Love Over Freedom

Romans 14:15   (NIV)   15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

We’re aware that fellow believers can still be distressed. And the cause of each other’s distress can be each other. To be such a cause equates to being unloving in our actions. The mandate is clear: our freedom in Jesus ought to not cause anyone to be distressed or Romans 14.15 - Love Over Freedomdestroyed. Our souls are way more precious than any food, drink, or anything this world has to offer.

Our Lord Jesus has set us free, and whoever He sets free is truly free. It is for freedom itself that He set us free; that speaks of the great value of freedom. But there’s something of greater worth than that: souls. God loves each of us tremendously, that explains the rationality of our precious Lord Jesus willingly leaving the glories of heaven to seek and to save the lost by sacrificing His life as a ransom payment for us.

We as His children understand His indescribable love—not totally—but enough to know that it’s great beyond measure. Having this set in our hearts and minds, we’re willing to sacrifice our freedom to protect others, especially our spiritual family. Sure, everything is permissible for us, but we understand that not everything is beneficial. Sure, we’re free to do anything, but we’re aware that there are things that can be destructive instead of constructive; there are things that can get us enslaved or addicted, there are things that can cause others to stumble, and there are things that just plainly don’t glorify God. Having the heart of God for His children, we willingly submit our liberty to love if a choice has to be made.

Celebrating Children

Mark 9:37   (KJV)   37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

We love our kids; they’re a wonder to behold. They are wonderful gifts from God. Yes, it takes a lot in raising them; it’s also a joy doing so. It takes a lot of responsibility in raising them. There’s so much to teach them; but guess what, there’s also so much we can learn mark-9-3-celebrating-childrenfrom them. You know what’s interesting? Learning something from them is probably the last thing others would think about, but not us. Thank You Lord; You woke us up to this reality.

To some (or many), kids are an annoyance, that’s why they would rather not have kids. Others don’t mind having one or two, but not more. There are those who give them away for adoption; and there are those who don’t even give them a chance to live beyond the womb. It’s not hard to see irritated stares from people when a child cries incessantly—especially children not their own. But there’s a good side in this: as there are those who can’t stand children, there are also many of us who love them. We treat them the best way we can, although of course, we still fail. We learn from our mistakes; we do better.

Children are hugely dependent on responsible others; they can’t survive on their own. We need to take good care of them, and it’s something we keep doing until they can take care of themselves. Taking care of them isn’t a waste of time. I need to emphasize this because many times, others see kids as disturbances from a lot more important things in life. They’re sadly considered by others as uncomfortable distractions from their pursuit of greatness. This is where our loving Lord Jesus took His disciples’ attention to. The path to greatness isn’t by lording others into submission; it’s by receiving children.

I’ll state this again: it’s by receiving children. The reason I feel the need to doing that is because I want us to not miss out on this principle. Many of us are aware that a path to greatness is by conducting ourselves humbly like a child and serving others. That’s a principle that many believers are familiar with. But there’s really more to it than that: It’s not only by having childlike faith and humility that we enter the Kingdom of heaven and become great, it’s also by literally welcoming, receiving, and caring for little children. Welcoming them is welcoming God, and having God is both greatness and way to greatness. That’s why, we don’t just tolerate children, we celebrate them.

Care for the Sheep

John 21:17  (KJV)   “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

Those we love, we take care of.  It’s because of God’s great love for us that He takes great care of us; it’s because we sincerely love each other in the church that we naturally take good care of each other. We feed each other—both spiritually and physically. It’s because john-21-17-care-for-the-sheepwe fervently love the lost that we persistently reach out to them—that we willingly help them with their needs, especially their indispensable need for salvation. This is what our Lord Jesus repeatedly commissioned Peter to do as a responsibility that comes with his love for the Lord.

Our dear Lord Jesus loves us. He cares for us so much that He invites us all to cast all our often nerve-wrecking cares, worries, and concerns to Him. One of the interesting things He did with the apostles after His death and resurrection was to feed them and to eat with them. It’s almost allegorical—that’s what He did for three years: feed the apostles, especially with spiritual food.

He didn’t give up; it didn’t matter how many times the apostles failed to understand His teachings, how many times they forgot, how many times they failed; He just kept on caring for them; He just kept on feeding them. This is the pattern; we don’t get tired of teaching our brothers and sisters in Chrsit—repeatedly, continuously. Like physical food: we eat; we get hungry; we get weak; we eat again—the cycle continues.

Just because we’ve taught a certain truth to others doesn’t mean we expect them to go by the power of that one teaching without failing or falling until they meet the Lord. No; we clearly understand that they will get weak; we understand that properly caring for them is an invaluable task we’ll keep doing—without irritation, annoyance, or disappointment. We understand this because we too need and receive the same precious gracious, patient, persevering care. So yes, it’s a wonderful pleasure taking good care of others—again, and again.

Well Rested

Psalm 127:2   (KJV)   2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

How many people lack sleep because they’re trying their best to earn more so that they have more security for their future and their family’s future? We probably know not just some, but many. This ought to not be so. God wants us to have enough sleep. He wants us to rest. Our provision and prosperity comes from Him. He’s the One Who gives us the power to get wealth. The fruitfulness of our labor is ultimately ordered by Him.

psalm-127-2-well-rested

God wants us to have rest. Let me clarify: He doesn’t want us lazy, complacent, or mediocre; He wants us to live excellently, committed, devoted, loyal, diligent, and industrious, but He doesn’t want us killing ourselves with work. Those who do are doing more than God intends them to. He wants us to enjoy life. But some may say, “I enjoy my work;” that may be true, but God also loves His people; He loves His body; He loves His temple, and we are His temple. He’s a good God; He’s a good Father; He invites us to come to Him—all of us who are tired and are heavily burdened, and He gives us rest. Yes, of all the kinds of rest, our spiritual rest is of utmost importance, but His invitation does cover our entire being.

There is a time for everything, meaning: there’s a time to work, and a time to rest; there’s a time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. And enjoying it, we do, not just for a very short time between two or three jobs, but sufficient time to rest. We’re not consumed by worry and anxiety thinking about possibility of lack. No…The Lord is our Shepherd; we have everything we need. We work hard; we get enough sleep, enjoying time and fellowship with our heavenly Dad before we finally retire for the day. We wake up—with praises in our hearts, mind, and lips. And we start our day spending wonderful time of fellowship with Dad again. We work; we play; we pray; we retire—always with peace, knowing that as we faithfully take care of Dad’s gifts to us: eternal and temporal, our Dad sees to it that everything’s well with us.

Journey Under God

Revelation 2.19 - Journey Under God - 2Revelation 2:19   (KJV)   19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Three things to note: 1. God’s totally aware of everything we are, everything we do, everything we undergo; 2. Our works, love, service, faith, and patience are important to God; 3. Our continual growth matters much to Him.

Knowing that God watches over us brings a very comforting assurance that whatever we’re going through, God sees and He’s always readily available to come and help us. Knowing what’s important to Him gives us a road map for our temporal journey here on earth; we’re not lost and we don’t have to be. So we walk in full confidence, willing to take on our tasks head on, loving God with all our hearts, minds, soul, and strength, loving our neighbors as ourselves, willingly and humbly serving God and others so that God’s Kingdom will continue growing deeper, stronger and bigger. We stand steadfast in our faith, proclaiming it, defending it. Although it takes time, and the fruits of our labor don’t come quickly and easily, we are willing to wait and persevere. And we’re always abounding in our labor for God knowing that none of it is in vain.

We don’t stop, and we won’t stop. God hasn’t and won’t. He never gives up on us. He’s still working in us. God has bought us where we are, but this is not all God has for us. There’s still so much more in store. So we continue, looking forward to an ever-increasing glory to glory change. God won’t fail. We won’t fail Him.

 

Caring God

Isaiah‬ ‭46:4‬ ‭  (NLT‬‬)   I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.‭‭

God is committed to Isaiah 46.4 - Caring Godyou and me, and His commitment is for life. His involvement in our lives started even long before we were born, i.e., even before the world was created. He knitted  us together in our mother’s womb–fearfully, wonderfully. He never left us; He never will. He’s around us, with us, and for believers like us, He’s in us.

He’s our Lord and Master, but He’s not a slave-driver; He’s not a cruel taskmaster. He cares for us way much more than we realize, more than anyone does. He perfectly knows what’s best for us, and He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows even the very numbers of our hair. He knows everything we’ve been through although we may have forgotten some of them. He knows what we’re undergoing, and He knows what’s ahead of us–things we can only guess and hope for.

We don’t carry our burdens; we turn them all over to Him. No; He doesn’t mind that at all; in fact, that’s what He wants us to do. We’re His children; He’s delighted when we come to Him humbly like a little child. With complete dependence and faith-filled abandon, we jump right into the loving, mighty arms of our heavenly Father. There we find our joy; there we find our safety.

Brother’s Keepers

Isaiah 32.2

Isaiah 32:2   (KJV)   2And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.


We are our brothers’ keepers. We watch each other’s back. We protect each other. We have ups and down; it’s good to know we don’t go through them alone. First of all, God’s with us; second, we have each other. When we’re under attack, we come to each other’s defense. When we’re overran by hardships, there’s someone we can go to; when we’re lacking, we help provide for each other; when we’re weak; we’re each other’s strength.  We are God’s hands and feet, eyes and heart for each other.

God’s an extremely gracious Father. He gives us fertile lands; He provides great harvest. He lavishes us not just with material things, but with the more important things such as righteousness, justice, love, joy, peace.  That’s why we’re not afraid. What happens around us doesn’t scare us. God can bless us in the middle of the storm. We can sleep soundly at night. We know He watches over us. We’re confident that we’ll wake up in the morning, and everything will be just fine.

That’s why we don’t hold back from blessing others. We have an inexhaustible resource. No one can steal the songs from our hearts; it’s a song we share with each other. There’s sorrow, sickness, and death out there, but we share the fountains of joy, healing, and full life. We’re not in denial; we’re aware of evil and people who operate in it. People lie about us, accuse us wrongly, while others are indifferent to our plight; they won’t lift a finger to help. At times, we lose valuable possessions, and we look abandoned, void of help. But not so; even the seemingly most unpleasant situations are for our best. Knowing this, we’re not bothered; we’re not bogged down with worry and self-pity. We go out, with songs in our spirits, joy in our hearts, we lock arms with our brothers and sisters, and we march together, facing every day and everything together.