Believers’ Natural Fruits

Ephesians 5:9   (KJV)   9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

Ephesians 5.9 - Believers' Natural FruitsGod’s precious Holy Spirit living in us produces only good things—praise God for that. He efficiently bears in us what’s good, what’s right, and what’s true.

We willingly and humbly yield ourselves to the gentle leading and inner work of the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves, we still have a strong tendency to listen to the destructive influence of our old way of living. But our loving God has lavishly given us wisdom; we quickly identify and resist what’s evil, wrong, and false. More so, we understand that ungodliness isn’t something to accommodate and excuse; it’s something to completely reject. Our sincere love for God and our proper understanding of God’s love don’t deny His anger—not only for disobedience but also for the disobedient: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).

We love God; He loves us infinitely more. We please the One we love, and we demonstrably do this by being Christ-like. This isn’t a laborious something we force ourselves to. We honestly enjoy living in unquestionable integrity and all-out faithfulness—in willing obedience to the Lord’s instructions. We’ve heard before: “Our lives are God’s gifts to us; what we do with our lives are our gifts to God.” Reality is: there’s nothing we can give God that He didn’t give us. Still, He kindly gives us the uplifting pleasure of choosing to thank Him by the way we live out this precious gift of life—both the physical and the eternal. It’s a deep joy yielding to the precious Holy Spirit—radiating goodness, righteousness, and truth. What an honor and privilege.

Divine Guidance

Matthew 2:22   (KJV)   22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

There are fearful things going on around us—things, events, situations affecting us. It’s natural to feel afraid; emotions are God-given—that’s a part of our make-up—His design. Matthew 2.22 - Divine GuidanceTo think evil of our emotions is to fault God for His creation. One of the great things about being His child is receiving His clear guidance—especially in life-threatening situations. Another good thing about being His child is we’re serious about His leading. He leads; we follow; it all works well.

The presence of problems is undeniable. They’re a part of life—even to the saintliest of saints. Some aren’t that bad; some are life-altering; some are life-threatening. Some of them are consequences of our own actions; some of them come from indirect or direct actions of others. Some of us have powerful enemies. We don’t wrong them; they just don’t like who we are and what we stand for.

God in His wisdom knows we can’t survive without Him. And we’re grateful for the non-stop availability of our Great Shepherd, great God, and Heavenly Father. He graciously and longingly invites us into His presence where we find grace, mercy, help in times of our need. He speaks to people, works in and through people to bring us our much needed protection. We have a purpose; we have a destiny; the enemy knows that too. He will use others to destroy us, but our God protects and preserves us. It’s His delight seeing us through all hindrances, trials and challenges. He grows us, deepens us, and strengthens us through them. It’s His delight seeing us live in victory and miracle. We’re blessed.

Faith Gaps

1 Thessalonians 3:10   (KJV)   10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

We desire to effectively and efficiently disciple our brothers and sisters in Jesus.  We want to do the best we can to help each other grow in our walk.  And spending time with each other is essential to this.  Discipleship somehow works better when our disciples see 1 Thessalonians 3.10 - Gaps in Faithus and are able to not only read and hear about what we teach, but see how we exemplify our teachings. They see how our beliefs transform us from glory to glory.

We all still need to grow.  Each one still has this “gaps in faith” that are slowly filled through continuous learning of the Word.  God has provided us each other.  God is an omniscient Father desiring to teach us, instruct us, lead us and guide us.  He left us with the written Word and sent us His Holy Spirit as more than sufficient helps in this.  He wants us to live the best life we can live—one that’s fruitful, growing, and powerful,

We need divine guidance.  Forks in the road are everywhere; convincing voices abound; it’s very easy to stray from the straight and narrow.  We humbly admit: as long as we’re on earth, even to the best of our abilities, we’ll continue having blind spots—gaps in faith.  It’s just right that we first and foremost humble ourselves and receive faithful instructions from those our loving Father provide as our disciplers.  Then freely we give what we freely receive. As we’re helped decrease our faith gaps, we help others to do the same.  Altogether we grow in our doctrine and practice.  Deceptions come, hardships hit, but we remain straight and strong.

 

Divine Prerogative

Acts 16:7   (KJV)   7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

It’s okay if we don’t fully understand all of the Lord’s ways. That’s just expected: the finite can’t contain the infinite; our limited brains can’t contain omniscience. Besides, there are things the Lord prefers to keep as secret. Those secret things belong to Him. There are acts-16-7-divine-prerogativethings He reveals to us; those are opportunities He gives for us to enjoy, to be guided by, and to show our loving obedience to Him.

Who would have thought that the very detailed instructions of implementing the Old Testament sacrifices were symbols and foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus and His sacrifices? He wants us to go, preach the Gospel to everyone, and make disciples of every nation, but there are times when the Holy Spirit stops us from going to preach in certain places. We don’t know why God’s people in the Old Covenant weren’t allowed to eat such and such kind of food, but we’re allowed to eat them now. We don’t understand why they were unclean before and they’re clean now.

Most of God’s people then may not have seen the mysteries of God, but what mattered much is that they willingly, humbly, and lovingly obeyed our sovereign God. God surprises us pleasantly and repeatedly with His ways. We’re comforted knowing that our heavenly Father is predictable; predictable in a sense that He has revealed much of His will, ways, and plans to us; unpredictable in a sense that He’s the sovereign God—totally and absolutely free to do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it, how He wants to do it. Look at the weather forecast: there are times when they’re accurate, but there are times when they aren’t. Somehow, during those occasions, God decides to blow the wind different from expectations. I say, in those times, it just shows: God is God, and He really has the final say.

It’s okay, we don’t sweat it; we trust. I have pretty good hypothesis about His surprising ways; it remains to be seen. As for now, we restfully trust and lovingly obey His leading. So far, He’s been perfect. And oh, He’s perfect, and will always be perfect. He’s really worthy of all our worship, love, trust, and surrender.

Exposed by/to/in the Light

Luke 8:17   (KJV)   17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.

The truth will prevail. The light of God will expose everything, even the most hidden secrets in the deepest recesses of our being. Nothing really is secret before God. He has the power and authority to bring to light everything hidden in the cover of darkness and every luke-8-17-exposed-bytoin-the-lighttruth buried in the most cleverly contrived lies, and He has the wisdom as to when and how to bring them up to the surface.

Our eyes are fixed on Him, His Word, His guidance. Through the complex twists and turns of life, it’s most reassuring to know that Someone omniscient graciously leads us to the right path. He has revealed Himself to humanity. We don’t worship the sun, moon, and stars; we don’t worship the mighty volcanoes, heroes, and other powerful entities; we know and worship the only one true God. We know the way of salvation; we know we’re saved. He continues to light our way.

Our young need not venture blindly in making the very important decision of choosing their lifetime partners. The Holy Spirit guides their every step towards a face to face meeting with the very person God prepared for them even before the foundation of the world. Believers clearly see what comes from the Lord, which ones don’t. We know which ones to welcome and which ones to fight. We know the tricks of the enemy; we know the ways of God. Understandably, we can’t fathom the whole inscrutable riches of God’s wisdom, but God illuminates areas of our existence where He knows we need to see clearly.

Continuing Guidance

Matthew 2:9   (KJV)   When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

The star led the wise men until it stood precisely where Jesus was. The wise men who searched for Jesus finally met God’s beloved Son. There, they finally got to do what they longingly purposed to do: they bowed in worship and gave their gifts to the King. God’s matthew-2-9-continuing-guidanceextra-ordinary guidance however continued. He, through a dream, warned them not to return to Herod and they were saved from Herod’s pernicious shenanigan.

That’s our God. He never leads us just to leave us. He’s with us from start to finish. In that assurance, our peace is anchored. All of us need guidance, and knowing that God Himself—He Who sees everything—is the One directing our steps, nothing really beats the quiet comfort, courage, and confidence it brings. We’re hope-filled pilgrims in an exciting journey; we’re also fully armed soldiers advancing against the gates of hell; we need all the guidance we can get.

And guide, God does—guaranteed. The star the wise men saw most probably approximately two years earlier was there until they were vis-à-vis with our Lord. Through the Christmas narrative, we see His ongoing and perfectly timed guidance. He sent His angel to speak directly to Mary; He had an angel speak to Joseph through dreams; He Himself directed the wise men through a dream; and yes there was the star.

There are many ways we receive His loving and clear direction. We still have the star brightly shining in different expressions: His Word, His Holy Spirit, our sanctified conscience, His messengers, the counsel of the living saints, inner witness, circumstances, open and closed doors, etc. He has brought us this far; He won’t forsake us; He never will. We continue to acknowledge Him in all our ways, and He never fails highlighting our path and directing our steps.

 

The Magi and the Star

Matthew 2:2   (KJV)   2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

The wise men sought for Jesus. They didn’t know His Name, but they knew that the King of the Jews was born. The sign they pointed to was unusual: a “star in the east.” Their motivation was pure; their purpose was on target: they came to worship the King. Both the matthew-2-2-the-magi-and-the-startheologically astute and the critics may question one aspect of the narrative: the inclusion and promotion of what seems to be a practice of Astrology—one condemned by the Scriptures.

Here’s my humble take. The magi weren’t just magi; they were magi earnestly seeking the Lord. They were wise indeed. Wise people seek God. The star wasn’t just any other ordinary star; it was a unique star; it was especial enough to let the wise men know that it was pointing to the birth of the King of the Jews Who we now know is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We have a special God Who does special things in special ways.

This isn’t a dogmatic statement, but just a humble opinion: the Lord saw the sincerity in the hearts of the magi. They were intently and industriously seeking God. God honored them and in some undocumented manner, He communicated with them to look for a specific kind of star as a sign for the birth of the King. That’s why they knew what to look for. And although explanations were given to give a “natural” flair to how the star led them, there really is no problem for God creating a star just for a particular group in a particular situation at a particular time for a particular purpose.

God will shake heaven and earth to be true to His promise to those who look for Him: But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).  He seeks us; we seek Him. He finds us; we find Him. He draws us; we draw near; He draws near. However the divine dynamics are, we’re just indescribably overjoyed in being closer to and worshiping the King—our heavenly Dad.

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.

Longer Route

Exodus 13:17

(KJV)

17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

When things take longer than we expect, it may be because the short route  is extremely dangerous; God is sparing us from potential discouragement.

The shorter distance may not always be the quicker way.

Slow but sure, better safe than sorry; unnecessary risks are exactly that–unnecessary.

We trust God; He knows the way to take.

We can trust God for directions; He created the locations.

God knows where we’re coming from; where we ought to go; how to get there.

LORD Our Shepherd

Psalm 23:1  (KJV)   23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The Lord God is the Great Shepherd. With Him as the Shepherd, there is sufficiency. As a Shepherd, He cares for His flock – sufficiently; He feeds His flock – sufficiently; He provides for His flock – sufficiently; He watches over His flock – sufficiently; He guides His flock – sufficiently; He protects His flock – sufficiently. That explains why His flock can find themselves contently not wanting. 

God cares; He cares both for the righteous and the unrighteous. But there is a special, and I would say, awesome relationship believers enjoy with Him. They have the Shepherd – flock relationship, and oh boy, that carries a lot of great benefits. Just imagine having the most loving, most powerful, unchanging Entity as our Shepherd. He’s a Shepherd Who will never leave us and will never do us wrong. That’s totally reassuring. That’s the reason our Lord Jesus can exhort us to not worry and mean it literally – not just as a figure of speech. With a Shepherd Who can supply all our needs – in all areas of our lives – at all times – in all places, we definitely have more than enough reasons to enjoy our days and sleep well at nights. We don’t have to worry about dangers, about troubles, about trials, about toils, about snares, about attacks, about our enemies, about our direction in life, about our provision, about our relationships, about our future, etc., etc.. We are really in a position of not wanting. We have more than enough of what we need.

Our God, our Great Shepherd. Thank You. Knowing we are well cared for. Many advertise their companies as giving the best care, but in You and in You alone do we really find it. In You we can rest in peace, and we can enjoy that wonderful restful existence here – now – in the land of the living. In You we can find refreshing for our tired, weary, and even faulty souls. In You we don’t have to wander aimlessly lost. In You we find calm courage to face even the most life-threatening challenges. In you we can celebrate life even when our enemies wish us death. In You we can rest assured that we will live out Your plans: good, not evil; prosperity, not harm; hope, not hopelessness; future and not rot. Praise You, our YHWH-Rohi. – in Jesus’ Name, amen.