Essential Truths

Matthew 13:55-57  (KJV)   55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

The known truth may not be the whole truth. People were offended with Jesus because of their insufficient knowledge about Him. Everything they knew about Him was true but they didn’t know everything true about Him. They missed out on what was very important; they had a wrong conclusion; they had a wrong reaction. What a huge miss.

Never make important decisions and conclusions unless we know we have the essential truths. I’m not suggesting that we can know the whole truth about anything, but we at least need to know what’s necessary to make an informed, wise, and appropriate decision. Let’s not take this lightly; some decisions in are life altering; some decisions are eternal life altering. They’re totally worth our time investment for further investigations.

Just imagine missing out on the very solution to our biggest crisis just because we dismiss it as something useless a little bit too early. That’s really sad. Also, let’s not be so quick to conclude something as “either – or” when the answer could be “both.” How many errors have been formulated and how many cults have been birthed; how many important matters have been wasted just because we quickly chose one or the other when we could have chosen both?

Many failed to see Jesus as God’s Messiah. They waited for the conquering king but turned a blind eye to the suffering servant. How many resigned to choosing between the humanity and the divinity of Jesus? The Bible somehow presents Him as both man and God. Why choose between faith and grace? Why choose between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will? Why choose between God of love and God of judgment? Why choose between fearing God and loving Him. Is He our Master or our Father? Point made; point taken – I hope.

Jesus is a lot more than whatever knowledge we possess about Him. Let’s keep on learning. We may need to love and appreciate and trust Him more. We need to know people better – even those who consider us their enemies. We may end up on the same camp when we’ve stepped into their world. We may see the deep and painful struggles they’re under. We may understand why they’ve been pushed into becoming this seemingly repulsive person they themselves couldn’t accept. Love truth. Many have won and many have lost in life’s cases just because some have made it their practice to have their bases covered. Truth – essential truths – sufficient truths – they’re our friends.

Our dear God, we praise You for being the Truth. Please remind as always not to jump into conclusions so quickly. Let us shed enough light into enough truth for us to make wise decisions all the time. And this, most especially when the truth we’re dealing with is about You and Your Words, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Best is Better than Good

1 Samuel 28:2   (KJV)   And David said to Achish, Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do. And Achish said to David, Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head for ever.

Being a keeper of a king’s head isn’t too bad – imagine being a personal bodyguard of a king – that ought to be an honorable position. But, what may be a really good thing may not be the best thing. David has already been chosen by God to be a king; he has already been anointed by the prophet Samuel as God’s personally chosen replacement for King Saul.

A lot of times, we find ourselves in situations when we forget our God-given destiny. The immediate satisfaction becomes a distraction from our great future. We get ourselves in tight predicaments and just not to be in bigger trouble, any good offer becomes a great offer.  We swallow what’s fed us never knowing that it’s poisoning our tomorrow.

Never believe that we will never be afforded with choices without undue pressure. When these opportunities come, let’s choose wisely. Let’s use both our hearts and minds. Never lose sight of what God wants us to become and who God wants us to be. Let’s not our present passions blind us from our future promises. The trend of the culture can pressure us to hurry ourselves. Somehow, we ought to be like everyone else. Let’s not forget: the Lord’s plans for us are almost always different from the ways of the world. They’re always better than the world’s. Good is good, but best is best. Choose well.

Praise You Father; You’re perfect! You’re the best!!! Thank You for always desiring what’s best for us. Please help us to be wise and discerning. Help us that we won’t ever trade our spiritual birthrights to a “bowl of stew.” We may be passionately hungry for something right now, and we may feel it’s very important for us to satisfy our present passion. But may we always remember: Your offers and plans for us are way better than our passions – unless our passion is You, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Open for Correction

Psalm 141:5   (KJV)   Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

A wise person is open for correction. It doesn’t matter if the rebuke hurts; it’s humbly and gratefully welcomed. They see that the advantages of painful corrections far outweigh the hurts brought by them. They’re given to heal and not to destroy.

Corrections in life are necessary. But only works great on people who are wise and humble – people who aren’t hurt to accept their imperfection. Corrections are good for us. But we’re often left to ourselves living out our dangerous mistakes because we’re not willing to be shown the errors of our ways. In wanting to keep the peace, people would rather avoid pointing out our flaws. We need to give people the assurance, not just the impression, that it’s okay for them to tell us if we’re doing something wrong. We ought to be happy about it and thankful for people who love us for who we are, but who love us enough to save us from dangerous and destructive factors in our lives.

Lies will destroy us. Errors will destroy us. Let us accept corrections like skilled-maneuverings of a specialist physician to rid us of our deadly sicknesses although it may necessitate cutting us open first. Let us treat them as soothing balms for our sin-sick souls.

Dear God of Truth, You’re our pursuit. We want truth, even if they are ugly truths about us that we need to surrender to You. Please give us the spirit of graciousness and gratefulness towards other people who love us enough to boldly yet gently show us the errors of our ways – to restore us to the right path. Please help us to be intrepid enough not to be a passive contributor to other people’s curses – by also lovingly speaking up when we see others treading the wrong path – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

The Golden Guide

Matthew 7:12  (KJV)   12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Many of us are aware that there are Ten Commandments. I’ve read that there are actually 613 commands in the Old Testament. That sounds quite right although I haven’t really counted them myself. The Lord summarized them into two: loving God and loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). How? The Lord summarized all possible love actions into this one rule. What an awesome guideline. No wonder it’s called “The Golden Rule.”

God delights in blessing His children. And He does, whether we deserve it or not. God is just naturally gracious. But He also delights in blessing us when we’re obedient. So, He gave His people all necessary instructions – detailed instructions. But, some well meaning people who wanted to make sure that every dot and tittle are obeyed added so many peripheral commands. What they intended for good turned out to be really bad; it weighted people down and caused alot of hypocritical, external obedience to the letter of the Law and missed the true spirit of the Law.

Jesus brought us back to the true essence of all His commands – minus men’s additional commentaries: love. And just in case people see love as a description of an emotional response and not action, He left us with a precise description of what we ought to do to live out love: the Golden Rule. Of course, we can be passive and avoid deliberately hurting others. That’s why we’ve heard of a seemingly similar saying: “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do to you.” The drawback on this is to feed on people’s self-centered attitude in life and feel satisfaction in the fact that they’re not doing anything evil to others. True. Except that it also leads to not doing anything good to others.

Dear God of love and blessings, thank You for giving us clear direction as to how we can live the most wonderful life we can live – a life of love, obedience, and blessing. Please help us to do to others the good and beautiful things we desire for ourselves. We know that there are those who won’t necessarily reciprocate our godly actions, but it doesn’t matter; our blessings flow from You. I admit, there are times when we are very comfortable living in our own small personal world without thinking of others. We become just preoccupied with our own personal interests and affairs. Many of our present technological applications tend to increasingly promote self-centeredness and self-aggrandizement. We feed on our already bloated egos and feel really satisfied and happy with it. Everyone’s doing it so, well, I guess we’re “trending.” How sad.

We’ve become so comfortable with attitudes and habits that are diametrically opposed to Your admonitions. We’re not hurting others; it’s fun; people are happy – that’s why we get tricked and don’t see the dangers of slowly having our minds programmed to be focused on ourselves. Not only have we gotten comfortable of not being natural and deliberate in pursuing what’s good for You and for others, sadder still: we have become blind to You and the good people who are doing alot of good and wonderful things for us. We just enjoy receiving from them, and have grown calloused to the the Spirit’s promptings for us to reciprocate their display of love, care, and concern. We’ve become heartless and we don’t even know it. Of course, we easily find satisfaction and justification in the fact that we love people. Yes, selected people we are drawn to. But really?

Father, please forgive us. Awaken us to truly desire and deliberately be Your holy nation – a people belonging to You, separate from the world – it’s system and it’s “whitewashed” practices.

 

“Heart and Soul” Commitment

1 Samuel 14:7   (NIV)   “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

Total commitment is a heart, soul, mind, and body commitment. A reason for such willing abandon is enormous trust and/or a very intimate relationship. There’s full confidence in the person’s actions. There’s full confidence in the person’s wisdom. There’s full confidence in the person’s choices. Or, there’s just much love going on towards another or between each other.

Commitment is a huge step. That’s why we ought to not make them recklessly. We don’t make them thoughtlessly. We ought to make sure that we’re committing to the right person, a right reason, a right cause or a right action. Making commitments to the wrong entity can have disastrous consequences. It can turn out to be a big waste of time and energy. Worst, it can result to a tremendous waste of our own life – even lives.

We ought to make right commitment to the right entity. A true commitment is a total commitment. I’ve heard someone say: “Commitment is a hundred percent. A 99.9% commitment is not a commitment at all.” And there’s a lot of truth in that. I wonder if any lover with a good character would say yes to a marriage proposal that promises a 99.9% commitment. That’s a huge percentage, but – really? Well, nowadays, it’s hard to predict. Less people know what commitment really is; less people value it; less people give it; and less people expect it.

But commitment is a noble virtue. We need more people who will trust each other. We need more people who can be counted on. We need more people who won’t bail out at the first sign of danger or tight situations, hard trials, or strong temptations. We need people who will stick it out with each other through thick and thin, joys and sorrows, richer or poorer, sickness and health. The more we learn true commitment, the more “successes” we’ll have; the more the most important things in our lives last.

Dear God – our immutable Father, thank you for not giving up on us. Despite the thousands of years of humanity’s failures, You were committed to bringing us back to You. Thank You also for giving us the patience, empowerment and everything else necessary to live with right commitments to the right entities. Most of all, may we be true to You. We’re sorry for being so spineless sometimes, many times, or most of the time. We’re sorry for treating our commitment with you so flippantly while You take Yours so seriously. Please awaken those of us who are “playing around.” May we live a truly beautiful life of commitment before You, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

God-Powered Weapons

2 Corinthians 10:4  (KJV)   (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Believers are engaged in a battle beyond the physical and the material. Spiritual warfare necessitates spiritual weapons. We do possess such weapons. Our weapons are not weak; our weapons are not outdated; our weapons are powerful. They are God-powered.

We have the weapon of the most advanced kind. There is no weapon on earth or in hell that even comes close to its power. It won’t jam; it won’t backfire; it won’t misfire; it won’t malfunction in any way. There is no nuclear weapon invented or any other weapon to be invented by the most brilliant of human scientists that can duplicate its potency. No, the most advanced and most powerful bomb we have won’t even scratch the surface – much less, even touch this special weapon we possess.

We don’t need the help of any human gadgetry to overcome our real enemies. Our true enemies are not physical; we’re fighting against the world system, our own ungodly desires, and the devil. For these, no knives, swords, guns, cannons, or bombs would work. Any attempt to advance Christianity through sword or force isn’t Christianity. It’s detestable and deplorable. We as believers ought to not only stand in disapproval to such evil act; we ought to take strong actions to stop any such wicked outworking of terribly misguided vigilance to faith.

A song we used to sing goes something like: “The church of God is moving… The battle has been won, the foe’s been overcome and we are marching on today. So say goodbye to doubt and give a victory shout. The church of God is moving on.” (Thanks to the composer – didn’t get to find out who). But that’s it. We know how the war ends: the Kingdom of God is victorious. That Kingdom power – the God-powered weapons we have will give us the daily victories over our daily battles. There’s no stronghold too strong, no fortress too fortified, no enemy too powerful to stand effectively against our weapons. Let’s not cower; let’s not retreat; let’s not sit idly, hopelessly – convinced that we’re defeated and that there’s no way we can overcome our sins and struggles. CHARGE!!! THE VICTORY’S OURS!!! TAKE IT!!!

Our victorious God and Savior, thank You for giving us the weapons we need for sure victory. We understand perfectly why You can so confidently assure us that no weapon formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17) and that the gates of hell will not prevail against us (Matthew 16:18), – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Blessing for Blessing

2 Corinthians 9:14  (KJV)   14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

Generosity attracts. It attracts good responses; it attracts good things. People are naturally inclined to be deeply grateful to those who invest in them. They feel “indebted.” They desire to return the favor and do good to those who bless them. In  a sense the “giver” becomes a “receiver.”

We don’t lose anything when we give. If we understand this, we will be givers. As sowing and reaping is a natural principle, so it is also a Biblical one. We reap what we sow. In fact, we reap much more than what we sow. Yes, with the same measure we use it’s also measured back to us. Whatever seed we plant, that’s the kind of harvest we have. But the great truth about giving to the Lord and giving to the Kingdom is not only that we reap 30, 60, or a hundredfold of the same kind; we reap above and beyond the same kind. We may be giving our financial resources, but we’re receiving more blessings than finances. One of those awesome blessings: people who experience our generosity get to “long after” or “yearn for’ us. There’s an increased affection and closeness from the recipients of our gifts. And to some, that’s way more than financial harvest.

Our most gracious and generous Father, please give us wisdom that we may approach this truth with godly balance. Please help us that our pursuit will be on lovingly giving to Your Kingdom work and to others. We also believe what Your Words say about the blessings that flow from it. May it never be our ambition to feed any kind of greed by emptying others of their resources, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.