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.

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.

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.

Ready Hearts

acts-8-36-ready-heartsActs 8:36   (KJV)   36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Some people’s hearts are just good grounds for the seed of the Gospel. There are people who sincerely desire and seek God. When they hear the Good News of the Kingdom, the Good News of Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, there’s no hesitation; instead, there is an immediate act of surrender, repentance and obedience. They’re ready to do what God bids them to do. They’re there; they exist; they’re waiting to be told, to hear.

God is looking to and fro; He knows His own. He knows those who will be saved and those who will perish. Not that He wants some to be saved and some to be damned; no; He explicitly laid down the truth about His desire for the salvation of everyone. He desires none to perish; He longs for all to be saved, although He’s fully aware of the stubbornness of people’s hearts. God-haters and God-seekers, He clearly demonstrated His all-inclusive love by willingly dying a painful, sacrificial death—not just for a few, but for all the world. His loving arms of sincere and zealous invitation are extended to all people.

Whoever we are, whatever ethnicity, color, creed, persuasion, or position—God is calling. That’s the wonder of His amazing grace and mercy. People of high degree, people of low status, known or unknown, the least of sinners or the worst of us, God’s forgiveness encompasses all and is enjoyed by those who wise up, humble down, and bow their knees to our Lord and Savior. We do. We may not fully understand everything, but we see the reasonableness and wisdom in the Gospel. In the Gospel, we see the most reasonable proposition for a solution to our problem of sin and death. Here, love and justice conjoin in perfect harmony where no other person or system offers any solution. His love is perfectly demonstrated through His sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins; His justice is satisfied through the same sacrifice payment for our sins. What hinders us from believing and surrendering our lives to Him Who loves us most and leads us best? That’s rhetorical.

Tell it, Saints

 

Psalm 107.2 - Tell it, SaintsPsalm 107:2   (KJV)   2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy

For us who truly follow our Lord, if we don’t speak about Him, there’s a continuing stirring in us that keeps on growing; we feel like volcanoes ready to erupt; we need to let it out. It’s our loving passion to speak of Him, the marvelous things He’s done, the amazing benefits we’ve enjoyed because of everything He’s done and everything He’s still doing. God has lovingly redeemed us; we want to shout it from the housetops and tell the world about it. But then again, that can be received as a curse instead of a blessing; we wisely live out our zeal.

God has done so much; it almost feels like it’s a crime for us to selfishly or cowardly keep the Good News to ourselves. Good News, especially if it benefits everyone ought to be heard by everyone. God repeatedly rescues us from trouble and distress. He heals us and snatches us from jaws of death. We cry out for help; He hears and helps. We experience His very present love—everytime, everywhere. He identifies with us though He doesn’t need to. In the middle of suffering desperate hopelessness, He also suffered—horribly.

We speak of His goodness; we will continue to. We speak of His Good News; we speak of His loving-kindness. Everyone ought to experience life of abundance, lying in green pastures, led beside still waters, playing in a peaceful valley, restored and rested. We speak of life with God as our Father, our Redeemer, our Master. He’s incomparable; no One else exists like Him. In Him, there is no condemnation; we won’t be shamed. There’s no greater joy, no greater blessing, no greater cause, no greater topic… He is and will be the fruit of our lips.

Of Truth and Enemies

Galatians 4:16  (KJV)   16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Truth can create enemies. People can be so innocently deceived and be so convinced that they’re right. Others are deliberate deceivers.  They know they’re wrong but they continue to deceive because of personal benefits. The more important the truth, the more passionate people can become with it. Bearers of the truth stand in the way of the deceived and the deceiver; no; they crash against each other.

Truth-bearers, truth-sharers will make enemies – not by choice, but as a consequence. With that in mind, will we stand back? Having enemies isn’t ungodly; this is unavoidable. We ought to love them of course. Not that easy but it ought to be done. In fact, if it’s at all possible, we ought to pursue peace. But if peace means muzzling and sacrificing of truth, let’s then prepare to live with the presence of enemies. There are truths that are pleasant and truths that are ugly. Truth will hurt, especially ugly truths about ourselves.

Some have become very comfortable with hidden ugly truths. They want to live in them instead of being free from them. They’ve chosen and mastered the path of covering the inner monsters instead of getting rid of them. They know how to act on the outside differently from what they feel inside; they act differently in front of people and they act differently alone. They don’t want to be found out. Truth also liberates those who genuinely seek it. Some will welcome it, some will abhor it. If truth be told: truth ought to be told – especially the truth that makes a difference in our eternal destination or existence.

Dear God, You are Truth. You are so good, so great. Men and women from all corners of the earth ought to know You; You’re really good news. In fact, there’s no better news than You, what You’ve done for us, and what You have in store for us. Please help us to always remember the value of what You’ve deposited in us, that we may see the value of sharing them – at all godly cost.