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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Helping God? No Way.

Mark 6:41   (NLT)   Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share.

Miracles invite our involvement. God created everything out of nothing, but He still used and accepted the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish He used to provide more than enough food for 5K men + women and children. Jesus could have made bread and fish to appear in Mark 6.41 - God Needs Our Help--No Wayfront of each person, but He still asked his disciples to help distribute them.  Sovereignty does not promote passivity inactivity, or laziness. Obviously, God can do anything by Himself. So, His invitation for us to join Him in a miracle is not because He’s lacking. Whatever our participation is, no matter how small, brings us opportunity of experiencing the joy of miracle. Sure, for every small part we contribute, God has incalculably multiplied times more, but there’s still satisfaction and joy in knowing that we take part.

God is a good Father. He does not want to spoil us. Even in forgiveness, although He forgives us absolutely, He still disciplines us. He doesn’t allow us to get off, scot-free without experiencing disciplinary consequence. Discipline may not even sound palatable in the age of grace, but discipline and grace aren’t contradictory. In fact, discipline is a proof of us being a part of the family of God. Like in the case of the people who complained against God about their food. They were bitten by snakes and many of them died because of that. When they realized they did something wrong and repented, they asked God to forgive them and to stop the judgment. God was willing, but it was not an immediate termination of judgment; Moses still had to construct a brazen serpent on a pole, and people still had to look at it for them not to die.

God honors us. Praise God, He does not clip our wings but allows us to live to our maximum potential. Why did Jesus intend to just pass the disciples who He saw were in serious trouble rowing hard against the waves? My guess is, He knew they would have made it. As dangerous as their situation may have been, they would still have succeeded and reached the shore safely. He wanted to give them the joy of achievement.

God helps us. Even if it would require a miracle to do it; He does. But He also stretches us. It is often through that when we realize there’s more in us and to us than we know. So, we gladly and gratefully welcome the invitation to join Him in His work and share the joys of His victories and miracles.

Help and be Helped

Numbers 3:9   (NLT)   9 Assign the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They have been given from among all the people of Israel to serve as their assistants.

The Lord is our Helper, and one of the ways He helps us is through people. We all need help, and we all ought to help others. God moves in and through us so that we can serve and be served. The work God assigns us is bigger than one person can do alone. God Numbers 3.9 - Help and be Helpedproviding us help and instructing us to help shows His concern about us, about others, about His Name, about His Kingdom.

We all have a call; our call is personal, but our call involves God and people. We’re to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, strengths, and we’re to love others as ourselves. We can’t do that without getting involved with God and with people. And because others have the same mandate, we too will be recipients of that love. We can’t escape this. This is how humanity is designed: we’re inter-connected.

Don’t be alarmed. God doesn’t want our boundaries violated. Though the Levites were assigned to assist Aaron and his sons, there were things they couldn’t do, touch, and see that Aaron and his sons could. He has things that are uniquely ours, uniquely others’, and uniquely His. Helping others doesn’t mean having the right to violate those boundaries. There are lines we can’t cross, and there are lines we can. There are works we can share, and there are responsibilities reserved for the individuals alone. To violate these boundaries can be ungodly and can end up not helping at all.

Remember, even helping has protocols. Forgetting this can be devastating. Instead of helping, we cause more work; instead of making things easier, we make them harder; instead of making things faster, we cause the delay; instead of building, we destroy; and the worst: instead of giving life, we bring death.

We need help, others do too. God helps us. We receive help, we help others. All these are done respectfully. Help becomes a real blessing.

Out of Comfort Zone

Job 31:34   (KJV)   34 Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?

Job was asking a rhetorical question. He didn’t fear what people would say or how people would act towards Him—even unfavorable ones. He obviously cared for His reputation—and rightly so; we’re called to let our light shine before men—not for self-タマゴglorification, but for God’s glory. But He didn’t allow anyone to paralyze him to seclusion.

Not everyone is a people person. This is me. I’d rather be in my room or alone rather than socialize—even in party settings. I believe there are many others like me. But we don’t allow this to derail us or shun us from our responsibilities, mission, calling, and destiny. Our destiny is too great for us to allow others to steal it away from us. No, no threat from them, no amount of demeaning criticisms—truth or lies, no belittling looks, no smirks, no condemning accusations will keep us trapped in our comfort zones. We won’t be kept hiding “behind doors.” We break out of it, we grow, we broaden our horizon, and we keep moving farther, higher, deeper, bigger.

Dear God, we realize that You’ve created everyone of us differently—fearfully and wonderfully, but differently nonetheless, and that’s good; that’s very good; that’s how You operate. May we never complain about the way you designed us, rather, may we seize the strengths and the good about our personalities and use them as leverage to take us to each higher step. May we never make a “god” out of people by abdicating our future into their control. With You always being with us, may we face every situation and every person with a realistic yet faith-filled attitude about ourselves, about others, and about life as we keep progressing in our journey—facing each challenge day after day with neither fear nor intimidation, but with courage and boldness. It will take a lot for many of us to develop such attitude, but all things are possible with You and for those who believe in You.