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.

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“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.

The Blood of the New Covenant

Matthew 26:28   (KJV)   28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Matthew 26.28 - The Blood of the New CovenantDo we understand this? I pray I would understand the depths of these words. Death—it took the death of our precious Lord and Savior—it took spilling of His blood—for our sins to be forgiven.

It’s very possible to read these words and not even really understand the implications of what our Savior just said. We are enjoying this New Covenant—a covenant much better, more superior, and more glorious than the old. This came free to us; it didn’t come easy for our Savior. Three times, He prayed to the Father if it was possible for Him not to drink the cup of the cross. His sweat was like drops of blood. He was in deep anguish. An angel needed to minister to Him.

There was no other way. Our Lord needed to spill His blood, die on the cross. That was the ransom payment required. There was no easier compromise. He didn’t back down. He laid down His life. A New Covenant was ratified with His blood. We didn’t only find hope; we now live in hope. That’s what our Lord did for us. All honor, glory, and thanksgiving to Him.

 

New Hearts

Matthew 15:18   (KJV)   18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Matters of the heart matters more than the physical. They affect us in more significant and more crucial ways.

The words we honestly speak spring from deep within us. Depending on the condition of our hearts, the kinds of words coming out reflect them. The Bible tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Matthew 15.18 - New HeartsThat’s why although we hear it often, it’s not always wise to say “Just listen to your heart,” or “Just follow your heart.” Unregenerate hearts from unsaved world often come up with very wrong advice.

We praise God for changing our hearts. Instead of hearts of stone—hard hearts unwilling to listen to God’s Word and God’s Spirit, He gave us hearts of flesh—soft hearts—longingly, lovingly hungering, expectant of, and pursuing Him, His Kingdom, His Word, and His will. We’re more concerned about these hearts of ours and the issues flowing from them compared to the physical stuff we stuff our physical bodies with.

Don’t get me wrong; we don’t deny the importance of our physical bodies and the honor our Lord Jesus has bestowed on them. We are the temples of the precious Holy Spirit. We recognize and realize the importance of good diet and exercise. Over-eating is still something to avoid, although I admit, I need more discipline in that. Gluttony may be a more convicting term than over-eating.

We can desecrate this temple. But what defiles this temple are not the kinds of food we eat but the kinds of words coming out of our lips; the kinds of thoughts we think with our brains, and the kinds of actions we engage in with our bodies. Immorality—these kinds of acts of our bodies defile us. But all these ultimately spring from deep within us. We take care of  our hearts; everything else flows from there. Our hearts belong to Him; that’s the big difference.

Uniquely Blessed

Matthew 13:16   (KJV)   16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

There is blessedness in perception: for eyes able to see and ears able to hear, minds able to understand, hearts able to feel, and spirits able to sense. God has given us, His people in the New Covenant, a unique and special privilege of receiving revelation of the truths Matthew 13.16 - Uniquely Blessedhidden from unbelievers, and truths hidden even from the Old Covenant prophets and believers who longed for what we now enjoy.

Praise God for favoring us with understanding not enjoyed by everyone. He graciously grants and blesses us with unique abilities to comprehend spiritual and eternal truths—Kingdom truths. The more we seek, the more we see; the more we see, the more we seek. We just keep increasing in Kingdom knowledge and understanding. Whether it’s from the Word, a direct revelation from God, or a preaching, whether it’s old or new gems He wants us to learn, we grasp them clearly.

Others don’t listen. They close their hearts. It’s not that they’re not presented with the same “sights and sounds”—spiritually. It’s their reception that’s blocked. They close their eyes and ears. God doesn’t force them. But they miss out on much of the blessedness of genuine seekers. The less they listen, their understanding is lessened. We need to keep praying for them. Some will turn to God; others won’t. Whatever the result of our prayers and other attempts to bring them to understanding, we’re appreciatively diligent with the favor we receive. We don’t stagnate; we keep growing. We don’t treat our blessedness lightly; we value them. We don’t waste them; we use them—serving the Blesser, and serving others.