The Secret of Gaining Strength
Rev. Marie Ho

Living in this complex age, Christians are overwhelmed with endless demand and are exhausted under great expectations. It is even more stressful for Christians in North America that they have to stop going to church for the sake of making a living in this new place. Some of them may have given up their beliefs. It is due to a lack of an inner strength to follow God's way. When confronting hardship, they may just complain, grumble, be disheartened and eventually draw back.

How do we get the strength to overcome the adversity? It is said, "Strength does not come by casting noises, but by being silent in peace." Also in the bible, it said, "Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46: 10) and "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." (Isaiah 30: 15).

People say, "If a melody does not have a pause, it is just an ordinary music. It becomes a beautiful music when a pause is inserted in the right place."

We may have noticed that there is a tiny word "Selah" in many places in the book of Psalms. "Selah" means the music must pause-in certain spots. The Psalms were written for Israel to worship God in the temple ill the old days. There are 71 selahs in the book of Psalms. The music must have pause and the Psalms must have Selah. In the same manner, we must have quietness in our life. Quietness is the source of strength:

(1) The example ofJesus (john 6:1-15)
Jesus went through various hardships, sufferings, testing and temptations when He was on earth. But He overcame all these. How did He do it? He went to the wilderness to pray alone. He was close to God and sought His will. Because of that He fulfilled His mission from God. It is written in John 6: l-: 15 that after He fed five thousands with five loaves and two fishes, people wanted to enthrone Him as king. But He retreated to the mountain to pray. He despised the opportunity of being their king. Should He become king, He would had fame, status, wealth, etc. But He retreated because He understood clearly what God's plan was for Him. He came to this world not for any personal gain but to sacrifice for the sake of us sinners. It is why He went to the mountain alone to seek God to obtain the strength to defeat Satan's temptations.

(2) The example of Mary (Luke 10: 38-42)

Martha and Mary are sisters who both loved Jesus and would be delighted to serve the Lord. But they showeditin two different ways. Marthafocused on the work and Mary focused on the spiritual aspect. They are all important factors in the church. The problem is that Martha was too worried and upset about her work that she neglected caring for others and being humble to Jesus. She showed it in her comments in Luke 10:40:
"But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help mel" In this situation, her services did not seem to please Jesus. He answered, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Mary's secret of success is being quiet in front of Jesus, listening intently and understanding God's will and doing it accordingly. Later Mary did a wonderful thing. It was she who poured on Jesus about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume. Let us follow the examples of Jesus and Mary - being quiet in front of the Lord and renewing our strength.

We Are One

James Leung

The cherished desire of our Lord Jesus is "we are one". This was also in His prayer. We can realize how urgent He was to see that His disciples might be one from His "separating prayer". 'Md for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth ... And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them: that they may be one, even as we are one" (john 17:19-22).

"We are one" was also the advice that Paul had put forward to the disciples at Corinth when there was crisis of division among the church. Actually, the disciples at the early stage didn't understand what "in one" meant. Therefore Jesus Christ spoke through the proverb of the vine. He himself is the vine, and all the disciples are the branches. As the' branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; any more can they, except they abide in Jesus Christ. In I Corinthians Paul said that the church is the body and Christ is the head of the church and all the disciples are members of the body. The work of the church is the work of organization. If disciples do not work together or do not have concern for each other or take care of one another, the church work would not flourish. Therefore no matter as a branch or a member of the body, they are all parts of Jesus Christ as a whole. Although they are different in function or feature, they cannot separate from the body of Christ. In Christ we are one. As to the different traditions and different gifts, they will not hinder the unity of the church.

Although there are differences in tradition, all have originated from the Holy Trinity. We are inspired by the Holy Spirit only, and accepted as members of our Father's family. The different gifts are to build the body of Christ and the members should have the same care one for another. Each tradition has its particular history and each gift has its own beauty.
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