By Jessica Wang
02 Sep. 2012 Sunday
|Sermon: Decide in my Heart||video||audio||ppt
|Worship song: I Sing Praises To Your Name||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Still||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: The Heart Of Worship||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Your Steadfast Love||video||audio||lyric|
Prayer (Presider Larry Liu)
Heavenly Father, we praise you and bring you thanks today. Thank you for watching over us last week, thank you for loving each one of us, thank you for your salvation. We want to praise you and thank you. Lord, we pray for this country and leaders in this country and we ask you to open their eyes and help them follow justice and we want to lift up today’s service in your hands. Please speak to us in your unique way, teach us to grow deeper in you, and fill our hearts with your love. We also pray for today’s speaker Pastor Jessica, please give her strength, and speak to us through her. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Worship song: The Heart of Worship
|Verse 1||When the music fades,
And all is stripped away
And I simply come longing
just to bring something that's of worth
That will bless Your heart
|Pre-Chorus||I'll bring You more than a song For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart
|Verse 2||King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I'm weak and poor
All I have is Yours every single breath
|Verse 3||By faith the prophets saw a day
When the longed-for Messiah would appear
With the power to break the chains of sin & death
And rise triumphant from the grave
|Chorus||I'm coming back to the heart of worship
and it's all about You
It's all about You,
Jesus I'm sorry, Lord,
for the things I've made it
And it's all about You
It's all about You, Jesus
Scripture Reading: John 2:18-25
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”
21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.
24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.
25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Good morning, my dear brothers and sisters, I’m really happy to see you again. How about letting us bow down and praying together?
Dear Lord, thank you so much for gathering us together to worship you and praise you. Lord, thank you so much for revealing yourself to us, to let us know that you are faithful and powerful God, and let us know that you love us so much and give your only son Jesus Christ to us, and die for us and rise for us, and give us eternal life when we trust in you, and accept you. Lord, you know that even if we still face so many struggles when we live on this earth, today we ask you, please send Holy Spirit and speak to us, let us be still and know you are God, let us be still and know you are God who love us and you will guide us and you will provide what we need. Lord, I want to lift up all my brothers and sisters here in your hands and please be with them, and let them feel your presence. And also I want to lift up myself in your hands, and please be with me, and give me your wisdom. I pray all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Good morning, my dear brothers and sisters, a week ago, there is a great wedding here at church. I was very glad to see a brother marrying a sister in Christ. But I know there are still many single brothers and sisters here. And they are faithful Christians, they want to please God in their daily life, especially in their future marriage life. But they just don’t know how. Some may lose their hope, because they keep praying but have not yet found the ones who God prepare for them. Some may face the struggle whether they date non-Christians. Some may face the temptations of pre-marriage sex. Several weeks ago, we started a love sermon series. It’s talking about dating. And today we are going to continue to talk about that. So when I talk about these three different situations (some people may lose hope, some people may face the struggle, and some people may face the temptations), I want to give thanks to God, because He made me wait more than 30 years to get married. And I can feel what you feel. Because many single brothers and sisters talk with me and also attended my wedding. I prayed a lot before I met my husband, but I didn’t find the one who God prepared for me. Even though I knew God’s faithfulness in my mind, but still I lacked the faith. That’s why I didn’t think God would prepare my marriage on this earth.
So two years ago, I made a decision to cut my hair, because I thought I might not get married any more on this earth. So I needed not keep my hair longer. I totally gave up but now I can see God is faithful, because I am married. I didn’t expect that, and I can understand what the scripture says in
Romon 5:3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
So dear brothers and sisters, my suffering is a great gift and a great blessing which God gave to me, to share with you, my single brothers and sisters, and other brothers and sisters. I thought when you suffer, it’s really difficult, but after you go through that and you will find out it’s a great blessing which God gives it to you. So a few weeks ago, we started to share about the love sermon series. And today we are going to continue to share about this. And today we are going to share some principles of dating. But I don’t want to just to say that there are certain principles that we must obey. By themselves, they can make us feel bad. Many people say that I’m a Christian, and I feel very bad, because there are so many principles I have to obey. So today I didn’t just want to share some principles and ask you that you must obey. If we only obey these superficially and still nothing good will come to us. Sadly, Christian singles sometimes follow the world’s corrupt values about dating and sex. So we need to stay away from the lies, from the corrupt world’s values. When I prepare the sermon, it’s difficult for me, because I didn’t just want to tell you that you couldn’t do this, you must do this, you must obey God.
So I pray that God, please help me, and give me wisdom, what should I share, when I asked God. There’s one scripture coming into my mind. It’s in Proverb, which just Larry read for us.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
For today, instead of focusing on principles, I want to focus on heart. It is in our heart that we must decide to follow Jesus in our life. And for this whole year, we want to ask God to lead myself and all the brothers and sisters here to live out a Christian life in our daily life. That’s why we have to decide in our heart to follow Jesus in our life. Then we will be willing to obey Him.
So instead of the principles, I will focus on heart. Today’s sermon topic is Decide in My Heart. We know that every decision comes from heart. But the right decision will bless our hearts, the wrong decision will hurt us. We make decisions every day. So it’s very important for us to guard our hearts. But how can we guard our heart to make right decisions and to please God when it comes to dating?
1. Decide in my heart to put Jesus first always.
It not only applies to dating, but can also apply in our daily life, not singles but married people. That means whatever we do, it’s to please God; we want to follow Jesus all the time and everywhere. But many people are tempted by the earthly values of life. When we live on this earth, we have to fight against the temptation every day. For the singles, there are some special temptations when they look for our boyfriends and girlfriends.
One day, one of my classmates of Seminary shared with me about how difficult it is for a Christian to find a suitable boyfriend or a girlfriend. She said that it’s much more difficult for Christian singles to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend, because we want a godly man or a woman but also we want him or her to be handsome or beautiful. We hope they have a house, a car or a good job. So it is so difficult for us to have both spiritual and earthly requirements. She shared that with me before I got married. And she reminded me that I had to speak to my heart very deeply. No one knows that, I even didn’t really realize that my requirements may be both spiritual and earthly. They must be godly man and woman and besides that, they must be handsome and beautiful, and must be wealthy. Therefore, it’s much more difficult for us to find a suitable man or woman. That’s why, we have found out, there are so many great faithful young ladies who cannot find a boyfriend. And also there are so many great brothers who cannot find a girlfriend. Today I want to encourage you to faithfully follow Jesus. He will give what you need. Please do not seek God just to satisfy your own desire. For example, you pray to God please give you the one, but your prayer is just seeking your own desire and your prayer is nothing. But seek His kingdom and righteousness first. Put Jesus first in your heart always. As in
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I want to encourage you to decide in your heart to put Jesus first, always. He will bless you and provide whatever you need, physically, emotionally and spiritually! Dear brother and sisters I just want to encourage you and myself. Let us decide in our hearts always to put Jesus first always in our daily life.
2. Decide in my heart that I only date a believer
I know it’s a great risk for me to say this because after the service, many people will come to me and talk about it with me. But still I want to say that. I think perhaps it is also a risk for many brothers and sisters: If I decide in my heart to find a Christian, yet there are not enough Christian brothers or sisters, how can I get married? It is a risk but, when we decide in our hearts, I am sure our Lord will be with you and will help you because He is a faithful God.
Recently I got a phone call. A sister told me her love story, how she got to know a guy and became attracted to him. But she was struggling because her boyfriend is not a Christian. She asked me what she should do. I often am asked about this kind of questions and people always ask me “what should I do?” I did not just tell her a rule to obey. Instead I wanted to encourage her to ask God’s help and guidance. I wanted to encourage her to seek God’s will. I told her that when we seek God’s will, we do not always get what we want immediately. The reason we obey Him and please Him is that He is God and He loves us. We can trust him to care for us and bring what we need at the right time. So dear brothers and sisters, I just want to encourage you to seek God’s will, for God will give you strength, guidance and wisdom. Will you decide in your heart to follow Him? But do not think that when you obey God, you will get what you want immediately. Obeying God is not a condition. We obey God because He is God; we please Him because He loves us and cares about us. He loves us so much that no one does like Him.
I recently heard a story from some friends about a sister called Julie who’s older than 30. She is successful in her career and has her own house and car. In her church, the single men are either younger than her or not very strong. She felt that because of her success, some single men felt a little scared of her. Then one day a single man moved into the next door. He was friendly and obviously interested in her. She found herself attracted to him, but he was not a believer. Although she liked him, she never dated him.
She knew from the Bible that a husband in God's will for her had to be a Christian. However, she also knew that she was being more and more attracted to this man. She felt lonely and scared. At her age, she knew that it was getting harder to find a suitable husband. She liked the attention the man gave her, but she was afraid that if she kept seeing him, she would be more and more attracted and might end up marrying him. She wanted to put Jesus first and she knew that in Amos 3:3, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so.” She decided that a strong action was needed. She sold her house and moved away, but she didn't tell the man where she was going. This was a very painful decision. She knew that there were no other suitable men in her church. She had to face the fact that she might never marry. However, that was better than compromising her faith in Jesus. She didn’t expect that God would prepared a man more suitable than this, once she made the decision, but she’s faithful and she trust in God. She had to face a fact that she would never get married, however, it’s better than marrying a non-Christian husband, and sinning against God. A few months later, she met a Christian man in her 30s from another church. Now they are married and have children. Julie is so glad that she was willing to trust God and put Jesus first, rather than giving in to the temptations of loneliness.
Dear brother and sister, I know you may be struggling. Living in this big city is lonely, not only for singles but also for married people sometimes. The temptation to date or marry an unbeliever can be very strong. But remember:
Amos 3:3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
Two people cannot walk together if they have different directions. It is very difficult to follow Jesus with a whole heart if your partner is not following Jesus.
When I was in my 20s, I didn’t think it’s a big deal to date a believer or non-believer. But my mother insisted on this when someone introduced me a boy friend. My mother would tell them that Jessica’s a Christian and maybe someday she would devote herself to seminary, so if you could accept this and became a Christian and support her to serve in the church, then we could think about meeting each other. That’s why in my 20s, I didn’t date anyone. I felt very angry at that time, but now I understand that it’s very important. In my 30s, I decide in my heart to date Christian only. It’s especially difficult for me, because I am not only in my 30s but also I am a pastor. I seem very strong but actually I am not. That’s why I gave up: If I couldn’t find a Christian boyfriend, I would give up. However in the end, the truth is that God knows our heart and when we are ready, God will bring the one in front of you. So brothers and sisters, I want to encourage you that please do not worry, but just decide in your heart to follow Jesus.
3. Decide in my heart I will keep my body pure
It is sad to say that Christian singles tend to follow the world’s corrupt values about dating and sex; some people may be facing the temptation of premarital sex. But the Bible told us that
Leviticus11:45 be holy, because I am holy.
One thing I want to mention is that, we need to know our identity when we are dating. Several weeks ago we had a dating workshop and we shared that we must know our identity before getting married while dating. We are not regular friends any more. We are not husband and wife yet. We are boy friend and girl friend. So we need to decide in our hearts to keep our body pure in Christ, so that to run away from the temptation. No one cares about this in this society but our Lord cares about this. Please stop it if you are facing this problem and if you are facing this temptation, please run away from it. We have to decide in our hearts without anyone else forcing us to do so. Do you remember the story of Joseph in Genesis chapter 39?
We know that Joseph was a handsome godly man. He was taken down to Egypt, who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard. The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master... Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said: ‘Come to bed with me!' But he refused. He said that no one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?'
Though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, 'Come to bed with me!' But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. Joseph did not stay near the temptation, he ran away immediately. Paul also wrote the same thing in
2 Timothy 2:22 Run away from the evil desires of youth.
Dear brother and sister run away from the temptation. God will make a way for you. If you have already sinned against God, come to him and confess your sin. He will forgive you and accept you and give you a new start.
Dear brothers and sisters, I know it is so difficult to follow Jesus on this earth especially when you lose your hope, face struggles and temptations or sin against God. But I want to encourage you to decide in your heart. This is not about the rules or laws. It is all about your heart. When we decide in our hearts, I am sure our God will help us and will provide what we need, strength us because He is a powerful God and He loves us. Finally I want to share some Scriptures with you:
Proverb 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
May God bless all of you. Let’s pray:
Dear Lord, thank you so much for revealing so much through the stories and the Scriptures that you are a faithful God. Thank you so much for revealing that you are God who loves us no matter who we are or wherever we are, no matter what situations we are facing, you love us all the same and accept us. Dear Lord, we want to confess our sins and in our daily life, for so many times we don’t trust in you; we don’t put Jesus first in our hearts. But God we know that when we come to you to confess our sins, you will forgive us and you will clean us and move away our sins, and you will accept us. Dear Lord, we know that many brothers and sisters here are facing so many temptations, not only singles but also married brothers and sisters. Please protect us and give us wisdom; please strengthen us and let us focus on you, rely on you not our own understanding, for you will make our way straight. Lord I want to lift up particularly all the single brothers and sisters in your hands, they are faithful and they want to please you in their daily life and future marriage life, you know their situations and you can feel their feelings, please help them and guide them, please speak to them and strengthen them; let them put Jesus first in their hearts when they decide. Please protect them in their dating life, be with them and let them keep pure in Jesus Christ. Dear Lord, I want to lift up all brothers and sisters in your hands, today we want to tell you that we want to decide in our hearts to follow Jesus, to put Jesus first in our life always, but still we are so weak, so please help us, guide us, lead us and strengthen us, be with us. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.