Prison/Freedom House

Acts 28:30   (KJV)   And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him.

Acts 28.30 - Prison-Freedom HousePaul was on house arrest—it was a house he rented himself. That “prison house” also became a “teaching house.” The house had the apostle kept in it, but the apostle had the Lord and the Lord’s Word in him. The place that represented bondage also became a house where many found freedom.

No one can fully imprison those born of God’s Spirit. Our freedom isn’t rescinded by geography. We’re free wherever we are. Our ultimate mission is to tell others about the Good News of Salvation found in our Lord Jesus, and to teach His commands to everyone. No person, no place, no time, nothing can stop us from accomplishing our mission. We of course use wisdom in all these. The highest purpose and greatest profitability of our resources–love, knowledge and wisdom, strength, finances are served in living out our ultimate mission. That explains our zealous willingness to be totally “poured out” for God.

Our dear heavenly Father, thank You for the freedom you’ve given us—freedom that no one and nothing can take away. May we as Your people always be excited for the privilege, opportunity, and honor of using our resources for their highest purpose—freedom/salvation of the lost, and growth of Your people.

Yield

Acts 11:17   (KJV)   17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

God in one of His unpredictable ways did something Peter and the Jewish believers did not expect, i.e., He also graciously poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentile Acts 11.17 - Yieldbelievers. When that happened, Peter did the right thing: He got out of the way and yielded Himself to the Sovereign move of God.

Life of a believer is full of adventure. We live with humble confidence because the God we worship, trust, and serve is absolutely dependable. He does exactly as He promises. At the same token, He does new creative “out-of-the-box” things. This is true even in spiritual matters. We don’t self-righteously and thoughtlessly condemn some things just because they’re new or we’re not used to them. We understand that God can do anything as long as they’re not contrary to His nature or His revealed Word—they’re not anti-God and anti-Scripture.

Dear God, thank you for new and beautiful blessings You bestow on us. Thank You for adding new experiences in our journey. Thank You for revealing new facets of Your being and Your ways–expanding our knowledge of You. We praise You for Your inexhaustible and amazing creativity.

On God’s Side

Acts 5:39   (KJV)   39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Acts 5.39 - On God's SideIt’s an empty and terrible predicament finding ourselves going against God and His move.

We don’t take our walk with God lightly. It’s indescribably valuable. We understand why we’re told to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:13). We treat Truth with utmost reverence; we don’t want to approach them casually and end up in error. We conscientiously and continuously rid ourselves of blinders of any shape, form, and kind. Biases and prejudices may lead us straight to the enemy’s camp—not to fight it, but to fight with it—against the very God we claim to worship and serve.

Our dear heavenly Father, please keep us from blind devotion. We want to worship You, serve You, fight for You, live for You, and if needed, die for You. Please keep our paths straight; keep our hearts pure; keep our eyes open that we may know which ones are Yours and which ones are not. May we never condemn anything or anyone just because they’re new or different. May we never forget: You’re a very creative God, and You have many surprisingly pleasant ways of doing things—In Jesus’ Name, amen.

When God is Revealed

Revelation 15:4   (KJV)   4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

Revelation 15.4 - When God is RevealedWhen everything is revealed, everyone will clearly see how just and perfect God’s ways are. We don’t question God. We have the ability to but not the position to. He is so much bigger than us; His thoughts and ways are way much higher—infinitely—much higher than our ways and thoughts.

Others have a tendency to question Him especially when bad things happen to them. Many times, people can become so arrogant in the way they treat a very loving and powerful Creator. I’m happy the Lord doesn’t always put us in our place quickly. He gives us more than enough time to snap out of our rebellious ignorance and to come to our senses. Some persist in their defiance.

But in God’s perfect timing, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him as Lord. He will be revealed for Who He truly is—in His greatness, in His glory, in His splendor, in His majesty, in His holiness.  What a scene that will be. Believers and unbelievers alike will “stand” in awe—one in perfect joy, one in utter regret. All accusations hurled against God will vanish at the sight of eternal reality.

Self Realization

Isaiah 6:5   (KJV)   5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

The prophet Isaiah realized the sobering truth of His wretchedness and gave at least two reasons for His clear realization and humble admission. The first reason he gave was the uncleanness of his lips. The interpretations of which vary, but we can generalize it as Isaiah 6.5 - Realization of Real Selfuncleanness. This uncleanness wasn’t only in his personal sphere but even communal—the people around him were also unclean. The second reason he gave was him seeing the Lord. Seeing the Lord in His majesty and utter holiness has that kind of effect.

The holiest of us, left to ourselves, are unclean. The unholy in the presence of the Most Holy isn’t a good scenario unless it’s a process of cleansing and forgiveness. No matter how highly people esteem themselves to be, no matter how self-righteous, how much better they see themselves to be in comparison to others, their exaggerated view of themselves will embarrassingly shrink when presented with the picture of their true state and presented before the presence of the one and only true holy God.

It’s a good first step though to humbly admit our spiritual bankruptcy. It’s those who realize the poverty in their spirit who receive the kingdom of heaven. It’s good to see Who the answer to our need is. He Who is Holy lovingly, willingly, graciously, and abundantly imparts His holiness to those who reach out to Him in full dependence and surrender. We’re hopeful even when we see what’s devastatingly wrong with us, knowing that Someone can make it wonderfully right.

Free and Obedient Hearts

1 Chronicles 29:18   (KJV)   18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:

Can our sovereign and loving God work in our hearts—people’s hearts—without violating our free will?  I guess He can.  We may not fully understand how He does it, but He can.  Otherwise, there’s no point praying for Him to make His people want to obey 1 Chronicles 29.18 - Free and Obedient HeartsHim.  We’ve seen clear examples and explicit passages in the Scriptures showing this.  God changed the heart of Saul (1 Sam. 10:9); He prophesied about giving His people a new heart (Jer. 24:7); He directs the king’s heart like rivers of water (Prov. 21:1); David prayed for God to give him a clean heart (Ps. 51:10).

Yes He can, and Yes He does work in people’s hearts.  This is not however a removal of free will, or cancelling of our responsibility.  In fact, we see clearly in the Scriptures how Saul turned away from God, how Solomon turned his heart towards the gods of his wives, how one king after another chose to rebel against God, and how His Old Covenant people repeatedly disobeyed God.  We as His people weren’t made robots when we placed our full dependence on Him to save us and surrendered our lives to Him.

We were made new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we still obviously have a choice whether we obey or disobey Him, whether we abide in Him or not, whether we live faithfully or not, whether we deny Him or not.  God won’t fail; if He says He’ll give us new hearts, He will. In fact, for believers, He already has.  What we do with our God-given new hearts is up to us.  As for me, and I pray my entire household, we will worship and serve Him faithfully—wholeheartedly.

All for God

Deuteronomy 10:12   (KJV)   12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul

deuteronomy-10-12-all-for-godThere’s a difference between fearing people and fearing God. We don’t fear people; we fear God.

It’s not demeaning to fear Him Who created all things, in control of all things, and Who not only can do something with our bodies, but has control over our souls’ destiny.

To fear God, to walk in a way that pleases Him, to love Him and to serve Him with our all—these may sound so hard, but if we really think about it, they’re really very doable. We just have to want to.

Reality: Christian life is not just hard; it’s impossible—if we depend upon our own power. But our precious Lord Who expects us to live for Him also empowers us to do so.

Because we fear Him, we want to live in such a way that will please Him, because we love Him, we serve Him. Not everyone who tries to please God really fears Him. Not everyone who serves Him really loves Him.

Fearing, pleasing, loving, and serving God is a privilege. He doesn’t need them. We do. He existed in perfection without us. They’re ultimately for our best.

All things are from Him, trough Him, and for Him. He also spared no expense for our pardon and salvation. That’s the reason why we do what’s appropriate: serving God with no less than all our heart and our souls, humbly acknowledging that even with that, He deserves infinitely more.

Hindsight

Genesis 45:5   (KJV)   Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

In the common scheme of things, there were reasons to grieve and to be angry with themselves; they sold their very own young half-brother Joseph just because of their envy, jealousy, and hatred. They caused much deep and prolonged heartache to their father. genesis-45-5-hindsightNow, that brother is in a position of power to exact vengeance. Joseph literally could have ordered to have all their heads separated from their bodies. Praise God, Joseph, saw from the perspective of the supernatural.

There are many questions in life we won’t know the answers for until many years after, when events have flowed and ran its course—hindsight, that is. We may not know why some people are extra-especially drawn to us, and why to some, we’re their bête noire—people they dislike. We may not know why those who are supposed to love us hurt us, betray us, sell us out. We may not know why people are banished from our presence, why we get into accidents no matter how careful we are, why tragedy happens even to the best of us, and why seemingly good things happen to the worst of us.

But we do appreciate divine surprises; they always outdo our expectations. We see how God turns the worst of situations into the most wonderful of experiences. We’ve heard it repeatedly: God turns our tests into testimonies, our trials into triumphs, and the victim into victors. His divine maneuverings are definitely what makes for adventurous existence. His wisdom is indeed much greater than our wisdom, His thoughts much higher than our thoughts, His ways much better than our ways. We don’t always figure out the reasons for the inexplicable twists and turns that are very challenging to face, accept, and navigate. But we trust Him. He Who has given us life—both temporal and eternal loves us; He preserves us, directs us, and leads us to life’s greatest adventures. We’re not sad; we’re overjoyed; we’re not angry; we’re ecstatic.

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.

Blessedness in Fearfulness

Psalm 128:1   (KJV)   Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.

There is blessedness in fearing the Lord. This clarifies the fear issue. Is it godly or ungodly to fear? Perfect love casts out fear; because of this, some see fear as evil and ungodly. But there are many Scriptures commanding us to fear the Lord. This shows that there is a godly kind of fear, apsalm-128-1-blessed-fear fear that we don’t just permit, but a fear we pursue. This kind of fear is coupled with and proven by a surrendered life to Him. Fear of God that doesn’t walk in His ways isn’t real.

True believers obey God’s commands and follow God’s ways. This naturally brings blessings for choosing the best way of living. A life of wisdom is life that brings much reward. We reap what we sow. Life in fearful high respect for God’s greatness, His awesome being and power is a life that knows its freedom and boundaries. We enjoy our freedom to the utmost but not carelessly and recklessly. God Who lovingly and generously gives us this freedom is also the most powerful Entity in existence. It’s wise living in His pleasure, valuing Him above all, and treating Him with utmost respect.

There’s no life better than that lived in blessedness. We are blessed with righteousness; although we’ve sinned and we sin against Him; He forgives those of us who come to Him in repentance; He restores our souls. Although spiritual blessings are infinitely more important than any material blessings we receive, He doesn’t neglect our material and physical existence. He gives us health, wholeness, mobility, and healing. Even as we sleep, when all our natural senses are suspended, when our minds are not aware of its surroundings, the organs of our bodies keep functioning. There’s no sickness He can’t heal. We’re blessed with beautiful families. We’re blessed with hope; we’re blessed with an indescribably glorious eternal home. We can go on and on, but we’ve made the point. Nothing beats our lives as true believers.

Praise you Lord for a life of love, joy, peace, and freedom, a life of blessedness found in our precious Lord Jesus.