Pastor's Sharing

Discernment Needed in Acts of Love

Discernment Needed in Acts of Love

By Rev Lawrence Chan

March 26, 2023

    In the last days, Christians need to stay vigilant so our love will not grow cold. But at the same time, our acts of love for the needy in fact also need our careful discernment. That was exactly Paul’s prayer for the church – “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best….” (Philippians 1:9-10a)

    Loving and offering financial assistance to brothers and sisters or neighbors is no doubt right. Faced with the needy, many of us would consider providing financial or material assistance, even lending money to the needy. Under certain circumstances, providing short-term assistance to meet acute needs such as food, clothing, medicine or temporary accommodation is appropriate. Nevertheless, one-way giving and assistance should only be used to deal with urgent needs. It is not suitable for the long term. Generally speaking, continuous loans or loans in large amounts to the needy are not a wise move. Moreover, we should not act as the person’s guarantor or borrow on his behalf. To be able to really help the needy, we must understand the causes of their financial problem and the growth needs of them and any other parties involved. These give us a better chance to tackle the problem at its roots.

    Poverty has its social causes. Problems arising from the family of origin can easily cause poverty. These situations are not the choice of the poor or needy. However, all of us need to be good stewards with the help of the Lord. We need to rely on His grace and, at the same time, face our lives squarely. We need to learn to make responsible decisions. Is the financial problem related to our character, relationship issues, or management of health? Are there any expenditures or habits in life that need to be changed? Is the problem related to a spiritual trough? Where can the person seek power or get wisdom for change? The help-seeker should be open and should resolve to seek the illumination of God. He should face himself squarely and pray for grace and strength. At the same time, the helper also needs to be patient, gentle and wise in walking with the needy.

    Besides understanding the problem at its roots, it is also very important to find out the needy’s talents, abilities and other strengths and to encourage them to use them. All lives are given by the LORD. Everyone has gifts from God. If the one who walks with the needy can identify and affirm the needy’s gifts or even provide opportunities to let them train up and use their abilities in paid employment, it will not only help relieve their financial pressure but will also build up their dignity in life. This will help them develop good relationships with the self and with others.

   It is not altogether easy to perform acts of love to those in material poverty or financial difficulties. We cannot “go it alone.” The help-seeker needs to authorize the one who helps to share the situation with pastors so that pastors can discern in various aspects together and offer spiritual support. This will not only help pool together various resources but also they can also keep watch over the relationship between the help-seeker and the helper so they can both be blessed in loving and being loved.

    May the Lord keep us so that we will always love and have greater wisdom. Amen!

Pastor's Sharing

Recounting Stories of God’s Grace for Our Families

Recounting Stories of God’s Grace for Our Families

By Rev Samuel Tam 

March 19, 2023

    The mention of family matters invariably conjures up a feeling of difficulty as it can involve a host of untold stories and issues. Do we feel that “bad news” at home travels far and so we had better sweep it under the carpet and avoid making it known to others lest the reputation of the family be jeopardized? Shall we also prevent the news from becoming a talking point among friends and relatives that may affect our relationship with them in future?

   Admittedly, if the bad news arises from evil behavior such as criminal liability from immorality or illegal acts, debts resulting from addiction to gambling or drugs, emotional problems induced by divorce or other matrimonial issues, it will be very difficult for us to make it public. However, if we think that “sweeping it under the carpet” will keep the family at peace, I am afraid matters will accumulate and cause greater damage and even get out of control in future!

   To prevent such crises, we should think with prudence, “What teachings, guidance and promises had Christ Jesus given us about handling our personal and family matters?” The Bible has numerous accounts of God bestowing His grace to families. When Jesus entered the city of Jericho, a tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus climbed up a fig tree as he wanted to see Him. The Lord looked up and said: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus came down at once and gladly welcomed Jesus. Having heard the Lord’s teachings, he said publicly without fear: “Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” By this, Zacchaeus showed his repentance and faith in following Christ. In response to such concrete actions, Jesus said: “Today salvation has come to this house.” (Luke 19:1-10).

   On another public occasion, a father brought to the Lord Jesus a child who had been possessed by a spirit from young. When he heard the Lord say “Everything is possible for one who believes,” he revealed in public his helplessness towards his child’s problem and implored the Lord: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-27)

   These examples illustrate that God is willing to bestow His grace and bless a family through an individual’s act of faith in Him. Although it may be inappropriate for some matters to be made known to others or that they are unspeakable, as long as God’s will is to accomplish His redemptive grace through it, we can publicly receive the Lord’s help with a joyful heart. There was a senior who accepted Christ when he was sick but he passed away before he was baptized. Family members who witnessed the conversion invited the church to conduct a Christian memorial service for him. We could see that in the service, God sent condolences and help to the attendees. In the years that followed, we continued to hear stories about faith in Jesus and blessed lives among the relatives of this family.

   “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved – you and your household… he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole household” (Acts 16:31-34). Dear brothers and sisters, let us practice the word of God on this promise. Let us discern the grace of God and, in the days to come, recount and share God’s grace for our families more.

Pastor's Sharing

Thoughts on a Recent “Macedonian Call”…

Thoughts on a Recent “Macedonian Call”…

By Rev Wayne Cheung 

March 12, 2023

    It was earlier known that the leader of a small group was planning to emigrate overseas. It gave rise to doubts about how that group would continue to “operate.” After some deliberations and encouragement, two members were moved by God and were willing to be the group leaders finally. The rest of the group also know that they would all have to share the responsibilities and complement each other in order that the spiritual fellowship that had been built up in the Lord over the years can be sustained. However, the group members still had worries that they would not know how to lead Bible studies and were concerned and anxious about the arrangement to take turns to lead. The 10 members therefore invited the pastor to train them up in leading group Bible studies.

   Knowing that some were willing to receive training, I should be really eager and glad. But I was in a dilemma when I thought about my “fully packed” work. After praying and careful assessment, I considered the invitation as a modern version of the “Macedonian call.” Then I immediately started planning a special group leader training on four evenings. The participants committed themselves to not take leave, to fulfil their responsibilities and to hand in their assignments. All this showed their wish to take mutual responsibility. I was excited when I knew this. In the old days, Paul saw in the night a vision from Macedonia which asked for his help in preaching the gospel (Acts 16:6-10). Paul and his companions obeyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which saw the start of the spread of the gospel in Europe. It marked a turning point of the advancement of the church westward.

   In today’s context, there are three noteworthy points in the equipping ministry of the church. First, we need to strengthen the basis and plan for the future. The church is the epitome of society. At a time of drastic changes in the overall environment, our equipping work needs to have two objectives: nurturing of faith and training of believers. In particular, the nurturing of new believers, Christian education for various age groups, discipleship and leadership training will need to develop further building on the past. Related training needs to be planned and promoted with a mindset that is innovative and appropriate for our age so that the training will meet the actual spiritual needs of the church and believers.

   Secondly, we need to be flexible and adaptive to needs. On top of regular shepherding and training, we have to be sensitive to believers’ actual longing and needs. We need to be more effective in the deployment of resources and develop more suitable training to equip believers. For sure, for the equipping ministry to achieve the above effects, pastors and leaders, believers and trainees must all be committed. The trainers, in addition to providing appropriate training materials to facilitate interactive learning, need also to provide timely responses to needs. Learners should be humble and willing to learn, putting in effort and time.

   Finally, if the equipping ministry can take advantage of synergy and Internet packages, church ministries will no doubt be more fruitful. With the rapid development of science and technology, new artificial intelligence software has even become the focal point of the market. But that said, the overwhelming amount of information is hard to absorb or digest. The challenges arising must not be overlooked. The crux of the matter is whether we have provided more spiritually rich information to consolidate and deepen the faith of believers. Therefore, the church’s Equip Department needs to know what it is doing, and make good use of the Internet and social media.

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Moving to the New House as a Family

Moving to the New House as a Family

By Rev Arnold Chow 

March 5, 2023

    The restructuring of the NPAC family will enter a new phase in the second quarter of 2023.

    The church has been working on extensive transitional arrangements after obtaining the company registration and charitable organization status at the end of last year. It is just like a family moving out of a Sanheyuan or three-section compound, where they used to live with their extended family, into a new house of their own. The house is newly renovated but still, family members have a lot to pack up and move in together. The NPAC family is not small. The household items that need to be transferred are numerous. Transition work over the past six months is no simple task.

    Thanks be to the LORD, the bulk of the transition work has gradually been done. Our status as a member church under the registered company of the C&MA Church Union Hong Kong will expire after Mar 31. From Apr 1 this year, the NPAC family will continue to operate as “C&MA North Point Alliance Church Limited.” All members of NPAC (whether baptized at our church or have had their membership transferred from other churches) please fill in the “Membership Application Form” to transfer your membership to the new members register of the church company.

    The NPAC family greatly treasures our overseas members. You are a part of the family. Overseas members please download the application form, sign it and email it back to us. We will continue with the rules and regulations by which overseas members are allowed double membership (i.e., joining overseas churches as members while retaining NPAC membership). There is no need to leave the membership with the NPAC family.

    You may ask: I am still worshiping at Fortress Hill. We are spiritually the same family in Christ no matter what happens. Why should I handle my membership application due to the restructuring of the church?

    Right. As ever, brothers and sisters who clearly believe in Jesus Christ and are baptized can partake of the Holy Communion, participate in worship services and meetings and learn to serve with us. The NPAC family also welcomes non-believers who are truth seekers to get to know our faith. Having said that, it is also important to change your membership to the church company and maintain an active membership.

    Back to the above simile, although all the household items have been moved to the new house, all family members must move into the new house together before the house removal process can be considered complete. (At this point, may I take the opportunity to call upon those who have been with us for some time to join the NPAC family through baptism or transfer of membership. Now is the time to act.)

   Practically, handling your membership properly is necessary. It is like a housing estate with an access control system and a club house. You must have a resident card in order to go in and out. Similarly, if you become a member of the church company, you will continue to have the right to vote in deacon and other elections. Many ministries and departments of the church specify that some serving roles must be taken on by members only. Timely application for your membership with the church company will make sure that your service for the Lord remains unaffected. Additionally, proper handling of the membership will help the church to support you in regard to marriage, funeral services and other needs.

   How can your name be missing from the new members register? Please fill in the “Membership Application Form” as soon as practicable.


Note: Offering arrangements of the NPAC family will also change accordingly from Apr onwards (i.e., in the new fiscal year). Please refer to the worship bulletin and website in late Mar for details.

Pastor's Sharing

Relaunching Evangelism, Our Steadfast Mission!

Relaunching Evangelism, Our Steadfast Mission!

By Rev Maggie Tang

February 26, 2023


    Under the influence of the pandemic in the past three years, our church life has continued by switching online. Nevertheless, some activities that are relatively more difficult to be conducted online had to be suspended, with evangelism ministry among the most affected. While online platforms can convey gospel messages, they cannot replace our in-person communication and expression of care for truth-seeking relatives and friends and for those we intend to share the gospel with. Finally, anti-pandemic measures are now relaxed and the scale and number of permitted participants for meetings have been restored. It is time for the community of believers to relaunch evangelism ministry and re-commit ourselves to the Great Commission of sharing the gospel and leading people to Christ.

    Over the past few years, I have time and again heard directly or indirectly stories about unbelieving friends who are faced with life challenges such as joblessness or job change, reduction of working hours and wages, emigration of relatives, and COVID infection and getting sick. Somehow, they remembered hearing about Jesus some time ago. Their hearts were moved and wanted very much to know how Jesus could help them reorient their lives in the midst of chaos. Some of them clicked onto the church website to listen to sermons or attended online evangelistic meetings. Others asked Christians they knew about the faith. You and I must have met some of these people during the past few years. When we see them doubting or seeking, how can we not take the initiative to respond? Now is a good opportunity to tell truth seekers the life stories of our encounters with God or invite them to step into the spiritual family to experience the help from Jesus firsthand.

    When the church begins to return to normal, I often hear brothers and sisters talk about resuming evangelism ministry. One group has summoned their original team to resume regular visits to correctional institutions. Other brothers and sisters take the opportunity of resuming office work to invite colleagues to chats over tea during which they also talk about their faith. Some others who are teachers in school fellowships have asked the church about forthcoming youth meetings that they can recommend to their students. In all of this, I can see that the Holy Spirit is still using NPAC as a community to share the gospel and testify for salvation. Indeed, to be able to receive, shoulder and pass on the mission of evangelism is itself proof of Jesus’ keeping and grace for us!

    From waterfront evangelistic efforts to the present, with 70 years of uninterrupted worship services, ministries and evangelism despite all ups and downs, from as near as Chun Yeung Street to as far as Wong Chuk Hang at the other end of a tunnel and even Ma Wan which is a ferry ride away, spreading the truth of eternal life has always been the grace that NPAC has received from above. By this grace, we grow, struggle, learn to trust in God, obey His commandments and fulfill the mission. As we relaunch evangelism, if we still need any motivation or exhortation, it will be what the Bible says: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction… But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)


Pastor's Sharing

Tell of God’s Grace and Spread His Salvation

Tell of God’s Grace and Spread His Salvation

By Rev Sally Yung

February 19, 2023

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Let me share with you seven thanksgiving testimonies of God answering prayers from a meeting of Cancer Care Prayer Group. In sickness and in difficulty, God indeed gives grace. He saves and heals our body, mind, social well-being and soul.


  1. My family and I are grateful for the care, support and prayer from our fellowship and the Cancer Care Prayer Group. I could feel the Lord’s love. Dad came to faith and was baptized when he had cancer. God brought love into my family. Dad turned from being irritable, beating and scolding family members to knowing how to cherish those around him. Thank the Lord!
  2. Twenty years ago, God sent many people to pray for my treatment and recovery. Thank our Heavenly Father for His healing and blessing. May God use me to walk with those in need and to pray for them, that their lives will be blessed by God.
  3. During her cancer days, Mom confessed her sin of having worshiped false gods (天道五教) for tens of years. She repented, confessed her faith in the Lord Jesus alone and was baptized. That was the happiest and most thankful day in my life! Later, Mom said to my uncle, “It’s great to believe in Jesus! Why don’t you do so, too?” I immediately shared the gospel with my uncle and, thanks be to our Heavenly Father, he also gave his life to Christ.
  4. My sister was suffering from stage 3 colon cancer. She had 40 tumors. Thank God for watching over her that her surgery, chemotherapy and targeted therapy were smoothly completed and that she had recovered. Above all, I am most grateful that my sister came to faith in the true God and have peace in Him. She completed the nurture class and baptismal class. After her baptism, she gladly shared testimonies and spread the gospel!
  5. I have fully recovered from cancer. Thank the LORD for His grace, I can be born again. The new me wins over my old self before I came to Christ. My family and relatives can also see that God has renewed and transformed me, and my relationship with them has greatly improved. I now have opportunities to serve God. May God continue to grow my spiritual life. May more people see the testimony of my life and receive the gospel and salvation soon.
  6. God healed my illness and through that my family came to Christ. I am truly grateful! My parents gave their lives to Christ and were baptized. God also moved my aunt through Mom’s funeral service. After attending the nurture class in NPAC, she came to faith and was baptized.
  7. Fifteen years ago, I was in stage 4 cancer. Thanks for the prayers of the NPAC family and thank the Lord Jesus for saving and healing me. I then retired early and enjoyed the bonus life with my wife, attending our church’s prayer meetings, Sunday School, patient visitations and testifying for God in various places. I saw quite a lot of people come to faith. There are both gains and losses in having cancer. But in all of this, my greatest blessing has been coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. My wife, my family and many friends and relatives have come to Christ because of this. Thanks be to God!


Leading people to Christ is of utmost importance! It is all because of God’s forgiveness of our sins that we can be reconciled to Him, become His children, and savor His love and a missional life. We wait for the Lord’s return when we will be resurrected and have eternal life and a new heaven and earth, where we will be with our brothers and sisters and God who loves us the most forever. What a blessing!

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)


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What is Seen and What is Unseen

What is Seen and What is Unseen

By Rev Arnold Chow

February 12, 2023

The crowds crossing the road to go to Fortress Hill MTR Station can easily see our church’s glass-wall mural above them. In the mural, the Lord Jesus holds out His hand to the people – a scene from His walking on the water (Matthew 14:30-31). The mural was the work of a brother, a visual artist, who spent 10 months creating it. It was put up last October during our church’s anniversary when the outer glass-wall of the church building was renovated. Together with the new spotlights and the lights behind the cross, it is hoped that more of those braving the sea of life will see a church that lifts up the cross of Christ.

After the miracle of the five loaves and two fish, Jesus dismissed the crowd and did not ask anyone to stay behind to help. Instead, He asked His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side. In the middle of the night, “the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it” (v.24). “Buffeted” in the original language means “troubled greatly.” The last time when they crossed the sea in inclement weather, the disciples saw the miracle of Jesus calming the storm and waves. But this time…

The Lord is unseen but He is still watching over

In the sea of life, there must have been times when you have to sail against the odds. Waves after waves “greatly trouble” you – physical illness, the love and hate of family members, worries for your children, tension in marriage, bottlenecks at work, social changes… In the midst of all this, it is really not easy to see God’s presence.

Nevertheless, not seeing Him does not mean He is not present. After dismissing the crowd, “he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (v.23). Those who have visited the mountainside neighboring the Sea of Galilee will know that on the mountain, there is a broad view of the ships sailing in the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus prayed on the mountain and He always remembered His disciples. Though the disciples did not see the Lord, He was still watching over them.

Seeing the Lord’s presence and recognizing His deeds:

The Lord did not wait until dawn to go to His disciples by boat. He walked on the rough water to His disciples. At the darkest hour, the disciples could barely see a figure approaching and were terrified. The Lord was intervening in their difficulties in a way beyond the disciples’ imagination, but they did not realize that. Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (v.27).

Sometimes, the Lord would come into our predicament in a way unfamiliar to us. May the Lord help us see and recognize His deeds.

Seeing hardship remains but whoever calls on the Lord’s name will be saved

Then, Jesus allowed Peter to come to Him on the water. But when Peter saw that the wind was still strong, his faith was shaken and he began to sink. Before he was drowned, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him” (vv. 30-31).

Today, is your life sinking? Just call on the name of the Lord, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

About a month after our church’s glass-wall mural was put up, a newcomer told the ushers that he walked into the church to seek the truth because he saw the mural. Praise the Lord!


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An Episode in Eternity

An Episode in Eternity

By Rev Jenny Ching

February 5, 2023

I recently watched a documentary titled To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self, which took ten years to produce. After watching it, I was inspired with hope because of a remark made by a retired principal of Ying Wa Girls’ School, Ms. Ruth Lee: “This is just an episode in eternity.”

At an interview by Christian Times, Principal Ruth said, “Teenagers may at times make people feel that they are off the wall but once we understand that what we see in them now is ‘just an episode in eternity,’ that they will have a future self, we will be able to calmly face them as they are here and now.”  Principal Ruth’s words are truly inspiring. Indeed, the present condition of teenagers is just an episode in eternity. They are like a plant and they gradually grow according to various stages of their life. We should not just look at their current situation because in time, they will naturally grow up. After all, there are those who plant the seed, others water it, but God alone has been making it grow (1 Corinthians 3:6).

And Principal Ruth’s words of wisdom is correct – the students in the documentary attested to this. Take Ah She, one of the students, as an example. Her results in the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) were not satisfactory. We might be worried what her future would hold. But DSE is only one episode in her eternity. She repeated class for one year and was finally admitted to university on a subject she loved. Ah She’s growth path was winding but she made others see her in new light. In time, she naturally morphed into a self that pleasantly surprises.

Madam, another student, was the Deputy Head Prefect but she was at odds with the Head Prefect. In an interview, she said it was probably because she did not concede to the Head Prefect at that time and so other students under their care followed suit. They ignored Madam’s instructions as they saw that Madam did not listen to the Head Prefect. Later, Madam gained valuable insight from a historical figure and knew she should have laid down her self and be at peace with others for the sake of the overall good. This frustration was also just an episode in Madam’s eternity. When the time comes, she is made new in the attitude of her mind (Ephesians 4:23).

This documentary presents the truth about the students nakedly before our eyes. It stirs our hearts and encourages us to think: As adults, how do our marriage, our daily lives, our acts and our speech influence the growth of our teenagers? How can we walk with these teenagers who are willful and are more than ready to strive for their aspirations? I very much hope that we can keep watch and walk with the youth the Lord so loves in this ever-changing era.

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Long to Encounter God

Long to Encounter God

By Rev Philip Chow 

January 29, 2023

Today is one of the Sundays in January 2023. The alarm clock rang on time at 7am in the morning.

I woke up, freshened myself up, got changed, ate breakfast and went out so I could get to the Main Church before 8:30am. When I arrived, the choir was already in the worship hall warming up their voices and preparing to offer their praises at the worship service. Those in other serving roles of the worship service were also getting ready the things and information they needed. Soon afterwards, brothers and sisters gradually arrived, and the worship service began. I did not feel anything special in my heart.

The congregational song today is one of my favorites – with a powerful melody coupled with uplifting lyrics. Even though I was still standing at the front door to welcome brothers and sisters who were slightly late, the melody echoed in my heart when I heard the congregational singing in the worship hall. After the corporate prayer, I went to the reserved seat to continue to worship. I did not feel anything special in my heart.

Everything seems “automatic.” From waking up to traveling to church to the end of the worship service, I do the same thing every Sunday. I did not feel anything special in my heart.

Would that also be your “itinerary” to attend worship service at church every week?

The worship service is the most widely attended meeting at church every week. Brothers and sisters from various fellowships and of different ages gather together, longing for their encounter with the LORD at this time. Although the worship order is almost the same every week, we return to the sanctuary to worship the LORD with reverence and fear after a week of living. We thank the Heavenly Father for His presence and for walking with us. We also long to receive the holy word from Him during the worship service that will encourage us to stand firm in the truth and live out a good testimony. And even though we may not feel differently than the other days, the Heavenly Father’s work and guidance is full of His grace. If we look at all His work attentively, that can surely help spur us on to more active participation in the worship service.

The worship service is not a weekly “routine” – like going to church every week without any special feeling, doing it as a believer’s “duty,” or completing an assignment from the Heavenly Father and forgetting the sermon when the worship service is over.

The worship service is also not for making oneself feel good, choosing only the messages one “likes.” Rather, we need to make an effort. Just thinking about the Heavenly Father’s presence and guidance should be sufficient for encouraging us to praise Jesus Christ who grants redemption and who has victory over the power of death. It should make us humble ourselves to receive the word of God and to better lead a Christ-centered life.

What do you long for in the worship service – a time to encounter God – in worshiping Him, receiving His word, committing yourself to Him, and obeying and living out His truth?

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Blessed are Those Whose Help is the God of Jacob

Blessed are Those Whose Help is the God of Jacob

By Rev Arnold Chow 

January 22, 2023

Psalm 146
   Praise the LORD, my soul.
2  I will praise the LORD all my life;
       I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
       in human beings, who cannot save.
4  When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
       on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5  Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
       whose hope is in the LORD their God.
6  He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
       the sea, and everything in them—
       he remains faithful forever.
7  He upholds the cause of the oppressed
       and gives food to the hungry.
    The LORD sets prisoners free,
8  the LORD gives sight to the blind,
       the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
       the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
       and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
       but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The LORD reigns forever,
       your God, O Zion, for all generations.


    In the Chinese bulletin, you will see that this year, I attempted a translation of the whole psalm into Chinese. In the English translation, I have used the familiar “Hallelujah” (哈利路亞 in Chinese) in place of the line “Praise the LORD” at the beginning and the end of the psalm. “Hallelujah” means “Praise the LORD.” The word “Hallelujah” first appears in the Old Testament in Psalm 104. The psalmists of both psalms call their own souls to praise God.
    Why do they call their own souls to “praise”? To “praise” means to recognize, commend, honor and exalt. However, it can also be superficial lip service. One Bible commentator has rightly said that whoever people “praise,” those are often the ones they want to rely on. There are those who often “praise” the people in power in the hope of winning their approval. Other than the LORD, no powers on earth can really “save” or “help” people because man is, after all, finite (v.4). But the psalmist’s trust is in “the God of Jacob” (v.5). Before man “praises” God, He is determined to save and help. That is why the psalmist responds by “praising” the LORD with his soul and life (v.2).
    This being the Year of the Rabbit, I was trying to find four-word proverbs in Chinese with the word “rabbit” to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Nevertheless, what I found were stories of rabbits having bad endings. Yet, when we think of Jacob, he is unlike a good student who receives rabbit stamps from the teacher. His life was more like “a cunning rabbit with three burrows” (狡兔三窟) who “flees like a rabbit set free” (動若脫兔). Nevertheless, earthly cleverness and shrewdness could not really “help” him.
    When Jacob thought maybe fleeing to Laban could “help” him, he was deceived to work. And when he did cleverly get back his wages and was planning to go home, he was met by Esau, coming with his large group of men. When Jacob thought he could rely on his wives, they vied with the concubines. When he thought about counting on his sons when old, they struggled among themselves. When Jacob thought he could rely on his possession of herds and flocks, there came a great drought. In the end, what he thought he could rely on all his life were no match for the LORD who appeared to him at Bethel back in the early days.
    Before Jacob was aware, the LORD had saved his beloved son who was sold to Egypt, accomplishing the redemption plan to “help” his entire family to survive the famine. The God of Jacob is not One who wants human “praises” in exchange for “help.”
   “Those whose help is the God of Jacob” are “blessed,” aren’t they? Now, “the God of Jacob” also treat you and me in the same way. “Hallelujah”!