耶和華的心

耶利米書29章11節   耶和華說:我知道我向你們所懷的意念是賜平安的意念,不是降災禍的意念,要叫你們末後有指望。

有好幾次去餐館時,若有弟兄在場,一定有人點東坡肉。這是兼文學家,書法家和政治家於一身的蘇東坡發明的一道菜肴。蘇東坡被眨到黃州之後,發現那裡的豬肉特別便宜,所以他天天買天天做,就做出名了。蘇東坡也曾經有過好日子,在北宋高太后執政時,他當翰林學士兼侍讀學士,又教小皇帝讀書,對領導群講課,那一段日子他過得既榮耀,又錦衣玉食。

可惜好景不長,朝庭裡有小人務必置他於死地,一再把他放逐,從黃州到惠州到海南島。那時候的海南島十分落後,是個鬼門關,去的人十有八九客死他鄉。但是三年後蘇東坡不僅活著回中原,還寫了三本詩詞著作,還留傳了好幾個名菜。

蘇東坡的境遇讓我想到舊約裡的約瑟,從小就是父親眼裡的驕子,可惜被兄長們嫉恨,賣給以實瑪利人,又賣到埃及。從一個錦衣玉食的天之驕子,一下子變成事事仰人鼻息的奴隸。使人驚奇的是,他並沒有因而頹廢,反而因為心裡有神,在短短七年內做到了主人的管家。

沒想到主人的妻子看上他,要與他同寢,他不肯,她便誣告他,讓他下獄。當奴隸己經很倒霉,又變成階下囚。換成是我,就要大嘆來年不利了。約並沒有因而喪志,七年裡,司獄把監裡所有的囚犯都交在約瑟手下,他們在那裡所辦的事都是經約瑟的手。

然後,法老因著約瑟的解夢,讓他成為全埃及的宰相,一人之下,萬人之上。十四年的學習,讓約瑟對埃及瞭如手掌,成為宰相,他的能力綽綽有餘。很多人羨慕約瑟的成功,但是沒有看到約瑟當奴隸和囚犯的痛苦。

God’s Heart vs. My Heart

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Jonah 4:1-11.  Let’s go!

Jonah 4:1-3 (NIV) 
1  But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 
2  He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 
3  Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
 
On verses 1-3:  God has just shown great mercy to the Ninevites (see Jonah 3:10) and Jonah is angry.  Why?  For the same reason Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh to preach in the first place: Jonah despised the Ninevites.  Jonah had probably learned from the prophets Hosea and Amos that one day Assyria (of which Nineveh was or would be the capital city) would one day attack Jonah’s country of Israel.  So Jonah did not want God to spare the Ninevites.  Notice the double standard Jonah was operating under: when God spared Jonah instead of punishing Jonah, Jonah was overjoyed and thankful, yet when God spared the Ninevites instead of punishing them, Jonah is greatly displeased and angry. 
 

耶和華和基甸的刀

約翰福音10章27節   我的羊聽我的聲音,我也認識他們,他們也跟著我。 

在防止疫情擴展的需要之下,這世界上幾乎每一個人都嚐到了被居家隔離的滋味。大家都喜歡自由自在的生活,沒有人喜歡被隔離,關在家裡,因此美國及其他地方偶而有些人出來抗議。但是,其實我們己經很幸福了,能夠被居家隔離。在大約三千多年前,有的人不僅被強迫關在家裡不敢出去,甚至要躲在酒榨裡打麥子。

酒榨是一種用來壓出果實汁液的器具,古時候通常都在山穴或地下。打麥子本來要在通風的禾場打,因為需要利用風力將麥糠和麥子分開,才能有最多的收成。但是這個人害怕有人來搶奪他們的糧食,只好躲在最不通風的地下打麥子,可見他實在很不得己。要把麥糠和麥子分開,沒有風力(那時也沒有電扇),只要一打下去,麥糠滿天飛舞,那種空氣也會讓人感到窒息。

就在這樣令人很尷尬的情況下,卻有人突然出現,對他說:「大能的勇士啊,耶和華與你同在!」這人很不以為然地回答:「耶和華若與我們同在,我們何至遭遇這一切事呢?」這人便是基甸,神為以色列人預備的士師。但那時他還不知道神在他身上的計劃,他甚至不相信照顧以色列人的神會讓他們被米甸人壓迫到這樣的地步。

A God of Second Chances

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Jonah 3:1-10.  Let’s go!

Jonah 3:1-3 (NIV) 
1  Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3  Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh…
 
On verses 1-3:  The first time the word of the Lord came to Jonah, Jonah ran away.  But praise God that in His mercy God decided to let His Word come to Jonah a second time (v1).  Likewise, you and I may not have always responded with obedience the first time God called us, but thank God for those times when, after even we have rejected Him, God calls us a second time, or a hundredth time.  I’m so glad that in His mercy God has decided that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29).  Thank You Lord for being the God of second chances.  Thank You for Your patience with me.

雅各的天梯

約翰福音14章16節  我要求父,父就另外賜給你們一位保惠師,叫祂永遠與你們同在。

這次新冠疫情帶給大家最大的痛苦,大概就是隔離效應了。許多人都覺得很孤單。特別是為了保護老人,兒孫輩不准探訪祖輩;在老人院的不准出門,只能關在自己室內,每天三餐送到門口。獨居的每天獨來獨往,生病的更不准探視,進了醫院的就等於世隔絕,很多人都在孤獨中死去。人人都好像在坐監牢。有人開玩笑說,等疫情過後大家都可以去幹一兩件壞事,因為我們都己經提早服刑了。

孤單,是這個時代的特色,只是在這次的疫情中更加地突顯出來。在舊約裡有個人曾經也很孤單。因為他的母親叫他去偷了他父親給哥哥的祝福,所以他哥哥氣得想殺他,他的母親只好叫他快快離家,避避風頭。這就是雅各的故事。

雅各要從現在的巴勒斯坦/別是巴走到大約土耳其的哈蘭,那時稱為巴旦亞蘭,又稱米索波大米,大約需要走一個多月。這是一條很孤單的旅途,聖經記載,雅各累了只能枕石而睡。沒有汽車旅館,也沒有住家可以借宿,也沒有僕人跟著幫他打點。他就這樣一個人默默地走,默默地睡覺。他心裡的徬徨可想而知。

有一次溫哥華的巴士罷工,有個朋友在餐館打工,凌晨一點下班,自己沒有車。一直走回到家裡,己是凌晨四時。她回憶那時的心情十分恐懼,半夜三更路上無人還好,萬一有壞人,她都不知要往哪裡逃。她說就是一路禱告,不停禱告,直到回到家裡。

基督再來時如何?

God’s Grace Is Greater Than Your Troubles

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Jonah 2:1-10.  Let’s go!

Jonah 2:1 (NIV) 
1  From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.
2  He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
3  You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
4  I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
5  The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6  To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.
7  “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

焦急中的選擇

撒母耳記上30章6節    大衛甚是焦急,因眾人為自己的兒女苦惱,說要用石頭打死他。大衛卻倚靠耶和華他的神,心裡堅固。

紐約最近有一則新聞,有一位急診室的醫生也被傳染到新冠肺炎,後來自殺。她是我兒子的一個同事,兒子說工作單位裡的人聽到這個消息都非常震驚難過。那位醫生的自殺突顯出在疫情下的醫護人員身心的巨大壓力。在這個新冠病毒肆虐的時候,每個人都受到極大的衝擊,尤其是在第一線的醫護人員和其他工作者。兒子也在急診室上班,他說醫院內外是兩個世界,醫院裡聚滿了許多垂危的病人,但是到了街上彷彿無事一般。除了有親友死去的人,許多人不明白這病毒的傳染有多麼危險,還不肯配合政府的宣導,以致於害人損己。

面對生死的壓力時,我們還能仰望神嗎?大衛讓我最佩服的地方就在此。在他逃亡的後期,非利士王亞吉收留了他,還送給他一座城洗革拉。但是當非利士人要去和以色列人爭戰時,他們擔心大衛會臨陣倒戈,因此不讓大衛和從人參加。大衛他們一行人只好回去洗革拉的家。沒想到迎接他們的是一座被掠奪和焚燒的城,他們的妻子和兒女都被亞瑪力人擄去了。

當大家為妻兒哭泣時,憤怒到要用石頭打死大衛。此時的大衛也很著急,他的妻子也被擄去了,眾人又來勢汹汹,情況萬分危急。聖經記載,此時的大衛卻因為倚靠神,心裡堅固。這句話不是說他己有主意,而是說在此大風大浪之際,他轉眼仰望神。他不是試著去安撫眾人,而是請祭司亞比亞他拿以弗得來求問神。大衛選擇倚靠神,而不讓焦急控制他的心思。

Run After God, Not Away From Him

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Jonah 1:1-17.  There are so many powerful lessons we can learn.  Let’s go!

Jonah 1:1-2 (NIV) 
1  The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 
2  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

On verses 1-2:  Who is this man Jonah?  Is he a deeply spiritual man with a close and honest relationship with God?  Or is he a superficial man who lacks love for God and love for people?  Is he a bit of both?  As you read the book of Jonah, make it your aim to find out what kind of person Jonah is, besides the famous fact of him running away from God and getting swallowed up by a big fish.  Besides the fact that his name means “dove” and he is son of Amittai (which means “true one”), these two verses show us that Jonah had an assignment from God: to go to the city of Nineveh, which would become the capital city of Assyria, and preach a message of repentance to the people in Nineveh.  This was not the only assignment God had ever given Jonah.  In 2 Kings 14:25 we learn that Jonah was a prophet from Gath Hepher who prophesied accurately that Jeroboam II king of Israel would restore the boundaries of Israel.  As a prophet, Jonah was probably someone who was accustomed to hearing God’s voice, receiving assignments from God and giving messages from God to others.