Gratia Church held graceful Christmas joint retreat with LA Pilgrim church. The theme of the retreat was “Thy Kingdom Come” and there was 4 bible studies and Christmas service on Dec 25. The Christmas retreat was full of grace and overflowing joy with altogether. It was a great and graceful day with the message, and also joyful day with all laughs and fun. May the Grace of God always remain in the hearts of members and receive Jesus Christ in their lives all the time.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him.Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door.When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.
Gratia church ministers had graceful evangelism on December 16, 2019. Pastor Julia and pastor Nancy held the campus evangelism diligently with the faith that God will work for everything. They put their trust in God that He will bring good souls whose hearts are in God and seek for His righteousness. Despite of the rain, the evangelism went very well that they met several good people who showed interests and even asked questions regarding bible and God. May the work of Holy Spirit continues to guide all the works so that many people can receive salvation.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Gratia church had graceful Sunday service on December 8, 2019 by meditating the message of God’s love from the scripture Luke 15:11-24 entitled “The Parable of the Prodigal Son. Pastor Tzeng delivered the message about the two groups of people, the sinners and the Pharisees both get lost in the true relationship with God. One was bad and one was good, but both were lost, both wanted Father’s things but not the Father. One tries control Father by living bad life to get what he wanted, other son controls Father by good life. Both used Father to get what they really loved, one did it by being bad, other good. Bad one was lost in his self-discovery, good one was lost in his goodness. Through the message, members were able to self examined how we have misconception on God. Below is the summary of the message.
“Jesus is preaching to 2 groups: sinners and Pharisees.In this parable, we have the younger brother and older brother – it’s clear that it’s these two groups. This is the amazing love of God for us that Jesus is so clear and vivid in this parable for younger brother. But who is the younger brother? It’s the tax collector and sinners and it’s also our story of being young. Younger brother wants to go out on his own to world and discover himself. He’s rejecting his family, tradition, legacy and wants to self-discover, self-realize himself in the world. Isn’t this classic youth? We want to go to the big city, figure out our passions, find ourselves, no parent. But problem? we want leave, discover myself in world, leave God, we want God dead. Anger, hate, frustration, hurt, aloneness, guilty, blame, this is confusion in spirit exactly in young people.”
“So younger brother self-discovers himself in world, but it’s no better in world, suffering meaningless job. He comes to the conclusion that self-discovery leads to nowhere and its true, it’s completely dead-end. What Jesus shows us in parable is who the Father God is and how young brother misunderstood Father. He thought he had to do something, but He didn’t, His perception of the Father was completely wrong. In OT, people view Father God in patriarchal sense – God is harsh, angry, condemns, judges your sin. But Jesus gave us Father unlike other fathers – completely abandoned, but generously willing to forgive. He showed us Father who loves unconditionally, caring, warm, emotionally sensitive, and embracing us. Jesus brought together the power and tenderness of God in the Father as one – no one seen this before.”
“Young people get lost in ourselves thinking God hates, judges us, but all along it was us misunderstand. In actuality, God is all mighty, powerful – but He’s also loves unconditionally and covers us, accepts us. Now the older brother, who won’t join the feast, Father comes out to him and pleads with him. But he complains – he’s always been good brother, did everything right, and doesn’t receive anything. Most people think older brother is jealous of Father’s grace, that may be true, but it’s also too simple. Older brother is too intelligent, measured, staying family, doing right thing to get emotionally jealous.Older brother says he has nothing on his list sin – no one without sin but he’s right in a sense. Pharisees would break the law and give sacrifice to make up. They felt bad about sinning, but that’s it. What is Pharisee, Older Brother? I’m good person, I’ve nothing left on my sin list – why don’t I get God’s love?”
“How does someone without sin get saved? It’s that you have to repent for something else besides sins. Non-believers look at Christianity as moralism. What is the difference a Christian and moralist? Both repent for what did wrong, but Christian repents for reasons you did right. Christians repent what do wrong, but also recognize reasons for why they do good and right things. Why are we good? Reason is not so pure – It’s self-justification and desire to control God and others by thinking that If I read Bible, pray, come to service, be nice everyone, do all right things – then God has to bless me.”
“He’s angry because how dare Father use our wealth? I obeyed, I should have some say how use wealth. In other words, I have some right, some control in my inheritance – It’s sneaky, intelligent, reasoned. It’s real reason why many of us moralist older brothers are angry and blind and don’t see this deep sin in us. Jesus is many things, but he’s not your savior .You are your own savior – form of trying control God.The older brother is angry thinking that God owes me, I deserve it, judgmental of younger. This is a moralist – We have to ask ourselves – am I a Christian or moralist? Because when you realize this deep sin in this, then you begin to repent of this false motivation in us.”
“If so then it changes everything – way you handle criticism, treat other people, how people treat you. Your relationship with others changes and relation with God – it’s because new birth. Father says that you’re always with me and all I have is yours and we’re all together in love. He’s saying it because actually, both sons had same problem – separation from Father. One was bad and one was good, but both were lost, both wanted Father’s things but not the Father. One tries control Father by living bad life to get what he wanted, other son controls Father by good life. Both used Father to get what they really loved – status, wealth – one did it by being bad, other good. Bad one was lost in his self-discovery, good one was lost in his goodness – tax collectors and Pharisee.”
“It’s also all of us, who try to measure up in different ways – we use self-discovery or moral conformity. Some say I’m going to discover myself; Other say I’m going to be good, work hard. But how can be we saved? We couldn’t do ourselves through self-discover or moralism. Father came to us. The Father goes to the younger brother and cover him, the Father goes outside feast to older brother. In actuality, wouldn’t it have been wonderful if the older brother went after the younger brother? Younger brother leaves, older brother should find him, embrace him, use what he has bring him back. This younger brother didn’t have an older brother, but we do – we have God’s son Jesus Christ who came to us. Jesus didn’t come from next town, he came from heaven to earth.For Jesus gave us a new paradigm for living, that is the KOG with both younger and older brother together. We can do this because God came to us first, loved us, covered all of it up, and allowed new lives.”
“KOG is not about myself, it’s not about judgment, misconceptions, anger, hurt, blame, or guiltiness. KOG is about welcoming all those who are lost to make a new way in this world in name of Jesus Christ. We’re closing down one year and coming to New Year, I hope we can get off into the New Year right. Wash off our old robes, receive new robes of Jesus Christ and live for new way forward beyond old ways.”
After the service, members had breaking bread in groups and delicious lunch. The lunch was served by deacon Mark and everybody enjoyed the time of warm fellowship in Jesus Christ during the lunch. We wish that all members grow in faith and continue to live out the life of God’s love.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.