Yieldedness-Servanthood

Luke 1:38   (KJV)   38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1.38 - Yieldedness-ServanthoodServanthood to God involves not just doing something or laborious activities, it could be as simple as yielding oneself to God for whatever God’s purpose is.

At times, some of us think God’s not pleased with us until we serve Him close to exhaustion. I agree there are times when serving God becomes very hard, but hardship isn’t the measurement or determining factor whether we’re really serving God or not. More than anything, He just wants to move in and through us. The Holy Spirit is still working. We just have to allow ourselves: mind, soul, spirit, bodies as His channels.

Dear God, thank You for considering us to take part in Your Divine move. It’s an honor to be considered and invited as Your vassals and vessels. You can do everything without our help, but You allow us to enjoy the fruits of Your labor. Help us Lord to enjoy the productive rest of just offering our bodies to You—in Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

Righteousness—the Person, the Action

1 John 3:7 (KJV) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

It is to be deceived to believe that those who commit unrighteousness are righteous.

I was almost avoiding this passage. Somehow, I’m affected by books and messages discouraging a call to holiness and righteousness. Those who do are seen as legalistic, or 1 John 3.17 - Righteousness - The Person, the Actionpeople who don’t understand God’s love and grace. They are seen as judgmental, condemnatory, and they preach salvation by works.

I know those labels aren’t true with me. I understand that we’re saved by grace through faithliving faith that is. I understand God’s unconditional love and abundant grace. I caught myself doing something I ought not to: avoiding certain passages. That was wrong.

So, I settled. How can I escape this divine billboard projected so emphatically right before me—repeatedly, in different ways, just from one book alone? Here’s a sampling of what I mean:

1 John 2:1,5-6,29 (KJV) 1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3:3,10,24 (KJV) 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 John 5:3 (KJV) 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

There’s a lot more where they came from.

If God’s Word doesn’t withdraw from urging us to life of love, obedience, holiness, purity, righteousness; it’s only right we also don’t.

‘nough said.

 

 

 

Diligence and Assurance

Hebrews 6:11   (KJV)   11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

Diligence plays a huge part in fully assuring our hope. This is specifically referring to work and labour of love for our spiritual family.

Hebrews 6.11 - Diligence and AssuranceThere may be times when we don’t really feel like loving. We want to be on the receiving end. Others have times of laziness. But our days are exciting exactly because we don’t allow our moods and circumstances to dictate how our days go.

In the process, we keep on growing; we keep on progressing in our Christian journey; we keep becoming more productive as God’s people; more people are blessed through us. We contribute in the Kingdom purposes and mission.

We believe in the supernatural, in the eternal, in the spiritual. We believe in heaven; we believe in God; we believe the return of our Lord Jesus. This results in us living full lives—lives truly blessed—recipients of, and channels of. Through us, more people are helped living out their fullness as well.

Wholesome Doctrine of Jesus

1 Timothy 6:3   (KJV)   3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness

We’re enjoying our lives as believers. That’s natural for people who’ve been richly given all things we need for our enjoyment. But we’re not without struggles. We have a very undesirable division going on in the beautiful body of Christ. The Lord Jesus prayed that 1 Timothy 6.3 - Wholesome Teaching of Jesuswe as the church be one as He and the Father are one. We’re still far from that reality. The issues and teachings dividing the church are disputable—non-essentials—as often referred to.

There are dangerous teachings though creeping in the church. I’m a personal witness to this. It’s rampant and it’s ongoing. The Scriptures teach us that the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus are in accordance with godliness—our Lord’s doctrine upholds godly living. But I’ve heard messages talking down on preaching about morality and good deeds. In trying to affirm the doctrine of grace—grace which we love and appreciate tremendously—they have condemned the wholesome doctrine of our Lord Jesus—godly living.

We teach godliness; other teachers consent not. Sadly, a lot of opposition comes from fellow Christian teachers. Truth is: it’s possible for believers to stray and follow Satan (1 Timothy 5:15). That’s why we’re encouraged to fight the good fight for the true faith, to hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called us… (see 1 Timothy 6:12). We don’t downplay God’s warnings: “Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good” (Titus 1:16).

God’s Word is replete with such examples of our Lord’s wholesome doctrine of godliness. Here’s just another example—just a short segment: “12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:12-14). This is our doctrine as people under grace. We don’t regret it; we don’t abhor it; we love it.

 

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.

 

Be Happy for Them

Mark 14:6   (KJV)   6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

Mark 14.6 - Be Happy for ThemJesus corrected the people who were trying to trouble or criticize the woman who broke the alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it on His head. For others, there could have been a much better use for that perfume; for Jesus, what she did was commendable.

Our sincere expressions of devotion to our precious Lord will not be understood by others. That’s very much expected from the world; majority of them won’t understand our willingness to be totally broken and fully spilled out for God. The surprise comes when the misunderstanding comes from fellow believers. Worst is when they don’t only comprehend our actions, but they criticize us—especially when they do so in public, where the lost are watching.

It’s a joy for us learning from others. We welcome suggestions and differing opinions. It’s wisdom to have multitude of counselors. We can learn even from criticisms—if we can call it as such—especially the constructive, corrective, non-judgmental, and non-condemnatory kind—gentle words birthed out of love. We understand and humbly admit we’re far from perfection. We will make mistakes; we will miss blind spots. We’re grateful when others see what we fail to see.

On the other hand, sad to point out, there are self-righteous/know-it-all people—at least that’s how they esteem themselves. Instead of being irritated, annoyed, and angry with them, we pray for them. We pray for us as well. As people of grace, we pray that we will be gracious towards everyone—especially our families—in this context, our spiritual families. Obviously, we have different expressions of devotion. We may feel like there are better ways, but they may have reasons we’re not privy to. What they do may be better than our preference. And that’s our position regarding our differences: they may know something we don’t. With that, we can just be happy for their love of our Savior.

Works Matter

Revelation 14:13   (KJV)   13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Revelation 14.13 - Works MatterSalvation, death, resurrection, rest, works—these are indispensable truths and experiences in the lives of believers.

Being “in the Lord” is the most important experience anyone can ever have here on earth. It’s the only experience that changes and secures our eternal destiny—from an eternal destiny apart from Christ to an eternal destiny in His presence. All of us, except those alive when our precious Lord returns, will experience death. For us believers, it is a most welcome transition to the most glorious state we’ll ever enjoy in our entire existence—a life of rest, love, joy, peace multiplied a gazillion times greater.

In as much as often undermined in teaching the wonders of grace, works matter. They matter now, they will matter in eternity. It’s worth repeating: we’re not saved by works, but we’re saved unto good works.  For believers, it’s not “either-or” between grace and works; it’s both. Grace is God’s part and He does wonders with it; works is our part and we strive to do well in it.

Fear the Father?

1 Peter 1:17   (KJV)   17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

We boldly call God our Father. It’s to Him we pray. He’s the One Who answers our prayers and blesses us graciously; He’s also the One who judges and will judge all of us 1 Peter 1.17 - Fear the Fatheraccording to our works. The appropriate response to these as pilgrims on a sacred journey is to live in fear of God.

We often connect fear to the LORD being our God who judges and condemns, and we connect love to Him being our Father who provides, guides, and saves. But this passage doesn’t show that distinction; the Father is the judge we need to fear.

We have a heavenly Father we can always call on and count on–anytime, anywhere. He’s a perfectly fair Dad. And since He will judge or reward us according to our works, it’s only appropriate that we do what’s good, right, and godly. We’ll always be aware of His incomprehensible greatness and awesomeness so there’ll never be a point in time when we’ll act like little spoiled kids treating our Dad with contempt. No; He’s too mighty, majestic, magnificent, and marvelous for that.

Living Faith

James 2:18   (KJV)   18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

I opted to blog a little differently today.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth James 2.18 - Living Faithwhat manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25).

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14).

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17-20).

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:22,24,26).

I rest my case.

He Won’t Forget

Hebrews 6:10   (KJV)   10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Works matter, not as the means of salvation but as its proof and fruit. God sees, values, and remembers our work and love. It would be unrighteous or unjust for Him not to. How can He not be pleased with His children who delights in pleasing Him, whose paths Hebrews 6.10 - He Won't Forgetare straight, whose hearts are upright, whose walks are faithful, and who diligently work—lovingly serving Him and His children for His glory and honor?

Yes, we take pleasure in pleasing Him. We don’t serve Him for rewards, but we don’t disbelieve the truth that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Sowing and reaping was true in the Old Covenant, true in the natural world, true in the New Covenant, true in the spiritual sphere, true regarding our character, and yes, I personally believe is true in financial facet. We sow—we—give because we love, but we don’t deny the truth about the harvest.

We will continue working and loving; we earnestly intend to do so: diligently, “faith-filledly,” patiently—to the end. He will be there all the way, with smile on His face, and what a joy that is for us. “11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:11-12).