Righteousness—the Person, the Action

1 John 3:7 (KJV) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

It is to be deceived to believe that those who commit unrighteousness are righteous.

I was almost avoiding this passage. Somehow, I’m affected by books and messages discouraging a call to holiness and righteousness. Those who do are seen as legalistic, or 1 John 3.17 - Righteousness - The Person, the Actionpeople who don’t understand God’s love and grace. They are seen as judgmental, condemnatory, and they preach salvation by works.

I know those labels aren’t true with me. I understand that we’re saved by grace through faithliving faith that is. I understand God’s unconditional love and abundant grace. I caught myself doing something I ought not to: avoiding certain passages. That was wrong.

So, I settled. How can I escape this divine billboard projected so emphatically right before me—repeatedly, in different ways, just from one book alone? Here’s a sampling of what I mean:

1 John 2:1,5-6,29 (KJV) 1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3:3,10,24 (KJV) 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 John 5:3 (KJV) 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

There’s a lot more where they came from.

If God’s Word doesn’t withdraw from urging us to life of love, obedience, holiness, purity, righteousness; it’s only right we also don’t.

‘nough said.

 

 

 

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Rest

Luke 23:56   (KJV)   56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

Rest is needed; it’s not negotiable; it’s a must. Even if our work has to do with the Kingdom of God, there comes a time when we need to pack-up, drop what we do and wait. luke-23-56-resRest is obedience to God. Some of us feel guilty when we’re not doing anything, but giving our bodies and mind a break is godly. God want us to work; He also wants us to rest. He sees wisdom in ceasing from our daily routine and having some kind of recharging. His invitation still stands: “Come to Me, those of you who are tired and weary and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.” He commands us to rest; His arms are extended; it’s there we go and let go.

There are people who take extended rest periods; this is not right either; laziness is never condoned by God. But there are people who are just overworked; some of them are workaholics—they seem to really love and enjoy working; they seem to get energized when they work; some of them just work out of “necessity.” Truth be told, many work more hours than needed to provide for excesses and live up to the standard of success defined by society.

Yes, there are hardships in life, but many of them may be self-inflicted. There are those who work so hard to enjoy life, but they don’t really get to enjoy it as much because they spend so much time working. They’re missing out on way more important things in life. There is a time to stop, to unwind, to re-energize. There is a time to be repeatedly and regularly reminded of the pre-eminence of God and His faithfulness to us. He provides all our needs according to His riches in glory. He doesn’t need us to over-extend ourselves for Him to fulfill His promise. Yes, we have projects to finish, but there’s always another day; we don’t push it when we don’t need to. Yes, we have deadlines, but instead of violating our much needed “rest-recovery-recoup-refocus-dedicated to honoring God” day, we kick back, relax, and enjoy our day with the Lord.

God is Good

Psalm 111:7   (KJV)   7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.

“God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.” There’s nothing evil about Him; He is good, and all He does is good. His commandments are good and they’re for our good. Contrary to what a lot of people feel and think, they’re not there to deprive us of fun and excitement. God isn’t some kind of hpsalm-111-7-god-is-good-2eavenly “kill-joy” who delights in our misery. It’s the other way around. He desires our joy. He’s given us everything for life, godliness, and enjoyment.

Some people accuse God of being unfair. Not so. The truth is, His justice is “uncorrupted” and incorruptible. No one can bribe God. That’s the reason why we can trust Him when He tells us not to retaliate when we’re wronged. When He says “Vengeance is mine,” we can let go of any desire and plan to personally exact vengeance and we can rest in His promise. We don’t have to live in anger and hurt. No one ultimately gets away with anything. Every wrong will be paid. As for accusations that God is cruel for not stopping evil, disasters, and pain; the truth is: it’s because He’s so good that He allows us to continue living. Remember, we factor in this evil and pain. For Him to terminate evil completely means He has to terminate all its causes. Sadly, we play a big part in causing evil and pain. But in His time, He will do it; He will eliminate evil completely.

At times, people who wrong us prosper. In the eyes of the world, they’re successful. There are times we get victimized and we suffer because of unjust treatments. Where’s the goodness and justice of God in all this? It’s there, and it’s absolutely intact. There is a payday someday when everything will be exposed, and everyone will be held accountable. Because God is good, because God is just, because His commandments are pure and true, we live joyfully yielded to Him. He takes good care of us. And even in those areas where we’re guilty: sins we have to give account for, sins we have to pay; we can have peace knowing that in God’s goodness and justice, He paid a full ransom for everything we owe. Bless You Lord!!!

Fulfillment of the Law

Romans 13:10   (KJV)   10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

If the commandments having to do with human relationship is summed up to loving our neighbor as ourselves, loving them has largely to do with not harming them.

Not doing ill or harm to others is great; doing good to them is as great or even greater. We’ve heard the saying “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you;” the Lord Jesus told us to “Do unto others what we want others to do to us.”

Loving others is a debt we have to pay; it’s a debt we’re actually encouraged to have.

The Golden Guide

Matthew 7:12  (KJV)   12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Many of us are aware that there are Ten Commandments. I’ve read that there are actually 613 commands in the Old Testament. That sounds quite right although I haven’t really counted them myself. The Lord summarized them into two: loving God and loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). How? The Lord summarized all possible love actions into this one rule. What an awesome guideline. No wonder it’s called “The Golden Rule.”

God delights in blessing His children. And He does, whether we deserve it or not. God is just naturally gracious. But He also delights in blessing us when we’re obedient. So, He gave His people all necessary instructions – detailed instructions. But, some well meaning people who wanted to make sure that every dot and tittle are obeyed added so many peripheral commands. What they intended for good turned out to be really bad; it weighted people down and caused alot of hypocritical, external obedience to the letter of the Law and missed the true spirit of the Law.

Jesus brought us back to the true essence of all His commands – minus men’s additional commentaries: love. And just in case people see love as a description of an emotional response and not action, He left us with a precise description of what we ought to do to live out love: the Golden Rule. Of course, we can be passive and avoid deliberately hurting others. That’s why we’ve heard of a seemingly similar saying: “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do to you.” The drawback on this is to feed on people’s self-centered attitude in life and feel satisfaction in the fact that they’re not doing anything evil to others. True. Except that it also leads to not doing anything good to others.

Dear God of love and blessings, thank You for giving us clear direction as to how we can live the most wonderful life we can live – a life of love, obedience, and blessing. Please help us to do to others the good and beautiful things we desire for ourselves. We know that there are those who won’t necessarily reciprocate our godly actions, but it doesn’t matter; our blessings flow from You. I admit, there are times when we are very comfortable living in our own small personal world without thinking of others. We become just preoccupied with our own personal interests and affairs. Many of our present technological applications tend to increasingly promote self-centeredness and self-aggrandizement. We feed on our already bloated egos and feel really satisfied and happy with it. Everyone’s doing it so, well, I guess we’re “trending.” How sad.

We’ve become so comfortable with attitudes and habits that are diametrically opposed to Your admonitions. We’re not hurting others; it’s fun; people are happy – that’s why we get tricked and don’t see the dangers of slowly having our minds programmed to be focused on ourselves. Not only have we gotten comfortable of not being natural and deliberate in pursuing what’s good for You and for others, sadder still: we have become blind to You and the good people who are doing alot of good and wonderful things for us. We just enjoy receiving from them, and have grown calloused to the the Spirit’s promptings for us to reciprocate their display of love, care, and concern. We’ve become heartless and we don’t even know it. Of course, we easily find satisfaction and justification in the fact that we love people. Yes, selected people we are drawn to. But really?

Father, please forgive us. Awaken us to truly desire and deliberately be Your holy nation – a people belonging to You, separate from the world – it’s system and it’s “whitewashed” practices.

 

Path to Promotion

Deuteronomy 28:13  (KJV)   13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

Promotion and demotion comes from the Lord. He can lift one up to the highest and He can put one down to the basest. Who the Lord promotes or demotes is neither based on favoritism nor thoughtlessness. Who gets promoted? Not everyone. But the key is out in the open. Promotion or demotion is based upon a condition. Those who hear and follow Him will be lifted high; those who do not will be brought low.

How many of us struggle so hard to get ahead or to get on top? Honestly, after spending much of our lives trying, many of us still find ourselves still so far from our goal. We can’t even see a glimpse of the top from where we are standing. Ouch. Yes, that can really be disappointing.  But the Lord doesn’t want us living in disappointment. That’s the reason why He never gave us the burden and responsibility of making it to the top.

Let me be very clear on this. He doesn’t want us to be irresponsible. And yes, He does want us to be the head and not the tail. But He wants us to know that He’s the One Who has the power to get us there. And the path to the top He’s given us is the best: to simply follow His loving and wise commands. There definitely is a conscientious and serious effort involved in that as well, but it’s way easier and lighter than striving with our own strength and doing it our own way. Let our goal be on following Him faithfully instead of slugging it out with the rest for the prize of reaching our utmost potential.

We ought to not be a part of the “dog-eat-dog” world; the very tiring “survival of the fittest.” There are people a lot stronger, a lot better looking, a lot faster, a lot more talented than us. Let’s be happy the road to the top is not by competing with them and beating them. Or else, many of us won’t stand a chance. But we can definitely succeed in walking according to the ways of our LORD. We just don’t have a “fighting” chance; we don’t even have to fight against others, and instead of chance, being on top is a reality.

Our Most High God and Father, please guide our steps that they may go to the direction You’re leading us to. We understand: promotion doesn’t come from our bosses, although You may work through them; it doesn’t come from our connections, although You may work through them as well, our promotion comes from You. Thank You for revealing to us how much easier and rewarding it is to get there, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

God to Obey

Deuteronomy 26:17  (KJV)   17 Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice:

People can choose who they will worship as God. Their choice will determine how they relate to their God/god. If they chose the LORD God, it follows that they need to submit to Him, listen to Him and obey Him. One of the natures of the LORD God is sovereignty. He rules supreme. We don’t command Him; He commands us. He’s not the One to obey His people; His people obey Him.

A god we can control proves he’s no god at all. God by essence is the greatest, most powerful, most exalted Being. He’s neither our servant nor our slave. He tells us what to do; we follow. That’s just a sensible arrangement. He sees the end from the beginning; isn’t He the most qualified to give us direction? He sees and knows all things; wouldn’t He know the best for us? He knows everything in and about us, what we’re able and unable to do, our joys and our sorrows, our triumphs and our trials, our struggles and our successes, our needs and our treasures. He knows how to deal with us perfectly. And knowing that He loves us so greatly, that’s a huge plus; we can trust that all His commands for us are for our greatest welfare.

Our perfect God, thank You for showing us the way to You – that we may meet You and know You and believe in You – the one true God. It would have been a disaster had we missed out on You. Ahhh, I can’t imagine the emptiness and horrors of finding ourselves worshiping a wrong entity. You are God – the only true God. Being God, you ought to be obeyed. Knowing that You’re God omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, holy, just and loving, that definitely and infinitely multiplies the reasons for us to heed Your Word and live in them, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.