25 December 2017 (Morning Service)
The prophet Isaiah was a prophet who was active about 700 years before Jesus was born. At that time, Judah was in great trouble because of Assyria's frequent attacks. When the people were experiencing a deep frustration and despair, Isaiah prophesied to them about the coming Messiah. He says that the coming Messiah is a wonderful counselor and he would comfort and help him.
I would like to think of the word 'wonderful' as a compound word that combines two words, wonder and full. I believe that Jesus is full of wonder. It is a wonder that he was born in the flesh and in the form of man. He has done so many wondrous things on earth. He healed the sick and restored the lives of the people. Above all, he saved all humans through his sacrifice on the cross. He comes to us and is doing amazing and wondrous things in our lives.
Today is the day before Christmas. I know that you are very excited now. But on the other hand, I know that there are great worries in your heart and that those worries sometimes oppress you. Jesus is the wonderful counselor. When you tell him about your worries, he will listen to you and help you get over them. He will bless you to experience amazing and wondrous things in your life.
During the Korean War, Koreans experienced an amazing thing. A few days before Christmas in 1950, several thousand of UN soldiers including the Korean soldiers were surrounded in the area called Heungnam, Wonsan City by the Chinese and North Korean army. At that time, the UN army planned to withdraw from Heungnam harbor. They planned to first transport the weapons and military supplies. You see all the weapons at Heungnam harbor on the screen. When the refugees heard this news, they gathered at the Heungnam harbor. However, the withdrawal plan did not include the refugee transport.
General Edward Almond was worried. He was a faithful Christian. He didn't want to ignore the refugees. He realized the meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas is helping and saving people. He decided to not transport the weapons and supplies. He ordered to transport the refugees. There was an American ship called Meredith Victoria. Captain Leonard Larue and his crew began to help the refugees board the ship. While they were boarding the ship, the UN soldiers were fighting against the Chinese and North Korean soldiers. Many UN soldiers died and were wounded in the war to save the refugees. The total number of people on board was 14,000 which was more than 230 times the capacity. After the ship left the harbor, the UN soldiers exploded all the weapons. During the voyage, five babies were born in the ship. On the Christmas day, 14,005 passengers arrived at the port of Jangseungpo, Geoje Island in S. Korea safely. People called it a miracle of Christmas.
On December 22, 2015, a wondrous thing occurred in a little beach village Roquetas De Mar in Spain. 1,600 people won the lottery called 'El Gordo' at the same time. Elo Gordo is called 'Fatty Lottery' because of its big prize money. 1,600 people bought the lottery at the same store and got 400,000 euro which is about 470,000 dollars in US money. Among the prizewinners of the lottery, there were 35 African refugees. It was the biggest Christmas gift they could have ever received. People called it a miracle of Christmas. After the worship service this morning, some of you will probably buy a lottery.
My beloved brothers and sisters. Jesus is a wonderful counselor. When you tell him about your worries, he will listen to you and help you. He is full of wonder. He will bless you to experience amazing and wondrous things in your life. I bless you in the name of Jesus so that your life will be filled with God's grace and blessings as you trust in him in your daily Christian life.
Giving Is A Blessing
25 December 2017 (Evening Service)
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Christmas? Maybe it's a gift. When I was little, my parents bought me the gift that I wanted every Christmas. I received a bicycle, a game machine, a pair of skates etc. As I matured, I realized that giving is more joyful than receiving. When I served the Indonesian people as a missionary in Indonesia, every time I visited the local churches, I bought gifts for the church members. When I gave the gifts to them, my heart was filled with joy.
In today's text, we see the Magi, who gave three gifts to the baby Jesus. They presented the baby Jesus with gold, sulfur, and myrrh. Those things were very expensive and precious at that time and ordinary people could not possess them. I have a question to ask of you. Do you think that God was pleased with the Magi because they gave those expensive things to the baby Jesus? I think that he was not. I think that he saw the hearts of the magi and he was pleased with their hearts, not the gifts. If you have gold and want to give it to God, you may do that. But you must know that he always first seeks our human's heart. The magi were joyful with the birth of the baby Jesus and they gave the gifts to him.
The greatest gift of our lives is Jesus. God gave us His Son as a gift. We must believe that God has saved us through Jesus, blessed our lives in the past, but still gives us amazing things as a gift. Now, our duty is that we must give and share the blessings we have received from God with others. When you share and give your own things to others, your life will be full of greater blessings.
Four years ago, a photo taken in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, impressed people all over the world. A middle-aged man took off his sandal and gave it to a homeless girl. I looked at this picture and realized again how blessed it is to give.
On a cold winter day, a homeless man named Billy in Kansas City experienced an amazing thing. One day, when he was begging people for money, a woman named Sarah came to him, opened her purse, and gave him all the coins in it. She gave him a small sum of money, but she hoped that Billy would get the courage and live a new life soon. About three hours later, Sarah came back home and found out that she made a big mistake. Her engagement ring was in the purse and she accidentally gave it to Billy with the coins. While Billy was checking the coins, he saw the ring. He took the ring and went to a nearby jewelry store to find out its price. The price of the ring was about 4,000 dollars. He thought that Sarah had made a mistake giving the ring to him. He thought that since it was not his own, he had to return it to Sarah. The next day, he went out to the street where I had met Sarah yesterday and waited for her. Sarah also went there. She met Billy there. Billy laughed and gave the ring to Sarah. Sarah was so happy and thanked him. Later, she wrote that incident on her Instagram and started a fundraising campaign to help Billy. People have sent her donations to help Billy, and more than 200,000 dollars were collected. Sarah gave the donation to Billy. Billy said that it was the biggest gift for him in his whole life. He said that he would remember the gift his whole life and he would also live a life of helping others.
God gave us His son Jesus as a gift. It is the biggest gift of our life. Now, we must give and share the love and blessings of God we have received with others. We must practice God's love. This is the spirit of Christmas.
Last modified 14 January 2018.