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.

 

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More Valuable than All Our Achievements

Philippians 3:8   (KJV)   Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

We are pursuing something more significant than any and all achievements we or anyone else can ever achieve. Knowing Jesus more carries infinitely more value than all our advancements and accomplishments—even the spiritual kind. We don’t mind losing Philippians 3.8 - More Valuable than All Our Achievementseverything no matter how precious they may be in the natural eyes and in society’s estimation. Compared to Jesus, they’re like useless garbage.

When it comes to our salvation, our best efforts amount to nothing. We humbly admit: our best efforts still fail miserably short of God’s glorious standards. It’s foolish to anchor our hope in ourselves. Perfection is far from anyone’s reach. The Lord Jesus alone can claim sinlessness. He’s the One to “run after;” He’s the One we take true pride and joy in.

It isn’t wrong to be proud of each other who sincerely and diligently try to do our best to faithfully live out our faith before the Lord and before the watching world. A good testimony—an exemplary life is admirable. There’s a place for compliments. We’re also called to encourage others, and to tell them “good job” when they really do well. It’s befitting for believers to do our best in all our works. Many times, we excel. Even our unbelieving bosses or peers notice.

We shine the light of Jesus through us—that’s a natural goal we have in everything we do. That’s very biblical. We will get applause, approval, and commendations; we may even receive promotion. We’re also called to grow in the knowledge and likeness of our Lord. All these give us sense of satisfaction, and that’s perfectly appropriate. But when it comes to comparing the value of all those achievements and progress to the value of an intimate knowledge and relationship with Jesus, the choice for us is undoubtedly clear: He’s our hands-down preference. Our ultimate pride is not ourselves, it’s Him.

 

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.

New Clothes for New Life

Ephesians 4:24   (KJV)   24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

We are world-changers; that’s a great honor. We influence and change our society because we’ve been changed—from the inside out; we’re a new creation, new man, new nature, new heart. All glory to God; that inner change is all Him. That’s the light we Ephesians 4.24 - New Clothes for New Lifeshine, this new nature created to be like God, particularly His righteousness, holiness, purity. It may be hard for some to believe, but this is us: living godly and pure lives is our nature.

Everyone is invited to share this awesome newness; most don’t respond.  As believers, we enjoy it tremendously. It’s no longer a joy for this new nature to engage in dishonesty, immorality, and corruption. There are not a lot of honors as great as representing and displaying our Father’s nature. Misrepresenting Him hurts us. Temptations abound; they possess powerful attractions, but this new man has different tastes and appetites.

Not all unbelievers are utterly hostile to believers. Some of them recognize the beauty of Christian values. They know the importance of truthfulness, faithfulness, and loyalty in relationships. They know the value of teachability and submission among their children and employees. They know the value of conscientiousness, initiative, and diligence. It’s not unusual to see parents who don’t set foot in a church but send their children to Christian schools and gatherings because they know how beautiful our lives are.

We sail on, bearing a different aura—that of humility, joy, love, peace. Our neighbors trust us; we bring peace to tense situations; we don’t harbor grudge. We don’t operate by the common m.o. of avenging ourselves against those who wrong us. We forgive. We work hard for those who trust us with their company; we’re not takers; we’re giver. Our speeches aren’t foul; they’re pleasant; they’re kind. I can go on and on, but we’re obviously different—wonderfully different. We love it. We’re deeply humbled.

No Worry; No Fear

Matthew 10:31   (KJV)   31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Fear not! Those are very reassuring and comforting words from our loving and beloved Lord and Savior. He told us that as His followers, we will be treated extremely badly; that’s for sure. For others who don’t have a personal, loving, saving relationship with Matthew 10.31 - Sparrows Don't Fear; More So UsHim, that’s really dreadful. But for us, He also gave the reason not be scared: we are very valuable to Him.

We have a mission to accomplish. Our mission involves people. We are sheep among wolves. And the pack of wolves that devoured our Master will do us no less. We are rejected, accused, and some of us have been arrested, and punished unjustly. We are betrayed, at times, even by those very close to us—hard to believe—but it happens. We are hated by the rich, famous, and the powerful influencers of culture.

We don’t cower to and withdraw to fruitlessness. God turns our worst experiences to great opportunities. God has worked through them for those in high places to see and hear the witness of God-loving and neighbor-loving people. We see how real God is, how present He is, how wise and powerful He is. So we continue to lovingly shine His light. We hear from Him in the silence of our “date;” we boldly shout His words “from the housetops.” Others don’t like what they hear. They try to harm us. But they can only touch our bodies. None can touch our eternal beings. Only God can do that, and we’re happy because the only One Who has the power to decide where we spend our eternal destiny—He Who values the sparrows—values us way much more, loves us, and cares for us. With all that, why fear?

We continue to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. We freely receive; we freely give. We’re threatened with prison and sword; we respond with the gentle force of God’s love—nothing to fear with that.

Live What We Preach

Malachi 2:6   (KJV)   6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

This is one of the times when the Lord commended the priests in the Old Testament. They taught and preached the Word. They were truthful. They lived before the Lord in Malachi 2.6 - Live What We Preachpeace, meaning: they had integrity. They effectively turned many people away from their lives of sin.

We’ve received the wonderful privilege of bearing the torch of truth to everyone. We possess within us this great treasure of God’s Word, the honor of preaching the Good News of salvation to the lost, and this unequalled task of making disciples of all nations. With this is the necessity of living faithfully before God. We steadfastly stand on God’s pure truth; no lies or deceit are found in our lips or in our lives. We maximize our effectiveness that way.

Our hearts sincerely cry out for salvation of God-loved sinners. And it’s just appropriate that we  remove any and every blinding obstacle that would shun them from being attracted to the light of God. One of those obstacles is hypocrisy—living differently from what we preach. We don’t want that for ourselves; we don’t want that for Christianity; we don’t want that as a picture others will have to erroneously represent Jesus and us to them.

Moderation

Philippians 4:5   (KJV)   5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Moderation has much to do in relation to the coming of the Lord. The Lord’s return is near. Readiness for His return—wise preparation includes this most often overlooked virtue.

Philippians 4.5 - ModerationInstead of insisting on our own preferences, we give way. We don’t enforce our choices; we don’t lord it over others; instead, we reflect the gentle spirit of our Lord, His graciousness, His unselfishness, mercy, and understanding. It isn’t easy, but it’s doable. People often do things that are very foolish and can easily anger us, especially when their thoughtless actions result to more hard work for us—grrrr.

But we can’t be preoccupied with anger and frustration. It takes a lot of yieldedness to God’s Spirit, but we choose to see past people’s senselessness. Through this, we avoid anger and conflicts that can render us less effective in our testimony. We’d rather be more focused on the Lord’s coming than our own personal fulfillment. People are watching; we represent our Lord; we watch for His return; we watch our actions and reactions.