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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Set Your Hearts before God



< Genesis 1:20-23 >

ďThen God said, ĎLet the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.í So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ĎBe fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.í So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.Ē



God commanded to let there be birds flying in the firmament of the heavens and fish abounding in the water, and the birds and fish to be fruitful and multiply. This implies that the righteous should live by faith to bear a plenty of spiritual fruits. Accordingly, the righteous should naturally believe in God and His Word, in His Church, and in the fact that God leads them through His Church. They should have faith in the promise that they can triumph in body and spirit when they realize and believe that to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit is Godís will.

Put differently, the righteous must set their hearts on God. We must set our minds before God to live according to His will in obedience, and we must live by placing our faith in God. God commanded fish to multiply in the water. God told us to set our minds to live by faith, and the reason why He said so is because it is according to Godís will that we should live.



We Must Get Our Hearts Approved by God

In the Old Testament, chapter 11 of the Book of Leviticus specifies the type of birds and fish that are edible and inedible. Of these, cranes that we commonly see are defined as unclean birds that are inedible. Cranes often stand still in shallow water, waiting for fish to pass by. They are so still that they look as if they were stuffed. But when fish swim by them, these cranes nab them instantly. The Bible says that such birds are unclean birds. Spiritually speaking, these birds are like Satanís servants.

While the Word of God divides birds and fish into two types, one edible and the other inedible, we cannot interpret this literally in carnal terms and apply it to our actual lives. We should know very well that it was to teach us certain spiritual truth that God divided birds into clean and unclean ones.

God also divided fish into clean and unclean ones, and of these, He allowed those with scales and fins to be eaten. Those without scales and fins, on the other hand, were forbidden. When it comes to our lives of faith, this implies that we should cast aside faithless lives and live only by trusting in God. We know that if we were to look for fish without scales in the water, we would find such fish as loaches and eels. The fish without scales and fins refer to Christians living faithless lives.

Nowadays many rivers are too polluted to do this, but before, when the rivers were clean, I used to go there often with students at the mission school for a picnic. When we were ministering at a new church in a small city, when there werenít that much to eat, we often went out to a river with a dragnet to fish. We went into the river and dragged the net across the riverbed to catch fish, netting such fish as loaches, catfish, and eels. Catfish and eels usually feed on small fish, and so they are most concentrated in areas that hold plenty of small baitfish.

God told us to eat fish with scales and forbade us from eating the fish without scales and fins. Scaleless fish do not live where there are strong currents. In contrast, fish with scales and fins can swim anywhere, even where they are strong currents. Scaled fish can swim against the current.

As we know, salmons have homing instinct. They swim up the stream to return to the place of their birth and spawn there, risking their lives and struggling against all kinds of obstacles. It is only after they are back in the place of their birth that they spawn. That a fish has scales means that it can go and live wherever it wants.

Scaleless fish, on the other hand, cannot swim against the current. Such fish have a narrow window of challenge to move to a better place. They donít even want to move around much. They live their entire lifetime in the place of their birth, spawning and dying in the same place.

To draw a spiritual analogy, we the righteous are like the scaled fish. However, for us to live for the Lord, the very first thing that we must do is set our hearts on God. Our faith is this: We believe that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the only Truth; we have been saved by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit; we are with Godís people; we have to live for the gospel from now on; and therefore, Godís Church is ours. Godís Church is now our home. When Jacob fell asleep in the field resting his head on a stone pillow, he saw Godís angels ascending and descending on a stairway, and he confessed, ďThis is the house of God.Ē Likewise, we also confess that Godís Church is now our home.

Having been saved from our sins, we now have come into Godís Church and we are now living in it. However, some of us have not set their hearts yet, while some of us have. Among the born-again Christians, those who have set their minds on God now belong to God, and all of us are precisely such people who believe that we now belong to Christ and keep this faith.

Such people profess their faith by saying, ďWe are all Godís people. These are all my people. Godís people in the Church are my own people. For us to work here in Godís Church is to serve the Lord.Ē As such, our hearts must be set like that.

The righteous, in other words, cannot waver back and forth like the bat in Aesopís fables, claiming to be a mouse during the day and a bird during the night. The bat is welcomed neither by the birds nor by the beasts. So it lives in a dark cave. While all other birds live in harmony, the bat lives alone isolated from the rest.

Those who have not set their hearts on God are not only abhorred by God, but they may also be abhorred by the people of the world. Our hearts must obey and submit to the will of God. Our hearts must desire to live for the righteousness of God. We must set our hearts, deciding, ďAs a servant of God, I will no longer live for this world but only for the righteousness of God.Ē In other words, our hearts must first desire to believe in Godís righteousness, follow it, and obey it.

The Apostle Paul possessed such a determined heart. That is why He declared, ďI have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for meĒ (Galatians 2:20).

Therefore, for us to serve Christ honorably through our lives, we must set our hearts to live for Him. God does not bless those whose hearts have no desire for Godís righteousness. God works only in the hearts that believe in His righteousness and are set on it. God is with the people of faith who believe in His Word. He is pleased by those who have set their hearts on God. And it is such people whom God helps. God encourages such peopleís hearts and opens their spiritual eyes, and in doing so He makes it possible for them to serve His work.

In contrast, God does not bless those who have not set their hearts. Such people who have not set their minds on God keep wondering whether or not they should do Godís work.

We can live for Godís righteousness only if we have the belief that serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the proper life that the righteous should live. For us to set our minds on spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our hearts must be determined to live only for the righteousness of God. We should not be double-minded, in other words, thinking, ďIíll preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to this world for now, but if anything goes wrong, I will go out to the world.Ē Those whose hearts have not been set before God should not expect to receive anything from Him. The Bible said so in James: ďBut let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his waysĒ (James 1:6-8).

We must set our hearts to live with the Lord all the time, determined to live with the gospel of the water and the Spirit no matter what. It is when we thus set our hearts to follow the will of God that God works in our lives. If our hearts are not set on God, then we may very well side with the world one day, and then Godís Church the next day. In other words, when oneís mind is not set, he wavers back and forth, swinging from one side to the next.

When Germany had been divided into East Germany and West Germany, spies were sent to each other, and some of these spies were double-spies. These spies handed over one sideís intelligence to the other, and the otherís intelligence to the former. So they did quite well while it lasted, as they were paid twice. But Germany was eventually reunited. The most hated people in the reunited Germany were these double-agents. Those who had betrayed their own country only for their selfish end were now hunted down, put on trial, and punished. In contrast, the spies who had worked for one state alone, whether be it East Germany or West Germany, were all forgiven from their spying activities. Immunity was granted because these spies did what they did under the unavoidable circumstances of the divided Germany, for the sake of the government that each served. However, double-spies had to be put on trial. These double-spies were hated by the people of East and West Germany alike. Even now, when more a decade has passed since the reunification, double-spies are still being hunted down and prosecuted.

If this is what happens even in the secular world, how much more imperative is it for us to set our hearts? How could you and I, who are working in the Kingdom of God, waver back and forth, setting our hearts on this world one day and on the Kingdom of God the next day? If we do this, we will surely be hated and rejected by both sides. In our lives, we must set our hearts on Godís Kingdom and His gospel. Setting our hearts is something that befalls on each of us. Itís not Godís job. God does not force us to do this against our will. The righteous also face suffering sometimes, but some of them suffer needlessly because of their failure to follow Godís will.

My fellow believers, set your hearts before God. Your minds must be set on God.

Although we are now in Godís Church, those of us who never set their hearts even once cannot live properly before God. Such people bring so much trouble to God. When working with them, hardly any spiritual work can be accomplished. They step aside when itís difficult to follow the Lord, and they follow only when Godís work is going well. Is this kind of heart an upright heart before God? Once we set our minds on God, we must march forward plowing through all obstacles by faith. Since we are already Godís people and the army of His Kingdom anyways, we should trust in God, take the troubles of His Church as our own troubles, ask for Godís help, and do His work with all our strength. However, for those who have not set their minds, whenever they get into trouble while doing Godís work, their hearts tip over to the side of the people of this world.

If we now desire to live in Godís Church as His spiritual soldiers, and came to the mission school for this purpose, then we must set our minds on God. If you had already set your minds before coming here, then itís even better; however, if you still have not set your minds even after coming here, then do not put it off and set your hearts as soon as possible.

God knows all about whether or not we have set our hearts on Him. Those who have not set their hearts on God do not realize even when God helps them. Nor do they have faith in God. The spiritual war that we are waging can be fought only if our side is clearly distinguished from the enemy. The enemy should be vanquished and cut down with the sword. If our minds think that we can be this people and that people, how could we wage spiritual war? We must set our hearts as the following: ďI belong to Godís people, I belong to Christ, and I am His soldier. I live for the Kingdom of God and His people.Ē Let us now thus set our hearts.



We Are the Lordís Army Called by Him

In South Korea, the military is composed of young men drafted into the service. Likewise, God has also drafted us as the spiritual soldiers of His Kingdom. For those who walk as soldiers, it is only proper to follow the One who called them, that is, our Lord, and faithfully defend and expand His Kingdom (2 Timothy 2:4). There can be no room for uncertainty here; unless we are absolutely sure about this, we will face spiritual death.

When we are in a spiritual battleground, how can we survive if our soldiers run away from the battle and hide? Would the enemy save us? There is only one choice: either we surrender to the enemy, or we defeat them by faith and triumph over them. For us not to surrender to the enemy, we must vanquish them. Through the spiritual power of our faith, we must ensure our spiritual victory. To do so, our hearts must be clearly set.

As for me, I have set my heart on God unwaveringly. I set my mind on God long ago, even before being trained like you. As soon as I met the Lord through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, I set my heart on God and decided to live the rest of my life for His Work.

Those who have received the remission of their sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are precious to God, but this is not how God sees those who have not born again. When the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit stumble, God says, ďItís no big deal. All humans are like that,Ē but He has no tolerance for those who are not His people.

We must have a clear identity of faith. The people of Israel regarded anyone who was not their own people, the Gentiles, as little better than beasts. Do you know the reason for this? Because the Israelites thought that they were Godís chosen people. Even now, they are fighting with Palestinians. Both are descendents of the same forefather in the flesh, that is, Abraham. Abraham first had Ishmael from Hagar, and later he had Isaac according to Godís promise. One son was a child born from the promise of the Word of God, and the other was a child born from Abrahamís relationship with a maidservant.

Like this, God has clearly divided those who have spiritually become His people from those who have not. God has set those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit as His spiritual people, and He has set aside those who do not believe in this gospel as not being His people. If we still cannot distinguish the people of God from those who are not, and if we still have not set our minds on the Kingdom of God, then how could such people ever wage spiritual war? How would you fulfill the ministry of spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit? We can deliver others from sin only if we know for sure where exactly we belong. How could we otherwise ever achieve this?

My fellow believers, if you still have not set your hearts by any chance, I admonish you all to set your minds on God even at this very moment. Set your hearts properly, deciding to live your lives to build the Kingdom of God. God will then bless you and be pleased to work with you. It is when you decide to live for the Lord that God is pleased and blesses you. God does not work for those who still have not set their minds. Would we be able to do Godís work, unless God works with us? No, of course not.

We must make up our minds. We must live for the Kingdom of God, which, after all, is our own Kingdom. Instead of just thinking of ourselves, we must live for this Kingdom and this people to whom we now belong. My fellow believers, have you set your minds? If so, then you are half way through your training. All that you have to do for the rest of your training is follow and learn by faith, and unite with the Church. Once the mind is set, the flesh is bound to follow it.

First of all, your hearts must be set to live by faith. That is why God divided edible birds from inedible birds, and edible fish from inedible fish. The fish with scales and fins are apt to swim against the current. In other words, those who have set their hearts live the kind of life that the Lord wants them to live. They go against the current of the times and the world. They do not do their own bidding, but whatever they do, they do for the Lord. They live by faith, even though it may be small. If oneís heart is not set, he cannot do Godís work, but someone who has set his mind can fulfill the work of faith as Godís soldier. This is what God is trying to say through His work of creation on the fifth day.

Do you believe that God created this universe? Do you believe that God made all life forms, each according to its kind? Of course He did. God actually made birds according to each kind, as He made fish according to each kind. The theory of evolution has blinded peopleís eyes, and as a result, many of them cannot realize what God did according to the Truth; however, those whose eyes are open can realize clearly that God created this universe and all things in it. He made each of them according to its kind.

My fellow believers, do you believe that this gathering spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit is Godís Church? Do you believe that it is the Kingdom of God? It is none other than you who are Godís workers, and it is you who have been drafted as His army. Each of us must set our hearts individually. Our lives change depending on how we have set our hearts on God. What we do may look the same in outside appearance, but the work done by those who have set their hearts to serve the Lord is different.

Those who have set their minds work for God. In contrast, those who have not set their minds live for themselves. As we do Godís work, we often come across many who seem to be doing Godís work outwardly, but are actually working for themselves.

The Lord speaks about the gospel of the water and the Spirit in the Bible, and He yearns this gospel to be spread. However, we see that some people are not really interested in Godís gospel, but have set all their hearts to seek only their own glory. Such people are still unable to receive the remission of their sins, for they have not set their hearts on the gospel of Truth. In other words, they have no heart for God. A leader at an evangelical mission once bragged to me saying that students at his mission school were taught for four years. So I asked him, ďWhat do you teach for all those four years?Ē and his answer was that everything was taught, from conversation etiquette even to table manners. Such a man is a false teacher.

Pastors must minister according to Godís will. Many people do not know hardly anything at all, not even a verse of the Word of God, even when they graduate from a theological seminary. What do they learn at the seminary then? They learn about a scholarly field called theology, that is, they learn about the ideas of various theologians.

Compared to such seminaries, students at our mission school are learning each and every verse of the tremendous Truth of the Word. Everyone else studies theology for himself, plants a church for himself, accepts offerings for himself, and ministers for himself, all because such people have not really set their hearts on God. As such, unless you set your hearts on God, you cannot avoid but be like these false prophets, living only for yourselves in the end.

ďI abide and live here in Godís Church. It is here that I am preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and therefore if the people of God die, then I, too, will die, and if the people of God prosper, then I will prosper also. Gathering all my strength of faith, I will preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout my entire life, until the day the Lord returns.Ē

This is how my heart is set on God. ďThose gathered here are my people. Here is my kingdom. The Lordís Kingdom is my kingdom. To expand the Lordís Kingdom is to expand my kingdom.Ē My place and duty are thus defined clearly.

Moses worked as a servant of the Kingdom of God, but Jesus came to this earth and worked as the Master. The Lord came as the Master to save His people. Although Moses did preach the will of God, when Jesus came to this earth, He was baptized by John the Baptist for all of us and took upon all the sins of His people, died for them, rose from the dead again, and has thereby saved them. We should live in the Kingdom of God with a clear awareness of ourselves as its owners. This is to live a life that is distinct from the lives of those who have not set their hearts on God.

Whenever my fellow ministers confide to me how they are struggling, I ask them, ďYes, we all are struggling, but what can we do when all our hardship is for the Lord? Since we are not struggling for ourselves, but for the Kingdom of the Lord, isnít this all worthwhile? So even though you may be going through a tough time, you should still be dedicated to Godís work. All that matters is the work of God; what else can we wish? You say that you are too insufficient, and that itís too hard to follow the Lord. But if we were such good people approved by the whole world, would Jesus have used us as His instruments?Ē

My fellow believers, would Jesus prefer to use Confucius or Socrates, or would He prefer to use me? Please, think about this honestly, according to how your hearts believe. If you were Jesus, whom would you use, Confucius or me? You would use someone who believes and sets his heart according to how you order him. You would prefer someone who obeys only your will as his master, not caring how his ego might be bruised.

If Jesus were to say something to Confucius or Socrates, they would say, ďLord, You really shouldnít say that,Ē since they have their own preconceived notions established already. In other words, it is because one has not set his heart that he wavers back and forth, standing on peopleís side sometimes, and at Jesusí side in other times. A teacher of morals and ethics cannot be used as a worker in the Kingdom of Jesus.

Those who are suitable for Jesus to use as His instruments are those among the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit who have set their hearts on God. Only those who have set their hearts unwaveringly on God are suitable to be used by Him. And when someone tries to stand up to Jesus as an equal, God cannot use him as His worker. God uses those who lower themselves before Him and seek the work of the Lord first. Our Lord uses those whom He can freely put to labor.

If Jesus were here, what would He say to those who stand against the gospel? Wouldnít He say, ďYou worthless scumbags, you brood of vipers, I curse you allĒ? If so, then we should also stand against the enemies of God, while showing compassion to the pitiful who deserve our compassion. Becoming His servants means that our hearts have united with Godís heart. Our hearts must be set.

Referring to David, God said, ďHe is a man after My own heart.Ē David wiped out the Philistine army as commanded by the Lord. In contrast, Saul did not fully obey Godís order, as he spared some Philistines, and he also spared some good livestock from the spoils to offer them to God as burnt offerings, all based on his own thoughts. But David fully obeyed the Word of God. When God told him to kill all enemies in the battlefield, David killed them all. He exterminated them. Whatever David was commanded to kill, he killed them all, even including animals.

David succeeded Saul and became the king of Israel. But these two men were very different spiritually. Saul was an impressive man in outside appearance, revered by the people of Israel for his physical attributes, but unlike David, his heart was not set to honor God and to take care of the people of His Kingdom spiritually. Solomon, Davidís Son, also did not set his heart, and so he took many princesses from the neighboring kingdoms as his concubines. When the kings of the neighboring Gentile nations presented their daughters to Solomon, saying, ďYour Majesty, this is my daughter,Ē King Solomon said, ďYour daughter is very beautiful,Ē and took her as his concubine. He did this because his heart was not set on God.

The women of this world, that is, women who are not born again, are like serpents. They ruin the righteous. You probably read in Judges about how Samson was brought down by Delilah. That is why the Bible calls such women as ďharlots.Ē So when Solomon was presented with Gentile princesses, he should have said, ďWhy did you bring these women here? They are so ugly. They look like filthy harlots, ruining my appetite. Take them away.Ē If he had said so, the other kings around him would not have brought their daughters to him. God had forbidden Solomon from intermarrying with Gentiles women, and yet despite this, because Solomonís heart was not set, he married whomever he wanted to marry according to the lusts of his flesh, and as a result, he ended up perishing away spiritually.

So the Bible writes, ďAnd he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heartĒ (1 Kings 11:3). As a result of this, Solomon later came to confess, ďVanity of vanities, all is vanityĒ (Ecclesiastes 1:2). He died after living such a life of regret, and under his sonís reign, Godís kingdom was divided into two and began to decline.

Whatever we do, we must set our hearts before God. Do you realize this need? Our hearts must belong to God. Our hearts must believe that God is our God, His Church is our church, and His people are our people. I admonish you all to thus set your hearts.

All our values and standards of judgment that weíve had so far must be changed. We must ďput on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created himĒ (Colossians 3:10). Even at home, I say to my own son, ďAlthough you are my son in the flesh, in the Church, you are the same as all the other people of God. The only difference from them is that you are my son in the flesh; other than this, what is so different spiritually? There is nothing different. Letís be clear on this.Ē And I treat him the same way with the other saints, spiritually speaking. So at first, this did not go so smoothly for my son, but he eventually agreed, since he also had the Holy Spirit in his heart.

Iíve seen a certain mission organization basically run on a clan basis, with the leaderís family members and relatives occupying key positions. So the leader kept tight surveillance and control over the ministers belonging to his organization. Such people do not serve the Kingdom of God, but they are trying to rebuild the city of Jericho for their own glory. To these people, God warned, ďCursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gatesĒ (Joshua 6:26).

We donít do this. There is absolutely no privilege for my son in my church. I make him serve the Lord as one of the people of God, the same as everyone else. He will perish unless I do this. I do this because I love him. Only then will he grow in faith and stand on his faith. While I take care of my son when it comes to his carnal weaknesses, what must be established spiritually is clearly established. All this is the strength that comes from having set my heart. We must set our hearts, believe in Jesus Christ and the Word, fight by faith, and build the Kingdom of God by faith.

My fellow believers, I admonish you all to set your minds before God. When we set our hearts time after time, we will come to live by faith, as birds flying in the sky, and like the scaled fish, we will be able to do the work of God to our heartís content.

Once we set our hearts, we can defeat the enemy and triumph by faith. By believing in God, we can do the work that saves sinnersí souls from sin.

 

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