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Responding to “A Call to Prayer”

2020.03.28/29

Responding to “A Call to Prayer”
By Rev. Dr. Simon Lee

1. Let’s Praise and Give Thanks (Psalm 95:1-5)

Psalm 95:1-5
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Yes, Lord. I am so glad to be at the enthronement of the King, just like the people of God was at the enthronement of King David. You are still and always is the King of Kings. May we echo the hymn,

“Crown Him with many crowns, the lamb upon the throne:
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless King throughout all eternity.”

Yes, as the psalmist declares,
“The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
The Lord is robed in majesty
And is armed with strength.” (Psalm 93:1a)

Indeed we are marching into your presence with song of praise in our hearts. Even though we cannot physically be in your sanctuary with the rest of the Church, we are all now in your presence because you are omnipresent. For you are King of Kings and creator of all things. You can conquer the Coronavirus and even use the pestilence (pandemic) to bring victory against your enemies, and bring glory to your name! Yes, we praise you because we know “the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.” Amen!

2. Let’s gather and worship (Psalm 95:6-7)

Psalm 95:6-7
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,

Lord, you are not only “the Lord,” you are “the Lord our Maker.” You are the Lord of our lives and our creator.” You are not only “God” but “our God” the giver of life who has given us life and hope.

Just as King David declared,
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise
because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:1, 2)

How reassuring it is to that you Lord personally lord over my life, you have everything under your control, despite the appearance of total chaos around me due to the pandemic.

Lord, how comforting to know that you our God is also the great Shepherd, and “ we are the people of his (your) pasture, the flock under his (your) care.” (Psalm 95:7)

Just as David the Psalmist so eloquently assures us,
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.
He (you) makes me lie down in green pastures,
He (you) leads me beside quiet waters…
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4)

Yes, I come with all my brothers and sisters and bow down before you and knee (kneel??) before our creator, not only with our physical body but also with all our heart and soul, and worship you and surrender our lives to you, with all our worries and concerns. Amen!

3. Let’s Pay Heed Together (Psalm 95:7b-11)

Psalm 95:7b-11
7b Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

O Lord, how often do we keep repeating the same mistakes in the same way that the people of God (Israelites) committed over and over again. More than the people of Israel, we have been redeemed and delivered by God through Christ’s supreme sacrifice under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Also since our decision to follow you Lord, we continue to experience your mercy, forgiveness and grace. But forgive us Lord that we have continued to “test” your patience and “murmur” (argue and quarrel). May we our present generation not have to learn our lesson the hard way, only after 40 years of wandering with fear and anxiety in the wilderness. May we live to see and enter into the Promised Land. May we truly find you, Lord, the only one that can fill the void and vacuum of our hearts.

I hear the words of prophet Isaiah beckoning me with these words from the Lord:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow’
Though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land;
But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)

Lord, if the pandemic is meant to wake us all up to repent, may we do so quickly.

Lord, help all those who are in deep fear and anxiety to heed this call and return to God in faith and in full dependence on you, reclaiming the peace you have promised us.

Lord, help and strengthen those who are staying and working frantically in hospitals healing the sick, so that we can stay safe in our home.

Lord, help the experts and authorities to do and say the right things with understanding and wisdom from you and you alone. Indeed the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Lord, help your church be the church and let the world have hope and peace beyond (through??) understanding in Christ our Saviour, our Sanctifier, our Healer and our Coming King.
Amen

禁食禱告之默想與默禱

2020.03.28/29

禁食禱告之默想與默禱

李耀全牧師

  1. 讓我們來讚美和感恩 (詩篇95:1-5

 詩篇95:1-5

  1. 來吧,我們來向耶和華歌唱,向拯救我們的磐石歡呼。
  2. 我們要來到他面前稱謝他,用詩歌向他歡呼。
  3. 因為耶和華是偉大的 神,是超越眾神的大君王。
  4. 地的深處在他手中,山的高峰也都屬他。
  5. 海洋屬他,因為是他創造的,陸地也是他的手造成的。

 是的,主。我很感恩能夠在王登基的寶座前,就像昔日屬於神的子民站在大衛王登基的時候。祢永遠是萬王之王。讓我們一起歌頌神:

「擁戴我主為王,聖羔在寶座上,
請聽天上歌聲悠揚,樂聲壓倒群響,
我靈速醒同唱,頌主為我受傷,
歡呼祂為至大君王,千秋萬歲無疆。」

是的,就像是詩人說的

「耶和華作王!他以威嚴為衣穿上;耶和華以能力為衣,以能力束腰。」(詩篇93:1)

的確,我們帶著心中的讚美來到祢的面前。即使我們無法與教會眾弟兄姊妹一同在聖所裡向祢敬拜,但由於祢是無所不在的,我們各人現在就在祢的面前。又因為祢是萬王之王,萬物的創造者,祢可以征服冠狀病毒,甚至可以利用這次的疫情來擊敗敵人,並為自己的名字帶來榮耀!是的,我們要讚美祢因為祢是大神,為大王,超乎萬神之上。阿們!

  1. 讓我們一同來聚集和敬拜 ( 95:6-7)

  95:6-7

  1. 來吧,我們來俯伏敬拜,在造我們的耶和華面前跪下。
  2. 因為他是我們的神,我們是他草場上的子民,是他手下的羊群。如果你們今天聽從他的聲音,

 主,祢不單是唯一的主,也是我們的造物主。祢是我們生命的主,也是我們的造物主。祢不單是神,更是我們的神,祢是一切生命的源頭,給予我們生命和盼望。

就像大衛王所宣稱:

耶和華─我們的主啊,祢的名在全地何其美!祢將祢的榮耀彰顯於天。

祢因敵人的緣故,從嬰孩和吃奶的口中,建立了能力,使仇敵和報仇的閉口無言。 (詩篇8:1, 2)

儘管疫情使我的周圍出現了混亂。但是因著知道祢是我的主,賜下生命的主,又因著一切都在祢的掌控中,我就可以放心,可以安心。

主,我們感到安慰因為我們的神是大牧者,我們又是祢草場的羊,我們是被祢照顧的羊群。

就像是詩人大衛具說服力地讓我們確信,

「耶和華是我的牧者,我必不至缺乏。

他使我躺臥在青草地上,領我在可安歇的水邊。

他使我的靈魂甦醒,為自己的名引導我走義路。

我雖然行過死蔭的幽谷,也不怕遭害,因為祢與我同在;祢的杖,祢的竿,都安慰我。」(詩篇23:1-4)

是的,我和眾弟兄姊妹一同低頭跪在我們的創造主前,全人地向祢敬拜並奉上我們的生命,並我們的憂慮和困擾。阿們!

  1. 讓我們一同傾聽主言 ( 95:7b-11)

 詩篇 95:7b-11

7b如果你們今天聽從他的聲音,

8就不要硬著心,好像在米利巴,就是在曠野的瑪撒的日子一樣。

9在那裡你們的祖先雖曾見過我的作為,還是試探我,考驗我。

10四十年之久,我厭惡那個世代的人;我曾說:「他們是心裡迷誤的人民,不認識我的道路。」

11所以我在忿怒中起誓,說:「他們絕不可進入我的安息。」

上帝啊,我們經常犯了相同的錯誤,就像上帝的子民(以色列人)一次又一次地得罪祢一樣。在聖靈的引導下,通過基督至高無上的犧牲,我們得以被救贖和拯救。再者,自從我們決定跟隨祢以來,我們繼續經歷祢的憐憫,寬恕和恩典。但請原諒我們,因爲還是不停地在考驗祢的耐性和不斷抱怨(爭論和爭吵)。願我們這一代人不要像以色列人一樣,用了四十年的曠野中恐懼和焦慮的生涯,還未能學到功課。願我們可以活著看到並進入應許之地。主啊,願我們真正找到祢,因為祢是唯一能填補我們心靈的空虚。

我聽到先知以賽亞用主的話來召喚我的:

「耶和華說:你們來,我們彼此辯論。你們的罪雖像硃紅,必變成雪白;雖紅如丹顏,必白如羊毛。

你們若甘心聽從,必吃地上的美物,

若不聽從,反倒悖逆,必被刀劍吞滅。這是耶和華親口說的。」(以賽亞書1:18-20)

主啊,若這次的疫情是用來喚醒我們要悔改的話,就讓我們趕快悔改。

主啊,求祢幫助那些在恐慌和焦慮中的人,叫他們重新注意祢的召喚回到祢的面前,用信心來完全依靠祢,重新找回祢所承諾給予我們的平安。

主啊,幫助並賜下力量予那些不分晝夜在醫院謹守崗位的醫護人員。因為他(她)們的付出,我們可以安然留在家裡。

主啊,幫助那些專家和政府有智慧,能夠給予適當的資訊。一切的智慧都是從祢而來的。是的,敬畏耶和華就是智慧的開端。

主啊,幫助祢的教會成為教會,為世界帶來希望和平安。讓教會成為渠道,讓世界認識耶穌是拯救之主,成聖者,醫治者和我們期待的再來君王。

阿們!

Serenity Prayer (2): Acceptance (Submission)

2020.03.28/29

Rev. Dr. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters,

Last week we talked about serenity as the real PEACE of God. This is the PEACE of God “which transcends all understanding.” (Phil 4:7)  This PEACE “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We receive this PEACE and so are not “anxious about anything,” that is, not being in a constant mode of uncontrolled anxiety (even when confronting the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic). This is achieved by the spiritual discipline of “in everything by (regular) prayer and (special) petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6)

This does not mean being on our knees all the times anxiously when we all in all sorts of troubles, but rather, being constantly in a prayerful mode with a thankful heart in our daily lives, living in the presence of God, and sharing our needs to Him, as a child would to his or her loving parents. Daily we are bombarded with new understanding and information of the virus and how to combat it (and for sure, we should closely follow the advice of the experts and the authorities), but the very fact we have a daily portion of new information actually shows the lack of understanding that we have. The wonderful news is that in Christ we have a PEACE that transcends all understanding.

“Anxiety” is “concern that may become fretful and inappropriate if taken too far.” (Constable’s notes in NET Bible) This is because the same Greek verb (a present imperative merimnate) used in “do not be anxious” here is the same verb used by Paul to describe “being anxious” over the welfare of the Philippians (takes a genuine interest in your welfare).” (Phil 2:20) Concerns can either be appropriate or inappropriate, proper or improper (over concern or under concern). Applying it to the current pandemic, we should take care to do everything the experts and authorities tell us, but having done that, not be overly concerned with what is unknown to us (but not unknown to God.) In helping people dealing with anxiety and depression professionally for over 35 years, I have always encouraged people to examine their core beliefs that lead to their anxiety, then to dispute them and replace them with healthy and rational beliefs, so as to change our behaviors accordingly.

As the old hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus” by Joseph M. Scriven (1855) reminds us all of timeless truth with these words:

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

O what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Indeed, “what peace we often forfeit, what needless pain we bear.” Our God is here waiting for us to go to Him in trust, despite the fact that a catastrophe is happening right before our eyes, and we are so helpless, lost and isolated. We who wants to make sure everything is under control are utterly devastated when this pandemic is spinning out of our control. At such time, we must practise how to “pray unceasingly” (constantly in a prayerful mode) and carry everything to God in prayer.

We not just have the PEACE of God; we also have the God of PEACE.  PEACE is not just a product of our prayers and devotion, as it is the very essence and nature of God Himself. We read “the peace of God will be with you.” (Phil 4:9) What a comforting thought to know that Christ “Emmanuel” is “God with us” and that means wherever we are and whenever we be, and in all circumstances, Christ is with us. So especially when we as a Church cannot even meet together because of the call to “physical distancing,” the God of PEACE is always with us, and therefore we always have PEACE from God the Father, in Christ and through the Spirit.

But how do we have the God of PEACE always with us. Paul gives us these clear and unmistakable instructions (Phil 4:9):

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice.”

 

The two important verbs are “think” and “put into practice”:

First of all, “think” about whatever is excellent and praiseworthy:

This means to “dwell on” (NASB); filling your minds and meditating on (MSG) “all that is commendable and noteworthy. What do we do with all the time we have on our hands when we have to stay at home? With all the freebies that are offered online at this time, pick those that truly deserve your study and meditation. Don’t waste your time on news and tips that are resent and recycled over and over again online. Above all, soak in the Word of God, by reading, meditating, praying and contemplating the Word in God’s presence.

Secondly, “put into practice” all that you have learned:

The modern church is blessed with so much knowledge, both Biblical and secular, that is so easily accessible, they include things that “you have learned or received or heard from me (Paul and all your teachers and pastors).” The “Future Shock” (Alvin Toffler, 1970) is really now a “Present Shock” that is unfortunately no longer “shocking” as we are used to all the knowledge surrounding us and we are numbed and oblivious to some of the wisdom that maybe hidden within. We know too much and do too little. We need to, practise what we have learned or received, and above all, I need to, practise what I preach and teach. So “put into practice” means to model after our teachers, especially after our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, “to not be anxious for things that I cannot change,” that is accepting the things I cannot change is,  for us Christians, submission to God and surrendering to the sovereignty of God who knows and control all things, both good and bad, even those things that we do not understand and find hard to accept. The prophet Isaiah records these words from God(Isaiah 55:8-9):

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

Neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We learn to “let go and let God,” as the saying goes, because it is when we admit we are so limited that we can tap into God’s unlimitedness, and it is in yielding to God that we see God’s mighty hand at work. Amen!

寧靜祈禱(2): 接受(順服)

2020.03.28/29

李耀全牧師

親愛的弟兄姊妹:

上週,我們談到寧靜是神給予真正的平安。這平安「超過人能了解的平安」(腓4:7),這平安「必在基督耶穌裡,保守你們的心思意念」。我們既領受這平安,我們「應當毫無憂慮」,也就是說,不要常常被不能控制的憂慮困擾 (即是面對新冠肺炎大流行也是) 。我們不憂慮,只要靠著屬靈的操練:「只要凡事藉著禱告祈求,帶著感恩的心,把你們所要的告訴神。」(腓4:6)

我們不要時時刻刻都為煩惱而憂心,而是在日常生活中帶著感恩的心禱告、祈求,活在主裡面,向父神分享我們的需要,就好像兒女倚賴父母親一樣。每天我們都被關於病毒的新形勢及如何抵抗病毒的新信息的轟炸(當然,我們應該密切聽從專家和官方的建議),但事實上,每日都有新資訊顯示我們知識的有限,而我們每天追逐新信息顯示出我們缺乏平安。令人振奮的是,我們在基督裡的平安超過人能了解

「憂慮」是「若我們對某事情過份的關注,可能會令我們變得煩躁不安或有不適切的反應」“concern that may become fretful and inappropriate if taken too far.”(NET聖經中Constable的註釋)。因為「不要憂慮」中使用的希臘動詞(merimnate當前的命令式)也是保羅用來描述對腓立比教會的事「正在憂慮」的同一個動詞(新譯本:「真正關心你們的事」)(腓2:20)。關心可以是適當或不適當,合宜或不合宜(過份關心或置之不理)。將其應用在目前的大流行中,我們應該小心跟從專家和官方的建議,不要過份憂慮我們未知的事(上帝卻是無所不知)。在我超過35年專業處理焦慮和抑鬱的病人,我時常鼓勵病人找出導致焦慮的核心信念,然後提出反問並以健康、理性的信念取代,從而相應地改變他們的行為。

正如Joseph M. Scriven(1855年)撰寫的詩歌《耶穌恩友》,提醒我們永恆的真理:

「耶穌是我親愛朋友,背負我罪擔我憂,

何等權利能將萬事,帶到主恩座前求!

多少平安屢屢失去,多少痛苦白白受,

皆因我們未將萬事,帶到主恩座前求。」

確實,我們「多少平安屢屢失去,多少痛苦白白受。」災難臨到,我們卻如此無助、迷失和被分隔,我們的上帝在等候我們憑著信心去尋求祂。人人都希望一切事情都在人掌控之中,大流行病毒肆虐,一切都被徹底破壞。這時候,我們必須學習如何「不斷禱告」(時常禱告),將一切藉著禱告帶到神面前。

我們不僅擁有神的平安,我們也擁有賜平安的神。平安不僅僅是我們的祈禱和靈修所領受得到的產品,它是神自己的本體。我們讀到「賜平安的神就必與你們同在」(腓4:9),何等欣慰的是,基督「以馬內利」就是「神與我們同在」,無論我們身在何處,何時、何地,何境況,祂都與我們同在。因此,特別當我們作為教會,應呼籲「身體距離」(physical distancing)而無法聚會時,賜平安的神常與我們同在,我們從父神,在基督裡和透過聖靈,得享平安。

但是,平安的神如何常與我們同在。保羅給了我們明確的指示:

「最後,弟兄們,凡是真實的、莊重的、公正的、純潔的、可愛的、聲譽好的,無論是甚麼美德,甚麼稱讚,這些事你們都應當思念。你們在我身上所學習、所領受、所聽見、所看見的,這些事你們都應當實行;那麼,賜平安的神就必與你們同在。」(腓4:8-9)

兩個重要的動詞是「思念」和「實行」:

首先是「思念」無論是甚麼美德和稱讚:

這就是「停留」(在主裡面)(“dwell on” NASB); 「充斥著你的思想和默想沉思」(“filling your minds and meditating on “MSG)所有值得讚揚和值得關注的事情。在這些時日當我們留在家裡的時候,我們可以作甚麼事?透過現時網上的免費服務,選擇真正值得你學習和思念的。不要浪費時間在網上反復和重複傳遞無關痛癢的信息上。拋開一切,求神與你同在,閱讀、祈禱和默想祂的話語。

其次是「實行」,將你學習到的付諸行動:

現代的教會擁有豐富的聖經和學術知識,這些知識都是垂手可得,包括「你們在我身上所學習、所領受、所聽見的(保羅和所有的教師和牧者)」。 「未來的衝擊」(Alvin Toffler,1970)實際上是「當前的衝擊」,不幸的是它不再是「衝擊」,因為我們已經習慣了圍繞著我們周圍的一切知識,甚至已經麻木了,和忽視了一些隱藏在裡面的智慧。我們知道許多,卻知而不行。我們需要實行所學習到的,所領受的,更重要的是,我需要實踐教導。因此,「實行」意思是要效法我們的老師,尤其是效法我們的主耶穌基督。

最後,「不要為我無法改變的事而充滿焦慮」,就是接受我們無法改變的事,對我們基督徒來說,順服於上帝,於上帝的主權下,因為祂認識和掌管萬物,包括好與壞,甚至那些我們不理解和難以接受的事。神藉先知以賽亞曾經這樣說:

「我的意念不是你們的意念,你們的道路也不是我的道路。天怎樣高過地,我的道路也怎樣高過你們的道路,我的意念也怎樣高過你們的意念。」(賽55:8-9)

我們常常說「放手交給神」(Let go and let God),因為只有我們承認自己的有限,才能讓神的無限被彰顯,唯有順服於上帝就讓我們看到上帝大能的手在工作。Amen!

Serenity Prayer (1)

2020.03.21/22

FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK:

The Serenity Prayer (1)

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

In this difficult time of facing the COVID-19 pandemic, when we as a Church (the called-out gathering of God’s people) is isolated and scattered, may we all gather in the presence of God, each in his/her own space, and be united in the Spirit as the universal church. We are still the community of God’s people even though all our activities are suspended.  We also should be the shining beacon in a dark world of worry and fear.

The Serenity Prayer (Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)) is a prayer that comes to mind at such time of fear and worry, and I have taken the liberty to adapt it for us to meditate on in the midst of the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis.

“God grant me the serenity

to not be anxious for things that I cannot change;

courage to care (be concerned) and do the things I can,

at this time of the Coronavirus pandemic;

and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

Living one day at a time;

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

taking, as He did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it;

trusting that He will make all things right

if I surrender to His Will;

that I may be reasonably happy in  this life

and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.”

We see in the first section of this beautiful prayer the combination of three important spiritual qualities: serenity, courage and wisdom. Indeed, we need God to first grant us “serenity,” that is, real peace, in this pandemic that is affecting all our lives.

First of all, “serenity” is granted by God. He is the Lord of the universe, of history and the Lord of our lives. He is the creator of all things, and He is sovereign over all, including the negative things that is happening and have happened throughout history. Above all, God so loved the world, that He gave us His Son to die for us so we may have life, life abundant. Christ is our Saviour, our Sanctifier, our Healer, and our Coming King. The four-fold gospel we have assures all of us who follow Christ that we all have hope, ultimate hope, even in the midst of deep despair and crisis that we have no control over.

Jesus clearly assures the disciples (and us) while preparing them before he goes on his road to Calvary, “…that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)  In fact, Jesus has said a little earlier, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid.” (Jn. 14:27)  It is interesting to note that after the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ, when he appeared to Thomas and the other disciples, he said, “Peace be with you.” (Jn. 20:26) Having given the Great Commission to the disciples, Jesus reassures us again, “And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (MT. 28:20b)  Need we say more? Shalom!

Rev. Simon Lee

寧靜禱告(1): 寧靜

2020.03.21/22

李耀全牧師

親愛的弟兄姊妹:

在這個對抗冠狀病毒COVID-19大流行的艱難時期,我們作為教會(被召聚神的子民)正在被分散和隔離,讓我們每一個人在自己的空間,一起走到神面前,在聖靈裡合一,成為普世教會的一份子。即使所有的聚會都暫停,我們仍然是神的子民。我們卻在這灰暗充滿焦慮和恐懼的世代要成為明亮的導航訊號燈。

在恐懼和擔憂時想到的祈禱就是寧靜祈禱(Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971))。我把它作了一點點的重譯與修改,應用作為我們在冠狀病毒COVID-19大流行緊急時期的默想和祈禱。

「神啊,求賜給我靜的心,讓我不要為我無法改變的事而充滿焦慮,

賜給我勇氣去關心,並做我能做的事,(在這次冠狀病毒大流行時;)

更要賜給我智慧去分辨取捨

每一天過得快活每一刻盡情享受難視為通往平安之途徑

效法耶穌,從祂的角度看罪惡世界,認清它的真相,非按我個人的願望;

信賴祂會使萬物互相效力,在我們降服在祂的旨意下

們每天能快樂地生活,並在永恆裡得享與祂永遠同在的大喜樂。阿們。」

在這一個美麗的禱文的第一段,結合了三個重要的屬靈素質:寧靜、勇氣和智慧。確實,在影響著全人類生活的疫症大流行中,我們首先需要神給予我們「寧靜」,這才是真正的平安。

我們要謹記,「寧靜」是神賜予的。祂是宇宙之主,歷史之主和我們生命之主。祂是萬物的創造者,他掌管萬物,包括正在發生或已經發生成為歷史的的惡事。更重要的是,神如此愛我們,甚至把祂的獨生子賜給我們,為我們而死,叫我們得生命,豐盛的生命。基督是我們的救主,我們的成聖者,我們的醫治者及我們的再來之王。我們擁有的四重福音向所有跟隨基督的人保證,即使在我們無法控制的患難絕望中,我們仍然有盼望,永恆的盼望。

耶穌在步上髑髏地之前,清楚地向門徒(和我們)保證,為他們預備,「… 是要使你們在我裡面有平安。在世上你們有患難,但你們放心,我已經勝了這世界。」(約16:33)事實上,耶穌早已說過:「我留下平安給你們,我把自己的平安賜給你們;我給你們的,不像世界所給的。你們心裡不要難過,也不要恐懼。」(約14:27)有趣的是留意到基督耶穌被釘十字架和復活之後,當祂向多馬和其他門徒顯現時,祂說:「願你們平安。」(約20:26)耶穌把大使命交給門徒,再次向我們保證:「我就常常與你們同在,直到這世代的終結。」(太28:20b)

我們還需要多說嗎?願你們平安 (Shalom)!

一望銅蛇就活了

2020.03.14/15

李耀全牧師

上星期教會用特別獨立二合一的聖餐包裝舉行聖餐,是教會在現時新冠肺炎疫症蔓延中作出的衛生防備措施,讓弟兄姊妹可以安心分享聖餐,記念主耶穌基督為我們受死贖罪、並由死裡復活升天,直等到祂再來。

 在崇拜中我聯想到耶穌昔日對尼哥底母說的一句話:「摩西在曠野怎樣把銅蛇舉起,人子也必照樣被舉起來、使所有信他人都得永生。」(約3:14-15)「人子被舉起來」不單單是指耶被釘字架,也可指耶穌從死裡復活、升天、得榮耀。這是因為約翰福音裡「被舉起來」是指連續上升的行動,由十字架開始,直到在父右邊結束。 (約12:32) 無論如何,「主耶穌被舉起」最直接是指耶穌為我們代罪被釘十架,正如彼得所言:「他在木頭上親身擔當了我們的罪,使我們既然不活在罪中,就可以為義而活。因他受的鞭傷,你們就得了醫治。」(彼前2:24) 這話也曾出現在舊約:「… 因他受(了)的鞭傷,我們(才)得醫治。」(賽53:5b)

 其實耶穌的話(約3:14-15) 引自民31:7-9。當日以色列人埋怨摩西為何帶領他們離開埃及到曠野等死,連糧食和飲水都沒有。神便打發火蛇咬他們,而一些人就被火蛇咬死!當時以色人悔罪求神憐憫,而摩西便照神的吩咐,做了一條銅蛇把牠舉起,「被咬的一望這銅蛇,就活了。」(民21:9)

 以上的經文給我們幾個重要的教導:

  1. 犯罪(埋怨神)的罪帶來神的審判(民21:4-6)

神用火蛇咬傷咬死怨天尤人的百姓是一種懲罰。不少時當疫症、瘟疫和各樣天災人禍出現時,都會有人問這是否神對犯罪的人或離開神的國家之懲罰。事實上這故事的確是一個好的例子。但我們要小心,亦不能取代神的角色。我們卻可以此為鑑,在疫情中深作反思自我檢討!

  1. 悔改的心帶來神的寬恕(民21:7-8)

百姓悔罪的心引致神的寬恕,並且化詛咒為祝福像昔日火蛇變為銅蛇!有時我人們遇上困難,反而最後發現是變相的祝福!正如昔日約伯的經驗,他經歷了神所容許(撒但)慘重的考驗,到最後他對神宣稱:「我從前只風聞有你,但現在親眼看見你。」(伯42:5) 在疫情中,讓我們相信並體會「萬事互相效力,叫愛神的人得益處。」(羅8:28)

  1. 仰望基督帶來醫治與生命(民21:9)

耶穌用了火蛇/銅蛇作比喻形容「人子」掛在十架而帶來拯救 ―「使所有信他的人得永生」(約3:15)。我們所信的基督不單是醫治者,也是再來之君,不單要醫治我們的病痛與創傷,更要給我們永生,只要我們「信」。我們都(頭腦上)「相信」,但我們是真正「信靠」或「信從」嗎?在疫情中我們要轉眼仰望耶穌,在做足應做可做的,不用過分憂慮。

 

謀事在人,成事在天

2020.03.07/08

龔敏光牧師

中國人有句話:「謀事在人,成事在天。」。意思是儘管我怎樣努力籌算和計劃,其實現或成功與否就取決於天命。

最近短短數月,新冠狀病毒從中國武漢爆發,蔓延到世界各地,令很多人及國家措手不及。有些香港人原先於農曆新年到武漢或湖北省探親或渡歲,結果因湖北及武漢封城,滯留外地,有些滯留的孕婦預產期快到要回港檢查,有些學生希望趕及回港參加文憑考試。有些人被困於遊輪上,等候檢疫,很多人的旅遊計劃告吹,有些歌星取消所計劃的演唱會,很多大型慶祝聚會相繼取消,日本正在考慮是否延期或取消東京奧運會,連我們列宣家也因應疫情的發展,取消了2月23日的迎新會及在本週以較安全的方法舉行聖餐記念主。總而言之,這次疫情打亂很多人的計劃。

在疫情的氛圍下,我們應如何面對?

  1. 我們仍然要為未來計劃,因為沒有計劃,就準備失敗 “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”。只是計劃時需要考慮各樣因素而作出適當的調整。
  2. 在計劃時要多禱告,等候聖靈的感動及帶領,檢視我們所籌劃的是否是神的心意,要知道神的意念高過我們的意念。
  • 賽55:8-9耶和華說:我的意念非同你們的意念;我的道路非同你們的道路。天怎樣高過地,照樣,我的道路高過你們的道路;我的意念高過你們的意念。
  1. 用謙卑的態度把所計劃的交託神,只有全能的神能使我們的籌劃成就, 承認事情最終成就掌握在神手中。
  • 箴19:21人心多有計謀;惟有耶和華的籌算才能立定。
  • 雅4:13-15 嗐!你們有話說:今天明天我們要往某城裡去,在那裡住一年,做買賣得利。其實明天如何,你們還不知道。你們的生命是什麼呢?你們原來是一片雲霧,出現少時就不見了。你們只當說:主若願意,我們就可以活著,也可以做這事,或做那事。
  • 詩37:5 當將你的事交託耶和華,並倚靠他,他就必成全。
  1. 就算事情發展並未有照我們所願的成就,我們要堅信神是全能、充滿智慧及至善,必為我們的福祉著想。
  • 太7:9-11你們中間誰有兒子求餅,反給他石頭呢?求魚,反給他蛇呢?你們雖然不好,尚且知道拿好東西給兒女,何況你們在天上的父,豈不更把好東西給求他的人嗎?
  • 羅8:28我們曉得萬事都互相效力,叫愛神的人得益處,就是按他旨意被召的人。

以此話彼此互勉。

 

智慧的開端-認識至聖者

2020.02.29/03.01

李耀全牧師

「敬畏耶和華是智慧的開端,認識至聖者就是聰明。」(箴9:10)

論到宣道會第一核心信念:「靈命進深」(Deeper Life),我們便自然想起宣道會一代傑出的神僕,陶恕(A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963)。他牧會44年之久,曾擔任宣道會《宣道見證》(Alliance Witness) 主編多年,被譽為“二十世紀的先知”、“牧師的牧師”,因他具有先知的慧眼和先見。1920年,當陶恕出來事奉曾向主許願說:“神啊!拯救我脫離虛有其表的宗教上的儀文,拯救我脫離一切模仿,不讓我向世俗化作出妥協,不讓我的事奉淪為職業化。”

“神啊!拯救我從外表判斷一個教會的實質內容!不允許我從教會的人數、教會的名望,教會的大小、捐獻的數據,來判斷她的屬靈情況。提醒我記得:我是一個先知,不是一個推銷員;也不是一個宗教的廣播員–單單是一個先知。”(取自《陶恕小傳》)

陶恕的著作眾多,包括至少兩本被視為基督教的經典:《智慧的開端–認識至聖者》(The Knowledge of the Holy)和《渴望神》(The Pursuit of God)。他的作品多時是針對時代的需要、教會偏差,以及信徒靈修的疾病。

《智慧的開端–認識至聖者》這書顧名思意是出自箴言的智慧(9:10) , 一切真正的智慧始於敬畏神和認識神。陶恕家境清貧,自學成才,棄絕世上知識,專心札根在神的話,不靠他力,只靠聖靈,為信徒提出了不少逆耳的忠言。陶恕在《智慧的開端》指出不認識至聖者就失去了敬畏神的心和與神同在的感受。並且們失去了敬拜神的靈性,與神相遇、在安靜中敬拜神的能力。在書中,作者用22個章節帶我們認識至聖者的屬性,每章用向至聖者敬拜禱告開始,之後論述神的品格,帶出至聖者的威嚴慈愛。但願我們不忘「智慧的開端」乃認識至聖者!

另《渴望神》一書乃針對教會工作日趨機械化,而基督徒真實的心靈崇拜卻呈現低潮。陶恕指出現代基督徒只有一套正確的教理,但在個人生活中卻沒有傾向主自己,過著沒有生命的信仰生活。作者教導我們如何認識及欣賞神的寶貴,以至對神產生飢渴和切慕的心。全書十章,而每一章末後的禱告都是密室中的心聲。但願您我一樣地渴望神!

一代傑出的神僕陶恕死後墓碑是這樣的:

陶恕(A.W. Tozer)

屬神的人(Man of God)

1897-1963

試驗與試探

2020.02.22/23

周力行牧師

有說:「雅各書一章論到人若能忍受試探就必蒙福」(雅1:12)。試探必然來自撒旦,因為路加福音記載「魔鬼用完了各樣的試探、就暫時離開耶穌。」(路4.13)。神不試探人(雅1.13),卻「試煉」人(加4:14; 路8:13;徒20:19)。撒但試探人要讓人失敗跌倒,而神試煉人是要使人得勝得祝福。對嗎?

不全對!「試探」及「試煉」在新約是同一字(peirasmos)。這字有雙重意思:考核某物件的本質及特性,及刻意使人犯錯1。有一位聖經學者說得好:「試煉或試探, 都是指神刻意的把一個人放在可能失敗跌倒的困境中。若這人能忍受過去的話,他的信心或愛人必有大躍進。」

如此看來,信徒面對,甚至常常面對艱難的困境是理所當然。一方面是撒但不停的威迫利誘,用盡方法要讓信徒跌倒;另一方面也是神使用各種環境使信徒的屬靈生命更強韌,像耶穌基督一樣能在面對撒但的試探時能經得起考驗,以信心愛心勝過逼迫及邪惡。旣是試煉的困境,就一定不會容易忍受,甚至是真的忍受不了時那艱境還是持續。別怕,神旣應許「你們所遇見的試探,無非是人所能受的,神是信實的,必不叫你們受試探過於所能受的,在受試探的時候,總要給你們開一條出路,叫你們能忍受得住」(林後10:13),信徒就必然可以經過,又在過後得祝福。

從另一角度看,學生不能高過先生(太10:24)。若撒但是窮了牠的能力試探主耶穌基督(太4:1-11),牠還會放過你我嗎?不!因此,問題就不是為什麼困厄連連,讓人喘不過氣,而是當問如何能在幾乎忍受不了的情境下仍然能,倚靠神而堅忍下去, 讓生命再被轉化,更像耶穌基督,更能在黑暗的世界面前見證主耶穌基督,見證神的能力可以使人勝過邪惡!

回顧古今以來眾信徒的腳踪,有那一位是沒有受過試探試煉而能為神成大事,讓神的名得大榮耀的?我想不起一位。我也想不起有一位信徒沒有遇過試練的困境。在試煉之中,多有忍耐得勝的,在信心愛心上大有長進;但失敗的也不少,變得艱難過後怨天尤人,與朋友成了仇敵,甚至在教會中也消失了踪影。

不經烈火再焚燒              泥土不能成為精緻的瓷器

不經過風雨                      天空沒有瑰麗的彩虹

不經過嚴冬                      開不出燦爛的花朵

不經酒醡的壓榨          葡萄出不了美酒

不經打破的玉瓶              香膏不能釋出香氣

不經無數的跌碰              舞者不可能舞姿優美

不經死亡的生命              信徒不可能成為祝福

願在試練中榮耀神。

1 BDAG, s.v. “πειρασμός.”