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.

 

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.

Who’s Really Affected?

Job 35:6   (KJV)   If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?

Job 35.6 - Who Really BenefitsNo amount of sin and rebellion can topple God from His throne. God is God; He rules; He will reign forever and forever.

Nothing we do can alter God for Who He is. He’s God, and He will always be God—omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, eternal, sovereign, holy, righteous, just, merciful, gracious, loving, and so much more. He is all those, and more—now, and forever more.

Yes, because of His love for us, He’s grieved when we sin. He’s jealous for us because of His love. He always wants the best for us, and He doesn’t like the idea of us allowing the enemy to rob us of our best. We don’t increase God or diminish His Being when we sin or do good. We obey Him because we as true believers understand: that’s the proper response to Who He is. We honor Him because He is honorable, we worship Him because He’s the greatest Being there is. We know that His commands aren’t burdensome—He’s not giving us a hard time; they’re for our best. Let me quote the context of the passage above: “If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man” (Job 35:6-8 KJV).

So yes, doing bad and doing good, ultimately, is doing ourselves bad or good. We choose good.

You’re Welcome

Acts 21:4   (KJV)   4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

Acts 21.4 - You're WelcomePaul and His companions were welcomed by the disciples. They get to stay with them for a week with no problem.

Many of us still value hospitality—and rightly so. Others though pick and choose who they welcome and allow to share their homes—and rightly so. This isn’t to advocate any kind of unreasonable discrimination, but there is a godly discrimination. What I want to focus on though is our attitude toward each other as believers. Before, being a believer is the only qualifier for the disciples to welcome each other. They were blessed and happy to meet and welcome fellow Christians.

Nowadays, others have seemingly a lot more non-negotiable “qualifiers” to go through before they would willingly welcome a believer. They have to seamlessly share the same doctrinal positions to the minutest detail. Forbid the thought that they would stay with a group of people who prophesied. That’s a huge issue nowadays, but there was no discussion of any contention or concern about it during the time of Paul. They knew they had one Lord, one faith, one great commission to accomplish.

Dear God, I humbly pray that we would return to that kind of attitude towards our brothers in sisters in You—that we welcome each other simply because of that—we’re one spiritual family. Help us to not foolishly render your body—your church—bruised, broken, and bloodied because of our own careless and even cruel attacks on each other, forgetting that an assault on a fellow believer of a different denominational persuasion or preference is an assault on You. Help us to fully love the whole of You—from the Head to every part of Your body, not just our own little space.

 

God is Good to All

Acts 14:17   (KJV)   Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Acts 14.17 - God's Goodness to AllGod is good–that’s His nature. His goodness isn’t selective; He’s good to those who know Him and to those who don’t.  Him giving rain, fruitful seasons, food, and gladness in everyone’s heart testify to this.

God’s love and goodness encompass all His creation. We don’t deny the huge differences between believers and unbelievers, but there are also huge similarities between them. We’re all created by God; we’re all sustained by Him; God wants us all saved; He loves all and is good to all.

People can be bad, but God is always good.  People change; God doesn’t. His nature isn’t dependent on the way people treat Him. We His children do the same. We love even those who treat us as their enemies; we give–we bless even those who despise us. And we do this with joy and peace in our hearts knowing full well that our value and worth don’t diminish just because of others trying to belittle us.