Today, We Prepare

Hebrews 3:13   (KJV)   13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

One glorious day, we will be meeting our long-awaited beloved Lord, beholding Him with our very eyes, to spend time with Him and with our God for eternity. That will be one day, and we pray, one day soon. Today, we prepare.

exhortPart of our proper preparation is urgently exhorting and warning each other daily to be passionate about our God and His Word; to be watchful and vigilant against the insidious tactics and hideous attacks of our enemy.

God has powerfully set us free; we live in freedom. We don’t unwisely subject ourselves again to the cruel sin overlord. In freedom; we’re repeatedly commanded to be careful, to guard our hearts, to make sure our hearts don’t get hardened by sin’s deceitfulness, and cause us to turn away from God.

We aim to be faithful to our Lord, to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to keep the faith, to trust Him as firmly as when we did at first—even more. We don’t make light of the admonition for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to strive with the power of God’s Spirit that’s continually working in us to will and do what pleases Him. These we restfully do—in freedom, in His grace.

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Delivered from Every Evil Work

2 Timothy 4:18 (KJV)   1And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lord always delivers us from every attack of the enemy. We’re very confident about our safe journey to our heavenly home. It’s not because we’re strong, it’s because our God is. That’s why all glory, honor, and praise belong to Him.

2 Timothy 4.18 - Delivered from Every Evil WorkThe apostle Paul had a huge share of attacks, persecutions, troubles, and hardships in his Christian journey. We could have expected him to say “And the Lord shall deliver me through every evil work.” He didn’t. It’s possible that in his perception, even in worst attacks from those who don’t like us as believers, even in most difficult of circumstances, God is delivering us from evil. Meaning to say, the situations God allows us to go through aren’t necessarily evil.

There are many ways to see it. What we may see as God delivering us through is actually God delivering us from. That may be hard to understand. One thing is sure though, through it all—we may not even fully understand the theological and/or practical meaning and implications of Paul’s words—God will get us home. So we bear and persevere through life. Now, we have a little adjustment in our mindset. No matter how trying the situations are, God is delivering us from every evil work.

Wholesome Doctrine of Jesus

1 Timothy 6:3   (KJV)   3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness

We’re enjoying our lives as believers. That’s natural for people who’ve been richly given all things we need for our enjoyment. But we’re not without struggles. We have a very undesirable division going on in the beautiful body of Christ. The Lord Jesus prayed that 1 Timothy 6.3 - Wholesome Teaching of Jesuswe as the church be one as He and the Father are one. We’re still far from that reality. The issues and teachings dividing the church are disputable—non-essentials—as often referred to.

There are dangerous teachings though creeping in the church. I’m a personal witness to this. It’s rampant and it’s ongoing. The Scriptures teach us that the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus are in accordance with godliness—our Lord’s doctrine upholds godly living. But I’ve heard messages talking down on preaching about morality and good deeds. In trying to affirm the doctrine of grace—grace which we love and appreciate tremendously—they have condemned the wholesome doctrine of our Lord Jesus—godly living.

We teach godliness; other teachers consent not. Sadly, a lot of opposition comes from fellow Christian teachers. Truth is: it’s possible for believers to stray and follow Satan (1 Timothy 5:15). That’s why we’re encouraged to fight the good fight for the true faith, to hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called us… (see 1 Timothy 6:12). We don’t downplay God’s warnings: “Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good” (Titus 1:16).

God’s Word is replete with such examples of our Lord’s wholesome doctrine of godliness. Here’s just another example—just a short segment: “12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:12-14). This is our doctrine as people under grace. We don’t regret it; we don’t abhor it; we love it.

 

Me—Example of God’s Patience

1 Timothy 1:16   (KJV)   16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

The patience of our Lord Jesus is unquestionable. I’m a proof of that, and it’s my desire that my life be a demonstration of the love, mercy, grace, and longsuffering of God. I may not claim the same as Paul being the chief of all sinners, but I know more about myself 1 Timothy 1.16 - Me - Example of God's Patiencethan those commonly known and considered as really evil people. We only know so much about them, but I know even the deepest and most secret sins I’ve committed—most of them remain unrevealed.

Praise God, I obtained mercy. I don’t know how my life would be now had I not been saved. Even in my most religious years, I realized I was being a hypocrite—I just didn’t have the conviction then. This is not to glory in my depravity, but to exalt the Lord in His kindness to a sinner. Imagine a child who was a terrible spoiled brat in his childhood. Imagine a child who was full of anger and hatred towards his step-mom and step-brother. Imagine a person who used to curse at the beginning, middle, and end of almost each sentence—without trying, while serving as altar boy almost every day. Imagine a young man whose communication with peers was replete with lustful, immoral, and filthy words—enjoying every moment of it. Imagine a young man who had enough of ungodly pride to expect his peers to bow to his wants at his beck and call. Imagine a person who caused a break-up of a family for pursuing an adulterous relationship. Imagine a man who treated his romantic partner very badly—a woman he promised to make the happiest. Imagine no longer, I was that man—pre-Jesus.

By God’s grace that man exists no more. By God’s grace, a new man was born. God’s love and power were way much greater than all that man was. I was a very principled and dogmatic person—even when I stood for what was wrong (without knowing it). I didn’t just surrender my life to Jesus at the first hearing of His glorious Gospel. It took time—much time. I glory and rejoice in God’s “higher-than-heavens,” “longer-than-my-obstinacy” longsuffering or patience. He didn’t give up on me.

If you’re reading this and haven’t yet experienced the reality of God’s forgiveness, hope, and salvation in Jesus, may my life serve as an example of how an impossibility is possible with God. If I can be saved—gloriously transformed by God into a new man, anyone can experience the same.

 

Gracious Speech

Colossians 4:6   (KJV)   Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4.6 - Gracious SpeechGracious speech and appropriate response go together. Pleasant words, especially in giving a response don’t always equate to flattery. It doesn’t always mean pleasing people and displeasing God. This is something we value as God’s people.

We don’t find the need to heartlessly and proudly cut people down. We don’t intend to shine our lights more brightly by extinguishing others. We don’t find a need for that. Our promotion comes from the Lord. We have much grace to spare. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Our hearts are filled with God. It’s natural for our words to be godly, pleasant, and pure.

Our words draw people in—that’s way much more attractive than words that offends and push people away. Pushing others away is one of the last things we want to do. We understand that there are people who won’t be pleased with anything we say no matter what we say and how we say them. We’re not bound by their reactions; we’re not in control of that. However they respond, we choose to always speak truthfully, in love, as wise as those given the mind of Christ, as gentle as doves, as bold as a lion. We can’t control them and we don’t intend to; we love them and honor their freedom more than they know. They also can’t control us; we don’t let them; we love and honor Him most. And we thank Him for the opportunity of demonstrating our love for Him and others through our speech.

More Valuable than All Our Achievements

Philippians 3:8   (KJV)   Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

We are pursuing something more significant than any and all achievements we or anyone else can ever achieve. Knowing Jesus more carries infinitely more value than all our advancements and accomplishments—even the spiritual kind. We don’t mind losing Philippians 3.8 - More Valuable than All Our Achievementseverything no matter how precious they may be in the natural eyes and in society’s estimation. Compared to Jesus, they’re like useless garbage.

When it comes to our salvation, our best efforts amount to nothing. We humbly admit: our best efforts still fail miserably short of God’s glorious standards. It’s foolish to anchor our hope in ourselves. Perfection is far from anyone’s reach. The Lord Jesus alone can claim sinlessness. He’s the One to “run after;” He’s the One we take true pride and joy in.

It isn’t wrong to be proud of each other who sincerely and diligently try to do our best to faithfully live out our faith before the Lord and before the watching world. A good testimony—an exemplary life is admirable. There’s a place for compliments. We’re also called to encourage others, and to tell them “good job” when they really do well. It’s befitting for believers to do our best in all our works. Many times, we excel. Even our unbelieving bosses or peers notice.

We shine the light of Jesus through us—that’s a natural goal we have in everything we do. That’s very biblical. We will get applause, approval, and commendations; we may even receive promotion. We’re also called to grow in the knowledge and likeness of our Lord. All these give us sense of satisfaction, and that’s perfectly appropriate. But when it comes to comparing the value of all those achievements and progress to the value of an intimate knowledge and relationship with Jesus, the choice for us is undoubtedly clear: He’s our hands-down preference. Our ultimate pride is not ourselves, it’s Him.

 

Believers’ Natural Fruits

Ephesians 5:9   (KJV)   9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Ephesians 5.9 - Believers' Natural FruitsGod’s precious Holy Spirit living in us produces only good things—praise God for that. He efficiently bears in us what’s good, what’s right, and what’s true.

We willingly and humbly yield ourselves to the gentle leading and inner work of the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves, we still have a strong tendency to listen to the destructive influence of our old way of living. But our loving God has lavishly given us wisdom; we quickly identify and resist what’s evil, wrong, and false. More so, we understand that ungodliness isn’t something to accommodate and excuse; it’s something to completely reject. Our sincere love for God and our proper understanding of God’s love don’t deny His anger—not only for disobedience but also for the disobedient: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).

We love God; He loves us infinitely more. We please the One we love, and we demonstrably do this by being Christ-like. This isn’t a laborious something we force ourselves to. We honestly enjoy living in unquestionable integrity and all-out faithfulness—in willing obedience to the Lord’s instructions. We’ve heard before: “Our lives are God’s gifts to us; what we do with our lives are our gifts to God.” Reality is: there’s nothing we can give God that He didn’t give us. Still, He kindly gives us the uplifting pleasure of choosing to thank Him by the way we live out this precious gift of life—both the physical and the eternal. It’s a deep joy yielding to the precious Holy Spirit—radiating goodness, righteousness, and truth. What an honor and privilege.