You’re Welcome

Acts 21:4   (KJV)   4 And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

Acts 21.4 - You're WelcomePaul and His companions were welcomed by the disciples. They get to stay with them for a week with no problem.

Many of us still value hospitality—and rightly so. Others though pick and choose who they welcome and allow to share their homes—and rightly so. This isn’t to advocate any kind of unreasonable discrimination, but there is a godly discrimination. What I want to focus on though is our attitude toward each other as believers. Before, being a believer is the only qualifier for the disciples to welcome each other. They were blessed and happy to meet and welcome fellow Christians.

Nowadays, others have seemingly a lot more non-negotiable “qualifiers” to go through before they would willingly welcome a believer. They have to seamlessly share the same doctrinal positions to the minutest detail. Forbid the thought that they would stay with a group of people who prophesied. That’s a huge issue nowadays, but there was no discussion of any contention or concern about it during the time of Paul. They knew they had one Lord, one faith, one great commission to accomplish.

Dear God, I humbly pray that we would return to that kind of attitude towards our brothers in sisters in You—that we welcome each other simply because of that—we’re one spiritual family. Help us to not foolishly render your body—your church—bruised, broken, and bloodied because of our own careless and even cruel attacks on each other, forgetting that an assault on a fellow believer of a different denominational persuasion or preference is an assault on You. Help us to fully love the whole of You—from the Head to every part of Your body, not just our own little space.

 

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Boundaries and Nations

Acts 17:26   (KJV)   26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation

Acts 17.26 - Boundaries and NationsOne blood, all nations all over the earth, appointed times, boundaries—God designed it to be so.

We only have “one blood”—one race—the human race.  Christianity and racism are a contradiction. As true as it is that we have one race; equally true is that we have many nations. He determines its boundaries. Understandable; nations have different preferences in the way each country is ran. Each has varying degrees of success and failures. God has the power to build a nation and the power to destroy it. He Who promotes can also easily demote. According to Him, Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34 KJV). His creation, His rules; His rules are true, and His rules work.

There are many prosperous countries; there are also many poor nations, but I have yet to know about a country whose values are predominantly based on Biblical Christianity that’s not prosperous. Here, I’d like to make a distinction. There are many “religious-Christian” countries, meaning, they identify with Christianity but the people are more religious than Christian—in beliefs, and in practices.  There are many of them that are steeped in poverty and bursting with corruption. This is in no way to judge or undermine them; I love them; God loves them; I was such a person.

Inasmuch as it’s not really reported in our very secularized, anti-Christian media, it’s obviously true that there are countries and people who want to destroy any people group or country who won’t abide by their dogma. Common sense shows the wisdom of national boundaries. The Ancient of Days knows it all; He certainly has reasons for this divine arrangement. We trust Him. We pray for peace; we promote peace and unity; we sincerely and diligently work towards that when it’s at all possible, but, we also know that we can really only trust one World Leader to unify the world in genuine love, peace, and righteousness—a World Leader untouched by corruption, malice, and any form of evil. That’s our Lord Jesus. That’s when He establishes His pure and righteous world order here on earth.

There will be those other than our Lord Jesus who will try to rule the world. We’ve seen the likes of Hitler. There will be one who will have a significant worldwide success in this regard. He will deceive the many. But this leader will lead the world against God, against God’s people and what God and His people stand for. He will bring and usher utter judgment and unimaginable destruction upon himself and this world.

So, other than our Lord Jesus, we say, “No, thank you.

His Name, Our Unity

John 17:11   (KJV)   11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

The Father has given His wonderful Name to the Son. It’s His very same Name that keeps or protects us. And one of the reasons His Name is keeping us is the oneness of His John 17.11 - His Name, Our Unitypeople—the church. The kind of oneness or unity he desires for us is that which is very intimate—as close as the oneness of the Father and the Son.

The unity of the church is very important to our Lord Jesus. It’s something I personally treasure, pray for, and pursue. Churches, preachers, and teachers talk about this, support and uphold this truth. But many of the actions I see seem to be very different.

An attack against the unity of the church is an attack against the Name of the Father. Our Father loves the Son, the Son loves His church—it’s His body. The Lord told us He will destroy those who destroy His temple. That’s completely understandable; we take that seriously. We pray that others humble themselves and honor the Name that protects them. As for us, we’re committed to it. We may not be as numerous as the needed voices, but we’re not silent.

On Leaders/Teachers and Words

James 3:1   (KJV)   1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

This sounds like trying to dissuade believers from becoming masters, leaders, or teachers. The obvious reason is given: those who are have greater responsibilities, James 3.1 - On Leaders-Teachers and Wordsgreater accountabilities, greater condemnation or stricter judgment.

The way the chapter progresses is very interesting; it’s followed by quite a strong discourse about how uncontrollable our tongues are. Connecting the introductory passage about being very cautious in aspiring to be leaders/teachers, to the context, we may say that since words of leaders/teachers matter a lot and carry a lot of weight and influence, we ought to really consider and really pray earnestly if it’s something we truly desire for ourselves and it’s a weight we we’re willing to carry on our shoulders.

For us leaders/teachers, we are all the more watchful of our tongues. We can never underestimate the damage it would cause. That’s why we avoid engaging in conversations about disputable matters. Often, those conversations lead us to speaking derogatorily—cursing—our brothers and sisters with the very same lips we praise our Lord and Father with. We are called to be humble even in the use of our words. We are to conduct ourselves with wisdom that flows from above—the kind of wisdom that’s peace-loving and gentle at all times. We ought to be peacemakers.

How sad that leaders/teachers have engendered many of our quarrels and divisions in the body of our precious and loving Lord Jesus because of our very incendiary words against each other. To the leaders, I implore: let’s watch our words. Let them be words of love, truth, unity, humility, and peace. If I’m not willing to humble myself, I would rather not lead and teach.

Dealing with Disputable Matters

Titus 3:9   (KJV)   But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

This is as straightforward as straightforward could be: we have to avoid foolish or ill-informed questions or discussions, foolish and proud discussions about genealogies or spiritual pedigrees, contentions and/or quarrels and/or dissentions and/or fights, even Titus 3.9 - Dealing with Disputable Matterswhen we’re dealing with the Law or God’s Word. Why should we avoid them? Why not get involved with these seemingly helpful discussions? It’s because they are unprofitable, useless, they’re a waste of our time, energy, and effort.

Aren’t all questions and discussions about God’s Word beneficial? The answer is obvious. We’re to avoid discussions that are foolish, disputable, and controversial. We avoid discussing teachings that lead to quarrels and fights. These are argumentable teachings that may be very clear in the Bible but the most well-meaning and most well-intentioned of us interpret very differently from each other.

“In essential teachings, we have unity; in non-essentials, we have liberty; in all things, we have charity—we have love.” There are essential teachings in the Scriptures; they are clear, absolute truths we don’t compromise. We teach them, spread them, discuss them, propagate them, and defend them. Then there are the disputable ones. We study them; we unbiasedly interpret what they teach. We believe what we humbly understand about them—with full conviction and persuasion. In dealing with those who believe otherwise; we keep our beliefs between ourselves and God. Why, I’d we’d rather talk to our brothers and sisters about those cardinal, non-negotiable teachings and practices that unite us, and lead us to loving each other deeper rather than those argumentable interpretations that lead to heartaches, quarreling, and even sin.

If any of you find a better and more Scriptural approach regarding disputable teachings or interpretations, I beseech you to educate me. Our hearts are after the Lord; He is the Truth; there’s no problem for us waving a white flag, bowing our hearts, and bending our knees to the authority of the Truth. Otherwise, let’s keep loving each other, united, and teaching the essential things of the Kingdom: righteousness, love, truth…

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.

 

The Father and the Son

John 14:9   (KJV)   Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

Because of His amazing love and intense desire to have a loving relationship with us, our great God revealed Himself in the best and most personal way so far; He did this by sending His beloved Son—our precious Lord Jesus. Through our dear Jesus, God—His john-14-9-the-father-and-the-sonwonderful being, His astonishing ways, and His awesome power is now understood inestimably more. Yes, there were and are other ways God reveals Himself. We who genuinely seek for truth, we see that incontrovertible proofs of God’s reality abound; they’re all around us.

The greatest and the clearest of all these undeniable evidences is our Lord Jesus. He is the exact and perfect representation of our Father—so close that seeing Jesus is seeing the Father. Of course, here lies many of the reasonable questions and dangerous misunderstandings, confusions, and even doubts and disbeliefs. But I humbly caution: our lack of understanding about the truth isn’t the same as non-existence of truth. And my earnest encouragement: our trivial differences ought to not trump our much needed love for each other.

Remember: it’s by our clear and unpretentious love for each other as His children that we are known by the unbelieving world as our Lord Jesus’ true disciples, not necessarily because of our uniformity in understanding all the great truths about our infinite God. Here’s my humble understanding about the relationship of our heavenly Father and His dear Son—our Lord Jesus. The Father and the Son are two different entities: the Father doesn’t transform into the Son; the Son doesn’t transform into the Father. The Father is a spirit, and the Son is the fullness of the Godhead bodily—that is, the Father lives in Him. The Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father. Clearly, they’re two different entities, but it’s no problem seeing them as one.

Allow me just to echo and express a joyful and reverent praise: “Holy, Holy, Holy, LORD God Almighty—God in three ‘Persons’—blessed Trinity.”