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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Good News; Great Joy

Luke 2:10   (KJV)   10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luke 2.10 - Good News - Great JoyJesus’ incarnation is good tidings. It’s good news, not bad; it’s good news of great joy, not of deep sadness; it’s offered to all people, not just a few.

When one realizes it, there really is no gift greater than Jesus; there’s no experience more valuable than being saved; there’s nothing that brings joy to hearts of people greater than having Jesus living in us, being 100% sure of spending eternal existence in the presence of the One Who loves us most and we love most in a perfect place.

Salvation is God’s free gift for all. We have received Him. We now enjoy all the wonderful blessings included in the saved life. No life compares to the life of the saved. No greater love, no greater joy, no greater peace. It’s a life of one blessing upon another. All sufferings, persecutions, and trials associated with godly living are dwarfed by the glorious favors God has for us—here, and even more so, in eternity.

To be Spared from Judgment

Jeremiah 26:13   (KJV)   13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.

There is hope even in the middle of an impending judgment from the Lord. Repentance and obedience are the keys. God loves the world so much; He would rather save the rebellious than judge or destroy them. Even if He has already pronounced destruction Jeremiah 26.13 - To be Spared from Judgmentupon the people, He doesn’t have any problem forgiving repentant sinners and withholding judgment from the nations.

Our loving, gracious, and merciful God sends us—many of us—to the lost and dying humanity. Many of them are unbelievably stiff-necked. They would rather ignore or attack God’s faithful messengers than humbly and wisely listening, acknowledging their impudent rebellions, sincerely repenting, and start living obediently before the Lord.

Repentance and obedience are non-negotiable pre-requisites. Praise God! He doesn’t require us to perform amazing feats before He grants us forgiveness and restoration. We don’t have to climb the tallest mountains, sail across the widest oceans, dive the deepest sees and explore the vastness of the universe before He withholds His judgments.

Turn to God—that’s what we did, that’s what we pray and strive for that others would do as well. There’s no human experience as amazing and as important as salvation from sure destruction—especially the eternal kind. The same principle holds true when it comes to judgment of nations. We have hope despite the chaos going on. We’re praying; we’re expectantly waiting. God can deliver us.

There will come a time when it’s too late. But as for us, we didn’t want to wait for that. We’re already living under the shelter of the Most High. We’re already living under His protection, and safe refuge. We do our best calling others to enjoy this peace-filled assurance. Not all, perhaps not many will heed our call. But to everyone who does, safety is sure.

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 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.

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.

Christmas Spirit

Luke 2:10   King James Version (KJV)   10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Christmas is my favorite season of the year. I don’t get tired of saying that. I don’t know why, but I just sense some kind of inexplicable feeling deep within my soul. Is it joy? It feels like it, but it’s deeper. Is it love? It definitely feels like it, but it’s deeper. It just feels luke-2-10-christmas-spiritso good. It may sound weird to some, but I often aim to celebrate it for three months—from September to the first week of January. This hugely has to do with where I grew up. We have a common practice: when a month ending in “er” starts, i.e., September, the Christmas season starts. We start hearing Christmas carols played in Department stores, radios, and our own homes. That’s probably the reason why we really sense the “Christmas spirit.”

Where I live now, it seems like Christmas spirit is so evasive. I literally have to exert extra effort just for me to have a fraction of what I used to enjoy. But with all my efforts, it’s still not the same. It’s okay though; we still make the best of it. Although I don’t have that Christmas atmosphere where I’m immersed into, I still have the joy of Christmas in me. I just have to deliberately think about it. When I do, I sense the Christmas spirit rise from within. And as I mentioned earlier, it just feels so good.

Why would I not feel thrilled about the birth of my Savior? Anyone who understands what this means probably have the same reaction. Others may point out that our joy comes from the Good News of salvation through the sacrificial death, burial, and victorious resurrection of our Lord. And that’s absolutely true. But the birth of our Savior is also Good Tidings of great joy. The Good News isn’t either-or; it’s both. They’re both part of one life, and one redeeming story of love. That’s why joy is an intrinsic part of the season. So yes, I have my steady and dancing warm white Christmas lights up, silver bells, the dramatically lit nativity display, the heart-pulling Christmas village, heart-tickling and touching Christmas songs, and more.

Merry Christmas! Oooohhh, I love it.