Today, we are celebrating the Resurrection Sunday (Easter). Many of the Christians thank God for raising Jesus from the dead, but don't realize God also raised us to a new life as well (Colossians 3:1). Every Christ follower is died to sin with Jesus and raised to a new life with Jesus. N.T. Wright calls a "new life" as belonging to "a new world". If we belong to a new world, we do things differently including thinking differently. Pastor Joon Hwang is challenging the believers to celebrate Easter by thinking like the resurrected ones. We cannot think like the old way, as if we still belong to the old world, since we are dead to it.
Our thinking determines who we are, who we become, and how we live. In Numbers 13-14, we see how the 12 leaders responded after scouting the land of Canaan. Even though all 12 people witnessed the same event, Caleb and Joshua responded totally different from the rest of 10 leaders. Why? They were thinking differently! Their thinking determined how they respond and how they live. When you experience the thoughts of fear, anxiety, or doubt, before you accept these thoughts into your mind, ask yourself, "Is this from God?" We need to pay more attention to our thinking because it determines how we live.
Next few weeks, pastor Joon Hwang is going to start a series on the Transformation of the Mind. In this first message of the series, he explains that what we think is crucial when we want to experience the transformation in our lives because everything starts with the mind. One of the areas the Christians don't pay too much attention is on what we put in our mind every day, even though the Bible is clear as to what we need to put in our mind (Philippians 4:8-9). Before thinking about how to win the battle against the toxic & evil thoughts, we need to first evaluate what we are putting in our mind everyday. We cannot expect a treasure to come out, when we put in only the garbage.
What if the Holy Spirit really transforms your life? Would you want it? Many of us say we want the Holy Spirit to encounter us and transform our lives, but we don't really want Him to really change our lives because we simply love our lives and how we live. We don't really want God to change our desires, passions, and purpose in life. Pastor Joon Hwang challenges the believers, Do you really want God to transform your life? What if He really shows up and encounters your life? Will you be ok with this new life He gives you?
Transformation in our spiritual relationship with Christ is impossible without the working of the Holy Spirit. However, many Evangelical Christians today only understand the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible also records the empowering work of the Holy Spirit such as Acts 1:8 and Acts 8. We need both the indwelling and empowering work of the Holy Spirit in order to partner with the Holy Spirit to be like Jesus and do what He did on earth like the Christians in the book of Acts did.
Transformation, especially relating to our relationship with God is impossible without the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Francis Chan wrote in his book, The Forgotten God, "Many of us don't need more knowledge about the Holy Spirit. What we need is experiential knowledge of His presence." As we encounter the Holy Spirit, guided by Him as we walk with Him, and rely on Him in everything we do, we are going to experience the transformation to be like Christ.
Many of the Christians think they can "believe in God" without having a vibrant relationship with God. They seem like they can simply do religious activities and that's enough. In this sermon, Pastor Joon Hwang explains that God is looking for a worshipper, who wants to have a relationship with God, enjoying His presence, and live a daily life with Him. Following Christ is not merely doing religious activities, but actually following Him on a daily basis.
It is so easy to drift away from God if we are not focused on Him daily. Pastor Joon Hwang is challenging the Christians to check our hearts whether we have drifted away from God. If yes, God is encouraging us to return back to Him as we start the year, so we can experience Him and life to the full.
Do we really believe God of the Bible truly is madly in love with us, even in our weakness and brokenness? Do we really believe that He wants to be with us and commune with us? John 3:16 and Romans 8:38-39 claim that God loves us and no one or nothing can separate His love for us. We might believe this truth with our head knowledge, but not with our heart. Even though the Bible is clear who this God is, we listen to lies and come up with a conclusion that God is always sad, mad, or distant and despises us. If we really believe these lies about God, no wonder we don't want to be more intimate with God, spend more time with God, or obey what He says with gladness. As we are going over the theme of Transformation, we need to check our hearts and ask ourselves, "How do I really view God?" and "Is my view of God Biblical?"
Starting a new theme on the topic of Transformation in 2021, Pastor Joon Hwang challenges the believers to have a clean break-up with our sins and the old way of doing things, so that we can experience a transformation from the areas that need to be transformed into the Christ-likeness.
Are we progressing in maturity in Christ-likeness? Paul in Philippians 3:12-16 testifies that even though he is far from reaching the complete maturity in Christ, he is pressing on like an athlete running a race to win a medal or a prize. As we are spending the last few days of 2020, pastor Joon Hwang is challenging us to look back and see how much we have been progressing in maturity in Christlikeness. He is also challenging us to get back on track and start the new year with a fresh start of becoming more like Jesus Christ in every area of our lives.
According to Michel Hendricks & Jim Wilder in their book, The Other Half of Church, we don't know how to correct people in love. We often correct people in a rejecting and condemning way. However, Bible teaches us to tell the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Pastor Joon Hwang teaches practically how the Christ followers give a correction in love, so that we can help each other to be Christlike in our behavior and character.
According to Michel Hendricks & Jim Wilder in their book, The other Half of Church, transformation happens in a community where there are foundational elements built into the community. When a community is built on high-joy and high-love, then we can experience the transformation of people's character by the power of the Holy Spirit. The third element is a Group Identity, where people in the group remind each other who we are and what we do as a people of Christ. Pastor Joon Hwang is using these principles to encourage community of Christ such as church, small groups, and even a family to create an atmosphere or culture that fosters the character transformation into Christ-likeness.
As we are facing the end of the year, it would be powerful experience to spend the month of December reflecting the last 11 months, looking forward to the new year, and also preparing ourselves for the coming King, Jesus during the Advent. Pastor Joon Hwang is encouraging us to go on a 21 day of media entertainment fasting to hear from God and get ready for the new year.
Jesus said in John 13:34-35 to the disciples that their love for one another will prove to the world that they are the disciples of Jesus. If that is true, then the Great Commission must include creating an environment of love in the body of Christ, namely the church. Many don't understand what love is, especially the love that comes from God. We often interpret love the way we know it in our culture. But the Bible explains that the love is like a family bond or attachment that no one can break. If we practice this kind of love to one another, we will be known to the world that we belong to Christ.
It is not easy to rejoice these days because of everything that is happening in our country and the world. However, the Bible commands us to be joyful and thankful. How? Pastor Joon Hwang teaches that joy is still possible even when we are going through dark times. Surprisingly, it starts with gratitude, according to Jim Wilder in his book, "The Other Half of Church". Let us learn to live our lives filled with joy during the gloomy days of pandemic.
Even though the phrase, "For Yours is the Kingdom, power, and the glory forever" does not come directly from the gospel of Matthew of Luke, it is an appropriate way to end the prayer. Pastor Joon Hwang explains why the last words of the Lord's Prayer is a powerful reminder and confession for all Christ followers.
The area of spiritual warfare is very underbought in the Western church today. We don't know about the devil or how to resist the devil, even though the Bible teaches us to in James 4:7-8. Pastor Joon Hwang continues his series on the Lord's Prayer and teaches about what to do when the evil one attacks the Christ followers.
Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation". But James 1:13 says that God does not tempt us. According to N.T. Wright, this phrase should be translated, "Don't let us get to the point where we crack under that pressure". Pastor Joon Hwang explains why this phrase is so important to pray today, when we are going through so many trials in our lives, our cities, and the nation.
Continuing on the last week's message on forgiving those who sin against us, Pastor Joon gives practical tips on forgiving others. His resources come from the book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp (2008, New Growth Press).
There is a reason why "Forgive us our sins" comes before "As we forgive those who sin against us" in the Lord's Prayer Jesus taught us to pray. Pastor Joon argues that the only way we can even have a heart to forgive comes from God. So, we need to ask God for forgiveness. We also need to forgive because we have been forgiven by God (Matthew 18:21-35). Because our sins have been forgiven by God, we freely offer forgiveness to others.
Continuing on the Lord's Prayer series that was discontinued in March, Pastor Joon focuses on the verse 12 from Matthew 6, "Forgive us our sins". Pastor Joon explains that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us from all of our sins (1 John 1:9). We are forgiven not because of anything we have done, but who God is, that He is faithful and gracious. As Pastor Bruce Fong says, God's grace is greater than sin.
We are in a time where we desperately in need of God's visitation, namely revival. We need to cry to God for a revival in America. Pastor Joon is challenging us to pray for revival in our country by crying out to God like the psalmist did in Psalm 85.
Jesus is telling the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-5 that they have forsaken their first love. Pastor Joon Hwang is challenging today's Christians to remember their first love with the Lord Jesus, so that our intimate hearts won't grow weary.
Many Christians today just think of church as merely attending. However, the Bible teaches us that the church is not merely to attend but belong, since it is the body of Christ. Pastor Joon Hwang teaches from the 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 that the Christians need to belong to a church, not just to attend whenever they are "free". In order for the body to be healthy, every member needs to belong.