Check back each day for a new devotional
straight from our pastoral staff!
March 27, 2020
It’s a setup.
Have you ever been watching a movie when those words are spoken? When all of a sudden someone realizes that what they are looking at is not actually the reality of what’s happening. We love movies and TV shows that surprise us like that. All of a sudden the script turns and we are engaged in a new way, because we are looking at a new reality.
In this past week, God has spoken these words into my life. The moment in my script that changed it all was when I was reminded of John 16:33 which states “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” That was a sobering reminder for me. That these troubles we are going through have actually been predicted by God. He does not say He will stop the fire, but He does say that He will stand with us in the midst of it. (See Daniel 3 or listen to Another In The Fire by Hillsong)
Perspective is a beautiful thing, it’s one of my favorite things actually. Two people can be in the same exact scenario, but their perspective will change the reality they are in. If there was ever a time for perspective shift, it is now. This time we have now should help us realize that. Never in our life will we be gifted with such a unique opportunity as this. A time where the world around us has basically stopped, and most of us are left with more disposable time than ever.
So how will we use it? Is this going to be a staycation that we use to catch up on sleep and get a couple things done? Or will this be a time that radically changes our relationship with God? A time that brings us closer to the Lord than we’ve ever been before. I believe there is tremendous potential in this time. That we can use it to reinvent our prayer life, seek His Word every day, and share how He is changing our life.
It takes 66 days to create a habit, so the time we have now is a head start into that 66 days! Life will go back to normal, but I pray that we will not go back to normal life. I pray that we will go back into reality changed for the better, closer to God. So use the time that you have now, because it’s a setup.
March 26, 2020
Minha, my youngest daughter, is turning four soon. She likes doing her hair. Usually, she puts many hair accessories on her hair and spun around like a Disney princess.
Last Monday, she got herself in big trouble. She was playing as a hairdresser, and this time she cut her hair VERY SHORT on the right side and a little bit of her bang. She looked so unbalanced in her hairstyle. Her cut hair was all over the dining area.
After my wife, Yun-my family's exclusive hairdresser for over a decade- trimmed Minha's uneven hair, we told her,
"Minha, you look so cute! Have a look at the mirror!"
Of course, her response was screaming with crying, "No, I hate boy's hair!"
My neighbors must've heard her screaming. We had to soften her anger by saying, "You are still pretty. Your hair will grow soon again."
The day passed, but I kept thinking of my daughter's reaction. Minha did it to herself, but instead of thanking her mom, who fixed her hair, she blamed her mom. I pondered, “Isn't her reaction mine to my Lord?”
When difficult things happen to us, we become angry without understanding why such a thing happens to us. We become resentful to God.
As Christian, we may pass through a time of suffering so that we attain the character of Jesus and participate in the suffering of Christ. However, sometimes we must not forget that our wrong choices can cause us to suffer.
The Israelites experience this kind of suffering in the book of Judges.
And they did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things God has done for Israel. Judges 2:10
Because they did not know God, they made many wrong decisions, and as a result, they were in a great distress. But every time they went through difficult times, the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help. And God listened to their prayers, always giving them a helping hand, and saving them from that difficult life. Then, there was peace in the land of Israel.
I wish I could end with a happy ending, but sadly the book of Judges reveals a same pattern in the Israelites that they kept hurting God's heart.
As soon as Gideon died… they FORGOT the Lord their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies. Judges 8:33-34
In this challenging time of the lockdown, I am grateful that we guard our hearts before God and pray for the nation and for us. We are doing great! I believe that we will pass through today's difficulty with God's help. Amen?
I wish our reaction is different from the Israelites in the days of the Judges.
I want us not to FORGET God and keep remembering and praising what he has done for us!
I want us continually stand firm by giving our wholehearted devotion to the Lord.
Pastor Jungmo Koo
March 25, 2020
When my son JJ was young, he used to love to climb trees. Every time, when he'd get as high as he dared, he'd say, "Hey dad! Look at me!!"
He wanted, so badly, for me to see him.
Hey! Look at me!!
In Isaiah 65, we are shown a God who wants SO BADLY for his people to look at him.
"I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here I am, here I am," to a nation that did not call on my name.
I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices" (65:1-2)
I have this image of God in my mind, hanging from a tree branch, calling out my name...
HERE I AM!!
LOOK AT ME!!
All too often we want to follow our own paths.
We regularly forget to look to God.
We, like little gods, think we can do it on our own. We think we know better. So we follow our own paths.
Where do those paths lead us?
Time and time again we run ourselves into walls insisting they are doors.
But there's good news!
We serve a God who LONGS for us; who DESIRES us; who wants what is BEST for us.
We serve a God who wants to show us a better Way.
HERE I AM!!!
TAKE MY HAND AND I WILL LEAD YOU!!
Today, right now, stop what you're doing and look to God. God is calling to you, it's up to you to respond.
March 24, 2020
Scripture Reading: Psalm 24:1-6 (NIV)
"The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob."
It’s probably no great surprise to you that I love worship music! I’ve often found that it’s an indispensable part of my ongoing, daily dialogue with God.
Because I also love the quiet, I may go for days without actually listening to or turning on music - - but that doesn’t stop the lyrics from filling my heart and mind. Not only do worship songs often put words to my thoughts and praise, making it easier and more natural to talk TO God; but I often find that certain songs genuinely speak the words and heart FROM God to me! Zephaniah 3:17 echoes this thought by saying, “The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you in His love; and He will rejoice over you with singing!” (NKJV)
During this season of Lent, I find that we’re constantly asking the question that the Psalmist poses in our Scripture Reading today: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” The Psalmist then answers his own question by saying, “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.” What a powerful image - - as we go to God, we can stand before Him in confidence knowing that He has already made the way for us to have clean hands and a pure heart - thru the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His Good Grace places us in the position to receive the blessing and delight of the Mighty One who is strong enough to save us and yet tender enough to rejoice over us with singing while He quiets us in His love.
In the days ahead, we’ll be singing this new song in worship - Good Grace - check it out here:
Give it a listen - or maybe 20 listens! Let the lyrics soak into your soul and “fix your eyes on this one truth; God is madly in love with you!”
Until we sing together again in person….
March 23, 2020
I grew up in Boston. Boston has many great places to eat,
but one of the most famous places for dessert is called
Mike's Pastries. Mike's is famous for their cannolis and
their half moon cookies. If you don't know what half moon
cookies are, they're half chocolate frosted and half vanilla.
Half black and half white, but ALL yummy.
I know we've all heard the phrase "life isn't just black and white", but the reality is, sometimes life is exactly that. Ephesians 5:8 says, "For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light".
You see, a life without God is a life in the dark. Choosing to turn your back on the creator of all is like choosing a life of darkness. It's like living in the basement with no windows and the lights off. And it's not only a life IN the dark, but it's a life OF darkness. No only are you choosing to live in it, but you're spreading it!
But there's HOPE!!
With God, there is a better way!
There's another side of the cookie!
When you choose to leave the life of darkness and embrace a life of light, it's like coming out of the dark basement and into a sunny bright living room! You know? With God, you're also not living a life IN the light, but you live a life OF light! You're spreading it.
Unlike the delicious cookie, you can't have it both ways.
You must choose: darkness or light?
Let me encourage you today, choose light! Embrace God's call for your life to live as children of light. Share that light with those around you and you will change the world for good. That's what the Christian life is all about.
Choose to walk with God today.
March 22, 2020
Discussion Guide for today’s livestream teaching
Hope in Challenging Times
How do you keep a positive perspective in challenging times?
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT
“This is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
Remember: there have always been challenging times “For our present troubles are small.”
Remember: This will soon be over. “…for our present troubles are small…and won’t last very long” v17
Remember: God brings good things out of bad things. “Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them (troubles) and will last forever!” v17
Remember: Look at Jesus not your troubles “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
1. How has the Lord helped you in past challenging times you’ve faced?
2. Can you remember any scriptures that remind you of God’s faithfulness?
a. If not, have someone google search “Bible verses about God’s faithfulness”
3. What good things has God been bringing out of your present circumstances?
4. How is this time hard for you and what do you think the Lord may be saying to you about your struggles?
5. What are some things you can do to help you keep focused on Jesus instead of you troubles?
Close your family or group time by praying for each other.
March 21, 2020
I was a missionary for 10 years.
Did you know that being a missionary is like becoming a baby all over again? Oh boy, it’s so hard! I mean, I was brought up to be in control of my life, to be strong and important. When we moved abroad I never knew if I could buy the things I needed for my family when I needed them, people made fun of my language, and so many things were out of my control. I realized just how vulnerable I was.
Paul teaches the early Christians “that we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.” (1 Corinthians 4:7) What is this treasure the Paul is speaking about? Well, he tells us in the verse before, it is the “knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. Why jars of clay? They were jars that common people used to carry their treasured possessions in. So our knowledge of God’s glory is to be carried around in common, broken vessels.
Right now a virus reminds us that we are jars of clay, ordinary creatures that come from the earth. Many of us feel very vulnerable right now; we are cracked and probably broken in some places. Paul knew what this feeling was like, but the treasure of the Gospel of Christ in our hearts cannot be destroyed even in this challenging time. Instead, it is made more visible. It is times like this where we realize our power and strength are not our own, but come from God.
May you feel encouraged today by Paul’s words, that we are “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.” (1 Corinthians 4:8-11)
So, look around today.
Where do you see God’s Glory in the midst of our broken lives, and our broken world?
March 20, 2020
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Does this feel like a season where the heat is coming, does this feel like a year of drought? This verse talks about confidence in God in circumstances that are less than ideal. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We are certainly living in less than ideal times. We have never experienced a time like this, and we could have never prepared for a time like this. In a matter of months, our world has been changed, and we have no idea when or if it will go back to normal. That is the reality we are currently in, but luckily we serve a God that is not dictated by our circumstances.
Our God is not limited by our circumstances. As a matter of fact I believe God works best in situations that we don’t expect. There are so many times in the Bible that God comes through in the most unexpected ways, during unexpected times. Think of when Jesus came to earth. He came at an unknown time, in a way that no one knew, or expected. God chose a young virgin named Mary who was known by few, but known well by God. He had confidence in her, and in turn she had confidence in Him. So when Mary and Joseph had the plans of their life changed in an instant, they trusted God. They may have been scared at first, but they chose trust over turmoil.
The church is called to be filled with people who not only survive through tough times, but thrive through tough times. That is why in James 1:2-4, it is written that we should take joy in our trials.
“Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
God is building something within us through this time, as individuals and as a church. Through the challenges we are facing, God is making a way. That’s what He does!
So my prayer for you this week, is a prayer of confidence. To have confidence in Lord regardless of the situation that surrounds you. Be like the house built on a rock that is talked about in Matthew 7:25 “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Be like Mary and Joseph, be confident in God even when the circumstances around you are ever changing. And lastly, be like the tree in Jeremiah 17:7-8, the tree that flourishes in tough circumstances. Because that is what our God does, and so shall His people.
March 19, 2020
This was going to be a very busy week, but everything was cancelled.
I was supposed to visit a Nazarene church last weekend for a Faith Promise, and I planned to prepare the Collective, our new Wednesday Service this week. All cancelled.
Perhaps, almost all the schedules and appointments are canceled for you as well. The uncertainty that we don't know how long this pandemic will last bothers us.
We want to move forward, fast, and faster. But, nothing out of our intention, we are in a situation where we have to SLOW DOWN.
'How difficult it is to SLOW DOWN!' I felt.
During the Lent, I sometimes recommended our congregation to slow down the pace of our lives. Ironically, I found myself trying to prove my existence by adding something else to do.
What should be our spiritual response to this pandemic? What would God want us to do in this Slow-Down phase of our life?
For me, I felt the necessity to create an extra margin to dig in the Word of God and get saturated by his wisdom. So I chose to sit down to meditate on the book of Judges.
"I (God) did this to test Israel – to whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord." Judge 2: 22
Today, while I meditate chapter 2, I was challenged to FOLLOW THE WAYS OF THE LORD in this challenging time. By examining my heart, proactively, I am going to seek the presence of God through personal worship and prayer time.
I want to give you the same suggestion.
How about slow down and enjoy your own personal time with the Lord?
Dig in the Word.
Not as an obligation,
but as an expression of love to our Father.
Listen to him. Follow His guidance.
God gently invites us.
God wants us to have more dialogue with Him.
March 18, 2020
I went to Walmart today.
I don't know why, I just felt the urge to go.
I did what any of us would do upon entering the store... I made a b-line for the toilet paper!
The problem is, I went to the toilet paper section because I wanted toilet paper. I don't really need toilet paper right now.
This is a dilemma we face often, whether we're in trying times, or times of plenty; we struggle with what I want versus what I need.
Psalm 23, is one of the most well known and well-loved Psalms in the whole bible, and King David, when writing these words, gave us wisdom that has lasted throughout the centuries:
Psalms 23:1 says this:
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
Most of us have heard these words, but another more literal translation would be "The Lord is tending to me, I need nothing else."
In this world where "wants" and "needs" get so mixed up and interchanged, Psalm 23 draws us back to what following God is all about. When we fully give our lives over to God, we begin to realize that we need nothing else but that. The Lord is taking care of us. What else is there, really?
God and only God.
God is tending to us.
God is tending to our needs.
God's got us!
So, I walked out of Walmart without toilet paper.
Mostly because they didn't have any.
But, I also walked out being challenged by King David's words to us: "God's got you. You have all you need."
March 17, 2020
Sometimes I forget where I parked my car at Walmart. Sometimes I forget where I put my keys. Sometimes I forget to bring my lunch to work. I forget a lot. Sometimes I repeat stories I’ve already told.
Most of the time I forget because I am preoccupied with thinking about something else. I’m “here” but my mind is someplace else. Hmmm. I need to work in focusing.
The bible says a lot about the importance of remembering and not forgetting. Consider Deuteronomy 6:12 “…be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.” Guess what? The Israelites did and it cost them dearly. How about John 14:26 “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” Pretty cool—the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to remind you of Jesus and His words.
One of the best ways to remember God’s faithfulness, the words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s work in our life is by memorizing scripture. Every time you memorize a scripture verse, the Holy Spirit can recall it to your mind just when you need it.
I want to challenge you to memorize three scriptures over the next few weeks to help you help the Holy Spirit help you when you need it. Got that?
“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear. I’ll give you the strength. I’ll help you. I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.” Isaiah 41:10,13
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
I promise you these verses will TRANSFORM YOUR FEARS INTO A CONFIDENT FAITH—that God has your back in challenging times.
Choose to FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE, instead of FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN. God’s got this. He’s got YOU, friend.