Many seek wisdom, but our wisdom cannot lead us to God. Our redemption depends entirely on Him, so that no one can boast (1 Corinthians 1:29-31). Instead, God is glorified in our dependence.
First, the redeemed absolutely depend on God; He is the source of all the good in the redeemed.
Redemption is from God. The Father gave us Christ and has accepted Christ’s life for ours. God is not obligated to redeem us; He could have rejected us like He did the fallen angels. Our redemption is God’s grace, a gift that we cannot repay.
Our faith in God is also from God (Ephesians 2:8). God gives us wisdom to know Him. We are considered good and holy before God because of God. (1 Corinthians 1:29-31).
We are reborn, like being raised from the dead, through the redemption (Ephesians 1:19, 2:10, 5:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
We are given the Holy Spirit, as promise by the Father, enabling Christ to be in us (1 Corinthians 1:29-31). With the Holy Spirit in us, rivers of living water will flow from us. The Holy Spirit also serves as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (Galatians 3:13-14; Luke 24:49; Ephesians 1:13; John 4:14, 7:38-39; Revelation 2:1; 2 Corinthians 1:22).
We are preserved and protected by God (1 Peter 1:5). We are sufficient because of God (2 Corinthians 4:7). He is not just the source of all that is good, but the medium through whom we receive it.
Through Christ, our mediator provided by Father, we receive our redemption (Hebrews 7:27, 9:26), and we are reborn, becoming good (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 8:6). God is not just the purchaser, He also has paid the price with the ultimate sacrifice.
Not just the source of all good and the medium to get them, God is the good itself.
Everything good that sustains us and brings us joy—such as food, health, etc.—is in God. All that is good within us—the excellency of our soul, our divine nature, our holiness, and our happiness—comes from God, who resides in us as the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:4, Hebrews 12:10).
Second, God is glorified in the work of our redemption. The more we depend on God, the more we see God and God’s glory. We see God’s greatness and our nothingness.
So, we must rely on God alone for our redemption. Trust Him absolutely. Praise and exalt God alone. Ascribe all glory to God.
Summary of a sermon by Jonathan Edwards.
Many of us made resolutions at the start of 2020. Some of us are the type of person described in James 4:13: Either today or tomorrow we will go to a specific city, spend one year there, to carry on a business and be profitable.
COVID-19 has turned everything upside down. No one knows the future (Ecclesiastes 8:7). What should we do? Let us learn from James 4:13-17.
First, note that the planner in James 4:13 did not consider whether God would approve the plan. We should let God be the center of our plan. Then God will direct us (Proverbs 3:5-6). Also ask God to show us how to carry out the plan He lays out for us (Psalm 119:32). Be humble and fully trust Him. Ask God for wisdom, and He would give it to us (James 1:5).
Second, do not presume to have a future. We do not know the first thing about tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1). Our life is temporary, like a morning mist that quickly vanishes. So, do not boast or brag what you are going to do tomorrow. This is arrogance. We can live and do anything, only if it is God’s will (James 4:15-16).
Also, do not worry about tomorrow, as such worry robs us of today. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). Ask God to give us what we need today. Plan for tomorrow but live for today.
Finally, if we know the good things we ought to do, we should do them (James 4:17). Not doing what we should is a sin of omission. Do not procrastinate; we are not guaranteed tomorrow. So, plan how to do it and act. Action speaks louder than words (1 John 2:3-4).
In conclusion, though our future is completely uncertain, we should still plan with God in the center. Make it God’s plan for our life, but do not presume we have tomorrow because we may die tonight. We live only if God permits. Do not worry about tomorrow. If there are good things you ought to do, do them. Make each day count.
Summarized from a sermon by Rick Warren at:
在2020年头，许多人制定了各种计划。 有些可能像雅各书 4:13中描述的--今天或明天，我们将去这个城市，在那里度过一年，开展业务并获利。 新冠肺炎使一切都颠倒了。
没有人知道未来 （传道书8：7）。 该怎么办？让我们从雅各书4：13-17中学习。
首先，雅各书4:13中的计划者没有考虑上帝是否会批准该计划。 我们计划的中间应该是上帝。 让它成为上帝对我们生命的计划，而不是我们的计划基于我们的理解。 如果我们这样做，上帝会指导我们 （箴言3：5-6）。 也请上帝展示我们如何行祂为我们安排的路 （诗篇119：32）。 要谦虚并完全相信上帝。 如果我们需要智慧，请求上帝, 祂会把智慧给我们 （雅各书1：5）。
第二，不要以为我们有未来。 我们不知道未来会怎样 （箴27：1）。 我们的生命是暂时的，就像晨雾很快消失一样。 所以不要吹牛或夸口我们明天要做什么。这是自大。我们可以生活和做任何事情都是神的旨意 （雅各书4：15-16）。
另外，不要为明天担心。 担忧未来使我们失去了现在。 每一天都有它的麻烦 （马太福音6:34）。 求上帝賜給我們今天我们需要的。 可以为明天计划，但专注于为今天而活。
最后, 如果我们知道我们应该做的善事，那就去做 （雅各书4:17）。 不这样做是一种罪。 不要拖延。 我们不能保证有明天。 所以计划如何做, 然后去做。行动胜于雄辩 （约翰一书2：3-4）。
总之，尽管我们的前途未卜，我们仍应该以上帝为中心进行计划。 让它成为上帝对我们生命的计划。 但不要以为我们有明天，因为我们今晚可能会死去。 如果上帝不允许, 我们根本不能生存。 不要为明天而担心。 若有应该做的好事，那就去做。 每一天好好的生活。
We do not always understand why God lets certain things happen, but we are not the first to have such confusion. Let’s look at how Christ confused Mary and Joseph.
When he was twelve years old (a year before adulthood in their culture), Jesus went with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem for Passover. When the event was over, His parents left for home with a large group, but Jesus stayed behind discussing with teachers in the temple (Luke 2:41-52).
A day later, when Mary and Joseph found out Jesus was not with them, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days of searching, they found Him. Mary was not pleased, asking why He treated them like this. In response, Christ questioned why they did not know He had to be in His Father’s house (v49).
During this event, Jesus called God, not Joseph, His Father. In the Old Testament, God is rarely referred to as Father. Basically, Jesus told them His relationship with God was much more important, and He did not have to obey them. Mary and Joseph were disturbed by how Christ treated them. They did not understand what He was talking about (v48-50).
James Elliot was speared to death while trying to evangelize to Indians in Ecuador. Shouldn’t God have protected him? Later, his wife Elisabeth explained: God’s plan is beyond us, and we should accept it as is.
Often, we are confused by what God does in our lives. We do not understand why we are in huge storms.
Accept them. Hold onto His love for us. Christ, the almighty God, came on earth to serve us till death. We should contemplate what we know about Him and treasure our experience of Him (v51). Gradually, through grace, we will grow in our understanding of Him. Meanwhile, keep trusting and serving Him.
Summarized from a Tim Keller’s sermon:
耶稣十二岁那年，祂与马利亚和约瑟一起去耶路撒冷过逾越节。在他们的文化里, 十三岁已届成年。 活动结束后，当马利亚，约瑟和一大群人离开时，祂留下来与当时圣殿里的老师讨论 （路加福音 2：41-52）。
詹姆斯·艾略特（James Elliot）在厄瓜多尔 (Ecuador)对印第安人传福音时被刺死。上帝不应该保护他吗？后来，他的妻子伊丽莎白解释说：“上帝的计划超越了我们，所以应该接受。”
接受吧。坚持祂对我们的爱。全能的神, 基督, 来到世上为我们服事直至死亡。思考我们对祂的了解以及珍惜我们对祂的经历。 V51。通过恩典，我们将逐步了解祂。在这其间，继续信任祂和为祂服事。
Money solves lots of problems, and we need it to live. But how important is material wealth to us?
Many of Christ’s parables are about wealth because our attitude towards it is a window into our hearts.
Let’s look at Christ’s viewpoint on possessions via the parable in Luke 12:13-21. The person there kept storing up things, thinking they would bring him security and happiness (v18). Christ called him a fool (v20), which is very rare. If he died that day, he wouldn’t have been able to enjoy any of his possessions. The physical world is temporary and is not all there is. Christ had no material wealth on earth, and yet He is worshipped by more than anyone today.
Don’t trust earthly things more than God. “Let me have this car.” “Help me succeed in this deal.” “Make this woman love me.” “Get me this house.” “Make me beautiful.” “Build up my muscles.” Don’t look to earthly things to give us genuine security and happiness. Only God can do that. Don’t place our hope in earthly things, but in God and His plans.
Focus on investing in God’s kingdom and His words, which last forever (v21). Be rich in Christ. Christ gave up His heavenly riches to become poor on earth. His sacrifice draws us to God. Through Christ, we become rich and good in God’s eyes (2 Corinthians 5:21, 8:9).
Also, focus on people rather than gathering riches for ourselves. Luke 16:9 talks about a shrewd manager putting money into people, something that lasts.
It is wise to save but be generous. Generosity can show our faith in God and our hope for the future. Generosity shows our love for others. Don’t focus on loving yourself but love our neighbors as yourself.
But don’t be good to others just to claim a place in paradise. Our goodness is far from God’s standards. We are good before God only through Christ, not through our behavior.
In conclusion, earthly possessions are temporary. Focus on God’s kingdom and His words. Focus on others.
Summarized from a Tim Keller’s sermon:
我们通过基督变得富有。基督放弃了天上的财富，成为地上的穷人。他的牺牲将我们吸引到上帝面前。通过他，我们在上帝的眼中变得丰富而美好 （哥林多后书5：21, 8：9）。
我们需要储蓄, 但请记住也要慷慨. 慷慨可以表明我们对上帝的信任。
不要信任属世的事比信任上帝更多。 “让我拥有这辆车。”“帮助我成功完成这笔交易。”“让这个女人爱我。”“让我得到这个房子。”“ 让我更美丽，更强壮。” 属世的事物不能给我们真正的安全和快乐. 只有上帝才能。
God told Abraham (1) he should leave his home land, without telling him where to go; (2) He would make him a great nation, without telling him where this nation would be; (3) all people would be blessed through him, without telling him how he could have a child at his old age; and (4) to sacrifice his child, without telling him why (Genesis 12, 22).
Each time, Abraham believed God (Genesis 15:6). He trusted and anchored himself in God’s words, not his own abilities, possessions, relatives, friends, or looks.
But Abraham did struggle in his faith. For example, he asked God how he could be sure of His words (Genesis 15:8). God told Abraham to get a few animals. At once Abraham knew God intended to sign a contract with him (Genesis 15:9-10). In their culture, to seal a deal, both parties each got an animal, cut it into pieces, and grouped them into two columns; and then both walked between the columns, showing symbolically the party breaking the deal to be cut into pieces (Jeremiah 34:18-20).
In this case, it was different. A blazing torch passed between the two columns. The torch signified God, as in Mount Sinai and the pillars of fire in the desert. The process represented God making a deal with Abraham (v17-18). But only God walked between the columns, meaning that if Abraham failed, God would take the punishment of being cut into pieces. God’s action enabled Abraham to live a life of faith.
Keeping His promise, God took the curse for our sins; Christ was ripped into pieces and was cut off from God the Father (Mark 15:33, Isaiah 53:8).
We worry, disobey, and doubt God. We think if we trust all the way, we will miss out.
Like Abraham, John the Baptist also had doubts. John asked Christ whether He was the one. We can do the same. We can ask God, “How can we know you will follow through?” “How can we know we wouldn’t let you down?” Then, listen to His response.
Remember that Christ already paid the price, by Himself.
May we believe Him and anchor in His words. May God be our shield and our reward (Genesis 15:1).
Summarized from a Tim Keller sermon:
上帝告诉亚伯拉罕（i）离开他的家乡，却没有告诉他要去哪里; （ii）上帝会令他成为一个伟大的国家，而不告诉他这个国家将在哪里（在他去世时，亚伯拉罕唯一的土地是他的墓地）; （iii）所有人都会通过他而得到祝福，却没有告诉一个年纪老迈的他还可以有孩子; 和（iv）以他的孩子为祭品，然而不告诉亚伯拉罕为什么 (创世纪 12：22)。
亚伯拉罕每次都相信上帝 (创世纪 15：6)。他坚持地信靠上帝的话语，不是他自己的能力，财产，亲戚，朋友或外表。
但亚伯拉罕确实在信仰上经历过挣扎。例如他问上帝他怎么能确定上帝的话 (创世纪 15：8)。上帝便告诉亚伯拉罕找一些动物来。亚伯拉罕立刻知道上帝打算与他签订合同 (创世纪 15：9-10)。在他们那时的文化中，为了达成协议，各方找一些动物, 将动物切成段块，然后分成两堆，最后在它们中间走过。这代表着如一方违了契约，他便像这动物一样，切成段块（耶利米书 34：18-20）。
上帝因为祂自己的承诺接受了诅咒。为着我们的罪，基督被撕成段块，与父神隔绝 （马可福音15:33 和 以赛亚书53：8）。
无论我们如何反应，基督将自己已成为代价。愿我们坚定地相信基督与祂的话语。愿上帝成为我们的盾牌和荣耀 (创世纪 15：1)。
Three global religions consider Abraham as the father of their faith. Because of a call from God, he lived a life at odds with his family, society, and culture. Let’s learn about it in Genesis 11:27-12:9.
Genesis 1-11 described human’s spiritual decay. But one ray of hope, a single family, still passed on the knowledge of God: the family of Seth (Genesis 4:25), from whom came Noah and Terah, the father of Abraham. At that time, the culture was polytheistic; even Terah worshiped other gods (Joshua 24:2). Fortunately, his son Abraham followed God. But Abraham’s wife, Sarai, was barren. So, this ray was flickering out, spiritually and physically.
Then God called Abraham. It was a call of grace because Abraham didn’t deserve the call. Abraham wasn’t qualified. The call changed him.
The call was radical. God told Abraham to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household and go “to the land I will show you” (12:1). Note that at that time, there was no Google map. By faith, Abraham went, not knowing where (Hebrews 11:8).
God promised Abraham that he would be a great nation, and all peoples on earth would be blessed through him. But Abraham never witnessed this.
For his entire life, Abraham lived between God’s promises and the reality. He might have been more comfortable just staying back in his father’s land, but instead he listened to God.
Over thousands of years, all the promises gradually are coming true. Like Abraham, we follow God by faith. Our life is between God’s promise and the reality. We may be more comfortable just living our old life. But all of God’s promises eventually will come true.
God promised that through Christ (who left His Father’s house, came on earth to suffer and die for us), we can be welcomed back to the Father’s house, with all the glory and blessing.
God’s call does not fit into our agenda. God’s call probably challenges major aspects of our lives. God’s call probably will take us out of our comfort zone. But trusting God’s call provides real security and gives us entirely new lives with radical new purposes.
Trusting God will bring us to the ultimate promised-land.
Summarized from a Tim Keller sermon:
创世纪1-11描述了人类的灵性衰退。如一缕丝的希望，一个家庭，仍然传递着对上帝的认识。这是塞特的家族（创世纪4:25）。 诺亚和特拉便是从这而来。 特拉是亚伯拉罕的父亲。那时，文化是多神教。甚至特拉都崇拜其他的神灵 （约书亚记 24：2）。幸好，他的儿子亚伯拉罕跟随上帝。但亚伯拉罕的妻子撒莱却不能生育。所以，这条光线在灵性和身体上都在灭绝中。
这也是一个激进的使命。上帝告诉亚伯拉罕离开他熟悉的本土，人民和他父亲的家庭 - 离开他的安全，他的舒适区！（创世纪12：1）
亚伯拉罕不知道该往哪里去。上帝只是告诉他要“到我要指示你的地方” （创世纪12：1）。请注意，当时没有谷歌地图。凭着信心，亚伯拉罕去了，也不知道应去哪里 （希伯来书11：8）。
这承诺是基督带给我们的应许。 基督离开了天父的家，来到世上为我们受苦受难,使我们可以回到天父家里, 得到所有的荣耀和祝福。
It took courage for Ruth to leave the land of her birth. Let’s learn from her story in the Book of Ruth.
Naomi moved to Moab with her husband and two sons because of famine in Israel. Their two sons had Canaanite names and married Moabites, who were traditionally bitter enemies of the Israelites: “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation” (Deuteronomy 23:3).
Subsequently, Naomi’s husband and the two sons died. In those days, widows had difficulty surviving, unless they had money or sons. Naomi had neither. When Naomi heard that there was food in Israel, she and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, returned to Israel.
Typically, immigrants leave their place of birth hoping for a more comfortable life. But not Ruth. In Israel, Ruth had no family connections nor status. In fact, Israelites saw Moabites as horrible, wicked people.
We could see the danger when Ruth picked leftover grain in an Israel field. The owner knew she had been good to Naomi. He suggested Ruth to stay in his field, and said, “I have told the men not to lay a hand on you” (Ruth 2:9).
Ruth left Moab because she loved Naomi (Ruth 4:15) and she recognized Yahweh as God, implying her belief. In Ruth 1:16-17, Ruth said to Naomi, “Your people will be my people and your God my God…. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
We can only postulate that Ruth’s faith came from seeing God in Naomi’s life. Because of Naomi, Ruth took refuge in God (Ruth 2:12). In turn, Ruth redeemed Naomi from a life of bitterness and saved the line of David through which Christ would come.
Christ was also an immigrant. He gave up His life to move to earth, where He suffered terribly and died to redeem us from a life of hell. God the Father raised Him from the dead, making His name above all names.
Learn from Christ and Ruth. Don’t focus on what the world considers as a good life. Surrender ourselves. Follow Christ. God will be with us and give us a great life.
Adapted from a Tim Keller sermon:
由於以色列粮食飢荒，拿俄米，丈夫和兩個兒子一起搬到了摩押。為了安全和舒適，他們可能已經遠離了上帝。甚至他們的兩個兒子也改了迦南人的名字, 及與以色列人的仇敵摩押人結婚。 （“亞捫人，摩押人或他們的後裔都不可能参加主的集會，甚至在他们的第十代也不能。”申23：3）
我們可以看到她在以色列油田採摘剩餘穀物時的危險。老闆知道路得对拿俄米很好。 他建議路得留在他的田地裡, 並說：“我已经告訴我的男员工不要把手放在你身上。”（路得記2：9）
我們只能假設路得的信仰是來自於在拿俄米的生命中看見上帝。由於拿俄米，上帝成为路得的避難所 （路加福音2:12）。 反過來，路得將拿俄米從痛苦的生活中救贖出來。基督是路得的后代。