Good Out of Evil

Genesis 50:20  (KJV)   20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Joseph’s brothers wronged him and his Dad terribly. By selling Joseph, and making it appear to their father as if he had been devoured by a wild beast, causing Joseph and their Dad to be separated for years, were horrible acts of evil. After many years, their paths crossed again. Joseph forgave them, invited them and welcomed them to live in very close proximity with him. He gave them the best of the land to dwell in. But after their father died, the brothers feared for their lives. They guiltily presumed that Joseph’s forgiveness was conditioned to their father’s existence. But in their extreme fear, Joseph uttered these comforting and assuring words of forgiveness. But they also revealed Joseph’s “worldview” that enabled him to extend such difficult yet precious, true, and lasting forgiveness that definitely brought peace to his brothers. He looked at everything that has happened in view of the sovereignty of God Who worked out everything, even his the brothers’ unthinkable evil intentions and actions, to bring about the wondrous good of saving many lives.

The greater the offense, the harder it is for many of us to extend forgiveness. We ought to live free, and the way to live it is to let go of anything destructive – especially those that have the ability to consume us to the very core and pull us down to unfruitfulness. Unforgiveness can stall us and keep us from reaching our utmost potential. When we forgive, we sever whatever lingering hold our offenders may still have in us. To not forgive is to allow them to keep on effectively offending us long after their acts of offense. To forgive more easily, we ought to believe God’s sovereignty truthfully. God’s sovereignty is neither a license nor an excuse for evil, but it gives us a wider perspective; it shows us that no matter what people do to us, God has a way and will make a way so that even the worst of treatments we receive, God already has great good planned for them.

Sovereign Savior, may we always remember that as we faithfully live for you, there will be many things that will happen to us that we don’t have control over. There will be dreadful times when we will be badly treated. Please help us to always remember that You won’t allow anything to happen unless You have something so good already purposed for them. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Sure Salvation

Luke 18:16-17  (KJV)   16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

In the middle of the apostles prohibiting the children to come to Jesus for reasons unstated, Jesus instead called the children to Him and made a startling statement that may have served as both a correction to the apostles and a revelation of a very important truth to all those around Him. This is a very clear and direct statement about children’s assurance of salvation. The Kingdom of God belongs to them; they belong to the Kingdom of God. Their “auto-citizenship” in the Kingdom through God’s special grace is so sure that Jesus even made it a basis to show how everyone else qualifies. Unless everyone else becomes childlike, they won’t enter God’s Kingdom.

This may be a mystery to some since even children inherit the sin nature and commit sin. No one knows the ever-mysterious moment of accountability except God, but we’re all assured that children are Kingdom people. They are obviously important to God; they ought to be really important to us. They’re not little insignificant extras of life. They need to be given attention to, taught and trained in the ways of the Kingdom. They are little princes and princesses who need to know how to conduct themselves properly as Kingdom people. And as we do, let’s remember to become like them in childlike humility and dependence. To be Kingdom people and as Kingdom people, humility is an indispensable trait. As we were ushered into the Kingdom through humble realization and admission of our spiritual bankruptcy, we ought to abide in that childlike attitude towards our spiritual maturity. There ought to be no proud believer.

Our exalted Father to Whom all glory belongs, we pray that we’ll learn to treat children with importance. May they know how valuable they are to You through us. Open our eyes that we may learn from them, that we may be humble. For those who have not yet entered Your Kingdom, may we do so upon reading this. For us who have, may we never grow proud or even act proud even in sure possession of Your precious gift of salvation. May our glory be only in the cross of Your Son.

The Value of You

Luke 15:4  (KJV)   What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Even though one seems to be insignificant and unnoticeable in the company of a hundred, this isn’t the case when it comes to sheep – at least those referred to in the story. To the shepherd, each sheep is of very high value. That’s the reason why he knows the number of the sheep to the detail. He knows when one is lost – even only one. And one lost sheep is enough reason for the shepherd to do an all-out search – and an unceasing search that will only find satisfaction when the lost sheep is finally found.

Every soul is valuable before God. It’s often been stated that if we we’re the only person on earth, God would have still sent His Son to die on the cross just to save us. There sadly are lost souls. Sadder still: there will be souls lost for eternity. But not because the Great Shepherd lacked to show sufficient care and action;  He has shown us that He was willing to go to great lengths and spare no expense for our salvation. He went all-out, crossing the borders of the eternal and gave us the “Darling of heaven” – the greatest Treasure we can find in heaven and on earth and anywhere else – His Son. Every one of us is that important to Him. Let us see others, and ourselves the same way and do nothing less than our best in going after those who are lost.

Precious Father, thank you for valuing each of us as much as you do. May we see each other the same way. May we also humbly and gratefully value You for Who You are. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Love and Marriage: Order

Genesis 34:2-4  (KJV)   And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

Shechem was strongly attracted to Dinah. That attraction turned fatal – not because attraction was wrong; the order, the process was. He first got intensely attracted, then he raped her, then He started dealing nicely with her, then he pursued marriage. His position as a ruler’s son may have made him feel comfortable and entitled to get what he wanted without much thought of order and consequence. His impulsive reaction didn’t help either. He decided with his emotion without due regard to wisdom. It could be legitimately argued that he may not have known that what he did was wrong since he wasn’t an Israelite who had the convicting guidance of God. I may be wrong, but I believe that in reference to objective moral law, rape is a universally recognized taboo. The horrible consequence: death of all the male in his town – including his fathers’ and his – from the vengeful and bloody hands of the girl’s two brothers.

To be in love is wonderful; to be intensely attracted to someone gives us an inexplicable walking in the cloud feeling – especially if the attraction is mutual. But to act according to feelings and our desires mindlessly outside proper boundaries can and will have consequences. And the consequences can be extremely dreadful. We can’t undermine proper order and proper process or procedure. Be in love – great. Instead of passionately jumping straight to bed, it will be very helpfully appropriate to know each other first. When we’ve sufficiently and “safely” known each other and given all the essential aspects considered, pursue marriage. After marriage, consummate that marriage with the most intimate physical expression/s of love. Instead of a curse; it will be a be a blessed attraction and relationship.

Loving Father, may our love and all its expressions be pure. May we show that our love really is love and our actions are not just a shallow expressions of lust presenting itself as a deep and passionate love. You are love. There is nothing improper, disorderly and impure about You. May those we love be assured of love that is true from us, not just through our spoken words, but by the godliness of our actions as well.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Savior to the Penitent

Luke 13:1-3  (KJV)   There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Certain Galileans suffered murder from the hands of Pilate while they were in the middle of their religious activity. The Galileans suffered; His audience obviously didn’t. Jesus found it imperative that He quickly clarified what may otherwise could have come to an erroneous conclusion, belief and doctrine. The suffering of the Galileans and the “non-suffering in the same way” of the audience was not a divine indicator of who was more sinful. It was not necessarily an insightful commentary of their varying spiritual conditions. But it’s worth noting: Jesus’ reference was not between sinners and a non-sinners; It was between sinners and greater sinners. Implication: the Galileans who suffered and those who didn’t were all sinners who will all perish unless repentance happens. With that He showed an indispensable essential act everyone has to undergo for any possibility of escape from perishing: repentance.

Suffering and tragedy hits everyone. Being accused wrongly, being betrayed, getting into accident, getting sick, losing a parent, losing a child, losing a friend, losing money, losing everything – these are experiences shared in all strata of society. Not everyone experiences every suffering and every tragedy, but anyone can and will experience sufferings and tragedies. Great sinners and not-so-great sinners all share in human experiences – good and bad. Apostle Paul and Fuhrer Hitler both suffered – both died. Both of them sinned. Paul described himself as the chief of all sinners; Hitler is a generally accepted figure of great sinfulness. Both of them could have perished and suffered eternal destruction. We know for sure that the self-confessed chief of all sinners repented, thus was saved and became one of the greatest Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t know of the Fuhrer. Perish or not, it’s not  because he was a sinner above all humans or not, it was dependent totally on whether he repented or not. Let me quickly add: if He believed (fully trusted and depended in) Jesus as his Savior Who was able to forgive him of all his sins if he repented from them. Whoever we are, no matter how highly or how lowly we’re esteemed in our sphere – natural or spiritual, we’ve all sinned. Unless we abnormally want to perish, repentance is a must. Le’t humbly ask for forgiveness – turn away from our sins, and simultaneously turn to God.

Forgiving Father, thank you for the hope you’ve given us despite our sinfulness.  We turn away from our sins. Thank You for being our Savior Who can and will forgive.

Hear and Heed

Luke 11:27-28  (KJV)   27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

A woman exclaimed about the blessedness of her who was favored to be the bearer of Jesus when He entered humanness and humanity. Mary was the recipient of this certain high favor of God. She was indeed extremely blessed, so blessed that it has become inextricably joined with her identity: she will be called blessed. But with all the indescribable honor that comes with that special experience and role, Jesus diverted their attention to another area of blessedness – it’s the blessedness of hearing and heeding the Word of God. Instead on focusing on the mother; He wanted them to focus on His Word. There is a noticeable implication of the more advantageous nature of this kind of blessing. For one, the motherhood to the humanity of the Lord Jesus was an experience only enjoyed by one; learning and obeying God’s Word can be enjoyed by everyone. 

There are blessings God allows everyone to enjoy – believers or not. Then there are blessings that are available only to all believers. God’s blessings are inexhaustible. Whereas there were special blessings in the Old Covenant reserved only for the first born, In Christ, His blessings are now made available to the firstborn or the ninth-born – the ones in between and the ones after. But in addition to being a believer, there is clearly a special kind of blessedness enjoyed by an obedient believer. The blessedness brought about by our relationship with Jesus and the blessedness brought about by obedience to Jesus neither contradict nor cancel out each other. It’s just a piling up of one blessing after another. But with the emphasis Jesus placed in the importance of hearing and doing God’s Word; it will be wise for us to hear and obey God’s Word – no matter how much blessings we’ve already enjoyed in having a saving relationship with Him. To believe that there’s blessedness in obedience doesn’t nullify the graciousness of God. Whatever blessedness we receive, it’s always way much greater than what our obedience really deserves. Grace doesn’t undermine obedience; it promotes it; it enables it. Obedience doesn’t undo grace; it honors it; it values it. By the way, as an important note: Jesus places  more value on obedience to His Word rather having the very favored role of being His mother. We will do well in being devoted to the Word rather than being devoted to any other blessed entity we find in the Word.   

Blessed Lord, thank you for being our Savior. Now, we’re enjoying the awesome joy and peace brought about by our experience of Your salvation. Thank You for being our Lord. May we now enjoy the additional awesome blessedness brought about by obedience to Your Word.

Children of Peace

Luke 10:6  (KJV)   And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

In sending His disciples out to minister, Jesus gave them very important instructions. The instructions were very specific; some were challenging; some were comforting. One of them was to lift the often daunting and unproductive burden of convincing those unwilling to accept the Good News they were bringing. There will be sons of peace. There were people who will accept them and support them; they were to stay with them, work with them and share the blessings with them. There were those who weren’t. There were people who will reject them and/or the Gospel; they were not to force them.

Man and women of peace – they are people who have peace with God and who have the peace of God, or are about to have them; they will have peace with us. We gloriously share the same God, the same experience, the same purpose. They’re saved, or are being saved and will be saved. They will naturally and joyfully receive us and the precious message we bear. They’re the ones we need to diligently work with, to willingly invest time and energy with. Our task with them will be surprisingly easy. Although we’re called to present the Gospel to everyone, we’re not cruelly tasked with the unnecessary burden of trying to convince the close-minded and hardhearted. Time is short; Jesus will come back – maybe very soon; the harvest is plentiful; there are multitudes waiting and ripe to be harvested unto salvation. Let’s figure out who they are and work on them – these sons and daughters of peace.

Dear Lord of the harvest, please help us to go into the harvest field with enthusiasm and wisdom. Lead our paths to the sons and daughters of peace.