Indispensable Faith

Romans 4:20   (KJV)   20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God

We “give” glory to God when we’re strong in faith. Yes, faith matters. It’s worth is certainly upheld and emphasized when it comes to salvation.  My proposition is to keep on maintaining its value and worth in our lives as believers.  I’ve heard that there have Romans 4.20-21 - Indispensable Faithbeen extreme teachings about it from a certain group bearing something as important as faith in their name.  I’ll be quick to point out: I’m not a part of their group, nor do I identify with them.

This is also not in any way a rejection or denunciation of the group or any individuals from their group often presented as heretics and false teachers.  Personally speaking, the worst, most extreme, and most heretical teachings I’m aware of that they purportedly teach are those I’ve heard and read quoted by their “attackers.”  Truth be told, even those with audio and video clips, it’s possible to understand the logic in what they teach when taken in proper context.

Pardon me for always trying to make sense of the teachings of our brothers and sisters in Christ in areas where we may differ.  In the non-cardinal, negotiable doctrines, I firmly believe what I believe is true, but then again, they may be right, and I may be wrong. Why fight?

Going back to faith: it’s indispensably essential in our lives.  With it, we appropriate God’s grace for our salvation; we live by it instead of sight and feeling; without it, there’s no way we can please God, and as we just read from the above passage, with it, we give glory to God.  Many of our desires and prayers are answered by God according to our faith.  A quick clarification: we ought to not presume our prayers are not answered because of lack of faith.  I won’t cower from saying this though:  it’s possible that it’s also because we do lack faith.  That statement is in no way for the purpose of condemnation; it’s to encourage us, just in case we really need to step out and step up in faith and we just haven’t done so.  If we know we already have, that’s great; that part is at least already taken care of.

The Lord encourages us: “Have faith in God.”  It’s direct: it’s something we have to do; it is also suggestive: we may not have the faith we ought to have, but none of us dare call out our Lord as being condemnatory.  We understand what He’s saying; let’s extend the same gracious attitude to our brothers and sisters who encourage others to walk in faith. With love as the greatest motivation, our walk as believers is by faith—from start to finish.

 

Discernment

2 Samuel 14:17   (KJV)   17 Then thine handmaid said, The word of my lord the king shall now be comfortable: for as an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad: therefore the Lord thy God will be with thee.

Discernment is angelic.  It’s God bestowing us knowledge and wisdom so we can determine what’s good and what’s evil, when they’re not as clear as black and white.  We don’t have to make mistakes in making decisions especially the critical ones.  Often, 2 Samuel 14.17 - Discernmentwhen it comes to major decisions in life, we don’t always have clear-cut instructions from the Word.  Even then, we end up with the right choices.

How do we believers seem to know things—truths that aren’t plainly laid out before our eyes to see?  For one, we sheep know our Shepherd’s voice.  The more intimate we are with our Shepherd, the more sensitive we are to hearing and recognizing His voice.  He gave us a very good foundation: His Word.  There, we get to know Him, His acts, His ways.  The more we know Him in the obvious, it becomes easier to sense Him in the ambiguous.

We love His Word.  We’re passionate about learning it.  It’s never a waste of our time doing so.  One Word from God in a critical juncture of our existence can radically change the course of our future.  Not one Word of His will fall to the ground without accomplishing purposes.  We draw near to Him; He draws near to us.  The nearer we are to Him, the louder we hear His heartbeat, the clearer we see His leading.  We understand He wants us to make the right decisions more than we do.  And He makes His presence closer to us than He can ever do:  He is with us—always; He’s in us—always.

Increasing Understanding

Matthew 13:12   (KJV)   12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

Those of us who willingly and eagerly listen to the Lord’s teachings or His Word are given understanding, insights, and wisdom, and we keep on growing in them because the Lord continuously and generously pours them out to us.  Those who don’t want to listen Matthew 13.12 - Increasing Understandingto the Lord, more so, obey Him, whatever little understanding they have left of true spiritual matters will be taken away.

The generosity of God can’t be questioned.  His desire to bring us to the knowledge of the truth is immensely great.  That’s why He sent us His Holy Spirit to teach us all the truths we need to know.  But despite the perfection of God’s will and ways to draw us to clear comprehension of the Truth, there is sadly a significant number of people who just don’t want to do whatever needs to be done.

We don’t fully know all the reasons or motivations behind people’s refusal of Truth.  Perhaps, they can’t handle it; perhaps it’s very difficult to admit the errors of their beliefs—that they’ve been either taught erroneously, or they’ve been deceived; perhaps it’s because they want to continue in their ways that are contrary to the teachings or our Lord.  They don’t know what they’re missing.  But we know how important God’s Word is.  It’s of tremendous importance that we perceive it clearly.  And praise God, He Himself makes sure that it happens to those who truly pursue His Word.

Lambs Among Wolves

 Luke 10:3   (KJV)   3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

We are to go share and spread the Good News of salvation to the lost, and to make disciples of all those who believe. Each has a calling; each has a race to run; each has responsibility. But we all are sent to the same hostile world. We are sent out as lambs luke-10-3-lambs-among-wolvesamong wolves. There’s no mandate to change our nature; we’re not called to be like wolves. Our difference will be obvious; it’s natural for wolves to try to hunt, attack, and devour us, but we are to stay our course.

Hostility is real; persecution is real, but God’s presence is more real. He promises to deliver us all the time. He may deliver us from them; He may deliver us through them, but He will deliver us. Others may question this. Martyrs abound. Where is God’s deliverance in this? These are legitimate questions, especially when asked from a perspective void of the eternal. Praise God for His light that shines in our understanding. We see better; we see clearer; we see more.

We’re aware of the supernatural and the eternal. This helps navigate through the world of the wolves better. We reach out to them without becoming like them. Many times they mistreat us. I remember a Middle Eastern sister in the Lord who was asked by some fanatical religious zealots to vacate their house at 12 midnight that same day, or they will be killed. They left everything they worked so hard for. That in itself was difficult, but even their journey of leaving their home became a dangerous escape attempt. They had to take unfamiliar paths because death also waited along the main thoroughfares. She shook as she shared the experience.

Some of us aren’t spared. That doesn’t spell failure on the part of God. He never fails. Death for us in the grand scheme of things isn’t tragic; it isn’t the end; it’s a passageway ushering us into an indescribable, incomparable, most blissful experience ever—right in the presence of our Father—He Who loves us most, He who we love most. That’s why although we fully appreciate God’s earthly blessings; we’re not attached to them; we understand that our real citizenship is dual: temporal and eternal, and our eternal home far outweighs what we now have.

So we go—lambs among wolves, lovingly, carefully, fearlessly, faithfully, empowered by God, changing this world, while longingly waiting for the next.

 

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.

Care for the Sheep

John 21:17  (KJV)   “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

Those we love, we take care of.  It’s because of God’s great love for us that He takes great care of us; it’s because we sincerely love each other in the church that we naturally take good care of each other. We feed each other—both spiritually and physically. It’s because john-21-17-care-for-the-sheepwe fervently love the lost that we persistently reach out to them—that we willingly help them with their needs, especially their indispensable need for salvation. This is what our Lord Jesus repeatedly commissioned Peter to do as a responsibility that comes with his love for the Lord.

Our dear Lord Jesus loves us. He cares for us so much that He invites us all to cast all our often nerve-wrecking cares, worries, and concerns to Him. One of the interesting things He did with the apostles after His death and resurrection was to feed them and to eat with them. It’s almost allegorical—that’s what He did for three years: feed the apostles, especially with spiritual food.

He didn’t give up; it didn’t matter how many times the apostles failed to understand His teachings, how many times they forgot, how many times they failed; He just kept on caring for them; He just kept on feeding them. This is the pattern; we don’t get tired of teaching our brothers and sisters in Chrsit—repeatedly, continuously. Like physical food: we eat; we get hungry; we get weak; we eat again—the cycle continues.

Just because we’ve taught a certain truth to others doesn’t mean we expect them to go by the power of that one teaching without failing or falling until they meet the Lord. No; we clearly understand that they will get weak; we understand that properly caring for them is an invaluable task we’ll keep doing—without irritation, annoyance, or disappointment. We understand this because we too need and receive the same precious gracious, patient, persevering care. So yes, it’s a wonderful pleasure taking good care of others—again, and again.

Hidden from the “Wise”

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Matthew 11:25   (KJV)   25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

The ways of Lord surprise us many times. How can we be thankful when people don’t understand, when people don’t believe? Why would God hide indispensable truths to some; isn’t it best if everyone believes? If it was up to us, we would rather have everyone convinced as we are. But our Lord knows the futility of feeding pearls to swine, and He warns of the worse condition of those who understand and still obstinately refuse to believe.

The world considers many of the unbelieving world as wise; sadly, many of the intellectually gifted are blinded by the same gift. Many of them have bloated minds but malnourished hearts.  We pray for them so they would see that even in their wisest state, their wisdom still fails pathetically short when compared to God’s wisdom. Remember, the highest heights of our wisdom only touch the lowest lows of God’s foolishness.

God’s inscrutable and often unpredictable approaches to situations result in our grateful praises to Him. Repeatedly, He surprises us with ways and strategies that cause us to be even more awed when we see how successfully and wonderfully things turn out. And as always, as difficult as they may be to understand in the beginning, God always does things for His children’s best. Even in the area of understanding and wisdom, what others fail to see, we see; when others disbelieve, we believe; when others can’t see convincing proofs, we see enough and we’re convinced. We see black and white as black and white; we also see gray as gray. We have God’s essential revelations covered, and we graciously agree to disagree in areas where we as brothers and sisters differ. God has deep secrets, but we are humbly satisfied with life-changing and life-guiding truths that He graciously shares to us.

On Questioning God

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Job 38:4   (KJV)   4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

The Lord invites us to reason with Him; that’s how gracious, loving and understanding He is. But we do always in love and reverence—never in pride, doubt, and arrogance. There are many things we don’t understand and we will never understand. The vast ocean of God’s knowledge won’t ever fit the tiny cup of minds. God also has withheld some info from us—those secrets belong to God.

It saddens me seeing how many people doubt God’s existence or accuse God of wrongdoing; just because there are things we don’t comprehend about Him and about His ways. But really, how can we question Him when we’re surrounded by so many things we can’t explain—things that show God’s greatness, splendor, and majesty. Humble hearts seek their Maker, and it’s natural for them to bow before Someone so great.

Until now, it doesn’t matter what kind of explanation unbelievers come up with to question God’s existence, they haven’t come up with an answer to something as plain and simple as the origin or beginning of the universe. It’s only very recently that they came up with an admission that the universe indeed had a beginning. This is a truth believers had known for eons. We pray for those who still wouldn’t humbly accept that their intelligence and brilliance is sheer folly when they take positions against the One Who knows all things.

Spiritual Understanding

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Mark 8:21   (KJV)   21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

So many—the Lord has done so many things and has revealed Himself in so many ways that we understand Him when we open our eyes to everything that’s going on. Miracles abound. His Words and His works testify to Who He is and what He wants. There are so many things that take away people’s attention away from Him. That’s why we’re careful; we take life seriously—with joy and wisdom, as we live out our faith in Him.

There are things we have to do and things we have to avoid. Our precious Lord Jesus is very clear about His teachings and commands. He asks us to go to all the world, preach the Gospel, and make disciples. To be clear, we make disciples of our precious Lord Jesus. We genuinely live out what we preach and teach; we live out in such a way that our lights shine brightly as representatives of our Lord and Savior.

We provide good examples for others to see and follow so they ultimately walk in the footsteps of our Jesus. I sadly admit, even among theists, there are teachers and people who are more committed and loyal to their religious affiliations, and denominational teachings and traditions than to the Lord Himself. God’s Word may be very clear on a subject matter; the truth may be right before their eyes, but they don’t see it. They keep looking for “more proofs” when they’re inundated and surrounded by myriad teachings and truths. They’re not persuaded not because of lack of proofs; it’s because they’re looking for what they want to see.

We have earthly duties and responsibilities. We have the truth to pursue and errors to be watchful for. In all these, our eyes are set on our Lord. Everything about our lives is in Him, and revolves in Him. People may doubt, question, misunderstand, and disbelieve our Lord; but we understand.

 

Proud of God

Jeremiah 9.24 - Proud of GodJeremiah 9:24   (KJV)   24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

We’re grateful that God has blessed us with so much; we can do much; we accomplish much. But with all our God-given enormous potential, we humbly admit: we make mistakes, at times, terrible mistakes. We don’t compare ourselves to others; it’s easy to find others who do worse than us. We contritely own up to our flaws and sins, knowing that our loving and just God can lovingly, mercifully, and graciously forgive us without violating His justice.

He deserves all the glory; that we know full well. We are just immensely grateful that He welcomed us to experience His salvation and freedom—that we have a loving, living relationship with Him. We are tremendously grateful to Him for opening our minds and hearts to realizing Who He is—our Life-Saver and King. Now, we enjoy an intimate relationship with Him; we “know” Him. We saw that we were drowning in sin; He came as our Life-Saver; He grabbed hold of us and we grabbed hold of Him. We saw that we were living in rebellion against God—living as our own king; we bowed to His crown, and He accepted us into His Kingdom.

In God and through God alone does lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness come together in perfect harmony. He loves us; He wants to save us from our sins—its penalty, its power, and its presence. He’s just; He needs to judge us for our sins. He’s righteous; He wants and leads us to walk the righteous path. In His awesome wisdom, He came in the very person of His Son and demonstrated His love and justice by dying on the cross. On the cross, He sacrificed His life for us—that’s love clearly seen. On that cross, He took the punishment for our sins—that’s justice sufficiently served. We who are now graciously saved joyfully and faithfully live in righteousness as we walk according to the words and will of our King.