Grace, Works, and Rewards

Ephesians 6:8   (KJV)   8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Even in and under the age of grace, the Lord still operates in a reward system. Doing good still has its merits and blessings. All of us are still affected by this divinely ordained principle, system, or design.

Ephesians 6.8 - Grace, Works, and RewardsWhoever we are and whatever our status is in society, we live in the assurance that our God Who is gracious is also God who is fair and just. He won’t shortchange us. God compensates our life of loving faithfulness. He doesn’t have favoritism; it’s because (I personally take it as) we’re all His favorites.

We find delight in pleasing our Master, and He returns the favor in an inestimably gracious way. That’s why I understand that there’s no contradiction between grace and rewards. God values our good works, He rewards them, and His rewards are incalculably more gracious than what our works deserve. This is clear in the principle of sowing and reaping; in general, what we reap is always multiplied times more than what we sow.

This is why we so willingly, lovingly, diligently, and enthusiastically serve the Lord and others. Although His rewards aren’t our prime motivation, we believe the truth about it. They’re real; they come; we gratefully receive them, we enjoy them; and we know there’s a lot more of them. Praise God.

Gifted for Service

1 Corinthians 12:7    (KJV)   But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Every person is a recipient of many gifts from God. No person can live without them. God is the Source of every good and perfect gift. He immensely enjoys blessing us. He’s a very generous God. Believers and unbelievers alike enjoy the graciousness of our God. All of us 1 Corinthians 12.7 - Gifted to Serveenjoy air, sunshine, and rain just the same. Of course, there are special callings, giftings, and endowments that are for believers only. We are definitely and humbly grateful to Him.

God’s spiritual gifts are priceless. They’re gifts; we don’t work for them. He chooses which gifts to give to whom. They are very helpful for our personal growth and ministry. But more than that, we help, encourage, and strengthen each other. Why is it important to be reminded of this? It’s because others easily get carried away and lured by personal interests. This is true even with believers.

We delight in serving the Lord and serving our brothers and sisters. His gifts allow us to go beyond the limitations of the natural. This is so good because there are many problem situations that natural resources can’t solve. We continue to look to our Father; always worshiping Him and giving Him the glory because without Him, we’re nothing. And one expression of our gratefulness is treasuring His gifts and using them, especially in serving His children with all He’s blessed us with.

Unstoppable

Exodus 11:3   (KJV)   3 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people.

God has ways and means of changing people’s attitudes without violating their free will. God is in control; He will work out everything according to His purpose. Those who consider others as enemies can change and see those enemies as friends. Those who abuse their workers can change and honor those workers for being a huge help to them. Those who consider someone in a very negative light can change and see their greatness instead.

God is Sovereign. Even when things seem to be getting out of hand, even when He seems very silent and uninvolved, even when evil seems to be winning and growing. There are specific times in history when God’s handiwork becomes absolutely obvious; when no matter how people act or react, whatever they think, whatever they say or do, however flagrant their rebellion is; pertinent people, things, and events move clearly towards righteousness.

People may not even associate the events with God’s work or intervention, but the momentum becomes unstoppable. The government, mainstream media, Hollywood, educational system, politicians, and many other powerful and influential individuals or groups may unite against God and His people, but all their billions of dollars and their endless rhetoric will even work against them. When God declares special favor upon a person, or His people, favor comes like an unstoppable flood; there’s nothing His enemies can do. So we live in Him; we seek, pursue, and exalt Him, His Kingdom, and His righteousness. Against the torrents of hypocrisy, lies, and abusive attacks, we have peace, knowing we’re on the right side, and His favor is upon us.

Living in Wisdom

Genesis 41:39   (KJV)   39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

Pharaoh, someone who neither knew nor worshiped Joseph’s God recognized His reality because of the wisdom he saw in Joseph. In fact, He perceived the presence of God’s Spirit in Joseph. Pharaoh figured, a kind of man like Joseph especially endowed with what’s genesis-41-39-living-in-wisdombeyond the natural, definitely has something especial in Him. Pharaoh clearly saw the value of what Joseph possessed that he gave this person who was fresh from prison the 2nd highest rank in the Egyptian kingdom.

Discreetness, intelligence, and wisdom come from God, and He gives them to us very generously. He doesn’t run out of ways in getting them to us. He can do it naturally, and if needed, He can do it supernaturally. Interpreting dreams; the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discernment of spirits, prophecy, interpretation of unknown tongues—all these are directly dropped down to us from Him, with no contribution from our naturally accumulated information.

It’s not that diligence in studying isn’t important; we also grow in knowledge in wisdom through natural process of studying and learning. God’s hands aren’t tied as to what method He uses. We have considerable responsibility in growing His gifts to us. We do our best to be intelligent and wise. But there are numerous situations when God has to directly and supernaturally intervene, otherwise, we won’t have an iota of clue as to what to do. Praise God, He’s still very much involved in our affairs. And that’s totally great. We need Him completely. Whether the wisdom we employ comes from our natural learning or supernatural outpouring, it’s God’s favor that makes them count and multiplies their results.

The Holy Spirit Within Us

Luke 4:18   (KJV)   18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised

The precious Holy Spirit was present in the life of our Lord Jesus. He was the personification of God’s anointing that breaks heavy yokes. This anointing can be seen as one who delivers the much needed answer to our deepest spiritual needs; some may see luke-4-18-the-holy-spirit-within-usHim extending His help even in the areas of our physical or material needs as well. Any way we look at it, a clear basic understanding about the Holy Spirit and His ministry gives us increased appreciation for Him.

Others point out that every miracle our Lord Jesus performed was through the power of the Holy Spirit. Somehow, that’s the only reasonable way that He can truly give us a fair example as to how to live victoriously as believers. If Jesus fully depended on the power of the Holy Spirit for His holy and victorious life, then we can do the same. There are of course others who point to the divinity of our Lord Jesus as the power behind some of His miracles.

Either way, the truth is that the Holy Spirit is very much involved in the life of our Lord, and now, in us. His anointing is still upon us. So we lovingly, boldly, and powerfully declare the Good News; there is hope of salvation for all no matter how spiritually bankrupt people are. God’s Spirit can deliver those who have long been held by the cruel power of sin and death. Those who are blinded by lies and deception can now have their “veils” removed. Those who are left battered and bruised by their destructive, addictive, controlling attitudes, choices and influences can be set free.

The Holy Spirit worked in the life of our Lord in full force. We don’t have a lower quality copy; we have the very same Holy Spirit working in our lives. Jesus told us we’ll do greater things than He did; we understand how that’s possible. Broken lives still abound, but we have God’s love and God’s power in us. Through His Spirit in us, He’s still touching the world.

Don’t Push It!

1 Kings 2:23  (KJV)   23 Then king Solomon sware by the Lord, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.

Adonijah didn’t request for anything evil or wrong. But he has just been granted mercy for a serious treacherous act. He could have been killed for it. He was pardoned instead. His offense, though forgiven, was still so fresh. Instead of being grateful and conducting himself with humility, he pushes it and requests for the king to grant him a certain woman to be his wife. This seemingly harmless request cost him his life.

Let’s be careful of the steps we take especially as recipients of many graces and tremendous amount of forgiveness. We may have wronged others so many times. We may have hurt them repeatedly. We may be disrespecting people continuously without any regard for the pain we’re inflicting on them. We think we’re good people because we’re nice to others we choose to be nice to, but we may have become callously heartless to those who have done us the most good. We’ve grown comfortable with it; we’ve become so familiar with being a recipient of certain people’s goodness and we have bred contempt.

It’s not wrong to ask for more. But it’s wrong to be insensitive. People may still be in the process of recovering from the last wounds we’ve caused, and here we are again, showing our thick faces, not attempting to show even a little act of gratefulness for the huge favor we’ve just received. Feeling entitled, we ask for another favor.

We have a heart; we have brains; let’s use it.

Dear God, we praise You for being a God of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. We praise You as well for being God of order. Please help us. We need to have reservations sometimes. We need to show discretion. We need to employ wisdom. We need to have the right timing. We need to think about those who we’ve hurt, who helped us, who forgave us, on how we can be a blessing to them as well. Order our steps please, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Victories and Conquests

Psalm 44:3  (KJV)   For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.

The conquests enjoyed by the Israelites were courtesy of God’s power, favor and love. It’s not that they didn’t raise their swords and fight; it wasn’t that they were not skilled and strong, they probably were. But they most probably fought armies that were much stronger, more trained, more equipped, and more numerous than they were. How did they manage? They didn’t. Someone way stronger and bigger than all the armies in the world took control.

We will face challenges and oppositions that we may feel are beyond us. It may not even be just a feeling; they may really be beyond our abilities to conquer, solve, or beat. But we as believers operate beyond our own natural limitations. We live in the realm of the supernatural. This is made possible through our amazingly gracious Benefactor.  God is our Father and King. He is in control of our lives. He is also supremely powerful; nothing is impossible with Him. There is no enemy too great and there is no challenge to huge for Him. In fact, it will be interesting to know how God reacts to those things we deem as monstrous and colossal. I can almost imagine Him with a very endearing smile.

Dear God – our victorious God, we place our total dependence and utmost confidence in You for our victory. Challenges, enemies, distractions – small or great, from within or from without – we know that we can live in complete victory over any of them. Please help us never to cower and never to accept living in defeat. May we never buy into the lie that there are enemies within us and enemies outside of us that we can’t conquer. You can, and we believe You will. We may have been trying for so long; we may even feel like we want to give up and stop trying, and to just live as one of the conquered – slaves to our flesh, slaves to Satan, and slaves to our other enemies. But please help us to not stop swinging until we receive our victory, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.