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.

No Offense

Matthew 17:27   (KJV)   27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Even our Lord Jesus wanted not to offend anyone. Even when He had to sacrifice His right, even when they had to exert extra effort, even when they had to spend what they did not have to,  Jesus willingly subjected Himself to all those just so that they don’t Matthew 17.27 - No Offenseoffend the authorities.  He lived a perfect life; He cared for His Name, He needed to conduct Himself perfectly well, but He didn’t do what He did just for all those; He truthfully cared for others.

We as His people do the same.  We exist for the pleasure of our God.  He deserves more than all we are, all we have, and all we can give Him.  The obvious truth is: we really can’t give Him anything.  But He gives us that wonderful privilege of still “giving” and “offering” to Him.  We want to follow His steps.  This is one of those.  Yes, we have rights and privileges.  We can impose on them, but there’s a better way.

It’s best to live in such a way that we don’t become a stumblingblock to others.  But there’s more.  We live in such a way that we don’t offend others.  This isn’t easy, but it’s in itself a privilege.  And it isn’t really hard for God’s children who lives empowered by the Creator Himself to do all we ought to do.  It takes much from us, but we’re willing.  It’s a pleasure to work more, spend more, and sacrifice more.  Why, because it’s our greatest pleasure to live for the pleasure of our Beloved.

Trials, Temptations, and Triumphs

1 Corinthians 10:13   (KJV)   13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Although there are many times when we feel like certain trials and temptations we face are very different from everyone else, more difficult compared to everyone else’s, the truth is they’re not. There may be a uniqueness of some sort, but not absolutely. We don’t 1 Corinthians 10.13 - Trials, Temptations, and Triumphsuse this as an excuse to give in to them. Besides, whatever they may be, and however differently they may appear, everytime God allows them to come, they’re opportunities for victory.

Praise God, He always leads us to victory. Part of His strategies is to give us wisdom. It’s that wisdom that causes us to be in step with Him instead of choosing to rebel against Him. He’s a loving God Who fills us with innumerable favor and immeasurable empowerment for us to take the right steps. Not every recipient of God’s blessings live uprightly, but those of us who desire to do so possess what it takes.

We don’t waste God’s precious gifts. Others may experience a tremendous amount of God’s kindness and generosity, but miss out heaven itself in the end. We’re surrounded by a great cloud of examples to follow and to avoid. We want to have faithful walk to the end. There’s an inexplicable joy and satisfaction in staying within the straight and narrow. We navigate through it with humility, always aware that even when we’re strongest, we can fall. We heed the warnings; we seek His instructions; we follow His Spirit’s leading. Trials, tests, and temptations will come; we faithfully fight, and we live as Christians—triumphant.

Escape From Temptation

1-corinthians-10-13-escape-from-temptations

1 Corinthians 10:13   (KJV)   13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

We are victorious over trials, temptations, and sin. We have God’s assurance from His Word: there’s no temptation that’s uniquely ours. Whatever test comes our way, we are confident that our good God and heavenly Father has already examined it, filtered it, and allowed it because it’s for our best. He’s strengthening us through it; He knows we can handle it. He makes sure that we have a way out.

Our precious Lord and Savior Jesus taught us to pray; He wants us to pray that God would lead us not into temptation—and God won’t. But temptations come; He allows them to come for purposes greater than we all can figure out. They attack from within us and from the outside of us. They come with power and allure that has dropped many of the saints. I’d like to repeat that: many of the saints… too many.

From times of old to now, God’s people have been struck down in staggering numbers. Millions of Israelites—millions died in the wilderness failing to enter the Promised Land—the land they looked forward to and longed for. Preachers, saints who have worldwide influences—powerful people of God through whom God moved and touched millions of people all around the world—failed to take God’s escape routes, gave in and indulged their sinful desires, and were destroyed in the process. We have more than enough examples to learn from. We are careful; even the strongest of us are aware of the fact that we can fail. We don’t have to learn through our own experience. When temptations come, we don’t fall; we rise higher.

Good Examples

3 John 11   (KJV)   11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

God has given3 John 11 - Good Examples us examples. These examples come two ways: good and bad. As genuine believers, we follow the footsteps of the faithful. Who we follow proves who we are and whose we are. Simply, if we follow the good, it proves that we are God’s people and that He’s our God. If we follow evil, well, it proves the exact sad opposite.

We love God; we love His people. We treat God with love and respect; we do the same with His people. There’s so much to learn from each other as believers, that’s why we watch each other; we honor each other; we see Jesus in each other; and we get inspired through each other. Sure, we all have flaws, but each one is created in God’s image, and God lives in each one. We’ve all been changed; everyone in Christ is a new creation, and is slowly conforming to the image of Jesus.

We don’t neglect, or turn our back on, or assault each other. An attack on a believer is an attack on God. We don’t trash them with our words or withdraw help from them. We’re all a part of God’s family; we’re all part of one team. There are times when we don’t see each other eye to eye, but that doesn’t mean that we’re enemies. It’s okay to have differences; those differences may even help us complete each other’s lack. So yes, we value each other; and we look at the good in and about each other. Because of that, we get to learn greatly and live more fruitfully.

Saving Conviction

Luke 9:20 (KJV)   20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.

After Jesus pointedly asked His disciples who the crowds generally perceive Him as, He quickly directed that very same question towards them. It wasn’t enough that others had a favorable impression of Who He was; It wasn’t enough that the disciples correctly knew what others believed; what’s important was their own conviction. And not just any conviction, it needed to be the right conviction. Praise God, they got it correctly. That was predictable. They’ve walked with Him; They’ve seen His unquestionable integrity. They’ve listened to Him; they’ve heard the purity and authority in His teachings. They’ve seen His miracles; they knew the beyond-humanly uniqueness of His works.

There are many people in the world who see Jesus as a good person Who has done a lot of good for mankind. He has left us great teachings; He has shown us great examples; He has become a great Inspiration that led to myriads of humanitarian efforts and beautiful expressions in the arts. Those are all wonderful. But He challenges us to adjust our focus – from the crowd to our own personal conviction. Is He to us Who He is? From being a Person we know about, has He become a Person we know. Do we really share in the conviction that He is the Son of God Who came to save us? Have we gone from understanding Him as the Lord and the Savior to being our personal Lord and our personal Savior? This indispensable relationship with Him is forged in an individual level. Aside from our Lord’s finished substitutionary work on the cross, there’s no such thing as sponsored salvation – before and after death. Let’s make sure that we have gotten a sure grip of that which He has gotten hold of us for.

Dear God our Savior, may our eyes be opened to see You and Your Son for Who You really are. Help us not to be satisfied with just knowing how others are doing in their perception of, connection with, and walk with you. Help us to orderly put first things first. May we perceive, believe, and receive You in our very own lives as Who You really are – Lord and Savior. Upon doing so, may we be faithful instruments of bringing this same saving knowledge and experience to the crowd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.