The Journey (with excerpts from my 1st sermon in Bangkok 15 years ago)

(The mountains of Myanmar as viewed from Mae Hong Son, Thailand. Photo credit Lei Roque)

How’s life for you these days? Fantastic, good, bad, so-so?

Most of us would liken it to an amusement park ride complete with twists and turns, ups and downs, starts and stops; while others see it as a meaningless exercise of choices and dull events.

One popular character once said, “My mama said, Life is like a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’re gonna get.”

For the young, life is like a race; the faster you go the thrilling it gets…but eventually as you grow much older you will find out that it’s actually a walk…a trek…a journey.

Decades ago a TV series that turned into a movie franchise was so innovative that it even predicted ideas, fashion and technology of our world today – It’s called Star Trek. Now if you don’t know what I am talking about it just shows I’m getting really old.

Trek according to our good friend Webster is defined as a travel or a trip that involves difficulties.

In the Bible our heroes of faith experienced heartaches, pitfalls and trials aside from known victories.

Now if in involves hardship this thing seems to be not too enticing. Can we just have triumphs, good times and good things, please?! And for all those bad stuff please go away.

Here are several important points to learn in our journey.

  • Knowing and looking forward to our destination

How can we get there if we don’t know where we’re going? Where exactly are we headed?

We’re marching to…the glory land…the New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:1 – And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. -The ultimate destination where everything is made new!

In our world today it’s easy to lose sight of our purpose. In our daily lives, we find ourselves not being able to accomplish certain tasks of utmost importance. We would wake up with a certain conviction to accomplish an activity, but then we see something else we find amusing. And then, we lose track of time and at the end of the day we can look back with regret for we didn’t accomplish anything meaningful – it’s fruitless and empty,

Enticed and enthralled by the sights and sounds along life’s way, like the wife of Lot we take our eyes off our goal just to look at something empty and meaningless. Yes, sometimes it only takes a glance.

We are pilgrims on this earth; our ultimate destination is to be united with our Father in our heavenly home. Once we start to feel too at home or too comfortable in this sin-filled world, then we’re on dangerous grounds.

We better watch our steps and the road ahead. Let us always long for our destination – where we can truly experience peace and rest. As Doug Batchelor’s said – “Friends, are you becoming distracted by the tranquil views of the world or are you preparing for the next world?”)

  • Constantly prepared and to Improvise – for us to learn and be changed.

The key to everything is preparation and how to improvise. The Lord has provided us the kit needed and it is right here – the Bible.

It’s our manual in case we’re confused; if we’re tired we can find comfort and rest. In darkness, this is our light to guide our path. And with the reliable signal of prayer we can be constantly connected with Him.

How do we improvise? Television hero of the 90’s MacGyver always improvised with a roll of duct tape and a Swiss army knife. He was armed with knowledge of science to get himself out of dangerous situations. By applying the knowledge gained and God’s truth in our very lives, we improvise.

Some people say you’re not the same person after going through several life experiences. In a journey we are changed. Yes…knowledge is power, but the imparted wisdom of our Lord is even more powerful. A power that draws us closer to Him the greatest source of power.

As we get to know Him more by studying and praying every day – we can have a closer nourishing relationship…that will change us. It will change us to be able to do the following 3 points.

  • Stop to help and encourage one another along the way

We’re all travelers experiencing hardships and pain, but when someone falls or lose their footing we should give them a hand. Let us not just leave people by the wayside. It is true salvation is an individual thing, but the Lord has a reason in bringing us in contact. The church, His people, is to nurture, share and encourage.

One can worship the Lord anywhere and at any time of the day, but we’re brought together for a purpose. It is to strengthen one another. Your spiritual experience would be beneficial for me and mine would be beneficial for you. Isn’t it better to share hope with someone?

Comfort within the church is not the chairs we’re sitting on and definitely not the air conditioners, but with the people we’re sitting with. There should be genuine care and love between believers, as well as for those who are outside of these halls.

This journey also involves active participation in the gospel work. We are called not because we’re worthy Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not works, lest anyone should boast.” It is a privileged (not a burden) to tell the world of His love and salvation that’s available to all.

Give a hand. Show the right path. Give hope. You will certainly enjoy travelling with other people than going through it alone.

  • Never giving up when the road gets tough

Following the Master is tough – the apostles and other Bible heroes faced great trials which many of us wouldn’t want to experience.

Matt. 16:24 – “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

There would be high perilous mountains, raging rivers, oceans with whirlpools – caves filled with snakes, booby traps set by the enemy – and yet through it all the Lord is by your side. Daniel knew this, which gave the courage to stand in the face of death.

The late stages of our journey is fast approaching, even so, we thank God for the trials along the way, and these prepares us for the worst and set us to cling to Him.

  • Trusting the GPS – God’s Plan Sure – God knows the way.

Like in a song, “My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow.” When it seems there’s no end and we’re tired and weary, we should look up to God. He will give us strength. On our own we’re going to be lost…if we can’t go on, He will carry us.

Jeremiah 29:11 NCV – I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.

He’s got a plan…a great plan than what we can come up with. Giving our lives to Him would require great trust. If we could trust Google Maps to guide us home in the dark of the night, we can trust The Lord even more – that’s for sure!

Life’s journey is not a straight path, or a paved highway…there are bumps and dirt roads. There are many things we may never fully understand, but in Christ we are assured of victory.

Back in the early morning of March 20, 2017…my mom passed away. My brother and I can’t be there, and so we had to watch through video call as my dad anointed and prayed for her as she was slipping away. My father led the worship, in the early hours of that morning. One particular song I cannot forget during that time.

He sang – Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, Sing his mercy and his grace. In the mansions bright and blessed, He’ll prepare for us a place.

And then – when we all get to heaven oh what a day of rejoicing that will be. I can’t understand why we were singing this song, but then as my mom took her last breath and died in the arms of my father while we were singing this song…it was then that I realized he was correct. He was already looking forward towards our destination and with that looking at our victory.

We all lost someone along the way. We are sick and troubled and are having hardships right now…but the song says…

Yes, oh what a day of rejoicing that will surely be…when we all see Jesus and sing and shout that victory song…finally gaining eternal peace and the ultimate joy with our Lord!

We would love to reach the end of our journey to be reunited with our Father as we gather for that glorious celebration.Today, let us be reminded to always look up, prepare, give a hand, persevere and place our trust in only in Christ our Lord – He will lead us home…this is our prayer.

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