Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Called Out

We are a chosen people. "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." (Ephesians 1:4) We are God's choice. 

We are a royal priesthood. "The offices of royalty and priesthood were jealously separated in Israel, but Jesus, who is our King and Priest, has brought them together for His people." (Guzik) Because of Christ, we have full access to the Father. "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
We are a holy nation. "'You will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'" (Exodus 19:6a) God sets apart His children from the world to serve Him in wholehearted devotion. We're reborn to stand up and stand out for Christ. 

We are God's special possession. We are the people belonging to God. "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession." (Deuteronomy 7:6)

- We are saved to proclaim the praises/excellencies of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. "Giving joyful thanks to the Father, Who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:12) "I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders." (Psalm 9:1) We, the redeemed, are no longer under the dominion of darkness but under the rule of Jesus Christ. We are now children of light living in the kingdom of light. In the Bible, light represents truth, holiness, love, and life. We've been rescued to reflect our Redeemer, the Light of the World! Show and tell the world about God! The Greek work for church is "ekklesia" which means "called out". The Church/the Body of Christ are made up of those who have been called out of the world and darkness (sin) to love and serve Jesus Christ.
"You are called with a holy calling
The light of the world to be;
To lift up the lamp of the gospel

That others the light may see." (Unknown)

- Do you see yourself as God sees you? You are loved by God, chosen by God, treasured by God, called out by God, royal, priestly, and holy in God's eyes!

- What a contrast it is between life without Christ and life with Christ/in Christ! "You were redeemed from the empty way of life" (1 Peter 1:18b) Without Christ, life is empty with no hope, meaning, or purpose. "How the apostle delights to set forth these contrasts between the past and the present of the Lord’s chosen people! By remembering what we were, we are made to appreciate and enjoy more what we now are. We may well praise Him who has wrought this wondrous change in us. We were not His people, we were sinners of the Gentiles, not the chosen Hebrew race. In times past, we were not worthy to be called a people, but we are now the people of God. We had not obtained mercy, we had not even asked for it; some of us were so blinded by our self-righteousness that we did not know what we needed God’s mercy, or did not want it; but now we have obtained mercy." (Charles Spurgeon) Though we once deserved condemnation because of our unbelief, we are no longer under the sentence of judgment. "Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Living Stones

- Born again as a new creation in Christ, we have purified ourselves by obeying the truth so that we have sincere love for each other (see 1 Peter 1:22). When we obey God's Word and sincerely love each other, there's no room for malice (vice/viciousness), deceit (falsehood/craftiness/dishonesty/ trickery), hypocrisy (pretense/insincerity), envy (jealousy/ resentful discontent/coveting), or slander (hurtful talk/malicious speaking/evil speech/defamation/gossip/backbiting).  "Malice delights in another's hurt; envy pines at another's good; guile imparts duplicity to the heart; hypocrisy (flattery) imparts duplicity to the tongue; evil-speakings wound the character of another." (Augustine) As we are enabled by the Holy Spirit, God gives us the desire and power to put away these attitudes and action, but we must still carry out the "putting away"--that's our responsibility. It's a matter of obedience.

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness...Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love." (Ephesians 4:22-24, 29, 31-31; 5:1-2a)

- God is building a spiritual house/temple using living stones (Christians), those who have come to Jesus Christ, the Living Stone (rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him). We serve the Living Lord who is the Source of life. "In Him (Christ) the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21-22) Christ is our Foundation. "So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: See, I lay a Stone in Zion, a tested Stone, a precious Cornerstone for a sure Foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.'" (Isaiah 28:16) To ponder: Are we living stones that build our lives on the Living Stone? Are we being lively memorial stones that are visible and stand out as monuments of God's goodness, grace, and faithfulness...to help ourselves, our children, and others remember what God has done? "You were full of sin. Far from being stones that were white with purity--you were black with defilement, seemingly utterly unfit to be stones in the spiritual temple, which would be the dwelling-place of the Most High God. And yet, He chose you to be trophies of His grace!" (Charles Spurgeon) "True believers are stones full of life, so joined to Christ as to be part of the live rock, instinct with spiritual vitality. God has quickened them from the dead. The Holy Spirit has come to take possession of them. Whereas once they were dead in trespasses (Ephesians 2:1) and sins they now live by the living seed that God has put into them, and the life that they live in the flesh is the life of Christ within them. “I no longer live,” said the apostle, “but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Can your eye of faith see that temple of God made up of living men and women, not alive through the life of the First Adam but alive through that Second Adam, of whom it is said, “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45)." (Charles Spurgeon) "To really live we need passion for Jesus and purpose to serve Him...We represent hope to people who may have given up on finding real life. We are stones rolled away, giving them a glance into the empty tomb. We provide evidence that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life...Share what God is doing in your life and commit to be a living stone before your friend." (Beth Moore)

- Because Christ's sacrifice gives us direct access to the throne of God, we Christ's followers become holy priests, set apart for His use. Each one of us is to function as a priest whose purpose is to serve God, our King. Aside from living a holy life in a close relationship with God, our main duty is to bring others closer to Him. We are to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. "Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor Me." (Psalm 50:23a) "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, You, God, will not despise." (Psalm 51:17) "I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." (Romans 12:1) "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess His Name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:15-16)

"WHAT ARE BELIEVERS? "Stones," for every Christian has that in him which is solid, durable, and ornamental. 

The grace of God gives a man solidity--he cannot be as light, trifling, and vain as he used to be. He has solid and settled thoughts upon high and holy subjects; he has solid hopes and joys. He is not carried about with every wind of doctrine--but becomes established and settled in the faith. 

He is durable too. Others fall away--but he endures to the end. Once fixed on the foundation, once really united to Christ, he remains built on Christ forever. 

He is ornamental too. Some stones are capable of taking a very high polish, and so is the Christian. The polished stones in God's temple will catch the rays of His glory and reflect them; and in every stone, the great Builder will see His own lovely likeness reflected. 

They are living stones. They are living, each one being quickened by divine grace, and made new creatures. They are lively, made so by divine communications, and kept so by fellowship with Jesus, the life-giving stone.

These living stones are not thrown together in confusion--but each one is fitted for his place before he is put into it. Every separate stone is laid on the foundation, which bears the entire weighs of the whole building. All the stones are united to the foundation, by a cement so strong, that nothing can ever separate them. The Holy Spirit acts as the cement in this spiritual building. He . . .
  brings us to Christ, 
  lays us on Christ, 
  unites us to Christ, and
  keeps us in eternal union with Christ!

These living stones are a holy priesthood.
Being stripped of their natural and carnal coverings, 
being washed in the laver of regeneration, 
being clothed with the garments of salvation, 
and covered with the robe of righteousness, 
and being consecrated by the application of the blood of atonement, and the holy anointing oil, the unction from the Holy One--they are prepared and qualified to officiate in this living temple. 

These living stones are to offer up spiritual sacrifices. This they are to do continually, the sacrifices of prayer and praise, which like holy incense, ascends as a precious perfume to God." (James Smith) 

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Word of the Lord Endures Forever

- This is a quote from Isaiah 40:6-8. All people are like grass; they eventually die. Life (flesh) is fragile and short. All the glory of people is like the flowers of the field; they can flourish and look beautiful for a while but they eventually wither and fall. Wealth, health, beauty, strength, fame, power, accomplishments...are fleeting and passing away. All earthly things perish. You cannot take any of it with you when you die. That's why we should be eternally grateful to God for our new birth, living hope, & imperishable inheritance and live in humble submission & utmost reverence to Him. "The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and His righteousness with their children's children--with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts." (Psalm 103:15-18)

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour,

The paths of glory lead but to the grave." (Thomas Gray)

- But the Word of the Lord remains forever! The Gospel of Jesus Christ will never pass away. "Amidst all the revolutions on earth, the fading glories of natural objects, and the wasting strength of man, God's truth remains unaffected. Its beauty never fades; its power is never enfeebled. The gospel system is as lovely now as when it was first revealed to man, and it has as much power to save as it had when first applied to the human heart." (Barnes) Focus on what matters. "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." (Jonathan Edwards) It is indeed foolish to put our trust in anything temporal. Trust in God and trust what God says for His Word is trustworthy, living, active, and enduring/indestructible.

"Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the oldest Hebrew manuscripts dated about A. D. 900. The Dead Sea Scrolls, in startling agreement with the Masoretic text, dated to about 150 B.C. But now archaeologists have discovered a pair of tiny silver scrolls that date back to about 600 B.C.! While digging at the site of a fifth-century church in Jerusalem, researchers found a Roman legionnaires' cemetery. Exploring still deeper, they found a small burial cave containing the scrolls. Very carefully, less than a hundredth of an inch at a time, the scrolls were unrolled. On each of them appeared an excerpt from the book of Numbers that included the word Jehovah. And these scrolls date back to the days before the exile to Babylon, earlier than liberal scholars supposed that the Pentateuch had even been written! The Bible has been wonderfully and accurately preserved. Copies of portions of the New Testament, dating to within fifty years of the original manuscripts, have been found, and they coincide with what we have today The Bible can be trusted as the inspired, inerrant Word of God." (D. C. Egner)

"THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers.
Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.
Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy.
It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's character.
Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed.
Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end.
It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.
Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.
It is given you in life and will be opened in the judgment and will be remembered forever.
It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents." (Unknown) 
I wrote a Haiku based on these verses:
People like grass die
Their glory is like flowers
They soon fade and fall

But God's Word endures
Focus on what truly counts
Share the Gospel, y'all

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Live in Reverence by Faith with Hope

- God is not only our benevolent Father but also our just Judge who judges each person's work/deeds impartially. He does not show favoritism. "God's children are to be judged, not at the great white throne, but at the judgment seat of Christ. That judgment will not decide our eternal destiny, because that has been settled before; but it will settle the rewards of our faithfulness or otherwise." (F.B. Meyer) "For we must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10) "Their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward." (1 Corinthians 3:13-14)

- Since God is our Father and Judge, we ought to honor, revere, and obey Him. Though we are in the world, we are not of this world. Our eternal home and citizenship are in Heaven. We are to live out our time here on earth as foreigners in reverent fear of God...in humble worship of Him...in awe of Him...with highest respect. "Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Corinthians 7:1b) This loving, reverent relationship we have towards our Heavenly Father produces obedience and holy living. Let us live in the light of eternity! If we are of Heaven, how should we live in this world? We live for God. We invest our time, energy, money, and anything else we have on earth into eternal things. "The nearer to Heaven in hopes, the farther from earth in desires." (William Gurnall)

- Through Christ, we have been reconciled to the Father. Jesus is God's means of our salvation. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6) Christ is our Redeemer and Mediator. Christ was raised from the dead for our justification and our future resurrection (our glorification). Because He lives, we too shall live and appear with Him in glory. "Without Christ we should only dread God; whereas through Him we believe, and hope, and love." (Wesley). The God Who planned and executed our redemption is the Object of our trust. Christ's resurrection proved that the God of the Gospel is truly the Living God. The foundation for a Christian's faith and hope in God is the resurrection and glorification of Jesus Christ. "Your faith rests on Christ’s resurrection--it was God who raised Him: your hope, on Christ’s glorification: it is God who has given Him that glory." (Henry Alford)

- Prayer: Father, thank You for the relationship that I can have with You through Jesus Christ! Thank You for the hope of Heaven and the promise of an eternity with You! Please help me remember that this world is not my home and help me to hold everything with open hands and open heart. Please use my time, money, abilities, everything that I have for Your glory and Your kingdom. Please empower me with the Holy Spirit so that I can live for You. Please use my life to shine Your love and light to everyone around me. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Set Your Hope on Grace and Be Holy

- Peter encourages these persecuted Christians and us to be mentally alert, focused, equipped with God's truths, steadfast, and resolute to run the race set before us, to serve the Lord, and to fight spiritual battles. Guard your mind; don't allow your thoughts to be intoxicated with evil desires, worldliness, or anything that corrodes and corrupts moral character. Our mind can be disciplined and prepared for the future by diligently praying, studying God's Word, and taking our every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. A disciplined mind is crucial to a holy life (in verse 15). What we think determines what we do, how we act or react, what we say, etc. 

- We are to set our hope and confidence fully on God's grace and promises. Hope to the end without wavering. The living hope (in verse 3) inspires and encourages us to endure, come what may. Be always ready for Christ's second coming! Do not become weary or discouraged in our trials. Hang on to that living hope, look ahead, and expect great & glorious things we'll receive when Christ returns.
- God calls us to be holy...to be set apart for His use...to be different than the world. Life with Christ and in Christ should be different than life before Christ. We are God's beloved children and special treasured possession. Live accordingly. We are to live with wholehearted devotion to God and in radical obedience to Him. God who is holy calls us to live a life of holiness/Godliness, sanctified and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Christ's imminent return should motivate us to live for Him and imitate Him. "We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:2-3) Be holy in everything we do. Like Father, like daughters! "We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10) In Christ, we are already holy positionally for eternity. Is our conduct consistently matching with our status? Sanctification is a work in progress. Let us not be discouraged. Make it our goal to live holy lives and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world (James 1:27b) "People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated." (D. A. Carson)
J.C. Ryle wrote an excellent synopsis of what holiness looks like, "(a) Holiness is the habit of agreeing with the mind with God, in accordance as we find His mind described in Scripture...
(b) A holy person will endeavor to turn away from every known sin, and to keep every known commandment....
(c) A holy person will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ...
(d) A holy person will pursue meekness, endurance, gentleness, patience, kindness, and control of their tongue...
(e) A holy person will pursue self-control and self-denial...
(f) A holy person will pursue love and brotherly kindness....
(g) A holy person will pursue a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others...
(h) A holy person will pursue purity of heart...
(i) A holy person will pursue the fear of God....
(j) A holy man will pursue humility....
(k) A holy man will pursue faithfulness in all the duties and relationships in life....
(l) Last, but not least, a holy person will pursue spiritual mindedness.

"A true Christian must always be known by his fruits; and those fruits must be plainly manifest and unmistakable in all relations of life." (J.C. Ryle)

- Prayer: Father, thank You for Your amazing grace that redeems me, transforms me, and sustains me! Please help me to continually set my heart and mind on things above, not on earthly things. Please purify my heart and mind to be like Christ's. I just want others to see none of me but all of You. Please use me for your glory and purpose. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Purpose of Trials

- We, God's children and heirs, who are blessed with every spiritual blessing and who are born again into a living hope of eternal life with an imperishable inheritance, always have reason to rejoice...greatly rejoice ("agalliao" in Greek, meaning "jump for joy")! "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4) "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing..." (2 Corinthians 6:10a) True joy is independent of circumstances and is a fruit of the Spirit. We can rejoice even in our trials and persecutions for we know Whom we trust and Whom we belong to. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12) 

- It also helps a lot when we remember the divine purpose of our temporary trials: proving our faith genuine, humbling our souls, weaning us from the things of this world, drawing us closer to God, helping us learn & grow in spiritual maturity, molding us into Christlikeness, and making us useful to God. Trials have their necessary place in the process by which God works out the sanctification of His children. God will allow only what is necessary for He does not delight to afflict or grieve His children. "For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone." (Lamentations 3:33) Trust His perfect love and perfect wisdom! "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) The joy of salvation makes the present grief bearable and even enables us to rejoice in our God and Savior and rejoice in hope of future glory through it all. A living, undying hope brings about a living, leaping joy, unhindered and unchanged by circumstances. Our various rials only last for a little while when compared to eternity. Grief is the natural response to the sufferings and afflictions in this fallen world, but faith and hope look forward to an eternity with God and rejoice as the Holy Spirit enables us.  

- Our faith is tested by how we respond to trials. We (and others) can see what we truly believe through trials. The authenticity of our faith (imperishable), being proven and refined in the fire of trials and afflictions, is more valuable/precious/rewarding than gold (perishable). And it will result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ returns. All of us long to hear from our Savior, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" He will honor our fruits of faith. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) And we shall appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4). 

"It was well worth standing a while in the fire, for such an opportunity of experiencing and exhibiting the power and faithfulness of God's promises." (John Newton)

"There are no crown-wearers in heaven that were not cross-bearers here below." (Charles Spurgeon)

"To test the genuineness of a diamond, jewelers often place it in clear water, which causes a real diamond to sparkle with special brilliance. An imitation stone, on the other hand, will have almost no sparkle at all. When the two are placed side by side, even an untrained eye can easily tell the difference. In a similar way, even the world can often notice the marked differences between genuine Christians and those who merely profess faith in Christ. As with jewels, there is a noticeable difference in radiance, especially when people are undergoing difficult times. Many people have great confidence in their faith until it is severely tested by hardships and disappointments. How a person handles trouble will reveal whether his faith is living or dead, genuine or imitation, saving or non-saving." (John MacArthur)

"Afflictions are sent for this end, to bring us to the throne of grace, to teach us to pray and to make the word of God's grace precious to us... Many are taught with the briars and thorns of affliction that would not learn otherwise." (Matthew Henry)

"God delights to increase the faith of His children. We ought, instead of wanting no trials before victory, no exercise for patience, to be willing to take them from God’s hand as a means. I say—and say it deliberately—trials, obstacles, difficulties, and sometimes defeats, are the very food of faith." (George Muller)
- Prayer: Father, thank You for walking with me and carrying me through all my trials! Please help me to trust You completely and remain thankful, faithful, & joyful in all circumstances. Please help me to quickly learn what You want me to learn. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen!

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Living Hope Never Dies

- According to God's abundant/ infinite mercy (and grace), He has given us new birth (spiritual birth/regeneration which includes an adoption into His family), a living hope (of eternal life) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead , and an imperishable inheritance (true riches that never fade, decay, or are defiled by sin, kept in Heaven for us). Let us rejoice in the Lord always and bless/praise/glorify and thank Him! "Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy Name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits." (Psalm 103:1-2)
- "Mercy is kindness and good-will toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them." (Marvin Vincent) "Grace meets man’s need in respect to his guilt and lost condition; mercy, with reference to his suffering as a result of that sin." (K. S. Wuest)  Grace = we get what we do not deserve. Mercy = we do not get what we deserve.
- "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God." (1 Peter 1:23) "At your first birth, you were born in sin; but now you have been born again, through grace, by the almighty power of God. Notice, also, unto what you are born,--unto a hope that is full of life, a lively hope, a hope of immortality a hope whose root is in the grave of Christ, the empty grave from which He has risen, and which is the assurance that because He has risen, you also shall rise." (Charles Spurgeon) By God's grace and mercy, we are made new (born of the Spirit) and we live a new life (Romans 6:4), conformed to the will of God.

- Biblical hope is alive and certain because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because He lives, so does our hope! Biblical hope is confident expectancy. Life without Christ is a hopeless end; life in Christ is an endless hope. This hope is living, lively, active, breathing, vigorous, powerful, efficacious, glorious, secure, guaranteed, and unextinguishable. "This is our living hope--the expectation of being taken home to heaven to be with Christ and to be like Him forever." (MacDonald) Our hope in Christ lifts up our soul, strengthens our heart, inspires confidence & courage, gives us joy, makes us patient, stabilizes us in the storms of life, reminds us of our eternal home & victory, sustains us through our grief, and keeps us persevering/ enduring.  Our living hope never dies because it is rooted in the Living Christ and His Living Word. The blessed hope/assurance of our resurrection, glorification, and eternal life with Christ should motivate us to stand firm, be "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). The opposite of hope is despair (hopelessness). "It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent." (Jeremy Taylor) Most suicides result from despair/lack of hope. May we be artisans of hope in this world and draw others to Christ, our Unchanging Hope!
- Our living hope includes this incorruptible, undefiled (pure & perfect), unfading inheritance (free gift of God) reserved in Heaven for us, God's children & heirs and fellow heirs with Christ.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #103

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story)

My Fave Five this week:
1. Our old electric piano died. So thankful that God led us to a used like-new one! Josiah (whose main passion besides basketball is music...playing piano and composing) was beyond elated. Also thankful that God protected me from getting seriously hurt when falling from our truck while helping Eric and the boys move the piano.
2. Have I told you lately that I have the sweetest husband in the world :)? On Sunday, Eric went grocery-shopping for me and brought home a surprise for me. Tulips are my favorite flowers. He is always sweet, loving, and romantic. Almost 24 years of marriage...he still melts my heart! 

3. Simple but oh so yummy (and pretty healthy, too): Multigrain spaghetti with homemade turkey meatballs. Thumbs up from four of us! 
4. My sweet hubby brought home sushi (another cool surprise) on Wednesday. Happy Tummy :)! We love sushi!

5. I was touched by this documentary trailer at Mundane FaithfulnessWe may not understand why but we can always trust our Loving Father Who is good, gracious, sovereign and is with us forever.

You can watch the entire FREE webcast of the Discipleship Forum tomorrow (March 14th)! Click here to register. The speakers included Francis Chan, Jim Putnam, Jeff Vanderstelt, Robert Coleman, Bill Hull, and KP Yohannan.

Friday, March 6, 2015

True Greatness

- The disciples had argued about who was the greatest so Jesus settled the matter using a paradox. To be great in God's kingdom, one must be last of all and servant of all. True greatness is found not in position but in humble servanthood. "Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them." (Jeremiah 45:5a) There is no place for pride, vanity, and selfish ambitions. God hates pride and arrogance but He gives grace to the humble. We must be willing to be last, least, and to perform the lowest services to all with humility and meekness. 
- Make sure we serve with the right attitude and motive (agape). Do you serve from the need for approval, applause, admiration or for status and significance? Biblical servanthood involves submission, selflessness, and sacrifice, following the example of our SaviorMany people desire to do great things for God but overlook countless small deeds of kindness that they could do. True servants of God see others' needs and quietly, lovingly meet them.
"We easily forget that sometimes the greatest work we can perform for Him, is to do the little things He gives us to do, quietly and sweetly." (J.R. Miller)
"It was only a cup of water with a gentle grace bestowed, 
but it cheered the lonely traveler upon life's dusty road. 
None noticed the cup of water as a beautiful act of love, 
save the angels keeping the records away in the land above. 
The trifles in secret given, the prayer in the quiet night,
and the little unnoticed nothings are great in our Savior's sight!" (Unknown)

"He is more concerned about our character as expressed in servant living than our comfort. His ultimate goal is not to pamper us physically or emotionally, but to perfect us spiritually, conforming us into the character of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus gave Himself redemptively for us to restore us to God and create a people who would live as servants of God in the service of others proclaiming the good news and loving others for Him. Thus, as Christ gave Himself, so God wants us to give ourselves for others." (J. Hampton Keathley III)
- Prayer: Father, please help me to love and serve others with humility like Jesus does. Please open my eyes to see the needs of others and how I can meet those needs. Please help me to faithfully follow Christ's footsteps. Use me and make me be Your hands and feet in communities...in the world for Your glory and for Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pray for One Another

- Confess your sins (offenses) to one another for a purpose of reconciliation. When we've done wrong to someone, we must go and ask him/her to forgive us. We believers are to humbly acknowledge our faults and weaknesses so that we may pray for one another (intercessory prayers). Unconfessed sin makes our soul sick and often our body, too.

- God answers believing prayer but not always the way we want or expect. All prayer, including prayer for healing, is subject to the will of God. "If Jesus heals you instantly, praise Him. If you are still waiting for healing, trust Him. Your suffering is your sermon." (Max Lucado) We (Christ's followers) will one day be ultimately healed (there's no pain/sickness in Heaven).

- The Greek word for "power", "fervent", "effectual" in this verse is energeo (energetic). The prayer of a righteous person (who is justified by the righteousness of Christ) is working because it is energized by the Holy Spirit, thus his/her prayer is according to God's will and such prayer cannot fail. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15) 

- Prayer is not about words but rather the attitude of the heart and the condition of the soul that enjoy dwelling in God's presence. Prayer is pouring our heart out to our Heavenly Father, in love, in faith, in humble submission, and in gratitude. Pray earnestly without ceasing. Pray first and pray most. Let's take full advantage of this amazing privilege God has given us! Even though we know His will prevails and He knows all our needs, God desires that we come to Him in prayer because it's a relationship thing. He wants us to rely on Him, look to Him for fresh supplies of grace & mercy to sustain us, strengthen us, and keep us to the end, and keep our hearts and mind focused on Him...on His purpose. We find shelter, rest, comfort, strength, joy, peace, encouragement, and assurance in sweet communion with our Father. Our attitude regarding praying should always be "not my will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42b). Praying draws us closer to God and through prayer, God molds our heart's desires and our thoughts to be like His. 

"We speak. He listens. He speaks. We listen. This is prayer in its purest form. God changes His people through such moments...Just as a happy child cannot mis-hug, the sincere heart cannot mis-pray. Heaven knows, life has enough burdens without the burden of praying correctly. If prayer depends on how I pray, I'm sunk. But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, and if the One who hears the prayer is my Daddy, then I have hope.
(Max Lucado)

Prayer should be...constant, fervent, believing, hopeful, and incessant. God loves it, Satan hates it, and every true Christian values it. True prayer is always necessary, profitable and acceptable to God." (James Smith) 

"Be thou content to leave thy prayer in His hands, Who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold." (Charles H. Spurgeon)

"In Jesus' name we voice our prayers--
The Bible tells us to;
But may we never use that name
To tell God what to do." (D. De Haan)

- Prayer: Father, I'm so thankful that I can come to You anytime, anywhere and tell you about anything. I'm so glad that You never get tired of listening to my prayers and that You're always available. Please continue to transform my heart and mind, my desires and will to be like Yours. Thank You for Your inexhaustible grace and mercy! Thank You for being my Refuge, Strength, and Ever-present Hep in time of need! I'm extremely grateful for Jesus continually interceding for me! Thank You for all my brothers and sisters in Christ! Please draw us closer to You, help us to know You more & love You more, and enable us to love one another and others like You do. Please make us people of prayer and bring revival among Your people! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Show Hospitality

- Hospitality should not be forgotten or neglected, but rather be enthusiastically pursued, frequently performed, and cheerfully practiced. "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9) Do you complain about how much food you have to prepare or how much cleaning you have to do or how worn out you feel from having people over? Do you grumble that your guests stay too long? We need to ask God to empower us to offer hospitality with a Christlike attitude and a servant's heart.

Being hospitable means freely giving our time, our resources, and our words of encouragement to meet the needs of others. In Luke 14:12-14, Jesus warns against showing hospitality only to those who would return us the favor. He wants us to be hospitable to those who cannot repay/reciprocate. The point is: our motive in showing hospitality to others should not be that they will invite us and show hospitality to us in return. Our motive should always be agape. 

- Hospitality 
means caring about others (strangers included) and making them feel welcomed, loved, and cared for. There's a saying we quote often when we talk about friendship evangelism, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". It's true in most cases. Let us be kind and friendly to everyone. Be thoughtful and considerate. In a world that's all about self (I, me, my, mine) and entitlement, how refreshing it is to find someone who specializes in genuine love, kindness, and thoughtfulness toward others. Be that someone :). Be counter-cultural for Christ.

- In Genesis, Abraham and Lot showed hospitality to strangers without knowing that they were angels. Angels are God's messengers. We never know what messages God may want us to hear through those we show hospitality to. We should treat our guests as we would treat Christ.

- Prayer: "Give me a heart sympathetic and tender;

Jesus, like Thine, Jesus, like Thine;
Touched by the needs that are surging around me,
And filled with compassion divine." (Stephen Olford)
"My heart is filled, dear Lord, with love,
So let it show in words and deeds;
And help me share, in all my ways,
The overflow for others’ needs." (Hess) 

"Perhaps you want to know what you can do for the Lord or how to use your spiritual gifts; your home is the ideal place to start serving." (Alexander Strauch)

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