2015-2-1 Sermon God’s Sufficient Grace, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

God’s Sufficient Grace

Mark 1:21-28

The man in today’s gospel text was healed by Jesus. He was not the only person with physical trouble or illness. There were thousands of people who wanted to be healed. Out of so many sick people, Jesus chose him to show his grace and healed him. The sick man did not deserve the favor. But he did receive grace on that day.

Should we ask, “Why him and not others?” Who are we to ask or question the provision of God’s grace? Has any one who received your blessing ever stopped you and asked, “Why are you doing this to me out of so many people who need your help?” Paul says in Romans, “[God] will have mercy on whom God will have mercy, and compassion on whom God will have compassion.”

The word “grace” has a wide range of meaning. It could mean different things depending on context and situation. It could mean loving-kindness, mercy, delight, favor, affection, sweetness, attractiveness, goodwill, and so on. The Greek word for grace is kharis (χαρις). In the New Testament, “grace” appeared 156 times. It appeared mostly in the epistles, especially in Paul’s letter. Kharis (grace) appeared only a few times in the gospels. In the gospels kharis simply means favor. For example, in Luke 2:52, it says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

Kharis or grace is often described as God’s unmerited favor. In its limited sense, kharis (grace) means God’s redemptive grace. But in its general sense, we experience God’s unmerited favor every day in our life. We are what we are because of God’s unmerited favor toward us. Grace is not earned. Grace excludes merit or action. Grace is therefore defined as God’s unmerited favor.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015-1-25 Messages received from Sermon Making a Complete Reversal, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

Making a Complete Reversal

 Messages Received: 

  • Opportunity to change continuously
  • Can our actions change God’s mind?
  • Let go of your hate for those who you regard as enemies as they are not your enemies but also God’s children
  • Change your mind, actions, attitude – Repent
  • Other faiths, other cultures, are not our enemies
  • Repentance begins with me

2015-1-25 Sermon Making a Complete Reversal, Pastor Tezenlo Thong

Making a Complete Reversal

(Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Mark 1:14-20)

The connecting theme of our reading today, among other things, is repentance. The English word repentance and conversion are cognates. And the Greek word is metanoia. “Meta” means “change” and “noia” means “mind”. So, “metanoia” means a “change of mind”. To repent, therefore, means to make a complete reversal of thinking or to change mind.

First, we have the story of Jonah in the city of Nineveh. Whenever we hear the story, we think of the repentance of the people of Nineveh, that they heard Jonah’s warning and repented and God forgave them. In this story, we see three reversals or changes of mind. The people of Nineveh changed their mind; God changed God’s mind; and Jonah, of course, was given an opportunity to change his mind toward his “enemies” but refused to do so.

The change of mind among the Ninevites led to the change of God’s mind. The people repented, and God decided not to destroy them. Does God change? Do our actions compel God to change God’s mind? Finally, the book of Jonah is revolutionary, because it challenges the status quo theologically. We read of an inclusive God who forces Jonah/the Jews to be tolerant, gracious and inclusive toward their perceived enemies. A change of mind leads to a change of attitude and action.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015-1-18 messages Received from Sermon One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods? Tezenlo Thong

“One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods?”

Messages received:

  • Exclusivism, Inclusivism, Pluralism?
  • One God, a pluralist may bring more peace in the world.
  • Are we all going to the same place?
  • Religion, a way of life.
  • Can freedom of religion bring peace?

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015-1-18 Sermon One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods? Tezenlo Thong

“One God, Many Religions? Or Many Religions, Many Gods?”

Psalm 19:1-6, 14

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,

O God, my rock and my redeemer.

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According to one estimate, there are roughly 4,200 religions. The editors of the World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World believed that there are 19 major religions, which are further subdivided into 270 large religious groups and many smaller ones. The book also identifies 34,000 separate Christian groups, of which about 1000 Christian groups in Canada and US believe that they are the only true church or believers.

That is a lot of religions and faith groups! Are all religions and/or faith groups equal or the same? Are all equally true? In the midst of all these, can one make an absolute truth claim? For our purpose, let us consider two questions: “Do all religions lead to the same God? Or do different religions lead to different gods/Gods?”

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015-1-11 Messages Received from Sermon “Trailblazers in God’s Appointed Time” Tezenlo Thong

“Trailblazers in God’s Appointed Time”

Messages received:

  • The luxury of Kairos time has been an alien theme to me since I’ve grown out of childhood.  Once Chronos time became my way of life, Kairos time was as a distant memory of heaven.
  • God is outside of time.
  • Today, this moment, is the time to act.
  • Live to say, “I have no regrets”.

2015-1-11 Sermon “Trailblazers in God’s Appointed Time” Tezenlo Thong

“Trailblazers in God’s Appointed Time”

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

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The text for us this morning from the book of Genesis is a familiar Judeo-Christian story of creation. The story tells us that God created the universe ex nihilo. To continue with the theme of our conversation, i.e., time, let us ask, “Was there time before the creation?” Non-religious folks would ask a little differently: did time exist before the big bang? What these questions are asking is, “Does time itself have a beginning and an end?”

Another related question we might ask is “Is God timeless?” Some scholars would say that God is eternal but not timeless. This presupposition assumes that there was and will be time and God exists within time, but God is everlasting in that God has existed through all of time.

Additionally, we might also ask, “Are spiritual beings within the limits of time just as human beings are?” In other words, what happens to time after we die? Time is an interesting concept, and the more we think about it, the more questions arise in our mind.

Someone has likened life on earth to that of standing at a bank of a river and watching the river flowing constantly. The ceaseless flow of water represents time that is constantly passing. Whether we are doing something or not doing anything, time is moving. Time cannot be stopped. Time and tide do not wait for anyone, as the saying goes.

That standing at the shore represents our time on earth. Someday we will jump into the river and become a part of the ceaseless flow of time. But for now, we have the opportunity to stand at the shore. That is our moment, a moment to live, love and make a difference. That is the opportune, sacred, divine, kairos time. That is what we called the present – a gift. Dalai Lama is believed to have said, “There are only two days in a year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow; so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

Whether time existed or will exist or whether or not God is timeless are all human attempts to understand the unknowable. It is good to speculate or think, but we may never have answers to our questions about time. All we know is that we exist today, and today is a gift. Living life to the fullest every day or every moment is what matters in life.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

Simpson United Methodist Church

 

2015-1-4 Messages received from Sermon “Redeeming the Time”, Tezenlo Thong

“Redeeming the Time”

Messages received:

  • Life is short, don’t waste it.
  • Clock time is short and stressful, try not watching the clock and enjoying time.
  • Be aware are you are servicing time or is time servicing you?
  • Redeem time in a valuable way, make time for important and soul nourishing experiences.

Ephesians 6:15-20

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

2015-1-4 Sermon “Redeeming the Time”, Tezenlo Thong

“Redeeming the Time”

Ephesians 6:15-20

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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At the beginning of a New Year, I think it would be good for us to consider the importance of time. Time (chronos time and kairos time) is in fact a continuation of what we talked about last Sunday.

The New Year’s day is just like any other day. The sun sets and rises like any other day. We sleep and wake up like any other day. What then is really new about the New Year? Is time real? Or is it just a perspective?

“What is time?” Augustine is believed to have asked once. He replied, “If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone who does ask me, I do not know.” In speaking of time, I do not speak as a physicist for I am not one. Instead, I speak as a “lay” person. With regard to time, there is the “make-believe” time; and there is the “real” time. By make-believe time, I mean the clock time, the mechanical time, because there was no such time at one point in time. In the West, the clock or mechanical time is crucial and indispensable. But there are many cultures to this day where time is not dictated by the clock. By the “real” time, I mean the time in which we live and age. It is the time that takes its toll on everything, on all of us. Irrespective of age, place and social status, we all experience the real time.

The Bible encourages us to redeem the time. What does it mean to “redeem the time”? The Greek word for time here is “kairos” which is translated by some as “the right time, the fullness of time or the opportune time.” Also, we see several translations for redeeming the time: make the most of the time, making good use of the time and buying up your opportunities. To redeem the time means to convert time into value. It means to make a good use of our time to serve one another, to live and love. May the New Year be a year of value, love and service.

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

Simpson United Methodist Church


2014-12-27 Sermon “Kairos: Living in God’s Appointed Time”

Kairos: Living in God’s Appointed Time

Galatians 4:4-7

We use the term “time” to mean different things at different times. For instance, sometimes we hear people say, “I had a good time with friends on Christmas.” At other times, we also hear others say, “It was one of the worse times of my life.” Or you may say to someone, “Our worship service is at 10 am. Come and join us.” Furthermore, astrophysicists will tell us that time travels faster in higher altitudes than in lower altitudes. If these are all time or representatives of time, what, then, is time?

The Greeks used two words to explain the different dimensions of time: kairos and chronos. The word often used in the Bible when referring to time is kairos, and the writer of Galatians, who is believed to be Paul, uses kairos in today’s text. Some English Bible translates kairos as “the fullness of time; while others say “the right time.”

Kairos time is illusive and hard to grasp for a modern person. We are much more familiar with chronos time. Chronos time is clock time; it is predictable and quantifiable. It is measured by hours, minutes and seconds and is sequential. “Time is money!” so says a modern consumer driven culture, because time drives us to produce and consume. We are paid by hour or how effectively we use time to get things done, not by how we need to make our time on earth meaningful and contented.

Kairos time is measured not by a mechanical clock, but in terms of quality. It is quality time. It is experienced and unhurried. It is being and participating in time, not running after time while pulling your hair to meet a deadline. Kairos time is learning to “be”. It is being in the moment and enjoying the time. It is sacred time when we experience meaning and value in relationships and living life. Kairos is when we experience the divine and have “aha” moments. Quality (kairos) is what matters, not quantity (chronos).

Tezenlo Thong, Pastor

Simpson United Methodist Church