Increasing Understanding

Matthew 13:12   (KJV)   12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

Those of us who willingly and eagerly listen to the Lord’s teachings or His Word are given understanding, insights, and wisdom, and we keep on growing in them because the Lord continuously and generously pours them out to us.  Those who don’t want to listen Matthew 13.12 - Increasing Understandingto the Lord, more so, obey Him, whatever little understanding they have left of true spiritual matters will be taken away.

The generosity of God can’t be questioned.  His desire to bring us to the knowledge of the truth is immensely great.  That’s why He sent us His Holy Spirit to teach us all the truths we need to know.  But despite the perfection of God’s will and ways to draw us to clear comprehension of the Truth, there is sadly a significant number of people who just don’t want to do whatever needs to be done.

We don’t fully know all the reasons or motivations behind people’s refusal of Truth.  Perhaps, they can’t handle it; perhaps it’s very difficult to admit the errors of their beliefs—that they’ve been either taught erroneously, or they’ve been deceived; perhaps it’s because they want to continue in their ways that are contrary to the teachings or our Lord.  They don’t know what they’re missing.  But we know how important God’s Word is.  It’s of tremendous importance that we perceive it clearly.  And praise God, He Himself makes sure that it happens to those who truly pursue His Word.

Cursed at but Blessed

Psalm 109:28   (KJV)   28 Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.

We bless others; not all of them reciprocate that.  There are people who dislike us despite the good way we treat them.  Others would get hurt when cursed at; it weighs heavily on them.  We pray for them that they’d handle things better.  It’s good to be treated well, but Psalm 109.28 - Cursed at But Blesssedwhen we believers are cursed, we’ve learned not to get hurt;  what matters is that God blesses us.  And His Words are more potent.

We glory in the Lord; in Him, no one can really hurt us.  God has an effectively powerful way of protecting us.  Although we don’t rejoice in other people’s pain—even those who mistreat us, often, the harm they intend for us boomerangs on them, and they’re the ones who suffer from their own actions.  Here again, it’s made clear why we can heed the Word’s admonition for us to rejoice in the Lord always.

There are many reasons why others curse us; they probably hate us for reasons we don’t know or reasons unfounded.  There are probably many reasons why God blesses us, but there’s one I know for sure:  He absolutely loves us.  He’s never an absentee God.  Even in those moments when He’s seemingly very quiet, and the slanders, accusations, and lies of our enemies abound, God is blessing us. Even in the middle of the worst treatment from others, we’re at the very center of the the best treatment from God.  It’s a fact of our Christian journey:  people will repay us evil for good, hatred for love, and slander for praise; we’re fine; our joy’s intact in the Lord.

 

Unequalled Life

Matthew 10:8   (KJV)   Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

Miracles are real.  Believers are in agreement with this.  Does God still move in His people to be conduits of healing, cleansing, raising the dead, deliverance?  Before I Matthew 10.8 - Unequalled Lifeproceed with the answer, here’s a quick, loving, simple clarification:  my answer isn’t intended to negate or criticize our family in the Lord who believe differently;  I want to be a contributor to unity, not further division of the precious body of our one Lord.

I believe that the gifts of God go beyond the natural; they include supernatural works.  What an incomparably adventurous life we live as believers!  Who can equal to such tasks?  Our experiences are combinations of wonders and dangers; all of them orchestrated by the masterful hand of our Almighty Father, working everything for the good of those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

We are channels of miracles and the supernatural; we are also objects of scorn, hatred, threats, persecution, and even death.  We are loved by some, but we’re also rejected by others.  Our provision is guaranteed—through usual means, or unusual means.  We’re sheep among wolves;  we conduct ourselves with caution, wisdom, and gentleness.  When “dragged” to court, we end up in the presence of rulers and kings.  We may not have the knowledge of lawyers, but the Holy Spirit Himself gives us the very words to say.  The eyes of those who consider us as their enemies are constantly on us, waiting for opportunities to do us harm, but we don’t fear; we know that our Father, Whose eyes are on the sparrows, is constantly, lovingly, and protectively watching over us—His children.

Touch Not God’s Anointed

1 Samuel 26:23   (KJV)   23 The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed.

God calls leaders. We honor our leaders because we honor God Who calls them.  Although all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is a unique anointing that comes with God’s leadership call.  They may not be our best choice; we may not agree 1 Samuel 26.23 - Touch Not God's Anointedwith the way they do things, but as long as they don’t tell us to jettison our God, His Word, His law, we ought to honor them, submit to them, pray for them, and support them.

God is our supreme leader.  When someone He has anointed as leader tries to usurp His authority, that’s the time we rightfully rebel—this is a righteous rebellion.  Otherwise, disobedience becomes a direct assault on God’s choice.  We want them to do good; we want them to succeed; we want them to make the right decisions, and we’re ready to accept their decisions even when different from ours.

I pray that this won’t be taken as self-serving since I too am a leader, perhaps not to hundreds and thousands, but to scores.  We are accountable to our heavenly Father as to how we obey Him in honoring His anointed;  the anointed leader is personally accountable to the Father as to how they conduct themselves.  Leaders will make bad decisions; instead of shooting them down, why not find ways of filling their lack?

To position ourselves as an opposition to a leader and everything he does is obviously biased and wrong, but there are those who glory in such stand.  We don’t support anyone—leaders or not—when they directly oppose God.  We fully support God’s choice;  we dare not touch God’s anointed.  Instead of giving them a hard time, we bless them, and we want to be a blessing to them.  Again, if it’s just a difference of opinion, policy, approach, strategy—if it’s not against God or His Word—the leader has the mandate; we give him that.  It’s a righteous thing to do, and the Lord rewards it.

Vengeance isn’t Ours

1 Samuel 24:12   (KJV)   12 The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.

We can trust God’s justice; justice will be served, either here or in eternity.  Vengeance on our part is non-negotiable; vengeance belongs to the Lord; it’s never ours to exact.  To not see justice right away doesn’t mean it won’t happen. True, even our very own justice 1 Samuel 24.12 - Vengeance isn't Ourssystem—even those who do their best, even those who really approach it without biases—make mistakes. God’s justice makes sense of His call for us to love our enemies and be good to those who wrong us.

We’ve heard it repeatedly: “Life’s unfair.” There’s truth in that statement, if this is all there is in life, if there’s no existence beyond earth, if there’s no Sovereign Ruler Who will judge everyone someday. Sometimes we see His justice executed right away with our very own eyes; sometimes, He seems so quiet. But we rest assured in the fact that it’s not over until He says it’s over, until He gives His last Word.

We don’t want to personally avenge ourselves and hurt people; that’s not a prerogative left to us, and understandably so. Why? It’s because most often, we don’t really aim for justice, we want to do worst. Besides, we don’t know all the factors at play. We don’t really know the entire motivation, the details of the situation, weight of the temptations and provocations.  God alone can be trusted of perfect justice. For now, we act and react the way He tells us to: with love and mercy. With those, we can never go wrong.

My Treasure

Matthew 6:21   (KJV)   21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Our minds and hearts are invested in God and heavenly thoughts. The more we do, the more we’re drawn to them.  There really is no being, system or cause greater than God. He has no equal, no qualified rival. Strength, glory, honor, and supreme rulership Matthew 6.21 - My Treasurebelongs to Him.  In His presence is fullness of love, joy, peace, and freedom.  He frees us from all earthly worries and encourages us to focus on things that are eternal and heavenly.

Oh, to taste and see that the Lord is good; to know Him increasingly more; to know His face, His Word, His will, His ways, His works; to know the power of His resurrection, His Kingdom now, and His Kingdom to come—nothing beats or surpasses any of these in value.  No, we’re not of those who are too heavenly minded and no earthly good. In fact, it is our being increasingly more God-minded and heavenly-minded that we become truly earthly good.

We’re not affected by people’s perception of us; we’re not affected by their lack of interest, their low estimation of us.  We’re beyond that; we’re free from people’s opinions and influence.  We serve God; we shine His light—not to elevate ourselves or to boast of how good we are, but to point them to God.  We forgive those who wrong us; we love our enemies; we walk the extra mile, we bless those who curse us.  Those we do because we’re not a part of the dog-eat-dog, “survival of the fittest” competition that the world has cruelly imprisoned and controlled people with.  What matters is the infinitely more precious existence with our wonderful God now and in eternity.

Song-Filled Life

Psalm 59:16   (KJV)   16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

We have so many reasons to sing for;  imagine starting out our days with it.

Psalm 59.16 - Song-Filled LifeEvery new day we’re given is a demonstration of God’s bountiful mercy, amazing grace, and unfailing love.

We have many enemies—starting with our own flesh, then there’s the world, then there’s the devil.  All we need is one Ally.  For us believers, He’s already in us.

We face troubles, tests, trials, and temptations daily.  Many of them are beyond our power to solve and overcome.  Not for God.

God has always carried us through. He hasn’t failed us, and He won’t ever do.

God’s Thrones

Psalm 11:4   (KJV)   4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

The LORD’s present in our lives. He is here, but He is also the Sovereign ruler of all.  He’s enthroned in our hearts, and in the heavens.  He knows all things, even the innermost secrets of our hearts. No one is beyond His knowledge and His reach.  He is still very much involved in our affairs. He never leaves Psalm 11.4 - God's Thronesor forsakes us. In fact, His hands of invitation are continually extended to us—beckoning, welcoming.  We are His temple—His home.  He’s closer to us than He can ever be and we can ever know.

He knows our prayers and cries—even those as soft as a whisper. He is that intimate with us.  He literally knows more about us than we know ourselves.  Why not?  He loves us tremendously and He is an all-knowing God.  He is also infinitely powerful.  Although He’s very intimate with us, He is not limited to our small realm of existence.  He rules; He reigns, and He will do so forever—glorified, lifted high.

We need Him close; not everyone sticks around.  Others easily ditch us at the first sign of discomfort.  It’s good to know that Someone sticks around even when the whole world turns against us.  Some people aren’t settled with just leaving; they don’t get satisfied until we’re down, hurt, or destroyed.  They accumulate weapons and ammunition to attack us when we’re most vulnerable.  We’re not troubled.  The LORD is our more than efficient Protector.  He is our impenetrable shield.  No weapon formed against us will ever get through Him and to us—to those who are His—to those who are upright.  In the presence of our enemies, we still enjoy very restful nights and very joyful days.

The Real Champion

1 Samuel 17:45   (KJV)   45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

This is one of the best declarations and statement of faith we can find in the Word. While all the other professional armies cowered in the presence of a 9’ 6” giant enemy who was mocking them terribly, the young good-looking shepherd bravely answered the 1 Samuel 17.45 - The Real Championchallenge. He was obviously much less experienced in actual battles; he was definitely much smaller; he was unquestionably the underdog—in the natural. I love that qualifier: “in the natural.”

David wasn’t blind; he heard what the enemy said; he felt insulted by it, and he couldn’t believe why his fellow soldiers were just swallowing all the insults—not because they “loved” their enemies, but because they were scared. David saw beyond what everyone else did. He saw the giant, but he knew Someone bigger. He was aware that he was facing the Philistine champion, but He knew the LORD of heaven’s armies.

He knew his much greater advantage.  His enemy’s power was all limited to the natural: sword, spear, javelin; his dependence stretched higher than the heavens and greater than the universe.  He faced Goliath bearing the Name that is above every name. Goliath represented the Philistines, David represented his God. Oooh, there alone, we see who the clear winner is.  And that’s how we too are or can become winners.

The odds may be undeniably against us; the situation may look really bad; it may seem like there is no other end but our defeat or surrender; there may be a strong pull to raise our hands up or the white flag and say “I give up.”  But there is a realm we know is real; it’s a real part of our existence; there, our hope is endless. Our LORD God, the Jehovah-Nissi—the LORD our Banner—is our sure victory.

Second-Mile Obedience

Matthew 1:24   (KJV)   24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife

Joseph obeyed the angel’s command although it wasn’t a simple one.  He had to be very sensitive to spiritual matters; he had to be discerning enough to recognize that his dream was something beyond the ordinary. His decision wasn’t something small; it was life Matthew 1.24 - Second-Mile Obediencealtering, in fact, it was big-time history changing. He may not have known the importance or the extents of the consequences of His obedience, but that’s a nature of obedience: we can’t predict it’s real value.

God values our obedience more than we know it. He values it more than sacrifice. By the way, grace doesn’t discard, undermine, diminish, dismiss, or nullify the need for obedience. They’re not opposed to each other. In fact, one of grace’s most important function is empowering us to obey God in saying “no” to undgodliness. Obedience demonstrates who we are as believers; obedience is living wisely as His child.

Obedience still brings rewards and disobedience brings discipline or punishment. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to argue against those who teach that God no longer punishes us when we disobey; I’m just sharing what I believe. Every blessing we have is grace from God, but God’s Word teaches that not everyone receives God’s grace.  Only those who appropriate grace by faith benefit from it. Faith isn’t just mental; living faith is belief-obedience. Remember, during the “awarding ceremony” of believers, there will be gradations of rewards.

My encouragement is not only to obey, but to go a second mile. Joseph did. He wasn’t commanded to have sexual relations with Mary, but He didn’t until after Jesus was born. He decided on that and did that on his own.