Laboring Love 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Love is more than a feeling. Love in the Bible means actions rather than emotions. That’s why Paul coupled love with labor in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. From Paul and his missionary band’s laboring love for the Christians in Thessalonica, we learn three characteristics of laboring love. As you reflect on them, feel free to share one of three questions with each other.

Love is persistent. Paul, Silas and Timothy had a terrible experience in Philippi for preaching the gospel and received much opposition (poli-agony in Greek) from the violent Thessalonian Jews. Yet no trauma and terror could stop nor suppress their love to declare God’s goodnews to Thessalonians. What trauma or opposition have you overcome with God’s love this week or in your life?

Love is pure. Paul confirmed that the motive of his ministry was pure and was not aimed to get some financial profits, social reputation, or any personal gain. He wanted to please not people but God, “who tests our hearts.” Paul had a pure love because he lived his life with an “Audience of One.” He loved Thessalonians sacrificially and selfless because he wanted to please God, the Only One of his heart. How did the “audience of one”-mentality affect your life and/or your week?

Love is profoundly personal. Paul compared his personal care for Thessalonians to that of a wet nurse for her own children. Like the poor nursing mothers in Greco-Roman world, Paul had an aching heart for her own spiritual children. He used the mother metaphor several times to express his profound personal commitment to God’s people. In Galatians 4:19, Paul was in labor pains for the spiritual birth in that Christ is formed in his followers. Why and how does Paul’s metaphor of a nursing mother affect your attitude toward the people that God placed under your care or in your life this week?

Paul I. Kim, Ph. D
Lead Pastor of Forest Community Church

Doers of the Words (DOW) – Series on the life of Moses

Dear Foresters,

I am back for the Doers of the Words (DOW) as we began our series on the life of Moses.  I pray and hope that we remember the proclaimed words during the week and reflect on them through personal applications.   Also, feel free to share them with your cell groups.
Christmas in the Nile
Exodus 1:22-2:10
1. Our God is our ultimate Jochebed, faithful and sacrificial mother and we are God’s Moses, baby.  He finds us good not because we are great but because He is God of grace.  He hides us not just in the temporary basket (ark) but permanently in his heart (or in Christ).  He is willing to save us at all cost including the cross of his only Son.   As Mother’s Day approaches, what aspect of motherly love have you experienced about God before or this week?
2. The compassion of Pharaoh’s daughter shows us that God of providence can use an unexpected strange source to help us.  God is the greatest chess player who awes  his adversaries and us with surprising moves.  He uses the means of death (the Nile) to bring the life and to advance his plan.  What surprising providence of God have you experienced before or this week?  Who is your Pharaoh’s daughter, someone who surprised you with kindness?

Paul I. Kim, Ph. D

Lead Pastor of Forest Community Church

D.O.W. My Lord And My God!

The greatest confession of the New Testament: “My Lord And My God!” (John 20:24-31)

Thomas aka Didymus (twin) mirrors many of us in that we also had doubts about God and made great discoveries about God. (1) What deep personal doubt have you had about God in your life? Or what is your current doubt about God or life? (2) How did you resolve your doubt and what did you learn or discover about God?

Thursday (Holy Maundy): In the Upper Room

Thursday (Holy Maundy): In the Upper Room

Prayer

Song: How Great is our God (by Christ Tomlin)

Readings: John 13:1-20

Today Christians throughout the world gather to tell the story of Jesus washing His
disciples’ feet and the story of His final meal—the Lord’s Supper—in a private room in
Jerusalem. Some ancient churches begin a worship service this night and remain in
worship continually until Easter Sunday morning.
The Jewish Passover Feast was set to begin at sundown, so throughout this day, Jews
went to the Temple to ceremonially sacrifice a lamb for the Passover meal that night.
Because the meal had to be eaten by dusk within Jerusalem’s walls, Jesus had prepared
a room where He and His disciples would meet and celebrate together. His final meal,
eaten this night, is one of His best-known activities. We call it the Lords’ Supper or the
Last Supper. This same evening, Jesus dressed as a slave and washed the feet of His
disciples, and they found His action shocking. Foot washing was a common
practice—however it was one that was always done by a servant. By His action, Jesus
clearly demonstrated a model of how His followers are to live: “If I then, your Lord and
Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14
ESV).
For Jesus, lowly service—service beyond what anyone might expect—is another
hallmark of what it meant to be His followers. In this deed, Jesus literally “made them
clean” but He also saw this as a convenient symbol. They would be completely
“cleansed” by His death on the cross where their sins would be forgiven. Remarkably,
we are to join in this work. “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done
for you” (John 13:35 NIV).

Application: Love is serving the needs of others no matter how menial and lowly it might
look. What “dirty works” of love can I do for others today?

Bible Verse: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to
wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14 ESV).”

Benediction: Heavenly Father, as you washed my entire being with the love and sacrifice
of Your Only Son, help me wash the dirty feet of others by serving their needy area of
life.

Wednesday: Jesus taught all day but the most important teaching was love!

Wednesday: Jesus taught all day but the most important teaching was love!
Prayer

Song: One Thing Remains (by Passion)

Mark 12:28-34 (cf. John 13:34,35)

During the last week, Jesus taught for hours inside the Temple. He was both confrontational (with the Temple leaders) and compassionate (with the crowds). His desire was to show average people what it meant to love God. When a teacher asked Him what was most important, Jesus recited the ancient creed of Israel from Deuteronomy 6:5 that we should love God exhaustively. But then Jesus included his own addition from Leviticus 19:18 that we should love our neighbors with equal strength. The teacher agreed with Jesus: loving God and others is worth more than all the sacrifices made at the Temple. And Jesus complimented him. The next night Jesus would say the same thing to His closest disciples: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 NIV). For Jesus, how we love is as important as the faith in God we hold. Love and faith cannot be separated for the disciples of Jesus.

Application: We often think that what God wants is complicated. It isn’t. God asks us for our undivided devotion, but he also asks us to love richly those who are around us. This includes our families, our colleagues, and our friends. In Jesus’ mind, this must have been the hallmark of a faithful person. How can I love as Jesus loved?

Bible verse: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV)
Benedictions: Heavenly Father, as you love us through Jesus Christ, teach and empower us to extend the same love to others.

Tuesday: Jesus was comforted by friends in Bethany

Tuesday: Jesus was comforted by friends in Bethany

Prayer

Song: At the Cross (by Chris Tomlin)

Readings: John 12:1-8 (cf. Mark 14:1-9)

The remarkable thing about this little village just over the hill from Jerusalem (about 2 miles away) is that it offered a welcoming home to Jesus during this entire week. Bethany was the village of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. We can assume all their extended families lived there as well. They were all Jesus’ friends, which underscores the importance of our families to support and sustain us. But there is more. This family did something courageous: they were able to discern Gods’ will in this moment for Jesus and support Him in it. They loved Him and did not choose to dissuade Him from the mission that awaited Him. When Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume, it became a symbolic anointing for the work He would accomplish through His death later in the week. It was a lavish gift, but more importantly, through her action, Mary showed her acceptance of the reality of Jesus’ impending death. Having families and close friends who can stand with us as we discern God’s plans for our lives is a great gift. There are families that actually talk together regularly about how they can better support each other. Or how they can see what God is doing more clearly. Some families help one another make hard decisions that may be difficult but right. Other families help one another accept a hard reality they do not want to face.

Applications: Is there a time when I have accepted a difficult reality for a loved one or myself? Reflect on this. In this present time, is there a family member or friend facing something difficult?

Bible verse: “She had done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for burial.”

Benediction: Heavenly Father, help us encourage our families and friends who are facing difficult mission or hard work to follow you faithfully.

Monday: Jesus cleansed and redefined the temple

Dear Foresters,

I pray that you will gather your family either in the morning or in the evening and have a wonderful family devotion for the passion week. For this Monday, see below:

Monday: Jesus cleansed and redefined the temple

Prayer (by parent or older children)

Song: Christ Alone

Reading: Mark 11:15-18 (by children or responsive reading)

The first thing that Jesus did in Jerusalem was to cleansing the temple. It’s clear that He was unhappy with what he saw in the temple. This was God’s House, but He was not pleased with what it had become. The temple of Jerusalem had evolved into a commercial enterprise with rules that restricted access to only certain people. Simply put, it was there to make money and to reinforce exclusivity. After overturning many of the tables of the merchants and moneychangers (They charged pilgrims from different countries an exorbitant exchange rate for temple money), Jesus said, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations (ethnas, in Greek).” Jesus made this statement while standing near a short wall that displayed a threatening sign to those who were not Israelites. Foreigners who tried to pass the wall would be killed, and Temple police were armed and read to enforce this rule. For Jesus to announce His house, the temple of Jerusalem, as a house of prayer for all nations is a remarkable statement. He reveals God’s heart for all nations and every human being.

Applications: How can I extend a welcome to others who have found little welcome in life?

Bible verse: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’

Benediction: Heavenly Father, as you welcomed us with Jesus’ love, bless us to welcome and be kind others with your generosity.

Also, I ask everyone to sign up for the food volunteering today so that Hanna Parker can coordinate it better. Let us prepare our Easter celebration with the thoughtful feast.

ADDiC (A Determined Debtor in Christ),

Paul I. Kim, Ph. D
Lead Pastor of Forest Community Church
www.forest.church

DOW (Doers of Words) on Peacemakers

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.”

Peacemaking is dangerous and risky for it implies getting involved in conflicts. Jesus calls his disciples to be more than peace-lovers. As the Prince of Peace (Isa.9:6), our Lord tells us to follow him in the peacemaking mission. The seventh beatitude reveals three corresponding truths between peacemakers and children of God.

  1. Children of God are donned with God’s peace.
    Peace in the Bible is more than the absence of war and conflict. The original Hebrew word for peace, Shalom, means a fullness, completeness, a robust health (I like the idea of flourishing). While Jewish people and many others in the world had the wish of “peace” in their greetings, Apostle Paul coined a new Christian greeting, “May God’s grace and peace be with you.” The word order is fixed: peace always comes after grace because it is a byproduct of grace. Jesus gifted us the transcending peace (John 14:27) so that we can become peacemakers in this world.

  2. Children of God can deliver peacemaking through justice and mercy.
    Peace and justice are inseparable lovers. “Unfailing love and peace have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed” (Ps.85:10). Only with God’s justice and mercy, we can restart peaceful living instead of relapsing into the cycle of violent revenge. Rwanda is the modern national example of peacemaking: only with the gospel of Jesus Christ, the victims and perpetrators could face each other with truth and reconciliation.

  3. Peacemaking is the Destiny of God’s children.
    We selectively make peace with the people that we like. But peacemaking is not an option when it comes to family. Family members are stuck with peacemaking for nothing else pleases the parents than the mutual love and care among their children. Every human being is a child of God. According to Jesus, everyone is either recovered child of God or still lost child of God (Luke 15 the parable of Prodigal Son). Therefore, our peacemaking mission does not have a boundary. Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares the ultimate peacemaking, “Love your enemies.” (Matt. 5:43-48) Imagine the counter-cultural shock to his listeners and disciples who struggled with Romans on their soils. Our Lord ultimately demonstrated the peacemaking on the cross by himself. Whoever we don’t have peace, we have a divine job to do!

Questions:
1. Share your experience of God’s transcending peace in your life. When did you realize that God’s peace is bigger and deeper than your circumstance?

  1. Who is an inspiring peacemaker to you in history or in personal life? What aspect of peacemaking or enemy loving do you respect most?

  2. Who is the person that the Holy Spirit has been telling you to make peace with?

Stay safe during this early Spring storm in Texas and SHALOM!

Paul I. Kim, Ph. D
Lead Pastor of Forest Community Church
www.forest.church