Sermons

    face trials, Job and Abraham,

    What Should We Do When We Face Trials?

    By Huixin In the course of our believing in God, we will all encounter some trials, both big and small. Often times, however, we will be thrown into a panic or blame and misunderstand God, and thus live in torment. Then how shall we treat these trials in accordance with God’s wishes when faced with them? Every brother and sister will encounter trials, like illness, persecution and suffering, natural and manmade disasters. When these situations befall us, they are tests of our faith and obedience toward God. The Bible says, “For You, O God, have proved us: You have tried us, as silver is tried” (Psalm 66:10). “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2–4). From this we can see that trials are God’s tests and ordeals for people. They can temper people’s will, refine their confidence, cleanse the impurity in their belief in God, further their spiritual growth and make them soon become someone after God’s heart. So, how shall we treat God’s trials when they come upon us? God’s words say, “While undergoing trials, it’s normal for people to be weak, or have negativity within them, or to lack clarity on God’s will or their path for practice. But in any case, you must have faith in God’s work, and not deny God, like Job. Although Job was weak and cursed the day of his own birth, he did not deny that all things in human life were bestowed by Jehovah, and that Jehovah is also the One to take it all away. No matter how he was tested, he maintained this belief. No matter what kind of refinement you undergo in your experiences from God’s words, God requires mankind’s faith. This way, what is perfected are people’s faith and aspirations. You cannot touch or see it; it is under these circumstances that your faith is required. People’s faith is required for when something cannot be seen by the naked eye, and your faith is required for when you cannot let go of your own notions. When you are not clear on God’s work, what is required is your faith and that you take a firm stance and stand witness. When Job reached this point, God appeared to him and spoke to him.” From God’s words, we see that when God’s trials come upon us, we will become weak and negative and this is normal, but we should have true faith in God. We should come before Him and seek His intentions. Even if they are not in line with our own notions and imaginings, we should still accept and submit to them with a seeking heart, because everything God does is good, and among it all is the will of God. Take Job for example. He feared God and shunned evil; when his children committed sins, he would offer sacrifices for them. Overnight, his great fortune disappeared, and his house collapsed and took his children’s lives with it. Although he didn’t understand God’s will then, he did not sin with his mouth by blaming God, but instead sought and prayed to God; after he understood God’s will, he praised God, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). He stood firm in his testimony during his trials, and thus gained God’s blessings. There was also Abraham. When he was 100 years old, God gave him a son. After his son grew up, God asked him to offer up his only son Isaac to Him as a sacrifice. Even though he became weak at the time, yet he knew that his son was bestowed by God, he did not complain and sincerely offered to return his son to God. When God tested him, he didn’t make a bit of his own choices or requirements but obeyed God absolutely instead, so God blessed him so that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand on a beach or the stars in the sky, and would eventually become great nations. The faith and obedience of Job and Abraham are something we should imitate. The experiences of Job and Abraham allow us to realize that no matter what trials we face, we should not use reasoning with God or lay conditions on Him, but should obey and accept them unconditionally. This is the sense that we as created beings must possess. However, what is our attitude when facing God’s trials in our real life? Often times we may flee from God’s trials, and even misunderstand and guard against God because of not understanding the will of God as He tries people. Actually, when we understand the meaning of God’s trying people, we will not be wary of His trials, and we will obey and treasure all of them. This way we will stand firm and bear witness for Him in trials, and become people who are compatible with His intentions. God says, “If, like Job, man is able to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and can give his entire being to the hands of God, then will man’s end not be the same as Job’s—the receipt of God’s blessings? If man is able to accept and submit to God’s rule, what is there to lose? And thus, I suggest that you be careful in your actions, and cautious toward everything that is about to come upon you. Do not be rash or impulsive, and do not treat God and the people, matters, and objects He has arranged for you depending on your hot blood or your naturalness, or according to your imaginations and conceptions; you must be cautious in your actions, and must pray and seek more….” God’s words tell us that, everything disagreeable to us is set up meticulously by God. We need to come before…

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    Welcoming the Lord’s Return After Leaving a Desolate Catholic Church

    By Xiaocao Ever since I was little my mom would take me to church to read the sacred texts and attend Mass. We’d often leave at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m.; the church was really big and was always full, and sometimes there would even be parishioners standing at the entrance listening. After attending one Mass if I heard of another one being held I would really want to go to that one, too. I never failed to pray the Rosary every morning and evening and on the occasions I did forget I’d wake up halfway through the night and pray it before going back to sleep. But after a few years, for some reason Mass attendance had dropped by half or more and while listening to the priests some people would fall asleep or chat with each other. Some went to church to sell cosmetics, while some went to set people up with each other or chat about their home lives. I wondered, why was that happening? Weren’t they going to church to worship God? Plus, the priests didn’t pay any mind to all of that, but just kept on talking about the same old spiritual principles corresponding to the same times of the year. When they started talking we’d know what was coming next—it was all platitudes without any new light or new harvest to reap. Services had become just going through the motions and didn’t seem to help us know God at all. Plus the priests would hold Mass for parishioners who had given offerings of 500 yuan or more and had really good relationships with them, but they’d make all sorts of excuses not to do that for poorer members of the church who gave less. I wondered why the church had become like a marketplace where even the priests were seeking money—they were blinded by greed, disdainful of the poor and solicitous of the rich. Where were they leading us? It felt like there was a big stone blocking my heart and my faith became tepid, just as most other church members. Without any enjoyment in services, I just waited for the Father to say “Go in peace” so I could get home a little early. One time in 2003 when a Mass was about to begin, there was a dispute between two of the priests and that Mass was never held. The church ended up dividing into two factions. When I went somewhere else to attend a large Mass, everyone was talking about the church splitting up. I thought of something the Lord had said: “A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another” (John‎: ‎13:34–35). We were taught by the Lord to get along in harmony and have love for each other, but not only were the priests failing to guide us to carry out the Lord’s words, but they were attacking each other and setting up separate factions. They really didn’t appear to be what a Catholic should be. When some parishioners were discussing whether splitting up the church was in line with God’s will, one of the priests said, “This isn’t a matter for your consideration. There’s just one God and all you have to do is follow Him.” There were even some who shamelessly boasted, “If a Father does something wrong that’s for God to manage. Don’t worry about it.” I thought to myself, isn’t that to prevent us from having our own discernment, but just blindly following along? Some of the younger parishioners with family and secular entanglements would look to the priests for help, but they’d just halfheartedly explain it away, “These are just crosses that we have to bear.” They’d make no effort at pointing out a path of practice. Hearing this left them helpless and they just continued to live in the pain of their worldly entanglements, without a path to take. What the cause of so many problems cropping up in the church? I felt really lost without a direction or target, and I didn’t want to go to church anymore. I sat in my chair thinking back over the last few years of practicing my faith. I would get sleepy when reading the sacred texts and I wasn’t interested in attending Mass. I just observed the four major Catholic holidays, but I no longer enjoyed that feeling of peace and fullness from enjoying the Holy Spirit’s work. I thought of something I had memorized from the Catechisms: “Why are we in this world? We are in this world to worship God and to save our souls.” I couldn’t help but cry out in my heart, “Oh God, where are You, really? How should I follow You? God, where is the path You’re guiding me onto? If this continues on my soul will certainly end up in hell.” But no one could tell me the answer. In that moment, feelings of emptiness, sadness, distress, and helplessness all welled up. I was really suffering and on the verge of tears. One day in October, my mom said to me, “The Lord we’ve been waiting for has already come. I’ve been listening to some sermons these past couple of days—do you want to go too?” I was pleasantly surprised. I had just been hoping for God’s guidance—I hadn’t imagined that the Lord had already returned! That meant there had to be a path to take and all of my problems could be resolved—I knew I had to go listen to that sermon. I happily went along. The next day was rainy and cold; I went to the home of a friend from church with my mom, as planned. When we got to the entrance we saw that there were two sisters who had arrived early. They had come quite a ways, and in their hurry…

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