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 (Manna 84: TJC at 100 – The Grace That Has Brought Us Here)
A Letter to Our Youths: Sharing the Grace of God
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Jonathon Chou—Hillsborough, New Jersey, USA

In January 2017, Elder Jonathan Chou retired after working thirty-one years as a full-time preacher. Manna invited him to share his experiences in faith and service to the Lord with the youths of the church.

Hallelujah! Greetings of peace, in the holy name of Jesus, to our youths in the Lord. May the grace of the Lord be with you always!

Coming to the True Church

My father fell ill when he was forty-two years old. His baffled doctors were at their wits end trying to cure his mysterious sickness. One of our elderly relativesa member of the True Jesus Churchbrought her fellow church members to our house to pray for my father. When they came, my father was lying on the bed, almost unconscious. But as they prayed, he saw a vision; he was then filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. He could feel his body lifted up, and found himself bouncing up and down on the bed in a kneeling position. After this, he was completely healed by the Lord. Hence, our entire family was baptized. We were a family savedboth literally and spiritually. The Lord had restored our father to us, reuniting a family on the brink of disintegration. And we continued to live a life of peace and joy in the Lord. My father lived to the ripe old age of eighty before he rested in the Lord. Till this day, his testimony remains constantly in my mind.

Growing and Serving in the True Church

I was baptized not long after birth and am considered a second-generation believer in the True Jesus Church. Growing up in the church, I have witnessed Gods great power and infinite grace. After working in secular society for ten years, I was very grateful to receive the opportunity to join the full-time ministry. The more abundantly I experienced grace and love from God, as I learned and served Him, the more unworthy I felt.

Young brethren in the Lord! Every young man and woman has aspirations and dreams for the future. I believe you are no different. You have been raised in the era of information explosionthe digital agea world of artificial intelligence and rapidly advancing cutting-edge technologies. You live in an epoch where cultural development is at its peak. Such progress has irreversibly changed our human valuesmodern mans thirst for materialistic fulfillment and instant gratification of his desires is overwhelming. While life will present you with vast opportunities, it will also be full of challenges and snares. The smarter man becomes, the less he will rely on God. The more a man pursues social status and accumulation of wealth, the more he will neglect his faith, and the more easily he will lose himself to the base precepts of the world.

Persevering to the End

Young brethren in the Lord! We must truly understand what a supreme blessing it is to be of the chosen children of God. We have received the word of life, the true grace of God, so we ought to stand firm in this grace (1 Pet 5:12). Amongst the brethren I grew up with in church, some are still holding fast to the truth and fervently loving the Lord; I thank the Lord in every remembrance of this. However, there are also many who have lost the truth and left God; this thought grieves me. More recently, some youths have openly expressed their many doubts in their own faith. Consequently, they distance themselves from the church, causing all of us in the church much sadness and regret.

In our world today, there are many opportunities for success and growth. People generally believe that intelligence and hard work will lead a man (or woman) to success, wealth, a respectable social status and a luxurious life. The church also hopes to see her youths succeed in their studies and work, to contribute to society. However, we must remember that our hopes are not merely for and in this life. A Christian must have a more profound vision to see the true significance and value of human life. The Bible tells us that, by faith, Moses grew up and let go of his status as the grandson of the king, as well as the riches in the palace. Unwilling to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, Moses chose to suffer with the people of God, looking forward to the future reward. By faith, he saw the Lord who is invisible (Heb 11:23V25). David started off as a shepherd boy and became the king of a nation. However, he was not complacent over the glory and pleasures he enjoyed as a king. Instead, he sought to always be in Gods temple, inquiring of the Lord and beholding the beauty of the Lord. He was just waiting to see the Lords face, and to awake in the Lords likeness (Ps 27:4; 17:14V15). Only God is able to give us all-encompassing joy and peace, and the everlasting living hope.

Cherish and Use Your Youth

Young brethren in the Lord! Youth is a prime period. You ought to seize this time to know the Lord your Creator, to fear Him and rely on Him to guide your way (Ps 25:12). Mans times are in Gods hands (Ps 31:15). As the proverb goes: A mans heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps (Prov 16:9). The Preacher wrote: The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wiseKBut time and chance happen to them all (Eccl 9:11). Solomon also urged: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Prov 3:5). It is God who gives you the power to create wealth (Deut 8:18).

Abraham was chosen and blessed by God, so that he might command his children to keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice. If Abraham did so, God would fulfill what He had promised to him (Gen 18:18V19). On account of Abraham, God also blessed Isaac (Gen 26:3V5). He had his fathers faith and thus obeyed Gods instruction by sowing in Gerar. Despite the great famine, Isaac reaped in the same year a hundredfold (Gen 26:12V13). Although the local residents eyed him jealously, and the needs of his cattle compelled him to move around constantly, Isaac would build an altar to inquire of the Lord every time he arrived at a new place, even before he set up his tent and dug wells (Gen 26:25).

For Isaac, worshipping God took precedence over his family, which came second, with his livelihood in third placethis is precisely the model for our pursuit of a successful life. Apart from living for ourselves, we must make resolutions for the Lord, live for the Lord, and manifest Christ in our lives. Like the saints of old, we marry and have children, walk with God, faithfully practice the words of the Lord, fear God and love man. If we build this good foundation of faith for ourselves, and hold fast to eternal life, then we would have attained lifes true significance and value.

Young brethren in the Lord! Human life is short; let us not waste precious time. It feels like just yesterday when I was working hard to complete my studies and build my career. In a blink of an eye, I have become this old retiree. Memories of yesteryear are still vivid in my mind. However, the past is like the ephemeral mist at dawn. A person is like a sojourner in this life, and life is like a cloud and a dream. Beautiful moments, like flowers, will eventually wither and fall. Only our labor in the Lord will never be in vain (1 Cor 15:58). Mans hope is definitely not in this life alone, so what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul (Mt 16:26a)? Once a man leaves God, he is like a branch detached from the treehe can do nothing (Jn 15:5V6). Once upon a time, King Solomon used all his energies and abilities to pursue wisdom, status, wealth and pleasure. However, once he gained everything he desired, he realized that everything under the sun is but vanity, and all effort little more than grasping for the wind. Having spent his entire life searching, he came to this conclusion: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is mans all (Eccl 12:13); and everyone has to face up to Gods judgment.

[D]o not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)

[May God] give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. (Eph 1:17V19)

Beware of Evil

Young brethren in the Lord! Since the days of old, advanced civilization is often accompanied by the proliferation of evil, which eventually leads to the judgment and destruction of God. The Lord Jesus reminded us to remember the days of Noah. The people then were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark. They were oblivious until the flood came and destroyed everything (Mt 24:37V39). The sulphuric fire upon the city of Sodom, the fall of great Babylon overnight, the city of Pompeiifilled with music, dance, revelry and extreme indulgence, turned into ashes in the blink of an eye as the volcano eruptedhistory is replete with many more examples that serve as warnings for us.

We must be discerning and recognize that we are living in the last days, which is an evil time. The devil knows his days are coming to an end, so he will use all his might and employ all kinds of trickery to deceive and tempt man into sin. Perilous times have come; let us not sleep, but instead watch, remain sober and pray. The will of God is for us to abstain from sexual immorality; each of us should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor (1 Thess 4:3V5). You must emulate the ancient saints in being the righteous people of your generation. Learn from Noah, Daniel and Jobthey delivered themselves by their righteousness when faced with Gods judgment (Ezek 14:14). The hearts of people were evil during Noahs time, and they were thus destroyed by the flood. Only Noah, who was righteous and blameless, obeyed Gods every instruction. Moved with godly fear, he prepared an ark and saved his household (Heb 11:7). Solomon said: Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment (Eccl 11:9). You must be separated and consecratedcome out from sinful Babylon, lest calamity befalls you because of your sins (Rev 18:1V8).

Treasure His Grace

Dear brethren in the Lord! We were once Gentiles who were unworthy. However, in the Lords exceedingly abundant grace, He chose us. Like wild olive branches that have been grafted onto good olive trees, we must truly treasure this grace bestowed upon us, and hold fast to His word to the end (Rom 11:24V26). Be like Paul, who was determined to keep himself in the love of the Lord, writing that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35V39). May the grace of our true God, the love of our Christ Jesus and the movement of the Holy Spirit abide with us all, generation after generation, forever and ever. Amen.

Emmanuel.

 

His servant,

Jonathan Chou

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Author: Jonathan Chou
Publisher: True Jesus Church
Date: 12/08/2017
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