Me—Example of God’s Patience

1 Timothy 1:16   (KJV)   16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

The patience of our Lord Jesus is unquestionable. I’m a proof of that, and it’s my desire that my life be a demonstration of the love, mercy, grace, and longsuffering of God. I may not claim the same as Paul being the chief of all sinners, but I know more about myself 1 Timothy 1.16 - Me - Example of God's Patiencethan those commonly known and considered as really evil people. We only know so much about them, but I know even the deepest and most secret sins I’ve committed—most of them remain unrevealed.

Praise God, I obtained mercy. I don’t know how my life would be now had I not been saved. Even in my most religious years, I realized I was being a hypocrite—I just didn’t have the conviction then. This is not to glory in my depravity, but to exalt the Lord in His kindness to a sinner. Imagine a child who was a terrible spoiled brat in his childhood. Imagine a child who was full of anger and hatred towards his step-mom and step-brother. Imagine a person who used to curse at the beginning, middle, and end of almost each sentence—without trying, while serving as altar boy almost every day. Imagine a young man whose communication with peers was replete with lustful, immoral, and filthy words—enjoying every moment of it. Imagine a young man who had enough of ungodly pride to expect his peers to bow to his wants at his beck and call. Imagine a person who caused a break-up of a family for pursuing an adulterous relationship. Imagine a man who treated his romantic partner very badly—a woman he promised to make the happiest. Imagine no longer, I was that man—pre-Jesus.

By God’s grace that man exists no more. By God’s grace, a new man was born. God’s love and power were way much greater than all that man was. I was a very principled and dogmatic person—even when I stood for what was wrong (without knowing it). I didn’t just surrender my life to Jesus at the first hearing of His glorious Gospel. It took time—much time. I glory and rejoice in God’s “higher-than-heavens,” “longer-than-my-obstinacy” longsuffering or patience. He didn’t give up on me.

If you’re reading this and haven’t yet experienced the reality of God’s forgiveness, hope, and salvation in Jesus, may my life serve as an example of how an impossibility is possible with God. If I can be saved—gloriously transformed by God into a new man, anyone can experience the same.

 

The Blood of the New Covenant

Matthew 26:28   (KJV)   28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Matthew 26.28 - The Blood of the New CovenantDo we understand this? I pray I would understand the depths of these words. Death—it took the death of our precious Lord and Savior—it took spilling of His blood—for our sins to be forgiven.

It’s very possible to read these words and not even really understand the implications of what our Savior just said. We are enjoying this New Covenant—a covenant much better, more superior, and more glorious than the old. This came free to us; it didn’t come easy for our Savior. Three times, He prayed to the Father if it was possible for Him not to drink the cup of the cross. His sweat was like drops of blood. He was in deep anguish. An angel needed to minister to Him.

There was no other way. Our Lord needed to spill His blood, die on the cross. That was the ransom payment required. There was no easier compromise. He didn’t back down. He laid down His life. A New Covenant was ratified with His blood. We didn’t only find hope; we now live in hope. That’s what our Lord did for us. All honor, glory, and thanksgiving to Him.

 

Restoring the Soul

James 5:20   (KJV)   20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

To bring back a believer who wanders from the faith is to save a soul from death. There is a possibility for Christians to err in their ways, to wander from the truth, to come to a A Helping Handpoint where their souls are in the state of death.

It’s of paramount importance that we don’t leave them without any help and any hope of restoration. They can be restored; they can be saved; their multitude of sins can again be forgiven.

We don’t give up that easily on those who turn away from God. We run after them with all our love. There are those who are obstinate for just a short time; they repent when they’re confronted about their errors. Some may take more time and effort. But we give it our best. Souls are incalculably precious to God; we won’t allow the devil to have them in his grip just like that. Each one is worth fighting for, and fight for our brothers and sisters, we will.

Unbelievable Forgiveness

1 Timothy 1:16   (KJV)   16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

We’ve seen hardened criminals—people society considers as worst of the worst—incredibly changed by the power of the Gospel. Their sins may have been great and many, but God’s grace is greater and more. This is the unique hope found in Jesus alone. This is 1-timothy-1-16-unbelievable-forgivenessGod’s amazing patience, love, mercy, and grace at work and on display. It’s beautiful; it’s also unbelievably outrageous—so outrageous that others criticize Him for it.

Famous people have expressed their utter contempt and disapproval for God’s generosity of forgiveness. They vehemently disapprove of Hitlers, Stalins, Bin Ladens and such like having any chance of spending eternity with God in glory; they prefer them languishing in toughest punishment commensurate to all their hideous atrocities and evil. Some of them loudly broadcast their position that it’s this very teaching that made them turn their backs from the God of the Bible, that this is what made them into atheists.

Our hearts sincerely and lovingly go out to them. We fervently pray that their hardened hearts be softened and their blinded eyes be enlightened. We don’t want them to miss out on this wonderful truth and experience. It’s hard to accept, but we’re humbly grateful to our Savior. We are recipients of the same immeasurable blessing. True, our sins and the damages our sins cause may not be as grave as those of the infamous villains, but we also desperately need help. Those who oppose God and malign Him appallingly, although they don’t see the wickedness of their actions, also sin against God and are also in real need of forgiveness.

From where and from whom will they get that? Praise God; He’s so willing and so generous to bless us with cleansing and forgiveness. He’s able to pour out His love, and do so with absolute justice, because He personally paid for all of humanity’s sins. This fallen humanity includes all of us: even the Hitlers and the Bin Ladens, God-attackers and God-haters, the worst of all sinners, and yes, the best of all sinners. We find ourselves there somehow. Praise You Lord.

Punishment for Believers?

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (KJV)   That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (NIV)   and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

The context of these verses has to do with sexual sins.  God still avenges or punishes sexual immorality or uncleanness even under the Covenant of grace. He has given straightforward warning regarding this.

Christians ought to be bold and brave in telling the truth as it is. We’re very vocal about grace and God’s forgiveness. And that’s good. But, there are those of us who put on our breaks in declaring that God still deals with disobedience. In dealing with consequences for our sins, we comfortably refer to God’s “discipline,” and that’s true too. But we’d like to avoid any possible consideration that God still has the right to deal with sin. Let’s remember: He has the divine prerogative to punish unbelievers for their sin, and (ready for this) believers for our sins.

Didn’t God punish Jesus for all our sins? Yes He has. But it seems like verses like the ones above tell us that we don’t get a free ride to sinful practices without any consequences. Jesus took all our sins that we may be saved. As saved, let’s watch our steps. Even if God forgives us for lying, or stealing, or sexual impurity, there may be consequences for our forgiven sins that are irreversible. That can be true as well in the spiritual dynamics. Let’s not buy into the lies that purity is evil and harmful and that we ought to just be free in living out all our sexual passions because it is through that that we can really enjoy the fullness of life. Powerful lies that has victimized even believers. Truth: unbridled ungodly sexual passions lead to tragic crashes.

Choose real freedom. Choose punishment-free living. Choose purity.

Dear God, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness and salvation. May our steps be that of the righteous and holy. Many of us have fallen into and excused our ungodly sexual behaviors and practices. Help us to be serious in ridding ourselves of them. Please help us to realize that You will still deal with us – punish us because of our ungodly sexual indulgences. Save us Lord from its power. Or save us Lord from our foolishness, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

God-Powered Weapons

2 Corinthians 10:4  (KJV)   (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Believers are engaged in a battle beyond the physical and the material. Spiritual warfare necessitates spiritual weapons. We do possess such weapons. Our weapons are not weak; our weapons are not outdated; our weapons are powerful. They are God-powered.

We have the weapon of the most advanced kind. There is no weapon on earth or in hell that even comes close to its power. It won’t jam; it won’t backfire; it won’t misfire; it won’t malfunction in any way. There is no nuclear weapon invented or any other weapon to be invented by the most brilliant of human scientists that can duplicate its potency. No, the most advanced and most powerful bomb we have won’t even scratch the surface – much less, even touch this special weapon we possess.

We don’t need the help of any human gadgetry to overcome our real enemies. Our true enemies are not physical; we’re fighting against the world system, our own ungodly desires, and the devil. For these, no knives, swords, guns, cannons, or bombs would work. Any attempt to advance Christianity through sword or force isn’t Christianity. It’s detestable and deplorable. We as believers ought to not only stand in disapproval to such evil act; we ought to take strong actions to stop any such wicked outworking of terribly misguided vigilance to faith.

A song we used to sing goes something like: “The church of God is moving… The battle has been won, the foe’s been overcome and we are marching on today. So say goodbye to doubt and give a victory shout. The church of God is moving on.” (Thanks to the composer – didn’t get to find out who). But that’s it. We know how the war ends: the Kingdom of God is victorious. That Kingdom power – the God-powered weapons we have will give us the daily victories over our daily battles. There’s no stronghold too strong, no fortress too fortified, no enemy too powerful to stand effectively against our weapons. Let’s not cower; let’s not retreat; let’s not sit idly, hopelessly – convinced that we’re defeated and that there’s no way we can overcome our sins and struggles. CHARGE!!! THE VICTORY’S OURS!!! TAKE IT!!!

Our victorious God and Savior, thank You for giving us the weapons we need for sure victory. We understand perfectly why You can so confidently assure us that no weapon formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17) and that the gates of hell will not prevail against us (Matthew 16:18), – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Heart Issue

Mark 7:21-23  (KJV)   21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

I don’t know who originally said it, but it hits the bulls eye: “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” If ungodliness characterizes the speech and actions of people, they’re just expressions of ungodly hearts. There are things that affect men physically, but there are things that reach way more deeply.

We’re often concerned about the physical, the superficial. Yes, our bodies are important; material things are important as well. But we often judge someone’s beauty based on the external. We often judge someone’s relationship with God based on the food they eat, the clothes they wear, what they drink, the make-up they wear, etc. We ought to not undermine the fact that our visible and physical conducts and demeanor can be telltale signs of what’s inside; but we ought to make sure that we don’t appear clean only on the outside yet filthy on the inside. The condition of our hearts matter most.

Our dear Holy God, please check, cleanse, change our hearts – whatever is necessary. May we be true to You inside and out, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Forgiveness Receivable

Acts 10:43  (KJV)   43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Surprise!!! Not really, but pleasant nonetheless. Forgiveness was going to be made available through the Messiah. That was not a newly invented doctrine; it was not an afterthought; the prophets of old have been speaking about it. The audiences may have failed to see it during that time, but it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t shown. That was a real Good News. God in His wisdom, love, mercy, justice, and grace planned that sinners be forgiven. Yes!!! There is a way: the Messiah. No longer were they to stand hopelessly guilty in sin; they now have a “clout.” They no longer had to stand in a sinking and faulty foundation; they have the immovable Christ they can place their entire dependence on.

I love it! The prophets have spoken. We don’t have to live in despair; and we don’t have to invent ineffective ways for us not to live in despair. Failing God, sin – that could be really depressing. The more we love God and the more we desire to obey Him, the more sin saddens us. And since we aren’t yet perfect, we will still sin. Life would have been saddest for true believers – but not so. Praise God! Really, praise God!!! Because of our dear Lord Jesus, the prophets-validated, Father-approved Way, we can be forgiven – repeatedly, continuously. That’s comfort; that’s freedom; that’s peace; that’s joy. Let’s not use this wonderful truth as an excuse to hibernate in our wrongdoings; let us rather enjoy this great blessing with grateful response of living in victory over those sins He forgives us from.

Our dear forgiving God, thank You, thank You, thank You. We wouldn’t know what else to do if not for Jesus. We could have lived our lives continually attempting to live purely and repeatedly failing – void of any possibility of “success.” That would have been terribly bad and sickeningly sad. Thank You Lord for giving us a way for our sins to be paid, and for us to be cleansed and purified. All glory and honor to Jesus in Whose Name we pray, amen.

Sure Salvation

Luke 18:16-17  (KJV)   16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

In the middle of the apostles prohibiting the children to come to Jesus for reasons unstated, Jesus instead called the children to Him and made a startling statement that may have served as both a correction to the apostles and a revelation of a very important truth to all those around Him. This is a very clear and direct statement about children’s assurance of salvation. The Kingdom of God belongs to them; they belong to the Kingdom of God. Their “auto-citizenship” in the Kingdom through God’s special grace is so sure that Jesus even made it a basis to show how everyone else qualifies. Unless everyone else becomes childlike, they won’t enter God’s Kingdom.

This may be a mystery to some since even children inherit the sin nature and commit sin. No one knows the ever-mysterious moment of accountability except God, but we’re all assured that children are Kingdom people. They are obviously important to God; they ought to be really important to us. They’re not little insignificant extras of life. They need to be given attention to, taught and trained in the ways of the Kingdom. They are little princes and princesses who need to know how to conduct themselves properly as Kingdom people. And as we do, let’s remember to become like them in childlike humility and dependence. To be Kingdom people and as Kingdom people, humility is an indispensable trait. As we were ushered into the Kingdom through humble realization and admission of our spiritual bankruptcy, we ought to abide in that childlike attitude towards our spiritual maturity. There ought to be no proud believer.

Our exalted Father to Whom all glory belongs, we pray that we’ll learn to treat children with importance. May they know how valuable they are to You through us. Open our eyes that we may learn from them, that we may be humble. For those who have not yet entered Your Kingdom, may we do so upon reading this. For us who have, may we never grow proud or even act proud even in sure possession of Your precious gift of salvation. May our glory be only in the cross of Your Son.

Savior to the Penitent

Luke 13:1-3  (KJV)   There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Certain Galileans suffered murder from the hands of Pilate while they were in the middle of their religious activity. The Galileans suffered; His audience obviously didn’t. Jesus found it imperative that He quickly clarified what may otherwise could have come to an erroneous conclusion, belief and doctrine. The suffering of the Galileans and the “non-suffering in the same way” of the audience was not a divine indicator of who was more sinful. It was not necessarily an insightful commentary of their varying spiritual conditions. But it’s worth noting: Jesus’ reference was not between sinners and a non-sinners; It was between sinners and greater sinners. Implication: the Galileans who suffered and those who didn’t were all sinners who will all perish unless repentance happens. With that He showed an indispensable essential act everyone has to undergo for any possibility of escape from perishing: repentance.

Suffering and tragedy hits everyone. Being accused wrongly, being betrayed, getting into accident, getting sick, losing a parent, losing a child, losing a friend, losing money, losing everything – these are experiences shared in all strata of society. Not everyone experiences every suffering and every tragedy, but anyone can and will experience sufferings and tragedies. Great sinners and not-so-great sinners all share in human experiences – good and bad. Apostle Paul and Fuhrer Hitler both suffered – both died. Both of them sinned. Paul described himself as the chief of all sinners; Hitler is a generally accepted figure of great sinfulness. Both of them could have perished and suffered eternal destruction. We know for sure that the self-confessed chief of all sinners repented, thus was saved and became one of the greatest Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t know of the Fuhrer. Perish or not, it’s not  because he was a sinner above all humans or not, it was dependent totally on whether he repented or not. Let me quickly add: if He believed (fully trusted and depended in) Jesus as his Savior Who was able to forgive him of all his sins if he repented from them. Whoever we are, no matter how highly or how lowly we’re esteemed in our sphere – natural or spiritual, we’ve all sinned. Unless we abnormally want to perish, repentance is a must. Le’t humbly ask for forgiveness – turn away from our sins, and simultaneously turn to God.

Forgiving Father, thank you for the hope you’ve given us despite our sinfulness.  We turn away from our sins. Thank You for being our Savior Who can and will forgive.