Friday, February 15, 2019

The Great Commission

The Great Commission is a command (not a suggestion or an option) for every Christ's follower. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (a confirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity), and teach them to obey His commands. We are not only to share the Gospel with others but also to help them grow in their walk with Christ. We must tell them about the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:26-33). We are to be Christ's ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) doing the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). Jesus came from Heaven to earth to seek and save the lost. This should be our hearts' desire, too. We must go. Go and tell the lost about the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ! We must be willing to go wherever and whenever God wants us to go and do whatever He wants us to do. Be available and be ready to share what Christ has done for us. We should echo Isaiah's attitude and response: "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8b) Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden upon me, only sustain me. Sever any ties but the ties that bind me to You and Your service.” (David Livingstone) Remember that this task (evangelism) can only be done on earth since there will be no sinners/unbelievers in Heaven. Therefore, let us take the Great Commission seriously. It's a matter of urgency! People are dying and going to Hell everyday, without ever hearing the Gospel of Jesus even once.

By the way, we must not forget to make disciples of our own children and equip them to share the Gospel and multiply disciples! Teach them to obey God and His Word.

Baptism is the outward demonstration of one's union with and commitment to Christ. It signifies our repentance, our death to sin, and our newness of life in Christ. "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4) Baptism doesn't save us. In fact, some who have been baptized have never truly been saved.

Jesus gives us an important task to do but He doesn't just leave us to figure it all out by ourselves. Christ's promise of His presence is precious. He knows that when we obey what He commands us to do, we will face hardships, obstacles, distractions, attacks, and dangers from the Enemy. He promises to be with us always in all places at all times. His constant Spiritual presence encourages, comforts, strengthens, guides, empowers, emboldens, and preserves us. 

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for saving me and adopting me into Your family! Please help me to boldly share the gospel with those who need to hear. Please give me Your words, guide me by Your Spirit, and grant me the wisdom needed to draw them to You. Please show me where You want me to go to reach the lost. Please give me opportunities to make more disciples for Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Be Holy in All You Do

The Hebrew word for holy is kadosh which means set apart or sanctified for dedicated service. God calls us/commands us to be be set apart for His 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. Be holy in everything we do. God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.” (Jerry Bridges) Like Father, like daughters! Love God; hate sin. Pursue holiness/ Christlikeness. Choose obedience. As we grow in holiness, we grow in hatred of sin; and God, being infinitely holy, has an infinite hatred of sin.” (Jerry Bridges) 

"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. God does not require a perfect, sinless life to have fellowship with Him, but He does require that we be serious about holiness, that we grieve over sin in our lives instead of justifying it, and that we earnestly pursue holiness as a way of life.” (Jerry Bridges) Make it our goal to live holy lives with no compromise and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. Be intentional and wise about how we spend our time and money! Be careful of what we allow to enter in our heart, mind, body, and spirit. "'Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord...Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Corinthians 6:17a, 7:1b) Be vigilant about guarding our heart and mind against evil desires, worldliness, or anything that corrodes and corrupts moral character. Through Christ, He has delivered us from the power of sin so that we can resist sin; however, the responsibility for resisting is ours (God doesn't do that for us). 

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)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing grace that redeems me, transforms me, sustains me, and teaches me to say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passions! My life is Yours; I surrender all to You. Please take my heart, mind, and will and change them to be like Yours! May I live a life of faith and obedience each day by the power of Christ within me. Please use me for Your glory and purpose. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Christlike Attitude

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:3-5) 

Paul called for unity; he told the believers in Philippi that they could make his joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Then he proceeded to tell them how they could achieve this unity. Selfish ambition (selfishness/self-gain) and vain conceit (pridefulness/self-importance) are unity killers. "Whereas selfish ambition pursues personal goals, empty conceit seeks personal glory and acclaim. The former pertains to personal accomplishments; the latter to an over inflated self-image. Understandably, a person with such conceit considers himself always to be right and expects others to agree with him. The only unity he seeks or values is centered on himself." (MacArthur) Paul wants us to see that in order to have unity, we must get rid of self-centeredness and arrogance. Preoccupation with self destroys the unity among the Body of Christ.

Humility is the antidote for vain conceit and consideration for others is the antidote for selfish ambition. We should not focus on our own needs & interests and become completely absorbed by our own concerns. Instead, we should be considerate of others and seek to meet the needs of others. 
"Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights." (John R. Wooden) "It is not a weak man’s surrender, but a strong man’s rejection of selfishness and determination to be actively concerned with the needs and interests of others.(Richards) "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." (Romans 12:10) "As we esteem others better, we will naturally have a concern for their needs and concerns; this sort of outward looking mentality naturally leads to a unity among the people of God. If I am considering you above me, and you are considering me above you, a marvelous thing happens: we have a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on." (Guzik) Humility brings unity!

In all our relationships and interactions, we need to imitate Christ and have the same attitude/mindset as He does. Christ is the Ultimate Example of humility, servanthood, and radical obedience. When we have Christlike attitude, we're willing to give up our own rights for the good of others; we discover that it's far better to submit, to serve, and to love than to have our own way. When we have Christlike mindset, we have the selfless, sacrificial, submissive, and serving mind. Christians are to move from self-seeking/self-promotion to self-denial. "From self denial in the spiritual worship of God flows self surrender to the will of God, and from self surrender flows selfless service in the work of God." (John MacArthur)

"Oh, to see the needs of others
More important than our own, 
Following our Lord's example 
When He left His heavenly throne." (Sper)

"Others, Lord, yes, others,

Let this my motto be;

Help me to live for others,

That I might live like Thee."
(Charles D. Meigs)  

"Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all." (William Temple)

"Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather,...he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over." (A.W. Tozer) 

"It is in seeing others as persons of great worth because they are loved by God and in seeing ourselves as their servants that we find the fulfilling lifestyle of humility." (Larry Richards)

Test of true humility:
"First, the test of precedence:
'Do you feel badly when others are honored, because they outshine you?'
Second, the test of sincerity:
'All too often, people say things about themselves to sound humble, when they really are not.'
Third, the test of criticism:
'Do you react unfavorably when someone points out your shortcomings?'
If you gave yourself a perfect score on this test, you failed the test of humility." (Richard DeHaan)

Beware of false humility--When you are proud of your humility, that's false humility. When you try to appear humble so that others think you're humble, that's false humility. False humility is self-centered; true humility is God-centered and other-centered.

To ponder: Do we care too much about our own comfort, pleasure, and recognition? Do we seek approval, appreciation, and admiration from others more than seeking to encourage, edify, and serve others? Are we quick to give grace and forgiveness or quick to judge and criticize? Is our motive and attitude "What can I get out of this?" or "What can I do for you?"?

Summary: Don't be selfish. Don't be prideful.

Seek to bless, not to impress.

Be humble. Be thoughtful/considerate. Be like Christ!

Prayer: Abba Father, please forgive me for my pride and selfishness that keep rearing their ugly heads from time to time. Please enable me to continually die to self and put others above myself. Please instill in me Christlike attitude of humility and servanthood. Please empower me to faithfully and joyfully put Philippians 2:3-5 into practice in my daily life. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Have No Other Gods

From these verses, we see that God is sovereign, omnipotent, compassionate, and caring. He is our Protector and Deliverer. God delivered the Israelites from slavery out of Egypt. The Lord Jesus Christ delivers us from slavery/bondage to sin and (spiritual) death. We must worship the Lord our God alone. We all worship something. God is to be the sole subject of our worship. Worshiping anything/anyone but God is idolatry. Idolatry is foolishness and sin. Do not give any creature or created things the glory which is due to God alone. Whatever we esteem, revere, delight in, or depend on, more than God, becomes idols ("gods"). God wants our undivided love & loyalty and will not tolerate divided allegiance. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve & worship God plus self, or God plus money, or God plus...(fill in the blank). All kinds of superstition are also forbidden because you cannot trust God and also believe in superstition. Do not commit spiritual adultery with others "gods". Be mindful that so many things in life (for example: career, accomplishment, popularity, recognition, others' approval/admiration, loved ones, or even ministries) could become our idols if we place them above God...if we relentlessly pursue them, instead of God. "Idolatry isn't just worship of bad things. No, the desire for even a good thing becomes a bad thing when that desire becomes a heart ruling thing." (Paul David Tripp)

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for Your redemptive & protective love for me! Thank You for Your inexhaustible grace and patience! Please remove anything that tries to take away my wholehearted devotion to You. Please keep me from being enticed by worldly things. Please take away pridefulness and selfishness from me. May You alone have preeminence in my heart and my life always! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.  

Monday, February 11, 2019

Love the Lord Your God

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts." (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

Jehovah/Yaweh (Lord/I Am) is our one and only God. There is no other. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength/might. This is the first and greatest commandment of all! God desires from us, His children, our undivided love and devotion. He wants us to love Him with our whole love Him above all else even our own life. The whole Christianity boils down to one primary thing: Amo Dei = Love God! We must love God completely with all the affections, the will, the thoughts, the strength...with all we have and all we are at all times under all circumstances. Obviously, no one is capable of loving God perfectly all the time. This unattainable standard of all-encompassing love for God shows our desperate need for God's amazing, inexhaustible grace

Jesus says in John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commands." Our obedience to God demonstrates our love for God. To love God is the priority of life. It should rule our hearts & thoughts and guide our decisions, words, and actions. This sincere, strong, superlative love for God is expressed through worshiping, serving, obeying, delighting in, and living for God. When we truly love God, we desire to know Him more and to please, honor, and glorify Him. And we will want to keep His Word/commandments in our hearts so that His Word will guide our thoughts, will, words, and actions. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11) Not only that, we are to diligently & constantly teach God's principles to our children. Passing on the faith was at the very center of God's law. Teaching about God and His Word needs to be an integral part of life, using the context of daily experiences. We must help our children see God in all aspects of life. We must teach our kids to love and follow God; otherwise, the world will teach them to love and follow the world (worldliness). We also must live out our faith at home (and everywhere). Our children are learning from us, whether we realize it or not. To them, the things we do or don't do speak just as loudly as the things we say. Do we live each day by the Book (God's Word)? Our children can tell if His commandments are on our hearts and being lived out in our lives or not. It will not do our children any good if we do not walk the talk! Hypocrisy in parent(s) will likely turn children away from God. 
Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for Your faithful love for me! I love You and I want to love You with all that I am and all that I have. I know I often fail. Please help me to know You more and love You more. Please empower me to walk faithfully in love, faith, and obedience. May the way I daily live show my love for You and draw my children and others to love You! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Saved to Do Good Works

We (the redeemed/children of God) are God's handiwork/masterpiece (poiema in Greek depicting God using His ultimate creative power & abilities), created in Christ Jesus! Let that sink in deeply...we are His grandest, most beautiful work of art! The spiritually dead are made alive. We are born again/made new in Christ. "Created in Christ Jesus" refers to our spiritual union with Christ.

It's all evidence of grace: salvation, faith, and being designed and equipped to do good works. We are saved by grace alone, not by works, but we're saved for works (to do good works). Good works do not and cannot save us, but good works demonstrate that we are saved (good works should be manifested in our lives because we are saved). Good works are proof/fruit of our salvation and our faith. We're saved to serve and glorify God, not selves. God wants His saved/redeemed children to walk in obedience to His Word and His will, reflecting His love & His light to others and glorifying Him in whatever they do. Good works are simply an overflowing of our faith in God and our love & gratitude to God. What we believe should affect the way we live. Good works are the tangible evidence of saving faith and transformed life.

God has already prepared in advance good works for us to do. Good works are part of God's divine plan. Abide in Christ and bear much fruit. Our good works are testimonies of God's grace and goodness to the lost. "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify (praise) your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16) By the way, what is one main thing that we can do on earth but not in Heaven? Sharing with lost sinners the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. There will be no sinners in Heaven so this task can only be done on earth. Therefore, let us take the Great Commission seriously.

"Live in such a way that those who know you but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you." (Unknown)

"God has a plan and purpose for my time on earth. He is the master artist or sculptor, and He is the One Who chooses the tools He will use to perfect His workmanship. What of suffering, then? What of illness? What of disability? Am I to tell Him which tools He can use and which tools He can’t use in the lifelong task of perfecting me and molding me into the beautiful image of Jesus? Do I really know better than Him, so that I can state without equivocation that it’s always His will to heal me of every physical affliction? If I am His poem, do I have the right to say, 'No, Lord. You need to trim line number two and brighten up lines three and five. They’re just a little bit dark.' Do I, the poem, the thing being written, know more than the poet?" (Joni Eareckson Tada)

"Great Master, teach us with Your skillful hand;
Let not the music that is in us die!

Great Sculptor, hew and polish us; 
nor let hidden and lost, 
Your form within us lie!"
(Horatius Bonar)

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can
(John Wesley)

To Ponder:
Are my daily choices reflecting the truth that I am God's workmanship, that I belong to Him, that I am no longer my own?

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for saving me and for making me a new creation in Christ Jesus! Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit and empower me to do good works that You have prepared in advance for me to do each and every day. May my life be a beautiful praise song that glorifies You and draws others to You! Please enable me to use my time, talents, and treasures wisely for Your glory and Your kingdom. Please embolden me to share the gospel with those who need to hear. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Pray According to God's Will

We can pray with confidence/boldness/assurance when we pray according to God's will because we know that He hears, He cares, and He responds. Our confidence is not in our words of prayers but in Christ, whose blood gives us access to the throne of God and in the character of God Who hears our prayers. With this confidence, we can freely express our thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires before God without fear, doubts, or hesitancy. When we pray, we must submit our will to His. The reason why we still have anxiety after praying is that we worry things won't turn out the way we want and when we want (according to our will). When we pray for God's will and God's ways, instead of ours, it leaves no room for worries because we leave all matters in God's hand, let go, and just wait to see how God will work things out (according to His will and His timing). "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9) Pray with a childlike faith, knowing that our Heavenly Father, Who has infinite wisdom, will give us His children what's best for us according to His will. Pray. Trust. Rest. Be thankful that God's answers are always wiser than our prayers!

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. Persevere in praying even when you don't understand God's will or God's ways. Remain steadfast and persistent in prayer as we await Christ's return. Praying draws us closer to God, and through prayer, God molds our desires and wills to align with His. I highly recommend praying the Scriptures because God's Word reveals His heart and His will. Such prayer cannot fail! 

Three keys to answered prayers: faith (Mark 11:24), asking according to God's will (1 John 5:14), and right motives (James 4:3).

"Is not God wise enough to manage the complications of our lives--and to bring order and beauty out of them? Has He not skill enough? Is He not our Father? And will He not always do the very best and wisest thing for us? Should we not trust Him--and cease to be anxious about anything that we have committed to Him? Is not anxiety, doubt? And is not doubt, sin? We are simply to commit our way to the Lord, trust Him, and be at peace." (J.R. Miller)

"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)

"God's will, not mine, I make my goal
When I bow to Him in prayer;
I know He'll do what He deems best,
When I cast on Him my care
." (Fitzhugh)

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for hearing my prayers! Please forgive me and cleanse me from all selfishness in my life and in my prayers. Please draw me closer to You and help me to know You more. Please grant me a heart that seeks You above all else. May Your glory, Your kingdom, and Your will be my first priority in life and in my prayers! Please give me wisdom to know Your will and strength to do Your will. May Your desires be my desires Your passion my passion! May Your will be done in my life today and always! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

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