The Commission 

The Commission
“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.”           Col. 1:25

    This was what I was commissioned to do when I was called into the church ministry, and I have been doing this for the last twenty-five years. Will the commission ever become obsolete or invalid?
    I have been thinking about this for the last year or so, and am still pondering about the issue. In fact, the decision has already been made, I am merely waiting for the approval from the Lord, and the indication of being approved that I am seeking is inner peace, indicating that I have made the right choice.
    Retirement isn’t even a Biblical concept, I thought. I can’t imagine the thought ever entered Paul’s mind for, despite his advanced age, he continued to seek new fields to spread the gospel. He was speaking about going to Spain, which might have been rather foreign to him both culturally and linguistically.
    To the apostles and other servants of old, retirement from preaching the gospel only meant one thing - the end of their earthly journey, which isn’t really something I have in mind at this point.
    Surely retirement from church ministry is by no means cessation from preaching the gospel. Besides, I have become stale and worn out, staying in one place for such a long time, and I might have outstayed my welcome.
    “The church does need injection of some new blood. They need young people to minister to young students,” I mentioned to Kathy. I do feel more and more justified to retire at this time.
    There was nonetheless a sense of sadness and loss after the decision had been made, as if the Lord was about to replace me with someone else, someone more suitable and capable for the young generation.
    “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.”
    The commission will remain steady and unchanged when the retirement becomes a reality, for to me the commission has long become a personal identity, which can never be violated, and to turn away from it is akin to nothing but self-betrayal.
    If this is really so, retirement is a mere misnomer, because it’s really a recharge of inner batteries, preparing ourselves for a new challenge. I guess I will soon be recharged. I guess I will thus include the word “rechargement” in my aging dictionary.


Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, June 7, 2018 7:12:00 AM Categories: Devotional


“…and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”           Col. 1:24

    As if Christ’s suffering was not quite enough, Paul had to fill up what was still lacking by his own suffering in the flesh. This is rather puzzling, isn’t it? If that were so, does it mean that we must do the same thing as the apostle once did, which was to suffer afflictions for Christ’s sake?
    Wasn’t the suffering of Christ on the cross all sufficient and nothing more was needed to be done to secure salvation for people then and now, and the ones who are to come? Did Christ really mean it was finished when he uttered with his last breath from the cross, “It is finished.”
    The mighty work of salvation was indeed finished some two thousand years ago, yet our suffering on Christ’s behalf isn’t finished, and it will never be finished until the day Christ returns.
    Why hasn’t the suffering ended, then? We may be asking. The answer to this is rather simple: Until the glorious day when we are delivered from this sinful flesh and from the world torn up by sin, we will continue to suffer afflictions of all sorts, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Isn’t this what we are experiencing at the present time?
    What we can hope for at best is to have a longer respite between our afflictions so that we can store up enough physical and emotional energy to endure pain when it arrives, and sufficient spiritual strength to overcome the inner weariness and dryness that usually come along with sorrow and suffering.
    In a small congregation such as ours, some of our members seem to have experienced enough suffering to “fill up” what was lacking in regard to Christ’s suffering. God’s people continue to suffer pain even after they have been redeemed, for they haven’t been completely saved. The Lord saved us from the dominance and damnation of sin, yet we are yet to be saved from our flesh and the tyranny of the world. We have been saved, yet continue to be saved, and it does looks like Christ’s redemption is yet to be finished, doesn’t it?
    I hate to be pessimistic and be a bearer of bad news, but suffering is inevitable and affliction will fall our way sooner or later but, as days go by and years pass, the gap between Christ’s suffering and our affliction will ultimately be filled up and suffering will be no more.


Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, June 6, 2018 7:48:00 AM Categories: Devotional

A Servant 

A Servant
“This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”    Col. 1:23
     It’s not a requirement that servants should serve their master willingly, for to serve is an obligation and services must be done whether they are willing to do it or not.
    Being duty-bound may be an important indication of one’s spirituality. This is probably one of the main differences between my wife and me as far as our spirituality is concerned. I tend to do things only when I feel like it, which doesn’t happen all that often; yet Kathy does what needs to be done whether she feels inclined to do them or not. When obligation calls, she always answers, which is not always the case with me.
    Which one of the two is the true servant of the Lord? I think the answer to this is rather simple.
    I seemed to be more willing to answer to the call of duty when I was a teenager working in a chicken farm than what I am as a minister of the gospel. I guess my job was on the line and I had to do what was required of me to survive. Therefore, for a little less than a year I continued to do the meaningless and mean chores on the farm day and night. Considering the importance and significance of my employment at the moment, why can’t I do the same things as when I was a small farmhand?
    The difference is rather simple, really. I was working under an authority who had the right to fire me on the spot then, so I had no option but to work hard. Yet being a minister in a single staff church, I serve more like a lone ranger than anything else. Indeed, I could have done a lot more than I have been doing for years, and I believe I will be held accountable before the judgment throne someday. Isn’t this one of the reasons why I am so eager to retire from church ministry? I simply have not measured up to the calling to which I have been called, and to retire from it appears to be the right decision.
    One thing that I do quite well is I have seldom pretended to be what I am not, and what I have written is by no means self-denigration at all; I am merely telling the truth.
    By the same token, the apostle was also telling the truth, for he was a duty-bound person who had an impeccable sense of integrity and he would do what he was called to do “in season of out of season.” When he seemed to have run out of places to preach, he decided to take the gospel to Spain; yet I decided to retire when I became too lazy to take the gospel to the unbelievers nearby. I suppose this is the difference between a true servant of God and a hired hand.


Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, June 5, 2018 8:01:00 AM Categories: Devotional


“…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”           Col. 1:23

    Is this even a choice at all? I wonder. It has become a vital part of my being and to give it up is akin to self-betrayal. If I give up my faith, I will no longer exist, and what I am becomes merely my flesh, and nothing more.
    What makes me who I am and will be eternally is my faith in Christ Jesus. Faith in Him is the generator and sustainer of my being.
    There isn’t a single moment that passes during my day without me thinking about my faith and how it relates to my every activity, and my constant striving is to make my every deed a work of faith. Indeed, my faith in Christ is what makes me as a person, and without him I am just an empty shell.
    Why do I do what I do every day? Why do you do what you do daily? Merely make a living, or something far beyond?
    We do all things either for work or pleasure, yet they should always be related to our faith, for it’s our faith that governs our every act. We seem to be more “purpose-driven” at our work yet, as far as our recreation is concerned, we seem to be far more disinterested. From the point of faith, both are equally important. In fact, what we do for pleasure may indicate who we really are more than what we do for a living, for we do have a choice concerning the former. What we choose to do during our leisure time indicates who we are.
    Does doing gardening have any spiritual or eternal significance at all? I ask. My wife seems to spend a lot of her free time planting and caring for her plants in the yard, producing nothing but good looking flowers, which only last but a few days and then fade. What’s the spiritual purpose behind all the endeavor, if there is any at all?
    Surely, some hobbies are far more spiritual than others. What she does is really an act of creating beauty, which reflects God’s heavenly business, which is something the Almighty spends his eternity doing. There is indeed nothing unspiritual about gardening. Compared to what she does, my hobby of watching athletic competitions seems to be rather a mindless operation. There is nothing spiritual about it, is there?
    If what I do for pleasure has absolutely nothing to do with my faith, why do I keep on doing it year after year?


Posted by Robert Sea Monday, June 4, 2018 7:34:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Holy in his Sight  

Holy in his Sight
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”        Col. 1:22

    The closer I get to light, the clearer I see my blemishes, so from the perspective of my personal experiences, I don’t think I feel any holier than I was before I was converted. Isn’t this rather depressing?
    The issue is: How I feel toward myself really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with who and what I really am. I may feel quite pleased with myself, but that doesn’t mean that the Lord is pleased me. What I perceive about myself is merely an appearance, and what the Lord sees is my inner essence.
    There is not a chance that I will feel entirely holy as long as I remain in the flesh; yet I am completely pure before the Lord. In fact, I have been this way since the day I was saved and will remain so until the end. How comforting and reassuring this particular thought is! “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
    If this is really so, why do I continue to struggle against sin and have yet to experience the joy and peace of being holy before the Lord? I might have been happier and far more at ease with myself before my conversion, for I was able to make justification for all my actions, no matter how morally corrupt they might have been. I could no longer do the same things after I was justified by my faith in the Lord Jesus.
    Perhaps I need to constantly remind myself that I am not how I feel, but I am what I truly am. I am who the Lord considers me to be, and if he deems me holy and without blemish, that’s the real me indeed.
    I have been presented in God’s sight “without blemish and free from accusation,” even though I feel rather lousy about myself a lot of times. In fact, it’s a daily occurrence that I bring accusation against myself for being sinful and unholy, for doing something that I shouldn’t have done or failing to do something that I should have done.
    “Woe is me!” exclaimed the apostle Paul.
    There is indeed turmoil within our hearts if we fail to look up to Jesus and be clothed in his robe of righteousness every day. Yet this should never become a pretext for us to remain who and what we are, without making a great effort to become holier before God and men. I long to become holy, not only in God’s sight, but in my own perception as well.


Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, May 31, 2018 6:52:00 AM Categories: Devotional


“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”         Col. 1:21

    “Once you were” is obviously a thing of the past, isn’t it? Can we honestly say that I am no longer that way at the present time?
    How do I relate to God now? I ask. Is the relationship as intimate as it can ever be, or is it still somewhat strained? It could be far better, yet it could also be a lot worse. It’s just maintained at a certain level, which is probably fine with me, but it may not be acceptable to the Lord.
    It took place such a long time ago and, if my memory serves me right, I was totally lost compared to what I am now. Yet I wasn’t as miserable as I could have been then and I am not as joyful as I should ever be now. What I am at the present time is an “in-between” stage, and what I am capable of becoming is certainly infinitely greater than what I have left behind.
    It’s not a wise thing to compare myself with myself. In another words, to compare my present with my past, and be content with who and what I am. I may no longer be alienated from the Lord, but my relationship with him has a lot to be desired. In fact, the room for improvement is enormous.
    A drastic breakthrough is needed, yet I may not have the courage to do so, for there are always growing pains involved, a price I may not be willing to pay. This is my comfort zone, and I am rather reluctant to step outside of it. Launching the ship into the deep to catch more fish may be an appealing idea, yet it causes fear if I am no longer able see the coastline which gives me a sense of security.
    Sufferings of any sort tend to cause us to grow spiritually. This is such a common idea that most people seem to take it as the ironclad truth, but after I have experienced suffering, I have yet to find out the validity of it. Can we, I often wonder, enhance our spiritual growth through some other means?
    One of the things that we can do, however, is to break away from the old ways of doing things and to establish new ways of our daily operations. Old habits die hard and they may have become strangleholds that choke our spiritual advancement.
    How do we go about doing it? By taking a baby step in getting rid of the old and starting something new. For instance, cutting down our daily screen time and increasing our Scripture reading may be a good start. Intimacy in a relationship doesn’t need to start with an earth-shattering event; it can even be kick started with a simple daily face to face conversation.


Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, May 30, 2018 6:38:00 AM Categories: Devotional


“…so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”    Col. 1:18

    “Everything” covers a big area, doesn’t it? It includes all things great and small, and nothing is ever excluded.
    “…so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” I am frightened. This standard is just too high for me to reach. The Lord can have his supremacy in part of my life, but not in all of it.
    Are there some areas in our lives that we don’t allow the Lord to visit or to touch, somewhere we deem too private to be plied?
    Whatever we consider “personal” may be too personal for the Lord as well. Matters such as the way we manage our financial or even our age and weight, the things we keep to ourselves, about which others are just too polite to even ask.
    Is the Lord so discourteous to even stick his nose into these private issues?
    I might have sometimes violated my own principle of dealing with my children, but I have tried not to interfere with their private matters out of respect, even though I am dying to know some of their personal affairs. Surely, I have never dreamed to gain any sort of supremacy over their lives. It would have been rather preposterous for me to do so and, of course, they would never allow me to do it.
    Not so with our Heavenly Father, though.
    For certain he has earned the right to do so by virtue of creating us, and he has the best intention when he looks into our personal business, for he knows what the best is for us. When I attempt to find out something about my children, my intention has always been to rejoice with them or, in some rare cases, to mourn with them. What motivates me to find out things about my sons is nothing but love. I don’t intend to rule over them; I only seek solidarity and comradeship with them.
    For us to be ruled by the Lord is to be liberated, and the more he has supremacy over us, the more fulfilled and satisfied we will be, for it’s for such a purpose we have been created.
    We are far too nearsighted to consider long term effects when we do things, and to generate immediate pleasure seems to be our main concern in life. Yet our lives tend to fall apart as we fall farther and farther away from the center. Surely a life without God’s supremacy over us doesn’t pay; and we only pay for the ill-consequences at the end. 


Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, May 29, 2018 8:02:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Hold Together 

Hold Together
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”    Col 1:17

    If there is no center that holds all things together, the pieces will surely fall apart and fly every which way. Yet we don’t seem to want to centralize all things and tend to consider them as individuals that may or may not be related to one another.
    Relativism is the thing to go by nowadays. If all ideas are merely human opinions, then all ideas are equal and are free to compete for supremacy in the marketplace of knowledge.
    One of the reasons why the Lord isn’t at all popular among the liberals and the so-called progressives is his unequivocal claim that he is the one and only, and his words are the absolute truth. It’s just ridiculous if a mere man makes such a preposterous claim and we can just laugh it off, since it’s so absurd and irrational. Someone who made such a claim must have been mentally off and should never be taken seriously.
    If one considers having a centralized idea too tyrannical, let him or her try to lead a life without a center at all. What’s the use of looking for an exit in a maze if an exit doesn’t even exist? People cannot get lost if they are not attempting to get to a certain destination. I guess we will be somewhat reluctant to form friendship with someone who claims to be amoral, which is far worse than immoral, for we know where immoral people are generally heading in their actions; but the ones who are amoral can become corrupt beyond our imagination, and their potential for evil is limitless.
    “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
    When I find myself drifting away from the center and am overcome by concerns real or made up, such is the time when I need to make a U-turn by repentance. Turning to the Lord is the thing to do if there is nowhere to turn in life, and he is the anchor that keeps us from being tossed to and fro by the waves of the customs of this world.


Posted by Robert Sea Monday, May 28, 2018 6:56:00 AM Categories: Devotional

For Him 

For Him
“…all things have been created through him and for him.”   Col. 1:16

    This is quite a simple logic, isn’t it? If all things have been created through him, then all things have to be created for him as well. By the same token, we are God’s creatures, and it’s for his sake that we live and have our being.
    Are we conscious of this at all as we go about every day and do our things? Has this truth ever entered into our minds that it’s for God’s sake that we do all things, including our study and our work? In fact, not one single thing that we have ever done or will do isn’t for this particular purpose, which is to bring glory and honor to God.
    Since we are God’s creation, does it make any sense to you that we merely live for ourselves, as if God had made us not for his own pleasure, but for our enjoyment.
    Happiness, for this has been proven true through many people’s experience, can only be produced in our lives by fulfilling God’s purposes for us, not to accomplish our own agenda as if we were not being held accountable by anyone at all. Indeed, selfishness is a recipe for misery.
    Making a good living isn’t the primary goal of life; it’s merely a means to achieving an important end. You should know what I am talking about at this point.
    What do I expect from my children? I sometimes ponder whether I consider my children my own, like a lot of Chinese parents do, or am I merely an instrument employed by God to bring them into being and to raise them in such a way that they will be worthy to be called children of God. I may have harbored far too many unreasonable expectations for my children, yet deep inside I know that my sons are the happiest and most fulfilled if they lead their lives entirely for God, for whose sake they have been created.
    Milton was exactly right when he wrote: “God doth not need either man’s works or his own gifts.” Yet it’s for our own sake that we live for God; not for his sake that we live for him. We can only be happy in what we do when the Lord is pleased at what we do; and we will feel fulfilled only when God is satisfied with us.
    I have been keeping in mind what my dad wanted from me my entire life and his idea of success has become my definition of achievement in life as well, even though he’s been gone for ten years. Am I as concerned about my Heavenly Father’s aspiration for me as I have been about my dad’s wishes for his elder son? Am I still doing all things to please men, or to please the One who really counts, both in time and in eternity?


Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, May 24, 2018 7:20:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Through Him 

Through Him
“…all things have been created through him and for him.”     Col. 1:16

    We are God’s creatures whom the Lord employs to accomplish his eternal purposes and the perfect fulfillment of our lives is to achieve those purposes. Does this make sense to you at all? It does to me.
    Therefore, I am merely an instrument through which the Lord does his work. As a Chinese saying goes, “An instrument must be sharpened for the job to be done well,” so we should keep our “tools” in good shape so that we can be better used by God. The worse thing that can happen to us is for the Lord to find us ill-equipped and not ready to be utilized when we are called upon to do his work.
    It may take our entire lifetime to be prepared and equipped to accomplish a certain task the Lord has in mind for us to do. Most of us are goal-oriented and we seem to be so eager to see great things done through our efforts. “When a pole is erected, we want to see a shadow cast immediately,” another Chinese saying is rendered. Yet this is not always what the Lord intends for us to do, for he is far more process-oriented than we are. “If the process is done correctly, the result will definitely follow,” I remember hearing a Hall of Fame football coach exhorting his players. Who can argue against this man? He has won many championships in his career, including a national championship.
    The specific task the Lord intends for us to do may be placed somewhere yonder, and may even escape our wildest imagination; yet our focus should always be on the things at hand. The Lord’s timing isn’t bound by time in anyway, but our tense should always be present and present progressive. Whether we are being trained for future tasks or not, what really matters is that we are being prepared.
    Or is it possible that we don’t get to perform tasks of great significance simply because we haven’t been prepared sufficiently because of our laziness or unwillingness to be chiseled and sharpened. Indeed, the Lord is always ready to put us to good use, but we are just not ready for it.
    I honestly thought I was being prepared to become a college professor years ago when I was working on my doctoral degree, but it wasn’t really so, for the Lord was actually getting me ready for a writing project some twenty years later. Indeed, I was being trained for an important task unaware. The Lord may be doing the same thing to you, and he expects you to submit to his sovereign will. The best is yet to come, as the saying goes.


Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, May 23, 2018 7:55:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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