Let us hear the word
Today’s scripture passage is taken from Philippians 1:3-11
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
This is the word of the Lord.
As I look back on the last 20 years, the first thing that comes to my mind is, wow, time really flies. 20 years have already gone by. And another thing that comes to my mind is thankfulness. I’m thankful because God has been so good to us.
The Mysterious Hands of God
We’ve all experienced God’s mysterious hands leading this church. The mysterious hands of God. These mysterious hands of God not only lead this church, but I believe that they lead our lives. Our lives are led by God’s mysterious hands. The way our lives are unraveled is a mystery, I believe. It’s not what we make. It is a mystery. And there are God’s mysterious hands that lead our lives. As he has lead this church for the last 20 years, I do believe that God will lead this church in a way we cannot even fathom. How God will lead this church in the future is unknown, I cannot even fathom it, but there will be the beautiful hands of God that guide us mysteriously.
Live With Confidence
As we live our lives, my friends, I believe that we should live with confidence. Live your lives with confidence, because there’s a big difference between living your life with confidence and living your life without confidence, and I’ll choose to live my life with confidence. Confidence is so important in our lives. Doesn’t matter what you do, confidence is so important. When we live with confidence, we are not scared of challenges. That’s what living with confidence is like. You’re not scared of challenges. Sometimes you may fail, yes, but failure is no longer a reason to quit. When you have confidence, failure simply means learning a good lesson. That’s all. Failure is not a reason to quit. Failure is simple; a good lesson for you to learn from and move on.
That’s people with confidence. We dare to try new things. New things will always bring us the uncertainty and the unknown, but the uncertainty and the unknown are not a reason to quit. Embracing the unknown, that is the beauty of God’s gift. Longing and embracing the unknown, that is the beauty of God’s gift. Uncertainty doesn’t cause fear. We’d rather have beautiful longing and we embrace the unknown because that is the gift of life, and that is the gift of God for all of us. The uncertainty and the unknown mean going beyond where we are. That’s all it means. Going beyond where we are. It means new opportunity and new change. And when we have confidence we have peace of mind because we know everything will be alright. That’s why you have peace of mind. There may be difficult times, but we know that difficult times will not be with you forever. Soon good times will come. That’s why you have peace of mind when you live your life with confidence.
So we wait with peace, but when we live without confidence we’ll have no strength and no passion. We’ll constantly worry. We’ll constantly let fear consume us and paralyze us. We’ll be busy maintaining the status quo. People who live without confidence, when there is no change, they think that’s good news, because they’re scared of changes. They don’t want change, so there’s no change and then they say, “Oh, good life.” They will never get out of their own boundaries because they are continuously searching for safety.
For people with confidence, walls are only hurdles for you to overcome, but for people without confidence, walls are protection, so they build higher walls. That’s the difference between people who live with confidence and people who live without confidence. So living with confidence is very important, but the question is, where do we get confidence? How do we have confidence? From our own ability? Or are we born with it? Some people are born with confidence. Some people are born living pessimistically. Some people are more pessimistic by nature, more cynical. Some people are more positive and I don’t really know why.
St. Paul’s Confidence
But I do know where St. Paul got his confidence. This is what he said, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” That was the source of Paul’s confidence. The one who began a good work will bring it to completion. That was where St. Paul got confidence. Not from his ability. I don’t know whether he was born with it or not, probably not, but he knew that the one who began a good work will bring it to completion, so he doesn’t worry. Everything is a process, but in the end God will bring it to completion in God’s time. Paul’s confidence had nothing to do with himself. It wasn’t from his ability or from his nature. It was God. Paul’s confidence was God.
In God’s Hands
And that’s what I believe too. I have confidence not in me, but in God. I do have confidence. That’s what I learned from my ministry in this church. God who began a good work will bring it to completion. I was 33 or 34, I spent my golden time here in this church and I’ve learned so much from the ministry, but one thing I learned, I have confidence that God who began a good work will bring it to completion in his time.
This church is not in our hands. This church is in God’s hands.
As a matter of fact, your life is not in your hands. Your Life is in God’s good hands. Do you believe that? Your life is not in your hands, your life is in God’s good hands. That’s what I believe about my children too. As I raised them, I was so busy so I couldn’t spend much time with them. I always felt sorry to Josh and Grace. But I always believed that God will take care of them. God who began a good work in them will bring it to completion at the right time. And we don’t decide that right time. God decides that right time. So all parents, trust that God who began a good work in your children will bring it to completion in God’s time.
We Need Others
I realized these days, life is too big to hold with my two hands. I realized that. Life is way too big. When I was younger, I thought life was pretty small. I thought I could control it. I could put it in my hand. But as I got older, I realized that life is too big to hold with my two hands. We need other people’s hands. That was what the last 20 years were like. There have been so many people who gave their hands to hold up this church. We can never do it alone. There have been so many good hands. You don’t know, but there have been so many good hands that help hold up this church.
The Book of Romans
Romans is a beautiful book and there are a lot of good lessons and as we study Galatians, it’s a beautiful book too right? We learned so much from Galatians, but Romans is much later. It was written when Paul’s theology was much more mature. It’s a beautiful book, but what is most inspiring for me is the last chapter. In the last chapter, there’s no teaching, there is nothing. But in the last chapter, it just says greet this person and that person, he just makes a whole list of greet all these people and while I was reading that, I realized that these are the people who were with Paul in his ministry. All of them work so hard, so it was not Paul alone who built a church. All these people worked together to build the church. Our life is like that my friends.
We Are Being Shaped
We never made it all by ourselves. I didn’t make it, 20 years of ministry in this church, more than I shaped this congregation. I think this congregation shaped me more. They taught me, they have shaped who I am and my thinking. This congregation has shaped me tremendously.
Our life is like that. You don’t make your life by yourself, you are being shaped by the people around you, whether you like it or not. They have shaped you, your parents and your friends and all these people have shaped your life. Our life is made by others and with others. Sometimes we argue, sometimes we disagree. We challenge each other, but we pray together. We cry together. And most of all, we all know that we are all in this ministry together.
God’s Invisible Presence
More than anything else, it was God who has been all along as an invisible presence. God’s invisible presence is the most powerful presence. When we were down, we cried out and God lifted us up. When we stood helplessly, not knowing what to do in order to go, we prayed, and God broke open the door for us to go through. In spite of many mistakes we made, God worked through our mistakes.
When I look back, all I can say is this, I didn’t know any better.
That’s all I can say. When I look back, I didn’t know any better. Don’t you feel that sometimes? When you look back at your life 20 years ago, 30 years ago, or some of you are younger than 30 so, when you look back, “Oh geez, I didn’t know any better.” I just see how blinded I was, but God did not mind it God worked through our imperfections. Now we are entering into a new chapter of our church, not as a teenager anymore. Twenty years is not a teenager anymore. You’re entering into adulthood. As we enter into adulthood, I hope that we also become spiritually more mature.
Believe in the Church
I don’t know about you, but I do believe in the church. I think among human communities, the church is the most beautiful place and now I see why God chose Church. So I believe in the church, not necessarily as an institution, but as living body, as a living community. We have all come together here.
Let us build this church beautifully together. Small hands that you give, they matter. In the next 20 years, let us build a beautiful church together and then give that church to our children so that they may carry it on. Let us build. Let us place the soil. Let us work hard. You don’t come to church just for yourself. You come to church to build community. Then your children and their children after them, they’ll benefit from this church. You are doing valuable things, worthy things in your life. If we build this church together. Let us have confidence in God who began a good work and God will bring it to completion in God’s time.
Congratulations, and may God be with you in your ministry.