Remains in me
John 15:1-8 Key Verse 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
In the beginning of the year 2017, I thank God for leading our co-workers, our church, our nation and the world in the year 2016 in his sovereign will and good purpose. At this time, it is meaningful to reflect on our life of faith in 20156and have a clear spiritual direction to live as pilgrims on earth in the years to come. Earthly things which were worthless like dust can carry our hearts away from God. In the coming year, let us examine ourselves and have a clear life direction.
Part 1: Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things ─A Brief Review of 2016.
I chose Colossians 3:2 for 2016 key verse. God wanted us to be strong by remembering the amazing grace of Lord Jesus and high calling from God to be his servants and Bible teachers. All our coworkers have received much grace so far. By God’s grace, we went though many challenges and came closer to God. Year of 2016 was a year of challenges and miracles. God blessed our Tempe ministry with M. David, Shepherd David, Sh. Kirk and this sinner to complete the Genesis gospel. Thanks God for enabling Missionary David to deliver Message while he was in the process of recovering from the liver transplant.. We were touched by his love for the Word of God. I especially thank woman coworkers – Msn. Ruth, Msn. Deborah, Msn Esther and Msn. Sarah to provide lunch fellowship in spite of their busy lives. They formed a woman prayer meeting and since then, they faithfully meet to pray. They are mothers of prayers in our ministry.
We had the summer bible conference. The theme of the conference is Jesus is the light of the world (John 8) It was a good spiritual retreat in the nice vacation house. I thank God for Steve to attend the conference and share the testimony. Msn David, Sh. David, Sh. Kirk and me delivered messages . M. Ruth, M. Esther, M. Sarah and M. Deborah prepared delicious meals for the conference. It is a great spiritual team work to make such wonderful conference. Through the conference, we repented our lacking of simple faith on serving God.
By the grace of God, Missionary David went through liver transplant surgery successfully and he got a new liver and new life. He did not get any kind of infection or complication and new liver was adjusted in his body well. Msn Ruth took good care of Msn David although physically she was weak. She demonstrated courageous spirit to deal with the difficult situation. This year, we need to pray for her eye deterioration to be stopped so she can read bible better. Sh. David and Msn. Esther faithfully devoted to the ministry. In addition to lots of work to raise 3 good boy kids, they have to help Jonathan to overcome Autism. Sh. David got the job from state government but he has to travel around the state. We pray that state government may reduce his workload so he does not need to travel so often and he can have more time to take care of the family and serve the ministry. Sh. Kirk has been faithfully leading the sing appreciation for the Sunday worship service before he has throat issue. We pray for him to recover so that we can hear his songs again. Sh. Kirk started bible study club at ASU. Jason, Christina, Ruby, and Esther attended the bible study. I pray that we can establish one to one bible study from the bible study club.
Charmaine is new Bible student. She came to Phoenix for a one year contract job. She has been faithfully studied bible with M. Deborah. We pray for her to get permanent job to stay in Phoenix. At beginning of October, Steve stopped coming to worship service and one to one bible study after one year one to one. I repented my lacking shepherd love like Jesus. May God help him to come back to the ministry. We did not have youth program for second and third gen. Samuel, Jonathan and David attend Korean church youth program, while Elizabeth and Daniel attended Chinese church. They like to attend church without complains. Samuel transfer to renown Charter school and adjust quite well. With good SAT and GPA, Esther landed in ASU with scholarship. I was not happy about US education system and felt she was punished for not entering prestigious college because of us. However, God showed his grace upon Esther by giving her the opportunity to study bible with a wonderful bible teacher M. Sarah. The word of God enabled her to ask her friend Jenna to study bible. I could see her spiritual growth from the presentation of the review of “The fuel and the flame” book during the winter retreat conference.
God showed his grace upon M. Deborah by giving her good working schedule last year and also this year for her to serve the ministry. I was not an organized person so I was not doing well in planning church activities. Like last year. I again gave late notice for the summer bible conference, thanksgiving and Christmas messages. I thank God for Tempe coworkers’ support and prayer for me. I thank God that whole family attended the mission report and missionary conference in Korea to have vision on campus ministry. I thank God that Esther and Lizy had the opportunity to do a short mission in Taiwan and spiritual training in Chicago. They made a decision to devote their time for God work. Last May, my company announced reorganization with layoff. By grace of God, I was assigned to do the projects which helped me to survive from the layoff. I realized that it is not because I have better knowledge or skill but because God put me in better position. Last year I did more garden related work to avoid facing reality or difficulty. This approach did not work well. God eventfully covered my weakness to help me to deal with it. I thank God for his grace to lead our coworkers’ lives and my life in the year of 2016.
Part 2: Remain in me
v.4,5 . “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Jesus reveals the simple truth that a branch must remain in the vine to bear fruit. So, learning how to remain in Jesus the true vine is vital for the fruit bearing life as the branches. “Remain in me” is repeated 8 times from v.4 to 8. Jesus understands that the nature of fallen man is to do the opposite of remaining in Jesus. The nature of sinful man is to wander in the darkness in seeking pleasure. They simply ignore the relationship with Jesus as if Jesus’ word doesn’t have anything to do with them. Even though they became the fishers of men, they would return to their past fishermen’s life if they ignored vine and branch relationship with Jesus. A branch by itself is like a fish out of water. The most marvelous point in small children’s life is that they never forget nor ignore their remaining relationship with their parents. Though they have many weak points, because of their maintaining relationship with parents, they are safe and growing. At the moment they break this relationship, they fall into many dangers. “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” When we remain in Jesus, Jesus also will remain in us. He will supply the necessary strength to us so that we can bear fruit. His remaining in us makes us to be holy temple of God. In order to bear fruit, what do we do? In our campus mission, fishing, praying, studying Bible, all are necessary and important. But if we do those things without remaining in Jesus, we will not be able to bear fruit although we eagerly want to. Remaining in Jesus can be possible when we love and respect Jesus, with longing to be with him. For us, when we obey one word of Jesus sincerely, we can be with him. When we spend time with Jesus as much as possible through the word of Bible and prayer, we can be with him. When we remain in him, he also remains in us. Such mutual life sharing, loving and supporting relationship will eventually produce the true grapes in our life. . After losing sheep last year, I wondered how I could server one to one this year. I need to put effort on the word of God so I will be ready when God sends his sheep to me. Lizy and Daniel’s academic progress problem makes me down. I worried how they can service in the middle of revolution of robot and artificial intelligence. What jobs can help them to survive from this wave of new technology? How about other kids? But our true vine Jesus can supply what they need to do well in their generation. I need to humbly come to him in prayers for them to accept Jesus so they can deal with it with God not themselves. In the first week of this year, M. Mark and Anna Yang visited Tempe to teach us bible study and give us spiritual directions. He encouraged us to live a gospel centered life and form a gospel center church. To be more practical, he wanted us to read entire bible this year not superficially but study inductively. Without daily devotion to the word of God, it is easy to live a self-centered life which detaches us from Jesus vine. All our coworkers committed to devote their time to word of God and prayer. When attached to vine of Jesus, we can help sheep Charmaine, Eshter, Jina and Ruby to grow and provide a good spiritual community to welcome new sheep.
Prayers for 2017
- Pray for Missionary David’s body to adjust to new liver and restore appetite and health.
- Pray for Msn David, Sh. David, Sh. Kirk and Sh. Daniel for preparing Sunday message whole heartedly
- Pray for inviting students to attend Bible study club at campus
- Pray for Sh. Kirk make a good progress on Ph.D dissertation.
- Pray for Charmaine, Esther, and Jina to grow spiritually via 1:1 bible study
- Pray for second and third generations to grow spiritually, especially Jonathan to overcome Autism.