key verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
My key verse for 2015 was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and I chose it again for 2016. Looking back, I had a difficult time remembering what happened this past year. It seems like my memory is just getting worse as time passes. But what came to my mind included the Matthew study. We’ve spent all of 2015 on this book and we still have a few more chapters to go before we finish. I’m glad that we studied Matthew’s gospel as we’ve never done that before as far as I’ve been here. I’ve had a difficult time with the theme of Immanuel from the start of the study until recently. I couldn’t relate this truth to the content of the book. I’m not sure that I can now but the Christmas preparation helped me to witness and be awakened to the life of Immanuel which is at work in and through his servants. His life continually works whether I am conscious of this truth or not. I am reminded of Jesus’ parable of the kingdom of God in which the seed grows day and night though the man who scattered the seed does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” It is the life of Immanuel who is doing this.
The Psalm study has also been a blessing. It is quite refreshing to have a glimpse into the life of a man like David who was a sinner before God, who was helpless and weak, but who sought God with all his soul, all his mind, and all his strength. The Spirit of God spoke through him. David’s life reveals that of a person who is united with the Lord. His psalms speak of the inner deep struggle of God’s people while living in this world. His words could express our inward groans which Paul wrote in Romans as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Altogether, the psalms of David and other writers become a pleasing offering to the Lord. May the psalms be my voice to the Lord. I see that 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 speak to the essence of this truth - 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
James has been coming to worship service on and off over the last several months. He is having lots of fun visiting Houston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many other places. He is enjoying his dad’s visit here as well traveling to many places with him. Still, there is a conviction which the Lord had planted in him. May the Lord speak personally to him. May he pray for God’s guidance in 2016.
Martin Yip, one of the Bible study students I had while serving Miami University in Oxford, OH, recently emailed me. This is something we have been doing around Christmas time ever since he went back to Hong Kong 5 or 6 years ago. He asked me to greet the UBF co-workers so hello from Martin. He informed me that he is the fellowship leader and Bible teacher for the youth ministry at his church. I thought he meant that he was teaching children in the CBF or JBF age range. When I asked him about the group, he said that the participants are college students and older. I told him that I am praying for him to be God’s servant all his days. He responded back realizing that it must have been difficult for me to leave my children at home on Saturdays to go to Miami University to have Bible study with him. He thanked me. I replied that I hope he may have the same blessing. Thank God who has been continually guiding Martin as his Shepherd.
I’m glad that I saw Luke Hong two weeks ago before he went back to Australia. He seems to be doing well. He was eager to have a head start on his studies for his second year in medical school. He is preparing for his Step One exams that he may return to the US for his residency. After the Christmas worship service, he told me that he already gave candy to my children but he wanted to give me some chocolate snack just for me. Though it seemed like a small gesture, I was thankful that he did so. He is growing to be more considerate of others. He emailed me later asking for the Christmas message that he may read it. May God bless him to grow as a medical missionary.
The Lord has blessed the Chen family abundantly in 2015. May he glorify his name through his house church. Now looking back at 2015, I see that God has been continually faithful in his work. I am simply thankful to the Lord. May God again do so for his name’s sake in 2016. Thank God for the Lord Jesus who has come and whose life is working in his servants.
one word: pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances