Pretoria I - S. Africa
Had two chapters; both chapters use the Bible house
This year they studied Luke gospel, then moved to 1 Corinthians and then nowadays Genesis.
During spring conference two repented. June conference was on Genesis. Thirty five students attended Spring conference. God raised two messengers - Amele and Becky. Two sisters shared life testimony.
Discipleship camp - God's personal calling. 12 brothers shared testimonies on God's  calling.
World Mission - prays to reach out to Mozambique a portugese speaking nation. Pray for Cremeldo who graduates this year
7. Pretoria II, S. Africa: Joshua Surh began to serve a new ministry as of June 13, 2013. One shepherd family left. Some brothers also left. Past 17 years of work seemed to have come to nothing. In Feb conference 19 students attended. Thirty people attended the spring conference. Leaders grew up. Three sisters are growing up leading group Bible studies. Shepherd Abia, Missionary Joseph, Daniel families support the ministry. He is working as a lawyer serving more corporate clients. In 2015 they pray for Genesis Bible studies. Pray for 25 one to one, and 30 Sunday worship attendants.
8. Wits, S. Africa - Jacob Kim. Through 1 Samuel studies they overcame depression. Easter conference was attended 23 with five being new students. In Oct. they had a spring conference with 20 attending. Four brothers and two sisters attended. Every thursday missionaries and leaders share testimonies. Group Bible study was opened every Saturday at the Bible house. Namsan supported so they could open a Bible house. There they opened a common life house. Daniel and Miso Lee shepherded over the coworkers each time they were needy. Matthew, Jacob, and Desmond take turns to served the Sunday message.
9. Cape Town, S. Africa - Andrew Cortese reports. Preach the word with complete patience. Easter confeerence - 18 attended. Bible studies were given responsibilities like presiding or arranging the environment. Two sisters faithfully come to Sunday worship. Next year they pray for Romans Bible study.
10. Sudan: Since Andrew Kim family left, Philiip prayed hard to keep the spirit. Faith Lee works at a Mission House Church. Two shepherds are left in Khartoum. Soon they plan to move Sudann for job in S. Sudan. Becasue he works full time he was unable to visit campus. His wife is in Korea.Year 2015 they pray for 4 new sheep.
11. S. Sudan - Padiet Deng: Johson Deng take turns to serve the sunday messages. Fifty people attended the Spring conf. during the last weekend of October. The Lord raised two shepherdess candidates. Fourty six students attended Christmas worship on Dec. 21, 2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
They could buy land for Juba UBF Bible students.
Pray for God to give them peace in Sudan. Pray to build a Bible center. Built 3 houses churches. Pray to move his job to a place near Juba.  Dr. Oyo Moses and Shepherd Ayman Chaway of Egypt were in the group. Ayman does not understand English. So Dr. Oyo kept translating English into Arabic.  Shepherd Julius Ecuru of Kyambogo, Uganda, came to the study holding a son Jairus (3) in his arm. The boy was quiet, calm, and meditative. He then walked away to his mom in the next room.
We had two group Bible studies. Joshua Suh of S. Africa served the group.

We should not lose our heart.
The gospel light enables us to see God's glory. 
Christ's glory is manifested in our weakness and sufferings. 

Relief mission - policy set up
In the procedure of electing next General Director (last Nov. Feb. 21 - nomination to be done; April 3, 2015 approval to be done at the IAM meeting in Mexico). 

1. Egypt - M. Andrew and Hope Kim, M. Faith Kim, Shep. Ayman Ghana; for student ministry to build up Egypt UBF as missionary Base for the Arab countries. 

2. Sudan: M. Philip Lee

3. S. Sudan: Shep. Padiet Deng (to get HQ office); Johnson Deng; Peace to the land; Discipleship ministry; construction of a Bible house

4. M. Samuel and Mary Yoo: Pioneering ministry in Swaziland

5. Prayer for 2015: Glorify and Enjoy God; Christ-centered life; community and ministry; keep following the way of suffering and glory; keep the vision of reaching out all of the major cities and campuses of Africa beginning in the country we serve in our generation. 



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Silent Night - a Christmas carol, its origin

During the evening hours of December 17, 2014, the Third-graders at the Turtle Bay Elementary School, Redding, California presented a Christmas music program at the gym of the school.

The program included Carols in different languages like Hebrews, English, and Latin.

Marie Kim (8), my grand-daughter, was chosen to present the choir to the audience singing the carol entitled "Silent Night". Before the Choir singing she walked out of the seat, took the microphone, and introduced to the audience the origin of Silent Night saying, "Silent Night was written when an organ broke on Christmas Eve  in 1818 in a small Austrian church. The song was finished just in time for midnight mass. The words were sung in German and accompanied by a guitar. It is one of the best loved carols."


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bible Kenya, World Campus Mission - Hiking for Freshman Welcoming, Nov. 2014


West LA UBF Christmas Worship



December 14, 2014 West LA UBF shared the good news of the great joy, and celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus.


After the worship, Pastor Paul wrote saying:

Dear Msn. Isaac & Rebekah Kim,

Merry Christmas!
Thank you for your prayer and love for West LA and my family.
Today we studied Phi 2:5-11, "True meaning of Christmas" with 124 people.
Please pray for our 13 intern cadidates of 2015 to receive training well this winter vacation.

Remembering your love and prayer,
Paul and Faith

May the Lord bless the blessed decision of the 13 to follow Jesus as Harvest Workers. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Zechariah - book digest

Return to Me and I Will Return to You Zechariah 1:1-14:21 Key Verse 1:3 “Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty.” Welcome to the Monday night Bible study. Tonight we will cover Zechariah. At the outset the Prophet Zechariah lays down the purpose of the book, that is, to exhort his audience to return to the Lord. Let us read 1:1-3. Thankfully for us Zechariah conveniently set forth the contents of his prophecy, that is, what the audience ought to do in view of what the Lord promises to do. I. Return to me. "Return to me and I will return to you." In the book of Haggai, the Prophet Haggai, who was one of Zechariah's contemporaries, encouraged the returnees returning back to the homeland from the Babylonian captivity to return to the Lord by working hard on building the house of the Lord. What additional message did the Lord have for the returnees then? There are two clues to consider: the first clue is found in the call itself, that is, "return to me, and I will return to you." Here "me" or "I" indicates that the real point of the return for the Israelites to return to is the Lord God himself. We find another clue to finding the real message the Lord chose Zechariah to convey in the last part of the prophecy, that is, in Zechariah 14:20-21. Let us open the Bible and read this blessed passage: "On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD'S house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty." Here the expression "holy to the Lord" is repeated twice. This repetition indicates that the real point of message is the Lord’s call for "everyone" to become "holy to the Lord." Further, there is a surprising prophecy that says, "And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord." Here the "house of the Lord” refers to the family of God. It does not refer to just a physical structure, such as a temple made of timber and stones. A “Canaanite” denotes those who remain disobedient to the Lord. This observation helps us better understand the true desire the Lord God wants to fulfill, that is, bringing his children to the intimate fellowship with him, so that his children would be as "holy" as the Lord himself. "Return to me and I will return to you." Again the [ultimate ending] point of returning is to attain to the holiness of God. Zechariah's conclusion is nothing new though, for in Exodus 19:5-6 the Lord God revealed this purpose of calling the slave nation Israel, saying, "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." The Lord's purpose in calling Israel as a "holy" nation goes to the original purpose for which God created man, because in Genesis 1 and 2 we see that God created man to be "like him" (Genesis 1:26-28). In leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses said to Pharaoh (who is symbolic of Satan), "There is no one like the Lord our God" (Exodus 8:10). In what respect then is God different from all others? It is only in one respect, that is, his holiness. (Isaiah 2:2) The amazing truth though is that God wants his children to be "like" him. Why should a [dusty] man be as holy as God is holy? The only reason given is "because God is holy” (Lev 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7,26; 1Pe 1:16). Why then does he want his children to be holy "because God is holy"? Genesis 1:26-28 indicate that God's holiness serves a practical purpose, that is, to enable his children to become dominant rather than dominated by God's creation. In fact this dominance is the key attribute of God's holiness, for unlike all that have been created by God, God remains dominant. One of the meanings of dominance is independence in the sense of self-sufficiency. God alone is self-sufficient. He alone is not dependent on other sources than himself. The Bible explains this concept in different ways, such as: "His reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him" (Isaiah 62:11), and, "Behold! I am coming soon! My reward is with me" (Revelation 22:12). In short, God wants his children to be as holy as God is so that by becoming like God, his children would fulfill the purpose of God's creation, that is, to rule the universe and everything in it as seamlessly as God himself. "Return to me and I will return to you." The main duty the returnees (and certainly all who are created in God's image) should fulfill is to remember the purpose of God's calling. [Remember that in Hebrew “Zechariah” means “(the one whom the Lord) remembers.”] We can easily understand the importance of this requirement (the call to remember the purpose of calling) when we think about what we do in making a journey, because a man who does not know this purpose is like a man who wants to go somewhere, but does not know where he wants to go. How can one go anywhere when he does not know where he is going? A greater tragedy is that not knowing the real purpose of life (attainment of God's holiness) people keep going somewhere. Since they do not know where to go (or what to do with their lives), in an attempt to find the meaning and direction of life, they look around themselves and see how others are doing. Then, a majority of them go the way the world does. The Israelites made the same mistake. While they were in Egypt, they did not know God’s purpose for them. In his mercy the Lord gave them the real purpose of life. Then the Lord sent them into the Promised Land. But after entering the Promised Land they conveniently forgot God's purpose of calling. They looked around themselves and saw how the Canaanites were doing and they followed their evil ways and wicked practices. What then happened to them? The Lord kicked them out of the land. They went into exile in Babylon. How did they do in Babyon? Again most of them forgot God's purpose of calling. As they were coming back to the Promised Land they again forgot God's calling. The returnees were about to waste their lives all over again. What then did God do for them? He established a prophet named Zechariah whose name means "remember." Remember what? God sent him to help them "remember" the original purpose of calling, that is, to be a "holy" nation. And for this purpose the Lord invited them to return to him. II. I will return to you Each time we hear the Lord's call to be holy, the charge is so overwhelming that we say, "We are born in sin. How can we be made as holy as God is?" Most likely the returnees must have felt the same way. Yet, God never compromises on the ideals to which he calls his children. Then what is the answer to the question we have? Again the second half of Zechariah 1:3 answers the question, "[Return to me] and I will return to you." The first half (return to me) is what we are called to do, whereas the second half promises what the Lord will do for us. Since God gave each person the decision to either return or not to return, it behooves us to choose to return. When we make a decision and indeed turn to the Lord, the Lord himself does the rest, that is, he meets us at a meeting point. There he takes our hands, and leads us to the place we are called to go. Indeed in the book of Zechariah we see the Lord coming up with all the provisions necessary to help his children fulfill the Lord's command. Our God is different from worldly dictators. Pharaoh in Egypt asked the Israelites to make bricks without providing them with materials. But God always is the God of grace. God never asks anyone to do anything without first providing that person with the means by which to do what is being asked. The same is true with the call to return to the Lord. Zechariah consists of 14 chapters which are loaded up with the provisions for his children. Chapters 1-6 record the visions the Prophet Zechariah saw one night. The vision of riders under myrtle trees shows God's intention to return to Jerusalem to make the city 'holy' again (1:7-17). The four horns and four craftsmen represent God's plan to set aside the enemy nations, so that the Israelites would come back to the holy land again (1:18-21). The man with a tape measure shows the Lord sending an angel and a heavenly "carpenter" (or "engineer" if you will) to the Jerusalem temple to get the temple rebuilt for God's holy name (2:1-13). Joshua receiving a new garment as a high priest points to the mediator by which sinful men can have their sins atoned for and thereby come to the fellowship with the Lord and so robbing Satan of any basis to accuse God's children of any defects (3:1-7). The vision of the Branch and the promise to remove the sin of the land in a single day looks forward to the day of the Savior to come as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (3:8-10). The lamp-stand and two olive trees speak of the way in which the Lord God administers his graceful work of salvation that is through the work of the Holy Spirit as administrated by the laity (Zerubbabel - governor) and clergyman (Joshua - the high priest) (4:1-14). The flying scroll refers to the message of judgment on all who reject God's truth (5:1-4). [The curse of the flying scroll is necessary because in order for the life of obedience to become blessed, the Lord must come up with the means to enforce that those who go against God's truth must suffer from the ill consequences, i.e., God's curse. After all who will keep the law when no one enforces it?] The movement of the basket (containing a woman) from the land of Israel to Babylon points to the Lord preparing the environment in which the holiness can be incorporated in the lives of true worshipers (5:5-11). And the vision of the four chariots, especially the spirit resting in the north, shows the Lord sending his Spirit to rest on the remnants who stay in the northern part of the land but are called to return to the Lord (6:1-15). In chapters 7 and 8 we find a question about fasting and the Lord's answer to the question. But the fasting is (or should be) for the Lord (so that people would learn of the Lord's holiness, so the Lord would be pleased with them) (cf. 7:4-5). Chapters 9-14 contain the visions (or oracles) on the Messianic ministries, both at the time of the Lord's first coming as well as the Lord’s second coming. In the book of Zechariah Jesus Christ is depicted in different names, symbols, and types. The “Branch” is one (3:8; 6:12), Joshua is another (3:8), and Zion’s king coming into the city of Zion riding on a donkey is still another (9:9). All the visions, the people’s question and the Lord’s answer to their question on fasting, the work the Messiah is to fulfill during his first and second coming, all lead to one point: the Lord’s provisions for the people returning to the Lord. And these provisions are custom-tailored to facilitate the call for all fallen men to overcome themselves and participate in God's holiness. The call to attain to God's holiness echoes through the Bible from generation to generation. From day one of Adam's fall, the Lord expressed his desire to redeem and restore people back to him. The same call was on the returnees of the day of the Prophet Zechariah. And the same call is on all who live in this post-modern era. This call is going to be on the generations to come as well In conclusion, through the Prophet Zechariah the Lord says to the returnees, "Return to me and I will return to you." The promise for the Lord's return is not empty; the Lord's promise to return culminated in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who offered himself on a tree as a ransom sacrifice. When Jesus comes again the Lord will bring to completion God’s vision to restore all the saints back to his holiness. When this vision becomes a reality there will be no longer a Canaanite in the house of the Lord. One word: Return to me and I will return to you ________________________________________________ Class Exercise: 1, Fill the blanks: Did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants, the prophets, __________ your _____________? 2. True or false. 1) Angels can pray to the Lord, and the Lord responds. T( ); F( ) 2) Each angel is mindful of his own business and does not concern himself with other angels' business. T ( ); F ( ) 3. The Lord was "a little angry" with _________. But the Lord is now (as of the time when Zechariah saw the visions) "very angry" with the nations that feel secure. Why? ___________________________________________________________ 4. If Joshua (a high priest) does the job right he will be given a _________ among the __________. 5. Two _____ trees _____ golden oil into a ____ bowl through the two pipes to supply oil for the ____ lights on top of the gold lampstand. 6. The Lord's temple is to be built not by _______ or by ______ but by my _________. 7. Jeremiah saw a king (of Jerusalem) coming to _______ riding on a ______, on a _____, the ______ of a donkey. 8. Who took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter? __________ 9. On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the _____ of the ________. Why on the "horses"? (cf. Isaiah 35:8; Eph 2:19-22) The end.

UC Berkeley UBF

At 10:30 am on December 7, 2014 we had a Christmas worship service. The worship took place at the bible center located at 1021 Solano Ave, Suite B Albany, San Francisco.
Pastor Mark Moran served a Christmas message entitled, "The Best Christmas GIFT", based on Philippians 2:5-8. The message will be posted here when the manuscript becomes available. Mark has a presidential look. He teaches 9th graders full time yet he found the time to prepare such a heart-moving message. I wish the whole world would hear the message. (See below for the message.)
Kara his second daughter supplemented the message by coming out of the children's compound and jumping up on the daddy. Lovingly he held her up in his arm just like Joseph holding the baby Jesus, and he continued on speaking on the baby Jesus.


THE BEST GIFT 


Philippians 2:5-8 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ 
Jesus. 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with 
God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself 
nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human 
likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled 
himself by becoming obedient to death. even death on a cross! 

Merry Christmas! Christmas might be the best-loved holiday in the United 
States. So, why do we like Christmas so much? There are two great Christian holidays. 
Christmas and Easter. As Christians, we might expect Easter to be more 
loved, since on Easter we celebrate our Savior’s victory over sin and death on our 
behalf. In the greater American society, however, Christmas is much more popular. 
For example, at Christmas, most students get two weeks of vacation, while at Easter 
they get a week or a day. The Christmas shopping season begins before Thanksgiving 
and continues after New Year’s Day, but people do not shop for “Easter 
presents”. I would like to think that people like Christmas because they want to 
celebrate Jesus’ birth into the world, but in reality, the modern-American Christmas 
is more accurately represented by Santa Claus. As children, we like Christmas because 
of Christmas presents, Christmas cookies and Christmas decorations. As 
adults, we enjoy those same things and add Christmas parties. Intellectually, we 
know that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, but we connect more emotionally 
to the cultural trappings of Christmas rather than its spiritual foundation. As we 
studied Philippians this year, we found that it contains Paul’s most personal testimony 
about his love relationship with Jesus. Therefore, Philippians 2:5-8 is a wonderful 
passage for us to study for our Christmas worship service, as we pray to restore 
our deep, personal love relationship with our Savior. 

I. Jesus gave himself for us 
We try to teach our children how to receive a gift by teaching them the phrase, 
“It’s the thought that counts.” It means that they should not value a gift on the basis 
of how much they like it, but rather on the basis of the love it represents from the 
giver. As a father, I would prefer that my daughter spent two hours making a birthday 
card as the expression of her love for me than to spend $20 on a professional 
card. This aspect is also reflected in “the best gift” we can receive. Jesus’ sacrificial 
love for us can be represented in the phrase, “Jesus gave himself for us.” 

Read Philippians 2:5-8. “In your relationships with one another, have the same 
mindset as Christ Jesus. 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality 

December 7, 2014 



with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself 
nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Paul 
is taking about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, but he barely mentions Jesus’ suffering and 
death on the cross. Paul knew that Jesus’ physical suffering and death were very 
important; they were essential for the gospel he preached.Yet, when thinking of Jesus’ 
sacrificial love, Paul saw Jesus’ suffering and death as a smaller sacrifice compared 
to the greater sacrifice of his incarnation. The Son of God put aside his divinity. 
his equality with God. and became flesh making his dwelling among us. 
How wonderful that our Creator God came to visit us on earth! Yet, he did not 
come in his heavenly glory to receive the honor, praise and tribute that he deserves. 
No! He put aside his glory and power. not using it to his own advantage. but 
made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human 
likeness. 

The word ‘servant’ (or ‘slave’) implies Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. Our Creator, 
our Lord and our King put aside his superior nature and took on the nature of a servant. 
In the early days of Berkeley ministry, one young woman came to meet Jesus 
through Bible study. She really wanted to support our humble Sunday worship service, 
so she asked, “What can I do to help? I will do anything!” I was very foolish 
and ignorant, so I asked her, “Could you clean the bathroom before worship service?” 
To my surprise, she was (rightly) grievously offended. When Jesus came to us, 
however, he put aside his heavenly glory and honor and power and took on the 
very nature of a servant. Can you imagine if President Barack Obama came to visit 
our worship service? What an honor! Do you think he would clean the bathroom 
before worship service? 

As humble as it is that our Lord took on the very nature of a servant, it was even 
more humiliating for him to be “made in human likeness”. Little children love baby 
Jesus, because they love babies, but it is an unfathomable sacrifice that our Creator 
came to visit us. not just as a man, limited in time and space; not just as a man 
who gets hungry and must eat or he will die, who gets tired and has to rest; not just 
as a man who has to go to the bathroom. No, our Creator and Lord came to us as a 
weak and helpless baby, who had to depend on a man to protect him and a woman 
to feed him. a helpless baby who soiled his diaper and had to be changed. Think 
about what he sacrificed for us! Why? So that he could be with us. 

When I was young, I didn’t know how to make friends. My best friend was the 
person who came up and invited me to play with him. When my best friend 
moved away I became friends with the boy who moved into his house. He was 
kind of weird, but he was my best friend for many years. In high school, however, I 
decided to stop eating lunch with him, because I wanted to eat at the “Popular Table”. 
He became jealous, but instead of apologizing to him, I was cruel to him. I 



was angry and I was afraid that my new so-called “friends” would think that I was 
weird, so I separated myself from him. However, our holy, Creator God humbled 
himself, gave up his honor, glory, prestige and power and made himself nothing. 
helpless, humble and shameful. being made in human likeness. What a sacrifice 
he made for us! 

Read verse 8. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself 
by becoming obedient to death. even death on a cross!” We might think that the 
word ‘death’ represents the greatest extend of Jesus’ sacrifice, but there is another 
word that represents an even greater sacrifice: the word ‘cross’. Jesus’ death for us 
is a great sacrifice, but he made an even greater sacrifice by dying on a cross. Jesus’ 
cross represents the humiliation, shame and guilt of our sins and the curse of God 
that he endured in our places. 

I’m willing to suffer physical pain for a friend or for someone I love. I am willing 
to die for my wife or my daughters, but I am not willing to accept blame for something 
I did not do. I pray for my mother to know Jesus as I have come to know him, 
but I argue with her a lot on the telephone, because I feel that she accuses me of 
things that are unfair or unjust. In my mind, I know that I should follow in Jesus’ 
footsteps and accept her small criticisms in order to help her spiritually, but it 
seems impossible for me to do. In contrast, our Lord Jesus Christ. who is perfect in 
holiness and righteousness. who never committed even one sin with his mind or 
body. took on all the shame and guilt of our sins upon himself so that we could 
be declared righteous, innocent and holy in his name! What sacrifices he has made 
for us! 

The title for today’s message is “The Best Gift”. The best gift includes Jesus’ sacrificial 
love for us, but that is not all. It is wonderful that Jesus sacrificed so much for 
us, but the purpose of that sacrifice is even more wonderful. I am willing to sacrifice 
anything for my daughters. Once, my wife dreamed that there were spiders in 
our bedroom, so in the middle of the night I had to turn on all the lights and search 
the bedroom for spiders before she would go back to sleep. I was a little upset with 
her. On the other hand, when my daughters were younger, I was willing to get up 
in the middle of the night to do something for them. We make many sacrifices for 
our children, but what is the purpose of our sacrifices? We sacrifice to protect them, 
to teach them what they need to know and to train them to be good, honest and 
hard-working. Most of all, we sacrifice for them so that they may know how much 
we love them. What is the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice for us? 

(2) Jesus Gave Himself to Us 


Jesus loves us with a sacrificial love: He gave himself for us. He also gives himself 
to us. Jesus suffered and died on the cross in order to cleanse us from our sins 
and to give us the gift of eternal life. What is it so great about eternal life? 

You may be familiar with Psalm 84:10 from a popular song: “Better is one day 
in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the 
house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” In his letter to the Philippians, 
Paul said the same thing: “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better 
by far” (Php 1:23b). At one point in our ministry, we had a young shepherdess and 
a young shepherd who were always fighting with each other and with me. At the 
same time, I was struggling to pass my qualifying exams. We were studying Philippians 
through Daily Bread, and when I read this verse I thought, “O yes! I desire to 
depart!” My desire was just to run away from my problems in this life, but Paul’s 
desire is very different. His desire was not to run away from his problems in this 
life, but to go to be with Christ, “which is better by far”. Paul might have paraphrased 
Psalm 84:10 by saying, “Better to be in prison with Jesus than in a palace 
with anyone else!” When Paul was in Philippi, he was unjustly arrested for doing 
the work of God. He and Silas were stripped and beaten with rods. Then they were 
severely flogged and thrown into prison. The jailer put them in the inner cell. with 
no windows or light. and fastened their feet in the stocks (Ac 16:16-24). At first, 
Paul and Silas must have been confused, frustrated and afraid, but as they prayed, 
they found that Jesus was still with them. They experienced Jesus’ presence with 
them. He comforted them and encouraged them. He assured them that he was 
working out his good purpose through these terrible events. So they began to sing 
hymns of praise to God. Paul knew from experience that it was better to be in 
prison with Jesus, than to be in a palace with anyone else! How much better it will 
be to be with Jesus in his kingdom! 

My favorite Christmas verse is John 1:14a: “The Word became flesh and made 
his dwelling among us.” Wow! How wonderful! Not only that Jesus left his heavenly 
glory and power and honor and came to earth, and not just that he was made in 
human likeness, not just that he died for me, but that he came to be with me. he 
made his dwelling among us. When I was young, I was always lonely. I really understood 
what it means to be “alone in a crowd”. I always felt separated and disconnected 
from the people around me. until I met Jesus. He forgave me from my 
sins and took away my shame and guilt. He took away my fear of death. Best of all, 
he satisfied my thirsty heart: I was not lonely anymore! After I graduated from college 
I planned to go to UC-Berkeley for graduate school. At first, I only thought 
about which school I should attend. After I decided, however, I realized that I 
would be going far away from everyone I knew. I decided to live in my own apartment 
without a roommate, so that I could have Sunday worship service. At one 
point, my Daily Bread books failed to arrive on time and I thought, “Maybe I’ve 



been expelled from UBF for some reason.” I was truly all alone, but I did not feel 
lonely anymore because Jesus was with me! 

To say that Jesus gave himself to us means that he came to be with us, but it also 
means he came to be within us. Look at verse 5 again. “In your relationships with 
one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” At first, I only included this 
verse in the message, because I needed the words “Christ Jesus”. However, as the 
message progressed, I realized that this verse also captures the wonderfulness of 
Jesus’ gift in giving himself to us. This verse is extremely challenging: Can we really 
be expected to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus? Is it really possible for sinners 
like us to have the same sacrificial love for others that Jesus has toward us. not 
just to suffer for someone else, but to die for them, to bear their shame and humiliation 
and guilt, to give up our power, position and glory for them, to become weak 
and helpless for them? Humanly, it’s impossible! But in Christ all things are possible! 


In Galatians 2:20, Paul expressed how it is possible for him. and for any believer. 
to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus: “I have been crucified with Christ 
and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by 
faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Also, in his letter 
to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “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” (1Co 15:10). Paul was not a self-made man; 
he was a grace-made man. Here, when Paul says, “the grace of God that was with 
me”, he means the living Jesus, dwelling in him through the Holy Spirit. We cannot 
separate Jesus’ sacrificial love. that he gave himself for us. from the result of that 
love. that he gave himself to us. Jesus gave himself as the best gift so that he might 
be with us to fill us with his love and to transform us into his holy image. He gave 
himself to us so that we may love others with his love. 

We think that the longer we know Jesus the more we can grow in his image, but 
the reality is that our “old self” never changes. This week, I yelled at my daughter 
many times and I even yelled at my wife. That was my “old self”, reminding me that 
it never changes. We can be completely transformed, however, as we allow Jesus, 
who is already living in us, to fill our hearts, to fill our minds, to fill our souls with 
his love, with his thoughts, with his grace. Let’s read our passage one more time together. 
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. 
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something 
to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking 
the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in 
appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death. even 
death on a cross!” 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Journey of Life - the case of gum tree

"...become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
Eph 4:13b


It is already December, and it rains today.

In my backyard there is a gum tree. It blooms a few times a year, bearing red flowers.
Its leaves are all green. 

Yet, in the fall the leaves turned colorful. And Fall makes me think the meaning of life. 



Now that the winter is getting deeper, as it rains leaves drop to the ground, and each leaf finishes a life's journey in its perfect beauty, which reminds me of the scripture first above written. 




















the path of life: The Spirit Moves West - a book (on UBF) to read

the path of life: The Spirit Moves West - a book (on UBF) to read: What is the book about? Quoted from Amazon.com: With the extraordinary growth of Christianity in the global south has come the ...

Thoughts on Ferguson - a message worth spreading

I did not open the facebook a long time but this morning, as I opened it up my eyes landed on this message which I thought worth spreading. 

Here goes the message:

In early August my wife and I, along with seven of our nine children, left for a month-long ministry tour in Africa (Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa). It was a couple of days before we got settled and had any access to media. As such, I was taken aback when I began to receive Google alerts, emails, and Facebook and Twitter messages either demanding that I comment on “Ferguson,” or condemning me for failing to do so. The only problem was, I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Who, what, or where was Ferguson? Why was it such a big deal? Why was I being condemned (along with other “high-profile” evangelicals) for “failing to speak out on such an important issue”? 

I eventually got up to speed. Or at least I found out what all the fuss was about. Over the next several weeks I viewed this issue from a unique perspective. I was an American in Africa watching an issue ignite ethnic tensions in my homeland. It was almost surreal. 

Who Am I to Speak?

My first response to Ferguson was to say nothing. I was on the outside looking in. I didn’t know what happened. I didn’t know the communities or the issues surrounding the tensions. Second, I chose to remain silent because people were demanding that I speak—even condemning me for my silence. In this age of “I sure would love to hear your thoughts on” I get tired of the sense of entitlement with which people approach those whom they deem to be popular or high-profile Christians. No one is “entitled” to my opinion. Nor is my faithfulness to God determined by how quickly I respond to “relevant” issues.

As a pastor, I have a responsibility to my flock. If those for whose souls I care (Heb. 13:17) want help thinking through these issues, I am obligated to them. I have a duty to walk them through issues like these to the best of my ability, and with sensitivity to their particular needs. What worries me is that Christians in the age of social media care more what “popular” preachers have to say on issues like this (and whether or not they agree with other “popular” preachers) than they are about taking advantage of an opportunity to work through challenges in the context of Christian community. More importantly, it worries me that so many Christians view themselves primarily as members of this or that ethnic community more than they see themselves as members of the body of Christ.

The Plight of Black Men

Rest assured, I do believe there are systemic issues plaguing black men. These issues are violence, criminality, and immorality, to name a few. And all of these issues are rooted in and connected to the epidemic of fatherlessness. Any truly gospel-centered response to the plight of black men must address these issues first and foremost. It does no good to change the way white police officers respond to black men if we don’t first address the fact that these men’s fathers have not responded to them appropriately.

There is indeed an epidemic of violence against black men. However, that violence, more often than not, occurs at the hands of other black men. In fact, black men are several times more likely to be murdered at the hands of another black man than they are to be killed by the police. For instance, in the FBI homicide stats from 2012, there were 2,648 blacks murdered. Of those, 2,412 were murdered by members of their own ethnic group. Thus, if I am going to speak out about anything, it will be black-on-black crime; not blue-on-black. I want to apply the gospel and its implications in a way that addresses the real issue. If a few black men being killed by cops requires a national “dialogue,” what in the world does the overwhelming number of black-on-black murders require? If the police do not see black men through the proper gospel-centered, image-of-God lens, what does the black-on-black murder rate say about the way we see ourselves? 

In addition to violence, black men are plagued with criminality. Low-income black communities like Ferguson know all too well that black criminals preying on their neighbors makes life almost unlivable. Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, I know all too well what it’s like to have bars on the windows and doors for fear that thugs will break in to steal or kill. I remember being robbed at gunpoint on my way home from the store one day. It was one of the most frightening and disheartening events of my life. The fear, helplessness, and anger I felt stayed with me for years. And it taught me an unfortunate lesson: the greatest threat to me was other black men.

The underlying malady that gives rise to all the rest of these epidemics is immorality and fatherlessness. We know that fatherlessness is the number one indicator of future violence, dropout rates, out-of-wedlock births, and future incarceration. And in the black community, more than 70 percent of all children are born out of wedlock! Fatherlessness is the bane of the black community. 

Nor is this plague forced on us. It is as common as morning dew, and as overlooked as dust under a refrigerator. Where are the marches against this travesty? Where are the protestors who demand better? Where are the black “leaders” who . . . oh, that’s right, they have just as many illegitimate children as anyone else. Again, it is common knowledge that this is the most immediate root cause of the ills plaguing black Americans.

But What About Racism?

I have been pulled over by police for no apparent reason. In fact, it has happened on more than one occasion. I was stopped in Westwood while walking with a friend of mine who was a student at UCLA. We found ourselves lying face down on the sidewalk while officers questioned us. On another occasion, I was stopped while with my uncle. I remember his visceral response as he looked at me and my cousin (his son). The look in his eye was one of humiliation and anger. He looked at the officer and said, “My brother and I didn’t fight in Vietnam so you could treat me like this in front of my son and my nephew.” 

Again, this experience stayed with me for years. And for many of those years, I blamed “the system” or “the man.” However, I have come to realize that it was no more “the system” when white cops pulled me over than it was “the system” when a black thug robbed me at gunpoint. It was sin! The men who robbed me were sinners. The cops who stopped me were sinners. They were not taking their cues from some script designed to “keep me down.” They were simply men who didn’t understand what it meant to treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve as image bearers of God.

It does me absolutely no good to assume that my mistreatment was systemic in nature. No more than it is good for me to assume that what happened in Ferguson was systemic. I have a life to live, and I refuse to live it fighting ghosts. I will not waste my energy trying to prove the Gramscian, neo-Marxist concept of “white privilege” or prejudice in policing practices. 

I don’t care what advantages my white neighbor may or may not have. If he does have advantages, God bless him! I no more fault him than I fault my own children who have tremendous advantages due to the fact that they were raised by two educated, Christian parents who loved, disciplined, and taught them. Ironically, when I think about THAT advantage, I am filled with joy and gratitude to God for his faithfulness. People are supposed to bequeath an advantage to their children and grandchildren (Prov. 13:22). Why, then, would I be angry with my white neighbor for any advantage he is purported to have? And what good would it do? How does that advance the gospel? Especially in light of the fact that growing up with the gospel is the ultimate privilege/advantage! It is the advantage that has granted us all “American privilege”! Are we guilty for being citizens of the wealthiest republic in the history of the world? I think not!

As a father of seven black men, I tell them to be aware of the fact that there may be times when they may get a closer look, an unwelcome stop, or worse. However, I do not tell them that this means they need to live with a chip on their shoulder, or that the world is out to get them. I certainly don’t tell them that they need to go out and riot (especially when that involves destroying black-owned businesses). I tell them that there are people in the world who need to get to know black people as opposed to just knowing “about” us. I tell them that they will do far more good interacting with those people and shining the light of Christ than they will carrying picket signs. I tell them, “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay'” (Rom. 12:19). And I tell them that there are worse things than suffering injustice. That is why we must heed Peter’s words:

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Pet. 3:15–17)

In the end, the best lesson my children can learn from Ferguson is not that they need to be on the lookout for white cops. It is far more important that I use this teachable moment to remind them that “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Moments before his death, Michael Brown had violently robbed a man in a store. A man doing the best he could to make a living. Minutes later, Brown reaped what he sowed, and was gunned down in the street. That is the sad truth. 

My sons have far more to fear from making bad choices than they have to fear from the police. The overwhelming majority of police officers are decent people just trying to make a living. They are much more likely to help you than to harm you. A life of thuggery, however, is NEVER your friend. In the end, it will cost you . . . sometimes, it costs you everything.

Voddie Baucham is the pastor of preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Micah - Book Digest

Who Is a God like You?


Micah 1:1-7:20
Key Verse 7:18


Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”


In studying the so-called 12 minor prophets, one question that comes to mind is, "Why did the Lord find it necessary to establish the prophet who is responsible for the book of the prophecy in addition to the prophet’s contemporaries?" [His contemporaries include Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea.] In other words, "What is the message which the Lord God intends to convey through that particular prophet?" These questions are in order for we know that as God is the God of economy he does not do anything that is not needed.


One of the ways to find the answer to these questions is to consider the prophet himself. If a prophet is a “true” prophet, he not only declares the words of the Lord but also "lives" the message he is called to convey, for a true prophet serves the Lord’s message not just with his lips but with his life. A prophet’s whole life itself testifies to the words of the Lord. So you read the messenger and you understand his message.   


The book of Micah shows us that Micah adopted a lifestyle that was different than the lifestyles of the majority of the people of his day. With his unique lifestyle, the Prophet Micah conveyed to the people of his generation the Lord's message loud and clear.


The question then becomes, "What (or who) enabled him to live the way he did?” We can find the answer to this question in the meaning of the name “Micah,” for in Hebrew the word “Micah” means, "Who is like Yahweh?" Reflecting on the meaning of his name, towards the end of the prophecy Micah asks, "Who is a God like you?" This observation gives out a strong indication that it was his fellowship with Yahweh who empowered him to live the way he lived.  


Practically then how did Micah live? What are the marks of distinction?


I. I will weep and wail (1:1-16)


The first mark of distinction has to do with the perception of the future. The way in which the general public perceived their future was very different from that of Micah, for Micah saw the future of the Israelites in a way that others did not about their own future.   


Micah served three kings of Judah (Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah). A study of the history on Judah during the reign of these kings indicates that in the days of these three kings, especially King Hezekiah, people in Judah entertained an optimistic view of life. For one thing, Judah as a nation amassed lots of military arsenal (2 Chronicles 32:1-8; Isaiah 36:1-37:8), for another the national economy seemed booming, so people were busy to secure opportunities to get rich and then super-rich.


In the year of 2006 and 2007 the U.S. economy seemed booming. The real estate market in Downey, California remained robust so that a three bedroom, one and a half bath house with a small backyard would sell for over $700,000. Homeowners saw their home values going up two or three times more than the amount of their mortgage, so they cashed out of their home several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Using this money they acquired titles to other assets, such as a second home, brand new cars or a small business like a liquor store. The national economy of Judah in the day of Micah was more or less the same. This trend is reflected in Micah 2:2, which reads, "They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud a man of his home, a fellow man of his inheritance."


Operating with the widespread optimism on the future of the nation a lot of people in Samaria and Jerusalem indulged themselves in pleasure seeking lifestyles. In the royal palace, Ahaz and Jezebel lived as party animals using people's tax money. People on the streets were more or less the same. Micah 1:7 reads, "All her idols will be broken to pieces; all her temple gifts will be burned with fire; I will destroy all her images. Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes, as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used." Here the words, "idol," "images," and "prostitution" point to various forms of pleasure-seeking lifestyles.  In Micah's day people abandoned the worship of the God of Abraham and instead worshiped idols (1:7). Idol worship caused their minds to be filled up with adulterous images, which in turn prompted them to adopt promiscuous lifestyles, so that the spirit of prostitution took over the society.


The life that is mixed with spices, such as idols, images, or prostitution, tends to make man "feel" good. So they say, "Money is good. Life is good. So what is the problem?"


But Micah had a different view. While people in general went about gaily, Micah said, “I will weep and wail.” Look at v. 8. "Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl." Why is he going to weep and wail? Why does he say, “I will go about ‘barefoot and naked’”? Why does he say, "I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl?" Have you heard a howling jackal? Have you encountered an owl moaning at night? When all others were going “hunky dory,” why did Micah choose to weep and wail? Why did he choose such a somber lifestyle? Is it because he became insane? Who went crazy, Micah or the "hunky-dorians"?


More fundamentally than these questions is this: "What made the difference?” The answer is this: Micah saw that the people of his day had absolute reasons to weep and wail rather than to laugh and dance. But in their blindness the people did not see the disasters that were going to hit them down the road.


Unlike the general public, Micah walked closely with the Lord. As he walked humbly with the Lord, he came to realize what the Lord thought of the people of his day and what he would do to them.


In a number of places the Lord God introduces himself as a holy God. God is a holy God. As the holy God he cannot compromise with any hint of sin. Being the holy God he has to punish every hint of sin. The only reason why it does not seem that God's judgment is not immediate is because God patiently waits for his people to repent (Romans 2:4). But when people persist in their rebellious ways of life despite the Lord’s continued warnings, the Lord comes up with a whip.


Micah foresaw the day of disaster looming large on the adulterous people. In apprehension of the disasters that were going to hit his people, and in hope to ward them away from the impending judgment, Micah says, “I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl.”  [ Cf. 1:12; 2:3; and 3:11]


II. I am filled with power (2:1-3:12)


The second point of distinction is found in Micah 3:8, "But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin." It is interesting to note that Micah refers to both "power" and "might". Why did he need to be filled with both "power" and "might"? We can understand the necessity of the power and might when we think about the meaning of power (or might). According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, “power” means (among other meanings): the ability to act or to produce an effect; legal or official authority or capacity; physical, mental or moral efficacy. This definition indicates that in order for one to fight against the power of sin, one needs the ability to act against the power of sin, and thereby produce a result, that is, defeating the power of sin working in men. In order to fight against the power of sin he needs spiritual authority to work with. He also needs physical, mental, moral and spiritual power to fight against the power of sin and win victories.


To be aware of man's sin problems is one thing, to be able to stand up against it another. Not all who desire to live righteously can do the latter; only those who garner enough strength can rise to fight the battle against the power of sin.


It has been said that God’s children are faced with three enemies: Satan, self, and the world.


According to 1 John 3:8, it is the devil who promotes sin. (1 John 3:8) And no human being is a match for the devil. In order to help people not to fall victim to the devil’s ability to tempt man to sin, one needs God's help.


Another formidable enemy of God’s children is entrenched in each person, and that enemy within is his or her own “self”! So in order for one to fight against the power of sin working inside, one must gain the power and strength to stand up against the power of sin working inside.


The battle that goes on inside is more dreadful and harder to fight and win than on the outside. Speaking of the same truth, Martin Luther said, "I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, Self." Similarly, he said, "I more fear what is within me than what comes without." Further, he said, "I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope [inside and outside of me] is the Antichrist." For this reason Jesus said that we need to deny ourselves. But we cannot deny on our own. It comes only through God's might.


And the world has always been evil. The Bible says that the devil is the ruler of this dark world. So in order to stand up against the sinful world, one needs God's power.


Obviously, Micah understood these truths. So he chose not to rely on his own might. Rather he relied on God's power, that is, the power that comes from the Spirit of God, so that he says, "But as for me I am filled with power, with the Spirit of God..." Then he bravely stood up against the power of evil. He boldly declared the transgressions of proud people (2:1-5); he spoke against the leaders of Jacob, the rulers of the house of Israel (both political and religious leaders such as false prophets or the corrupt priesthood; 2:6-12). In so doing he declared God's judgment (exile to Babylon) coming down on the wicked. The Lord fulfilled his prophecy by destroying the Jerusalem temple in 586 B.C. and exporting his people to Babylon.


III. I watch in hope for the Lord (4:1-7:20)


Thirdly, Micah stood out from others because he had the hope of the Lord coming. In Micah 7:7 the Prophet confesses: "But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." What are the contents of the hope he had? For what or whom did he wait?


Let us open the Bible and read three passages: Micah 4:1-8; 5:1-7; and 7:18-20. These passages describe the visions of the Lord’s redemption. The Lord will turn the vision into reality by personally coming to his people in Bethlehem (5:2), shepherding over his flock (5:4), forgiving his people of their sins (7:18-20), and establishing his kingdom from among all peoples on earth in and through the remnants of Jacob (4:1-8; 5:7-8).  


Through the Spirit of prophecy the Lord revealed these visions to Micah. In the meantime the Lord planned to discipline the Israelites by exporting them into a foreign land. Indeed, about one century after the Micah’s prophecy the Lord sent the Israelites to Babylon. After seventy years of captivity in Babylon the Lord brought the remnants back to the Promised Land. Then, as Micah prophesied, the Savior was born in Bethlehem. The Savior shepherded over his flock in the strength of the Lord. As the good shepherd, the Savior named Jesus gave his life on a tree as a ransom for many and thereby fulfilled the prophecy to "tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:18-20).
Jesus' sacrifice gave rise to the hope of the redemption for all nations. Speaking of this hope that is still bearing fruit, Micah shared the vision of the mountain of the Lord's temple standing (or established) as chief among the mountains, raised above the hills. He saw the vision of the people streaming to the mountain of the Lord's temple for life. (Micah 4:1-5)


The people of Micah's day lived with one hope or another. But their hopes were not based on the Lord’s promise to send the Savior. Rather their hopes were based on what is of temporary endurance (such as buying a retirement home or saving more money into retirement accounts at one financial institution or another.) Some however despaired, so they resigned themselves to a hedonistic lifestyle saying, "Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die." But Micah lived in the hope of the Savior coming. This hope empowered him to go against the stream of the wicked generation.  


In conclusion, let us read Micah 7:18, "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." The question, "Who is a God like you," stimulates us to wholesome thinking. His question prompts us to examine and revise the ways of our life in view of the kind of God we have. Martin Luther once said, “The God of this world is riches, pleasure, and pride.” But Micah introduces to us a different God. While others devoted themselves to the God of riches, pleasure, and pride, Micah devoted himself to the God whose name is Yahweh. Then the Lord revealed himself to Micah. This revelation in turn helped Micah to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord (6:8). When he walked with the Lord, the Lord empowered him to overcome this sinful world and live as the lamp light shining God's light of salvation on this dying world.


One word: Who is a God like you?


____________________________


Class Exercise:


1. In Hebrew Micah means, "Who is like Yahweh?" In view of the book of Micah, "Who is like Yahweh?"


2. Micah 6:5b reads, "Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord." What "righteous acts" did the Lord do for his people during their "journey from Shittim to Gilgal"?


3. According to Micah, which mountain is "chief" among [all] the mountains?


4. Again according to Micah, what is "good" for man?


5. Fill the blanks:


Both hands are ________ in doing _____;
The ruler demands ______;
The judge accepts _______;
The powerful _________ what they desire;
The best of them [are] like a _______; and
The most upright [are] worse than a _________;


6. Which of the following is (or are) not the words of Micah?


1) I will weep and wail;
2) I will go about barefoot and naked;
3) I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl;
4) I am filled with the Spirit of the Lord;
5) What misery is mine?
6) Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord's wrath.
7) I watch in hope for the Lord.

The end