With Strength in the Work of the Lord
Ephesians 3:16-19, Colossians 1:24-29
The body must be healthy in order to do God’s work. When your body is weak, everything is difficult. You get caught up in your fears and worries that you might die like that. First Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” The Korean Living Bible translates this as, “Get a hold of yourself, stand firm in faith and be strong like men.” In today’s passage, Ephesians 3:16, records, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
As prophet Daniel lifted up in prayer the sins of his nation and ancestors, he realized through the book of the prophecy of Jeremiah that their captivity in Babylon will reach 70 years in two more years and then end. He prayed fervently to seek the future of Israel and received the revelation of the return from captivity and the end times. Daniel 10:16-19 records, “And behold, one who resembled a human being was touching my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke and said to him who was standing before me, ‘O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in me.’ Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. He said, ‘O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!’ Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, ‘May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’”
Likewise, first, our body and soul must be at peace. Second, our body and soul must be strong.
Apostle Paul persecuted the believers of Jesus. After he was captured by the light of God in Damascus, he prayed for three days, without sight, neither eating nor drinking. He truly suffered. When Ananias came and laid his hands on him, Saul regained his sight, “and he took food and was strengthened” (Acts 9:19). We regain our strength just by eating food that we are able to see. But for the saints of Christ there is a hidden manna, or the hidden Word (Rev 2:17). When we eat of this we are able to know the secret of the end times. We live in a time when we do not know whether the Lord will return tomorrow or the day after. He gives us the grace that has been stored up through an angel and when we eat the hidden manna, we will be transfigured in a moment. All the dirty and unnecessary things in our bodies will disappear. We will be transfigured into bodies that will live eternally and not die, just like Jesus (Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:51).
Just like the days of Noah, we are living in the end times. No one believed what Noah said but mocked him, asking why the end has not yet come when he spent years building the ark. He received an answer seven days before the flood and proclaimed it to his relatives, in-laws and friends, but nobody believed him. Ultimately, only a total of eight people (Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives) entered the ark. The people were not able to realize what was happening, up until the point that the flood came down and destroyed all things (2 Pet 2:5; Matt 24:39). They married, built houses, bought and sold, and eyed things with greed and took root on this earth, as if the world would last forever and as if they could live on this earth forever. They were not able to leave because they had taken root on this earth. They could not turn back their hearts from the world, and they could not believe the Word of God. Such are the days we live in now.
Just as how Paul was strengthened after his three day fast, we must eat the fruit of the tree of life in paradise (Rev 2:7), the hidden manna (Rev 2:17), to gain our strength to work for the Lord. When we work for the Lord, the spirit of Jesus resides in us and the useless thoughts of the world cannot enter our hearts. If your household were to become poor because of your work for God, the people of the world would point fingers at you. However, we must believe that God will take care of even that, turning things around for good.
Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross to save mankind and suffered horribly and left a little bit of that suffering for us. Apostle Paul stated that he fills up in his body what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Must we not be healthy in order to fill our bodies with afflictions? We must be healthy for the work of God. When the body is ill, you lose your parents, children, spouse, friends and the church. Our inner man must be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:16).
Pascal (1623-1662) of France is a brilliant mathematician who at the age of twelve discovered that the interior angle of a triangle is 180 degrees. He invented the world’s first calculator at the age of 18, and was also a great philosopher and religious scholar who the authored of the book, “Pens?es,” well-known for its quote, “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed.” There was a time I was captivated by him in my school years. He came to believe in the Lord later at the age of 31, reading the Bible hundreds of times and becoming “Jesus-crazy.” He truly did great works for God day and night. Eventually his body wore out like a machine and he left this earth at the age of 39. Apostle Paul’s body was also worn out by doing the work of God. His body was as worn out as a machine that is so overused that the screw holes can no longer be used. His body was a blessed body that was used for the Lord, for the saints, for the kingdom of God and himself. But there are countless people in this world who rot away without doing God’s work.
Whether or not we work, our bodies will wear out. How different would the lives be for those who are consumed by doing the work of the flesh compared to those whose bodies wear out for God’s kingdom and righteousness? God would not abandon people like them. The reward they will receive in heaven is truly great. The glorious spirit of God resides upon their heads to reward them (1 Pet 4:11).
Life is but a moment, only lasting 80 to 100 years. We must really consider this. Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish (Ps 49:20). Our bodies will suffer whether we live well or not. However, when we place our hopes in heaven, we are joyful whether we live well or not. That is why Paul stated whether we eat or drink we must do all to the glory of God. If we are followers of Jesus, we should not say, “I just need to make it out of hell.” We must also believe that God is a rewarder (Heb 11:6). Think of your future. It is not far off. The biggest problem for the lives of the people on this earth is the expiration of the body. Each and every day is different. You get more headaches, lose more hair and your skin becomes wrinkly. Age spots appear and your body doesn’t function and you cannot even swallow your food. Within this expiration of the flesh contains the three messages of God: you must know, you must realize, and you must live. How frustrating to know that many live without this knowledge.
Dear saints, the subject of our faith is God who does not cease nor wear away. When we believe in God we will not wear away. This is because God is the same and His years will not come to an end (Heb 1:12). We do not age if we are in God. We do not die. John 8:51 states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." I pray in the name of the Lord that every one of you will not fall but become the “last man living in the end times” and be transfigured in a moment, just like Jesus. Rejoice always and devote yourself to the Lord. The subject of our devotion is the Living God; not the slightest goes to waste. "Which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen" (1 Tim 6:15-16).
God is One who is from eternity to eternity. He is our one and only Lord (Exod 3:14; John 1:1-18; Rev 17:14; Job 27:23; Psalm 104:2). He is the One who we can believe in. He is One who is worthy of our complete love and devotion with all our body, heart, soul, mind and wealth (Deut 5:6). God repays and rewards according to our deeds, our faith and by what we plant. We do not devote ourselves to the Lord at a loss.
All things of this earth change. There is nothing on this earth that we can trust and bring joy to without doubt. Only God is the same eternally and loves us until the end. Should we not always do the things that are pleasing to the One who has sent us and is with us? ( John 8:29) The labor of the mind cannot exist without the body, and the body also needs the mind. The body is a bowl to store the mind. That is why health must be a priority. We must be strong as a man (1 Cor 16:13), but what is more important is walking with God. God walks with us, our families, workplaces, businesses and our church. I hope you believe this and give thanks and become people that pray in the heart and spirit, even while walking on the street (1 Cor 14).
Dear Saints, it is the will of God for us to become sanctified and holy (1 Cor 5:21; Lev 11:44). He said, “you shall be holy, for I am holy.” God is holy. Therefore it is a great sin to blaspheme the holy name of God. Because people do not know the Bible, they carelessly say, “Why do you go to places like church?” The church is Christ Himself (Col 1:18). We must not blaspheme the church for there are dire consequences (Lev 24:11-16).
God said “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess 4:3). If you are not sanctified, it doesn’t matter how many years you believed, or what position you hold in the church or how much you volunteer in the church. God scolds us with, “You say you believed for more than ten years, but why are you unable to wear the robe of grace and wear rags that show your skin?” We must be in harmony with one another, for harmony leads to sanctification. It allows us to see the face of God. It is written, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). This is truly frightening. I know that I will leave this earth and stand before God someday. That is why I am telling you to receive the Word as much as you can while you are healthy.
I urge you to prioritize the church of the Lord at all times. Do not be a selfish bystander. Life here on earth is short. Heaven is such a place where someone will answer before you even call for them. It is a place where the food you desire to eat is already in your mouth just with a thought. Such a world is waiting for us. But what will happen if God were to ask you, “Why were you not faithful when you attended Pyungkang Church? Your body has worn out for the things of the world but you have never worked for the church that is the body of Christ.” Everything is recorded in the kingdom of God. Should we receive shameful salvation? Does it cost you to pray? God will inquire of your lack of faith, your lack of heart, your doubtfulness and lack of prayer. You will realize this when you go to that world.
Lives that are dragged along by time are pitiful. We must make the most of our time and own it. We must live lives that rule over time with God. This is being able to use time as I please, as the errand of God. Joshua is a man who held back the blazing sun. In fact, he held back the earth. He held back time, and the earth turned again once he was finished with his task. I sincerely pray in the name of the Lord that you will also become people of great faith that can reign over time with God. Make the most of your time. Bring back all the lost opportunities. Life is like the mist of dawn, the dew on wildflowers and the waves of water. Do not flow along in the waters but hold onto it. Use it to your liking and let the water flow. Stand above the waters and live life in faith, with the determination to start anew. Before the sun sets today, I urge you to pray that you will do the work of God to your heart’s content when God makes you healthy.
George Burns, a famous American comedian, lived a long life of 100 years. He signed a contract to perform on the famous palladium of England for four weeks, starting from the day he turned 100 years old on January 20, 1996. This shocked the world, to which he said, “Do not worry about me aging. People call me an old man but there are many that are rusted even among the young. Machines and cars rust when you do not use them. The key to a long life is not allowing your heart to rust, even more so than your body. Also, I have already registered in the kingdom of God a long time ago and I will not age because my heart is at peace.” This caused many people to be solemn and look back at their lives.
Abraham was 75 years old when he left Haran. In the world, it was an age where one would be considered old, but God acknowledged that Abraham’s life started at the age of 75. Although he was an elderly man in terms of the world, the moment he received his calling was his true first year of age in grace, in the Word and in God’s will (Psalm 146:5).
Dear saints, those in their sixties must be confident and prepare for the second stage of their lives; those in their seventies must wrap up and live meaningful lives and add the finishing touches; those in their eighties must look back and remember the past with pride and joy. You will not age when you believe. You age because you do not come to church and do not live lives of faith. It doesn’t matter if you eat the healthiest food; you will age when you do not come to church. When you live lives of faith, your mind, heart and faith will not age even as you age in years. The Jewish people do not even consider the sixties to be old. Those in their seventies and eighties are the “youthful old.” This means those are the years to enjoy the blooming of life’s maturity. Those in their 80’s and 90’s are the “marching youth.” The Jews believe that a new stage of life begins in your eighties. They likely say this with Moses in mind, who led the great exodus of redemption after being called at the age of eighty.
Dear saints, spread forth your wings of faith. Just like the eagle, use the winds of gusts, headwinds, and storms to rise up higher. The saints of Pyungkang are youthful like the eagle! My heart swells up when I sing hymn 394 (They That Wait Upon the Lord). I hope you will live lives that rise up everyday, that you will walk with God and long for the glorious world of God without worries, anguish and sorrow. Believe that you will stand before the glorious throne. Take heart and be healthy! Believe that you will surely live to see the end of the Old and New Testament, the glory of God.
Sermon by Huisun Rev. Abraham Park during 3rd service on July 30, 2006