Growing Up

1 Corinthians 13:11   (NLT)   When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

Praise God; He wants us to expand, grow, mature, explore new horizons, have more significant and meaningful experiences. Childhood has fun experiences or perks on its own. But we can’t remain as children forever. God gives us the environment and all 1 Corinthians 13.11 - Grow Upessential elements to mature. Yes, it’s good to be on the receiving end of things, where we don’t have to worry about making a living, where we are not given a lot of responsibilities, where we have a lot of time to play, where we’re favored with more understanding and leniency when we sin, make mistakes, or fail.

But there is a time to leave childhood and the childishness that comes with it. There is a time for leading than being led. There is a time for being responsible in feeding others, and caring for others instead of being led, cared for, and fed. There is a time when we are called to greater work and sacrifice rather than greater pleasure and leisure. The world needs men and women who are not afraid to take on responsibility, to take the blame if it needs be instead of passing them on to others. We need man and woman to lead others in doing what is right, what is godly, and what is good. Instead of blind leading the blind, we need people who will lead others to the light. People who see clearly, people with vision.

As we grow and mature, we find greater sense of purpose. We’re no longer tossed to-and-fro buy by every wind of fad, fashion, or trend. We utilize time more wisely, more productively. We do not allow the mundane to occupy our precious time, energy, and other resources. We become more careful and responsible with the choices we make, the words we speak, the actions we take, the doctrines we believe, the opinions we express. We are fully aware there are consequences to our actions.

There are greater expectations in adulthood, in growth and maturity, and we welcome them joyfully. It is then when we can live more productively and more helpfully in God’s Kingdom, in the lives of other people, even in the world itself.

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When Clueless

Luke 23:35   (KJV)   35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

Both the people and the leaders expected Jesus to save Himself as an unambiguous proof of Him being the Christ. They were amiss. God’s chosen Messiah came not to save Luke 23.35 - When CluelessHimself, but to seek and to save the seemingly helpless and hopeless lost. He did it not by saving Himself from death on the cross, but by the exact opposite—not saving Himself, by giving His life—shedding His most precious blood—as a ransom payment for our sins.

God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). He often does things in ways that transcends our expectations and baffles our imaginations. But they always astonishingly yield the best results. It’s because of this that the saying “Let go and let God” isn’t just a good cliché to us; it’s our lifestyle.

Our only wise God and Savior, we humble ourselves before you. Please open our eyes, our hearts, and our understanding to the wonders of Your ways. Help us to never doubt You, but to always trust Who You are and how You do things. We won’t come to a point when we’ll understand all Your purposes in every turn of events, but we can always trust You in all of them. You have repeatedly shown us Your inexhaustible creativity. You have assured us of Your unquestionable and unending love. We depend on You and act on those things You’ve plainly revealed to us; we depend on You as well even in times when we don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

 

Giving and Receiving?

Luke 6:38   (KJV)   38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Clearly, giving and receiving, sowing and reaping are Scriptural principles. To remind ourselves again: our giving is motivated by love. We don’t give so we can receive. The Luke 6.38 - Giving and Receivingsowing part though? We don’t want to be hypocritical ever, but the truth though is: when farmers sow, it’s for the purpose of harvesting. I guess it’s not wrong to believe or anticipate harvest as long as love is our underlying motive in all we do.

Although this principle is often associated with material things, it goes way beyond that. This is true with other very important factors in Christian life. Because we believe it, it’s much easier to obey our precious Lord, even in His commands that the world sees as very unfair.

We sow love; we reap love. That’s right. That’s why we can love our enemies; that’s why we can do good even to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who hurt us. As we sow love, and blessing, good deeds, prayer, mercy, etc., we can expect to receive them in “harvest” measures. Remember, what we harvest is multiplied times greater than the seeds we sow.

Through this, our uniqueness shines brighter. We get to show our difference as children of the most High Who loves even the most rebellious among us.

Rejected Prophets

Luke 4:24   (KJV)   24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

Not all believers hold the office of a prophet, but we share the task of the prophets in proclaiming God’s Word to the people. Because of that, many of us share the same experience of not being accepted by people who somewhat know us. We’re not adversely affected by this; this is naturally expected. Some people would be hurt or crushed if given even luke-4-24-rejected-prophetsa bit of the treatment we as God’s ambassadors receive. But not us; we grow stronger through every rejection and maltreatment dealt us.

Our precious Lord Jesus Himself is our example. He didn’t just teach this; He experienced it. He came to the world He created, and He was vehemently rejected. But it wasn’t His loss. God is never at a disadvantaged. However hostile people act towards Him, He always comes up on top, and those who treat Him as their enemy always end up at the bottom. How can a refusal of the greatest Being and the source of all blessings be beneficial?  How does that make sense? How can that be a victory for the arrogant?

We’re God’s messengers; nothing stops us. Just because there are those who don’t accept us doesn’t mean no one accepts us. A lot of times, God thrills us with very pleasant surprises that make our hearts jump in extreme delight. He raises up people who understand us, who value us, who reap the benefits of listening to the Word of God we declare, words they believe and receive. It’s not that we’re looking for approval; we don’t serve God just to please men. But it’s amazingly delightful finding ourselves in the company of believers and fellow “prophets.”

“Either – or” or Both

Luke 24:25-26  (KJV)   25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

Even those closest to the Lord Jesus missed out on the facts of His death and resurrection. They saw overwhelming evidences that Jesus is indeed Who He claimed to be: the Christ, Son of the living God, Lord and Savior. But when He died; their faith “died.” Their minds were set on the glorious aspects of the Messiah. They saw the wonderful demonstrations of power; great! They expected an ever expanding trip from glory to greater glory. After all, the Scripture repeatedly and emphatically speaks of a Messiah Who will reign forever. Their expectations wouldn’t be amiss; He will indeed reign forever;  but it was lacking. There was another side they failed to see: the Messiah had to suffer first. His suffering didn’t disprove His “Messiahship;” it confirmed it. They saw an incomplete picture; that’s why even in the triumphs of the resurrection, they couldn’t rejoice – they had a hard time understanding. They missed the suffering part, now they were missing the glory part; they couldn’t rejoice when Jesus gloriously defeated death and victoriously rose from the grave.

To choose “either – or” when the Scripture speaks of “both” is to end up with many possible wrong and even dangerous interpretations, doctrines and expectations. Same is true when we choose “both” when the Scripture teaches “either – or.”  The Scripture teaches the Messiah – the Prince of Peace Who alone would bring ultimate peace to all of creation, but would also be a reason for divisions. The Scripture teaches of God’s sovereignty, but also teaches on the free will of man. The Scripture teaches that we can’t be saved by good works, but we ought to strive to do good works as saved people. The Scripture teaches a God of grace, but also a God of justice, a God of love, but also a God of holiness, a God to love and a God to fear, a God Who’s our Father, but also our Master. It teaches of woman not allowed to teach in the congregation but are allowed to prophesy. Whenever we pull towards one teaching and discard the other equally true teaching, we run into a very dangerous proposition. We don’t want to miss out on the truth. We therefore ought to open our hearts, be unbiased, and be humbly and totally submitted to it. This means all truths – whether it runs contrary to our preferences or not.

Our God of Truth, may we genuinely have a heart for You. You are the Truth. Please help us to be humble that we may wave a white flag of absolute surrender to Your teachings – no matter how different they may be from what we may formerly know. Thank you for all the beliefs we have that are faithfully aligned to Your Word. Please show us where we’re amiss, and may we do what’s right. In Jesus’ Name, amen.