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by Rev. James Wong
Colors have powerful effect on our emotion. Sometimes we get an uneasy feeling in a certain room or very relaxed in another—we call this ‘color mood’. Color psychologists working in the decorating field suggest that orange is to be used in restaurants because orange increases the appetite. The combination of pale blue or turquoise and orange creates a relaxed and big appetite atmosphere for a restaurant.
Colors could be used to describe life. Like a teacher, who ask her young students to use color to describe their lives, was surprised to see their drawings. One child uses blue all over because she says her parents bring her to the sea side very often and she falls in love with the deep blue sea and the big blue sky. Another child only uses grey to draw because he says nothing is interesting at home. There is no TV, no internet to go on the web, no Facebook to meet friends, no mobile phone to sms, and mum and dad do not talk to each other.
Another quiet girl uses black all over; black sky. Black house, black people, black mountain, black car. She says her life is a total black because there is nothing good in her world. She is living with her mum and her father has left them for another woman. Life was very hopeless. King Solomon, the wisest and riches king of his time summarized a hopeless life with these words:“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
The colors that we see around us during the Christmas season gives us an atmosphere of happiness and celebrations. There is an anticipation of something great and good. Everyone is enjoying the festive holiday, though for different reasons.
Christians celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was born, the angel said to the shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
The news of Christ’s birth is meant for all people of the world. Why? Because the child that was born is the Savior of the world. This is how Jesus, the Savior, put it, “The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10). A life without long term hope cannot be described as rich and satisfying. This is what God has for us. “For sin pays its wage — death; but God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23 TEV). A life with eternal hope in Christ is a colorful life. Receive it.
1. Jesus became a man like us
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! ~Philippians 2:7-8
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. ~1 Peter 2:24
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~Philippians 2:9-11
9 That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9
by Rev. James Wong
Christmas season is the best time to invite friends to church because it is the season that most people are ready to respond to an invitation. When the season is over, so is the opportunity to invite a friend.
Almost everyone is inviting someone to a Christmas event, not necessary to an event organized by the church. Hotels and cafeterias are well known for having exciting programs to pull in the crowd. Karaoke lounges and club houses pack their dancing floors with people, accompany by loud music blasting through their speakers. Young people would gather around dimly lighted café to spend time in each other’s company, perhaps, having fun talks through the night or just fiddling with their mobile phones. There is a pull in the atmosphere. Everyone must be a part of it, though the real reason for Christmas would often be buried by the commercial hype. But this remains true; most hearts are opened for an invitation.
When Jesus was born, the angels appeared to the shepherds and said, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:10-12). When the shepherd had seen Jesus, “they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (vss.16-19). Yes, the shepherds spread the word of Christ’s birth to others.
We have at our disposal today the most potent technology of communication known to men. Apart from sending out an invitation to friends, why not spread the word of Christ’s birth to others so that the whole world knows the real reason for celebrating Christmas.
Most people has a facebook account and the average user has 130 friends. iPhone with iMessage or Viber software can send messages around the world free. Whatapps makes it possible for mobile phone users using different operating systems to communicate with each other for free. Best of all, all emails are free of charge. The technology at our disposable is mind boggling.
To spread the word of Christ’s birth, why not send the following message to all your friends through Facebook, MSN, SMS, Twitters, Email or craft a better message?
“Christmas is here again and I think of you and your family. Christmas reminds us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:10-11
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. ~Luke 2:16-19
Learning from the 4 friends who brought a paralytic to Jesus
1. THEY SAW THE NEED
Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. ~Luke 5:18
2. THEY WERE CREATIVE
When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. ~Luke 5:19
3. THEY HAD FAITH
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."
The good news of great joy that was announced to the shepherds was meant for every tribe, every nation and every people groups for the world. When they shepherds had seen Jesus, the went and spread the word about Jesus being the savior of the world. What can you do today to spread the word?
Who would you invite to Christmas?
The best time to send out an invitation is now because it is the best time of the year when most people are ready to respond to an invitation.
by Rev. James Wong
I was in Melacca attending the Malaysia National Prayer Network convocation from the 1-3 Dec 2011 when I received a call informing me that Elder Thomas had returned to the Lord. I felt a great sense of loss of a dear friend and a fine leader in the church.
Elder Thomas left behind his beloved wife, Jessie Fung who is my administrator in the EGC office, and two lovely daughters, Joane and Rachael. Let us continue to keep them in prayer so that the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will bring them comfort.
Looking at the number of people who attended the Wake service on the evening of 5 Dec and the funeral the next day, Elder Thomas was a friend and brother to many. Through the many touching sharing and testimonies, I realize that his life had impacted many people. I have some fine thoughts about Elder Thomas.
1. He was always available. Availability is more important than talent as far as church ministry is concerned. Elder Thomas made himself available serving the Lord in many ministries. He was one of the willing persons who would travel to Labuan to share the Sunday message to bring encouragement to the church there. He also helped to preach in other ECG churches since we were facing a shortage of pastors. With his eloquence in English and Chinese, he was one of the beloved translators in the BCCM Likas service.
2. He was a fine leader. Leaders are fine diamonds in the church today. To grow big we need to lead followers but to multiply we need to train leaders. Elder Thomas became a Christian for only 15 years but his knowledge of the Bible far exceeded that of many others. He held many positions of leadership in the church. In the international arena, he was also one of the resident coordinators of the Haggai Institute in Maui, a Christian institution well known for her leadership training programs. He was not just a leader but a trainer for leadership. It was an inspiration for me to work with Elder Thomas.
3. He finished well. It has always been said, ‘it is not how you start, but how you finish.’ The Christian life is often akin to a race. During the funeral service, a portion of Elder Thomas’s preaching came through the speakers. We were able to hear him speak on finishing well and he challenged all the church members to emulate Paul who said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7). He ended his sermon by asking, “would the Lord say you are a good and faithful servant when each of us meet him one day?” Elder Thomas had finished well. We have started. Will we finish well?
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
2) God is always with us.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. ~ Isaiah 43:2
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? ~ Romans 8:31
by Rev. James Wong
Everyone is encouraged by a good word or a word of appreciation in the work place, at home, in church or anywhere. A word of encouragement and appreciation can boost the moral and enthusiasm of a person to work harder and accomplish more.
The bible talks about the power of our word. In fact it is so powerful that it has a life and death effect. “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words” (Prov 18:21 TEV). How can we have a good word often? We must begin to learn a new language, that is, the language of appreciation. Here are some good examples that we can put into good use.
1. Encouraging word. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up” (NLT). Words that give courage, confidence and hope are known as encouraging words. A simple appreciation such as, “thank you for your good work” will boost the moral of the person doing the work. Some people are fearful for not being able to perform well and a word of encouragement will release their potential.
An encouraging word often brings healing to a relationship. To the church that had hurt him greatly, Paul wrote, “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge” (1 Cor 1:4-5 NLT). These were words that brought healing to a relationship that was already messed up with a number of unresolved issues.
2. Right word for the right occasion. “Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” (Proverbs 15:23 NLT). We cannot be too generous or too stingy with our words. Both extreme will get us into trouble. Keeping a balance between the two is the wisdom of the tongue. Everyone will avoid people talking too much and there is no fun with someone who does not open their mouth. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 NIV). Avoid ‘verbal diarrhoea’ but ‘quick to listen and slow to speak’ (James 1:19) so that we can judge wisely and have the right word for the right occasion.
3. Avoid insulting words or cynicism. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph 4:29 NIV). Negative words create a negative impression most of the time. We need to watch our words. It is not our intention that counts but the effect of the hearers that counts. How would others feel if I were to say this? Such question will put us on a safe tract in our comments or conversation. Some people just don’t care how people feel and that is the reason why they are under the ‘avoid list’ of many people and disdained as such. Just like any language, the language of appreciation is a learned language. Let us learn to speak a good word about everything and about everyone.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Introduction: God gave us the greatest gift of all time, His one and only son, Jesus Christ. What can we give to God?
1) Present your gifts to God.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2) Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.
Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy. To offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. ~ Romans 12:1
3) Giving to those who are in need.
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. ~ Deuteronomy 15:11