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走到神的祭壇前,…我極大的喜樂在那裡

2021.05.15/16
作者: 李耀全牧師

親愛列宣弟兄姊妹,

“到加拿大國慶日,所有人(12歲及以上),將均已接種疫苗!” 在超過一年的COVID-19之後,這真是個好消息。自2020年3月中旬以來,我們一直生活在疫情大流行的陰霾之下,每天的死亡人數和死亡的總數也令人震驚,遠遠超越了我們以前所見過的人數。當我自己的女兒Sarah在一個月前被檢測出COVID呈陽性時,我們感到極為無助。師母和我必須分別隔離於自己的房間內14天!讚美主在那段考驗期間保護了我們。

但對我和我們中間許多基督徒而言,更困難的是,我們無法“回到教堂”去敬拜,我們無法可像在正常情況般,一同向神祈禱呼求,及在主內群體中得到鼓勵。也許我們終於能夠在隧道盡頭看到了曙光。最終,我們希望能很快重返神的殿裡去敬拜!

最近,我有機會在教主日學時研讀詩篇42篇(與43篇連貫)。就如在詩篇84篇中(我們上次所看的詩篇)一樣,詩篇42篇的標題與本詩一樣是由“可拉的後裔”所寫,其主題亦是“渴望在神的殿中”。神對詩人的父親(先祖)利未人可拉(Korah the Levite) 背叛神被審判,故此我們看到作者如何珍惜能夠在聖所中侍奉神的寶貴機會(代上9:19)。我們可從詩篇42和43篇中看到證據,證明其時他已被擄(43:1),很可能這就是他不能去到聖殿敬拜神的原因。我們同時還看到他著受到不敬虔的人的迫害和嘲笑的證據(42:9; 43:2),甚至他開始感到神已離棄了他(42:9; 43:2)。

在過去的一年中,美國前總統將病毒稱之為“中國病毒”,北美地區的反亞裔情緒日增。我們聽到有關在溫哥華和列治文,發生於許多無辜的人,如長者及婦女身上,在光天化日之下受到種族歧視和暴力的可怕故事。因此,除了擔心感染病毒外,許多在北美的亞裔人士還須應對在這個我們看為自己的國家-這個我們居住了多年的地方-所帶來的額外社會壓力。因而導致我們在身體和精神上,以及在身體及社交距離所承受的壓力上,更感疏離和孤立。雖然這與詩人於被擄時的經歷相去甚遠,但今天我們也正在經歷詩人所感受到的一些心靈衝擊。

詩人如何能從完全絕望中轉變成真正的盼望?他是如何將他的哀嘆變成讚美的誓詞?我要指出的是,詩篇中的幾個重要環節是詩人從絕望走向尊崇讚美神的過程。

1. 持守對神熱切的渴慕(42:1-2)
“神啊,我的心切慕你,如鹿切慕溪水。” (42:2) 這一切都始於我們的內心。圖畫描繪的是一隻鹿也許跋涉於乾旱的沙漠至溪水之地,一邊喘著氣,一邊滿足地享受著清涼的溪水。因此,儘管詩人的處境如此,但他仍然強烈地渴望親近被他稱為“永生神”的神。他的神是“活著的”神,因為祂是生命和盼望的源頭,祂是人生風暴中的錨。

2. 持守在神面前赤露敞開(坦誠)的心(42:3, 5a, 9a, 10, 11a; 43:1a)
詩人不怕在神面前傾嘆自己的哀傷,沮喪和內心的沖擊。事實上,我們有一位大祭司就是基督耶穌,祂深深明白我們所有的痛苦和苦困,因為祂本身曾經歷了最艱難的考驗和試探,並且戰勝了罪惡和死亡。神能明白理解我們的困境,因此我們可以毋須掩飾地將內心痛苦傾倒在祂面前,甚至包括我們對神的絕望和失望。

3. 持守(堅持)不忘神過往一切的恩典、信實和供應
詩人記念昔日到聖殿朝聖的美好時光(42:4),記念神創造的美麗和威嚴(42:6,7),以及神晝夜的保護(8)。正如詩歌作者提醒我們:“主的恩典樣樣要都數,若把主的恩典從頭數一數,必能叫你驚訝主奇妙看顧。” 因此,今天在困難時期中,我們需要特別記住神在過去所有的恩典和賜福。在我們仍無法回到教堂裡敬拜時,讓我們記得能在過去如此行是神所賜何等的恩福。當我們感到低沉和沮喪時,看看自然界中神美好的創造並思想祂的偉大,就會知道祂從未離開過我們。

4. 持守在神面前禱告的心
儘管詩人的處境艱難,但他始終沒有停止誠懇地和熱切地向神禱告(42:9, 10; 43:1,2),他確認神是他的“拯救”,“磐石”和“避難所”。他抓著神的應許呼籲神的拯救,及按神自己的名(神的名聲/聲譽)和主權向神呼求(42:9, 10; 43:1,2)。我們越是感到絕望,我們的祈禱就越應堅定。好消息就是:神確實回應我們的禱告。

5. 持守在神面前敬拜的心
值得注意的是,詩篇作者不斷地督促自己,他再三地提醒自己要對神存著盼望,並且立誓要讚美祂(42:5b, 11b; 43:5)。儘管我們也處於相同的情況下,我們親近神的熱切渴慕,能使我們在神面前充滿敬拜讚美的心。我們知道,最要緊的是我們可在任何地方敬拜祂,也知道終有一天我們能夠與所有親愛的弟兄姊妹一起在神的居所中敬拜祂。這是詩人的祈禱,現在也應該成為我們的祈禱。“求你發出你的亮光和真理,好引導我,帶我到你的聖山,你的居所。我就走到神的祭壇前,到神、我極帶的喜樂那裡。神啊!我的神啊!我要彈琴稱讚你。” (43: 3,4)
阿們!

主僕,
李耀全牧師

Go to the altar of God with exceeding joy (走到神的祭壇前,…我極大的喜樂在那裡)

2021.05.15/16
From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters,

“By Canada Day, all (age 12 and up) will be vaccinated!” What a great news after over a year of COVID-19. Since mid-March 2020, we have been living under the dark cloud of the pandemic, seeing the daily and total death toll in staggering numbers far beyond what we have ever seen in our lifetime. We had a taste of the deep helplessness when a month ago my own daughter Sarah was tested positive for COVID, Lydia and I both must be self-quarantined from her and each other, each in our own rooms! Praise the Lord for protecting us through that period of trial.

But for me and many of us Christians, the worse thing is that we cannot “go back to Church” where we normally can cry out to God for help in prayer and get the encouragement from our fellow brothers and sisters in the community of God. Maybe we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Finally, we have hope that we will return to worship in the house of God soon!

Recently I had the opportunity of studying Ps 42 (and 43 connected) in teaching Sunday School. As in Psalm 84 (which we looked at last time), Psalm 42 bears the name “of the Sons of Korah” as the psalmist and has the same theme of “yearning to be in the house of God.” We have seen how the author treasures the precious opportunity to be able to serve God in the sanctuary, despite the judgement of God on Korah the Levite, his father (I Chron. 9:19ff). Here we see in Psalm 42 and 43, evidence that he was in exile (43:1) which most probably was the reason why he could not go to the temple to worship God. We also see evidence of him being persecuted and scorned at by ungodly people (42:9; 43:2) to the point that he started to feel that God had abandoned him (42:9; 43:2).

Dubbed as the “China virus” by the former President of United States, anti-Asian sentiment has grown more and more over the last year in North America. We hear of horrible stories of racial discrimination and violence, against innocent people, many seniors and women, even in Vancouver and Richmond, often in broad daylight. So on top of all the fears from contracting the virus, many Asians in North America have to deal with this additional social pressure in this our adopted country, a place where we have called home for many years. Because of this, we feel even more alienated and isolated, resulting in physical and mental stress, from the physical and social distancing. While this is a far cry from what the psalmist experienced while he was in exile, some of the turmoil that the psalmist felt is being experienced by us today.

How did the psalmist go from total despair to real hope? How did he turn his lament to vow of praise? I would like to point out several important movements in the psalms that was the process by which the psalmist journeyed from desperation to exaltation.

1. Maintaining a strong thirst for God (42:1-2)
“My soul thirsts for God, the living God.” (42:2) It all starts with where our heart is. The picture is that of a deer perhaps travelling for a long time from an arid desert to the streams of water, panting and being satisfied by the cool and fresh water that he could drink. So despite his circumstances, the psalmist maintained a strong desire to be close to God whom he recognised as “the living God.” His God is the “living” God because He is the source of life and hope, therein lies his anchor in the storm of life.

2. Maintaining an honest heart before God (42:3, 5a, 9a, 10, 11a; 43:1a)
The psalmist is not shy about lamenting before God about his feeling sad, downcast, and full of inner turmoil. Indeed we have a High Priest in Christ Jesus who understands all our pains and suffering because He himself has endured the worst of trials and temptations, and has come through victoriously (over sin and death). God knows where we are and therefore we can pour our heart of misery before Him, with no pretense, including even our desperation and disappointments with God.

3. Maintaining a wholesome remembrance of God’s grace, faithfulness and provisions in the past
The psalmist remembers the good old days of pilgrimage (42:4), the beauty and majesty of God’s creation (42:6, 7), and the protection of God night and day (8). As the songwriter reminds us, “Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings and see what God has done,” so today we need to remember especially in hard times all the blessings of Gods in the past. When we cannot go back to worship in the sanctuary, let us remember how blessed we were when we were able to do so in the past. When we feel down and depressed, look at the beautiful creation of God in nature and ponder on His greatness, and know that He has never left us.

4. Maintaining a prayerful attitude before God
Despite his difficult circumstances, the psalmist never ceased to go to God in sincere prayer and earnest petition (42:9, 10; 43:1,2), recognising Him as his “salvation,” “rock” and “refuge.” He appealed to God’s promise of deliverance and God’s own name (reputation) and sovereignty (42:9, 10; 43:1,2). The more desperate we feel, the more persevering should our prayers be. The good news is God does answer prayers.

5. Maintaining a worshipful heart before God
It is remarkable to note the constant refrain of the psalmist where he reminds himself again and again to hope in God and vow to praise Him (42:5b, 11b; 43:5). Our strong desire to draw near to God leads us to a worshipful heart before Him, despite the circumstances we are in. “I shall again praise him” (42:5, 11; 43:5), says the psalmist. This we know, first we can worship Him anywhere, and also we will again one day be able to go and worship Him in His house, together with all our dear brothers and sisters. This is the prayer of the psalmist, and should be ours now, “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” (43: 3,4) Amen!

Your servant in Christ

Pastor Simon

如果不傳福音,我就有禍了!

2021.05.08/09

作者: 陳榮基傳道

曾經有人說,世上只有兩種基督徒:傳福音的,不傳福音的。至於使徒保羅,他當然是傳福音的基督徒。“如果不傳福音,我就有禍了!” 正是他在哥林多前書9:16寫下的金句。主耶穌在馬太福音28:19 也清楚吩咐祂的門徒,要去到萬民當中,使萬民都成為祂的門徒。要成為門徒,先要接受福音;要接受福音,先要聽到福音。這道理並不複雜。“傳福音” 不是主耶穌向門徒發出的邀請,是祂向門徒發出的命令。今天的你和我,作為主耶穌的門徒,我們可有忠心執行主的命令?

一個門徒不傳福音,有千百萬個理由。其中有兩個比較普遍的原因:一,他不懂如何傳福音;二,他的生活圈子中,全部都是信徒。對於如何處理這兩個問題,我必須首先提出一個基本原則:傳福音是一件需要刻意去做的事。如果你有傳福音的心志,你就會明白、認同保羅在提摩太後書4:2所說的:“務要傳道,無論得時不得時,總要專心,並用百般的忍耐、各樣的教訓責備人,警戒人,勸勉人。” 這話並不是單單適用於牧者,或是在教會裡有職分的人,亦適用於所有主耶穌的門徒。

“需要刻意去做” 是什麼意思呢?當你追求一位女生,你會留意她,然後嘗試進一步認識她,你會刻意為自己製造機會,你會刻意與她接觸、溝通,並且希望透過互相了解,她會接受你成為她的男朋友,如果戀愛成功,最終你就可以成為她的丈夫。傳福音,也是如此。我們需要留意在我們身邊有沒有適合傳福音的對象,如果沒有 (例如身邊全是信徒),我們就需要刻意擴闊自己的生活圏子,去接觸一些非信徒,刻意建立關係,刻意與他們分享信仰上的經歷,希望最終有機會向他們傳福音。在整個過程中,聖靈是我們的總指揮、我們的導師、我們的加能賜力者。當我們帶著傳福音的心志,去尋求聖靈,祂一定會帥領我們,幫助我們,去完成主耶穌給予我們傳揚福音、訓練門徒的大使命。

如果你不懂如何傳福音,歡迎你向你的牧者查詢。因為裝備你去傳福音,是我們作牧者的責任。正如保羅在以弗所書4.11-12所說:“… 也有作牧養和教導的,為的是要裝備聖徒,去承擔聖工,建立基督的身體 …”建立基督的身體,就是透過傳福音去增加門徒的數目,並且透過主內相愛、學習神的話,去建立門徒的屬靈生命。我們就是基督的門徒,我們就是基督的身體。

今年3月15日,列宣家為講廣東話的年青人開辦了第二屆為期 6個月的三元福音佈道訓練課程。去年第一屆我們有10位學員,今年我們也有10位學員。為學員感恩外,也為我們有一個非常出色的團隊感恩,包括一位教導三福超過20年的老師,10位全情投入的隊長,和40位代禱勇士。

在我們今年的學員中,有一位姊妹正在全時間攻讀大學,又同時一星期工作37.5小時。在這情況下,她仍然堅持參加三福訓練,為要學會傳福音,可以帶領家人信主。又有一位姊妹,最近幾個月不但要應付升職帶來的額外挑戰和工作量,又要安排家居搬遷的事宜。在這情況下,她仍然堅持參加三福訓練,為要與丈夫一起傳福音,同心建立一個領人歸主的家庭。最後,讓我分享一位學員在福音探訪中第一次與福音對象對話之後,在我們WhatsApp 群組的分享:

“可能因為今次有份去參與  去傾計  問問題  成個過程俾到我一個好大嘅感動 💓 嗰種感動唔係講緊某一刻  而係望住佢由猶豫到最後講願意嘅嗰個過程  對我黎講有頗大衝擊  亦令我諗返我自己嘅信仰道路上  曾面對過相似嘅問題  然後發現真係好感恩  能咁早認識神💓 💓

而呢種感動同感恩  令我發覺原來我做緊一樣咁不可思議嘅工作  無諗過原來我嘅背書同傾計有咁大效用  令我更加想去幫多啲呢啲想尋求上帝嘅人  💓

好開心  好感恩”💓

親愛的弟兄姊妹,這一切都是恩典。正如詩篇127:1 所說:

如果不是耶和華建造房屋,建造的人就徒然勞苦;

如果不是耶和華看守城池,看守的人就徒然警醒。

寫到這裡,我充心祈盼你會得著鼓勵,你會成為一位報福音、傳喜信的人。願你的腳蹤佳美,願你在那日子得著主的稱讚,成為主口中忠心良善的僕人。奉主耶穌名求,阿們。

Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

2021.05.08/09

From the Pastor’s Desk: Pastor Francis Chan

Someone once said that there are only two types of Christians in the world: those who preach the gospel and those who do not. As for apostle Paul, he was certainly a Christian who preached the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:16 he wrote, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

Jesus also commanded his disciples “to go and make disciples of all nations” in Matthew 28:19. To become a disciple, one must first accept the gospel; to accept the gospel, one must first hear the gospel. The logic is straightforward. “Preach the gospel” is not an invitation from Jesus, but a command. Today, we are Jesus’ disciples but are we faithfully following the Lord’s command?

There are millions of reasons why a disciple does not preach the gospel. Two of them are common: first, you don’t know how to do it; and second, all your acquaintances are Christians. How to tackle these two issues? Well, let’s look at a fundamental principle about evangelism: Evangelism is something that needs to be done intentionally. If you have a heart to preach the gospel, you will understand and appreciate what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Did Paul sound like preaching the word of God is an accidental or unprepared enterprise? Of course not, it is an intentional and well-prepared endeavor. More importantly, Paul’s instructions do not apply only to pastors or people who have positions in the church, but also to all disciples of Jesus Christ.

What does “to be done intentionally” mean in the context of evangelism? It means that we need to be intentional in looking out for gospel prospects, taking time to build trusting relationship with them, sharing our testimonies with them, and lastly, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to them at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is not our responsibility that they will accept Christ, but it is our responsibility to offer them a chance to do so. In case all people in your social circles are Christians, what can you do? Enlarge your social circles for the sake of reaching out to non-believers. In short, it is a choice to lead a life of evangelism, a life of always being ready to preach the gospel whether in season or out of season. If you seriously desire to lead an evangelistic life, just seek help from the Holy Spirit and let him lead you, guide you, and empower you, every step of your way.

In case you do not know how to preach the gospel, you are most welcome to ask your pastor. Because it is our responsibility as pastors to teach and equip you, among other things, to preach the gospel. As Paul said in Ephesians 4.11-12 “… he gave … the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” To build up the body of Christ is to make more disciples through evangelism, and to grow with them in the faith through genuinely loving one another and learning the Word of God together. We are the disciples of Christ. We are the body of Christ.

Last year, we organized for the first time a 6-month-long Evangelism Explosion training course for 10 Cantonese-speaking young people of RCAC. On March 15 this year, we run this program again for another 10 students. Apart from our students, we are also blessed with a great team consisting of a teacher who has taught EE courses for more than 20 years, 10 dedicated team captains, and 40 prayer warriors supporting this ministry by intercession.

Among our students this year, one is studying at university full time and working 37.5 hours a week at the same time. Nonetheless, she insists on joining the EE training course because she wants to learn a practical method to preach the gospel, so that she can lead her unsaved family to the Lord.

Another student is coping with new challenges and extra workload due to her recent promotion at work and at the same time, she is busy with arrangements to relocate her home. Still, she chooses to join the EE training course because she wants to preach the gospel with her husband, who graduated last year, and to make their family an evangelistic hub.

Finally, let me share with you the reflections of a student after she talked with a gospel prospect for the first time in her team’s recent visitation (because in the previous visitations, she was only allowed to observe while her team captains did the talking):

Maybe because I took part in actually asking questions this time, I was very touched 💓 This touching feeling did not exist in any particular moment, but throughout the entire visitation, while I was witnessing the gospel prospect from having hesitations to finally saying yes to Christ. This has a big impact on me as I recall my own spiritual journey, when I also had similar hesitations, and then I realized how grateful I am to have known God early in my life 💓

This touching feeling and my gratitude made me realize that I am doing an incredible job. It turns out that by memorizing my script and talking to the gospel prospect, so much can be achieved. It makes me more eager to help more people who are seeking God 💓💓

So happy and grateful “💓

Hallelujah! All is grace! As it is said in Psalm 127:1

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

In closing, I pray with all my heart that you will be encouraged, and that you too, will become a preacher of the gospel. May you leave behind beautiful footsteps as you preach the gospel, and may the Lord call you his good and faithful servant on the day you see him face to face. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Yearning to be in the house of God!

2021.05.01/02
From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

Do you yearn to be back at church? I do. It has been 14 months since the lockdown of the church due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When it started, I was hoping that it would last maybe till the end of the summer of 2020. Then it stretched to the end of the year and we had hoped with the beginning of vaccination, we should be back by the end of the summer of 2021. But now with the new variants of the virus spreading rapidly, with over 1000 cases each day, and the shortage of the vaccines, it seems the end is nowhere to be seen. I hope that we are all keeping well, but we all yearn for the day when it is safe to return.
The psalmist (of the Sons of Korah) once wrote of a remarkably similar experience of yearning, though of course in a very different situation, and we find it in Psalm 84. A probable scenario was the writer could not go to Jerusalem to worship, maybe to celebrate one of the three annual feasts (Ex. 23:17; 34:23), for whatever reason. His sole desire was to “appear before God in Zion.” (7) He “desperately want to (“my soul longs, it even pines for”) be in the courts of the Lord’s temple.” (2a) What can he do? How can he deal with such a hopeless situation? What can he teach us for our situation today?

1. Maintain your delight in the Lord (1-4)
In the pandemic, instead of sitting around bored and miserable, or trying to do all sort of things to fill the void, we can see how the psalmist maintains his focus on the delight of going to the temple to worship God. He describes the temple as “lovely” or “beautiful.” It is lovely not necessarily because of the architecture, important as that is, but because it is “the place where God (you) lives,” His house (4, 10) and the place where God’s glory dwells (Ps 26:8). Yet we also know that God cannot be contained in man-made buildings (Acts 7:45-50). So, while to pay special respect for the house of God dedicated for His worship and yearn to be there, we can also worship God anywhere. The heart of the psalmist is always yearning to worship, with joy, the living God (2). The psalmist is even envious of the birds and the swallow that can nest in the temple courts, to be near the altars of the Lord of hosts (the heaven’s army). By that he means that one is “blessed” to “live in your temple and praise God continually.” (4) So even though today we cannot physically be at the Church where we gather to worship as a community, we can still meet virtually together, or meet God personally wherever we are, enjoying being in his presence. We know that one day our delight and hope will become a reality. May it be soon.

2. Draw your strength from the Lord (5-8)
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” (5, ESV) We find our strength in the Lord, and we can approach Him anytime as if there is a map to God (Zion) written on our hearts, and we can be like the pilgrims who are on their way. The number of pilgrims grows bigger as they drawn near to the temple. They have gone through the valley of Baca (weeping or affliction) that God has turned into a spring. The rain has covered the dry valley will pools of water. What a meaningful picture of God’s blessings on all who seek to draw near to God. Whatever difficulties or pain we are experiencing, God can turn them into fountains of joy. It is interesting to note that while the throngs of pilgrims travel together, we note that “each appears before God in Zion.” (7) We draw strength from drawing to God both as a community and as individuals. This we can continue to do in the pandemic.

3. Put your trust in the Lord (9-12)
The psalmist recognized that it is a blessing to be able to put his trust in the Lord of host. (12) To be in the house of God for a day is better that spending a thousand days elsewhere. (10a) It would already be a privilege to just stand at the gate (doorkeeper?) of the house of the Lord, and it is certainly much better than living in the tents of the wicked (10b). The fact that the psalmist was of the sons of Korah may give us a clue as to why he sees this as such an honour. Levites in their service also guarded the sanctuary (I Chron. 9:19). Korah was a Levite who rebelled against God and Moses and was slain (Num. 16:26). However, his children (sons of Korah) were spared and continued to serve at the temple (Num 26:11). Therefore, the psalmist declared, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (11) We are blessed by a God who is merciful and can be trusted, even though we are unworthy. No matter what background we may have or whatever past we have come from, we can always draw near to God. The only think we must do is to live with integrity. Many of us also recognize it is a joy to serve God whatever role we may have, be it big or small, even during this pandemic.

May we yearn to be in the house of God!

Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Simon Lee

羨慕渴想神的殿

2021.05.01/02
作者: 李耀全牧師

親愛的列宣家弟兄姊妹:

你渴望回到教堂嗎?我肯定是。自從教堂因COVID-19大流行而被封鎖以來已經過去了14個月。當它開始的時候,我還希望它可以持續到2020年夏天就結束。但它一直延續到去年年底,我們便希望隨著疫苗接種的開始,我們應該在2021夏天結束前回去教會。可惜這病毒的新變種正在迅速傳播,每天有1000多例,而且疫苗又短缺,因此似乎回教會又遙遙無期了。我希望我們都安全健康,我們都渴望早日安全返回教會。

詩人可拉之子曾經寫過一篇非常相似嚮往回聖殿的經歷,儘管當時情況很不一樣,我們在詩篇84中找到了共鳴。也許是詩人乃出於想去聖殿慶祝猶太人每年三個大慶典之一,而不能成行(出23:17; 34:23),他唯一的願望是“出現在錫安的上帝面前”。(7)他“迫切希望(“我的靈魂渴望,甚至渴望”)在主殿裡的院子。(2a)他能做什麼?他如何應對這種絕望的局面?他給予我們今天的情況有些什麼教導?

1. 保持對主愛慕喜悅的心(1-4)
在疫情大流行中,我們可以看到詩篇作者的心如何保持專注於嚮往在聖殿敬拜神的喜悅,而不是沉緬於無聊苦悶和情緒低落之中,或試圖做各種事情來填補心中的空虛。他形容神的殿宇是何等“可愛”或“美好”。聖殿之所以可愛不在於其建築設計的美麗,而是因為它是“神的居所”、神的家(4、10)及神榮耀的所在(詩26:8)。但我們也知道,神不能被限制於人手所造的建築之中(徒7:45-50)。因此,在特別尊重敬拜上帝並渴望在聖殿上帝之家之同時,我們亦可以在任何地方敬拜上帝。詩人的心一直渴望快樂地敬拜永生的上帝(2)。詩人甚至羨慕可以在聖殿院子築巢的鳥兒和燕子,這些鳥兒和燕子可靠近萬軍之主(天國的軍隊)的祭壇。他的意思是說,一個“有福”的人,就是哪些可以“住在你的聖殿裡,不斷讚美上帝。”(4)因此,即使今天我們不能親自來到教會聚集, 一起進到社群行禮拜的教堂,我們仍然可以虛擬地相遇,或者無論身在何處,都可以親身到神面前,享受在他面前的喜樂。我們知道,有一天,我們的喜悅和希望將成為現實。可能很快就實現。

2. 從主那裡汲取力量(5-8節)
“靠你有力量,心中嚮往通到聖殿大道的,這人是有福的。”(5《新譯本》)我們在主裡找到了自己的力量,我們可以隨時親近他,就好像我們心中刻有走向上帝(錫安)的地圖一樣,我們可以像朝聖者在朝聖。當朝聖者靠近聖殿時,朝聖者的數量就不斷增加。他們經歷了巴卡(哭泣或苦難)山谷,上帝將它變成了泉源。雨水已經覆蓋了乾燥的山谷,積水成池。上帝對所有尋求親近上帝的人的祝福真是有意義的描繪,淋漓盡致。無論我們遇到什麼困難或痛苦,知道上帝都可以將它們變成喜樂的源泉。有趣的是,當朝聖者聚集在一起時,我們注意到詩人強調“每個人都出現在錫安的上帝面前”。 (7)無論是作為群體還是作為個人,我們都從親近上帝汲取力量。我們可以在大流行中繼續這樣做。

3.信靠耶和華(9-12)
詩人認識到能夠信靠萬軍之耶和華是一種祝福。(12)在神的殿裡一日比在其他地方一千日更好。(10a)僅僅站在主殿的大門上(作門衛?)已經是一種特權,而且肯定比住在邪惡的帳篷中要好得多(10b)。詩篇作者是可拉的兒子,這一事實可以為我們提供線索,說明他為何認為這是一種榮耀。原來在職的利未人也守衛著聖所(代上9:19)。可拉是一個利未人,背叛了上帝和摩西而被殺了(民16:26)。但是,他的孩子們(可拉的兒子)得以倖免,繼續在聖殿裡服事(民26:11)。因此,詩人宣稱:“因為耶和華上帝是太陽與盾牌。耶和華賜福與榮耀。他沒有阻止那些直立行走的人的好事。”(11)即使我們不配,我們也有一位仁慈且可以信賴的上帝的賜福。無論我們有什麼背景或有什麼過去,我們總是可以親近上帝。我們唯一必須做的就是過著誠信之生活。我們中的許多人也認識到,即使在這種大流行期間,無論大小事情,我們都可以侍奉上帝,這是一種喜悅。

願我們的心也羨慕渴想一起在神的殿敬拜與侍奉!

主僕,
李耀全牧師

how wide, how long, how high, how deep

April 24/25, 2021
From the Pastor’s Desk: Pastor Karen Quan

Eph. 3: 17- 19: NIV “….17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, BEING ROOTED AND ESTABLISHED in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and how high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

As mentioned in my contribution in Jan. 2021, the entire Children’s Ministry has been focusing on this passage for the entire ministry year. Here are some thoughts related to Eph. 3:18.

“POWER” What is our idea of power? These days, I can feel powerless to the constant changing of COVID measures & resulting impact. But this passage reminds me that with Christ dwelling in our hearts, we do have power – the power of God’s love through the Holy Spirit! And this power isn’t only within me, but is also in the lives of “all the saints” which are fellow believers. I have experienced this power through prayer, whether on Zoom Calls in Breakout Rooms or praying as an individual alongside others who are many kilometres from where I am, I have been knowing this power in increasing measure. This power from the Holy Spirit has been fueling my inner life, particularly with regards to the difficult and hard news of loss, heartache and things that are beyond my ability to bear.

“WIDE”…spanning from East to West …… “LONG”..stretching endlessly….. “HIGH” …moving in an upwards direction…
“DEEP”…going down to the depths of the ocean/earth………The arrows in the image above help me to see that it basically reflects in every single direction possible… “IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST” ….. It’s no wonder that the author uses the term “to grasp”… how can I grab hold of this idea? It’s like trying to get my arms around an enormous package…no matter which way I try to hold onto the box, I just can’t get a solid grip!

This multi-directional love of Christ, is generously offered to me, if only I could have a good hold or have my hands solidly capture this incredible love. And the most shocking little word that ties all of these directions together….. AND……which appears not once but 4 times in this verse. Could it be to reference the 4 directions? All I know is that it leads me to think upon the limitlessness of such love.

While we are called to be physically apart during this pandemic, may we each richly experience this all encompassing love of Christ. AND then having it take hold in our hearts, move out of our comfortable circles to share it with others in new and creative ways…..

長闊高深

2021.04.24/25
作者: 關潔玲傳道

弗3:17-19《新譯本》
「17使基督藉著你們的信,住在你們心裡,使你們既然在愛中扎根建基,18就能和眾聖徒一同領悟基督的愛是多麼的長闊高深,19並且知道他的愛是超過人所能理解的,使你們被充滿,得著神的一切豐盛。」

正如我在2021年1月的牧者心聲中所提及到的,整個兒童事工部本年的事工重點都集中在這一段經文的內容。以下是些研讀以弗所書3:18b的一些思想。

「力量(能)」-我們對力量的概念是什麼呢?這一段日子,對新冠疫情的措施不斷變改及帶來的影響,我感到無能為力。但是這段經文提醒我,基督住在我們心裡,我們確實擁有力量-透過聖靈是上帝的愛的力量!這種力量不僅住在我心裡,還內住在「所有聖徒」即眾信徒的生命裡面。我透過禱告體驗了這種力量,無論是在「互聯網小組祈禱(Zoom Call Breakout Room)」,或是我與遠方的弟兄姊妹一起禱告時,我都越來越體驗到這種力量。尤其是在困苦、憂傷、和超越自己能力可以承擔的困局的時候,來自聖靈的這種力量不斷為我內在的生命「加油」。

「長」-無限伸展…「闊」-從東向西延伸…「高」-向上移動…「深」-下到海洋/地球的深處…,四個立體的指向幫助我看到「基督的愛」基本上是展現在四方八面。難怪作者使用「領悟」一詞,我該如何領悟這個意念?就好像我試圖張開一雙手臂去抓住一個龐大的包裹,無論我嘗試用任何方式,我都無法牢固地抓住它!

基督的愛已經在四方八面賜給我了,但願我能好好的抓住,用我雙手緊緊地擁抱住這份奇異的愛。經文用了四個方向長闊高深來形容基督的愛,是向我表明這愛是無盡的愛。

雖然我們在這次疫症大流行中被分隔,但願我們每個人都豐豐富富地經歷基督的愛環繞著我們。並且將其紮根在我們心裡,從而向我們四周的人用一些創意和嶄新方法分享基督的愛……

2021.04.17/18
From the Pastor’s Desk: Pastor Jeanie Auyeung

I have read a testimony sometime ago. It was about a brother named Randy who was stranded in the desert and how he experienced God’s help in an unexpected way.

While on a two-year trip around the world in a Volkswagen camper, Rendy was stranded in the Sahara Desert for several days. The Hoggar is an area in Algeria where the Sahara stretches; it is a harsh landscape. The punishing terrain caused two shock absorbers in the camper to explode simultaneously, breaking the chassis. After sitting for three days, he saw a traveler pull up behind him in a small van. On the roof of his vehicle, he had some welding equipment. Unfortunately, neither the traveler nor he knew how to weld, and he had no welding rod. Randy prayed and then remembered the steel coat hangers he had packed away. With a torch on one and and a coat hanger in the other, he climbed under the camper and somehow managed to weld the broken chassis back in place.

What touches me about this is that Randy discovered the man with the welding outfit had started his journey in the desert long after his own, but before his crisis had occurred. This reminded him of the word of God in Isaiah 65:24. The Lord says, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”

Years ago, I heard a missionary couple from Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) shared their experiences in the mission field. The missionary met an old man there. What surprised him was that the old man told him, God had promised to send someone to tell them about Him 15 years ago while he was still a teenager, he did not know God would send him to Upper Volta in 15 years. More amazing is his wife shared that God told her to bring a wedding gown before she left for the mission field, while she met her husband there later.
There have been countless times I have seen God’s presence and help in my life. We never know what crisis or difficulties might lie ahead or what will happen in front of us. But by faith, we can know that God is on the way even before we call. Let us put our trust in Him. No matter what difficulty we will face, God is in it with us.

神早已預備

2021.04.17/18
作者: 歐陽鑽玲傳道

曾讀到一位弟兄名叫Randy的見證,分享他在駕著野營車環遊世界時的一次被困於撒哈拉沙漠的經歷。當他正在沿著霍加爾路徑,在阿爾及利亞橫越撒哈拉沙漠時,那段路徑極為崎嶇不平,在路上駕車簡直就像在火車軌上奔馳。嚴峻的路面狀況令野營車的兩個減震器同時爆裂,擊破了車的底盤,他被困在那裡足足三天。其後,一輛小貨車在他的車後停下來,貨車的車頂上竟然有一套完備的接焊工具。可是,那人 和他自己也不懂得接焊(燒焊),也沒有接焊棒。Randy便禱告,然後他記起,在行李箱中有一個鋼鐵制的衣架。他在毫無經驗下拿著電筒和衣架趴在車底,左弄右弄的竟把爆裂的車底焊接上,車子便能開動了。

Randy在後來才知道,令他很受感動的是,自己已進入沙漠很久,那帶著接焊工具的人是在他發生意外之後才起行的,卻在他需要幫助時及時遇上。這事令他想起聖經的話:“他們尚未求告,我就應允;正說話的時候,我就垂聽。” (賽65:24)

在我就讀神學院時,聽到一對前往非洲宣教的夫婦分享。夫婦二人分別在不同地方到上沃爾特(現稱Burkina Faso)宣教,並在宣教工場認識。奇妙的是,神卻在這位姊妹在出發到工場前指示她,要帶同婚紗到上沃爾特,在其後遇到弟兄,並成為她的丈夫。她丈夫也分向見證:在工場曾接觸一位長者,這位長者對他說:“我知道你會來,因為在15年前,神已告訴我,祂會差派一個人來,教導他們認識神的話。”。令他十分驚奇的是,原來在15年前,在他還是青少年時期,對自己前途一無所知的時候,神已早有計劃。

在我的身上,也曾經歷神數不盡的奇妙恩典。其實神的手一直在帶領及引導著我們的人生,在每天的大小事上向我們施恩,只是我們常不察覺,或沒有留意。要知道,無論有甚麼事發生,在我們尚不曉得為自己祈求以先,神早有預備。讓我們信靠神去面對未可知的前路,放心將一切交在祂手中,祂知我們的需要,祂的預備和安排必定是最好的!