Sinners First

Luke 5:32   (KJV)    32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus didn’t concentrate on convincing those who thought they were righteous of their spiritual bankruptcy; He spent time reaching out to those who society widely and Luke 5.32 - Sinners Firstcommonly considers as scums of the earth.

One of the biggest challenges we face in sharing the Gospel are people who believe they’re doing very well and don’t need God. We often find ourselves convincing them of their real spiritual status—that they need help—that they need the Savior—if we’re even given the time to get there. Many times, we find them respond blindly and proudly. They don’t open up to the truth and to our Savior.

This is a good reminder—to me at least. I need to concentrate more on people who know they’re sinners. Some of them don’t know they are, but they’re also not self-righteous. Some of them are already trying to reach out to God; some of them are convinced God won’t forgive them anymore. They’re the ones we share the Good News to. They’re the ones who really need it. We don’t need to neglect those who seem to “have it altogether,” but we go first to those want hope of salvation, and just need to be lovingly told: they can be forgiven, and they can be sure of their eternal destiny—right here, right now.

What a blessed task: calling “sinners,” such as we were, and telling them: they can come home.

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Preach to the “Choir”

Luke 4:44   (KJV)   44 And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.

Luke 4.44 - Preach to the ChoirJesus preached outside of the walls of the synagogues; He also preached in the synagogues. Implied: there were people in the synagogues who needed to hear the Good News.

Going out to all the world and preaching the Gospel rings very loudly from our pulpits and that’s very good, but it will be a huge negligence on our part if we forget that there are people sitting on the chairs or pews Sunday after Sunday who still need to be preached to.

It’s important for us to declare God’s message of salvation to the lost. Most of them do not come to our places of worship. We go where they are. We also recognize the obvious truth that not everyone who gathers together with us for worship and the preaching of the Word is a believer.

There have been many times when I heard testimonies of our very own church people share how they got saved long after they’ve started attending our church gatherings. Praise God for that. That’s why we preach the Good News and we teach God’s principles; we evangelize and we disciple. We do this when we gather together as a local church in a particular place, and we do this when we part ways and go as individual churches to our personal spheres of influence—our own “worlds,”—our own mission fields.

At times, it’s worthwhile preaching to the “choir;” so let’s continue preaching in our “synagogues.” There’s a big probability that some of those in attendance may be with us bodily—geographically, but not yet a part of us as a church spiritually.

When Everyone Believes

Isaiah 26:9   (KJV)   With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

For some, the only time they’ll learn what’s right is when the Lord finally returns to judge. For us, the only thing left to do is to wait for that time. We long for the Lord’s Isaiah 26.9 - When Everyone Believesreturn. For us, it will be glorious beyond description. For some, it will be a horrible awakening.

We desire doing our best in reaching the lost and sharing to them about the Lord so that they will experience the light of the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom—the Gospel of Salvation. There are some who respond wisely, but there are those who see and treat every word we speak and every approach we make as something offensive. Any additional effort on our part seems to just push them away even farther.

There are those who just don’t want to believe in God. Some go even to the extremes of not believing His existence; others just don’t want to trust in Him. They don’t believe what He says in His Word, that He’s the hope for our salvation. They don’t even want to accept the fact that they need salvation. That’s why they don’t like God, or Christians. We are the light that exposes their true status.

Everything though will come to light. When the Lord returns, they will know—albeit too late. As for us, we continue to yearn for Him. We meet Him through His Word and His Spirit. He lives in us, and we in Him. We yearn for His appearing, and one of these days, we will see Him face to face.

Love and Power

Ephesians 3:19   (KJV)   19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

One of the ways we can be filled with all the fullness of God is by knowing the love of Christ. Although his love is beyond full comprehension, it isn’t beyond partial comprehension. And God has given us the wisdom we need so we can keep growing in Romans 3.19 - Love and Powerour knowledge and understanding of His love: in its width, length, height, and depth. God want us to live out His fullness; we want to live out the fullness of life and power that He gives us. Knowing, experiencing, living out and living in the love of our Lord Jesus has a direct correlation with living out God’s life and power.

Some believers often have “unspoken” preference between power and fruit of the Holy Spirit; they emphasize one over the other. Perish the thought that I’m implying what they’re doing is wrong. Personally, I conscientiously try my best to teach the importance of both. Both have its merits, both are important to God. Both are connected. God strengthens us with His Spirit and invites us to a greater understanding of His love so we can live in His strength and power, and do so with love as our motivation.

People, especially the lost, need to see the reality of God. In our particular generation, there are many who would no longer listen to reason. There are so many who are set in their beliefs—reasonable or unreasonable. Many are no longer open and willing to dialogue. Blindness is so prevalent. Lies are rampant, acceptable, and promoted in order to support and push their beliefs and agenda. It’s in this milieu that manifestations of unconditional love and miraculous power of God through us may have greater impact. Reason, love, power—all these are important; God has given and made them all available to us; we utilize all of them, and we grow in all of them.

 

Divine Prerogative

Acts 16:7   (KJV)   7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

It’s okay if we don’t fully understand all of the Lord’s ways. That’s just expected: the finite can’t contain the infinite; our limited brains can’t contain omniscience. Besides, there are things the Lord prefers to keep as secret. Those secret things belong to Him. There are acts-16-7-divine-prerogativethings He reveals to us; those are opportunities He gives for us to enjoy, to be guided by, and to show our loving obedience to Him.

Who would have thought that the very detailed instructions of implementing the Old Testament sacrifices were symbols and foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus and His sacrifices? He wants us to go, preach the Gospel to everyone, and make disciples of every nation, but there are times when the Holy Spirit stops us from going to preach in certain places. We don’t know why God’s people in the Old Covenant weren’t allowed to eat such and such kind of food, but we’re allowed to eat them now. We don’t understand why they were unclean before and they’re clean now.

Most of God’s people then may not have seen the mysteries of God, but what mattered much is that they willingly, humbly, and lovingly obeyed our sovereign God. God surprises us pleasantly and repeatedly with His ways. We’re comforted knowing that our heavenly Father is predictable; predictable in a sense that He has revealed much of His will, ways, and plans to us; unpredictable in a sense that He’s the sovereign God—totally and absolutely free to do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it, how He wants to do it. Look at the weather forecast: there are times when they’re accurate, but there are times when they aren’t. Somehow, during those occasions, God decides to blow the wind different from expectations. I say, in those times, it just shows: God is God, and He really has the final say.

It’s okay, we don’t sweat it; we trust. I have pretty good hypothesis about His surprising ways; it remains to be seen. As for now, we restfully trust and lovingly obey His leading. So far, He’s been perfect. And oh, He’s perfect, and will always be perfect. He’s really worthy of all our worship, love, trust, and surrender.

Lambs Among Wolves

 Luke 10:3   (KJV)   3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

We are to go share and spread the Good News of salvation to the lost, and to make disciples of all those who believe. Each has a calling; each has a race to run; each has responsibility. But we all are sent to the same hostile world. We are sent out as lambs luke-10-3-lambs-among-wolvesamong wolves. There’s no mandate to change our nature; we’re not called to be like wolves. Our difference will be obvious; it’s natural for wolves to try to hunt, attack, and devour us, but we are to stay our course.

Hostility is real; persecution is real, but God’s presence is more real. He promises to deliver us all the time. He may deliver us from them; He may deliver us through them, but He will deliver us. Others may question this. Martyrs abound. Where is God’s deliverance in this? These are legitimate questions, especially when asked from a perspective void of the eternal. Praise God for His light that shines in our understanding. We see better; we see clearer; we see more.

We’re aware of the supernatural and the eternal. This helps navigate through the world of the wolves better. We reach out to them without becoming like them. Many times they mistreat us. I remember a Middle Eastern sister in the Lord who was asked by some fanatical religious zealots to vacate their house at 12 midnight that same day, or they will be killed. They left everything they worked so hard for. That in itself was difficult, but even their journey of leaving their home became a dangerous escape attempt. They had to take unfamiliar paths because death also waited along the main thoroughfares. She shook as she shared the experience.

Some of us aren’t spared. That doesn’t spell failure on the part of God. He never fails. Death for us in the grand scheme of things isn’t tragic; it isn’t the end; it’s a passageway ushering us into an indescribable, incomparable, most blissful experience ever—right in the presence of our Father—He Who loves us most, He who we love most. That’s why although we fully appreciate God’s earthly blessings; we’re not attached to them; we understand that our real citizenship is dual: temporal and eternal, and our eternal home far outweighs what we now have.

So we go—lambs among wolves, lovingly, carefully, fearlessly, faithfully, empowered by God, changing this world, while longingly waiting for the next.

 

The One Mediator

1 Timothy 2:5   (KJV)   5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Jesus became man; that’s the Word becoming flesh. But He isn’t just a mere man. It’s worth noting: He took upon Himself the form of a servant in the likeness of man; humanity was something He took upon Himself. What was He before? He was in the very 1-timothy-2-5-the-one-mediatorform—or nature—God. That’s why He’s the perfect mediator between God and man—He’s a part of both worlds—both nature: GodMan. He is the fulfillment of the “kinsman-redeemer.” Hallelujah; He truly is one of our very own—our brother.

In Him resides the hope of sinful humanity’s reconciliation to our holy God. Everyone has hope to be saved though not everyone will be saved. With love, with faith, we pray for everyone nonetheless—whoever they are. Yes, I pray, even for leaders I almost don’t feel like praying for; it’s a natural tendency for the righteous not to like treasonous tyrants who attack God’s people and destroy the country they’re supposed to uphold. It’s natural for me not to like bullies, but I have to pray for them—lovingly, simply because God loves them, and He commands us to love even enemies. But I pray that God will bless them with a changed heart—a heart that pursues what’s good, what’s right, and what’s godly.

Our dear Lord Jesus paid dearly as a mediator. For us to be brought back, reconnected with the Father, He had to pay with His life. We were in chains, shackled by sin and death, but because of the precious sacrifice of our Mediator, we’re free. As those who now live in God, we spread that Good News, while living out what we preach. There will be sacrifices, but nothing compared to what He has offered. We may not live in luxury, but even that is a blessing. We don’t have to incessantly try to climb up the ladder of the world’s ever-changing yet empty expectations—chasings after the wind. We live simply, modestly, yet full of satisfaction. That’s what we have after we find ourselves mediated back to fellowship with the King.