Nothing Minor about Micah

Micah is not a common book we hear from on a regular Friday night. Typically, the book is regarded as mysterious and sometimes the passages may seem irrelevant to today’s 21st century. However, as we take a closer look at the book, the mysteriousness begins to fade away, and a clearer vision of God’s profound lessons and messages is seen. The invaluable treasures found in this minor prophet — the relatable sufferings of Micah in his generation, the overtones of judgment and salvation traced throughout the book, and the promise and foreshadowing of Jesus Christ — points us to God’s faithful character, encouraging our hearts to hope and ponder deeply on the profound words spoken ages ago in Micah. 

What I love about the overview of Micah is the display of God’s steadfast faithfulness to His people. He doesn’t leave us alone in our chaotic state of injustice, human governance, lovelessness, greed, treatment of the poor, and so much more, but gives us guidance through the lessons of Micah. I am reminded that this book is a provision and grace from God, who cares deeply about our own personal struggles with the chaotic society around us. Secondly, the overtones of judgment and salvation traced throughout the book reveal God’s faithful plan to judge the wicked and save sinners for the glory of His name. He gives a glimpse of God’s redemptive plan by foreshadowing the ministry of Jesus Christ, which now, centuries later, we can see God’s faithfulness in bringing this plan into fruition. This display of God’s faithfulness gives me faith and perseverance to press on in this world — whether it would be enduring the implications of the pandemic or reaching out to maintain deep fellowship — because I have hope that our faithful God is still in the process of fulfilling the promises He has made in His Word and to His children. 

As a response to God’s faithfulness displayed in Micah, we can wholeheartedly pursue loving one another deeply, persevering in a chaotic world, and forbearing in faith as we live on in this life. His steadfast character and His promise to trample sin gives us the hope to cling to as we navigate the ups and downs of life’s trials and joys. Much of this has reminded me of the verses founded in Hebrews 10: 23-25:

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

10.23.2020 Fall 2020 Week Three

Nicole Lam

What is Most Worshipful to God?

It’s a question frequently asked in the church today; in a world where churchgoers dispute the sanctity of traditional versus contemporary worship services, much attention is drawn to our manner of worship. But whether there’s an organ or an electric guitar, a hymnal or a giant screen, true worship is a reflection of the Christian life, not the medium through which it occurs. A heart that honors and obeys God will worship in truth no matter the circumstance. A heart that lacks such honor and obedience will worship falsely. The argument over what is considered “false” rages on, yet the foundation of false worship has nothing to do with music, style, instruments, etc. False worship is rooted in the heart, manifested in religiosity, and ultimately rejected by our God who deserves nothing less than the utmost praise, honor, and glory. 

“God seeks true worshippers who honor and obey Him.” This concise yet profound statement speaks volumes on both the character of God and the life of the Christian. The LORD desires that both our internal affections and external actions be directed toward Him. And the two go hand in hand. A heart that truly honors God will yield a life of obedience to Him. A life that displays obedience to God is evidence of a heart that honors Him. The heart informs our worship, our obedience proves it. I often think about obedience in terms of a rigid dichotomy of whether or not I fall into sin. Do I sin or do I obey? Do I follow or do I forsake His commands? My gauge on obedience is centered on the observed aspects of my life, on how well I exercise discipline and self-control. And this isn’t necessarily bad; sin must be fought fervently, commands must be followed diligently. But perhaps these are the questions I should be asking myself in times of temptation: Does my heart aim to honor the LORD? Do I desire a clean heart? Do I love the LORD with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Because if the answer is a sincere, resounding yes, then the natural posture of my life will be that of obedience. Obedience becomes not an exercise in willpower, but an act of worship. 

There are several ways we can respond to this, the most practical one being confronting the places of our life where we are not worshipping the LORD, and seeking to honor Him in those areas. In doing so we should strive to obey, and strive to grow in our fear and knowledge of God so that we may better honor Him. But overall, these truths about false worship (the root, the religiosity, and the rejection) should point us to true worship, worship stemming from a heart that longs, that faints for God. Our God is so inexplicably worthy of true, earnest, heartfelt worship. In meditating upon the very nature of God, His divine glory, His splendor and majesty, His mercy, His kindness, His holiness, His perfect judgement and abounding love, in understanding the depth of my sin and the severity of my rebellion against Him, the wrath I deserve yet will not endure because my Savior suffered, bled, and died in my place, what else can I do but fall down on my knees and worship the One who has so lovingly saved me? May the wonders of the gospel guide our hearts in true worship.

10.16.2020 Fall 2020 Week Two

Ethan Peng

John 17: The King’s Last Will and Testament

In John Chapter 17, Jesus presents such comforting truths for His people. My prayer is that God would increase our love for and our worship of Him as we see His compassionate and tender care for His sheep demonstrated in His words and in His prayer. Before His death, Jesus prayed for those who are His and belong to Him. He asked for unity centered upon truth and the gospel (vv. 20-23). He spoke of a future glory for those in Christ to look forward to and to hope in (vv. 20,24). And finally, He assures us with an eternal security that we can always rejoice in (vv. 25-26).

Firstly, I am in awe because of His prayer on our behalf (Psalms 144:4). It is a great comfort to see how Christ interceded in prayer and to know that He continually intercedes on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus prayed for unity, a oneness, with God and fellow believers. Despite our many differences and the abundant diversity present in the church, we are to be and can be unified because of Christ. It is Christ and the profound truth of the gospel that binds us in unity. The trinity depicts this beautifully and “shows us that you can have a profound real, organic unity with diversity, so that the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are working in complete union in our salvation. The Father appoints. The Son accomplished. The Spirit applies. We encounter God as fully God in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. And yet, their divine work is neither interchangeable nor redundant.” Similarly the members of the church are many and God uses the variety of gifts and ministries of the members to edify and build up the church for God’s glory. Paul writes, “For the body does not consist of one member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:14). Our unity in Christ is a testimony to the world of the power of the transformative work of the gospel. We also see Christ’s tender heart towards us in verse 24. His very heart is drawn to us in spite of our sinfulness and He longs for us to be with Him, to see and share in His glory (Phil. 3:20, Rom. 8:17). He cares for us with incomparable love and kindness and compassion. We concluded the study of this passage by contemplating the eternal security we have in Christ. Verse 26 calls attention to God’s work of salvation. We can do nothing to attain salvation and we are saved by grace through faith. We can do nothing apart from Him and it is only God who can cultivate in us a heart that loves and obeys Him (John 15:5). The same Jesus that saves us is holding on to us and it is a consoling truth that He promises the continuing indwelling of Christ and His love. Paul writes in Philippians, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We are to display our unity and be characterized by our love for one another in spite of our differences (John 13:35). I am so thankful and constantly encouraged by GOCers’ love for one another and their eagerness to serve one another by various means such as meeting someone’s needs or by simply cooking them a meal as an act of kindness and love. We need to strive for unity and be bound in love for God and for one another so that God is glorified. We should be emboldened by Christ’s heart and ministry and strive to love like Him.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8) and our salvation is secure in Christ who completed the work of redemption on the cross so that those who believe that He died and rose again might inherit eternal life. Praise God for Christ, His life, His death and His resurrection and that we can rest in the glorious truth of the gospel.  May we rest in these wonderful and consoling truths and be faithful to love one another and share the glorious truth of the gospel with others until we see Christ face to face in all His glory.

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:19-25 (NASB)

10.2.2020 Fall 2020 Week One

Catrina Velarde

Comfort in Sovereignty

As a child, the sovereignty of God was a vague concept that simply served to bring attention to the power of God –that is, He created the universe and exercises control over it. It wasn’t until these recent years (especially with all the preaching in Job) that I came to understand how agreeable  that truth can be, and the amount of comfort that can be found there. I appreciate Psalm 115 because of the way it presents the sovereignty of God in a way that calls us to trust in and worship Him for His “Godness”.

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” I love this verse because of the simplicity yet strength of the emphasis. To me, this is the crux of the entire psalm: the God we worship is not only beyond our human perceptions, but more importantly in His sovereignty He does what He enjoys. After understanding that the Lord takes pleasure in what is good, righteous, and perfect, the verse is all the more reassuring. In His omnipotent authority, God’s orchestrations are ultimately good, as that is what He delights in, meaning that for the Christian, all things that happen are for our good. So, while Zoom classes and the current state of the university may be a disappointing reality for some, we need to realize that God’s plan has already accounted for this and is known to be good for us. This reminds me of Romans 8:28  while bringing to the forefront of the mind the idea of sovereignty. The idea that God is our help and our shield, as stated in verses 9-11, stems from the fact that the sovereign God does what pleases Him. Thus, the psalmist says, we trust Him for His sovereign power, which is expressed as praise.

This psalm speaks perfectly to me not only in my own circumstances but also with regards to the larger issues that surround us. The sovereignty of God exerts control over all things, ranging from my pre-med pursuits to the political and environmental issues raging across the country right now. It may be easy to despair in a time when Christianity may be ridiculed as medieval and backwards, and more so especially with the current battles the church is facing and will face in the years to come, but we know that our God is a living God who works righteously and all-powerfully – and that is enough.

10.2.2020 Fall 2020 Week Zero

Justin Lau

Testimony of the Week – Leo Sum

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Leo is a third year civil engineering major who enjoys searing steaks, baking potatoes, boiling homemade soup, and frying crabs. Two-time participant in the Spartan Race, Leo also delights in exercising: hiking, sprint workouts, or simply jogging around the UCLA perimeter. Occasionally, he takes pleasure in hand-lettering and card-making for his friends and family.

I was raised in a family with no religious affiliation. From birth all through high school, I had heard many Old Testament stories shared in bits and pieces, but had never been exposed to the Gospel. In retrospect, I never came to doubt the existence of a God, but possessed a misconception of one. As a kid, I believed that the longer I worshipped this statue sitting in the corner of my house, whom I called God, the greater the benefits to my grades, relationships, and popularity.

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