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.

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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.

New Clothes for New Life

Ephesians 4:24   (KJV)   24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

We are world-changers; that’s a great honor. We influence and change our society because we’ve been changed—from the inside out; we’re a new creation, new man, new nature, new heart. All glory to God; that inner change is all Him. That’s the light we Ephesians 4.24 - New Clothes for New Lifeshine, this new nature created to be like God, particularly His righteousness, holiness, purity. It may be hard for some to believe, but this is us: living godly and pure lives is our nature.

Everyone is invited to share this awesome newness; most don’t respond.  As believers, we enjoy it tremendously. It’s no longer a joy for this new nature to engage in dishonesty, immorality, and corruption. There are not a lot of honors as great as representing and displaying our Father’s nature. Misrepresenting Him hurts us. Temptations abound; they possess powerful attractions, but this new man has different tastes and appetites.

Not all unbelievers are utterly hostile to believers. Some of them recognize the beauty of Christian values. They know the importance of truthfulness, faithfulness, and loyalty in relationships. They know the value of teachability and submission among their children and employees. They know the value of conscientiousness, initiative, and diligence. It’s not unusual to see parents who don’t set foot in a church but send their children to Christian schools and gatherings because they know how beautiful our lives are.

We sail on, bearing a different aura—that of humility, joy, love, peace. Our neighbors trust us; we bring peace to tense situations; we don’t harbor grudge. We don’t operate by the common m.o. of avenging ourselves against those who wrong us. We forgive. We work hard for those who trust us with their company; we’re not takers; we’re giver. Our speeches aren’t foul; they’re pleasant; they’re kind. I can go on and on, but we’re obviously different—wonderfully different. We love it. We’re deeply humbled.

“Firsts” to Believe

Romans 16:5   (KJV)   Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

We take our hats off to trailblazers, especially those who took the brunt of cynicism, skepticism, suspicion, criticisms, and persecution for being the first to believe the Gospel in their particular spheres of existence.

Romans 16.5 - Firsts to BelieveI remember how my brother was vehemently scolded by my Dad when he no longer wanted to participate in the repeated recitations of prayers we conducted every night, accusing him of being a traitor—turning his back from our dearly-long-held beliefs and traditions. My Dad forced him to do it—even lead the prayers. I remember seeing him recite those prayers with tears in his eyes, thinking to myself how “touched” he must have been as he led our family and the many visitors in our daily ritual. I wondered though because I’ve never seen anyone that moved before in going through those particular religious acts.

That example is very light compared to the life-threatening experiences others have for being the first believer in their family, tribe, or community. But I’m still grateful to my brother for being the first believer in our family. All of us in the family eventually prayed to receive. Of all the five guys among the siblings, one passed away, and three are now pastors—except him (ironic).

Thank You Lord for raising up people who were humble, bold, and wise enough to be the first to take the plunge of faith into faith—in You.

Our Body as Force for Good

Romans 6:13    (KJV)   13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

We have a choice as to what to do with our “members,” our bodies, whether they’ll be instruments of sin or instruments of God. As believers, the choice is very clear; our natural predisposition now that we’re alive from the dead—we’ve been raised to a new life—is to live out this new life for God’s glory and honor.

Romans 6.13 - Bodies - Force for GoodChoice is a big word today, and our hearts go out to those who misunderstand the meaning. Choice doesn’t equate to doing wrong. Choice speaks of one of God’s most loving and wisest gift to mankind: free will. We keep that honor when we become believers. But instead of being slaves to sin, we now have power over it. The choice is ours, and for believers, our choice equates to what’s good, right, and godly. We can choose otherwise, but the precious Holy Spirit is now powerfully moving in us to will and to do God’s will. We don’t feel violated; at times I pray what I know God won’t answer—that He would just take full control of my will and make me do everything exactly as He wants me to.

With that powerful divine influence, we yield. We submit our bodies to the leading of God’s precious Holy Spirit; we deny sin its say, and we live victoriously and wonderfully. How beautiful are the pilgrimage of those who wisely reject the deceptions of the enemy, those not blinded by the lying attractions of temptations. Our bodies are no longer sin’s helpless tools and victims. Praise God, through our Lord, we’ve found authority and power to see through sin’s devious allurements, to render our bodies dead to it, and to offer our bodies as living sacrifices—Holy and acceptable to our beloved Lord and Savior.

Aside from God’s pleasure, guess how happy my spouse is that I choose to devote my body to her alone instead of enjoying the pleasures of infidelity. Guess how happy my family is that I serve them instead of abandoning them. Guess how happy my neighbors are that I desire them good and not harm. That’s the beauty of a righteous life. It becomes an instrument of blessing and joy to our heavenly Father first and foremost, and to others as well. What a wonderful life.

 

Died and Rose—for Us

Romans 4:25   (KJV)   25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Praise God; our precious Savior sacrificially died on the cross for our sins. Praise God; He didn’t stay dead and buried; He defeated grave, death, and hell; He rose from the dead so Romans 4.25 - Died and Rose--for Uswe may be reckoned as justified—just as if we haven’t sinned at all—made completely right before God.

I don’t even want to imagine what could have happened had He not incarnated, had He not lived a perfect life, had He not been willing to give His life for us, had He been unable to resurrect. We’re grateful He was a worthy, willing, and perfect sacrifice.

Our holy God lovingly provided a merciful yet just way out for us; our offences were placed upon our Lord; we need no longer be penalized and punished for them. Every need, every requirement for this hope and reality of eternal life has been met; we’re over-blessed; we’re overjoyed.