Lord God, Open the window that reveals Your truth so that we can breathe in Your grace, mercy and forgiveness. Bring joy back into our lives, into our jobs, and into our relationships so that we will be so overwhelmed by the awareness of Your presence, that we can’t help but experience the joy that only comes from knowing Jesus. Just simplify the complexity of the world into Your truth: That the battle has already been won and that God lives in this moment and so should we. So as we receive Christ today, at this altar, let us all remember that He also goes with us into the world that He so loves and that we can only share what we have an abundance of. So let us be full and overflowing with the joy, love and compassion that has already been given to us by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From everlasting to everlasting, You are all that You say You are. Jehovah Nissi, You Lord are the banner that we carry on the broken roads of this life. From every victory and loss, You are the source of strength and hope that allows us to run to the only goal that really counts: the arms of our Creator. We run this race forgetting that You have always been running after us. Holding on to us and never letting go. So pull us into Your story and let the Word of God cut straight through to our hearts. Give us wisdom and comfort to leave our old life behind so that we are transformed by grace to think without limitations and to share the gospel without any hesitation. Yes, there will always be war: war of the mind, war of the heart and war of the soul. But because of the intercession of God’s only Son on that cross in Calvary, it is the Love of God that has won the battle and we are all champions in Christ.
So last week many people around the world celebrated Chinese New Year. I love this time of year. Living in Las Vegas, one might get desensitized to the array of extravagance on the famous “Strip” and it’s numerous casinos and attractions. This is also the main time of year where all casinos pull out the stops and unleash their Asian marketing strategies with lavish Chinese decorations, events and concerts specifically for Chinese people. And with all of this opulence, it is so easy to forget how fortunate we are if we live in a country that doesn’t persecute us based on our religious beliefs. Now, I am not Chinese, although my great grandparents on both sides are of Chinese origin, but I am a Christ follower and believe that my purpose on earth is to minister the grace, love and forgiveness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I find it hard to stomach that there are some parts of the world where the Bible is illegal. I find it very painful to accept that, even in the present day, people are being persecuted or killed because they believe in Jesus Christ. Why one human being would harm another is beyond me, and I pray for those being persecuted and I especially pray for those who are doing the persecuting. It is with this that I reflect on the following scripture passages from the Gospel of Mathew and John.
John 15:19-21 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.”
Matthew 5:10-12“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12″Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:44“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
Letting all people know that they are loved, cherished and forgiven is the most precious gift that I can share with this world. I could not imagine being forced to remain silent about the salvation that we all receive through the intercession of Christ on the cross and His glorious resurrection.
The video above is my favorite Chinese song known as “Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo Di Xin” made famous by Teresa Teng who was also banned from performing in her native China. The title is loosely translated into “The Moon Represents My Heart” and the translation is:
You ask me how deep my love for you is,
How much I really love you…
My affection is real.
My love is real.
The moon represents my heart.
Even though it is a secular love song, I see these particular lyrics, of this section of the song, as the words of Christ and how He loves all of us more than we could ever imagine. His love was and is real and surpasses anything that we might experience on earth. His love says that we have value to God. His love says that the battle has already been won and that we can live freely, knowing that our salvation through Christ and the glory of Almighty God is ultimately victorious over sin and death.
His love is the foundation of my faith and the example that I strive to live by everyday. That being said I pray…Lord God, Abba Father, we pray for those in this world who are persecuted because they accept You, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior. Give them strength in the knowledge that they are not alone and never have been. Comfort them as they grow in relationship with You and with each other. Let the power of the Gospel and the truth that is Jesus Christ shine through every dark valley of this world and life. We also pray for those who are persecuting our Christian brothers and sisters. Let Your compassion melt away the coldness of an unfeeling heart and open the windows of their lives to reveal all that You are. We pray that it will be on earth as it is in heaven, and that the true and authentic love of our Creator will be what binds this human family together. In the name of Christ we pray all of these things. Amen.
Lord God, beckon us back to You and to the holiness of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Let Your love be the driving force that allows us to fully live this life by letting go of whatever happened in the past, so that we can set our gaze on the future that You have planned for us. The truth of the gospel is the doorway that we enter into Your presence, so clear our minds and hearts of any baggage that would distract us from experiencing You, and let us be sanctified and sustained by Your Holy Word. Take away any notion or idea that there is anything that we can do to win a battle that has already been won for us by Christ Jesus. Let our lives simply be a living offering to the God who has set us free. We are not alone. We never have been. The love of God alone covers us and seals us in His grace, mercy and never-ending love.
“The very effort to be honest before God may well define the task that lies at the heart of the spiritual life. It is not, as some suppose, a mystical experience, or transcendent high. It is not, as others suppose, encounters with silence and emptiness. Nor, as still others suppose, is it the task of spiritual discipline. It is the elemental business of shedding the masks behind which we hide, until we are able to own our prodigal nature as human beings who are deeply flawed, but greatly loved.”
Lord God, there are numerous ways to reach You but right now we ask that You bring us into Your presence in this Holy place. We all have our reasons for being here. We seek comfort, solace, refuge, encouragement, healing and most of all friendship. Let us know that we are not alone and bring us back to You and back to the passionate heart of when we first believed in the truth of our salvation through Christ Jesus. Unleash the truth of Your holy word and leap out of the pages and into our lives so that we can all experience Your amazing Grace. We live in a world that says that there is no room but You say different and encourage us to dream with our eyes wide open to God’s possibilities. The Word of God is expressed in what we do with our lives and not just the words that we speak. We are all shoulder-to-shoulder in the kingdom of God and when the world knocks us down, then we can all help each other to get right back up again and join the body of Christ here on earth. Lord, help us to care about our neighbor…whoever and wherever they may be.