Spheres of Christian Existence

Luke 2:39   (KJV)   39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

We as believers live in variety of spheres: there’s the personal, the familial, the ecclesiastical, and the vocational, professional, or social. The most important is our personal relationship with God. This is our utmost priority. Next responsibility we have is luke-2-39-spheres-of-christian-existenceour family. This doesn’t take precedence over our relationship with God, but we don’t neglect this. The next is our ministry. This doesn’t take priority over our relationship with God and our family, but we serve our spiritual family and serve in the church. Next is the world around us. This doesn’t take priority over our relationship with God, etc., but we reach out to them and serve them.

There have been quite a few times when I met different people who were very vocal about their spirituality and their knowledge about the Bible. But when I asked them about their spiritual families (their local churches in particular), they told me that they don’t attend church. I’ve also met people who told me that their family is their church. I remember reaching out to a pastor friend of mine because not only has he stopped living out his calling, he and his entire family even stopped attending church. When I encouraged him to keep “pursuing” his call, he told me that he is pastoring—he’s pastoring his family. I explained to him that yes, we do “pastor” our families—they’re our responsibilities—the familial sphere, but he still had to serve in the context of being a part of the body of Christ. Sad to say, he didn’t change. By the time of this writing, it breaks my heart that his children are still lost.

Different spheres, different responsibilities, proper priorities. God gives us time for all of them. We’re not accountable for what we don’t have. We have twenty four hours a day, seven days a week; we juggle through all our complex schedules and indispensable responsibilities. We don’t neglect any of them. With the right priorities, proper balance, and good time management, we enjoy life to the fullest, yet relaxed and rested. We’re not stressed; we love life; people enjoy our presence; God’s pleased. Thank You Lord for a wonderful life.

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All the Gospel to All People

Acts 20:21  (KJV)   21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul was a non-discriminatory preacher. He himself was a Jew, but he preached to Jews and non-Jews alike – that covers all races. He was also a non-selective preacher. Known to be the apostle of grace, he preached repentance, and he also preached faith – both are essential to salvation.

We were commissioned by the Lord Jesus to preach the Good News of the Kingdom – the Good News of Jesus Christ – the Good News of salvation. Truth: we’ve all decided to turn our own way and we separated ourselves from God. Don’t read that last statement lightly. That’s a really heavy stuff, dreadfully serious. In turning to our own ways, we were all lost. And we would have been lost if our gracious Lord didn’t step in, and became the way to get us back on track and got us reconnected with God. Since all of us got lost, all of us needed to be found. This necessitates that the message we proclaim be for everyone. We don’t pick and choose, prefer or favor a specific race and exclude others. God loves everyone. He died for everyone: red, brown, yellow, black, white, polka-dots, striped, etc..

Another truth of importance: we need to share the full essentials for salvation – even the parts that may hurt. We don’t just preach repentance without faith; this will be showing people to turn away from something without showing them where to turn. We don’t just preach faith without repentance. This will be showing people to turn to something without showing them where to turn from. We cover the sins we need to leave behind and the Jesus we need to follow. It’s not “either-or,” it’s “both.”

Dear God, Lord of all, we pray that we will represent you faithfully. Take away any kind of ungodly discrimination and selectivity away from us. Help us that we may lovingly and boldly share the full message of the Gospel of your salvation. Yes, it may not be comfortable; it may hurt; it may cause others to dislike us or even hate us, but their salvation is worth all of those probable risks – even when risk becomes reality. Thank you Lord because we know you’ll be with us all the way, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

“Either – or” or Both

Luke 24:25-26  (KJV)   25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

Even those closest to the Lord Jesus missed out on the facts of His death and resurrection. They saw overwhelming evidences that Jesus is indeed Who He claimed to be: the Christ, Son of the living God, Lord and Savior. But when He died; their faith “died.” Their minds were set on the glorious aspects of the Messiah. They saw the wonderful demonstrations of power; great! They expected an ever expanding trip from glory to greater glory. After all, the Scripture repeatedly and emphatically speaks of a Messiah Who will reign forever. Their expectations wouldn’t be amiss; He will indeed reign forever;  but it was lacking. There was another side they failed to see: the Messiah had to suffer first. His suffering didn’t disprove His “Messiahship;” it confirmed it. They saw an incomplete picture; that’s why even in the triumphs of the resurrection, they couldn’t rejoice – they had a hard time understanding. They missed the suffering part, now they were missing the glory part; they couldn’t rejoice when Jesus gloriously defeated death and victoriously rose from the grave.

To choose “either – or” when the Scripture speaks of “both” is to end up with many possible wrong and even dangerous interpretations, doctrines and expectations. Same is true when we choose “both” when the Scripture teaches “either – or.”  The Scripture teaches the Messiah – the Prince of Peace Who alone would bring ultimate peace to all of creation, but would also be a reason for divisions. The Scripture teaches of God’s sovereignty, but also teaches on the free will of man. The Scripture teaches that we can’t be saved by good works, but we ought to strive to do good works as saved people. The Scripture teaches a God of grace, but also a God of justice, a God of love, but also a God of holiness, a God to love and a God to fear, a God Who’s our Father, but also our Master. It teaches of woman not allowed to teach in the congregation but are allowed to prophesy. Whenever we pull towards one teaching and discard the other equally true teaching, we run into a very dangerous proposition. We don’t want to miss out on the truth. We therefore ought to open our hearts, be unbiased, and be humbly and totally submitted to it. This means all truths – whether it runs contrary to our preferences or not.

Our God of Truth, may we genuinely have a heart for You. You are the Truth. Please help us to be humble that we may wave a white flag of absolute surrender to Your teachings – no matter how different they may be from what we may formerly know. Thank you for all the beliefs we have that are faithfully aligned to Your Word. Please show us where we’re amiss, and may we do what’s right. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Greatest Reward

Genesis 15:1  (KJV)   After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

When our gracious God called the then pagan Abram, He made a very appealing promise – that He will make Abram a great nation; that He will bless Him; that He will make his name great; that Abram will be a blessing (see Gen. 12:2). But with all these amazing sovereign provisions, God presented Himself to the highly favored Abram as the best of all the offers. He will be Abram’s “exceeding great reward.”

Greater than becoming a great nation, greater than having a great name, greater than being a blessing – God is. Of all the bountiful blessings and benefits of being a believer, our Beloved beats the best of the best. if we may, He is the Best of the “best/s.” It is foolish to deny, reject or dismiss the amazing graces of God; it is also foolish to accept, embrace, and pursue them more than the God of grace. In what many believe as a noble posture of humility, some would innocently say that all they need is God; they don’t need or want His blessings. Conversely, in many cases of careless Christianity, some have gravitated towards the promises of God; they have forgotten the person of God. To reject what God offers is not humility; it may be ignorance, even pride. To miss God’s best offer is not gain; it’s to miss it all.

Dear God, our exceeding great Reward, may we be wise not to choose either You or Your blessings and reject either one or the other. May we receive everything You offer, but help us to wisely prioritize. May our hearts be single in longing for only You; may our hands be open in accepting all that’s Yours. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.